The night grew darker, as if daylight was being suppressed.
“Keep your eyes up Jack, I feel this night is not done with us yet.” Franz was busy binding his wounds while Jack held the reigns.
As they travel, the darkness creeps in around them. Ever pressing their pace. The lit censor blessed by Avacyn through Helena the only asylum in the darkness.
“Brother, ahead on the road.” Jack whispered, causing Franz to look up from his bandages.
Ahead, a creature wearing a red cloak seemed to hover inches above the road. This was not like the geists they had seen before however; this was something full cemented within their reality. As they approach, the creature raises its hand to signal the carriage to stop.
“The spirits warned us of the red cloaks.” Jack said looking towards her brother.
Franz was already producing the small bit of wire he needed to send a message to Britta when he heard her voice.
“Of course, we can, I will get the keys presently.”
Britta’s voice came as a surprise. Helena had been silent, who was she talking to? Jack spun her head around to check the rear of the carriage. She saw Britta dismounting from her position and moving around towards the front. For a moment, Jack sat confused, before seeing another red cloaked figure moving in stride with her. Before Jack could process what was happening, she hears her brother’s voice.
“We travel to Thraben, we carry with us a wolf pup.”
Jack spun around to see Franz’s eyes fixated on the creature in front of them. The hood of the cloak now pulled down; she could see piercing red eyes that seemed to pulsate as if the blood behind them craved to be released. Below the eyes she clearly saw the two large fangs that protruded with every word. Jack pulled the mask of Avacyn down over her face, remembering the old mayor’s words that it could resist even the most ancient vampires gaze. As she climbed down from the carriage, she looks to the creature trailing Britta.
“Good sir, what can we do for you, we really must be on our way. If it is a toll you require, we will gladly pay and be on.” Jack new there was now toll as the words left her mouth, but she needed to get closer. Her inquisitor training was kicking in, she knew she needed to provoke these creatures into harming either Britta or her brother, this would be the only way their charm could be broken. Franz was already moving to unlock the cage and Britta was reaching in to unchain Helena. Jack, searching for a way to invite combat, saw the clearly ceremonial sword at the creature’s waist. Vampires did not use their weapons and the ornate design of the hilt was clear evidence. She was sure the blade was kept sharp, but such a weapon would be completely unwieldy. As with most creatures of the night, these vampires had more than enough weaponry built into their bodies.
“That is a beautiful sword sir, may I see it.” Jack asked, feigning her interest to the best of her abilities.
“No little one, we simply want our query then we will leave you on your way.” The lies bubbled through the creature’s lips with easy. Its voice ran slow with a thick accent of a land she did not recognize.
Jack knew she had to take action, leaving this charade to go on for to long could end with them all dead, or at best, with these fiends taking Helena. Another night’s moon and she would welcome being rid of her, but tonight, with the waxing moon above her, Helena was still one of them. She would not leave her to torture and death. With that thought in mind, Jack reaches for the sword.
“Oh common, let me see it.”
As she does the back of the vampire’s clawed hand cracks across her check, sending her reeling. Blood trickles from her mouth and both vampires lock eyes with her.
“Sir, that was not very wise.” Jack saws drawing her weapon.
Britta attempting to step between the two puts her arms up in protest. “Friends, friends, why must we argue amongst ourselves,” her tone surprisingly jovial, “there is no need for such violence.”
Jack used the opportunity to lunge at the creature. Britta being knocked into his arms. Jack’s attack was wild and completely missed. As she spun round to make read for the counter attack, her plan came to fruition. The Vampire took the Paladin now firmly in his way and threw her to the ground near the carriage wheels. Britta’s armor clanging harshly as she hits the ground. A moment of clarity washes over her as Jack sees her eyes blink, and then her head shake.
“A feast it is then little one.” The Vampire steps towards Jack with murderous intent, but before it can fall upon her, its feet are taken from the ground as Britta lifts the creature and spears it into the dirt. Seeing her moment, Jack turns to run at the other creature and Franz.
From atop the vampire, Britta draws her ancient blade, and thrusts it down into the creature’s chest. Wounded, the beast beneath her begins to thrash, throwing her from atop it.
“In Avacyn’s name I smite thee.” A crack of thunder emanates from her sword as she grips it with both hands and brings it down upon the creature. The creature flies back ten feet and lands squarely in the dirt.
Jack sees the intent in the other vampire’s eyes as it moves to engage Britta and help its comrade. Kicking off the carriage she puts every ounce of her 130-pound frame into the charge. Barreling into the vampire she finds herself shrugged off with a mouth full of dirt.
“Sir, must you treat my sister that way?” She hears Franz’s voice from the other side of the cage, he has stopped trying to unlock it and is now walking towards the second creature.
“Open the lock.” The vampire says as it stands above Jack.
Franz moves to help Jack up, and in frustration to its order not being immediately followed, the vampire shoves Franz to the ground. His wound opening slightly as blood begins to pool in his coat. Jack rolls away as she sees her brother’s eyes widen in pain.
“Join the fray brother, you are yourself again.” Her words piecing the night.
The second vampire looks to her with anger as he realizes he has been deceived. Jack clambers up the side of the carriage towards Franz’s seat, pulling the spear of Avacyn from its resting place, she hurls it at the vampire now standing over her brother. The Spear strikes true, sticking into the creature’s ancient flesh. As the blood splashes over Franz he immediately rises and draws the spear from the creature’s body, ducking under the errant swipes of the vampires claws he rolls a few feet away and readies himself. From a single knee, Franz launches the spear into the vampire second time. The flesh around the wound searing with the holy light of Avacyn. The vampire cries out in pain and rips the spear from its flesh, discarding it on the ground.
