D&D 4th Edition Adventure: Love Bites




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  1. #1
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    Adventure: Love Bites

    Wherein the events begun in The Closed Eye continue...
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    Merith Karse smiles ruefully as he tells his tale.

    "I grew up on the streets of Bacarte, where theft and murder are not so much crimes as simple facts of life. This was before those who call themselves the Merchants ruled with a golden fist, and things were... less orderly. My closest friend since early childhood was a bugbear called Bagger. Each of us saved the life of the other on too many occasions to count, and we were closer than brothers. Bagger and I were interested more in comfort and living a good life than in obscene wealth or power, and so we avoided the petty street squabbles over territory or, worse, reputation. We gathered a small band of like-minded individuals, carefully selected, and put our talents toward the acquisition of modest fortunes, comfortable safehouses, and so forth. We were quite successful. Almost too successful; at the end, a considerable portion of our efforts were going toward concealing our success, lest other, less cautious gangs take it into their heads to challenge us for it. But I digress. The important thing is that my name was well known, in those days.

    "I was in the habit of attending parties of the rich and powerful in Daunton, particularly the Founding Families. It was mostly business; it let me keep an eye on the greatest concentration of those with more money than sense. It wasn't hard to get invited; there was always a younger son here who needed a quick loan to cover gambling debts, or a cousin there who I could 'rescue' from a band of cutthroats -- my own men, usually. I amassed quite a number of favors owed me, and spent some of them to get into these exclusive parties. I developed a taste for them. Music, fine clothes, drinking the finest wines on someone else's tab, bored housewives whose husbands could not hold their drink... There's more than one rich youngster in these isles who needs cosmetic magics to hide green skin and an underbite, if you take my meaning. Those were good times. And then...

    "It was at one of those parties that I met Aleana L'irkash. You would think someone like me would know better. I did know better, but she was so beautiful, so dark and wild, so... Well. We fell in love. We wanted to run away together, but she insisted that if we simply left, her family would track her down. The L'irkash have since fallen on hard times, but in those days they were among the most powerful of the Daunton Families, and their wrath was something to be avoided. I allowed her to convince me to listen to her tutor, an alchemist cleric named Father Serevas, who served Mireva. Or claimed to; I have since come to doubt this.

    "Serevas provided Aleana a potion, a poison, really, that would make her seem dead, but would not actually kill her for three days. She would take the poison, and her family would bury her within two days, as is their custom. I would steal into her tomb, administer the antidote, and leave behind another corpse in her place. We would be free to start a new life together.

    "It was a stupid plan, and I will forever regret going along with it. As I'm sure you've guessed, something went wrong. When I came to the tomb with the antidote, I was ambushed. Bacarte's Bloodhammers were there, adventurers, and good ones. I fought, but they took me. I spent days in a cell, not knowing my fate or Aleana's, before Bagger and my crew were able to kill the Bloodhammers and rescue me. I dashed to the tomb, but I was too late. Aleana had died in truth.

    "I took her to Father Serevas. He said she could not be raised, that it had been too long and the body was no longer a suitable vessel for a living soul. My threats eventually compelled him to elaborate, and he explained that if we could not be together in life, there was a chance that we could, in unlife. That if he performed the ritual to transform me into a vampire, I might be able to bring her back myself, like me.

    "I was crazed enough to try it. When all was ready, we began the ritual. It had succeeded, or nearly so, when the door broke open and more adventurers came in. This time it was the Five. They came bursting in through the windows, tearing aside the shades, and letting in the terrible sunlight. When I was killed, my soul was not fully anchored yet to my undead body, and I was able to... discorporate, I suppose you would call it. I know not how. It took all my strength to maintain my grasp on unlife, and instinctively, I fled. I sought a place underground, away from the sun.

    "I wandered the sewers and streets of Daunton for some time, incorporeal, before coming across the goblin, Kraschek. He took me for a powerful spirit of some kind, and was crazed enough to worship me. I would have killed him, but it turned out that he had an innate necromantic talent. With his help, I was able to incorporate myself into a succession of dead bodies over the years. None of them worked, though. I could take over the body, and animate it for a time, but I could not manage to convince the body that it was mine. My soul did not match the mold of the body's original owner, and so the body would quickly decay. I despaired of becoming corporeal again, let alone... Well.

