The moons cast their soft glow upon the streets of Karnok as Thulf walked down the uneven cobblestone road weaving through the market district. It had been a quiet Knight for the Cityguard, and he was eagerly awaiting passing by the taverns to grab a flask of Grog. He barely heard the soft rustle of fabric in the alley to his left, but he couldn’t miss the unmistakable death rattle of some unfortunate soul he heard from a few stalls down. Thulf spun around, drawing his sword as he ran back towards the alley. As he made his way between the stacked crates and barrels he heard a light tapping on the roof above, but he was too distracted by what his lantern had revealed! Slumped against the alley wall was a corpse, a corpse that appeared to have been there quite some time based on how incredibly dried out it looked. Thulf pulled his bell from his belt and started ringing it to alert the rest of the Cityguard to his position as he wondered if this would get him a bonus from his superiors. Unfortunately for Thulf he wouldn’t be doing much of anything after what felt like a sack of bricks landed on top of him. Thulf’s last thought in this world was just how dry he felt…
Toron blinked his eyes as he groggily awoke. The birds were singing, and the sun was barely peeking over the horizon as he was awakened from his slumber by the loud knocking at his door. As he grumpily sat up he bellowed “ By Gods what is it? What could possibly be so urgent at this hour?” to whoever was knocking at his door. Algor burst through the door with two steaming mugs of Brewed Grape Weed in his hands. He placed one on the bedside table as he spoke “Tor, word has come from Karnok just moments ago. There is some kind of trouble, and we have been requested by Emperor Pullo himself to investigate.” The Prince said, taking a long sip from his mug. After getting themselves ready the pair headed out to the courtyard of Hawkstorm where Toron was surprised to see Ziggy already packed, and busily slurping up a bucket of slop. As they mounted the slug Algor said a few words in Slugish and they were off.
Arriving at Karnok a short time later the two Slimes were greeted by the commander of the Cityguard Captain Nasho. The captain raised his arm in salute “ Ah Prince Algor, it is good to see you your highness” he said with a bow. Algor shared a knowing glance with Toron as he slipped off Ziggy “ Yes Captain, it is a fine day, but please my friend there is no need to be so formal. Algor will do.” The Prince said as he clasped the Captain’s hand in a shake. Nasho seemed relieved “ Thank the Gods! Some of you royal folk can be so uppity about formalities” He said with a hearty smile. Algor sent Ziggy off to the stables with a word as the Captain explained the situation. A member of the Cityguard had rang his bell in the night, but by the time other guardsmen had arrived they found their compatriot stiff as a board,and dry as wood. Next to the unfortunate Guardsman was another corpse dried out in the same way. As he walked through the busy late morning streets of Karnok Algor worried time spent here would take away from the growing evils in the Northern Asylum, but multiple strange corpses in one night couldn’t be anything good. They also didn’t have many leads at the moment anyway. Maybe keeping busy was the best thing to do right now. The pressure of building evil could be felt in his head if things got quiet so it seemed best to keep busy until the Magi could figure out how to remove this evil from him. The Prince was snapped back to reality by the Captain’s hand on his shoulder “This Alley up ahead is where we found poor Thulf’s body” he said pointing to the small group of guardsmen they were approaching.
The Guardsmen parted to let them through, and the grisly site that they walked in upon struck Algor as odd to say the least. Sitting against the wall of the alley was a corpse dressed in the typical attire of the common folk of Jalldoon, and laying on the ground was another corpse. The second corpse based on wearing the uniform of the Cityguard must have been Thulf’s. Both corpses were hard as a board, and incredibly dry as if they’d been dead for some time. Toron frowned “Al, this isn’t right. We know at least one of these guys only died last night. How could this happen so quick?” The old Slime asked his friend. Algor thought, but didn’t have any answers “Let’s take a look around Tor.” he said looking around the alley for anything that may help them solve this mystery. Further down the alley Algor found a large mound of dust piled in a corner, and as he poked it with the tip of his sword he felt a soft “clunk” as it hit something buried inside. Sweeping the dust away with his foot revealed a metal spike of some kind. Algor blew the dust off the spike as he picked it up “Hey Tor, check this out!” He exclaimed, waving Toron over. The old slime took the spike and squinted ,”Shiny. Looks like silver.” He said reaching into his pack to fetch the toolkit. He pulled out his small magnetic vice, and upon placing it on the spike lit up “ it IS silver…no magnetism” he explained putting the vice back inside the toolkit. Sticking the spike into his pack Toron continued looking around , but after a while they hadn’t found anything else of note so they decided to grab some lunch at the Faulty Compass.
