Our cast of characters…
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Naazi, chenxa (centaur) warrior of Tenh;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest).
and introducing: Demios Blackhammer, dwur initiate of Clangeddin (Lortmils)
[24th of Coldeven, 578]
We rejoined our group this evening with them finally riding out to visit the keep and lands granted them by the Voorman of Perrenland, only to find it occupied by an unknown armed force of men. Initially, only Marcus and Kendradell rode up to the gates, whereupon the men on the walls began whistling and making suggestive comments regarding the bard’s beauty. After calling out for entry to ‘their’ keep, they were denied by a man who gave his name as Baricus; who cited “possession being nine-tenths of the law in such cases” and pointing out that Marcus and Kendradell hardly constituted a besieging force. Though they initially elected to retreat, they were soon joined by Kalik, and after trading more insults, an offer was made whereby the bandits within were offered ‘official’ positions as guards and tax collectors….
Once within the keep (which Marcus kept referring to as a castle, to the great amusement of Baricus), negotiations were made in good faith, but it soon became apparent that while not precisely an evil man, the shades of distinction between taxing the populace and raiding/robbing them would be difficult to impress upon him. At one juncture they reached an impasse, and Baricus signaled his lieutenants to kill the party, thinking that they were at his mercy….
The party quickly barricaded themselves inside what passed for a main hall within the keep, preventing Baricus or his men from fleeing, but one man did manage to signal their compatriots outside that battle had been joined. While the party within finished off the leader and his lieutenants, the bandits outside the keep and on it’s walls made good their escape, hamstringing the war-horses and ponies the party had ridden in on, and stealing the other riding horses for their own.
By the time they emerged from the central hall, the bandits were nearly a mile off, and could be seen quickly scattering into the hills. A more thorough search of the keep revealed a makeshift dungeon off of the root cellar, where three men and a dwur were imprisoned. The dwur introduced himself as Demios of the Blackhammer clan of the Lortmils Mts., while the men were the mayor of West Kaversford (the nearest village), Genrel, a merchant from Exag, and Vesper, a member of the bandit gang that had recently departed.
Vesper explained that he had been locked up by Baricus after he stabbed a fellow bandit over a woman while drunk, and that he’d been left there for several days since the incident. Genrel, once led above ground, moaned and bewailed the loss of his caravan, the remains of which littered the interior of the keep. Kensal, the mayor, was relieved to be released, and when the group got down to cases with Kensal and Genrel, arrangements were made for both honest guards, a potential Castilian, and the resumption of honest management of the region.
Uncertain of what exactly to do with Vesper, Kalik offered him employment as a companion/henchman, based on Kensal’s recommendation that while a poor farmer and a belligerent drunk, as a youth he’d been a nice enough lad and had fallen in with bad company after the failure of the farm his father had left him. Vesper then led them to many of the sites where the bandits might run to in retreat, permitting some, but not all, to be recaptured and brought to justice.
Two weeks after arriving at Kaverknoll, the party was ready to begin their travels north to the Bumeal, where Mirella, the servant of Dalt who had accompanied them on their last foray into Drelzna’s lair had said she would be. Before they could depart, however, a messenger from Schwartzenbruin arrived bidding them to return with him to meet with the Voorman who had important business to discuss with them.
Arriving in the capitol, they party, now strengthened by Demios, met with the Voorman and Nerek Festil, the court sorcerer. Franz quickly explained that what his investigators believed could only be a vampire was stalking the Low Quarter, and several members of the party realized that the bakery that Mirella had placed her gate within lay in that same region. After several days of staking out that location, they were rewarded when the gate they had thought closed swirled to life, and a heavily cloaked figure emerged from it.
Though surprised by the flurry of spells and missiles launched upon it’s arrival, the figure quickly stepped back through the gate, pursued initially only by Marcus, Kalik, and Demios. As they chased the figure back towards the main reception hall, Kalik noticed that the place had subtly changed, and showed signs that a great battle had been fought there recently.
As the trio of warriors entered the main hall, they noticed immediately that the floor of the hall had been excavated in two places, and even as the thought occurred to them, the cloaked figure before them revealed itself as Lucien, former Knight of Pelor… now a vampire!
