Good to have you back, Eliva!
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (9) + 12 = 21 (opposed to Tybalt's bluff)
As Tybalt masquerades as an inspector, the bird-creature snaps, "It lies! No floor-inspecting at this time of night!" Her tirade is cut off by the arrival of Andrzej and his sword, but her reaction appears more confused than anything. As she opens her mouth to speak, the rest of the PCs arrive with their zone of silence and the creature can make no more sound, although her mouth moves with the effort of fervent squawking.
When Eliva notches her threatening arrow, the creature backs away cautiously, still trying to speak. With a twitch of her head, her gaze darts from person to person.
The DC to intimidate this thing was pretty high, but that roll did the trick.
Then suddenly, without warning, she vanishes from sight.
Spellcraft DC 17:
She activated invisibility as a spell-like ability. (Spell-like abilities do not have verbal or somatic components.)
The bird creature opens the door and enters. "Kaniki will get some meat for the mistress. Mistress is always hungry." She gets almost to the pantry before she sees Tybalt hiding squatting behind a table, looking like a strange fey thing.
"<SQUAWK> What's it doing in the mistress's kitchen!!!" She looks alarmed and ready to attack, but makes no move to do so, awaiting an answer.
That check was sufficient to convey the message to Res. (Res does not need to roll sense motive. The sense motive check would only be rolled by others present who are trying to make out the secret message. The message is clear to the intended recipient with a DC 15 bluff check on the one delivering the message.) Res and Eliva can read the spoiler.
FYI, that Knowledge Nature DC in the previous post should be 19.
The bird-like creature makes her way into the hallway, heading toward the door through which Tybalt passed a moment earlier. She continues to mutter her complaints under her breath.
The creature continues its slow descent down the stairs, muttering the whole time. The voice has a squawking, avian quality. "She sends Kaniki on errands in the middle of the night. Kaniki should be in bed but the mistress is hungry. <squawk> She should have eaten her supper. Kaniki made her a supper she barely touched."
Those of you with an angle to view the stairs see a hunched female form slowly making her way down the last flight of stairs. Her feet look like those of a giant chicken and her fingers end in hooked talons. A long beak takes up most of her face, protruding at least a foot and a half in front of her. The movements of her head are twitchy and birdlike.
When she reaches the bottom of the stairs, she begins to make her way into the hallway.
DC 19]This is not a creature you would expect to see in this city. She is a kikimora, a fey being from the First World. They are also sometimes referred to as "house spirits" and typically are bound to a household. They possess some magical ability but generally concern themselves with domestic tasks.
The tiny foyer inside the door is laid out in such a way that you can squeeze yourselves into the corners on either side and avoid view from the hallway. If you were not in magical silence, I'm sure there would be a considerable racket, but as it is, your movements are shrouded.
Holding off for a moment to see if Andrzej wants to take any action. I already have his Stealth roll if he intends to remain hidden beneath the stairs.
The creature's steps are slow and deliberate on the stairs. The creature's voice has a squawking, avian quality. "Wants a snack at this time of night," it mutters. "Oh these stairs will be the death of me. All the way down to the kitchen and all the way back up..." The steps are now only one flight above you.
Those of you in the kitchen or outside the servants entrance can now plainly hear that a creature is descending the stairs, muttering under its breath, although you cannot make out what it is saying without being closer.
Res, Leandro, Eliva:
You hear footsteps on the main street and two voices in conversation. You will be in plain sight when these pedestrians pass by the alleyway.
The nearest door opens readily into a dark kitchen. Tables and shelves fill the space, and the implements of food preparation are everywhere, although the workspace is reasonably tidy. There is one door off of this room; if you approach it, you notice a sickly sweet smell of decay emanating from it.
There is a space under the stairs where one or two people could probably hide. There are five of you, though. Are the rest in plain sight?
After Tybalt points it out, the rest of you can hear someone shuffling down the stairs. Whoever it is does not seem to be in a hurry. The steps are slow, and you can faintly hear the creature muttering to itself.
