Deciding upon a more direct approach, Pen broke a window and clambered into the great hall. Once inside, Pen pulled the lever that raised the portcullis; the party took up their positions, and fired upon the monstrosities seated before them--taking one down instantly as it sat inert. The others rose and began approaching the party in response--save one who moved to the back of the room. The shambling horrors were dispatched one by one, but though Pen attempted to grapple the lone creature that was moving away from the melee it managed to reach the back of the hall and began pounding upon the bricks. After the brief battle, it was discovered that the creature had been hitting a specific brick that was a cunningly-disguised trigger of some sort.
The party regrouped and decided to open the door on the western wall...revealing three bone-pale, shaven headed creatures dressed in servants' garb, their long black tongues lolling wildly from mouths lined with sharp fangs. The battle that ensued was harder fought than the previous one in the great hall, but again the heroes were triumphant. Once the dust settled, they searched the room. An iron stove sat in one corner, shelves of dusty spices and seasoning lined the walls, and a wooden table occupied the center of the room--above which hung a number of pots and pans. The room also had three unexplored doors and a set of stone stairs leading upward to the next level of the castle.
They took the stairs, entering a room that held two large locked metal cages. One cage held a bald elderly man, slumped and broken; the other held a teenage girl with dark, unkempt hair who rushed wide-eyed to the bars of her cell when she spotted the entering party. Pen attempted to wrest one of the cage's doors from its hinges, but the metal loudly protested against his abuse and held fast. Anton nonchalantly proceeded to pick the locks, releasing both prisoners. Attempts were made to revive the old man, when suddenly the door that Pen had been watching swung open--more of the black-tongued servants of Edgar Bolgakof stormed into the room. Battle was once again joined, but this time a few members of the party sustained substantial injuries before besting their foes.
Tomas, the revived old man, told the group that he had been kept by the ghoulish residents of the castle as Edgar Bolgakof's nightly meal; Cassie, the teenage prisoner, feared that she was to be the vampire's next meal once Tomas was bled dry. The party decided to safeguard Tomas and Cassie by having them wait outside by the carriage while they took a short rest in the castle's main hall to lick their wounds. However, on the way to the great hall they discovered a trapdoor in the floor of the kitchen--now open. Stairs descended from the open hatch down into the depths of the castle.
After their respite, the party ventured down the stairs and discovered the vampire's crypt at the end of a winding passage carved from stone. The room was lit by a number of flickering candelabra, and a black coffin, its lid thrown open and its interior lined with soil, was ominously placed in the center of the chamber. A small alcove to the side had been outfitted with a metal bar--from which hung a number of articles of finery in velvet and other costly materials.
Searching the rest of the doors leading from the kitchen uncovered a larder containing rough food to feed the vampire's captives, a "nest" of sorts used by his ghoulish servants, and a passage that led to the spire behind the castle. The first room of the circular spire was found to contain a number of partial corpses hanging from meat hooks, and a number of small tables upon which were piled hideous clumps of garish fungal matter. The second floor was lined with glass cases apparently meant for the growing of the fungi used in the construction of Bolgakof's undead servitors, and the third floor contained shelves of strange chemicals in glass jars.
The third floor of the tower also featured a door that opened out onto a narrow stone bridge that connected the upper level of the spire to the balcony above the main hall of the castle. Standing at the stone rail of the balcony was Edgar Bolgakof, his back turned to the party. He gestured to the peasants waiting by the group's carriage and said, "You seem to have stolen my dinner." Pen and Tristan moved forward to attack him, while Bolgakof rushed toward them with supernatural speed.
The party barraged him with halberd thrusts, sword cuts, pistol shots, magical blasts, and arrows--but the vampire seemed to heal rapidly from the wounds they were inflicted. Bolgakof also became more and more enraged as the battle wore on, clenching his fist so hard that his own claws bit into his flesh and drew blood. His attacks grew wilder and more ferocious, but his defense became lax. He grabbed Tristan and attempted to drain his life as he had his parents, but the paladin managed to break free from the monster's grasp. Ultimately, a dangerous spell from Tobias caused the fiend's heart to implode while his body rapidly disintegrated into the dust of the grave.
The remaining rooms of the castle were searched, uncovering a portrait gallery of painting of similarly-blonde vampires belonging to the Bolgakof family, as well as a defaced portrait of Countess Alcesta of Lamashtu. Bolgakof's library was also located; it contained a number of books hand-written by members of the vampire family detailing the history of their kind--a veritable treasure trove of information for those who would hunt them.
After this tumultuous trek into a ruin of undeath, Pen decided that the life of an adventurer was not his calling; instead, he would reclaim Bolgakof's fortress and turn into into a sacred site from which to continuing building upon the rebirth of interest in St. Othric.
And so, the scene ends with Tristan seated in a room decorated with the portraits of the vampires responsible for his family's demise, plotting which will be the next to face his holy vengeance.
* * *
- 900 each.
- 639 gp each (in assorted copper, silver, gold, and platinum)
- A red pearl in velvet-lined box (Pearl of Power)
- A scroll of Crown of Madness in a lacquered wooden case
- An iron pendant shaped like a droplet of water (Necklace of Adaptation)
- 10 black iron masks chased with silver (worth 25 gp each)
- A library's worth of books about vampire history and bloodlines (do you let your recent acquaintance in the Sacred Butchers know about this library?)
- 13 oil paintings of vampires of the Bolgakof family (value depends greatly on who you find to buy them, if you can find a buyer)
- Tristan definitely gets inspiration for single-mindedly hunting down Edgar Bolgakof.