Chapter 4 - Plans
The master quickly gathered his magical scrolls and wands.
It was past morning already, but Deirshonn knew the secret to walking about while the sun rose in the sky. The rays never touched him, for he had taken precautions to block any sunlight from entering this part of the castle. He was tired, but he needed to have everything ready by nightfall. If the Vampire was correct, he knew his son would be attacked this very day.
Hopefully the magical barriers were still intact that prevented teleportation into the castle from the outside. If the reflecting magic was not in place, then he knew that his son would die while he slept. If he died, then he would die, and the sanctity of his home would still be intact. Everyone in the area would think the vampires were dead, and the search would be over. That could be good.
But, as Deirshonn finished assembling the items he needed, he thought about what would happen if the group he had scried tried to use their magic for teleporting in for a quick kill. He laughed to himself, for the thought brought back memories of another group of heroes that tried that same tactic. They died quickly and without incident. As a matter of fact, the very ring that was on Diershonn's finger was from the mage of that group that had cast the teleport. It was a ring that provided the wearer the ability to store spells inside of it for use in a time of need.
The vampire looked briefly at the ring on his finger as he walked over and got inside his coffin. If his son still lived, he would go there and help him from being killed. Deirshonn knew that Randell must be convinced that he cared for him. That was the only way to ensure loyalty from him.
Randell's father had already instilled in the boy all the moral character flaws of the pure: Friendship, which begets love. Love begets loyalty, and loyalty begets unconditional servitude. How Deirshonn would make the boy to love him was beyond the master vampires capability. The master could cast earth-shaking magics, fly across long distances in a flash of speed as a bat, and change shape at will. But for some reason, he could not make a small boy overcome his fathers brainwashing. This frustrated the vampire and was the reason he often times thought about just killing the boy and going on with life. But, he had developed a bond with the young man. A bond similar to the one he held for over two centuries with his wife, Shaliana. It was a curse and a blessing all in one.
Deirshonn felt the tears welling up inside him and quickly put his thoughts of fatherhood away. He blinked away any moisture that had gathered around his tear ducts and made himself comfortable inside his coffin. The dirt was soft and the cushion was already broken in to cradle his head as he rested. The darkness was welcomed and he hoped, and prayed, that his son would be alive when he woke. As far as what god would listen to him as he prayed, he could care less. The gods cared nothing about him. It was the effort of praying that was important, not that someone would hear. It was a self-satisfying action that made the petitioner happy and satisfied. Nothing else came of it.
So, as that thought left his mind, Deirshonn slept soundly. The only noise made through the day, was the sound of his own groaning, as he dreamed of his son being overcome and taken from him forever.
* * * * *
“It's the only way to make sure we destroy him before the sun goes down.”
Seluus stated emphatically to Liseria and Comyr. The cleric was becoming very adamant about teleporting to the castle so that they had all day to hunt down and destroy the vampire. His arguments were good, but the others felt wrong about leaving Stephanis behind.
“As far as Stephanis goes, once we get there and destroy the thing, we will teleport back to Arabel and be back on the road to Suzail. Any other option will give the creature time to prepare and make our job that much more dangerous.”
Seluus was sure they could do this. If there ever was an easier way to kill a vampire, it was by staking him while he slept. Seluus liked easy.
Liseria knew that the cleric was right, but hated to leave her companion behind. It just didn't feel right to her. The lack of time was their enemy right now. It cut down so many options they could take. With only one teleport spell available for the morning, and the other one memorized in Suzail by Stephanis, it made the choice to go on very difficult.
Comyr was actually upset that they hadn't left already. “If you both don't mind, we are wasting good daylight arguing over nothing. Sure, Stephanis would love to be here, but he isn't. We can destroy this thing and go to Suzail with missing just one day of travel. I say let's go.”
The paladin had already gotten his things together. His spells were ready in his mind, having already prayed for them the night before. Comyr's reputation as a suicidal paladin was being supported by his lack of patience and the look of bloodlust on his face. The only thing that could make the paladin go crazy, was knowing that a vampire was running loose, and not being able to do anything about it.
Seluus saw the paladins face and smiled. He knew Comyr wanted to destroy this vampire. So the cleric took Comyr's statement as the final go-ahead, and packed his backpack with the necessary items of his trade. He still had a few bottles of holy water on him, but had a spell memorized to create more if they needed it. The preparations he had made were about done. Only some small spell castings were left to do before they teleported to the castle. Seluus would still have many of his more powerful spells left after his protective castings were done. One spell in particular that he looked forward to casting was his undeath to death spell. This one destroyed undead in an area of effect around the caster. It would destroy hordes of skeletons, down to a couple of vampires, depending on how powerful they were. There was no doubt that Seluus would be able to take down the vampire with the spell and stake him. Such was the power of the spell and the power of his goddess.
Liseria and Comyr already were heading toward the cleric as Jelok came into the room fully dressed for the adventure. They all looked at him with surprised expressions as he placed his dual short swords in there sheathes. Seluus had no doubt that they were enchanted. Seluus had given the thief those blades back during their times against the slavers. The two swords complemented each other, for one opened wounds that wouldn't heal, and the other had a magically keen edge that severed limbs. Seluus had seen one of his companions sliced and diced by the slave lord that had wielded them before Jelok got them. The swords were a welcome sight to the cleric, for they were powerful and would help against a vampire.
“So, my old friend,” Seluus said admiringly, “I see you are not afraid to come with us. I am impressed. Perhaps you did learn something during you time with me.”
The cleric smiled and showed he was just jesting with the thief by putting his arm around him and welcoming him into the circle. The four of them held hands, and Seluus looked at Jelok one last time. “I am glad the weight of my armor had been lightened, otherwise you would be staying here no matter how brave you have become.”
Jelok quickly answered and said, “I can still stay and watch the house if you like?” The thief's words were dripping with mirth. Jelok knew that Seluus would have been very angry if he hadn't at least volunteered. But it appeared that the cleric was going to let him go along. Jelok had survived many adventures with the priest already; one more should be no problem.
So, Jelok closed his eyes as Seluus began his castings. He went around from person to person casting spells on them that would give them more strength, or more endurance to take damage from whatever foes they might face. The priest soon stopped and began a longer chanting. Jelok figured this was the teleport spell he had often heard about but never experienced. He listened to the droning words of the prayer Seluus offered to the moon goddess, and felt his skin begin to tingle as the cleric neared the ending of his spell.
Then, he felt a shifting, and soon after, a falling. Jelok opened his eyes only to see himself several hundred feet above a weather beaten castle. He was descending rapidly down upon it, screaming as he fell. He looked around only to see the rest of the group falling with him. All of them had expressions of terror on their faces as the wind rushed past and the ground neared rapidly.
Comyr was close to the thief as they fell, and the small man latched on to the paladin with all his might. The movement caused the two to begin an uncontrolled fall, twisting and turning over and over as they neared the ground.
Liseria watched Seluus cast a spell on himself as they fell, bringing her back to her right mind and her present danger. She had panicked, and she was upset about the lost time, but she had to cast her only spell that might save her. As the castle's hard stone ground grew nearer and nearer, she got off her spell of feather falling. This caused herself to begin a slowed decent that crawled from the others. When she began slowing, she watched Seluus fall past her, his speed unchanged by the spell she had cast. If only she had a way to save them…
Seluus got his magic off soon after Liseria slowed her decent. He was glad that the mage had been able to save herself. But he had to try to get to Comyr and Jelok. Seluus began his own magical flight toward the falling paladin and thief in a desperate effort to stop their fall. As he tried to get closer, the priest knew he would not be able to catch them. Their speed was increasing and his was controlled by the magic he cast. The clerics face turned to an expression of horror as the two friends neared the ground and then hit very hard. Never before had the cleric been so helpless to stop death from occurring.
