Woke up in that filth-encrusted rat hole… on the whole, that's a good thing, didn't get eaten by rats. This place still reeks. We spent the next hour clearing up the different chambers off this main one. Founds a few trinkets, handed the greedy wizard a large bird skull to appease his want for things, he hobbled around with it cackling, mucking through… what is best described as goo, to not disgust the readers. Laash found a small tunnel leading out, not needing to go back through the sewers, but it needed a switch held down to keep it open large enough to walk through. Some time walking through the tunnel later, I heard a click, yelled at my companions to run and made swift speed to the exit. Fleer, taking up rearguard position was not quite as lucky as the rest of us, the tunnel contracting about her as we dived outside, trapping her legs and feet in the tunnel. Laash summoned up a small earth elemental and bade it press the stone once more, the small, rocky thing melded into the earth and many minutes passed before the hole widened once more. I pulled Fleer free and we healed her so she could walk once more. She grabbed the still mucky Gnome and dipped him into a black pool of water from the rain… he sank in further than he should. Curious, I pushed her arm further, completely dipping him, then let go. She grinned, brought him up sputtering, then dipped him again, as he protested, trying to clean him off, something grabbed them and pulled them in. Cursing, I jumped in after them… seeing a field of stars, standing on a floating platform. I recognized… No! I closed my eyes, hoisting them up and quickly retreating myself.
We shook ourselves, standing once more in the mortal realm and I felt something… crawling on me. I looked down, my clothes had grown eyes, but thankfully the rest of my gear was intact. I stripped with the speed of a lad being taken to his first den of pleasure on someone else's coin. Fleer did the same, but Potter's gear seemed fine. Fleer burned her clothing and I killed mine with a bottle of holy water dumped onto it as it tried to crawl away. By the nine hells, I hate this cursed rain. We dressed with thankfully spared gear in out bags, though one of her bags turned into a bag of devouring and thankfully spilled its contents onto the ground. I took the bag, good for disposing of things.
With the day still early, we went back to the Cathedral's entrance and investigated the rest of the ruins, gathering material, finding the ritual required to cleanse the place. Furthest into the Cathedral was a reliquary with sarcophagi and one large one in the middle.
Potter, the Gnomish mage, follower of The King in Yellow, made a bee-line for the central sarcophagus, Fleer hot on his heels, trying to stop him from opening it. I gave chase, but the mad wizard was wiry and slipped out of our grasp. He put both hands on the lid and shoved, there was a 'click' and two spiked sprang out, impaling his hands. The blood started leaking down his arms, then reversed and drew back up into the spikes. I drew my sword and grasped a dagger, thinking a vampire had been sealed in the coffin.
I was mistaken, the lid shattered and a black, smoky form rose and coalesced into the horned, winged form of a demon. Laash and Potter fled in abject terror. It glanced at Fleer and her eyes glazed over, sheathing her weapons and walked out of the room, leaving me alone with it. I could flee, but then it would be loose.
I spoke a fervent prayer to Anubis, allowing my thoughts to mingle with its, just enough to gain an insight to what it might do and took a defensive stance, crying out, "Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas,"
It shrieked in fury and I could feel it's will pounding against mine, yet I stood firm, my voice rising in ferver, "Omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica"
Again, I could feel it's vile will pressing against mine, I staggered, my knee dipping, but stood once more, nearly shouting, "Ergo, draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica, adjuramus te, cessa decipere humanas creaturas, eisque æternæ perditionìs venenum propinare!"
It turned to smoke, trying to flow into my mouth, to subsume me, but Anubis' will kept me from harm, winds rising around us in the chamber, forcing me to shout to be heard, "Vade, satana, inventor et magister omnis fallaciæ, hostis humanæ salutis, Humiliare sub potenti manu Dei, contremisce et effuge, invocato a nobis sancto et terribili Nomini"
Incensed with its attacks being futile, it tried goring me with its horn and claws, it's horn striking me a glancing blow, the wound sealing nearly as quickly from the might of Anubis' judgement. I raised my voice in exultation, shouting the end of the ritual, "quem inferi tremunt Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine!"
