Pathfinder - Carrion Crown

CHAPTER 97
Unholy End

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Episode 18

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CHAPTER 96
The Fire of the Witches Three

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Episode 17

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CHAPTER 95
Lightning and Brimstone

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Episode 16

Arno is swamped by a ravenous swarm of spiders which are quickly dealt with through the use of several fireballs from Arno’s wand. Arno locates the missing skull of the Anis Hag within the well, and attempts to destroy it using the artifact, the Ravens Head. The blow from the artifact causes a wave of negative energy to blast from the skull, pushing Augustus ad Arno to the ground. As the dust cleared, the blow was found to have destroyed the skull, but also partially cracked the Ravens Head. The druid, having spoken with Arno about the swarm and the fact that it was clear to him that the spider swarm was what was left of one of the witches of the coven, namely the Enis Hag, followed his master’s instructions and set about destroying the Abbey with a lightning storm. This action successfully killed the remaining swarms, and thus the remains of the Anis Hag, as well as caused several fires to break out in the abbey itself.

Arno suddenly realised that the Alchemist would be unaware of what was going on, as he was last seen working in his portable hole. Arno broke away from the group, and raced inside the abbey. Upon entering, the door slammed shut, and Arno came face to face with two vampires. The Paladin followed Arno in after destroying the door, and both quickly dispatch the undead minions.

Arno and the Cleric race upstairs, whilst the Druid and Augustus keep and eye out on the exterior of the building. Meanwhile, Mikael hears the racket above, and realises that the abbey was under attack. Tuning his senses to the sending spell, he quickly communicates with Arno, and establishes the plan of attack. Arno, was almost overcome with smoke, with only the Paladin being his saving grace. But Arno was adamant that he needed something that was inside. Using spider-climb, he crawled along the outside edges of the building, allowing access to the room containing the near completed Anis Hag skeleton. There, Arno collected the skeleton, and dragged it outside on the group.

The group took the skeleton away for the abbey and the druid, with the last remaining lightning bolts, attempted to destroy the skeleton. The attempts was unsuccessful, and the group now understood why the paladins who undertook the quest to take her bones to every corner of Ustalv did what was required, for the Hag’s bones were near impenetrable.

The heroes, after catching their breath, then made their way downstairs into the cellars of the abbey. There they came face to face with a monstrosity, ebbing with power. The creature was that of a ancient Blood Knight, which had gained its power from the Whispering Tyrant himself hundreds of years ago. The heroes took on the creature, ists blood creating a hazard for the heroes, however Augustus’ arrows found their marks, and the creature was defeated. But all was not as it seemed, and the heroes soon found that they were not alone as they quickly realised that the second twin of the witches was present, and had become a vampire herself…

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CHAPTER 94
Tying Off a Loose Thread

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Episode 15

The heroes, having dispatched the first of the witch twins, started their search of the top floor of the Abbey. In the room where Arno discovered the headless skeleton of the Anis Hag, he also discovered an ornately crafted over-sized jar with etching reminiscent of those hailing from Katapesh. Arno detected a magical aura about the jar in particular the seal. A short discussion with the others determined that the jar was similar top those used by Katapeshi mages for the capture of genii.

During the discussion, Mikael
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CHAPTER 93
Broken Broom

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Episode 14

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CHAPTER 92
The Bells of Sante-Lymirin

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Episode 13

The heroes finalise their arrangements with the Countess and return to their respective lodgings. Arno and Quinley go back to The Seventh Eye, while Mikael and Lucius return to the Voices of the Spire.

The following morning at Voices of the Spire, the heroes are awoken to advise that Augustus Vanraad had risen from the grave. Mikael and Lucius bring Augustus up to speed. Augustus asks about the Raven’s Head which Mikael and Lucius claim ignorance.

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CHAPTER 91
Transformative Negotiations

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Episode 12

Mikael handed out the vial towards the Countess, her eye narrowing as he did so.

“It would be unwise for me to test this elixir”, the Countess firmly stated. “Perhaps it would be best if you show me the results on your friend here?”