Seluus watched in horror as blood sprayed everywhere. The sickening sound of the two men hitting the ground made the cleric turn away. Seluus had seen many men die, but watching the paladin land on top of his former companion when hitting the ground was very traumatizing for the priest. Both men bounced into the air almost ten feet before they landed again separately. Each of them was not moving, but the thief looked the worst.
Seluus landed and surveyed the area, almost vomiting from the scene he saw. Jelok had taken the brunt of the fall. His body was unable to contain his own innards when the paladin fell on him. His body had burst with the impact, sending most of its blood outward. The red stain was almost five feet in all directions from where he had first landed with the paladin on top. The thief's body was now just a husk of what it had been. Much of the organs that should have stayed inside the thief were now strewn about the area. His intestines were still attached someplace inside his body, while the rest lay in small coils about the cobblestone area.
Comyr was bleeding from his nose and mouth, and his legs were disfigured and pointing at impossible angles. Small chunks of blood soaked tissue came from the paladin's mouth as he coughed lightly. The quick breaths he was taking told Seluus that he was near to death. Comyr's eyes were open wide in a fearful pose, not having changed from the flight down from above.
Seluus ran over to where his good friend lay, and pounded his fist into the stone. He lifted his head and shouted at the top of his lungs, “NO!” Seluus then bent down to work his magic. Tears of desperation and anguish formed on the rims of the clerics eyes as he pulled out a scroll and began casting the first of his cure critical wound spells. After the first one, the cleric put the paladin's legs in proper alignment and fixed his shoulder that had been dislocated. Then he cast the second cure spell.
This appeared to have mended the shoulder, but the legs were still shredded. So he cast the last of the heals off his scroll and watched the paladins legs grow together again. Comyr was breathing steadily again, his chest and armor moved up and down in a slow rhythmic pace.
Seluus knew the paladin would sleep for a while to finish off the healing process, but at least he was alive. Seluus looked up into the early morning sun, and thanked Selune and Torm for saving his friend. There was a feeling of deep gratitude within the priest as he finished his heart-felt prayer. The cleric had not felt this good about saving another mans life in a long, long time. But the other man, Jelok, was dead, and beyond the spell capacity of the cleric. Sure, Seluus could raise a man from the dead, but he had to be mostly intact. A sword through the abdomen was no problem for the priest, but with half of the mans insides gone… That required a spell that Seluus could not cast at this time. Hopefully, that time would come soon enough so he could have some power over death, especially for his friends.
Liseria landed shortly after Seluus had healed the paladin. She had seen the whole ordeal from the air as she floated down, unable to control the length of time for her decent. When she landed, she ran to the cleric and hugged him. She cried on his shoulder as Seluus told her that Comyr would live. She sobbed there for a moment, feeling comforted by the clerics strong embrace. But her crying soon ended as she looked around the courtyard they had landed in. Her elven senses had picked up on a soft scraping noise coming from beyond the still form of the thief. She looked over at the overgrown flower garden, (at least that is what she assumed it must have been years ago when someone tended it), and saw that a large snake like creature was fast approaching them.
The monster was a cross between a human female and a snake. Its body was over fifteen feet long and was as thick in diameter as an ogre's thigh. Scales lined its body from the top to the tail, upon which resided a large scorpion type stinger. Its head appeared to be that of a human female, but its face was twisted in rage and all of its teeth were sharp fangs.
The thing snarled at Liseria as she saw it approach, and Seluus jumped back as he felt the wizard stiffen in his arms. The two adventurers watched as the snake-like monster reared up and sent a wave of magic over them. The two looked at each other knowing what the creature was. Both of them had come across a different breed of the type of creature that faced them now, and both knew that they were in trouble.
Seluus hissed the name of the creature as he started into action; his recognition of the beast gave him no comfort whatsoever. It was a guardian summoned for just one purpose; to keep intruders out of whatever it was supposed to be guarding. It was a fearsome creature with great intelligence. It was a Naga.
* * * * *
Narlefine could smell the fear of the two adventurers.
She had long been able to tell when her prey was scared. The sweat smelled sweeter, and the facial expressions were priceless. Humans could so things with their face that she could not. Smiling and the wide look of fear were two that she always wanted to see. Her face was always set in a twisted rage that could not be changed no matter how hard she tried. Even if she felt laughter, like when the two men fell on each other just moments before, her face was still snarling. Perhaps it was her tongue.
Yes, it was! She had a forked sensory tongue and humans and elves and the like had tongues that could taste. She was in such joy at the revelation that had taken her over 200 years to come to, that she wasn't all that upset when the two survivors of the fall resisted her charms. She knew the priest might be able to, it always seemed that clergy had stronger minds. That was why she always wanted to charm one; For if she could get one to fall to her mental intrusion, there was no telling what kind of fun she would have.
Then she saw the other was an elf. Of all the luck, an Elf and a priest. “So much for having any fun with them,” she thought.
As she approached her two adversaries, it seemed like they had an idea of what she was. Did that mean they had fought one like her before? Or had they just read books? It didn't matter, she knew their deaths had to be quick, for they were smart enough to survive the trap, and wise enough to know what she was. Two very deadly attributes she gave to these enemies. Attributes that demanded she respect them and fight intelligently.
So she approached and saw them both casting spells. Good! They would see the power of the most deadly type of Naga, The guardian Naga. Their innate spell resistance would show the two casters the futility of their craft. But when they were done, nothing flew at her or tried to hurt her. No lightning, no fire, no little balls of magic flying at her. What was up with this? So, the Naga let loose with her favorite spell, the lightning bolt. A good tester to see how respectable these two were.
When the bolt didn't affect either, she knew they had fought one of her kind before. But she had so many tricks up her scaly body, that she knew something would hurt them. It was her job to find out. So she tried to get off her next spell before the others had a chance to cast, but they were the quicker. Once again, the cleric had cast a spell and nothing had come out of his hands. She knew he was confident, for the smile on his face told her that he had just finished a spell that he thought was important. Well, Fine! Take some magic missiles foolish cleric.
When the missiles launched, five sped for the priest, but two swerved away at the last second to hit the elf. Both the priest and the elf were unaffected again. The Naga was becoming a little more leery of this encounter. The mage had cast her spell, and Narlefine had seen her make a circular motion with her hand signifying a protection circle. The circle of protection meant nothing to her right now anyway. This was the feeling out stage of her attacks. She had to know whom she was dealing with. So when the priest cast a spell on the lady wizard, and she in return cast her spell on him. The Naga decided to blow one of her biggies and see what happened.
The Naga completed her casting, and flying out of the air above her two adversaries, came a pelting of Ice and sleet. It came down so hard, that the Naga saw some cobblestones come up slightly as the hail hit them. When all cleared, the ground was covered with a sheet of ice, and the mage and cleric stood there, almost without injury.
* * * * *
Liseria knew she had made the right choice and upgrading her minor globe of invulnerability to a full globe. She just hated casting both. She had a bad feeling about this even though Seluus was full of optimism. She had seen him cast his spells on himself; first the spell immunity to lighting and magic missiles, then the neutralize poison, then he had come over to her and cast a protection from elements on her. Seluus had whispered that she would be unaffected by poison for the duration of the combat. She was glad about that.
She had returned the favor by casting a stone skin spell on him. After she had done that for herself as well. Now, she felt ready to go after this beastie with some high-powered magic. She thought about blowing the prismatic spray right off and ending this right then and there. However, she knew to hold that back for a more desperate situation.