There was a wave of power and the demon's body collapsed in on itself, forcing it back to smoke before shooting away, banished from the Prime Material plane.
I sank to one knee, exhausted for the moment, faintly hearing the clanking of a swiftly approaching Fleer. She entered and helped me up, then we proceeded the destroy the summoning circle that had been placed in the room, sprinkled holy water and ensured the rest of the sarcophagi were empty and gathered the last materials needed for the cleansing ritual.
I could tell the entire time she was fuming, fuming at the situation being forced upon us by the whims of the mad mage. I call him thusly, because I am sure he is. She stalked into the main chamber with me, saw him with his pony, Laash had since rejoined us, and turned her axe, striking the flat of it swiftly against his skull, knocking him out cold in one hit. We then set about creating a ritual circle and making preparations to cleanse the Cathedral. Potter awoke and got a stern dressing down by Fleer and he promised to be more of a team player from now on.
We spoke the words of the ritual, having lit the candles and following the guidance given to us. Dark Energies from around the Cathedral gathered over the bowl with the burning mixture of holy oil, holy water and the ashes of a holy man. It gathered into a dark ball of energy then was pierced by a bright shaft of sunlight coming from above, we could feel the hum of power as the ball was destroyed by the light that left no room for darkness… then suddenly, we were all in darkness.
I felt… confused and strange. My mouth was dry, I awoke and opened my eyes to harsh, cold light, strapped down to a bed, wearing a coat with my arms trussed around me and tied behind my back. Two men with no obvious sense of humor got me up and told me to behave today. I decided to play along and say I would, that I felt better and would "behave" They led me out to an enclosed yard and removed the jacket. I saw others milling around, some seemed familiar, somehow. Especially the… cowboy? I shook my head, the men in the white uniforms were saying something about medication, but I paid them little mind as a small, insane old man was dragged, still in his straight jacket, back into the ward to be restrained. During this distraction, an angry woman bolted towards the gate, right at two men… orderlies, they were called. She attacked them, but they drew out rods with electricity crackling along their length, striking her. The cowboy went to help, but missed, knocking her out. He grabbed another chair, but two more orderlies came over, so he sat down, "Well" he said, "I guess I won't be needing this one too. Don't worry guys, job's done, she's out." There was a smug tone to his voice as he covered his mistake coolly.
I watched as she was dragged back to the sleeping ward as well. After a few minutes, two orderlies came for the cowboy… Marcus? He was gone for about fifteen minutes, if not a little more. Time felt off here. They brought him back and asked for me, Marcus mentioned dipping a chair into cold water. Didn't sound pleasant so I told them it was not necessary, I felt fine. They insisted, fingering their rods. I decided it was best to go along with it for now and was brought into the Head Doctor's office, a Dr. T Elliot. Marcus followed along because they said to come along and weren't terribly specific about it just being me. That and he's kind of sneaky. I sat at the doctor's desk who proceeded to ask about my family, slain by vampires. I told him I didn't want to discuss them. He asked again about vampires, so I decided to humor him, telling him about the scourge of our world, the undead. We spoke at length, him telling me they didn't exist and he did not believe in them. I told him that was fine, they believed in him just fine. He had the two orderlies escort me and Marcus back down the long corridor. They fetched another woman, this one not screaming and attacking people and took her to the doctor. We followed along with them, but were turned away by the doctor and escorted back down the corridor.