You suspect that these are the working areas. Kitchen, pantries, the laundry, etc. If there is a route to the cellar, it may be through one of the doors. Servant quarters are frequently on the top floor, as those rooms are likely to be the least comfortable for the masters of the house. Recalling the outside, though, the top floor appears to have a high ceiling and may be used for another purpose.
The doors are not locked and do not seem to be trapped. A disable device check would be relevant to determine how securely you bolt the doors. It will be tougher to do if you are just working with the doors themselves (jamming hinges, etc). If you had spikes, nails, or something similar, you could do a more thorough job.
Your alert senses, however, detect a faint noise on the stairs. Someone is descending.
The door opens quietly into a dark entryway. Pegs along the wall indicate that this is a place where servants might hang their overcoats. Sturdy shelves support a collection of empty bottles, sacks, and other detritus associated with the running of a household. Beyond the small entry way, an unlit hallway extends in a straight line into the darkness.
Most of you will need a light source to see any further.
The hallway extends in a straight line, flanked by multiple doors along its length. It extends beyond the limits of your darkvision, so you cannot see where it ends.
Tybalt finds the lock to be rather sturdy. Clearly security was something of a concern when it was constructed. However, he is fairly confident that if he keeps at it, the lock will yield. Taking 20 will do the trick.
Res keeps an eye out, but does not see anyone coming.
After considerable effort, Tybalt manages to pick the lock and a faint "click" lets him know that the door will open.
Night has firmly settled over the city of Mortigny and the streets are largely empty. The faintest sounds seem to echo off the stone facades and cobblestone streets; even a rat scurrying in an alleyway makes what seems to be a noisy racket. Streetlamps are few, leaving long stretches of umbral darkness in between.
At length, you reach the stately mansion of Madame Gustalarde. Tall, narrow windows yawn down upon the street, like the imperious gaze of a disapproving matron. Carved reliefs decorate the facade along faux columns, while squatting gargoyles stand centry atop the ornate cornice. Wrought iron bars cover the windows at street level and the heavy doors are shut. The house is dark and quiet, although a flickering light dances in a window on the top floor.
As you gather, Sister Cecile is there to see you off. "May the light be with you," she says. "The lot of you give me hope that I have not known before. I do not know where you are going, and perhaps that is best, but always be mindful of danger. There is light to be found in this world, for those who know where to look; often it arises when you most need it. But there is also plenty of darkness disguised as light. Be on your guard."
The Wayfinder appears to be of Taldan origin to Leandro.
"We must prepare," Tannis says. "There is an alleyway behind this inn. We can rendezvous there at the appointed hour." He and Darra depart purposefully, leaving the three of you to return to the hospital, which you are able to do without delay to rejoin your companions.
At this point, the Inn group have returned to the hospital, so the spoiler are unnecessary. The three of you are able to find Tybalt and Leandro conversing in a common room of the hospital.
Indeed. I think we can summarize the smalltalk.
Darra informs you that Mother Kindry seems to be growing weak. Her advanced age is finally catching up to her. Still, nothing seems imminent, and all else is well.
They thank you for your generosity in paying for the supper.
Anything else anyone wants to touch in before departing?
The Inn group is wrapping up. Any other business with the sisters? By all means, carry on with the discussions, as I like that sort of thing.
Darra gets down to business. "When do you need to leave?"
Reminder: Dr. Savarre stated that, while your attack on the mansion would divert attention from the hospital, it would attract the attention of the other wererats upon your party, and you should probably make haste to leave town.
"I can't say that I know for sure," Sister Cecile says. "Sister Claudette seems to have an understanding that allows us to do our work here unmolested."
Darra reacts very quickly to Res's question. "Which is it? Do you fear for our safety or do you want us to traipse through the marshes with you? There are few who can do this, but I can. My safety is no more important than that of any person I would send in my stead. There are many ways to return - you could take a ship if you have the time to make the arrangements. They depart from Port d'Elhour all the time."