Liseria watched the cunning Naga slither around and slap its stinger tail at Seluus, hitting him square on the breast plate and launching him 10 feet across the unkempt grounds. When he hit, he tried to get up, but then fell to the ground gasping out something about the poison. His eyes soon closed and he lay still.
Liseria was very disturbed at this. For she knew he had protected himself from the poison, and she had watched him in battle before, and he had never taken a hit like that when he was ready. She thought he might be bluffing.
So did the Naga, for the creature approached Seluus and struck him one more time while he was down, causing his body to jump from the impact of the tail stinger. Liseria knew that she had to get the creatures attention so she launched a barrage of sonic energy at the snake woman. It hit her right in the face, and caused her to reel back from the elf. Liseria noticed that the Naga couldn't register any other face but anger and rage. But the eyes told her that she had surprised her with that spell.
So Liseria kept in her circle of protection, even though it wasn't as protective as it could have been had Seluus not gone down and caused her to have to attack the creature. But that was history and she watched as the Naga threw another spell her way. This one, gave Liseria a jolt, for it was a chain Lightning. It hit Liseria Square on, and then jumped over to Comyr, who was still lying there out of action. After it shocked the sleeping paladin, it jumped over to Seluus and Liseria noticed it dissolve on his protection spell.
Liseria didn't know how she had even noticed that, for she had been rocked to the core by that spell. The mage fell to her knees, and gasped for air. Her hair was standing on end and she was very vulnerable now. She saw the smiling eyes of the Naga as hit struck Seluus again with her tail. Liseria had no idea it was for the creature's enjoyment of watching her gasp in despair. She made up her mind to blow the prismatic spray now and return the favor. As she looked up to begin her castings, she saw Seluus get up and swing his mace down on the creatures tail. Liseria had also seen the priests club had spikes all over it. It was then she knew that Seluus had not been idle in his waiting on the ground.
* * * * *
Seluus had taken each stinger hit stoically, while casing his prep spells for a surprising assault. He had never tried this one before, but he put a bestow curse in his mace, which would be cast upon impact. And then he put his spikes spell on his club, which made the thing a weapon of power against a creature that had vitals. He smiled to himself and got up off the ground. He turned and had an easy attack on the tail… oh how nice it was to be a cleric. And he attacked.
* * * * *
Narlefine was very happy with herself. She had almost taken the poor elven mage out with that improved version of the lightning bolt. The Naga had wanted to save it, but she was glad she hadn't now. The priest was down, the one who had fallen on top of the little man when the teleport trap had been sprung was down, but still alive, otherwise the lightning would not have arc over to them. The slithering horror knew the elf had no more defenses, so she came upon the mage to finish her off once and for all.
The Naga was surprised when she felt the pain in her tail. But it was not just pain, but excruciating pain. It stabbed deep inside her being and hurt her insides just as much as it had torn open her tail. She screamed and turned to see the cleric standing there with his mace, which glowed a midnight blue color in his hand. She was about to attack the cleric, but felt another effect on her. It was like she had been drained of all strength, the ability to think, or to move quickly and effectively. It was like she had been drained of her very essence, and her will to fight to the end. She had become vulnerable to these two powerful adventurers, and her arrogance would cost her dearly.
She tried the only thing she knew, just incase this feeling she had was a magic that could be destroyed. So she cast her only spell that might help her, Dispel Magic, and she watched and felt for the disabling effects to go away. They did not. She then watched as the priest and wizard jumped upon their advantage. The cleric swung twice at her with his mace, which felt like it was searing her soul away after each hit. Then she felt the bite of the woman's staff as it slammed into her face.
Narlefine knew she was done for, but she had to try to make it to her hole and escape. If she could make it down to her lair, she could rest and warn her young that an enemy was there.
She turned to slither away, leaving her open for the two of them to get an open shot on her. The mace hit again, but Liseria had missed in all the excitement of the momentum change in the battle.
* * * * *
Seluus knew the creature would try to find a hole to hide in, so he readied a spell and chased after her. His mace was doing such a great job, that he kept it in place of his magically enhanced club. He got another swing at the Naga before he saw the water well it was obviously headed to. Seluus called out as he hit Narlefine again and wracked her with pain, “She's headed for the well! Do something to block the well!”
Liseria was about to hit her with an acid arrow, but heard the words of the cleric before she had cast. Liseria looked over at where the beast was headed for, and knew exactly what to do. It was her only guaranteed spell that would block the entrance. So she cast the bigby's spell of interposing hand, and placed it over the well's entry hole. The mage then prepared the acid spell to hurt the Naga while she concentrated on the hand to keep the creature blocked. She knew that it was a battle between the cleric and the Naga, and she knew that Seluus would win.
Narlefine slithered over the side of the well after taking a lot of damage from the clerics mace. But that was to be accepted so she could escape. When she got over the edge and saw the hand there blocking her, she knew her end was near. She had attacked to powerful a foe before knowing what they could do. It's just that not many people could fight and kill a Guardian Naga, and Narlefine knew that. She turned not even trying to bust it down, but instead screamed a loud piercing shriek down into the well to warn her young. At least they wouldn't have to serve as guardian of this place for over 200 years like she had. The Naga was glad some good would be done from this battle.
Then she felt the sting as the mace again took her in the tail, and a burning began on her side as a greenish arrow sizzled her scales near her head. She screamed again and launched a barrage of charming magic at the priest after she had slapped him twice with her tail. The cleric looked like he didn't feel a bit of the damage she should have caused with the tail stinger, and then she saw it on the ground next to the priest. That made her even madder, but she could do nothing about it. She was slipping into darkness and she welcomed it.
Before she died, the Naga heard a voice in her mind. It was the calm and deathly voice of her summoner. She heard its voice tormenting her even now, in death, as it said, “Your young are also mine. Even now they are bound to me by the very magic I had cast on you. By you defending my home, you set the contingency of the magic to bind your young as well to my service. Oh, if only you had known…”
Narlefine heard a deep echoing laughter as she slid into darkness forever. She hadn't the strength to have the last word.
* * * * *
The wizard felt the pull of magical forces upon his body.
The feeling of falling overcame him and he steadied himself by placing his hand on the table. He knew immediately that one of his strongholds had been breached. Which one? The mage had no idea, but he was going to find out.
He fumbled through his pack, which had been lying on the desk in the far corner of his modified alchemy lab. He was in the middle of creating a staff of great power and could not spend much time pondering this turn of events in his life. But he had to check and see if breaking off the forging of his new staff was worth the hassle.
The mage knew it would take an act of some god to break him away from his project. He had already invested a lifetime of savings into the materials needed to create his new weapon. Over a hundred thousand gold pieces had been spent to get the large pear sized Diamond to grind into the melted adamantite that would make the staff the strongest of its type. The fist sized ruby that would be placed at the top of the staff along with a few feathers of the fiery phoenix, and the rare leather binding straps made from the hide of a Pegasus along with a few of its feathers as well.
The wizard was well aware of the cost involved in abandoning his project.
When he pulled out his document categorizing each castle or keep he had left in his name, he remembered the several he had to sell to get the money to buy these items. One had been sold just for the Diamond that he eventually ground into dust and added to the forged adamantite. Others sold to greedy arch mages who needed new places to do their private studies or experiments.
When he turned to the right page of the ledger and saw the description of the magical pull he had written down all those years ago, the wizard became somewhat concerned. The description read,
‘Minor contingency magic cast on Narlefine the Naga at Castle Wynet will wake you if sleeping by creating an illusion of falling from a great height. This will also be done if awake, but not as traumatic an experience will occur. This contingency will activate upon death of Naga.'
‘New greater contingencies cast because of young being born to Naga. Young will be enslaved to service for duration of life time upon death of mother and magic mouth activated to tell her so.'