Marcus hooked their arms, talking amicably when I turned suddenly, pounding one of their heads against the corridor wall, leaving a smear of blood as he fell limply to the floor. Marcus turned, seemingly to smash me against the wall, the other guard's shock rod hitting him in the back, he collapsed limply, feigning unconsciousness. I beat him to the other guard's rod, however, sending it arcing through the air, knocking the last guard standing senseless. I quickly stripped and dressed in the ill-fitting orderlies clothes, giving him mine and hooked the rod to my new belt. We thought about going to the sleeping ward to strap them down, but decided it was too far, we were on the thirteenth floor. Oddly, their keychain also held thirteen keys, and each floor of the sleeping ward held thirteen cells. We deposited the two into the icebath room, one had died from his head injury, the other we strapped to a chair so he couldn't go free. We went to go get the woman they had taken in to see the doctor. She was covered in the blood of the two orderlies and was changing into the doctor's less bloody clothes, the shockrod of one of the orderlies sticking out of the base of his skull. She appears to have licked some of the blood clean. We got her cleaned up in the icebath room and found in the doctor's office an map of the asylum. There we thirteen staff on-hand for thirteen hour shifts, thirteen wards, thirteen cells per ward, thirteen windows, etc…
I concentrated on clearing the haze and remembered most of who, what we are. This was not our world. I made a plan to escape and decided we needed to take out the rest of the staff, either knock them out or kill them and take their weapons and keys. According to the map, the head orderly's office was right around the corner. We went in, in our orderly garb, her in the doctor's coat, confusion crossed his face and we struck before he could grab his baton. We took his keys and locked away the large lever marked "Lock Down" so others could not access it. Sarah, or Seraphim… it was still a bit fuzzy, handed me a paper detailing a planar stenograph, a machine that could rip tears between planes, likely how we ended up here. We needed a live staff member. We also needed the rest of our group. In the yard we picked up Viktor and Laash, telling them what we knew and where we needed to go.
We walked confidently to the laundry room, between the offices and the wards and found another orderly and a nurse busy… interacting with each other is a non-sanitary fashion on the folding table. I jammed the rod against his bare side, stunning him and making him fall to the floor. Some of the electricity bled through him into her, giving her quite a jolt.
I stopped the others from hitting her and demanded to know where the Stenograph was. She wailed for mercy and said she's never seen it before, but the doctor had a hidden lab in the basement. I ordered her to bring us to it, threateningly. Marcus jabbed the unconscious man with his rod again, to punctuate the threat, accidentally electrocuting him to death.
She cried but promised to show us the way if we would be merciful. I gave her my word and let her dress while we did the same in clean orderly clothes. She led us down, stopping us from stumbling into a passing patrol of orderlies, we knocked them out as well, Sera missed one of the orderlies, striking the nurse a glancing blow instead, giving her a severe electrical burn. I stepped between them and offered her some of the morphine we'd taken from her pockets AFTER she took us to the chamber. That left the number of staff, besides her being just three more on hand. She took us to a large door locked with, you guessed it, thirteen locks.
Now that we knew where it was, we gave her the morphine, leaving her to sleep away her injuries and left to get the other keys and the rest of the party. We collected Bob then went to get Fleer. Two orderlies stood guarding her chamber with her raving and yelling in counterpoint to Erick "Potter" up a few levels. We distracted the two guards, telling them Dr. Elliot needed them, they didn't really buy into it, but it allowed us to get close and shock them into unconsciousness. Marcus entered the room first, saying, "First off, I would like to apologize about the chair, the orderly ducked." His hands were up in a non-threatening manner, while she growled, then turned icily pleasant, "Oh, we're fine, everything is peachy between us. I'm not mad." He then told her she could take a chair to him, but she declined as long as he set her free, which he hurriedly complied with.
Next we went to get Potter, his room having just one guard posted outside, who was yelling for him to shut up. I asked the orderly if he'd like for me to keep watching while he shut him up. He grinned and unlocked the cell, heading it. The idiot. I clocked him into a nice little nap and took his keys as well. Looking around the madman's room, there were symbols and formulae all over it, not an inch was uncovered and he kept talking to his hand, shouting that it spoke to him, begging him to take it home. Reluctantly we took him, knowing his understanding of the void between worlds would make him invaluable to getting home. Lastly we got Varadiel, he was attached to some form of wheeled conveyance, holding him upright, his mouth muzzled and bound in such a way he could not move a muscle. I told him we were getting out and released him, then led everyone back to the chamber. It took a few minutes to decipher how to unlock the door, but we got in.