Mikael swallowed, “Very well. Arno. Would you try this”. Mikael moved his hand towards the seasoned bard. Arno observed the brew, still bubbling in its container. He took the vial, and peered within. He noticed that the vial was still warm, the bubbles only now settling. With one swig it was gone. For a moment, nothing happened. The handmaidens moved their hands in readiness, and almost everyone in the room held their breath.

Suddenly the alchemical, biological, and magical ingredients took effect on the young bard, and Arno could feel himself change. The shock manifested itself as a scream which was heard in the auditorium where the party was only now being shut down by the Countess’ armed guards. Lucius and Quinley were one of the last to leave, and clearly heard Arno’s lament. The guards too heard the scream, and almost immediately, the lead guard began issuing orders. Lucius, no stranger to the military joined in and with a few authoritative phrases, joining the guards as they raced to the aid of the Countess. Quinley, taking cue from the far superior soldier, followed not far behind.

Meanwhile Arno’s fingernails stretched into claws, his teeth became razor sharp, his skin hardened and he felt alive. But something clicked in the young man’s mind – a deal was to be made here that could advantage everyone and deal with the Whispering Way in no way that he had thought of before. He had to think quick, and as he felt the changes within him start to stabalise. He knew it was time to act whilst he and his companions appeared to have the upper hand.

Meanwhile, Mikael was gobsmacked as his creation and kept claiming to the countess of all the benefits of what the elixir could bring. The handmaidens begun stepping towards the Countess in order to protect her, and the Countess herself stepped backward.

Arno dropped to his knees, stretched out his clawed arms, and held his head downward. He paused for a moment, mainly for effect, and then spoke.

“My lady”, the man growled, “I give fealty to you. I am now your humble servant. Do with me as you wish”.

Mikael was not sure what he had heard, and it was clear that the Countess thought the same. The Countess spoke first, her voice slightly quivering.

“I see. And why should I trust you?”

Arno rose to his feet, and looked the Countess in the eye, all whilst attempting to hide his new-found jaws. Arno spoke for several minutes, and explained to the Countess all that they had learned about the Abbey that she had purchased, all about the witches that were in her “employ”, and all about what the witches were really doing there. Suddenly, a barrage of guards, followed closely by Lucius and Quinley barrelled into the room. Both Lucius and Quinley looked on, as dismayed as everyone else appeared to be.

“Arno, this is not exactly how I expected to see you”, was the first thing that came to Lucius’ mind and parsed his lips.

The Countess raised a hand, and the guards moved slowly from the room. Arno continued, and stated that Mikael was an expert with regards to the Sun Orchid Elixir and although the witches claimed that they would be able to duplicate the elixir, it was his belief that Mikael has the best chance to succeed. Arno pointed out that the Witches were clearly using the Countess’ hospitality, and her desperation against her.

The Countess was enraged. How dare these two witches dupe her.

“I accept your offer”, responded the Countess, “on the condition that you produce me the elixir as soon as possible, and without delay. In the meantime, I give you permission to deal with these witches. What is it that you need from me?”

Arno thought for a moment, and responded in snarling tones.

“A sample of the Sun Orchid Elixir for Mikael to continue his already bountiful research, plans to the Abbey of Sante-Lymirin where the witches are now stationed, a letter of introduction to the witches and wand of cure moderate wounds. At this stage they are clearly unaware of your intentions, and of course of our involvement. With the letter, we may be able to act as your hirelings who are checking on their progress. The rest will be up to us to handle. Is this agreeable?”

“Yes”, the countess exclaimed. “We will draw up the paperwork immediately in order to ratify this transaction”. With that, the Countess summoned her best legal representatives, and the rest of the evening was spent discussing plans, documenting the heroes’ agreement with the Countess, and allowing time for the Countess to obtain the plans to her Abbey…

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CHAPTER 90
An Invitation Extended

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Episode 11

The heroes contemplate their next move and discuss what they know of the Whispering Way’s plan with their new associate Praetor Macedonicus. The heroes bring Lucius up to speed with their investigation and what they have done since Ravengro. He had already been made aware of the dealings with the vampires. Arno brought the others up to speed with what he had discovered in the ledgers Quinley had obtained. Arno also told the group that he had learned much about the Countess including the fact that it is believed that she has been taking Sun Orchid Elixir for some time hence then reason that although it has been rumoured that she is very old, she actually looks no older than 30. Arno believes that this information may be a link to why the witches are working for her and why they are using the Monastery.