The mage remembered his purchase of the castle from the distraught former owner, who had his family murdered there by treasure seeking adventurers. The wizard knew that the man was a vampire, and he counted on the stigma of the castles reputation to keep most people away.
He remembered the act the vampire had played out, trying to sound like he was a normal man in grieving. If the deed to the place hadn't been necessary, he would have destroyed the vile undead right then and there. But his castle was in Cormyr, and that meant registration and property taxes to get the castle in his name officially. The wizard liked the fact the castle was in the Lawful borders of Cormyr. It was his only base out of that country, and he had gotten it cheap. The vampire didn't even know he had been cheated so badly, or he knew and could do nothing about it. Such was life as a vampire, the wizard mused, once you are found out, you must run and hide.
That still didn't help stay the lump that had formed in his throat. His backup arsenal was there. Hidden well, but there for the taking if someone was smart enough and strong enough to take it. They would endure a few guardians, but in essence, it was practically unguarded. His precious wand of greater dispelling, robe of spell resistance, and an enchanted set of mithril chain armor that was so light, it felt like a heavy robe at most, not to mention it would hardly effect any of his spells like most armor did. It was his second choice in protection to his current combo of an amulet of natural armor and his greater robe of displacement and protection.
The wizard did not want to loose those items, not to mention many other minor magic items that would sell for a pretty penny to the upstart adventuring kind.
The magic user stared into nothing for a few moments gathering his thoughts and the possible loss of such items to an intruder. He knew he could not teleport to the castle to find out. Well, not within the castle, but outside rather. That was not the issue. He would gladly do that if he wouldn't destroy his work already done. At this point, he couldn't even save the staff, for the runes were only half complete at this time. He had a major decision to make.
Also the fact that he had placed magical fields about the place to keep scrying eyes out was also an issue. The wizard was not happy to say the least. But his decision was actually very easy. He would not destroy the last two ten -day of work to go running after someone or someone's that might not even make it to his treasure. They obviously killed the Naga, but there were two young ones still about that would try to keep the intruders at bay. The chance of them actually getting the stuff was very minute, and the wizard had everything to gain here. Once he had this staff made, he would be a force to be reckoned with. Then he would check out the castle and see if anything was stolen. If he found his items missing, he would devote all his energy to finding the thieves and teach them a lesson about stealing.
“Yes,” the powerful wizard said to himself as he walked back to finish the engraving of the runes, “Me and my staff of power will teach them a grand lesson.”
* * * * *
Seluus and Liseria sat there by the well as Liseria pushed the bigby's hand as far as it would go down the hole. They were both breathing a little easier now that the large snake creature was dead beside them. Seluus actually pulled out another scroll to cast some minor healing on Liseria while she concentrated on the hand.
When the priest got done casting, he told Liseria, “I have three more cure moderates left on scroll, and then I will have to use my own spells to heal us. I really don't want to have to choose which spells I would want to absorb into healing. We need them just incase.”
Seluus continued to think while Liseria listened and tried to sense if the Naga was trying to warn someone or something down in the well. Both her and Seluus had noticed the desperate act of warning come from the Naga. The last thing they wanted was another fight right now.
Then, Liseria felt the slamming of a creature against the hand. Small screeches could be heard coming up the well that sounded like smaller versions of the warning they heard come from the Naga. The two companions looked at each other and said in unison, “The Naga had babies.”
Seluus stood up immediately and backed away from the well. Liseria had done the same, but she felt no more pushing against the hand. The two listened carefully, but no more monstrous sounds could be heard. Seluus began looking about the area and saw another well on the opposite side of the courtyard. It was a good one hundred yards away, but the cleric shook his head in disgust. “Nothing is ever easy is it,” he thought, as he began running toward the distant well.
Liseria noticed the cleric running away and was initially concerned, but saw the place of his destination, and knew he was going to prevent the smaller Nagas from getting to the fallen paladin and the concentrating mage.
Seluus stopped a good fifty to sixty feet from the well and prepared an attack spell. No, he put up the spell and got his mace out. It seemed to do a lot against the older Naga; perhaps the young would not like it either.
Soon, a smaller six-foot version of the elder Naga came slithering out of the hole. It saw the priest and immediately attacked with a flurry of magic missiles. The three balls of magic hit the cleric and dissipated into nothing. When the Naga saw it, she cast a lightning bolt as well. Still nothing hurt the priest.
Seluus smiled at the beast and blew it a kiss in a sensual manner. This seemed to have the desired effect and the snake charged. Seluus pulled back his mace and swung as hard as he could as the creature bit at him. His mace tore into the scales and bones underneath as the fangs of the Naga buried deep into the clerics arm. But, the Nagas teeth were turned away by the power of the stone skin. Seluus's mace was not turned away.
The agony that showed in the twisted face of the Naga was quite profound. So Seluus continued to swing his mace like a berserker gone mad. The flurry of bites and mace hits continued back and forth until the Naga was a dying mass of beaten pulp lying at the priest's feet. Seluus had felt the last of the bites go through as his stone skin failed. It was a minor bite and not much to worry about so Seluus turned to go back to Liseria, only to see her fighting with the other Naga. Catching his breath from the exertion of the battle was not a luxury the cleric had now. So he ran as fast as he could to help his good friend.
* * * * *
Liseria had been concentrating on the spell, but knew it had very little duration left before it would dispel. The elf knew it was only a temporary blocking magic that allowed a mage to find a way to escape, or figure a way out of some mess they had gotten themselves in. She had never used it to keep an enemy from retreating before. But learning was a constant activity when traveling with Seluus; at least where battle was concerned.
When the Naga sprung out of the opposite well and attacked Seluus, she was brought back from her daydreaming. She thought the other Naga would soon follow its sibling and attack Seluus in tandem. Soon after the Naga had attacked the cleric, Liseria felt the magic of the hand fade into nothing, so she started running toward Seluus and noticed the other Naga had not come out to help its twin. She was curious about that when she felt some pain in her back. Magic missiles had hit her. With her globe of invulnerability gone, as well as her minor one, the magic did get through and hurt her. When only three missiles hit her backside, however, she turned to face the creature, thankful it was a smaller version of the mama.
She began her wizardly preparation for a spell battle by protecting herself again with another minor globe of invulnerability. That should hopefully cover her from spells of the smaller Naga. She was assuming that the younger beast would not be able to cast as strong of spells as its mother. But when the lightning bolt shot through and dissipated on the magical barrier of her globe, she knew that there was a possibility of this one having a chain lightning as well.
Liseria's retaliation spell was flaming sphere that rolled out and stampeded the Naga right on top of the well and stayed rolling around its coils, burning the snake and causing the young beast to slither to the side and cast another spell at the elven mage.
When Liseria saw the hail start coming down on her, she knew she needed to go hand to hand with the thing. Her stone skin was still good, and she didn't want to waste anymore of Seluus's cures on her. But the hail plummeted down upon her and knocked her to the ground. Liseria did concentrate enough to move the sphere of fire over the Naga again and heard some sizzling over the pounding of the ice on her. She would be bruised for a while now she knew. But she got up and gave the Naga a stare that would have stopped a rhino in its tracks.
The Naga Hissed and shot its tongue out into the air in some perverted form taunting and Liseria ran forward and suffered the Naga to get a free shot on her with the tail. Her stone skin absorbed the shot and she felt nothing. Her swing with the staff hit the creature, but only made it madder. Liseria did see the bruise it made on the creatures scales as she began to dodge the next tail swing and bite combo the Naga tried on her. The bite missed, but the tail smacked her again, all to no avail. Thankfully the sphere of fire continued to burn the snake's body up to that point. However, Liseria saw the fire die away very quickly into a few wisps of smoke
As Liseria prepared her double thrust with the staff, she saw the Nagas eyes widen and she struck out with all her strength. Both ends of the staff connected with the evil creatures face, puffing one eye immediately with blood.