Inside we charts, books, crystals and the Planar Stenograph, projecting a picture of a ruined Cathedral on the wall. I pressed my hand against the image, but felt just wall. It was not operating properly. We pored over Dr. Elliot's notes and discovered it needed a crystal, tuned to the right planar attitude of our world. We picked a few hopeful candidates out and put one in. Potter jumped through immediately, disappearing from view. I picked up Laash and tossed her through as well, followed by Viktor. Bob, Marcus, Seraphim, Varadiel all made it through as well. Fleer bounced off the wall four times, so I turned her around, distracting her and pushed her against the wall… then I tried pressing against it. It was just a wall with a projection, the crystal had burnt out. I cursed and tried another we had selected, pocketing the rest. I wrapped my arms around Fleer and jumped through, we made it that time, falling in a heap, still in the orderly outfits, our gear laying where we had stood, nearby. I quickly ran to mine, grabbing my crossbow and a barbed shaft, spinning and hooking it into the Stenograph and pulled it through to our realm, where it opened a second portal. I hastily pulled the crystal and both portals closed.
We dressed and headed back to Thraben, weary and ready to sleep. Upon entering the Bottle and Blade, I noted blood outside my room, more on the knob. It was unlocked and the dead body of a Raven Messenger was slumped in my chair, its satchel clutched protective to its chest. I checked the satchel and within were multiple coins and two scrolls. I undid the wax seal of the first, finding something Potter should never see, rolling it back up as others entered the room. Thankfully he had gone straight to bed. The other was a plea for help from an Edwin Lillibridge. It said he was hiding near Thul Village, to the north and gave a complex system to get ahold of him. I think we'll need the knowledge he claims to have, yet I also need to activate the Sword of Ashmouth. I consulted our maps, the trip straight to Thul would take a month due to terrain, yet diverting to Ashmouth, then up to Thul would shave nearly a week of time. I decided we would activate the sword, then help this Edwin Lillibridge. It would take a few days to get ready, Fleer wanted something to help fortify her mental defenses. I gave her some ideas and she went to see the smiths, several of us accompanying her.
I left to check with the witch to the south, for ideas on where to get demon wings to finish the armor the smiths wanted to forge for me, she mentioned the demon we slew to the south east, and others nearby. I thanked her and gave her an orderly's smock for her troubles. By the time I had returned, a drunken Fleer, Laash and less drunk Marcus were just returning from the Boar's head Inn, complaining about their lack of manners. Shrugging it off, I prayed to Anubis and went to sleep.
The next day came all too soon, an excited, frightened Laash and Fleer came to me, telling Marcus and I about Vampires in the Boar's Head Inn, the description fit. I calmed them, while Marcus went upstairs… to get Viktor, I think, who was working on translating some of the pages we had recovered, one of them describing the Summoning of He-Who-Shall Not-Be-Named. I took the ladies to Father Matthias, asking his blessing in investigating the issue. Marcus came with us, his order not being one to detect the denizens of evil and requested a scroll to assist him in the matter.
Laash turned into a small rat when we arrived and squeezed under the door, returning to her own form to unbar the door and open it. It was dark as a crypt within, the curtains thick and seamless, the shutters closed as well, the only light being the light spilling from the doorway. I peered inside and spotted half a dozen Strigoi hanging from the rafters, still slumbering. Odd that they hadn't spilled the entire town's blood yet, something more powerful must be controlling them. I handed out Heartseeking Bolts, loading us all up and each of us taking aim at a different Strigoi. I gave a quiet countdown and we loosed as one, four of the beasts falling as the stakes entered their hearts. We beheaded them immediately, one dropped from the ceiling towards me and recoiled at the Sunlight and fled towards the office, where the trapdoor to the coffins were. The other hit the light and tumbled, scrambling off to the side, knocking over tables as it fled. Fleer as Laash gave chase to the one going towards the cellar, Marcus, Viktor and Potter hurriedly opening curtains and shutters as they followed. I stalked the one who cowered to the side, it shrieked in defiance, nearly deafening me before I cut it down with my blade blazing with the power of the sun, beheading it.