Walking into the Compass they were immediately set upon by Thaddeus Crumblepot about presenting at the annual Jalldoon League of Explorers awards gala. After about fifteen minutes of trying to explain they were far too busy to commit to such a thing Thaddeus finally let them order some food and discuss the mystery of the corpses. Toron sipped from a goblet of wine as he thought on what could have dried the bodies out like that “Perhaps some spell or artifact was the cause?” he said while pouring even more wine into the barely half empty goblet. Algor furrowed his brow “I don’t know Tor, it’s hard to explain, but it didn’t feel like Magic to me…if that makes any sense” the Prince said in between mouthfuls of the roast Frowl sandwich that was currently drizzling sauce down the Slime’s face. Toron nodded in agreement “I hear you Al,it feels somehow…more sinister than all that, but we will get to the bottom of it this much i’m sure of. After lunch I’ll head down to the Royal archives and see if I can find anything to help us. You hit the streets for a bit to see if you can dig any new info up. We’ll grab a nap and get ready to prowl the city all night in search of this murderer. Toron motioned Oliver the barkeep over to arrange for a room for the night, and they set out on their separate ways.
By early evening they had both come up fairly short on information, and after a few hours of sleep in the room they headed down to the market district which was in the process of closing up for the night. As the keepers of the shops and stalls packed up their wares the two Slimes casually strolled, and to all concerned appeared to be absentmindedly wandering deeper into the various alleys,but in reality they were vigilantly scanning for anything out of the ordinary. A few hours later the marketplace was mostly empty with little sound breaking the moonlit streets, and as Algor and Toron huddled under an overhang silently they waited for…something to happen. Toron pulled out his silver flask “By Gods Al, could those people have died of boredom” he whispered before taking a sip. Algor chuckled as he waved away the flask Toron had offered him “We just have to be vigilant, and something will present itself” the Prince said stretching his arms. As the first rays of the Sun crept over the rooftops of Karnok the two Slimes resigned that their quarry would not be found this night, but as they started walking back to the Faulty Compass the early morning quiet was broken by the sound of a Cityguards bell clanging a few streets away. They ran towards the sound, and just outside the Theater of the Bards they found a crowd gathering “Alright break it up you lookie loos! Let the Slimes though!” Captain Nasho’s voice rang out as the crow parted. Algor gasped in shock at the scene in front of him. Two more dried corpses splayed out on the ground, one based on his face being plastered on posters all along the alley walls was an actor at the theater, and the other a normal looking citizen except for his severed head sitting a few feet away against a barrel. A bouquet of flowers was scattered across the surrounding area which coupled with the early morning haze, and the horrors in front of them gave the whole scene an odd look. As they set about searching for clues a commotion broke out at the head of the alley “ My boy! Where is my boy?” the all too familiar cries of a mourning mother stung Toron hardest as someone who’d delivered bad news to mothers more often than he cared to count. The old Slime approached the woman with a heavy heart “Ma’m my deepest condolences at the loss of your child, and while I know it’s hardly any consolation we WILL find whoever is responsible for these crimes. Justice shall be served. I can promise you that” he said gently rubbing the poor souls back as she cried. She looked down at Toron with tears in her eyes “You find this beast who Butchered my son, and you destroy them good Slime…do it for Charles. Gods, I told that boy that running around with that actor would lead to no good. A gambler he was, must have owed the wrong person, and my Charles paid the price because of it! All for loving the wrong man…” With this the woman broke down totally into a mess of tears and wails. As one of the Cityguard helped her away she screamed “Catch the Butcher of Karnok, and hang his sorry soul!” before once again breaking down into uncontrollable tears. Algor scratched his chin “ I doubt a gambling debt would lead to a murder spree across several districts of the city, but ‘ll talk to the theater manager, see if we cant find where this guy liked to gamble.” he said to Toron as he walked towards the main entrance of the Theater. The old Slime searched around for any more strange piles of dust or the silver spikes, but came up empty. The only things of note in the alley seemed to be the bodies. Toron spoke aloud to no one in particular “Not a damn clue anywhere” before taking a swig out of his flask which based on the little shake he gave it was running dangerously close to empty. They’d have to find a bar before moving on to their next destination. Algor returned and explained that the theater manager had been very helpful. The actor was the top billed star of the theater Jogo Casht, and he was known to frequent a gambling den run by a Reptalos named Zardosso located just a few blocks away from the theater. The actor would spend hours rolling the dice, and when he was finished would take whatever boy toy he was playing with at the time back to the theater to “Help run his lines” in his dressing room. The theater was still locked when the manager had arrived early that morning, and upon taking the trash out to the alley the bodies had been found in their current state. It would appear the actor never made it inside the theater last night, and was set upon as he and his boyfriend arrived.