The Naga shot out another Lightning bolt but not at her. She turned to see Seluus being hit by the bolt and thrown backwards from the impact. The bolt had stopped the priest in mid-stride pushing him back across the cobble-stoned courtyard. His skidding came to a quick halt for the stones were uneven and some displaced from years of neglect. When the cleric stood up, he looked at his armor… not a scratch. The priest loved his new set of plate mail, but he was quickly reminded that his spell immunity was down when a threesome of magic missiles headed his way. “If the lighting could get through, so could these magic missiles,” the cleric mused, as he braced for the impact of the flying balls of light. Soon, they would be rid of this last Naga if Seluus had anything to say about it. Hopefully it was the last Naga .
Then the spell hit the cleric, and he winced as he saw Liseria strike the creature again with her staff. Seluus had never seen the lady wizard in hand-to-hand battle with anyone before. He was impressed that she could handle herself so well. Of course, the Naga was casting spells at him and basically ignoring the mage. But still, Seluus would compliment her if they got through this together.
As the cleric got closer, The Naga cast one final spell before turning around and slithering away. The flaming arrow took Seluus in the chest, but the ring on his finger absorbed the spells energy. Seluus was glad the creature cast a fire spell, for it was the one type of element that he was well protected against.
Liseria gave the creature another quick smack with her staff and then readied her favorite acid arrow spell. She cast it at the snake's backside and watched it hit, and then readied another for her final spell before the beast slithered down the well. Seluus also knew he couldn't catch it, so he stopped next to the mage and watched as her last acid arrow strike it again as it disappeared down the well.
The cleric saw that Liseria had once again taken a beating from a spell or two but he smiled at her reassuringly. “Its ok that it got away, I don't think it will bother us again.” The cleric walked over to the well and looked down. He came back smiling and opened his pack again. Seluus then got out his last scroll and used up two of the three heals on it for himself and Liseria then saved the 3 rd for Comyr to heal that one strike by the chain lightning. Seluus then muttered to himself as he began waiting for Comyr to wake, “No more heals left and whole lot more of the day to go.” Then he sat down and began to pray for guidance from his goddess. Oh how they needed it now.
* * * * *
Deep down the well the snake creature slithered, feeling the ongoing damage of the magical arrows in its body. The Naga hoped to make it to the lair, but her vision was blurring and the pain the arrows were causing began to subside. The familiar well hole began to grow dim and she felt a falling; a long falling that ended in the engulfing darkness that overtook her on the way down. The Naga was in the bliss of death, and never felt herself splatter all over the bottom of the dried out well.
* * * * *
Seluus rested by the body of Comyr, and Liseria also took a break from watching the area for any more suprises. Seluus had used yet another of his scrolls to cast glyphs of warding across the well exits. At this rate, The cleric would have to spend a week to replace all his scrolls he had used in the first hour of after arriving. The glyphs would keep anything from coming out of the holes, or atleast hurt what was coming out of the holes.
It wasn't but a few hours after he had placed the protective spells, that one was set off. The priest had run over to the well, but could not see anything in the darkness. Seluus cast a light cantrip on a nearby rock, and dropped it down the well. When it hit the bottom and rolled to a stop, the cleric could clearly see some decomposed form of a large rat like creature that had obviously activated the acidic glyph. What startled him, were the other injured forms of giant rats that were still squirming in their own blood. Seluus didn't want to fight an army of giant 4ft long rats, so he thought and decided on a plan.
The cleric smiled and used the last spell on the scroll to apply another acid glyph on the hole. Liseria had watched the whole thing from across the courtyard. She figured his glyphs would help and protect them from more encounters for the time being. When Seluus returned from the well, he sat down again and asked Liseria, “So tell me again, Stephanis is going to find a way to teleport to Arabel today, then begin riding out to help us here as well, right?”
Seluus and Liseria had contacted the other mage in arable with a spell and had talked to him about what had happened. The castles location had been imparted and the warning of teleportation also. Stephanis said he would buy teleportation and then bring all the horses and himself to the castle to help.
Seluus had agreed for they were not going anywhere until the sleeping Comyr woke anyway, so waiting ten to twelve hours for Stephanis to arrive was not an issue. Comyr needed the rest and they needed their other mage to be with them. With all the spells that had been cast, the addition of Stephanis's spell selection was important. So they played the waiting game, hoping nothing else would come, and also, that there would be more than a few hours of daylight left to hunt the vampire. The plan was not going as good as the cleric had hoped.
* * * * *
Stephanis, a mage and close companion of Liseria, contemplated all he had heard of the situation his friends were in. He had to hurry, that was clear, and his offensive spell capability was required. What he didn't understand, was why Liseria had chosen to go to this castle to fight a vampire, and not come to Suzail. This was his major hang up. They had agreed to come after him and meet him at the tower of mages as he finished his investigation into the Cult of Dragons. Why they had decided to leave him behind, was a mystery that could only be answered if he stopped thinking about it and got himself out of the city. So he gathered his things and went to the Spell Sword guild to hire someone to teleport him out to Arabel.
The cost was high and the mage rude that had agreed to take him there. But the wizard needed quick transportation and this was it. So he put up with the spell-sword's tongue for the 30 minutes it took for the him to get the proper components together. After what seemed a lifetime of waiting, Stephanis found himself in Arabel and only about a half mi from the inn that all the horses had been stabled at.
The wizard quickly made it to the inn and gathered up everything of importance. Then he set off with to the Vampires lair with out a clue as to why he was doing it other than to help his friends. Stephanis knew Seluus was behind it, for the cleric had always been one to get sidetracked on side adventures and not keeping to a set plan of action. Well, when it came to battle plans, he was very structured, and very intelligent, being one of the most creative tacticians the mage had ever met. But for the rest life's adventures, Seluus never followed a plan, only his heart. “At least his heart was good,” the mage thought, as he exited the city and made his way north and west toward Wynet Castle .
* * * * *
Seluus had no more spells of healing as Comyr stirred from his slumber. The paladin was still hurt from his fall, but could make, it if he had to, in a fight. As his eyes opened, he jumped up with a startling scream, but quickly realized he was not in any danger. Comyr quickly scanned the area and relaxed as Liseria came over to comfort him. Seluus still had watch duty till Stephanis arrived. But he managed a wink back at his friend as he saw the paladin stand up on his previously broken legs.
Comyr knew he was still hurt, so he used his self healing capabilities, and was quickly at full strength. He gave a deep sigh of relief and asked Liseria, “How did I live through that fall?”
Liseria just smiled and motioned toward Seluus, “He is responsible for saving you after your fall. You fell on Jelok as you hit the ground, giving you some cushion I think, and thus allowing Seluus the time to heal you.”
Comyr looked over at the watchfull Cleric as he scanned the courtyard for anything hidden he might not have seen in the last several hours of vigil. Comyr was thankful he had a friend like Seluus, and waved his thanks as the cleric looked over again. The priest smiled and then continued his watch.
“So,” Comyr stated, as he saw the sun lowering in the western horizon, “I guess we have lost much daylight since we first came?” Then the paladin coughed and Liseria lowered him down to the ground. Comyr saw the massive blood stain on the cobblestone courtyard, but saw no body or body parts.
Liseria saw him notice the gore on the ground, and said, “Seluus moved the body to another location, hoping it will stay untouched for the journey home. It seems that Seluus is going to try to get him resurrected when we return.”
