Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Second Death of Countess Vlodeska

We tied up a pretty big loose end in last Friday's Savage Krevborna game. In a previous session, the players unfortunately allowed a vampire to escape her confinement and cut a swathe of terror throughout the land. They had other things they needed to deal with more immediately, but as soon as they had attended to those affairs they decided to bring Countess Vlodeska to heel.

The Characters

Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist

Catarina Redmoor, prioress of an unusual convent

Panthalassa Laurentide, an orphan who's made a pact

Raoul Carathis, necromancer

Geradd, down-and-out swashbuckling noble

Daytona Midnight, dhampir gunslinger


To achieve their end, the group returned to Creedhall to retrieve the Widow, drop off Serafina, and acquire the services of one of the Sisters Carnifexa--professional monster hunters. The Sister they ended up with was Sister Brynhilde. Sister Brynhilde was a bit dismayed that she was being hired to track down a vampire the group had never actually seen, but when Catarina produced the bone dagger that was psychically connected to Countess Vlodeska, Sister Brynhilde was confident that she could use it to discern her approximate current whereabouts. After performing a ritual on the dagger, Sister Brynhilde determined that the Countess was hiding out in the countryside in the vicinity of a village named Radley.

The group's first stop upon arrival in Radley was a pub inauspiciously called The Iron Mask; indeed, the sign out front depicted a demonic iron mask. (I'm really surprised none of the players had their characters ask about that.) They rented rooms and pumped the barkeep for information about the dolmen circle they had spotted on the hill. The barkeep told them that when he was a lad, a child had been dared to enter the circle of stones on a night when the Blood moon was full--that child was never heard from again. 

From here, the group split up. Panthalassa, Raoul, Pendleton, and Brynhilde visited a Polnezna camp at the edge of the forest. The Polnezna camp was guarded by a sniper with a rifle who was stationed up in a tree. When he saw that the group didn't mean any harm, he came down and explained that the Polnezna were here looking for one of their own. Rikard Lemka, a Polnezna who had abandoned the wandering life to work as the Caulheart's groom, had gone missing months ago. The timeline didn't quite fit to make him a victim of the vampire they were hunting--he had gone missing before Countess Vlodeska had likely arrived in Radley. The Polnezna suspected that the Caulhearts either knew something about his disappearance or were outright responsible for it.

Meanwhile, Geradd, Daytona, Catarina, and the Widow approached the Caulheart's Wildeacre estate. First they decided to take a peek in the stable; they noted that one of the family's horses was not in its stall. They also took a glance in the windows of the small workshop that had been built next to the main house. From the look of things, the workshop was used to build mechanical toys, but everything inside was notably dusty. They knocked on the door of the manor house; the door was answered by a servant who told them that none of the Caulhearts were unavailable. Just then, Adela Caulheart came galloping up on a stallion. She welcomed them to Wildeacre, but laughed at their suggestion that there was a vampire afoot. She flirted with Daytona and Geradd and invited the entire group to dinner that evening.

The group reconvened in front of the church and decided they needed to check out the adjoining cemetery. There was a grave digger at work smoothing over the pile of soil on top of a recent grave. He helpfully explained that three villagers had been taken by a mysterious disease that rendered them pale and weak before they died. The group recognized this as the predation of a vampire. They paid him off to be elsewhere for the moment, and set the Widow to work digging up the recent graves.

The first grave to be exhumed was that of Liam Bright, but the body inside the coffin was clearly not Liam's; the decaying corpse inside was that of a very small woman wearing the flouncy dress of a noblewoman. Daytona ran to the pub and got a name to match the description of the person: it was the body of Cecilia Caulheart, the young wife of the squire. The other two coffins were ominously empty, but their lids did have fingernail scratches on the inside.

The group also decided to explore the church itself. Beneath the church were the tombs of the Caulheart family. One of the tombs was open, but instead of housing the ancestral dead, it seemed to be a lurid place of clandestine pleasures: inside was a straw mattress, manacles, candles, and a cat o' nine tails!

They also hiked up the hill to the dolmen circle, but that appeared to be a dead end.

When the time came to attend dinner at Wildeacre Manor, the group was faced with a conundrum: they suspected that Countess Vlodeska was within the house, but it wouldn't look right arriving for dinner fully armed. They decided to position the Widow outside the manor with any weaponry they couldn't easily conceal. When the time came, they knocked on the door, which swung open. Inside they could hear the soft sound of a harpsicord being played. 

After calling for some time, Adela Caulheart appeared with a glass of red "wine." She led them into the dining room and introduced them to her brother Adamus. The harpsicord player rose from her bench...it was Countess Vlodeska, who had been mentally controlling the Caulheart household since her arrival, having taken Cecilia's place! The group were then set upon by the Countess and the now-vampiric Caulheart siblings.

Pendleton kept the Countess weakened by hurling alchemical substances at her. Daytona summoned a hell hound and Raoul summoned a grave guardian. (The grave guardian was particular good at taking down the vampire thralls.) The Widow burst through the window of the dinning room and began distributing weapons to the party. Brynhilde stabbed one of the Caulhearts, but sustained massive injuries that nearly took her out of the fight.

The Countess was felled, but she didn't stay down for long. Her body was staked, but her head separated from her neck and began to float menacingly, trailing her lungs and entrails that dripped with corrosive acid. The Widow grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head into the parquet flooring; as she rose again, Geradd smashed her skull with his maul, sending Countess Vlodeska crashing into the wall with a sickening thud. Geradd then mashed her into a pulp to make sure that she would not be rising again. 

With the Countess now dead, the group ransacked Wildeacre, then set the manor on fire before leaving.