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It was a dark cloudy day with the threat of rain when three adventurers of Newcroft attended a hiring in Darlingdale. Vampire hunting at Raby Keep and a local fortified manor house, final acts of a story that has been played out over a year and a half of a vampire family that sought power over the land. But, as with all evil things, their plans would not be allowed to come to fruition. By the will of the Seven, their evil schemes must fail.

Thank you Tees Valley Branch for an awesome day and thanks to the branch LO for organising and running both missions. It was great fun to be involved in end-of-plot plot. If you know you took part in one or other of the missions but are misnamed or unnamed, please contact me on wolfish dot written dot author at g mail dot com or comment below.

Player Mission – Defend the Keep!

Rowan Tait, now on two days leave before heading back north toward Vortigan lands, thought to find some peace and quiet exploring the local area. However, upon entering Darlingdale, she is roped into a mission to assist in the defence of Raby Keep, near New Town, from a hoard of undead seeking entrance.

An elf appeared in the town to speak with the Chaplin of the Grey Order, bearing news of the latest movements of undead. It also to light, from some fairly direct questioning, that the family within the keep have no real force with which to defend themselves and that two children and the family steward are the only ones left of the family. Even though their absent mother was once the Defender of the Faith (DOF) of Githas, Lillith du Vanes , who was tried and convicted of heresay before running off with the family fortune, the children are too young and innocent to be dismissed as Githasian heretics and it is decided that the party must go forth, get to the keep ahead of the undead forces and hold the keep long enough to get the family out.

At least that was the plan.

The party that set out to the accompaniment of two loud “thunderclaps of doom” (perfectly timed, I might add) were as follows:

Scouts Ranger Al of Esca and Tisa Vale and Hunter Rowan Tait of Amblevale, Alchemist Guild Protector Sir Obadiah Hakeswill, Blacksmith Guild Protector Master M of Perseverance Forge, Brother Lucius Aquarius Rhade of Vleybor, High Father William Klider of Sidhe and Chaplin of the Knightly Grey Order, Guildsman Drake Darkwater, Junior Guildsman Lucien Godfrey and Apprentice Gaalen Iskarschrynn of the Mages Guild.

The scouts followed the trail of shuffling undead, the faster ones overtaking the zombies that dropped rotting flesh on the wayside. To avoid getting unnecessarily bogged down, Ranger Al suggested upping the party pace to skip round the zombies and try to keep avoiding the undead heading for Raby Keep.  Whilst they managed to avoid the first group of zombies, they came upon a mixed group of undead with two strange spectral creatures in their midst. They set about attacking the creatures but were unable to get rid of the spectres until High Father William found that they could be dismissed through the power of faith. Mind you, this was after most members of the party had been feared or writhed, caught whilst running by the scouts (aka – caught by me!) and generally picked on by these undead abominations. Once that was tidied up, the scouts noted a change in the tracks, more creatures wearing heavy armour, which they dutifully informed the party of.

It was at this moment that a stranger emerged from the woodland, looking to speak with Sir Obadiah. It seemed there had been a break in at the alchemist’s guild and someone was going to be in a lot of trouble. Spying the undead up ahead, the rest of the party went after them with Ranger Al staying with Sir Obadiah in case the messenger proved treacherous. As they fought with the undead they came upon another elven scout and jumped to his aid and Rowan got a chance to greet him and discover more about what was going on in the area. But it was nothing but bad news – more undead up ahead approaching the castle. However, the elf was quick to point out a short cut that would lead directly up the hill through some woodland to the keep. High Father William was keen to press on, stating that Sir Obadiah would be able to catch up, not to mention he had Ranger Al to track the party. So off they went, into the trees.

As they approached a rise in the land they saw a woodland spreading out before them, ablaze with fire. It appeared to be spreading out on a circle from a point where a stone rock face could just be seen amongst the burning trees, but the fire was spreading in regular steps, almost in a controlled manner, and Apprentice Gaalen said that it appeared to have a magical-something about it. But, the party was here for one thing and one thing alone – getting to Raby Keep, assessing its defences and getting out of there.

They approached the gate where they were challenged by a number of guards before demanding to speak with the steward tasked with taking care of the children and the keep. Once inside the walls, Master M began assessing the defences whilst Sir Obadiah and High Father William spoke with the Steward about what should be done.  With the help of some of the adventurers, Master M began narrowing the gateway gap to improve the defensive capabilities and Sir Obadiah split the party into roughly two groups, each armed with a priest and a mage with the scouts under orders to run between the groups if needed. These groups were assigned two of the larger gaps in the wall with a strange Githasian “mirror man” assigned by the steward to guard the postern gate, remnants of the old Primate of Githas’ pets. When this thing first appeared many of the adventures got quite upset, with several people calling for it to be destroyed but High Father William declared it had a soul and it would all be sorted out later.

But what little time the party had ahead of the advancing waves of undead was soon used up and small groups of armoured undead came lumbering towards the defenders.  And what followed was a long drawn out battle to hold the gaps, with fighters taking wounds and dealing blows to the enemy, some going down, all getting back up again. A Mummy broke through the ranks at the main gate and caused chaos until someone managed to back it into a corner and finish it off, and Rowan tipped alchemy down Ranger Al’s neck to save his life after he was struck down – saving him with the assistance of Brother Lucius and Lucien Godfrey.  Lucien also required a cure disease which Rowan tipped down his neck before returning to the fight.  A number of death knights came lumbering towards the main gate and were eventually taken down and a couple of ghasts stalked the adventurers. Rowan Tait fell afoul of their paralysing touch but was luckily rescued before they chewed off her fighting arm.