Comyr nodded in agreement. They couldn't let the thief rot away in a gods forsaken castle. Then Comyr got up ans seemed much stronger now. He made sure his great sword was strapped on good and his armor was ok. He noticed his armor had not a single dent in it. The paladin was thankful for the powerful armor he had received from his order, and gave a quick prayer to Torm reinforcing his thanks into words.
Then he started toward the Cleric and said, “Ok, lets go hunt some vampire.”
Seluus turned toward him chuckling, “I am sorry my friend, but Stephanis will be here shortly, and we wait for him. Actually, we wait until the sun hits the last quarter of the sky, then we go with or without him. We still have an hour or so before that happens.”
Comyr was glad to hear Stephanis was so close to joining them, but wondered how the plans had changed. When he mentioned this, Seluus pointed at the dead Naga over by one of the wells, and told Comyr the story. “You see my friend, we need his spells now. And we couldn't go anywhere without you awake and in full health. SO we contacted him and had him teleport to Arabel and bring our horses.
* * * * *
“Wait! I see him coming!”
Seluus turned to see Comyr waving him back toward the front gate. They had all given up hope of the mage joining them in time to find the Vampire. The sun was already starting to fall rapidly in the late afternoon sky, but having the mage with them was important.
Seluus walked over to the castle gate and saw Stephanis riding up as quickly as he could. He had ridden the horses hard for they looked pretty haggard from the rough journey. The cleric knew the mage was still a good half hour out, maybe even twenty minutes. But that would give only an hour or so to search the castle before the Vampire could escape. Seluus did not like the odds of finding the vampire in time.
So they waited, with Seluus pacing impatiently for Stephanis to arrive. His thoughts were dark and his spirit told him that this encounter would be much worse than he had originally planned. The cleric was still kicking himself for having fallen into the teleport trap. That would never happen again as far as Seluus was concerned, for he had taken his last bump on this trip.
When Stephanis arrived and entered the courtyard, Seluus told him roughly, “Go and tie up the horses, we have no more time to lose.”
The mage had barely walked through the entrance and was taken by surprise by the cleric's words. Stephanis looked at the three companions and noticed a lot of tension, except from Comyr, who looked really impatient to go and kill something. Liseria walked with Stephanis over to an outside stable, or what had been a stable, but was now a dilapidated overhang with some rotted hay in it.
“I missed you,” Liseria began, as they tied up the horses securely, “I am glad you came. We had some issues following our transport here. Seluus is still feeling guilty for teleporting us into a trap that caused the death of a friend of his, and Comyr almost died as well.”
Liseria finished her job and then helped her beloved finish his. She knew Stephanis was upset by what Seluus said, but she would smooth it over. “Its almost dark, and we still have a vampire to find. Don't be mad at what Seluus said when you came in. He is actually very glad to see you.”
Stephanis snorted. “As usual, he has a funny way of showing gratitude.” The wizard was looking at the cleric the whole time, not realizing the shoddy job he was doing on the knot to secure the last horse. “I guess I can assume that you will fill me in on the days happenings so I know what's going on. I see a few dead Naga's over there, and that concerns me.”
Liseria knew that Stephanis was concerned. She could tell by his body language and his voice inflections. “Put aside all questions until after we kill the vampire, then we will tell all. We just don't have the time to spare right now.”
The two mages walked back over to Comyr and Seluus and the paladin commented openly, “Now can we go and kill the vampire?”
Seluus smiled, as did Stephanis and Liseria. The paladin was always in a hurry to get himself into trouble. Seluus then said to everyone, “Ok, lets be careful, for I had seen through my tracking spell the way the vampire entered into his lair. But some of the details are fuzzy. I think I can get there without to much problem, unfortunately, the vampire entered through that upper window over there.” The cleric pointed to the farthest window on the front side of the castle toward the east.
“We must get there so I can easily track the vampire to its home. So lets move out.”
Comyr led the group into the castle, taking the first set of stairs up that led toward that area of the castle. Comyr was followed by Stephanis, then Liseria and Seluus bringing up the rear. There was still enough light to see clearly, but the companions knew they would need some magical light soon. When that happened, they knew the vampire would be close to escaping. Seluus walked up to Liseria and asked, “You memorized those wall of force spells right?”
Liseria gave the ceiling a look of exasperation, like she was pleading for it to make the cleric less paranoid. She turned toward him with a deceivingly sweet smile and said, “Of course not, you know I don't have that spell.”
The lady mage was pleased with the reaction she got; a scowl that spoke volumes of the clerics inability to joke around in unpleasant situations. Liseria turned back and smiled to herself. The slight chuckle of her partner Stephanis, told her he had heard it to. They both enjoyed making the cleric miserable… on occasion.
The first part of the journey through the castle, showed the place to be practically uninhabited. But the group knew better. Guardian Naga's did not guard illusions and empty space.
Several rooms were passed through, and many hallways walked down before they finally got to the entrance to the room with the window. From there, Seluus walked ahead, taking the lead with Comyr right behind him. They slowed their pace, for the memory of the divination seemed to be eluding the cleric. Seluus knew what he saw, but could not remember if it was right. The cleric cast a "detect magic" spell just to see what might be clouding his mind. When the spell dissipated into nothing, the cleric became concerned.
“It appears the castle has been protected by some sort of divination disruption field. I cant even get off a simple detect magic.” Seluus continued to look around to see if anything could jar his memory. Nothing was working. He opened every door in the hallway, and peered into every corner, but nothing jarred his thoughts clear. Stephanis tapped the cleric on the shoulder to get his attention.
“I know the power of such things as protective fields,” Stephanis began, “I don't think any mage could fashion one to cover the whole castle. Perhaps just certain areas were done to throw off anyone from searching as you did. I think we need to find another room that you recognize, and that will show us that field is limited. It's the only explanation for you being able to remember anything about the vampires flight into the castle.”
Seluus looked at the mage with some respect. That made perfect sense to the cleric, for he knew what the chamber looked like where the vampire laid, but some of the in-between was very vague. Seluus then told the group, “Lets open every door till we find a room that I remember, then we will proceed.”
And so the long process of searching every room and every hallway went on until the cleric exclaimed, “I remember this one! Through that archway,” the cleric said excitedly, pointing at the long carpeted hallway beyond the busted out door, “the vampire flew and the turned the corner left at the end.”
The others could feel the excitement brewing. They had no time to lose, for Seluus had to activate his shield to illuminate the area in bright moonlight that illuminated the entire hallway and beyond. They knew they were close, and so Seluus blew another detect magic spell to see. The magic worked this time, and Seluus saw everything that the others and he carried that was magical. The sword at Stephanis's belt shined bright with magic, but also did the archway, and several spots on the rug that went down towards the T section in the hallway.
Seluus looked grimly at his companions, “I think we have some traps to deal with here. The archway is covered by a glyph of some kind, and the rug has many magical traps set in it.”
The others looked at the cleric and then at Stephanis. They had done this drill before. Without a rogue to help disarm the traps, the companions used their light summoning spells to set off most and then move on. So the human wizard cast one of his lowly summoning spells that would gain him a few goodly creatures to send through the magical mine field. A few Celestial eagles came to his call, and he sent the first through the archway after they had backed up several feet. The incineration of the eagle came as no surprise to the group, but the suddenness of it caused them all to jump. Lightning struck the creature from the glowing magic that surrounded the doorframe. Feathers flew in all directions, but the whole of the bird was gone.
Comyr shook his head at this tactic. He hated sending good allies off to their death like fodder. But the paladin kept his mouth shut. “Better it is a summoned eagle than me.” He thought, as the second one landed on the place Seluus had described for the mage. A cylinder of fire engulfed the creature and it died. Then the last one was sent and landed on another of the illuminated traps. Several arrows shot from the end of the hallway and embedded themselves into the bird. It flew off, not quite dead, and Stephanis made it land on the last trap; this one dropping a large stone block from the ceiling and crushing the eagle flat. Seluus patted the mage on the shoulder and then preceded down the hallway, “I'm surprised any more of those stupid birds answer your call my friend. With the way you treat them, it's a wonder you can cast any summoning spells.”
