After that intense experience with the pirates on the open sea, we decide to head straight to their island fortress and take care of business once and for all. We'll teach them not to kill us off properly!! With our ship and one of the pirate ships beyond trashed, we have to sail the remaining one that I'd previously undertaken to ram incessantly. It doesn't take all that long to get to the island; we dock, get off, and go looking for clues, which leads us straight to the local tavern (of course). Nothing like a sampling of the local brew to lubricate the mental cogs, right? Not that mine need further lubrication, they're already pretty slippery...
As we enter, we're given some pretty interested looks, I imagine we are completely and utterly unlike what the local patrons normally expect to have wander in the door. A mask-faced gnome, a spark-shimmering Blue Dragonborn dressed in what appears to be utterly rubbish rags (gotta love the Glamor effect on my Cloak of Protection!), an old-looking Paladin, a younger Cleric, and an obviously tough as nails half-orc female Barbarian. A more motley crew, you never did see. The Paladin and Cleric especially seem to get the hairy eyeball; the atmosphere tenses considerably and conversation drops from the usual loud chatter to suspicious whispers and mutterings. As the others take their places along the bar and start to settle in, I sense that the Weave has something interesting to tell me. (̀Wh͠a̸t ͝I̷ did̡n͜'̢t r͘eal̸i͏s̀e͞ át t́h͝e t͜ime,͠ a̷nd w͢as ̕t͟ơl͡d ̷l͘ate̶r͏, i͠s t͢ha͟t̡ ̡I ̧si͏mply st͢opp̸ed͠ de͠a̢d͜ ͘i̢n the mi̛d̀d̀le o̵f ţh̴e̶ ͡fl͝oor ánd̷ ̨began starin͡g ̷v̡aca̶ntl͏y ̸at ҉a şudd̀en sw҉i҉r͜l͏ ̴of ̨mov̸e̶m̨e̷nt ̵at ͢f̶ļoor l̛e̵v͢e̡l͜; a̛pp͘are̢nt͜ly ͜s̷ome͞ ̵r̸a̡ts and̵ a͢ ̴sudd̷e̡n͜ ͝gus͏t ̸o͠f ͞b̧r͢e͞ez̡e̡ ͝f̸róm ̕ús ̸o҉pe͏ni̷ng͢ ̀t͡he҉ do̧o̕r҉.͝ Whe̶n t̡he͟ Wéa̶ve҉ ̷wan̴ts̀ t̨o͠ ́s̨a͡y ̴som͢ȩt̡hi͟n͡g͜, ͢it́ ͞ḿan̕i̧fes͝ts ͟t͠h̷is f͠act ͟įn ̛delicat͜e̡ pa͢tt̸er̸n̷s̛ ̸th̶at ͏c͏a͡tch̶ my a̶tt͡enti͘o͘n͘. I̡n̕ t̕hi͠s̡ ̴c̕ase̵ i͘t t̨ol̛d͟ m͢e:͠ "T̸h̶ere͡ ̨is d͞ange̛r͟ very n̡e͡a̧rb́y; ͜t̷he p̸i̕rate͝ ̷b̀ośs͠ kn҉o͢w̕s y̴ou͢'rę ͠on h̴is͟ ̡įs̴la͜nd.͝"̡)̀ Once everyone is settled at the bar, the more normal-looking among us are approached by courtesans. They don't bother with me; apparently Draconics are too extreme even for them. A pity.
Naturally, the Paladin refuses in as firm a manner as I've ever seen; the Cleric does the same, but more politely. The one trying to chat up the Paladin rests a hand on his arm, and my scales tingle a bit as there is a near-indistinguishable flash from her hand when it contacts his skin... (Was that just an attempted Charm spell?) His eyes very briefly go glassy as she says "Surely it's been a long time for you, hmm handsome? You look so strong..." then the steely look comes back into the Pally's eyes and he tells her that if she doesn't remove the hand, she's going to lose it. The Cleric gets a similar treatment; again that very brief and minor flash, the same glassy look... And again, the resolve returns to his eyes and he politely and more firmly declines. He seems to notice something... a bit off about them.