Then came the commander of this army, a vampire which members of the Tisa Valley adventurers had been hunting for over a year. There was a cry from the second gate of his approach, but they did not seem to have the means to bring about his end, but as he approached the main gate, Master M and High Father William were able to administer the deadly strike of two blessed stakes. The vampire was destroyed and the party had saved the keep from the undead. I believe the children and their steward were moved to a more defensible location and the adventurers returned to Darlingdale.

Monster Mission – Strike the final blow

With that vampire out of the way, it was decided that it was time to deal with the father – a known vampire menace said to reside in a local fortified manor house. A brave band of adventures, led by High Father William Klider, set out to rid the land of this menace.

These adventurers were: Elias the Scout and his familiar “Blue”, Guildsman Callie Kairos Van Belle the Alchemist, Mother Rose Eliza Day the Defender of the Crowan Faith, High Father William Klider of Sidhe and Chaplin of the Knightly Grey Order, Brother Enacus of Kharach, Sir Ranulf de Brus of the Knightly Black Order, High Guildsman Johnny Test and his apprentice Ash Witherspoon of the Mages Guild, Constable Junior Jack Regan of the Guards.

The party advanced upon the manor house and were confronted by a group of undead guards, which they had to beat back before the gates opened and another wave shambled towards them. Once inside the fortified walls the party were confronted with a choice – attack the heavily guarded manor head on or investigate the stables that were guarded. Instead they chose to investigate a series of slave pens where a trio of elves were begging to be released – after the black knight managed to break the door to their prison. Questioned about their brethren and their knowledge of the place, they refused to speak of the stables – guarded by undead – a place where those who were no longer useful were taken. They were escorted to the entrance and then left in the care of their own people as the adventurers advanced on.

They fought off the undead guards and discovered a secret tunnel that must be a bolt hole for the vampire. Down then go into the darkness and into a long tunnel where Elias and Blue discovered the first trap. Six columns supported the roof with a series of tiles between them in black and white and a tight squeeze against the wall on either side. Elias tested the stones and found the first few to be safe and hopped his way through the columns. But as his foot touched the last stone there was a quiet click and from the last pair of pillars came thin wires that pierced his armour and wounded him. Collapsing on the far side the adventurers were helpless to assist as he began to bleed from every location. Defender Day, member of the Crowan Roses, sprang to action, following his action and finding that it was the final stones that triggered the trap. Luckily she was clad in metal armour that caused the wires to bounce away and she set to bandaging the wounded elf. The black knight found he could step over the final stones and soon the entire party were across, bandaging Elias or tending to Blue, his little familiar who was also wounded.

When Elias was back on his feet and Blue safely back in his usual belt pouch, the adventurers descended down the steps into the gloom. At the bottom was a corridor with a door in the wall, which opened onto a long corridor. There was the smell of damp and flesh, but the corridor revealed nothing as Elias trekked down it. They then went to try another set of trapped doors – Elias once again being wounded by discovering a small disease trap and requiring alchemical aid.

After finding nothing of use, the adventurers returned to the long tunnel and began their trudge through the dark, coming onto a small chamber guarded by even more undead. After a brief scuffle, the adventurers pushed through into a large cavern lit by wall sconces and containing a gruesome secret. Benches and tables filled the room, upon which bodies were strapped down – elves, corpses, zombies and skeletons. Two elves still lived though one had lost his leg and the other had his arm removed to stop the spread of some dark corruption. Several corpses were laid to rest and the animating spirits of a number of skeletons were sent on and it became clear that this was the vampire’s creation chamber for his undead army. Off the cavern was another tunnel, guarded by undead, which led to a locked store room door under the manor.

Here the adventurers met a strange assortment of servants who were quite cryptic about the whereabouts of their master. The butler encouraged them to wait for his return and when the servants were ordered to disarm, they attacked. Three of them were beaten back and killed, but the serving girl surrendered to the severe faced adventurers. They told her to hide in the cupboard until they returned to take her back to Darlingdale, and advanced to the door at the far side of the room that opened out onto the great hall.

Behind the far door stood the vampire lord with his undead guards and when confronted by him the adventurers raced to attack. As the adventurers were “feared” and writhed by their undead foe, the serving girl crept towards them with a sword, intent on protecting her master – you see, she was not quite what they thought, but was a human fed on vampire blood for 80 years. Not quite human, not quite dead and determined to protect her master. As Constable Reagan fled before the vampire towards her, she went mad and tried to attack him, only to be put out of her misery by High Father William.

And thus began the long final battle with the vampire who befriended the Sidhean priest and attacked the party. They would get him down and managed to stake him a number of times, but he kept getting up – getting angrier and angrier as he went. At one point more undead guards came to his aid, but these were swiftly crushed by the adventurers before they returned their focus to the vampire lord. Down he went and they tried to lay his corrupted soul to rest to no effect. Eventually, Defender Day knelt in prayer to Crowa and was given the answer to his destruction.

With the vampire dead the adventurers returned to Darlingdale to lick their wounds and discuss pay with their fellow adventurers who had assisted High Father William that morning. The land was turned over to the Duke and everyone breathed great sighs of relief at the demise of those vampires. For now, the land is safe …