The Slimes headed to Zardosso’s gambling den, but nobody there seemed to have any issues with Jogo. Zardosso himself seemed very broken up about losing his best and richest customer. They had no leads, and not much to go off of so they decided to nip into a tavern for some breakfast. By midday the entire city was buzzing with talk of the so-called Butcher of Karnok. After eating…and refilling Toron’s flask, the Slimes broke up once again. Toron headed back to the archives to see if he could glean any information, but based on his luck yesterday his hopes were not high. Algor made his way to the Mages Syndicate College to question the supposed brightest minds on Jalldoon on what could have caused the corpses to be so dried out. As the Slime Prince walked the grounds of the Syndicate College he was met by the Professor of Forbidden Magics [#] a Dwarvinian named Harlor Rosh “Ahh Prince Algor of the Slime Kingdom, it is my honor Sir. The front gate says you’d like to have a word with me? What can a humble Professor do for the great Prince of Slimes?” he asked Algor as he stroked his long white beard jingling the magical runes he had weaved into it pleasantly. Algor extended his hand “ You can start by dropping the formalities, Algor will do. The real reason I’m here is to question you about these bodies that have been found in the city the past few nights” as the Professor shook Algor’s hand he smiled “Ahhh yes…always happy to help solve a problem. Let us retire to my office, and we can speak about it.” Sitting in the Professor’s office surrounded by tomes and magical samples from around the planet the two men sipped on Blackroot Tea as they spoke. After taking a long sip of his tea the mage spoke “ Do you like the tea? My mother raised us on Blackroot so it takes me right back to my childhood” taking another long sip as he looked at Algor. The Prince laughed “It is…unique, and feels like it would put hair on your chest. I do enjoy it though thank you. Now you were saying you recalled something you read about dried out bodies?” he asked the Professor. The Dawarvinian’s eyes lit up “oh yes!” he said, putting down his tea and picking up his wand “ Llacer Memino” he exclaimed as a small bubble of light appeared, flitted about the air for a second before zooming towards the bookshelf. A book floated out of the shelf, onto the Mage’s desk, and opened with the bubble hovering over a paragraph on the page. He adjusted his spectacles as he read “ahhh yes! In the age of Strife [#] there was a Vampire lord who would drain his enemies of blood, and leave their dry corpses waiting for their allies to find them. This was intended to dissuade attacks on his castle. It would seem Prince, even though one has not been seen in many long years that we are dealing with a Vampire in the city.” he said, sending the book back to the shelf with a flick of his wand as the tiny bubble popped in a small cloud of sparkles. Algor was shocked “A Vampire? I thought they were all killed well before the Great War even started? How could one have survived all this time without being discovered, and why now to start making a show of it all? The Prince asked the professor who was once agains savoring his Blackroot Tea. The mage tipped his cup up, and loudly slurped the remaining tea before replying “ I have no idea Algor, but at least now you know what you are dealing with. If you’d like I can have one of the scribes compile some notes about what we have on vampires…though it is hard to tell what is legend and what is truth on some of these old texts. One would think any information is better than none. Yes? “ he asked.
