Lost Chapter #9

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                                  *
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                              *       *
                            *           *
                          *               *
                        *                   *
                      *    THE ADVENTURERS    *
                    *                           *
                      *     Lost Tales...     *
                        *                   *
                          *               *
                            *           *
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*********************************************************************
*    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      *
*  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  *
*  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      *
*  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  *
*  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    *
*  way, shape, or form.                                             *
*    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    *
*  right 1991-7 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons   *
*  or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  *
*  Copying and/or distribution of these tales is permissible only   *
*  under the sole condition that no part of them will be used or    *
*  sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them...         *
*                                                                   *
*                                  Thomas Miller                    *
*                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   *
*********************************************************************
*  Victoria     a young, unskilled noblewoman                   (N) *
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*  Date:        10/28/233 C.Y. (Common Year)                        *
*  Time:        night                                               *
*  Place:       the town of Homburg, in the fiefdom of Urnst,       *
*               within the Nyrond county of the Great Aerdy kingdom *
*  Climate:     cold                                                *
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*  "Beyond that gate lies my destiny.  You can be a part of         *
*   it or a victim of it.  The choice is yours."                    *
*                        - Xusia, from _The Sword & the Sorceror_   *
*********************************************************************





                       IX.  Initiation





  The urn, hurled with all the might the young woman could muster,
shattered against the wall, narrowly missing the young knight's head.
Shocked as the man was, the assorted family members (representing
both families, it might be added) were even more shocked.  Even the
hurler of the vase herself was shocked, though not as much as the
others.  She was also quite angry, and her fit of fury continued as
she stormed out the manor's door.

older gentleman:  Victoria, wait one-
Victoria:  Forget it!  Just forget it!  (she dashes away into the
  night)
older gentleman:  Aie.
handsome young noble:  What's _her_ problem?
older woman:  Who can say?  We implore you, good Sir Canady - do not
  hold our daughter's behavior against her.
Sir Canady:  I shall not.
other elderly man:  Perhaps we should go find her, before she roams
  too far.
Sir Canady:  Eh?
other woman:  (crosses herself)  The murders...and always at night!
  We shouldn't have let her go out there!
Victoria's father:  We must pursue her - find her.
Sir Canady:  (regards a window, and the fog-filled streets beyond)
  Ulp.
Victoria's mother:  (frowns)
Sir Canady's father:  Hurry!  We are wasting time!

  They quickly exited the house, looking up and down the streets,
but it was no use - the young woman was nowhere to be seen.  Their
shouts and cries got no response, and Homburg was too big a town
for any search to be effective, if the quarry didn't wish to be
found.  Concerned, yet fearful - and most helpless, in any case -
the occupants of the manor went back inside and began to worry and
fidget.  With any luck, the headstrong Victoria had simply gone to
some inn or tavern.  If not...



