Nerull’s Will: The Emerald
Moving quickly but cautiously we continued on while those of us in front, upon reaching the floor of the cellar, began to circle around to see what lurked beneath the stairs. There we saw Ionache emerging from the shadows. Before him he held a longsword that shimmered a faint bluish glow as frost and steam seemed to pour from its blade.
Just then we were greeted by Magda and Sophie who suddenly emerged out of the darkness from behind the nearby kegs. They both smiled at us with their devilish grins and their alluring dark eyes. Then Magda spoke in her sultry voice saying, “Gentlemen, gentlemen, what brings you here? You should not be in this dank and dark cellar. You have been very naughty and now you will need to be punished.” Suddenly their eyes flashed with excitement as they hissed and lunged towards us, revealing the large canine-like fangs of a vampire as they did so…
(Continued from) Friday, February 16th, 742 B.C.
Since we had already killed one of Velikovna’s servants, perhaps unnecessarily, and possibly even feeling some guilt for having done so, Garret quickly moved into the kitchen and stabilized the wounds on Vasile so he would not bleed to death. For Sorin it was too late. I had let my anger at the theft of Nerull’s Will get the best of me and for whatever part Sorin may have played in that theft, if any at all, he had paid for it with his life.
It did not occur to me then that all of Velikovna’s servants could be mere pawns which had the unfortunate fate of becoming the victims of a vampire’s ability to charm and dominate lesser mortals who might otherwise be innocent of any wrongdoing.
As soon as Garret had tended to the cook’s injuries, we tied him up to make sure he would not be going anywhere. Then we moved on to the scullery and found the stairs leading into the wine cellar. Using a light spell to guide us, we proceeded down the stairs. The wine cellar was lined on the north and west walls with racks, about a third of them occupied with bottles of wine. On the south wall was a large unlit fireplace and near the east wall at the bottom of the stairs were two large kegs of ail.
As we made our way down into the cellar, some of us heard the faint sound of movement under the stairs below us…
…We now found ourselves face to face with two creatures which number among the most feared creatures of the night, and despite having suspected Magda and Sophie of being vampires, we were still nonetheless, quite startled to discover that our suspicions had proven to be correct. Fortunately we recovered quickly from our initial surprise and immediately fell into a defensive stance. Vadolus was the first to be attacked by the two vampiresses and as they struck him he could feel his stamina being literally drained away by their icy touch, though Magda also used a dagger that magically exuded a corrosive acid along its edge. Vadolus, in turn, fought back with his longsword, though he was discouraged to find that his shocking grasp spell, which he channeled through his sword, had no effect on his assailants. Some of us then came to Vadolus’ aid, while others cast defensive spells or turned to attack Ionache.
That is when our main opponent chose to make his entrance. From the shadows in the far corner of the room, he emerged as though, in one instance, he were a part of the darkness itself, and in the next, he was stepping forth to reveal his presence. Moving with an air of confidence and superiority, Dimitry Velikovna glared at us with a look of disdain. “How rude of you to barge in on our humble abode uninvited,” he spoke in his silvery tongue. “It appears I will need to teach you a lesson in etiquette for your lack of respect.”
In response to his words of poison, I roared back at him in defiance, despite my quivering legs which threatened to buckle beneath me even as I moved in his direction. Seeing in his hand the staff of Nerull’s Will, which I noticed was now adorned with a large emerald at its head, I was drawn irresistibly towards him, or rather the staff. “Thief!” I yelled at him. “You are mistaken! For it is I who will be teaching you a lesson!”
A few of us then focused our attention on Dimitry as he too let out a hiss and displayed his vampiric fangs. But despite our best efforts, we found him a very difficult target on which to land a solid blow. When we did hit him our weapons often did little to no harm to him and any wounds we managed to inflict quickly healed soon after. Clint shot him several times with his pistols, but as his bullets had no enchantments on them they had no effect on the vampire. Garret tried to strike him with a searing light spell but missed. And for his efforts Garret then became the victim of Velikovna’s first magical attack. Using one of the new powers of the staff, Velikovna launched a black ray of negative energy at Garret which suddenly drained from him a great deal of his life energy. To make matters worse, we were amazed as we watched Velikovna’s shadow then detach itself from Velikovna and begin attacking us as a completely independent entity!