Sense Motive DC 13 for those at the Inn:
Darra is something of a free spirit. She made an offer freely, and when Res asked her to extend it further or find someone else who would, she was incensed. Vistani do not take this sort of thing lightly.
Darra considers Res's words. "We can take you to the edge of Souraigne and then return the way we came to rejoin our people. I mean what I say when I believe that fate has brought us here. We cannot accompany you on the entirety of your journey, but we can guide you on this most immediate leg."
"For those who know the routes, the journey across the Mists can be reasonably swift."
Sister Cecile nods gravely. "We are very grateful for all you have done. We know that you have to continue your quest. It seems as if certain of your company are remaining: Urdrin, Angalia... I believe they will look after us until the time comes when you can gather them all and take them back to their homeland."
Sister Cecile responds to the change of subject gracefully. "Well, as you can imagine, everyone is rather shaken up by the death of Sevrin. We always endeavor to ensure the safety and recovery of our patients. No matter how long you work in a place like this, you never get used to the loss of those in your care."
"Do you two know if you will be staying here long? You are most welcome after all you have done."
Leandro: You do not detect anything duplicitous in her manner.
Darra nods with some comprehension as Andrzej mentions the rats before the magus leaves the table.
To Res, she says, "We are not going to Invidia." Tannis acknowledges this with a sort of grunt. "As for Souraigne you say..." She trails off as with a realization.
"Forgive me," she says. "It is something that was told to me... Mother Kindry spoke of a bog."
"What you are asking can only be done by a Vistani who possesses the Inner Eye. Surely, fate has caused our paths to cross once again. I was chosen as Mother Kindry's protege for that same gift." She looks at Tannis. "I believe we are destined to aid you on this journey."
At the Inn:
"Well met, Andrzej," Darra says.
Tannis chimes in, "I know that madda. My grandfather's nephew Astin married into it. I am sure the tale of how you come to journey with these others is an interesting one."
At Res's question, Darra grows serious and lowers her voice. "It is a sensitive subject," she says. "One of Tannis's cousins has gone missing to the south, in Invidia. What he was doing there I cannot fathom. Our people know to stay away from that land."
"It is neither here nor there," Tannis interrupts. "I was going to search for him, now I am not. It is settled." He seems sour on this subject.
Darra explains, "This errand foretold nothing but doom. I caught up with Tannis here in Richemulot."
Knowledge (Local) DC 20 for those at the inn:
In Invidia there resides a witch who lures the Vistani to their deaths when she can. While not every Vistani knows this, the elders generally do and will not take their wagons there.
At the hospital:
"The East Wing still does not feel like a wholesome place for the living," Sister Cecile says. "But it is quieter, I think. Great evil occurred in that place, and that is not a stain readily lifted, but whatever you did there quieted the loudest and most violent of the spirits."
"Was Dr. Savarre of much assistance?" she asks. "Has there been any more..." She catches her self and lowers her voice to a whisper. "Has there been any more activity among the... beasts?"
After a rest, Res, Eliva, and Andrzej make their way to the Inn of the Five-Fathom Well. It is fairly easy to find and you reach it without incident.
Res, Eliva, Andrzej:
The smell of fresh stew wafts from the windows of this small establishment, which is right on a main thoroughfare. The atmosphere inside is subdued, but at the same time it is plain that this is not an establishment for the well-to-do. Most of the folk seem like laborers and tradesmen, and the interior of the inn shows signs of disrepair.
Darra and Tannis are seated at a table along the wall to your right. Darra smiles warmly when she sees you enter.
Tybalt and Leandro:
Sister Cecile comes to check on both of you around supper time. She invites you to dine with the sisters. She seems particularly concerned with Tybalt's health, and frets over his ailment.
Clarification: I thought Tybalt and Leandro were staying behind at the hospital. Are you staying at Dr. Savarre's hidey hole? He will extend his welcome if that is your intent.
Dr. Savarre remains behind in his secure hideout while the rest of you make your way to the hospital. Again, you have the feeling of eyes watching you, but suspect it is more of a feeling of paranoia than anything actually observed. There are no incidents as you travel, and you find the hospital much as it was.
