From the Journal of Tang Zhen

Session 16

December 1, 5086, Dinas Felin

All in a week's work. I shall leave out the mystery, and cut straight to the chase.

Dinas Felin now has a large homeless population. The wildfire of last June has left many farmers with neither house nor copper to their name. The city's single shelter had burned to the ground at the same time.

Forester Corla Ruckheim's entreaties to Governor N. Skeboyee to build a new shelter in preparation for winter fell on deaf ears. He was spending the scant city treasury on improvements to his own mansion. This was ultimately forgivable, for the carpenter whom he paid to do this work was a vampire, who had him enthralled.

This vampire, Ettinaeus of the Tanin circle, operated from a large underground lair that he had carved with a wand of digging. A narrow pipe led up from there to a knothole in the floor of the handyman's shack on the Governor's estate. This pipe could only be navigated by vampires in mist form (and by Delyra in gaseous form, once we found it).

Ettinaeus fed on the city's homeless, but to keep them from being missed, he first enthralled them, and had them claim to be leaving for Caer Cefn. (This was somewhat suspicious: You might get knifed just for your clothing in lower Caer Cefn.)

Denn McRadden, captain of the city guard, quit. He claimed to want to take up patrolling (on behalf of Tyr Delyth) and trading. He "persuaded" other guards to join him. This was Ettinaeus creating vampires for his circle: McRadden had let him know which guards were the best fighters.

Likely due to a sloppy minion, a body was found, minus some throat and much blood. Rumors of vampires circulated. The bizarre genius alchemist Wadsworth Frump showed some of his knowledge: As other people were hanging garlic, he covered his windows with nets. This must have drawn attention to him, though, and he disappeared shortly.

Turning Frump into a vampire contributed to Ettinaeus' undoing. We had seen once before that a particularly strong-willed or otherwise motivated person can retain part or all of their personality upon becoming a vampire. Frump worked against his "master," doing what he could while neither directly disobeying orders nor revealing himself. His note to us, "Are you disenchanted with Skeboyee yet?" would have been a great clue about what needed to be done, had it been delivered to a competent group of adventurers.

We did eventually discover and dispel the enchantment on the Governor. A stakeout and some divination revealed Ettinaeus to be undead, and we surmised his vampiric nature. Our subsequent ambush caught him, except that he escaped. We did at least eliminate his minions — all except for Wadsworth Frump.

During the battle, Frump's master commanded him and the other minions, "Defend me!" While the others attacked us, Frump stood aside and said, "He's not such a bad guy, if you can get around the whole 'vampire' thing. There's no rule against reading people's minds in poker, so technically, he doesn't even cheat. He's an honest, up-front guy." By defending Ettinaeus' character, he had not only avoided helping, he had also warned us that his master was telepathic.

After the battle, we discussed his fate. He said, "Well, if you must kill me, go ahead. I was kind of hoping to get my revenge on these undead fucktards before I go, but, c'est la mort." We could hardly kill him after that. He then offered to experiment on himself, so that we might learn more about vampires. He will likely make a valuable if dangerous ally.

Meanwhile, the city has lost its four best guards. It is still stuck with a large number of homeless farmers and no funds or time to build a shelter. And Governor Skeboyee has a large and useless underground chamber on his property. But at least we drove out the vampire, and have his wand of digging. Maybe we can trade it to the dwarves for something useful.