At this point, the battle against Dimitry Velikovna had barely begun and already the situation was looking very grim. But now that he saw how the staff was aiding Velikovna, both defensively and offensively, and realizing he could not harm the vampire with his bullets, Clint chose instead to do the next best thing. Making good use of his uncanny ability with firearms, Clint was able to shoot his pistol and knock the staff out of Velikovna’s hands, causing it to land at his feet! Velikovna, who was visibly startled and amazed at the gunslinger’s skill with a gun, was only momentarily dismayed, however. For he immediately picked the staff back up and used another one of its powers to strike me and drain from me a portion of life force that was then transferred through the staff to Velikovna, making him even more formidable than before.
As all of this was occurring, my companions meanwhile, were dealing with Velikovna’s henchmen. With the aid of allies like Baldo, who used his sneak attack ability to great effect, and Waylan, who launched several magic missile spells among others, Vadolus was eventually able to take down one of the female vampires and the other soon followed. Even Peg was able to lend a hand in the battle with some of her spells. But Magda and Sophie were only vampire spawns under the control of Velikovna, and as we later discovered, were nowhere near as powerful as their master. When they died their bodies, along with all their possessions, turned to mist and drifted away into the fireplace where they disappeared. With the two lesser vampires gone, at least for the time being, some of us joined in on the fight against Velikovna and his shadow as others turned on Ionache, who was the least of the threats against us despite the powerful sword that he wielded. After dropping the last of the female vampires with a devastating blow, Baldo then landed a crippling backstab on Ionache which also took him down.
Elsewhere however, our battle against Velikovna and his shadow was not proceeding as well, as the powerful vampire alternated his attacks between Garret and I, and his shadow was similarly sapping our strength. Both of us were now injured and drained of life force, particularly Garret. But Clint continued using his fancy shooting to disrupt Velikovna’s attacks. Again he shot the staff out of Velikovna’s hands. But this time he timed it so that I could then reach down and grab it before Velikovna could get his hands on it. With the staff now in my possession I fled to the far side of the room, though Velikovna was not far behind. Appearing determined to regain possession of the staff, he then stepped back into the shadow in the far corner of the cellar and suddenly emerged from the corner on the opposite side – right next to me! It was as if the shadows were a means of instantaneous travel for him and he could jump from one shadow to another with just a mere thought! Once again I found myself under attack from the vampire. Peg tried to aid me by casting an invisibility spell on me.
But seeing that Garret was about to drop, he then decided to deal with the cleric of the Morninglord who he apparently had a great disliking for. Obviously believing that one more attack from him would drain what remained of Garret’s life force, he shouted at him, “Come! Join me!” Then he reached out and struck him. Ordinarily this would have killed a man in Garret’s condition and doomed him to return as a lesser vampire under the control of Velikovna. But Velikovna was clearly unaware of the power of Garret’s magical shield, which automatically resurrected him the instant he died, though for the time being Garret chose to play dead. And to be honest, at that point, we were not even certain if his shield had saved him.
I, on the other hand, was getting desperate to find an effective means to combat the vampire and realizing I could probably use the powers of the staff’s emerald with no adverse effect, I launched a couple of acid arrows at Velikovna, which gradually began to take a toll on him. Velikovna’s shadow was then forced to flee due to the heavy amount of damage it had received, which allowed every one of us to focus our attacks solely on Velikovna.
Still the vampire was incredibly tough, and I am certain that he would have fled if he felt he was truly in danger. But suddenly, Waylan struck him with a magic missile spell, followed immediately with another crippling backstab from Baldo, and before Velikovna could react, Garret blasted him with a searing light spell. With all of these attacks occurring within a matter of seconds, Velikovna was unexpectedly overwhelmed and he fell before us with a gasp of disbelief. But like the other vampires before him, he too turned to mist and retreated into the fireplace where he disappeared.