A short time later Algor headed back to the Faulty Compass with the magically produced notes on the Vampires. Looking them over Toron lit up “ Well that explains the silver spike! It says right here a silver spike to the heart is supposed to kill any vampire. It would appear that in addition to the Vampires we also have someone hunting them, and clearly they have killed at least one other Vamp so far. We should find them to see if we can help, but how?” the old Slime asked before pouring some wine from the carafe on his nightstand into a goblet. There were no ideas about getting in contact with the Vampire Hunter, but they had come up with a decent enough idea to ensnare the Vamp itself. The Slimes went to the Cityguard Barracks,and explained their plan to Captain Nasho. They would need one member of the Guard to pose as a drunk leaving tavern while the slimes would conceal themselves as everyday items on their person,and after making their way far away from any possible crowds would trip “injuring” themselves with a trickle of blood. Hopefully this would draw the Vampire out so the Slimes could spring into action using the silver stake to destroy the vile beast or beasts. It wasn’t much, but it was a plan at least. Nasho shook his head “My friends, I cannot ask any of my people to sign up for such a task. The Cityguard has had enough deaths in the rank and file for now. I will do this…I will be the bait for the beast” with this he took off his helmet as a recruit arrived with a tray of food for the three of them” For now though let us eat!” he said grabbing a bowl of salad off the tray.
Later that night Captain Nasho sat at a tavern dressed in plain clothes, and with the Slimes taking the shape of simple jewellery hiding on his body their trap was set. Nasho had been drinking simple Glowberry juice, but pretending to get progressively drunker. Thank the Gods they had let the tavern staff in on the plan because Nasho had done a great job making an ass of himself hitting on the waitress, and never would have been able to do that if the poor girl hadn’t known it was all an act. The Captain had noticed plenty of shady characters in the tavern over the course of the night, but nobody seemed like they could by any stretch be a vampire. Later on as the crowd thinned out Nasho was just about to do the same. Suddenly she was standing there in back of his chair, and she said “Tell me could I know your name?” as she placed her hand on his shoulder. Nasho looked up to see a very beautiful woman staring at him with a smile. Her eyes seemed almost red in the low light of the dying tavern fire as Nasho introduced himself “Hello beautiful *hic* I’m Zaltar, and *hic* who might you be?” he asked drunkenly kissing her hand. Her pale face stretched into an almost sinister smile as she pulled her hand away “Katherine, pleased to meet you sir” she said taking the empty seat next to him. Algor slightly shifted his weight as the simple jeweled amulet he had disguised himself as to let Nasho know this was most certainly the Vamp they were after. Nasho clutched at the necklace as he responded “ Pleased to meet you as well Katherine…looks like the Tavern is closing. What say we take this back to my place?” He asked her while putting his arm gently around her shoulder. She smiled even wider” Why Zaltar that seems like a….delicious idea if you ask me” she said standing up and taking Nasho’s hand.
As they made their way through the dark streets Katherine flirted ruthlessly with Nasho. As she hung off his arm she whispered in his ear “How about we duck into this alley for some fun, love?” as she kissed his cheek. Algor and Toron still in their jewelry forms prepared to reveal themselves, but before they could a silver spike came sailing through the air embedding itself in the stone wall next to Nasho and Katheirne. Nasho turned to see…something standing across the alley on a rooftop. All he could see illuminated by the moonlight was two round glowing eyes and a billowing cape as whatever it was jumped down to street level. The Vampire hissed “ Lovac! I knew I’d run into you sooner or later. Nobody else could so brazenly kill my men. Now prepare to die!” She was reaching into a pouch on her belt as she pushed Nasho aside. Pulling out a small bag she reached her arm back and threw the pouch. As it flew through the air the beings armor and clothing clattered to the ground presumably empty of the person wearing it. The pouch splashed on the ground next to the pile of armor in a cloud of green dust. Algor in his heroic form helped Nasho up as laughter filled the alley “ Katherine, do you really think the old spirit dust [*] trick is going to get me? It’s been thousands of years now, you’re going to have to try a lot harder than that my dear” the voice seemed to come from all sides of the alley as the vampire scurried up a wall. As she reached the roof some kind of gun adorned with a large cross floated up into the air from the pile of armor, and with a thunk sent a silver spike crashing into the wall the vampire had just occupied. Katherine vaulted over the roof,and silently disappeared into the night. Algor, Nasho,and Toron looked at each other in shock “What in the Hells was THAT?” the