After pondering for a time, Arno suggested that Mikael and Quinley go and speak with the Nosferatu Ramoska Arkminos to see if they are able to obtain any further information from him regarding the witches and his involvement with the creation of the Carrion Crown. Arno and Lucius would conduct their own inquiries with Immo Vorbrugg, the man who invited Arno to Countess Carmilla Calipvaso‘s party to be held that evening, as well as purchasing a much needed wand of healing.

Mikael went and spoke with Ramoska after Arno gave him the signet ring, and learned more about the witches and what involvement he had with the attempted creation of the Carrion Crown elixir. There they learn that Ramoska was asked by the Whispering Way to develop the Carrion Crown but he was unable to as it was missing an ingredient which he believes was the blood of a particular person. He surmises that the person who the Whispering Way were targeting was that of Prince Ordranti, Lord of Caliphas, but could not say why other than he was the person who held the greatest power in the country. He also claimed that he did not support the Whispering Way’s beliefs but could not decline the offer to work on such a formula. He was unable to complete the forumula and so he believes that the Whispering Way sought the services of who he believes were witches somewhere outside of the city. Beyond that, he knew nothing of the Countess’ involvement.

Quinley travelled through the city in an attempt to find records of the Abbey including the map structural layout of the buildings. Unfortunately he met without success but did learn that the building had been purchase approximately 2 years ago by the countess. No other details were able to be learned.

During their time in the city, the heroes also learned that there had been several more deaths, but this time of nobles. Arno discovered that the nobles were not of any great importance, but it did appear that either vampires were seeking some sort of balance, although they knew that this is not what tLuvick Siervage wanted. They also learned that Count Lucinean Galdana was believed to be missing, and that the main castles in the city had increased their level of security.

After purchasing the wand of curing, Arno and Lucius visit Immo Vorbrugg. There they are able to obtain a look at the invitation. Arno first hopes to convince Immo to see if he is able to obtain further invitations, to be he says that he cannot. Arno decides that he may be able to forge copies of the invitation and examines the letter intently. Lucius

The heroes later returned to the Pharasmin Church and discuss their plans for the evening. Arno explains that he plans to attend the Gala Ball and gain an audience with the Countess. Lucius added that if the Prince was going to be in attendance, which was confirmed by Immo, it might be a good opportunity to protect him, and thereby prevent the Whispering Way from getting his much needed blood for their formula. The heroes agree and set about to obtain suitable clothing.

Later that evening, the heroes arrive at Immo abode and are soon after escorted via carriage to the ball. Upon arrival, the heroes find that security is tight and invitations are being closely scrutinized by guards. Immo‘s carriage is not stopped at the main entrance and the carriage is taken to the red carpet. Upon exiting, Arno thinks quickly and conducts a performance of a tale speaking highly of the Countess. Many people stop to listen and many are impressed by his performance. Arno takes the opportunity to ask some of the more noble types if their tickets allow for “plus ones” so that his associates may enter with him. Several agree after Arno promises them front row tickets.

The heroes then walk down the main carpet towards the main stairs leading up to the palace. Lining the carpet are towering 10 foot tall topiaries shaped in the form of palace guards. The heroes become wary of the guards and presume they to be magical in nature.

The heroes then enter and mingle with the crowd. Mikael, who is the least social of the group keeps a watchful eye whilst Arno and Lucius work the floor. Arno uses his notoriety with his performance outside and that he is the main lead in the play commencing the following evening, whilst Lucius uses his position as being a nobleman in Ustalav to gain information about the inner workings of the royal court. Quinley meanwhile takes not of the various exit points and architecture of the palace in case there is a need to infiltrate further or flee.