Sister Cecile shows great concern at your battered appearances and offers healing to any who need it. If you were not on full HP, you are now. She offers those who need it time to rest and a meal.
Anything anyone wants to take care of before going to the inn to meet Darra?
Yes, pretty much exactly.
Some elder vampires may need a particular wood, although it would vary. Your younger garden-variety vampire would be vulnerable to any sort of wood.
Garlic is available, except perhaps on the estate of a vampire or some such. You could buy it at any market in Richemulot.
"Haunted?" Dr. Savarre asks. "Not that I know of, although I have never been inside it."
Sorry for the delay. Let's see here...
Vampires: Dr. Savarre has more on this subject than any other. Vampires are best killed with a stake through the heart, followed by severing the head and anointing it with holy water. Simply damaging the creature will not kill it, although if it sustains sufficient damage it takes the form of a mist and retreats to its resting place. Vampires are highly resistant to weapons that are not silver AND magically enchanted. Garlic, mirrors, and holy symbols can ward of vampires to some extent, although more powerful vampires can endure these irritants.
There is no easy way to find where they rest. For foolish vampires, you may be able to follow their gaseous forms, but those with more cunning fill their lairs with ducts and vents that allow them to return to their resting places without being followed.
Souraigne is a land divided in two. Most of the populace reside in and around the town of Port d'Elhour, a coastal town known for trade. The surrounding area is full of plantations. The wealthy elite are judged by the amount of land they own. Good manners and gentility are highly regarded among that lot. For the townsfolk, life is harder and disease tends to be a risk.
Much of the realm, however, is dominated by a sprawling swamp. The few residents within the swamp are regarded as little more than savages by the townsfolk. The folk are known for the superstitious rites, often regarded as barbaric by outsiders. The swamp is a place of mystery, said to be haunted in many places and home to terrible creatures.
Dr. Savarre is able to tell you a fair amount about the Crimson Court. They are rather spread out, and seldom congregate in one place. They are occupied by their own manors and lands. Many of the vampires are extremely old and proud. Most have titles of "lord" or "lady". Neither Borca nor Dorvinia has a strong feudal heirarchy, so the nobility all have more-or-less the same titles. Prestige is instead gauged by wealth and land.
The Crimson Court form a council that convenes rarely to make decisions on matters concerning the Court. Tetslin is on that council, as is Katalin Szabo.
Ravenloft is not a religious place, the Mists serving as a barrier to the gods. Various cults and churches spring up here and there, but they are not organized or powerful. The largest would be the church of Ezra, the Guardian in the Mists, but even that church is not large. The Sisters of Charity follow a philosophy of mercy and are not devoted to a deity.
You do find a volume of poetry. It is fairly Gothic in style: overwrought, emotional, and florid. It is not very good.
Vampires: The bite of a vampire is not enough to turn a victim into a creature of the night. The victim must be killed by the vampire in order to rise again.
Vampires are best killed with a stake through the heart, followed by severing the head and anointing it with holy water. Simply damaging the creature will not kill it, although if it sustains sufficient damage it takes the form of a mist and retreats to its resting place. Vampires are highly resistant to weapons that are not silver AND magically enchanted. Garlic, mirrors, and holy symbols can ward of vampires to some extent, although more powerful vampires can endure these irritants.
Werebeasts exist in many forms. Some of the most common are wererats, werewolves, wereboars, and werebats. All of them are evil, twisted by their curse and by this land that welcomes them so openly. Other types exist, such as weretigers and werebears. Dr. Savarre does not claim to know of all of them.
Traveling the Mists can be fatal for those who do not know how to navigate them. The Mists do not operate using familiar geometry. You can enter them at one place, travel for 10 minutes, and find yourself at another Misty Border hundreds of miles from where you entered. Their navigation is spiritual, not physical. Terrible creatures occupy the Mists, and travelers must always be on their guard.
It is this sort of travel that can take one to the "Islands" in the Mist. Dr. Savarre's books do not illuminate the method by which those Vistani who possess the Eye are able to enter the Mists and come out wherever they wish.