The cleric chuckled then commented about the magical sword at the wizard's hip, “nice sword you have there, it looks like quite a find.” The cleric then winked at the wizard and motioned for them to come. Stephanis looked down at his short sword he had taken off one of the orcish leaders. Liseria did the same, but held her questions till later as Comyr rushed up to join Seluus at the beginning of the T section in the hallway. The cleric took a left and smiled a wide pleasing smile. “Soon,” the cleric thought to himself, “we will have this vampire defeated and be on our merry way.”
* * * * *
The master stirred within his coffin. The time had come to see what was happening with his son. The lid to the coffin slid quickly off, and the Master jumped out and went immediately to his scrying pool. The powerful vampire briefly glanced at his shattered crystal ball, wishing he had not lost his temper earlier. Then he put it out of his mind, even though the crystal ball would have done a much better job at scrying than his pool.
He cast his greater scrying and began moving inside the castle. He stopped his movement, and began scanning the courtyard. There he saw the three dead Naga's and knew that the hunters were at the castle already. The master knew that if the others could defeat three Naga's, his protégé would not stand a chance. So he quickly moved toward the main castle entrance, but saw another body lying covered by some rotten hay close to some horses. The Vampire pulled in his view to see a man that had been crushed by something, but then he remembered the large red stain out in the middle of the yard, and he knew the companions had been caught in his teleport field.
Diershong was only temporarily happy, for the man that was dead, was the rogue that had warned the others. Which meant that the cleric and paladin still lived. That meant almost certain doom for his son. And so he moved into the castle, knowing exactly where to go and see if Randell was still alive. The vampire chuckled at the irony of the horses being stabled outside his former castle. It was exactly there, that Randell's father had watched over the horses of another hunting team. One with the same intentions as this current team had.
The master Vampire then moved through the castle, looking for his sons resting place. Several times, the magic of his scrying was distorted, but he eventually made it to the chamber. There, his son opened his eyes, and the entry door flung open to reveal the hunters. Randell jumped up and screeched a loud hiss at the intruders, and then he swiped at the cleric that had entered first. The young vampires hand scratched across the plate armor of the priest and drew no blood. The paladin was already pushing past the cleric and swinging his great sword down upon Randell. His sword cut deeply into the vampire's body, causing a scream to hiss forth from Randell's mouth. A volley of magic missiles and an acid arrow embedded themselves into the now scared vampire. And Seluus smashed Randell's head in with his mace, the holy part of it ripping the insides of the vampire with its good magic.
Diershong watched in professional amazement at the efficiency of this group. They wasted no time setting the youngling on its heels, and getting the instruments of death out. The master saw the paladin take out a wooden stake after striking the vampire once whit his great sword, and move in for a possible kill. So quick, so precise, so exact in their movements and purpose. ‘They were enemies to fear,' Diershong thought, as he continued to watch the slaughter unfold.
* * * * *
Randell had never been hurt this much before. His pain with the vampire Alainia was different. Concentrated perhaps, on the jugulars of his neck. These men had holy magic in their weapons that tore the very being of the vampire to shreds. Randell quickly went to mist form, and began floating toward the high ceiling.
Seluus's shout was clear to Liseria. “Use the force wall to keep him from getting away!” And so the lady wizard stepped inside and cast her spell over the top of the ceiling, and lined the walls with it to almost halfway down. It created a magical force field, which would not allow the mist of the vampire to get away.
Seluus smiled to himself. This would be easier than he thought. “Use the second one to trap him with out escape.” He told Liseria quickly when he saw the mist float up and stop at some unseen barrier. Then it started floating down and Liseria cast her other force wall and it enclosed them all within the magical barrier.
Liseria knew exactly what to do next, thinking to herself that she would never question the cleric again on her spell selection. It was working exactly as Seluus had said it would. So she cast her spell, “gust of wind” and waited for the vampire to form back to his regular self if it wanted to have a fighting chance. The winds within the force bubble grew and began blow the mist apart. Liseria knew it would be any time now…
* * * * *
Randell knew he was dead; every avenue of escape cut off, and four vampire slayers waiting for him to become solid. The young lad would never reach his fathers old age like he had dreamed, never have a love of his life, and never be able to tell his father he was sorry. He was going to the wall of the godless, if he even had a soul anymore. Or eternal darkness without the thought or knowledge of what he was or had become… either way, it beat the pain he was experiencing. So when the wind began to pull him apart, the vampire came back to human form and fell upon the adventurers from above. The last thing he remembered was an awful pain racking his heart, and the face of a determined paladin, as he shoved the wooden stake deep inside.
* * * * *
Deirshonn sat down and wept. He had seen his protégé destroyed. Killed by the same kind of fanatics that had taken his wife from him. The vampire stewed in his anger. His very body began shaking from the intensity of his feelings. He knew revenge. He knew the taste of it was without reward. No peace would come from him risking his life for the foolish boy. But he was not a rational being. He was a master of vampires: a four-century-old relic to the old ways. His very essence required he retaliate against the murderers of his son. Once the bond was formed, it was there to stay. Perhaps Randell's death was a blessing on the boy. He wouldn't have to go through what Deirshonn had endured for the last decade and a half. No anguish, no sorrow, no loss; feelings that Deirshonn could not escape.
The vampire sat at his table for hours, thinking of his son. Thinking of what could have been, had the boy survived his first twenty to thirty years as a vampire. They could have made a formidable pair. Perhaps been best friends too. But he would never know now; for that line of possibilities had been taken away by two wizards and two holy men.
As the night slipped away, the solitary figure was finally overcome by his emotions. He fell to the ground and cried. His hands shaking as his tears hit the stone floor. He couldn't go through this kind of loss anymore. The vampire knew he couldn't go through the loss of another fledgling, especially one that he bonded with. He couldn't do that again. That was a finality in the vampires mind. He would be alone for the rest of his days, never again trying to gain a companion.
When that thought penetrated his sorrowful heart, his purpose became clear. If he would not ever try again, then he cared not if he died. For death was preferable to loneliness. To stay behind in the cold stone building living off the life of others was not an existence he would go through if he did not avenge his son. Thus, his mind began to resort back to a primal state. Revenge was all he could think of the pleasure of killing the slayers. They would pay for the death of his son. That was assured, but how was the question and when.
Soon a smile replaced the sadness on his face that had been there moments before. His mind renewed in the refreshing thought that he would devise, plan, execute, and complete a plan of retribution on four individuals that were worthy to be his adversaries. There were so many things he wanted to do, but he had to organize. You just don't go in and fight four powerful adventurers without knowing something about them… Yes, it was time to gather information.
Deirshonn gathered up some writing material, and began to write down his thoughts concerning the plan he had before him. He knew it would take time, and preparation. Three things he needed to do:
Begin summoning his minions to help with the coming confrontation.
Decide when and where the battles would take place and prepare the groundwork before hand.
And third, gather the necessary information that could be used against these murderers.
Deirshonn sat back and contemplated his course of action… first; he would need a good spy, for he couldn't scry on them all the time. The master vampire ran to his study and gathered the necessary scrolls that he would need. Then, he ran down to his sanctuary, and set up for his teleport without error into the old Wynet Castle . One thing he still liked was the fact that he could still teleport back and forth for their was still a small hole in the teleport trap that allowed someone to go directly into a hidden hollowed out space between the castles walls. Deirshonn knew he could teleport there and then seep through some of the small holes and be close to his old resting place.
