A vampire. The man who stole me from my hunt and brought me to this dark realm is a vampire lord. I can’t help but growl at the statue of Strahd. It didn’t matter if he was lord or a fledgling. A vampire was a vampire and I needed more fangs to add to my collection.
“You alright, Mwezi?”
Vayne asks, but I can’t reply. I can’t get over the way Strahd’s hand lays on the wolf’s head. It was like he stopping it. Controlling it. Did Strahd think himself better then the wolves? Did he think he ruled them?
The thought ticked me off. I grab my morning star and cleave Strahd’s head straight off the statue. The same moment, Bree grabbed the orb in the statue’s other hand.
Vyke groans. “Was that really necessary? Look, I get it. I don’t like the guy either, but don’t you think we risk ticking him off by desecrating his statue?”
I smash the statue’s head into splinters on the ground. “Let him know we’re coming. Then he’ll know what I’m going to do to him.”
“Uh, guys…” Vayne points a claw at the headless statue. Shadows were bubbling out of the top of it like blood from a wound. We back up when they spill onto the floor. I catch the orb in Bree’s hand flash black.
Vyke rounds on me. “What did you do?!”
I scoff. “Me?” I point at the orb. “How do we she didn’t do it? That orb’s probably magic.”
Vyke sniffs. “I’m blaming you.”
The shadows start collecting together and form five skeletal spirits. We draw our weapons.
Already weakened by the ghouls we fought earlier, I’m not much help to the others. Since I desegrated the statue, I’m the main target. One sinks its claws right into my chest and the familiar sensation of draining lifeforce rushes out of me. Bree comes to my rescue, dicing up the spirit with her daggers like it’s made of cheese. Blue Onesie covers my other side, pulling out his strange weapon and firing shots through the skull of a different spirit. At the last shot it falls apart. Vyke and Vayne finish off the others.
Vyke turns on me while the remains of the spirits dissipate through the air. “How about no more destroying statues?”
I grunt and drop to one knee with my weakened strength. “I can’t make any promises.”
We silently agree to remain here and rest until our strength returns. Blue Onesie found a chained skeleton in the corner and cuddled against it for a nap. Bree checks out the room, but caught her stumbling over some debris. Vayne stands guard while Vyke scouts ahead.
When I get some of my strength back, I return to the headless statue of Strahd. It’s made of wood, which I feel is fitting. Without checking in with the others, I start smashing it, leaving only the wolf, free of the hand that held it. Out of the statue of Strahd, I’m able to make five decent wooden stakes.
Vayne walks over to me. “Couldn’t help yourself, could you?”
I shrug. “What can I say? I hate vampires.” She raises an eyebrow and I can tell she wants the story behind it, but I won’t give it her. “I need a nap.” I toss her one of the wooden stakes. “Wake me if something interesting happens.”
I don’t know how long I slept, but Bree shakes me awake. She motions to Vyke. “He thinks he found the cult leader’s den.”
Gathering our gear, we continue on through this creepy crypt. Vyke leads us to the cult leader’s den and it’s not as impressive as I thought it would be. There’s a rotten desk. Broken furniture. Nothing too exciting. Bree checks for clues, but there’s nothing to indicate what’s going on this freaky place. While the others poke around, another rotten scent catches my nose. It leads to a door on the other end of the room.
I call to the others. “Hey, something ain’t right over here.”
Blue Onesie raises an eyebrow at me. “You mean with that freaky strong nose of yours?”
I ignore the insult and nod. “There’s another rotten smell. It’s different from the ghouls, though. I can’t place it.”
Vyke walks up to the door and points at it. “From behind there?” When I nod, he draws his weapon. I back up and pull out my crossbow. The other prepare themselves. Bree slips her tiny self into Vyke personal space with daggers in hand. Vyke grabs the doorknob, but when he pulls it, it comes with him. The door morphs over his hand, grappling him.
I curse. “It’s a mimic!”
Moonlight’s haze. I hate mimics almost about as much as vampires. They’re monsters whom no one knows what their true form looks like. Many a adventurer has lost their life to mimics posing as treasure chests, furniture, or–in this case–a door.
Vyke curses and raises his free hand. It glows with a reddish aura and the same color aura surrounds the mimic. He managed to hex it. Bree tries to cut Vyke free, but her daggers don’t penetrate deep enough. One of my crossbow bolts pierce into the mimic’s wooden shell and it lets out an ear-piercing screech. Blue Onesie rushes forward with a machete, trying to help Bree cut Vyke free, but his weapon lodges into the wood. The mimic screams again. It dislodges from the passage it guarded and horror drops like a stone in my gut when the mimic swallows Vyke whole.
“Oh my god!” Vayne’s as frozen as I am. “Vyke!”
Blue Onesie and Bree back away from the mimic as it lashes out and I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t want to get grappled and eaten either. I raise my crossbow. “Don’t stop fighting. He could still be alive in there.” If we can kill it soon, we could gut Vyke out of there before the acid of the mimic’s stomach boiled him alive.
I was waiting for to fire my shot straight into the mimic’s mouth when it suddenly stopped. A burp of smoke escaped its throat. I exchanged a confused look with Vayne. The mimic began whining and stumbling about, more and more smoke spilling from its mouth. A loud pop echoed through the crypt as fire flared from mimic. It exploded and pieces of the monster scattered about the room. Vyke stood in the middle of it all with magic cast in hand and his eyes widened. “I. Got. Eaten!”
I chuckled. Bits of flames were still flittering about Vyke’s red skin. “You okay?”
Vyke shook his hands, ichor from the mimic flung off them. “I’m covered in goo!”
Blue Onesie walked up to Vyke and swiped some of the mimic guts off him with one finger before sticking it into his mouth. “Mmm.” Blue Onesie smiled. “Who knew? Roasted mimic tastes pretty good.”
Vayne and I exchange a disguised look at his actions. I walk to the passage the mimic was guarding. It extends to a fancy bedroom–which wasn’t what I was expecting to find in a crypt. The others and I slowly enter, Vyke grumbling about the mimic as we go.
I nod to myself as I get a look around. The fancy bed. The footlocker. A table. Leather sacks. “I bet my fur this room belongs to the cult leader.”
Blue Onesie gives me an odd look. “That’s a strange thing to bet.”
“Let’s see what’s hidden here, shall we?” Bree slips past us and heads straight for the foot locker. Before she can even touch it, two ghosts appear before her. Everyone grabs their weapons, but I stop them. One of the ghosts was a man. The other a woman. Their spirits were dressed with nice attire. Their postures were straight. Yet, their faces were tired and filled with sorrow. Much different from the painting of them upstairs.
“Lower your weapons,” I tell the others. “These are the spirits we’ve been looking for. Elizabeth and Gustov.” I nod to the ghosts. “They’re Rose’s and Thorn’s parents.”