With all immediate threats now apparently eliminated. We took a few moments to tend to our injuries as best we could. Garret also stabilized the wounds on Ionache and kept him from dying. Then Garret used another locate object spell to search for the amulet that Velikovna always wore around his neck. The spell indicated that Velikovna was now southeast of us. So we searched for secret doors and eventually found one next to the fireplace.
Through the secret door we entered a large room that was lined along the south wall with a row of ten coffins. To the west was a large pile of dirt and to the east were two doors. Following the direction of the locate object spell we entered another room with only one ornate coffin at its center. But upon opening it we found it to be empty. Still, the locate object spell directed us further east. But there were no more doors in that direction. So we looked for a secret door and eventually found one, which was opened by the turning of a wall sconce. Beyond this secret door we found a room similar to the one we had just left, with a single coffin at its center.
This time when we opened the coffin we were pleased to find Dimitry Velikovna lying within and quite helpless. So at this point, following the advice of Garret, who was the most knowledgeable among us when it came to vampires, we pounded a wooden stake through the chest of Velikovna, who let out a gasp as we did so. Then we filled his mouth with holy wafers and cut off his head. And thus was the end of Dimitry Velikovna.
With this grisly task now accomplished, we retreated back to the room with the ten coffins where in two of the coffins we found Magda and Sophie. There we repeated the procedure we had just performed on Velikovna and likewise put a permanent end to the two lesser vampires.
At this point, we had eliminated all the threats within the mansion and had completed our goal of recovering the staff of Nerull’s Will as well as the emerald that was now a part of it. So we took the time to do a thorough search of the house to see what else we could find of any value to us. We then discovered a private library in the cellar which contained a spellbook, a fair amount of research and other interesting material, and several journals written by Dimitry Velikovna. In addition to this we found a few magic items, some of which were being carried by the vampires or their servants. Taking our search up to the first and second floor of the mansion, we found Horatiu Gregorovich who offered no resistance and who posed no threat to us. Like the other servants he had been charmed and dominated by Velikovna and therefore could not be held responsible for his actions. In fact, he proved to be of some help in answering some of our questions about Velikovna.
After doing a thorough search of the mansion, we gathered Vasile, Ionache and Gregorovich in one room where we could keep an eye on them, and for the time being, we placed the body of Sorin in one of the coffins in the cellar. Then Garret did what he could to restore the life energy to those of us who had been drained by the vampires, while the arcane spellcasters identified the magic items we found. Once the magic items were identified we divided them up. By this time it had grown dark outside and we decided to spend the night in the mansion.
So we have taken the time this evening to discuss our possible plans from here on. And it seems likely we will soon be venturing into my homeland of Barovia, despite the danger it may present to all of us, particularly myself. For it appears that the next part of Nerull’s Will, the sapphire, may be found there. But there are other reasons for going into Barovia as well. Garret for example, has expressed a desire to seek out a secret society based there known as the Dawnslayers. And Baldo may also be able to find more answers to his mysterious past there, though he did discover something more this evening by examining Velikovna’s journals.
It appears that Velikovna really was his father, despite his assurances that he could not possibly be. The journals seemed to confirm it. According to the journals, most of what Velikovna had told us was true. There was an incursion of vampires in the village where the gypsy tribe of Baldo’s mother often passed through and Velikovna was secretly engaged to her. But what Velikovna failed to tell us was that he had become a victim of one of the vampires and it was for this reason that he fled from the village. However, it seems pretty clear that his mother had become pregnant before Velikovna’s transformation into a vampire. The reason why Baldo looks nothing like his mother or father was also explained in the journal, for it seems that Velikovna had a curse placed upon him by Lizelle’s mother for courting her daughter against the tribe’s wishes. No doubt, Baldo is quite disturbed by what he has learned here tonight. But at least he now knows the truth.