Though obviously distraught at the prospect of having to kill his former companions, Lucien choked back his tears of shame and prepared to meet them in battle. Using the amulet given to him by the priest of Pholtus, Marcus was soon encased in golden sunlight, and as he strode forward to engage Lucien, he released the Light Elemental contained within the amulet, as well.
Though his skin was slowly charring from the glow emanating from Marcus, Lucien managed to croak out a spell that negated Marcus’ control of the elemental. Almost simultaneously, however, Milik arrived behind the tableau and unleashed a spell at Lucien that eroded his armor seconds before Marcus brought his battle axe around in a killing blow… ,
Lucien crumpled to the floor before Marcus, his body streaming into mist. Marcus stepped forward, bringing the mantle of sunlight he bore directly upon the mist, and as he did so Lucien’s body clotted out of the mist and fell heavily to the floor. Knowing that their former companion had once asked that his dead body be exposed to the light of Pelor should he ever fall, they spent many anxious moments wondering if the body that lay before them now was restored to life from unlife by the same mechanism that he’d hoped would function against normal death. Though desperately weak, Lucien seemed hale and mortal enough once more. Using one of the more powerful spells at his command, Kalik healed Lucien completely as the rest of the party began to take a closer look at Iggwilv’s stronghold…
Signs of battle were everywhere, with broken weapons laying in comers and traces of fire everywhere. When questioned on the matter, Lucien revealed that Mirella and a force of soldiers had arrived an unknown number of weeks before and slain Drelzna and all her defenders. He himself had survived only because the location of his resting place was unknown to her; once he’d fallen and fled there, Mirella apparently looted the place and left, leaving the gateway between the basement and this place open.
When asked, Lucien revealed (hesitantly) that he had somehow been restored to life by Drelzna, who then took his life in her own fashion, reanimating him as a vampire like herself. She had seemed quite pleased by the irony that a knight dedicated to the Sun God would now be unable to ever again stand beneath it’s rays without facing certain death. Under her control, he became a killer to survive, and her lover whensoever she required it of him. His humiliation was more than obvious, and his sorrow more so; those in the party who knew him best promised to escort him back to a friendly temple and plead his case for him should such be necessary.
Emerging once more from Iggwilv’s hidden fortress, the party briefly returned to the Voorman’s palace and explained what had transpired; inquiries were made concerning Mirella’s whereabouts, and Nerek made contact with the priests of the temple said to be hidden in the Bumeal, only to discover that Mirella had never arrived there as she said she intended; further communication established that as far as the priests could tell from communing with their god, Mirella had been lost to the cult for many months, apparently under a strange but unshakable compulsion to serve some other, unknown power.
As the party rode south into Veluna and Furyondy, they speculated greatly on what power Mirella had fallen to; from further commentary made by Lucien, Marcus decided that somehow Iggwilv herself had possessed the young initiate, and had used her body to reclaim her lost works. The only flaw in that idea was (much) later pointed out by Nerek Festil, on one of their brief returns to Perrenland, who claimed that whatever else her faults might have been, Iggwilv doted on her children, and while the Old One might have greater fame and power, Iggwilv had held great hopes for her daughter, as well.
As the weeks passed, Lucien was delivered to his ‘home’ temple and accepted back for ‘cleansing of the spirit’. As they visited their individual sanctuaries in the region, they told their tales and it was Nikolai who first learned that Mirella had visited the small temple to Lendor he frequented nearly a month or more past, claiming sanctuary for herself and her companions (a contingent of soldiers wearing black, unadorned surcoats) for a night before riding south.
The group eventually decided to ride to Greyhawk City, as they felt that old enemies had had too much time to grow strong in their absence. Besides, they reasoned, the prices on their heads might well be long forgotten, their not having been in the region for over a year…
After nearly three weeks in the city, nobody seemed to be hunting them especially, and while there Marcus undertook extensive training, and took the vows of an acolyte of Heironeous, while Milik joined the University and began laying the plans for crafting his familiar…
[15th of Wealsun, 578]