On the other side of the carriage, Britta grabs for her shield preparing to strike down the filth in front of her. Before she can grasp it however, she is thrown into the cage. The armor around her neck is pulled from its place and before she can react, she feels the piercing pain in her neck. As she struggles, she feels herself growing weaker, slowly her fight fades, and blackness overtakes her.
Franz steps to the vampire in front of him, driving a dagger into the wound opened by the spear. The vampire, seemingly unphased, grasps at his arm, and twists it unnaturally. He cries out in pain, but this momentary distraction is all that is needed. Jack silently leaping from the carriage lands just behind the vampire, with a single motion she reclaims the spear and thrusts it home through the vampire’s chest. As he drops to his knees, Franz rushes to one of the nearby trees. Jack does her best to keep the spear firmly lodged in the spasming creature. Soon Franz in back, with blood still pouring from his wounds his drives a piece of splintered wood into the vampire’s heart. In front of their eyes the creature melts from corporeal form and takes to mist, fleeing with the wind.
“Britta, we are coming!” Franz’s voice is filled with purpose. “Stay with us!”
Their moment of jubilation is short lived as their minds turn towards Britta. Rushing towards the side of the carriage the arrive as the vampire releases Britta’s unmoving body. Her eyes closed and her breathing weak. Without a moment’s hesitation the siblings spring to action. Franz darts towards the vampire dodging its strikes as he attempts to move to its flank. Seeing the opening Jack hurls the spear once again, this time however, this vampire is ready and side steps the glowing projectile. As it misses its market, the spear almost finds purchase in Franz, but he also side steps at the last moment.
“Is she alright? Let me see her!” Helena’s voice suddenly pieces the night through the covered carriage.
Jack quickly moves to the side of the carriage. Antique claws rack across her back as she reaches for the covering, she does not retaliate though, instead wincing with pain she pulls the cover from the carriage. Helena’s eyes dart to the vampire, then to jack and Franz, finally resting on Britta.
“By Avacyn’s light, end this creature.” Helena’s words carry more weight this time, as Jack and Franz feel Avacyn’s blessing flow through them.
Jack knocked the claws away from her as another swipe came down. Franz approached from the back as he retrieved the spear. The vampire swiped again, catching Jack across her chest, slicing cloth and skin alike. Franz closed the distance with haste, and thrust the spear into its thigh, retracting it and tossing it to Jack. As the vampire swipes at Franz in an attempt to force him back. Jack catches the spear and with a wide arcing strike cleaves the creatures head from its body. As its body slumps down, it too melts into the night and the mists takes to the wind.
There is now celebration as the two battered victors look to their fallen comrade, her breathing getting ever slower. They crouch down to her, placing cloth and bandage on her wounds.
“Battle dressings will not save her Jack.” Franz says with despair as his sister struggles with the neck wound.
“I can help.” Helena’s voice is calm with purpose. “But I can not help anymore until I have time to recover.”
“Do what you can!” Jack cries.
“Yes, my lady, please help her, we will see you to the city before the next moon.” Franz’s words are confident.
“Avacyn, shine your light upon your servant now, in her time of need, hear my healing words and recover your champion” Helena’s voice rumbles with divine focus.
As if Avacyn herself came down from the heavens, a shimmering light overtook Britta’s body. Her cheeks swelled with blood once again, her breath seemed to take hold again. Within a moment, her eyes blinked back to life.
“Praise be!” Jack yelled, jumping to her feet. Only to realize she herself had wounds yet to heal. Grimacing jack reaches down to help Britta to her feet.
Franz doing the same, “We thought you left us for the after life.”
As Britta looked to the young girl whose gifts had just spared her. “As did I friend, however it would seem I am still need and will need to wait a little longer for the blessed sleep.”
As they recovered their weapons and regained their places on the carriage day broke over the horizon. Night gave way to the sun and its radiant protection. As the party pushed forward, the forest soon was in their wake and as the hours passed gates were clear on the horizon. The white guard of the city Thraben soon bid them welcome.
“The young girl, and my brother, they both must see Mikaeus, the Lunarch, right away!” Jack shouted to the guard. “They need his healing touch.”
“They will be in good hands Inquisitor. We will see their ails removed.” The guard captain said, and his men spirited them all to the chapel.
A few days passed and their wounds recovered, Franz and Jack met Britta near the gates of the city. Her armor restored and her smile vibrant.
“You leave so soon?” Jack asks.
“I must see the lady home.” Britta looks to Helena, now seated in the carriage, its bars removed, and its comforts restored. She wore the regalia of a priest of avacyn, clutching a short scepter in her hand.
Helena’s eyes catch the siblings and she gives an unabashed wave. Franz nods in kind and tips his hat, as Jack returns an equally ecstatic wave.
“Do you travel alone?” Franz inquires.
“No Inquisitor, we travel with a full score of Parish-Blades. The local captain saw it fit that we not meet the same perils again. Though I would still be eased if you two were to escort us as well.” Her tone was one of jest, but Jack could see in her eyes she spoke truth.
“Ofcours…” Jack’s words were cut off by the raised hand of Franz.
“I am sorry my lady, we are needed elsewhere. Although, I do not think she could have a safer guardian save Avacyn herself.” Franz said as he held his and out. Grasping it with her gauntleted hand, Britta bids him safe travels without words. As she presented her hand to Jack however, she was met with the surprise of arms being thrown around her in a loving embrace.
“We will hopefully see you again,” Jack smiled. “Our business takes us all over, but I am sure we can find out way back to Lambholt.”
Britta looks to Franz, nodding in agreement and gives on last slight bow.
“Until then inquisitors, I wish you well in your fight against the darkness.”
Thanks to the players whose characters inspired this story!