Children of the Night

From the pages of Sulayn's journal, Part 3

Caliphas

 

30th of Arodus, Sunday

It was very bad tea. Turns out my meeting with Korinsky was meant to be a death trap. The rat catcher had planned to drug me and turn me over to some vampiric master. I was only saved by the timely interruption of my friends from Vauntil. Actually it was Vargan that saved us all. I’ve never been so thankful for the big brute. He shrugged off poison and managed to keep his wits enough to feed us the antidote, a springy, yellow herb Korinsky had been chewing. By the time I came awake the room was spinning and full of walking corpses. Halda had taken a bad hit and was cursing up a storm in dwarven. Reaching out my fingers closed on spear and I struggled to stand. One of the monsters lumbered past me and I impaled it. As it flailed about stuck Vargan split its head apart with his axe. With all of us on our feet now, albeit shakily, we cut down the walking dead and went down the stairs following the fleeing Korinsky. Downstairs we were stopped by more fresh zombies, their chests ripped open and still dripping gore. The sickly sweet decay was overpowering but marginally better than the sewers. Quickly the dead fell to the flashing blades of Persephone and Vargan. Not wanting to seem useless I leaped forward and skewered the final one.

Gagging on the rotten stench we rifled through the rooms looking for survivors and especially for Korinsky. He was clearly as dangerous as he was mad. The desecrated corpses that had attacked us bore were disemboweled in a manner that matched the description of the Hawthorne murder victims. This left me puzzled as those victims had been left where they died and these had clearly been captured, killed and animated with dark magic. A small chest held a handful of possessions, probably from these unlucky victims. Under some boards in the farthest room from the stairs a hole in the floor dropped a half dozen feet into a tunnel. In the dim light my eyes could just make out that it stretched off in two directions. As I bent to listen we heard noises coming from upstairs.

With the arrival of Elias and Aetherton the night was beginning to feel like a play. The corpse strewn dining room of a murderous rat obsessed bachelor was an odd place for a reunion but I have to admit I was quite happy to see them. Apparently they had followed some message from the others that led them here. Gathered together Elias and Persephone translated Korinsky’s notes and we pieced together a little more about him. As I noted above he was planning to sacrifice me to his master, someone or something named Dominicus. Persephone believes it is a vampire, but based on a few other things she said I’ve started to think she sees vampires in everything. Korinsky also knows how to get into an underground club called the Dawn’s Requiem. For some reason I’m still not clear on Persephone, Vargan, and Halda have been trying to find its location and visit it. I would have guessed it would be more Aetherton’s thing.

The notes revealed that the rat catcher meets frequently with his master at the shrine of a certain saint. It was not one I had heard of and in the chaos that followed I’m afraid I’ve already forgotten it. Whoever it was, Aetherton knew the place. Halda pointed out that since Korinsky had poisoned me tonight he may have been planning to meet his master there just after. This sounded at least as good a lead as delving into more tunnels following a trail gone cold.

We found the shrine in a patrolled and well maintained graveyard in the Eskcourt district. Elias talked our way in and as we approached the shrine we spotted first Korinsky, then something shadowy rippling in the air behind him. As we crept closer the rat catcher howled and was joined by another clutch of animated dead. These were skeletons, better armed and better coordinated than the fresher corpses we had fought just hours earlier. I don’t think they were intelligent exactly. Perhaps something was manipulating them or maybe they retained some memories from a past life. Their clothes had long since rotted away but could have been military garb. They hit hard and fast and nearly dropped a few of us. Elias moved in front of me closing tight with the spear fighters stealing their advantage and taking the worst of the hits on his shield. Aetherton was a dozen feet away facing a pair by himself. Having little effect stabbing the fleshless things he pummeled one with his rapier’s basket guard. Persephone rushed backwards appearing to flee the fight but I knew by now that she was more eager than any of us to put these abominations down. As we fought off battering blows from spears and swords she turned and sprinted using her momentum to leap and pull herself up to the roof of the tallest crypt, all without dropping her crossbow. She was hunting for Korinsky and she spotted him. But even at her new height she was unable to get a clear shot as he crouched behind moss covered stone.

It was then that Halda surprised all of us, maybe even herself. In her frustration and fury she expelled crackling bright bolts blasting the skeletons into smoking blackened bone shards. Persephone used this distraction to drop down and close the distance between her and Korinsky. In one fluid motion she raised her weapon and buried a bolt in the rat catcher’s chest turning his cackle into a shriek. His horrified expression was brief though as he broke off the bolt and glared at her licking his dirty cracked lips. Struggling to keep awareness of my comrades in the battle I was surprised when Vargan came crashing up from behind us to slice his axe into one and at the same time slam a second into the stone wall in front of us. With his arrival I didn’t feel so bad leaving Elias and Aetherton with the remaining dead.

I could say anger drove me towards Korinsky but the truth was it was probably more fear. He had nearly killed me and I was determined not to let him flee to try again. Springing over the nearest skeleton I ran joining Persephone to cut off Korinsky from fleeing. Like a rat he ducked and found an opening but instead of running the madman charged towards the heat of the battle. It was quick work for Aetherton to step forward and pierce him clean through. Korinsky gurgled and, still smiling, dropped to the ground as Aetherton pulled his rapier free. Regrouped now, we cut down the rest of the skeletal fighters quickly.

Our struggle had drawn the cemetery patrol. They were initially very suspicious but the honeyed and moneyed tongues of our nobles managed to talk their way out of our mess. We retired to the wine cellar of the Lowls House where Aetherton dismissed a nervous looking butler. We had Korinsky prisoner couldn’t decide what to do with him. He was nearly oblivious to his predicament ranting about his immortality and his Master’s imminent rise to power. In his ranting he did say something about his master’s master. With threats and bargaining Korinsky finally told us how to find and enter the Dawn’s Requiem. In return we took him to be locked up in the city’s sanitarium. We assured him as important as he was his master would surely come for him, and who knows, maybe that’s true.

With the sun well overhead I headed back to the Hearth and Trail where I had just missed breakfast. My stomach growling I tried to beg at least a little something from Gosti but he just pointed me to the sign hanging above the kitchen alcove. Written in both Taldane and Varisian it read “No Seconds, No Exceptions, No Princesses”. Not quite sure what that exactly means except that I won't be getting anything to eat. Too tired to walk the block to ‘Soups of Yore’ I climbed the stairs, keyed opened my door, and collapsed onto the bed.

Comments

Halda actually was the one who incapacitated Karinsky with a lightning bolt. Aetherton was fighting skeletons. But in the chaos of the battle maybe Sulayn didn’t notice that.

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