So the vampire cast the teleport and was whisked away to his destined location. He turned into his gaseous form and went through the walls to his old chamber of study. It had changed since he had been there last. Only once before had he come here since he left. And that was only to retrieve a few scrolls he left behind in his haste to leave. But the circular room was bare of all furniture, but the wizard he had sold the place to left the carpet where it was. Perhaps it was because the floor was made of dark marble, almost black. It mattered not, for the vampire had work to do.
He set some of his scrolls on the floor and then took a deep breath. This was the beginning a new fork in the road of his long life. Deirshonn usually paused a moment to consider it. For once he started, there was no way to turn around and go back. The other way would be forever blocked to him. That was the strange part about taking one path over another. One road always had the other option available, at least for a little while, while the other road completely barred you from returning to the prior possible path. Why this was, the vampire couldn't say, but it made thinking about it that much more interesting.
After a few moments, the Vampire chose his destination, and cast the first of many spells off his scrolls. After ten minutes of summoning, the Vampire looked about his room. Over a dozen Wraiths and Weights, accompanied by a couple ghosts, with a half dozen shadows and a full score of ghasts. He smiled at them all, but looked about for the commander of this rabble. Then he saw it. It sulked outside the now volatile groups of undead, not wanting to be a part of the lower forms of negative energy personified.
Deirshonn walked over to the Specter and nodded a greeting to it. He then shouted to the other horde of undead now fighting amongst themselves. “Stop! Now! It is for you to obey my every wish. You are under my power until I see fit to let you go. So listen and learn your purpose!”
The vampire had gotten the attention of the other undead, which looked at their leader with respect and a desire to obey. Only the Specter eyed the vampire with some weariness. The undead spirit was the most powerful of the spirit undead, and a match for most vampires. This particular specter knew he had no chance against this vampire though. He was the most powerful undead master he had ever had to serve. The power of the negative plane was very visible to the specter, and he saw the link of his home dimension as one that was unbreakable to this vampire.
“Yes,” the specter hissed softly as he approached his summoner, “you are a powerful one indeed. What can I do to serve you master?”
Deirshonn smiled to himself. He had a good undead army ready to delay and hunt down the murderous killers of his son. When he addressed the specter, he said with full confidence, “I need you to lead these others,” Deirshonn pointed to the other undead, “into a battle against four adventurers that even now are in this place. They have a Paladin of Torm the true amongst them, and a cleric of Selune as well. The others are wizards of low power, so your task should be easy to carry out. I want you to attack them when they leave this place, or outside in the courtyard. I want you to find them and track them and listen to every word they say. I want a full debriefing tomorrow, whether you have any troops left or not. You will not fight the adventurers. Your duty is to give me all the information you gain by spying on them. Listen to them talk, listen to them laugh. Your time to feast on the living beings of this plane is soon to come.”
The vampire then left the undead alone and became his gaseous form again and floated up to the main level of the castle and out toward the stable area. He found the dead thief lying in the hay, and the horses as well. They shied away from the vampire as he approached, but they couldn't run for they were tied up well to the posts still standing. The vampire looked down at his fingers, and made his claws grow into inch long talons of death. He then ripped the throats out of the horses and watched as each fell dead to the ground. He got all the equipment off the horses, cleaning them of anything that might be of use to him. The main thing he wanted was personal items that would help glean information about his adversaries.
So he gathered all that up and carried it all, along with the dead body of Jelok out the front gates and into the night. Deirshonn loved the strength he possessed as he carried the load he had out to a safe position to teleport. The vampire estimated he was carrying about four hundred pounds worth of equipment and dead bodies. So he ran to relish in the might of his power. Then, when he got beyond the powerful teleport trap, he cast his last teleport of the night and wound up in his own study, smiling at the great beginning to his deliverance of retribution.
* * * * *
The specter gathered the ghosts away from the others. They deserved better than to be lumped with the weakling undead. Besides, ghosts were the most feared of the undead spirit types. The specter understood that and made each of them a lieutenant in his army. He then divided the rest of the undead evenly amongst the two ghosts, one getting the ghasts, while the other got the shadows. The specter then told them in his eerie, other world voice, “Go and seek the prey described by the master. Then inform me before attacking. I must listen to their conversation before we destroy them. You may not attack until I listen. That is the rule, the only rule.”
The ghosts nodded their mist-like heads and floated back to their troops and began communicating the orders to them. It wasn't long till they were off on the search. The specter walked around on his soundless feet, wishing he could suck the life out of a living being with his very touch. Instead, he saw the last of the shadows leave wishing for some strange demented reason, that he had been one of the others on the hunt. But that thought was brief, as his hatred for life overtook him and he began searching for something that he could kill that wasn't one of the four the master mentioned.
* * * * *
Seluus, Comyr, Stephanis, and Liseria, had searched most of the easily accessed places of the castle. They had decided to make sure that nothing else was here that might be a vampire. So far, they had had no luck. The only thing interesting they had found had been a small fight with a few animated statues that the group quickly destroyed.
There had been a few other traps, but Stephanis's eagles once again set them off and cleared the way for the group. They knew there had to be something interesting around here, but they were about to give up. The vampire had been destroyed, and that was enough. At least, that was what Seluus kept telling himself.
Something just didn't settle right within the young cleric. The vampire didn't have a coffin, looked to be headed elsewhere and then changed course, and was far too easy of a kill. There was something out of place. So far, they had seen nothing to make it seem like this was the home of a dreadful vampire. Quite the contrary… this place seemed like a forgotten relic of a home with no plan to be used in the near future. The castle was abandoned, and that was that. It was time the group left. There had been no hidden treasure to claim, and no magic to call their own. Searching was a waste of time.
“I truly believe this is a waste of time.” Seluus commented for the hundredth time. The looks he got from the others basically told him to shut up. Seluus snorted with impatience. “How many of these hallways are we going to walk down before we get out of here. I have a feeling we are searching in the wrong area.”
Comyr glanced at the cleric like he was a new soldier talking back to his commanding officer. “We all know how you feel Seluus, now shut up. We will follow up on your hunches after we make absolutely sure this place has no more evil in it.”
Liseria and Stephanis gave each other surprised expressions at the paladin's abruptness. They knew the two holy men had become good friends and spent a lot of time together in local taverns drinking fine wine and such. Such a comment seemed unlike the paladin. But then again, they had never gone out to hunt vampires together before now.
Seluus took it in stride. He actually smiled to himself; glad the paladin had finally put him in his place. Very few did that, and Seluus liked a friend that would speak his or her mind. So Seluus shut up and followed the paladin through the castle, searching for something out of place.
* * * * *
“They are here….” The shadow reported back to the ghost lieutenant. The commanding undead of this unit waved the other evil creatures down the hall and communicated telepathically to the specter.
“They are here my lord. Searching for something.” The ghost penetrated the nearby wall and faded from view as Comyr came around the corner. The ghost heard the satisfied reply of his superior in his ethereal like head, “excellent, I will be there shortly. Stay out of range of the paladins detection.”
The ghost continued his progress through the walls and into the heart of his troupe. They were waiting for him at a staircase going down at the end of the long twisting hallway. The ghost commanded them to go down the stairs and await the orders of the lord Specter. Until then, they would retreat and make sure they were not detected until they wanted themselves to be. The mass of evil undead could feel the anticipation of a fight. A fight they wanted very much. There was nothing better than draining the life from a holy warrior or a cleric. For an intelligent undead, like a ghost, or weight, or a wraith, it was considered to be a crowning achievement to suck the life of a holy man down to nothing. The result of which made them into the same type of undead as had drained them. Nothing was better than that.
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