The Barbarian feels a bit left out of all this, and says so; she becomes next on their list of targets; that same flash, and this time the effect seems to take. The Barbarian is quite agreeable to "taking a walk" up the hill and into the main brothel building, so she and the other courtesans leave. The Cleric and Pally decide to follow, leaving myself and the maskfaced gnome to our own devices. He promptly vanishes to who-knows-where; his ability to Stealth is near-unprecedented. After a while of observing the room and drinking, I decide that I might as well take a walk up there and make sure everything is ok; their apparent use of magic as a convincing method bothers me a little, and there seems to be something very unusual about them.
The walk up the hill is largely uneventful, and I get to the brothel door and look in. To the right, in a dark corner, is a gnome or halfling engaged with a cortesan in some personal time; what is odd about this is that she seems to be sucking on his neck quite vigorously, and even in the dark I can see that he looks a bit more pale than would be expected. This quickly becomes irrelevant when there is the sound of shouting and fighting from the top of the stairs along the wall to my left leading to a door on the second floor; the Cleric is there, facing down one courtesan who is at this stage obviously a vampire (huge fangs are in clear view), with more of them obviously through the doorway just beyond. This seems like a great time to test out my Elemental Substitution trait that I picked up from absorbing that Lightning Crystal! GO LIGHTNINGBALL GO! [OOC: Wis 8 says "I don't need to worry about collateral damage; my 19 Int says this is an amazing idea!"] I use this ability and one of my prepared Fireball spells to create a Lightningball - Same damage output, but electrical element instead of fire as its damage type. I send it flying at the top of the stairs and through the doorway, and BOOM!! There is the intensely satisfying effect of a gigantic electrical explosion (so pretty!) which sets the various curtains in the area ON FIRE, several screams from the courtesans (and apparently a FURIOUS Barbarian, who's trying to defend the vampires for some reason?) [She failed her Reflex dodge, and has no resistance to Electrical damage, so this hit like a truck
, taking her just below half HP in one go!] and near-instantly filling the area with thick smoke from all the burning tapestries. Unfortunately for the halfling, he's caught in the resulting firey backdraft from the tapestries and is nearly incinerated. Those fires don't last long though; the Paladin pulls his sword from its sheath, and one of its special attributes is that when drawn, it extinguishes all non-magical flames in a large radius. My response to the fire disappearing is, of course, "Awww..."
A short, intense battle later, some of the courtesans are dead, the Barbarian threw herself out a window with one of them as a rescue. Th͝e ̡s̷wi̢rl͏in͡g s̢m̛oke c͜a̶t͢ch́eş m̶y ̵átţe̶n҉t͡i͏on..͏.͘
I ge̵t the͘ ́d̸i̸s̵tin̸ct̛ i̧mp͞ress̛io͡n̵ th͡aţ we͟'re ͢abo̧ut͢ t͡o͡ ́be vis̵i̧te͏d ͡b҉y͘ ҉a ͘power̵f͏ul and ͡p͟issed-̛o͡ff ́p͜e̷r̛s͟o͜n͏, ͞th͏e͜ ͢on͟e͡ p͏r̴ima͞ri҉ly͜ ͢in ̛c͠h̶arge͜ of̨ ̢this b̡r̸ơt̕h͢èl.̀ A҉ v͞amp̶ir̡e,͜ ́o̴f͞ th̕a̴t̕ th̀er͏e͏ ̢is͏ ́nó do̧ub̀t̵.͞.. And sin̸c̕e͠ I͠'̷m͜ s̛ta͝n͘d͠i̵n҉g ̀in̷ the͠ ̵dǫorwa͠y҉ wh̷i҉le ͜ev͝èr͞yone ̸else ͟is͘ ͞insid͝e̸,͏ I'm ͢Pr̛ior͞i͡ty O̶ņe.̛
Suddenly, I'm grappled from behind. I struggle free, turn around, and find myself facing a fancily-dressed female vampire, looking quite miffed that I managed to break free. I yell "Guys, we've got company!", get grappled again for my efforts, and then she bites me. Thankfully her fangs just glance off my scales; I break free again, and then I get a Great Idea: Just to piss her right and completely off
, I moonwalk backwards away from her. This... certainly has the desired effect, and allows her to try and strike me with an unarmed attack. It connects solidly, hurts a lot, but I still manage to laugh at her and continue my moonwalk back behind my compatriots who have now joined me near the door. [Wis 8... No self-preservation here!] Since I'm out of reach, I sling a Firebolt at her head for good measure.