  Elsewhere in the town, the object of their worries stalked the
dark, mist-filled streets, her raven tresses billowing behind her.
At twenty-three, Victoria was quite a beauty.  A descendant of a
noble Nyrondese family, she had a mixed Oeridian bloodline; her
height and pale skin betrayed Sueloise ancestors, though nobody
would ever tell her that directly.  Victoria stood an even six
feet, taller than the average man.  While she was no warrior -
she'd never held a sword in her life - the running joke had always
been that if Victoria got a blade in her hand, people had better
watch out.
  The truth was, she had a mean temper.  Even as a young, spoiled
upper-class child, she'd been a terror to her maids and siblings.
Utterly unafraid to say whatever was on her mind, Victoria had
been protected from any consequences due to her noble status.
Things that would have gotten a commoner in deep trouble were mere
trivialities to her; while not overly malicious, once a person had
gotten on her bad side, she never forgot, and seldom forgave.  This
mentality, combined with her naturally rebellious nature, had made
for a lively childhood and adolescence.  Fortunately for Victoria,
her family's trips over the years, to cities near and far, had
afforded her chances to enjoy life to its fullest.  Foreign wines
and ales had only been the tip of the iceberg - despite her often-
vicious attitude, Victoria had always had an easy time meeting and
attracting people.  Hell, her parents probably thought she was still
a virgin!
  Times were good, though, and even the usually-sulky Victoria had
been happy until recently.  The Great Kingdom of Aerdy was at its
peak of power - the Age of Great Sorrow had ended years ago, and
Aerdy's borders extended far in every direction, even as far west
as the small town called Greyhawk.  The farms that fell under her
family's demesne had prospered thus far during the autumn, and the
coffers were as full as ever.  Unfortunately, in Victoria's world,
there was always something ready to go wrong.  In this case, her
family was planning to arrange her marriage.
  Sir Canady - now there was a spineless fop to top them all!  No
way in hell was she going to wed some skinny, clumsy, meek, easily-
dominated little worm, even if he _was_ rich.  The two of them
didn't even have anything in common; it had become obvious over
the arranged dinners, horse-rides, and other such meetings their
parents had set up.  The man was as dull and insipid as he was
weak and stupid.  No, Sir Canady wanted only one thing:  a lovely
wife through whom to pass on his bloodline.  Victoria's parents
wanted only one thing:  to join their family with another powerful
one, securing a better future for all.  Nobody seemed to care what
_Victoria_ wanted.
  Except, of course, for Victoria herself.  She wasn't yet sure what
she wanted - she was, after all, young and somewhat immature - but
she was sure what she _didn't_ want:  to be married to a dolt such
as Sir Canady.  She had her whole life ahead of her, and there were
countless things to do, countless places to visit, countless people
to meet (and then discard, if she wanted.)
  Angry, and wrapped up as she was in these sorts of thoughts, she
didn't keep an eye on where she was going until it was too late.
Looking up, she realized that she was in a run-down section of town,
the kind of street where a noblewoman could have a most unpleasant
experience.  The cold air blew about her, and she shivered, drawing
her cloak tightly about her.  The dense fog crept across the shiny,
black cobblestones like a thing alive.  Despite her open scorn for
the wild rumors of murdering monsters in Homburg, even she was now
having second thoughts about being out here alone.  True, this was
a bad area of town - but where, then, were the drunken bums, the
seedy characters, the whores?
  Victoria was just thinking that perhaps even those people had the
good sense to stay indoors on a night like this, when she spotted
something out of the corner of one eye.  Had a shadow shifted, by
that lamppost?  As she looked on in muted awe, the lamp's light
flickered...wavered...and died.  _Inside the glass._
  A scraping sound from behind shocked her out of the trance she'd
fallen into, and she turned, retracing her steps as she headed back
the way she'd come.  It didn't take her long, though, to realize
that it was no use; she'd never ventured into this part of town
before, and she was as lost as a rat in a maze.  This maze, however,
had moving shadows and stealthy, almost ghostly sounds.  There was
no doubt about it, now:  _someone_ was stalking her.  Wondering at
the wisdom of never carrying a knife, Victoria moved through the
dark streets with haste.  She thought that if she could just make
it to the next street, the next alley, she'd suddenly and magically
be back in the part of town she knew.  But it didn't happen, not
the first time, nor the second.  By now she'd actually realized
that she was in danger, perhaps mortal danger.  Gone was the bitchy
and arrogant noblewoman.  Fled were her worries about the upcoming
forced marriage.  Right now, all she could focus on was escaping
these shadowy, foggy streets and-
  Her foot slipped on a moist cobblestone, sending her sprawling to
the cold, hard ground.  Cursing but ignoring her bashed knee and
bruised elbow, she got to her feet and looked around.  Directly
behind her, a tangible darkness rose up, soundlessly; some instinct
made her whirl to face it.  The blood drained from her face, and a
deep, primal scream came from her throat, only to be cut off after
a single moment.



