Week 5, Hunting Vampires
We left our heroes waiting for the pantope to come by of a Monday morning of the regularly scheduled check-in. Lorelei has found traces of a vampire nearby and wants to do a little extermination work before we continue. Also, we have discovered we are not alone in the dimensional engineering department around here.
Just before boarding the pantope, Pfusand turns into a bear and back again, just to make sure the ability functions properly on the timeline. It does. Since we are planning some lengthy anti-vampire preparations, and since Cantrel gets bored with such things, we send him and his family out for a picnic in Kensington Gardens before we shut the pantope door.
Inside, Daewen decides to take back her old elvish sword Twilight. Then she gives Chris lessons in cultivating silverwood, which we propose to use for staking vampires. Her preferred wood is silver-ash, but Chris learns to cultivate silver-rowan, which ought to be particularly effective, since vampires don't like silver AND don't like rowan.
On a less magical front, Tom sets the Serving System to making ultraviolet laser guns (on the theory that what vampires don't like about sunlight is the ultraviolet component). Meanwhile, he designs and makes a squirt gun for the holy water.
Daewen approaches Tom with the plans for crossbows, blowback automatic pistols, and air-guns and asks him to design a repeating compressed- air dart gun for shooting vampires with wooden or metal darts. Tom runs off several of these and finishes up with a recording device for Daewen's simple dimensional sensor. The end product looks like a Victorian stock ticker but actually records the time and range of any fiddling with pantope-like doors.
We spend five weeks on the pantope, making things and training, then open back out on Victorian London, where Cantrel, Victoria, and Tyrell have barely got to the second round of sandwiches. We set the pantope to show up again Tuesday at sundown, ensconce the dimensional sensor in the house, tell the servants to dust it very carefully and leave it alone otherwise, then wait for Tuesday morning.
During the night, Alag tries to use Tom's Second Sight tracer to take a look at the abbey. Unfortunately for Tom, the only way to reach the tracer is through Tom's head, telepathically, and Alag wakes Tom up. Nothing shows up at the abbey, either. Dratted insomniac elves...
Tuesday morning, the vampire hunters set out -- they are Lorelei, Daewen, Alag, Pfusand, and Tom. Cantrel is spending some quality time with his family aboard the pantope and Chris and Sophie wait at home, keeping in telepathic touch -- partly as backup and partly because they regard this whole expedition as a time-wasting diversion and want nothing to do with it.
Lorelei pauses to bemuse the cook again by borrowing the garlic, then we all take a coach over to Carlfax Abbey. Once no one is looking, Alag tries to pick the lock on the abbey gate. It's rusted solid. Daewen hacks it open with Twilight, and we then pull the thing open on its corroded hinges. All the resultant creaks and groans we Glamour out.
Inside, we start a search of the first floor of the abbey. The doors are either rusted shut, like the first one, or fall apart when you push on them, or (just occasionally) are in good working order. The general layout is normal for an abbey, but there are a lot of Gothic-style grotesques, despite the fact that the abbey dates from a non-Gothic period. Also, they a rather extreme, even for Gothic. Alag tries a Retrocognition on one of these carvings and finds it was done in a fit of religious zeal -- probably not a very nice religion. There are fragments of stained glass in some of the windows, bearing tatters of similarly abnormal pictures.
After we have got used to poking around the dusty silence, broken only by the skittering of rats, Alag asks Tom to "Find the ick," meaning the source of the evil influence we have all felt. Tom starts to explain that he is reluctant to using his Knack of Finding, since you can sometimes feel when people Find you, when he realizes he doesn't have to. Sliding down a nearby wall is a trail of slime -- an unpleasing variant on the ectoplasm Tom himself can produce. It just seems to be oozing from a spot on the wall. The slime itself doesn't appear to be vampiric, so we leave it for the time being.
After this, we being to find traces of dramatic events. There's a door that was forced a few inches open at some time. Yet it is so firmly stuck that Alag can't budge it, even using hysterical strength. Here and there are signs of a rapid pursuit and/or a fight.
We go back to investigate the ectoplasmic drool. Lorelei probes at it and feels two things at once, solid rock and something weird. She is reminded of the illusions for Second Sight (or whatever those double visions were) that we encountered under NewYork. Somewhat reluctantly, Tom runs his Second Sight up the flow and through the wall to find the source. The result is interesting in a pathological way -- it's as though the walls between realities were thin just here, and actions or influence were leaking from one to another. Tom asks Daewen if this is one of those places where the literary events and figures from this timeline leak over to our home line. She thinks not -- that this is an unstable situation, likely to either rip open or collapse.
Tom wonders if this leak shows up on the dimensional sensor back home, but a quick psychic check shows nothing NOW. There IS a record of a clean 20 to 30 second connection a while back. Daewen says she doesn't think this thing would register on her sensor.
The room where the ooze should be coming from (if it weren't coming from the astral plane or wherever) contains furniture shattered in a fight a few years back from the look of it. One wall also has a ghastly silhouette, a print of a man in blood. It looks as if he was bleeding profusely when he hit.
Lorelei scrys the place and promptly faints. She comes to soon and reports that two horrible deaths were the NICEST things that happened in the course of the fight here. She felt a presence similar to, but distinct from, the general nasty aura of the abbey. These upsetting events happened a few years ago; she can't get a better fix and doesn't care to try again.
We continue our exploration, including a brief extrasensory peek into the cellar, where we see a lot of broken-up furniture. We come across the kitchen and refectory. Alag finds retrocognitive traces of a couple of men forcing their way into the abbey through a window here some years back. One is one of the men who died in the room where Lorelei fainted.
We find a skeleton behind a pantry door -- a very large dog's or maybe a wolf's, the position and state of the skull showing it was killed by decapitation. Behind it are stairs down to the cellar again.
Just then, Tom notes that a stone slab of the kitchen floor is subtly different from the rest. He X-rays it and finds that it is a tombstone slab, placed face down. From underneath, it displays its epitaph and dates. There are scratches around the edges, which give Lorelei a faint residue of grim determination and the presence from the That Room. Something VERY strong lifted the slab up from time to time. Beneath the slab are four smashed-up coffins.
We begin to feel that we are here after someone else's adventure. Dracula, in particular, and his desperate foemen, seem to have come and gone, leaving wreckage in their wake. We'd still like to check things out, just to be careful and thorough. Daewen doesn't want to go downstairs, though, until she's checked the upper floors completely. Good strategy.
Second Sighting upstairs and through a door, Alag finds a diaphanous veil. Behind it is another, and another, and so on for twenty layers or so. Meanwhile, Tom's picking up some nasty, active psi around here.
Alag's clairviewing takes his vision into a room with a canopy bed, more draperies, and an altar. Funny altar, placed carelessly, not in the style of the abbey, and with the cross snapped off. There are lots of candlesticks around, plus bureaus and wardrobes and tables, all in a jumble. The aura here feels like an intense version of the general yech of the abbey.
Alag runs his viewpoint through the curtains of the bed. They are three or four layers thick. Inside, there is no mattress, but an ornate coffin, mahogany, richly carved, and completely intact.
We telepath to Chris to come on over with some psilence grenades.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.