    "Then, Kraschek brought me this body. I do not know how, but incorporating myself herein was easy. It was as if this body had been created, not born, for the specific purpose of holding an alien soul, or part of one. A marvellous feat, and most interesting to me personally. For if one such body can be made, a container for a lost soul, why not another? Perhaps my Aleana and I can be together again, after all.

    "To that end, once night falls, we will go to see the wizard Doddoddod. I will make him mine, and learn if this thing can be done.

    "What is your part in all of this, you may be asking, and of course you will wish to know what is in it for you.

    "First, I will want to locate and recover Aleana's body. I do not know what became of her remains after... the Five came. It is possible that she was cremated. That will complicate things. More likely, she was returned to her family crypt, or buried elsewhere in secret. At any rate, her tomb is almost certain to be warded against undead.

    "Second, I would like to know what really happened, on those nights. It stretches the bounds of credibility too far to suggest that adventurers just happened across in time to thwart my plans not once, but twice. It is possible that I was betrayed, and if so, I will want revenge.

    "As for rewards... I still know where many of my crew's old stashes were, and if even a few of them remain intact, you will be wealthy. Also, I intend to keep Doddoddod, and I have never heard of an adventurer who did not wish for a magical trinket now and then, yes? And of course, I can be a powerful friend to you, if you support me. I know where many bodies are buried in this town, often quite literally. The things I know could open many doors, or purses, to you.

    "Finally, of course, while I would rather be a friend to you, I would become a powerful and implacable enemy, if you betray me or attempt to impede my goals. You have had a taste of that already.

    "You will have questions, I am sure. We have until sundown before we can leave for Doddoddod's tower, so I will attempt to answer what I can."



    Hacker, leaning against coffin, fell asleep with his eyes open. He stares intently at the vampire, as if listening, but those close to him can hear his regular breathing, verging on a snore.


    Woe somehow manages to stay awake and also refrain from interrupting the vampire’s monologue with too many more wisecracks. He does find need to drink idly throughout, however, at least to prevent sobering up too much. This is notably the case during the climactic peaks of Merith’s “tragic love story”.

    “Well ain’t that one sorry sob story, lover boy. You’ll have to forgive that I’m not misting up over here but I forgot my handkerchief in the gutter.”

    "Quite all right," the vampire says in dry tones. "I do not require your sympathy or approval, merely your assistance."

    “Your perspective on the nature of that body you’ve hijacked certainly explains a lot about the original owner. I always figured that no woman could possibly give birth to something as deranged as that mage. Turns out I was right.”

    Woe lounges on one of the sarcophagi, feet in the face of whoever is depicted on the lid.

    “So this dame of yours, I presume she knew of and accepted your goblinoid nature? You didn’t keep up cosmetic-flavoured magic funny business on her account? How do you think she’d react to an eternal unlife with you in a fanged and twisted human body?”

    “Don’t get me wrong here, Romeo. I dig this deal and to some extent even like your style – I can definitely relate to drinking on someone else’s tab and entertaining housewives whose husbands can’t hold their drink. But you’re hiring us for an investigation, among other things, which involves tough questions. Them’s the breaks.”



    The vampire is quiet for a moment, then answers in bright, cheerful tones, "Then my unlife would indeed be a twisted mockery, a cruel joke by the uncaring gods. I believe I would likely go mad. But, that is a risk I shall have to take, is it not?"

    Streetwise DC 15
    The L'irkash are indeed a human family, though occasional infusions of eladrin blood in their past have led to predominantly high cheekbones and pale skin and hair for most of the family.

    The L'irkash are one of Daunton's founding families, and unlike many of the families, are actively involved in trade. They have fallen on hard times in recent years, and while still influential, are far from their peak of wealth and power.



    The merc makes a mental note to consider contingency plans, in case Merith’s romance doesn’t turn out well.

    “Riiight then, moving on to business.”

    “You want us to find out how your plans were nick-of-time thwarted, with worse timing than a noble household throwing a surprise birthday party for their daughter, only for them to discover that you’ve been giving her presents all morning...”

    Woe starts to realize that he’s getting sidetracked, and focuses on picking his questions carefully.

    “Uh... nevermind that. So the classic case would be that you were betrayed. Whatever became of Bagger and Father Serevas? Perhaps a member of your crew got ambitious and/or didn’t like you getting involved with Aleana? Someone mumble about a change in priorities or unhappy with how things were run?”

