Fantasy Masks

Adventure 7: Crypt of Lord Rudia

"Deliver us from vampires..."

Port Selver is plagued by an infestation of evil. The quiet river town has been losing several young men and women a week who simply vanish; several more turn up dead in the alleys behind taverns or floating down the river. Monsters are striking without regard for consequence, smug in their sense of safety in the isolated, winter-locked borderland.

The people have been praying to St. Midrian and Alorn for deliverance. The town council contacted the Alorn temple in Annwheat with a plea for help.

Their tale is grim. A vampire has moved in and begun making more vampires, targeting the young women of the town. He has attracted to his service a necromancer, a werewolf, and possibly other evil creatures. His burning charisma may attract more at any time. The only silver lining is that they destroyed a bandit gang that was in the area, but now those bandits are undead servitors.

These monsters have grown so bold that a local tracker followed the blood trails and tracks back to a temple of Alorn that was destroyed back in the revolution and never rebuilt—which is why the people have come to the Temple of Alorn for help in dealing with this evil force.

Winter is peak season for dealing with the undead, and many of the temple’s resources are committed in assault, defense, and investigative tasks. The temple demanded that Port Selver commit to rebuilding and rededicating the temple in the wilderness; the representative of the town could not agree to those terms, as the temple is somewhat distant from the town and resources are scarce. So the temple delegated this task to a Midrianite, with the mandate to build a crew in consultation with the local Guilder Council and go sort it out.

*

Varthres 20, 1231

Euclid gathered a group composed of Tempest, Pansy, Tory, Rothchilde, and Landru. They rode out to Port Selver over the course of days. Rothchilde kept their imaginations fired by demonstrating the killing cold his wand could unleash, and his new favorite spell—fireball. It was important to Tempest that the group get a visual understanding of the radius and range issues of these spells, so they knew to get the hell out of the way when the time came. Rothchilde also enchanted a number of blades to pierce armor.

They spent the night in town, and then left their horses and slogged the brutal two hours across the snowbound landscape, into the forest and away from civilization. Their depressed guide mumbled prayers the whole way, and assumed they would lose; when he got them within visual range of their objective, he turned and trudged back.

He probably didn’t make it. Wolves descended on the party, and as most of them scrambled up trees, Landru and Tempest sorted them out. However, Tory noted half the wolves did not engage, but flanked the party, getting behind them. Between them and escape.

They pushed through the ruins of the shrine, to the doorway heading into darkness. They noted tracks went to the left, not the right, so they headed to the left. They found a pair of iron doors with ancient locks (the shrine was over 1,500 years old, after all.) Tory popped the lock with his usual expertise, and as Pansy whipped the door open, Tempest was ready for anything.

“Anything” turned out to be five wolves that leaped out at him and Tory. As they were hacking at the wolves, a bone-chilling screaming howl of raw supernatural rage shivered through everyone but Rothchilde, whose sorcery protected him from the worst of it. Struggling against fear as well as fangs, they escalated their efforts; Rothchilde knocked the wolves out with sorcery. Euclid offered the soothing reassurances of his god and Pansy slammed the door shut.

As they tried to catch their breath for a moment, reassured by Tempest’s leadership, the door was shoved open by supernatural fury, flinging Pansy into the wall; Euclid and Tempest mastered their fear and attacked the slavering werewolf, with Tempest cleaving through the monster and hurling it back with a mortal wound.

Dismayed by the wolf lair they found, with crude slaughter art slapped on the walls with viscera like sick finger-painting, they were undeterred from encouraging Tory’s expert treasure-hunting. He found a secret door, and they noted it as he continued searching.

Finding that the werewolf had nested in a broken-open crypt, using unmentionable bedding, Tory steeled his nerve and poked through it, finding nothing. Fortunately, the monster also had an iron box next to the nest with some treasure in it.

With backpacks loaded by more coin, they lined up and headed through the secret door. A vast staircase plunged into the darkness, and ahead, the only tracks were those of a woman; they followed the greater tracks, down into the endless dark.

As they continued down the steep, slick stairs, they shivered. Something—wrong. Then Tory noticed Pansy’s shadow winking at him. Shadowplayers! Rothchilde whipped out his golden orb and sent them screaming through the walls.

At the foot of the stairs, they heard a corpse wetly discarded. They cautiously looked into the room, finding themselves at the threshold of the deep crypt, belonging to Lord Rudia himself. Wolves charged at them, slavering, as simpering vampire spawn offered cover to the mighty thing that created them. The vampire was covered in chitinous armor, with scythe-like claws.