During the evening, the following pieces of information are learned:

  • The countess is at least 100 years of age and yet does not look a day over 30.
  • The countess has a young charge named Reneis Ordranti
  • It is believed that Reneis is actually the brother of Prince Aduard Ordranti III.
  • Further to this, it was found that Reneis is the next in succession to the throne of Ustalav and is the reason he is being kept close to the countess.
  • The countess has no trouble with initing Vampire’s to gher gathers as Lady Evgenya Zunaida is seen during the evening openly engaging with nobles along with her entourage.

During the evening, Prince Aduard Ordranti III arrives to much pomp and ceremony. Lucius observed that the Prince is very much out of his element, and that much of his presence is show. He notes that the Prince seems more likely to engage those of military persuasion and appears to watch the festivities like a general watches the battlefield. Lucius makes every attempt to speak with the Prince and waits patiently to do so.

Meanwhile, Arno and Mikael worm their way into speaking with Reneis Ordranti. Arno and Mikael apply many drinks to the youngster in an attempt to loosen his lips. During the evening, he mentions that he is the son of the former King, the Eunuch Prince Valislav Ordranti. This is overheard by one of his keepers who immediately send guards to speak with the Countess. Shortly after, one of the guards returns and delivers a message from the countess stating that she would like to see Reneis’ in her chambers at once.

Shortly after, with even more pomp and ceremony, the Countess is introduced to the crowd of adoring onlookers. Lucius notes that the Prince does not even acknowledge her arrival, which clearly showed that there was no love lost between them.

Arno and Mikael continue their discrete investigations and learn:

  • The countess has obtained most of her wealth through real estate, taxes and through former family wealth. Many claim that she started with little but as she has lived so long, they believe she has had time to amass the wealth herself through a long end game.
  • The countess has been showing signs of hastened aging in recent months
  • Reneis is actually the bastard brother of Prince Aduard Ordranti III
  • Reneis and the Countess are lovers as well as possibly being related as he is the son of Millaera Caliphvaso, her sister.

Arno and Mikael manage to get close to the Countess and start talking about the_ Sun Orchid Elixir_ with a couple of lower nobles. Arno claims that Mikael has discovered the formula. This catches the attention of the countess and several of her hand-maidens. Shortly after, she asks Arno and Mikael to join her in her meeting room shortly to whcih they agree

Meanwhile Lucius is granted an audience with the Prince. Lucius reveals that he is a noble within Ustalav, in particular Caliphas,. HE also reveals that he is a holy warrior and has travelled from Nex after serving in their military. Lucius also uses the opportunity to reveal the threat to the Prince’s life. The Prince, taken aback by Lucius’ claim, thanks him and asks to know more. Lucius gives him as much information as he knows. The Prince writes him a letter of introduction, advising him to use whatever means are available to find the culprits behind the threats. Shortly thereafter, the Prince leaves, and the party begins winding down.

Arno and Mikael meanwhile have been escorted to the Countess’ meeting hall. The room is a lavish array of wood carvings, lounge chairs and paintings. Surrounding the room are the Countess’ hand-maidens, each clearly armed and prepared.

The countess then asks Mikael to prove that he can make the elixir. He fails to fool the clearly clever woman, and states that although he can’t, he is close to creating the Sun Orchid Elixir and would like the opportunity to work for her. She then asks him to prove his credentials. At this point, Mikael pulls open his portable hole and enters his laboratory. He claims to be able to make an elixir to provide additional strength, nimbleness and vitality. Arno hopes that Mikael can pull something off, and after a hour, Mikael produces a small vial of green swirling liquid. Mikael offers it to the countess, or one of her hand maidens to see the effects. Much to his surprise, she declines and asks Arno to take the liquid. Arno hesitates and Mikael clearly shows signs that this may not have been the best of ideas, however relishes in the opportunity to see the effects of his creation on someone other than himself.