Any type of magical travel is severely limited. Teleportation cannot cross the Mists, and in some cases cannot even allow someone to leave the domain they are currently in. Any rituals that would allow you to reach other planes beyond Ravenloft are beyond your knowledge, based on those skill checks.
"Very well," Dr. Savarre said. "Keep your wits about you when you are out. They may be looking for you."
Dr. Savarre can assist with that Heal check when the time comes.
What are you doing in the meantime? It is currently about noon, and lying low is certainly an option until you meet Darra and Tannis for dinner. Are you arranging sufficient rest for regaining of spells and the like?
Dr. Savarre regards Leandro with some puzzlement, and then realization. "When Sister Cecile said that you were outsiders, I do not think I realized just how true that was. But surely not all of you are from outside; good Andrzej is surely one of the Vistani, if I am not mistaken."
He goes on. "The lands of this realm are bordered by dense Mists. Mists that have purposes of their own. Many of the domains border one another, allowing you to travel from one place to another with relative ease... under ordinary circumstances. Some lands, however, are more like islands within the Mist, unattached to any others. The realm of Souraigne is one such domain. You cannot simply walk to it; you must reach the Misty border and navigate your way through."
"Unlike many others of these islands within the Mist, Souraigne is also reachable by sea if you have a captain who knows the route, but such a journey would take considerable time to arrange, and it sounds as if this Gilbraith has a head start."
"Certain of the Vistani can traverse the Mists without getting lost. I do not know the particulars, but it seems to be associated with those who possess the Inner Eye. With such a guide, the journey could be undertaken much more expediently."
Bear in mind, Tybalt, the actual Con damage will not set in until the next morning. You are symptomatic, but do not have any mechanical penalties yet.
Res: That Heal check is sufficient to identify the malady as filth fever.
Dr. Savarre considers Tybalt's question for a while. "I suppose I will have to leave town in any event," he says. With a sigh, he goes on, "I am in it this far. I might as well guide you in this venture."
"We can infiltrate the clan's lair and cut off the head. Along the way, perhaps we can learn a bit more about the strain of infected lycanthropy you may have been exposed to."
"We will have to leave the city quickly afterward. If your aim is to investigate those artifacts, it sounds like Harrag's Skull will be a good place to begin, although getting to Souraigne on short notice can be difficulty without a way to navigate the Mists."
It might occur to one or more of you that you do have a dinner appointment.
"Tetslin? Yes, he is one of their number. He is a very old vampire, pompous and proud. I could see him embarking on such a scheme. While many of the Crimson Court are absorbed in their preoccupations, he is one that worries me, for he possesses an ambition that knows no bounds."
"Katalin Szabo I know of as well. A most cruel vampiress and another of the Court. How does she enter into this business?"
Tybalt: I was so distracted by lycanthropy that I had forgotten you had filth fever. The onset is 1d3 ⇒ 1 days.
Some of you might notice that Tybalt has begun to sweat and grow pale. He does not look well.
Here, Dr. Savarre is clearly in his element. "They are a council of the most decadent sort of vampires. They occupy positions of wealth and privilege in the lands of Borca and Dorvinia to the east. Plotters and schemers, all of them. With their combined power, they are a formidable entity and little goes on in those lands without their knowledge."
"I have tracked their activities for many years now, but have been unable to strike a decisive blow due to their considerable reach. While I have not known them to go to open war against werebeasts, I also cannot imagine them collaborating except against a common enemy. Any alliance would be tenuous at best."
"Are they the ones who have taken in this Lord Gilbraith? Do you know which of their number is working with him?"
"The affliction is as much spiritual as it is physical. The physical damage can be treated; the spiritual damage is more difficult. The worst is if the afflicted werebeast commits heinous acts in its bestial state, for it must atone for whatever it has done should it wish to recover."
He furrows his brow, "But what is it that you had said about the Crimson Court? How are they involved? Wererats and vampires?"