The fight soon spills outside to where there is more room; after I take a bit more of a beating, I decide that being Giant Sized is bound to be as good of an idea here as anywhere! Cue the Polymorph: Giant Ape! I'm now as big as a mansion, and able to hit pretty damned hard. It's too bad for me though, because I also make a great target for her to jump onto and start draining blood from. [Max HP gets reduced repeatedly by this tactic, and the stat damage transfers back to my Normal Form once I shift back.] After I nearly manage to grab and start crushing her, she decides that hanging around on ground level near a massive ape is probably a Bad Idea; she turns into bat form, flies up onto the roof, and prepares to start raining spells down on us. I consider throwing huge rocks at her (my aim would be quite decent), but it would take me a while to either locate a suitable rock nearby, or pull some masonry out of the wall to throw; either way, she's going to get some free hits in...
Then the Paladin decides that he needs to get all up in her face. How though, she's up on the roof? "Throw me." Immensely amused by the idea of throwing one of my compatriots, I pick him up and prepare to throw him onto the roof, but slip in the muddy terrain... [OOC: I rolled a Natural 1 on the attempt! DM: "Would you like to use your Inspiration
to reroll?" I choose to do so, and roll a 2, ugh...] and just barely manage to aim my throw to get him onto the roof. I would really have preferred to throw him straight at her like a well-placed trebuchet shot, but this will have to do; at least he can get within range now.
With the rogue shooting at her from the ground, the Paladin in her face on the roof, and the rest of us doing what we can to help, she is soon dropped to zero HP. She turns to Mist Form and quickly flies away, presumably heading to her hidden coffin. The Cleric uses a Restoration spell to restore my drained blood after I return to normal form, and I instantly feel a lot better. (More than half of my spareable blood was drained by that sucker!) Unfortunately for her, we're able to follow, and with the Rogue poking around in the brothel at the time, he notices the Mist Form come floating in and disappear through the floor at the base of the stairs... By the time we get there, he's revealed the secret entrance into the floor subsection, staked and killed the vampire. The area is covered in runes and heiroglyphs; after careful study, I find that they chronicle her life up to this point. I make sure to note down everything I can about her, just like I do with everything else; I feel that it's incredibly important to chronicle everything interesting I see. You never know when it will come in handy later!
As we discuss what just happened, I suddenly notice the remaining wisps of smoke still swirling around in interesting ways. Mesmerised, I find fascinating information come flooding in about the vampire we just faced... And our remaining enemies. I scribble it down as quickly as it comes in. [OOC: I rolled very, very well on every new Divination check; with each major success, I was able to roll again to see if I could get more info, and every time, I rolled another 16 or higher.] Their names, major personality traits, and how long they've been around for. Having never actually shared this ability with my fellow fighters, I proceed to do so, starting out by saying "So, I'm able to see hidden patterns sometimes, in things like swirling smoke, and I'm able to get information..." After a lot of puzzled looks and explanation, I'm able to share my newfound information with them, including the fact that our primary adversary, known as "The Dread Captain", is a truly ancient and powerful Vampire Lord. He's been alive (if you could call it that) for around ten centuries now, and has personally fed on (and often killed) some very, very powerful beings. His underlings are no joke either; the one we killed already was the youngest, at around 250 years.
There's trouble coming, you can be sure; we've only killed off the easiest one, and the others well and truly know we're here.