    “Who were your more competent rival gangs? Which L’irkash family members might’ve found out? Anyone else you haven’t mentioned that got close?”


    Kathalia listens with great interest to the vampire's story of love lost. Her eyes begin to glisten, and a moment later, she is weeping openly at the tale.

    "Oh Hacker, have you ever heard anything like it in your life? It sounds like enough material for three new songs at least!"

    Kathalia straightens up, wiping tears and snot from her face.

    "OK mister vampire sir, we'll do it!"


    Hacker starts and snorts awake. "Huh! Ah! Yeah, songs! And vampire stuff!"
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    “Uh... nevermind that. So the classic case would be that you were betrayed. Whatever became of Bagger and Father Serevas? Perhaps a member of your crew got ambitious and/or didn’t like you getting involved with Aleana? Someone mumble about a change in priorities or unhappy with how things were run?”

    “Who were your more competent rival gangs? Which L’irkash family members might’ve found out? Anyone else you haven’t mentioned that got close?”
    Karse frowns in concentration. "I have not followed the careers of Father Serevas or Bagger. I do not even know if they yet live. I... have wondered, myself, if perhaps Bagger had a hidden part in these events. But we were close friends for many years; I would require substantial proof before I would permit any harm to befall him. As for Father Serevas, had he wished me ill, I would have thought he could simply have given me up to the L'irkash directly. Yet... perhaps he did, and they hired the adventurers. Only he would know, or the L'irkash elders. Or perhaps there are records, in the Library. Many of the deeds of the Five are chronicled there, if I am correctly informed. I cannot enter the Library myself; it is warded nearly as well as Lauto's temple."

    "As for rival gangs... I doubt any of them will have survived. The biggest gangs in those days flamed out quickly, torn apart by internal strife, or exhausting themselves in pointless battles with each other. Most of them rose to power and fell apart within the year. And when the Merchants came to power, I'm told they put a stop to all that, at least the worst of it. Still, there were one or two smart ones, who saw what I did and put those ideas to work. There was that Redblade chap, for one. And Madame Ketratek had power, too, in her own way. I'd give good odds she's still in business. I can't think that either of them had anything against me, though. I was careful that way, in those days."
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    Hacker plops his backpack on the ground, leans against it, draws up his cloak, and dozes.

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    OOC: I'm still on to keep Judging for this band of miscreants.

    Also, nice Redblade reference, cov.
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    While the vampire speaks, Woe busies himself with carving moustaches onto the more venerable faces depicted on sarcophagi in the tomb. And sometimes other, no less childish and far more profane, "additions".

    Quote Originally Posted by covaithe View Post
    "I have not followed the careers of Father Serevas or Bagger. I do not even know if they yet live. I... have wondered, myself, if perhaps Bagger had a hidden part in these events. But we were close friends for many years; I would require substantial proof before I would permit any harm to befall him. As for Father Serevas, had he wished me ill, I would have thought he could simply have given me up to the L'irkash directly. Yet... perhaps he did, and they hired the adventurers. Only he would know, or the L'irkash elders."
    “Let us know how we can get in contact with them - assuming they haven’t croaked yet - and we’ll look into their potential involvement. Don’t worry, Fang Man, I’m not gonna’ stab first and ask questions later...” he glances at the damaged garments where he cut through the vampire’s body. “… Again.”

    Woe crosses his fingers behind his back.

    Quote Originally Posted by covaithe View Post
    "Or perhaps there are records, in the Library. Many of the deeds of the Five are chronicled there, if I am correctly informed. I cannot enter the Library myself; it is warded nearly as well as Lauto's temple."
    “I think my restraining order has worn off by now, after me and that librarian girl got caught in some section for priceless and apparently all too fragile tomes. I guess we’ll flip through a few pages. Perhaps.”

    OOC: Love the adventure title!

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    OOC

    Quote Originally Posted by Dunamin
    OOC: Love the adventure title!
    Same here

    Recruitment:
    Well, I don't know who might be good choice since I haven't been following careers of other characters. I'll take a peep in the tavern. How many people are we looking for? One or Two? What level should they be?

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    Recruitment

    In the tavern I may have found some potential candidates:

    Mikara - Level 3 Ranger(Ranged Type)

    Tristan - Level 2 Avenger

    What do you think? I am not sure that there are others that are level 2/3 or above that are in the tavern, but I could be wrong. Otherwise, we can just make a post in the discussion forum, asking who would be interested in joining.

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