A moment later another shriek was heard in the back, then Laash fled the room, tumbling over tables in her haste to get away. We entered, cutting down that Strigoi as well, Fleer's body lay on the floor in a pool of her own blood, her throat torn out. Laash, understandably, wanted to leave, but we could not delay. With the sounds of combat, the ones below would be waking soon and we could not let them flee. I tore open the cellar door and dropped down, illuminating much of the room and opened the sarcophagus next to me, staking the vampire within before noticing an ancient sitting upon a throne at the edge of my light. It inclined it's head towards me and gave a prim theater clap. I kept my eyes on it as I cut the vampire's head off, tossing it aside.
"Shall we continue, or would you prefer to deal with us now?" I challenged it. It merely gestured for us to continue, so we did, methodically ending the life of all 18 vampires below the establishment.
"Why?" Marcus said, "Why allow us to slay your brethren?"
"They were foolish and deserving of the death they have now met." it smiled, no warmth reaching its eyes, "I heard you hear last night, did you drink the red wine? They were mixing blood with it, you see"
"No," Marcus said, gripping his gun "I drank the Elven wine."
"Good choice. We need not fight this day, if you allow, I shall leave and find another group to observe."
I broke into the conversation, "Observe? What do you mean by that?"
"Like I observed this coven of young vampires, I shall go to another city to watch theirs… and if they are so foolish as well, perhaps I will make them stand out for another group of hunters to find them and deal with them" it paused, "Now, I know you two simply could not stand for letting me go, so I will help you with that." he made a small gesture, dragging two fingers downwards in the air. As he did so, both Viktor and Marcus fell into a deep slumber that I was unable to wake them from.
At that moment, we could hear pounding upstairs, "CITY WATCH!"
I replied, not taking my eyes off the thing, "VAMPIRES, BEST STAY OUT! STILL DEALING WITH AN ANCIENT."
"I see that, we'll just be going now" was the reply, then nothing. They obviously left in a hurry.
Laash glanced at me nervously, it being just the two of us in here with it. I kept my defensive stance, warring with myself over the futility of a fight with a being this old just yet. "It would be a bad idea to fight it, my guess is it's about one, no… two thousand years old."
"Two thousand is about right, I was here before the Cataclysm, predating Queen Aclavadria herself."
"By the leavings of Anubis", I swore. This being was ancient and very powerful. I had one more question to see if I could let it go. "How much? How much to you feed in a month?"
He smiled again, still no warmth, "About a wine glass worth a month."
I could detect no trace of deception and stepped back, hating that I had to do it. "There will come a day when I won't let you go freely."
He started walking away, dropping a richly decorated armband onto the sleeping form of Marcus. I followed it out, he glanced down at the body of Fleer, "A shame.." he said, dropping a wristband covered in blood rubies onto her corpse before disappearing into the day. That chilled me more than before, that it could walk outside in the daylight, muted though it was by clouds.
We gather the bodies of the Strigois and Vampires, putting the bodies onto one cart, heads on another and dropped Fleer's body, with the wristband, off with Father Matthias to see if she was willing to return to help us. I took the carts to the graveyard to dispose of properly. Afterwards, seeing the materials that Marcus and the others were able to find at the Boar's Head, I took the vials of blood to the Twin Smiths, knowing they likely had a use for them while the others destroyed all the red wine. While there, the Smiths gave me Fleer's finished Cloak and Circlet, both should aid her in her mental fortitude.
I think I shall rest a bit, I put Fleer's gear on her bed, we leave in the morning for Ashmouth.