  She awoke slowly, as if struggling to break free from a deep and
powerful slumber.  Wherever she was, it was soft - a bed, perhaps -
and dark, very dark.  Getting to her feet, shakily, Victoria tried
to walk around, but staggered and fell.  As her hands hit the floor,
she was shocked by how acutely she could feel the bare stone.  Her
hearing, too, was strange - all sounds around her were loud and
piercing.

Victoria:  Wh- where am I?  What's going on?

  There was no reply - no one _to_ reply - and thus, she had to find
her own answers.  Moving along slowly, she found a wall and followed
it to her right.  Shortly, her fingers came upon what felt like a
large window, though no light came through its glass panes.  Her
efforts to open it were fruitless, however.  Cursing in frustration,
she looked around instinctively - and gasped as she realized that
she could make out vague outlines and shapes in the darkness.

  Figuring that her eyes must have finally adapted to the darkness,
Victoria scanned the chamber she was in.  It was definitely a plush
bedchamber of some sort, and had not one but _three_ large, arched
windows.  For whatever reason, no light (not even moonlight) shone
through these windows.  A single door, of thick wood with wide iron
bands, was set in the wall to one side.
  A door meant an exit, and she headed for it.  However, the knob
was fixed in place - locked!

Victoria:  Damn this...!  (she tugs on the doorknob angrily)

  Suddenly, the thing ripped free of the surrounding wood, sending
the woman careening back to land unfashionably on the stone floor.
She stood up, rubbed her rump, and looked at the metal doorknob in
her hand.

Victoria:  What the...?
voice:  You don't know your own strength.
Victoria:  Who in the hell are you?
voice:  An appropriate analogy.

  Though there was still no light in the chamber, Victoria was able
to see a number of shadows draw together, coalescing into a single
human form.  She couldn't be sure, but he appeared to have dark
skin and jet-black hair.  Tall and lithely built, the fellow was
well-dressed in expensive clothes.

Victoria:  Who are you?
man:  I am he who made you what you are now.  Call me Master.
Victoria:  I don't think so-  (she suddenly freezes in place)  Urk.
man:  I created you, and for that you should be grateful.  But you
  will also learn, and remember, that my power over you is absolute.
  (he waves his hand, and she finds herself free to move again)
Victoria:  Wh-  Created?!?
man:  Some would say that I killed you - but that is an obtuse view
  held by mortals who cannot begin to understand.
Victoria:  Killed?
man:  My dear, you have been reborn.  (he spreads his arms wide)
  Just as you have left one world behind, you have a whole new one
  ahead.
Victoria:  I- I'm afraid I still don't-
man:  (sighs)  The days are lost to you now; you shall live only
  by night, and for it.  The lifeblood of mortals will be your
  food and drink, the mortals your prey.
Victoria:  (looks puzzled, then shocked)  Vampires!
man:  (nods, smiling thinly)  At last you see.
Victoria:  B- but why?  Why me?
man:  You have a spark, a rare spark - potential such as I've never
  seen.  (he shrugs)  I also have a weakness for beautiful women.
Victoria:  (from what she can see of the man, she finds him not
  displeasing to the eye)  I don't understand...not everything,
  anyway.
man:  That is irrelevant, as you will be taught.  And I have so
  very much to teach you...

  The next week went by in a blur.  Her captor - her master -
made his current residence in an old, abandoned ruin of a castle
on the outskirts of Homburg.  By day, they slept in his coffin;
by night, they hunted.  This latter activity was an exciting,
yet horrifying experience for the young vampire.  It also proved
to be challenging, for powerful though she was, she yet lacked
experience in this area...

Victoria:  (corners a young lad in an alley)  Hsssss!  (her fangs
  emerge at their full length)
lad:  Aaaaie!  No, please-
Victoria:  (leaps toward him, covering the twenty feet in a flash)
  Hsss!  (snarling, she holds him still and rips his throat out
  with her fangs, the warm blood jetting all over the place)

  She lapped the stuff up, trying not to miss a single delicious
drop.  Mentally and emotionally, she knew that she should have
been sick, disgusted.  Physically, however, she couldn't resist -
indeed, it was a blood-crazed monster that finally rose up from
the ruined body on the street.