As Tempest and Landru once again flailed at flashing fangs, assaulted by wolves, Rothchilde shot fire at the vampires. The three women were crisped, but the ancient evil laughed in the face of his sorcery. Pansy helped out with the wolves, but would it be too late? The vampire raced across the room and tore Tempest down, nearly killing him with a single clawed hit.

A crossbow bolt was carefully aimed at a seam in the armor of the monster’s head, pounding into the vampire’s skull. Rothchilde knocked the rest of the wolves out with his sorcery. The vampire considered the entire group, ready to focus its attentions on him alone.

It was a simple enough matter to shove past them and sprint up the stairs into darkness. Landru pursued briefly, but the monster had the speed of the damned. The invaders regrouped to deliberate on their next move.

In searching the crypt, even Tory found no secret exists. They respectfully arranged the mass of corpses the vampires had drained off for their pleasure and sustenance. Landru read the ancient Dracoris runes, noting the history of Lord Rudia. He had once stood against a tide of the undead. He and his followers were slain, but they saved countless innocents. The aspect of Alorn was reptilian, for the temple predated the revolution to shrug the Dracolithic imperial rule off the Freeholds. Euclid also discovered that the furious core of Lord Rudia’s influence was untouched by the vampiric taint that surrounded it. He also pondered the black statue of a mysterious robed woman—does Alorn have a divine daughter whose worship is lost in the Freeholds?

Also, Lord Rudia’s statue on the lid of his crypt seemed to have been holding a sword at one time—good to know. And it appeared the vampires tried to open the crypt, with painful results; some holy energy of Alorn still resided in this place.

After meditation, prayer, research, and gestures of respect to the dead, the invaders formed up and tracked the bloodstains of the fleeing vampire.Up the stairs, down the corridor, and out—into the sunlight? Grim, they followed, finding the casting of its stripped off armor. They continued, toiling up the hill, down the other side, out to the frozen over lake. They saw him ahead in the distance, almost jaunty as he escaped, inevitably headed back to town.

They couldn’t allow it. Under the lowering weight of the clouded afternoon sky, they gave chase. They outpaced the monster, who seemed to have difficulty under the open sky of the daytime. Launching a barrage of ranged attacks, they targeted his head with elf-make arrows, heavy crossbow bolts, and sorcery. The reeling vampire escaped into the brush, and wolves swept down at the pursuers.

Rothchilde saved them the bother of a fight by blasting the wolves with knockout sorcery, and as they tumbled down the hill suddenly unconscious, the implacable pursuers closed in on the vampire.

The blood trail then tracks only headed up through the brush, up the hillside, to a stony overhang. Tracks went in, but not out, on either side. Rothchilde sent an explosion of flame into the enclosed space, then after considerable deliberation, Tempest and Euclid climbed in to see what was left. They found the vampire’s remains.

Tory was then sent in to look for treasure, and true to his nature, he found it; a chalice and a sacrificial knife. Goods in tow, and sure of the vampire’s demise, they headed back to the crypt.

They rested for a while, after the grueling trek across the winter landscape, noting uneasily that it was now heading into late afternoon. After a brief discussion, they decided to press on.

Back in through the complex, they came to the top of the stairs down to the hellish crypt, and instead took the side corridor. Pushing through the secret door at the end, they found themselves in a room with the floor covered in cushions, drapes on the walls, and unspeakable acts a regular feature of the nest of pleasurable horror. Suspecting the vampire spawn of lairing here, they proceeded with caution; Tempest then found himself face to face with a slender woman wielding a brutal sword. As he clashed steel on steel, projectiles whipped around him, slamming into her; she was far tougher than she looked. Grim, he slammed his best hit into her, flinging her riven corpse back with its wings (?!?) fluttering.

Standing over the slain succubus, he made room so others could go into her lair. Landru wanted her enchanted blade, but the others didn’t trust its infernal enchantment. They did take a mystic candle, a death mask, and all her ill-gotten coinage.

Considering the overcast day, the daylight slipping away, and a two hour trek across unfamiliar snowbound terrain, the invaders decided to retreat for now. The vampire, its spawn, the werewolf, a pack of wolves, and a demon had been slain. Still, they did not know what horrors yet lurked in the shrine.

They had plenty of time to ruminate on what may still corrupt the darkness of that place as they trudged back towards the blighted town. Yes, they agreed. We must go back… Tomorrow.

Thanks to Mark for handling loot tracking and distribution.

I populated this map with monsters and treasure, but used a map from “Heroes of Horror.”

Comments

kaprou

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.