Possession is…

In our previous session of Pathfinder Strange Aeons, we rescued the daughter of the lord from the vampires, and we were planning on heading back to deal with them. Much combat was expected, but things didn’t quite work out that way. As it turned out, Ray and Costian really hogged the limelight this week, with most of the work being done by them. We managed to avoid pretty much any combat (except for a single round, which we quickly backed away from).

Our goals this evening were to try and find the Star Stelae that tied Aevan-Vhor to its curse, and the musician Erich Zann who apparently knew how to move around in this world.

With lady Delmaria safely back with her father, we returned to the manor of Lord Avaric that afternoon. We were debating on how best to assault the place, but decided to send Ray on ahead to scout things out first. He flew up to the house invisibly, and started peeking in all the windows to try and get a good idea of the internal layout and find out who was present. Despite being distracted by the sight of several of the serving girls getting dressed, he obtained some good intelligence, though there was a portion of the first floor which had no windows looking into it. As well as the guests we’d seen in the front hall, there was maybe another two dozen guests throughout the house.

Whilst he did that, we decided to check out the garden. There were regions of vines to the north and south, a flower garden, a vegetable garden and a hedge maze. We flew up to the northern vineyard first, where there were what looked like blood red misshapen grapes. Catiana turned ethereal and headed down to take a closer look. They weren’t grapes, but some other type of fruit that she didn’t recognise.

She called back that they were just weird grapes, and then a couple of the fruits arced over the vines and landed at her feet, exploding in a blast of negative energy.

She quickly fled back up, and the rest of us backed off. In the centre of the vineyard a shambling beast stirred, threatening to hurl more fruit. As it came into sight, Gregor recognised it as a Kudimmu – a type of plant creature that produces ‘blood fruit’ which can be consumed by undead as if it were flesh.

We decided to all back away and not engage it. My own thought was that as long as the vampires were drinking the fruits of this thing, then they weren’t consuming real people.

The only complication was that over the far side of the vineyard was a stone – the star stelae that we had been seeking. Even so, we wanted to try and find the musician Erich Zann first. So we headed over to the hedge maze to see what was there. It was populated by a number of high quality stone statues – which initially made me worry about basilisks, but on closer inspection they looked too artistic to be the victims of such a creature.

There was Lord Avaric with a young maiden swooned over his arm, as he lent forward to ‘kiss’ her wrist. There was a statue of a maiden in a nightie, cowering on the ground and holding a religious symbol thrust towards another Lord Avaric who was towering over her. Other statues were dotted around the maze, but we decided that we’d had enough.

By this point Ray had finished his scouting of the windows of the manor, and since we were in telepathic communication with each other, we met up to plan our next move. It was then that I had the idea to try and possess one of the servants, which should allow me to scout out the inside of the manor.

So myself and Ray went to find the room where the servants were, to find that only one was left in there. Taking over her mind wasn’t difficult, and I quickly opened the window to allow Ray to slip in invisibly. I grabbed a tray of drinks and headed upstairs, with Ray closely behind me.

There were some guests up here, but they ignored me as I headed around to the interior doors which led into rooms that Ray hadn’t been able to see from the outside. We quickly came up with a plan – I’d open the doors and walk through, and Ray would follow and search the rooms. Most of them were empty, but the guests ignored us except to take drinks from my tray.

A second flight of stairs led up to the attic, so I headed up in that direction to find a guard. She demanded to know what I was doing, and I explained that I had been instructed to take some drinks to Mr Zann.

I mean, it should have worked. It was a good attempt I think, but as found out later the fact that Mr Zann wasn’t actually up here sort of put a crimp in my attempt at bluffing. The guard was very upset with ‘me’, and accused me of spying. She said that I was fired and had to leave the house immediately. So I possessed her.

This left the slight complication that the servant girl was no longer possessed. She was also very upset with me, and seemed to realise that I was now ‘in’ the guard. So she slapped me. With some quick words I managed to calm her down, and offered her money in return for information – a deal she readily accepted.

Erich Zann was here – but he was down in the basement, which could be reached from a secret door behind a bookshelf in the library. Apparently people go down there but generally don’t come out. There were a couple of people who could be found down there, including a torturer and someone even stranger than the vampires.

By the sounds of what she said, Lord Avaric definitely knows that he is a vampire, since he is more than happy to drag people here and kill them. In the end I told her to leave via the window in the tower where we first met, and that she would be paid 1000gp. She left with her two sisters, meeting Catiana who was guarding my body, where she was paid.

Which left what to do with the guard. After Ray had scouted out the rest of the attic, I asked him to tie me to the bed and gag me. Not a request I normally make, but after ensuring that I couldn’t escape, I left the guard and returned to my body.

Once we had all collected together outside again, we found the side door into the library and headed inside. Indeed, there was a secret door opened by pulling on one of the books, and behind it was a ladder leading down. Beneath the library were some small subterranean rooms, one of which was a chapel. There were two statues of a fanged female with bat wings – the demon lord Zura, queen of vampires.

There was also a wooden statue of a ghostly figure in tattered robes with his arms crossed – Hastur.

By the statue was an altar, on which lay a rapier. Ray could tell that there was some type of trap on the altar, so we decided to leave it alone for now. At least until after we’d finished exploring the cellars.

Samuel Penn

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