Victoria:  (stands, her hands bloody and her eyes glowing)  Rrr.
Vladmir:  Calm down.
Victoria:  (settles down, regaining her rational mind)  Whoa.
  (she regards the bloodless corpse at her feet)  There _has_
  to be a better way.
Vladmir:  And there is!  You must learn to stop them, and then
  take them, with your gaze.  Their veins also tend to open
  more easily if they aren't resisting.  As for this business
  of chasing your prey on foot...(he shakes his dark-haired
  head)  In the form of a bat, you could overtake victims more
  efficiently.
Victoria:  I can only imagine-
Vladmir:  Not for much longer!  (he spreads his arms)  Think!
  Think of the power you can wield!
Victoria:  (looking around)  Shouldn't we get away from here
  before someone comes?
Vladmir:  Ah, quite true.  Your instincts serve you well, my
  dear.

  Later, in their refuge...

Vladmir:  (gazes about)  We must leave this place soon.
Victoria:  You're afraid of getting caught?
Vladmir:  Always.  You must never stay in one place for long -
  the local herd tends to notice when its members are picked
  off.  Admittedly, sometimes it takes a bit of time...like most
  animals, humans are slow thinkers.
Victoria:  Where will we go?
Vladmir:  Northern lands are preferable, because the nights are
  longer and the days shorter.  Also, the people tend to be
  spread out more, which makes hunting them easier.
Victoria:  Oh.

  There were indeed a lot of new things - and terrible things.  If
she had somehow been asked beforehand what she thought of never
being able to feel the sun's rays again, Victoria never would have
guessed that she'd miss it so much.  She learned to get over the
drinking of others' blood, and it wasn't long before she simply
took it for granted, much as she'd partaken of wine in her previous
life.
  Of course, she would never again be able to see her family - in
fact, she and Vladmir left Homburg only a few days later.  Despite
the recent arguments, Victoria was sad to have to leave - but that
was just the way it was.  It seemed that in this new, dark life,
there were a lot of instances of "that's just the way it is."
  She was too young a vampire to yet understand some things, such
as the methods employed by her new companion to move them across
the land in the light of day, sheltered within tightly sealed
coffins.  She wouldn't have risked her life in such a way, not
willingly, but at this time she had no choice.  No choice at all.
Vladmir explained to her that he'd been building a servant base,
taking control of visiting merchants and making them stay in the
town until he was ready to depart.

  As for Vladmir himself, she found him very interesting.  He
was of noble blood - no doubting that, for as a child of wealthy
parents herself, Victoria could sense such things.  He was at
once charming and ruthless, caring and dominating, powerful both
physically and mentally.  He was also world-wise, well-travelled
and cultured in everything from history to music, warfare to
magic.  These traits all combined to give Vladmir a strange and
quite irresistible charisma.  At the very beginning, she'd been
attracted to him simply because of his nature and powers.  Now,
as time passed and her vampiric powers waxed, Victoria found
that she wasn't quite as compelled to want and need him as she'd
first been.  True, she had to obey him, but she didn't have to
like it.
  The really strange thing was that she _did_ like it.  Theirs
was an unusual and unnatural relationship, something that fell
somewhere between love and servitude, need and want.  They were
linked, tied by bonds both emotional and spiritual.  It occurred
to her that the master vampire had undoubtedly had other mates,
and that her long-term future was uncertain.  However, she also
knew that her own power was growing as time passed, and that
nothing was certain - not even in this unlife.





next:      Rillen, before meeting the Adventurers in Loftwick
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           http://www.shobaki.org/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     In some ways, this one is a re-telling of Victoria's
  tale from #483.  In some ways, though, it's an entirely new
  story.  You'll notice that I timed it so this one came out right
  before Halloween.
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