Arno drinks the potion which shortly after has its desired effect. Arno is wracked with pain as his form changes into something akin to a horrible monster. Arno yells as the pain which echoes through the room and down the hall.

As Lucius and Quinley are being escorted from the room, they hear Arno’s screams. It was now time to act…
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CHAPTER 89
The Last Thread

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Episode 10

With the tailor shop above them engulfed in flames, the heroes continued their attack on the vampire leader and his minions. During the fight, Sadiki had run around the exterior of the building, arriving soon after at the stairs he had spotted earlier. As he reached the top of the stairs, the door flung open, with Arno calling for help.

Sadiki rushed into the room, and appeared to have the situation under control. The vampire leader, who by this stage had been recognised by Quinley as the Vampire tailor Radvir Giovanni, was quick to the mark, and brutally killed both Sadiki and Augustus with the use of his flailing bladed scarf.

Giovanni, knowing that if the situation was not dealt with promptly due to the engulfing flames decided to spare both Arno and Mikael, warning them to never return, and take their dead friends with them. Arno grabbed Augustus, and dimensioned doored away to the Pharasmin Temple, while Mikael grabbed Sadiki, hastily threw the monk’s body into his portable hole, and ran off into the night. Quinley however had other plans, and stealthily ran further into the smoke filled under-chamber to obtain whatever evidence he could. Quinley located a room nearby locking the door behind him. This gave him enough time to grab whatever books he could find before Giovanni was able to enter the room via his gaseous form. Quinley merely smiled, swigged a potion of gaseous form he had purchased earlier, and disappeared into the black smoke now billowing from the building.

Mikael soon after arrived in a back alley, and after a brief moment allowed his true nature to take hold. His only clue as to what had transpired was a note which read, “Don’t open the portable hole”. Mikael immediately made his way to the temple as he was sure this was possibly the safest place from any vampire threat.

Arno meanwhile arrived at the church, and quickly whisked away the Raven’s Head into a backpack before speaking with Sister Mardhalas. Soon after Mikael arrived and explained what had occurred with Sadiki. Saddened by the news, Sister Mardhalas immediately sought the guidance of Mother Thestia. After examining the bodies, Mother Thestia prayed for a moment and spoke with both departed souls. Both determined that they had failed in their quest, and declined the offer of resurrection. Sister Mardhalas was visibly upset by the news, and Mikael offered to stay at the church.

Arno stated that he had loose ends to follow, and left the safety of the church. Arno, fearful of what had occurred, and now in possession of the artifact, thought it best to make his way to the seediest part of Caliphas, and ponder his next move.

Arno eventually found himself standing at the doors of The Seventh Eye, a dockside establishment which was clearly an opium den of some sort. He was welcomed in by a dark skinned elf, who agreed to provide him lodging for the evening with no questioned asked – for a hefty price. Arno agreed, and locked the door behind him of his small room. An hour or so later, a knock came at the door. Arno prepared what offensive spell he had left, but this was not necessary, as his visitor was Quinley.

Upon entering, Quinley produced a leather case containing various journals, and paperwork which smelt heavily of soot. Quinley explained that he was able to nab the contents of Giovanni desk before he too fled the burning tailor shop. Arno pawed through the documents and discovered many of Giovanni’s plans, including the fact, he had orchestrated the spark which was soon to lead to civil war between the humans and the vampires, blaming the deaths of the elder vampires on human nobles throughout Caliphas. The ledgers however spoke of transactions between Giovanni and two witches, Aisa and Hetna Dublesse.

Arno recognised the names of the witches as the infamous Witches of Barstoi. It was believed that the sisters were part of a notorious coven under an annis hag named Oothi, who had mentored them from an early age in the ways of witchcraft. When Oothi was captured a few years ago by adventurers and sentenced to burning at the stake, she used a potent magic to separate her flesh from her bones, transforming herself into spider swarms to escape her execution. The sisters, at the demise of their mentor, fled into the wilderness and were believes dead. Rumours persisted of the sisters from time to time that they were seeking to raise powerful undead to seek vengeance for their fallen mentor, however none of the rumours could ever be verified.