"She is a paranoid woman," Dr. Savarre says, "but she entertains for her close circle. It will be difficult, but not impossible to disguise yourselves. The direct approach of sneaking in under cover of darkness has its merits as well. While the wererats have some ability to see in conditions of low light, there are likely to be less people about at that time. I think either approach has merit, but you are quite right when you suggest that going into the sewers would be dangerous. Better to confront her in the house and try to block her escape into the tunnels."
"And I should point out, it will not be her transformations to watch, but those of her infected minions. She almost certainly has total control over her state, but any infected wererats among them will be fully subject to their trigger, and it is likely to be the same as yours."
He clears his throat. "If you have been infected, of course."
"The land of Souraigne is a vast, festering swamp with many secrets. Most civilized folk live outside the swamp, but there are some forsaken communities within it. It was within one of those communities that the skull was discovered. It was promptly seized by a necromancer known as Monerre. Many learned men with whom I correspond were interested in this item, and disappointed to see where it now resides. Monerre has taken residence in a necropolis on a island within that swamp where, presumably, he studies the relic's power. If this Gilbraith is nearly in possession of the skull, then he must have traveled to Souraigne himself."
"Do you know who Lord Gilbraith is working for?"
"As for your condition," he continues, "it may be possible to induce the transformation if we know what triggers it." He rises to his feet and begins to pace the room. "Certainly, the full moon is a classic trigger, but not as common as the stories would have you believe. It could be many things: the sight of blood, the fall of rain, extreme emotional states... The best way to know, short of waiting and seeing, is to find out what triggers the other infected werebeasts of the bloodline. For that, the best source of information will be the clan associated with the late Dr. Navarette. I told you before that there are few who could command such a powerful arcane familiar, but one is the witch Madame Gustalarde. She is the matriarch of the clan to which Dr. Navarette and, if my suspicion is correct, Sr. Jacinthe as well, belonged. She is a petty, jealous woman who occupies a sprawling townhouse here in the city, along with the labyrinthine tunnels beneath it."
Tybalt: You do not see anything that looks unsafe or alarming.
"Very interesting indeed!" Dr. Savarre remarks. "That is a list of artifacts, all of which possess great power. Harrag's Skull turned up relatively recently in the marshes of Souraigne, and Saran's Fang is well known to reside in Lord Vlad's personal armory. The rest I have heard of, but their whereabouts may take a bit of research. I have seen reference to a ritual involving Grey Gates, but I know little of what it does." He ponders the list for a moment.
"As for the vampires and werebeasts, neither presents a particularly united front. Some fight, some cooperate... It all depends on who you are dealing with."
"And I have not forgotten your injuries," he adds, settling into a dusty chair. "Unfortunately, little can be done until we know for certain whether you are infected. The cure - the real cure - for lycanthropy is an exacting ritual that can only be performed while the victim is in a transformed state. As you stand here before me, you could be infected or you could be an ordinary man. Any effort to rid your body and soul of the taint of the werebeast would be ineffectual and possibly dangerous."
Additional reminders (thank you, Tybalt):
"Really a doctor, yes, although not a very good one. Smart, but not inclined to apply herself," he says, as if evaluating some disappointing student.
"And yes, some wererats are exceptionally intelligent. There are quite a few talented arcanists and alchemists among them."
With the doctor directing you, you make your way through the streets of Mortigny. He avoids crowded markets and thoroughfares, preferring the many sparsely populated boulevards of the city.
You are likely struck by the difficulty of identifying your foes among the many people you pass by. When the enemy resides within countless ordinary-looking residents of the city, it is impossible to know who is friend and who is foe. Each face seems a threat in disguise.
The doctor avoids any topics of conversation that may give you away and hurries along, mostly in silence. He eventually directs you into a narrow alley and to a plain, unmarked door, secured with a heavy lock. He looks up and down the street to ensure no one is present before opening the door.
The chamber inside may once have been someone's sitting room, but is caked with dust and full of boxes and crates. A single, shuttered window does little to light the room, but Dr. Savarre hurries to a candelabra and lights its many candles, ushering you inside.