11th-17th Days, 12th Month (Dance’s End) of 526 AF

OOC: The following notes were once again provided by Shimmin.

We wake up.

Clerics of the Smith stopped the bleeding from the Jacks’ necks.

A: I’m not quite sure how sticking your head into the field fitted in with experimental procedure. Or is that some new technique they’re teaching at the Academy?

Vaclav: Ah, ah, it was, um, designed to provoke a reaction within a magicothaumic environment without the presence of an adequate control.

Vana: Will you be repeating that?

Vaclav: One of the conclusions I can draw is that the approach heretofore undertaken was, whilst informative, fraught with certain risks which should, in the future, probably be avoided. Probably.

Vana arranges to meet with the high priestess of the Smith (the Mother Processor) here to discuss Vaclav’s “possession” as she’s wise in the ways of undead.

Prof isn’t thrilled about the deal with the vampire, but pleased that she’s promised not to afflict Vaclav at least. He thinks a very powerful wizard or magical creature could potentially establish some sort of presence in the dreams of their descendants, although at the same time this would be risky as they’re putting part of themselves at the mercy of the descendants’ own minds: you could take steps to bolster yourself at night and then crush her in your dream, which is probably why she made him forget every time. Unfortunately her having fed on the Jacks will make them more susceptible to her in the future – especially if she turns up in the flesh, when she’ll be far more powerful.

More worryingly, what about his mother? She’s closely entangled with affairs of state, so there’s a clear security issue. He will try to get her to take a sabbatical, and then train her to be stronger in her dreams.

Vaclav actually had the power in his dream, but didn’t realise it and so didn’t take such a strong position as he could have.

Oswyn talks to the priests about the skeletons. They think they were just left behind without orders, where they would be in a temple if they were serving. They probably won’t be doing much of their own accord, which should help us to deal with them.

We joke about the Jacks getting vampire powers.

“Try some of this garlic tea.” “Tastes like… burning!”

“Don’t accidentally cut off your head and stuff it with a lemon!”

The Mother Processor visits them, waves sacred anvils and so on. Scabbard avoids the visit. The good news is, they’re not turning into appalling thralls of the undead… immediately. The bad news is, the vampire has fed on them and they’ll be more susceptible to her influence in future. It’s possible for very powerful priests to cleanse people of this sort of influence, but it’s beyond her and all but a few legendary priests. She suggests if we’re going to be confronting the vampire in future, they should go on a pilgrimage to a small colony of smith-monks who have almost equalled the attainments of the dwarves, whose abbot is said even to have raised the dead to be hale and hearty; but that’s in the distant north beyond the borders of Arcol.

The interrogation notes are a mad mixture of high Shining Tongue and rambling. Lorok in the interrogation notes claims to be summoning his mother’s spirit into the statue, then torturing that in order to inflict metaphysical pain on her soul under the sight of the deity in the corner (the Tyrant). In particular some of the comments are hard to understand because some of the things he accuses her of weren’t crimes under the Empire of Executioners: failure to inflict sufficient misery, and similar signs of not ruling Arcol with a spiked iron fist as he intends to. He mentions show trials of her spirit. He also discusses escape routes from the populace in case of uprising, and diggings below. Towards the end, he mentions planning his retirement to concentrate full-time on magical affairs. Unfortunately the entries are undated so it’s hard to tell when he wrote what. But he was said to have died peacefully in his sleep, and received a state funeral. We don’t know if it was closed or open casket, but the former was traditional – it was inappropriate that the masses should gaze upon the ravaged shell of former monarchs.

Vaclav is concerned that such an occult-inclined tyrant would not be content to pass away into death. He suspects he may have been the apprentice mentioned by his vampire ancestor, and may have become a lich. Sadly the royal mausoleum was ransacked in the war and the coffins hurled into the river…

The professor persuades Vaclav’s relatives to go onto retreat. During this time, we are able to stay in their riverside house, including a great library.

Jack is back to guarding the docks, and encounters Manod the exiled hobbit. He hears that the blue orc escaped, and the Hobfather has offered a reward for her recapture (this suggestion of her being a prisoner will annoy Oswyn). He also hears a rumour that she healed a sickly hobbit child before disappearing.

Vana meets with the Mother Processor and hears what she told the Jacks. MP also asks Vana for her own opinions, especially on threats to order. Vana suggests that the monarchy and nobility’s involvement in horrific
practices is a lingering issue; even though it’s not a republic they will not be happy about this involvement. Secrecy is probably called for. MP wonders if we’re gossipy. Vana says we mostly keep ourselves to ourselves, but Vaclav doesn’t think before he speaks, and will likely be wanting to publish papers and so on. MP suggests trying to monitor and restrain Vaclav. MP also wonders how much of the royal family was involved; who simply knew about their history and kept quiet, versus who was involved? Vana says they seem recently unused, but says the Church of the Smith Under the Mountain would wish to cleanse such a place, and hopes that the humans will feel the same. Indeed, says MP.

Jack doesn’t get any orders as the Countess is withdrawn from politics.

Oswyn does some wandering around and hunting, and hangs around in hunting bars looking for similar types. Things are apparently fairly quiet there now; the foresters are fairly happy with the Commonwealth. There is sneering about the Barthory family’s survey plans, which they put down to tax plans, never popular. He also visits Vaclav somewhat, chats and even does some reading – Vaclav is enthusiastic and helps him out.

Vaclav finds some iiiiinteresting family records, including rather quiet payments made to cover up a few of his older brother’s mistakes: such as Jeremy (Western Forest), Linda (lives with her mother in the docks in the city). He mentally files them away for later. He also finds old records of military levies, which in some cases went to a particular mercenary company that seems familiar…the Steel Pilgrims.

He also inspects the family tree for missing links. Many well-known and well-documented ancestors, who probably weren’t invented to cover up a vampire. The family were elevated during the reign of Lorok, but had been aiming that way for a while and so kept good records. Four or five hundred years ago the records get patchy due to the Flux; a good time for an ancestor to be covered up – and can you spell “rampaging hordes of undead”…?

He also reads something that reminds him of his dream, where Castle Barthory were set in mountains, which just isn’t true. But in Lorok’s reign, the family had letters patent to oversee security of a particular mountain pass, with responsibility for a fortress overlooking it: the Passage of Belumen. He finds notes about Castle Belumen, including that some details of Castle Barthary were inspired by Castle Belumen owing to its rather magnificent historical features, some considered unparalled in mountain fortresses at the time; it was particularly ornate and pretty for an inaccessable mountain pass. Gothic, you might say. We decide that as the vampire’s fairly likely to be in the castle, it’s best to poke around the upper levels of the dungeons for now and see what we’re up against.

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