The ledgers also showed that the sisters were making ongoing requests for more vampire bodies to be delivered by Giovanni and his minions, to the Abbey of Sante-Lymirin in exchange for additional bloodbrew elixir. The notes further surmised that the sisters were using the vampire bodies to create a potion for undead transformation, and that perhaps they too were working for Whispering Way in their goal to raise the Whispering Tyrant.

Quinley advised that the Abbey of Sante-Lymirin had recently been purchased by Countess Carmilla Calipvaso, the host of a party that Arno had received an invite too earlier.

Arno determined the best course of action was to ensure that the vampires received the information the journals contained, and so furiously set about copying the notes into his own journal. Once completed, Arno gave the documents to Quinley and told him to immediately take them to Luvick Siervage so that firstly, Ramoska Arkminos could be freed, and secondly so that any chance of civil war between the vampires and the humans could be averted.

Quinley soon after arrived in the vampire underground and divulged all the information they had obtained. Luvick accepted the information, and immediately order the execution of Giovanni. Luvick also arranged for the release of Ramoska Arkminos. Quinley then excuses himself and returns to the Pharasmin Church.

Meanwhile, Mikael decided that he would need to rest, even if only for a small while. He was awoken with a rap on the barrack room door. As he awoke, he found that his hands and sheets were covered with blood. He immediately asked who is was, to which Sister Mardhalas responded. Mikael delayed answering the door, pushing all of his sheets into the portable hole and washing his hands in the basin provided. Soon after, he answered the door, and was old that a Holy Warrior had arrived at the temple, claiming to have received a vision in a dream, showing that he was required at the church. Sister Mardhalas stated that she was clearly out of her depth, and that perhaps given the circumstances, that it was something that he and Mother Thestia could work out.

Mikael got ready and arrived soon after in the main cathedral. There he met with Praetor Lucius Macedonicus, a Paladin who claimed to be a member of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye who had recently been called upon by the order to seek the whereabouts of one of their members, Halloran Idriss, a paladin of Iomedae. Idriss had been tasked to investigating several murders and the disappearances of several other members of the Order. Lucius claimed that his investigations had lead him to the Church of Pharasma where it was believed a group of individuals, who were also investigating the matter, but from a different angle, were stationed. Upon arrival, it was clear that their investigations had made a turn for the worst as two of their members lay dead.

Soon after Arno and Quinley arrived and were introduced to (Paladin). Arno pulled Mikael aside, and brought their movements up to speed including the information he had obtained. The group then pondered their next move…

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CHAPTER 88
Eye of the Needle

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Episode 9

Having dispatched 3 vampire minions, the heroes are confronted by several armed guards who Arno presumed to have been charmed by the vampires. The heroes make their way downstairs only to be followed by both the guards and the flames which were set to engulf the building. Sadiki begun to tend to the fire whilst allowing the others to follow the vampire to its lair.

Sadiki was then set upon by the guards, but not for long as the flames engulfed his position and he was forced to flee outside and make his way around the other side of the building to rendezvous with the rest of the group.

Meanwhile Arno, Augustus, Mikael and Quinley make their way down a corridor only to be confronted by 4 more vampire guards, all whilst still being pursued by 4 of the charmed guards.

Several of the vampires were vanquished, however Mikael was being overwhelmed. Quinley jumped down to assist, while Augustus and Arno held off the attackers from pursuing them down the stairs.

It was not until a third wave consisting of 3 of the blood brew affected vampires and their leader, Radvir Giovanni, a well dress vampire who wielded am exotic and ferocious melee weapon with blades which flew in all directions, that things became dire. During the melee, Mikael was almost drained of his life energy by the lead vampire’s draining touch, if not for Arno yelling Cayden Cailean’s name. This action sent healing powers through Arno and into Mikael, but not before draining Arno of some of his own life essence. Augustus helped as well by restoring the alchemist’s life essence through Pharasma’s gift.

The door to outside now remained open. It was now the heroes decision whether to flee, or deal with this vampire menace once and for all…
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