Prince asked. As the pile of armor started floating up the voice once again spoke “ Maybe I can answer that my son. Allow me to introduce myself. Friar Lovac…man of God, Vampire hunter, and ghost” he said now standing in front of them. The Friar was a strange sight, a wide brimmed hat covered a mask with a long beak , two round eyes glowed red, dark armor with a silver cross on his chest, tattered robes with a cape,boots, and one gauntlet. All of this seemed to be worn by a shimmering form that you could almost see the definition of body parts, but if it wasn’t wearing anything it would be very hard to see. Nasho was the first to speak “ Did you say Ghost??” he asked. Lovac chuckled “ Yes…that is always the first question” he said as he launched into his story “ I come from a town called London on a Planet called Earth. The year was 1625 on the Earth calendar. The Great Plague sweeps through the city, Killing by the hundreds, but an even more sinister malady affects London…Vampires! As a veteran member of the Order of the Silver Cross Monks [*] I was sent to investigate these undead. After many decades in the craft I was well versed in the art of slaying them, but I didn’t expect to cross paths with the ancient Vampire Count Karlan. Engulfed in battle, we just happened to be in the path of a passing space time rift which sucked both of us here to Jalldoon many many years ago. I continued my hunt for Count Karlan for decades. Adding technology from Jalldoon into my arsenal and armor along the way. However the human body can only survive on any planet for so long before it gives out, and with my advanced age it wasn’t long before death was at hand. Not wanting to let the Count escape my clutches, I called a magician friend to my bedside. With a request to enchant my spirit to the armor I wear this very moment. Now a ghost free of the constraints of time and age,I haunt my old robes and armor while wielding this ancient silver sword. Striking fear into the undead that have spread across all of Jalldoon birthed by the evil Count Karlan, who has spread his disease into an army of the undead skulking the shadows of the planet…So that’s the short version, and who might you gentlemen be?” he extended his shimmering hand which Algor promptly shook “ I am Prince Algor of the Slime Kingdom, and this is Toron. We’re investigating these murders here in Karnok.” Algor replied as Toron and the Friar also shook hands. Toron tipped back his flask before speaking “What exactly are these Vamp….” he was cut off by a loud hiss at the mouth of the alley. Looking up the two slimes, the captain of the guard, and Friar saw a group of six Vampires, fangs out menacing towards them. Algor drew his sword, Toron took the form of a shield,and Friar Lovac drew both his sword and gun as the vamps rushed towards the heroes. Four of them rushed forward at blinding speeds while the other two skittered along the walls. Lovac braced himself as he spoke “ Algor, take my sword you’ll need the silver…I’ve got my gun!” he yelled over the vampires loud hisses tossing his sword Algor’s way. Al caught the sword with his right as he tossed Lovac his weapon with his left. Lovac managed to kill two vamps with his stake gun before they made it close, but the other four were upon them as the battle raged. Nasho, weaponless and defenseless, rushed by the vampires to gather more of the City Guard. Algor blocked a clawed hand with Toron’s shield form as he spun around with a brutal slash, decapitating one vamp who promptly turned to dust before his body even fell to the ground. Another one pounced at the Prince knocking toron out of his hand, and pinning Algor to the wall. As the Vampire bared its fangs and prepared to sink his teeth into the Prince, Lovac put a silver stake right through the creature’s eye as it screamed in pain before also turning to dust. Toron, now in his normal form reached inside himself, and pulled out a small cylinder which he twisted and threw into the air “CLOSE YOUR EYES!!!” he yelled as a blinding light filled the entire alley making it appear for a second as if it was a sunny afternoon. When they opened their eyes the alley was once again dark, but filled with the pile of dust corpses of the remaining vamps. Friar Lovac was stunned “ What in God’s name was THAT my good man?” he asked. Toron laughed “ I’ve been experimenting with light, trying to find something that will give my grapes… I make wine you see…something unique to my own vintage. What you saw was a failed attempt at it. I knew a blinding flash of ultraviolet light would come in handy at some point, at the very least for escaping the ever growing list of enemies against us. I guess we just found the perfect use for it eh?” he said brushing some of the dust floating in the air off himself before taking yet another swig from his flask. Lovac did a strange hand gesture in the shape of a cross over his head and chest before replying “Well thank the Lord for Slime ingenuity then friend Toron” He said handing Algor back his sword. Algor kicked his foot through a pile of dust on the alley floor “ I didn’t see Katherine in that group? She must have gotten away.” a frown spread over the Prince’s face as he leaned back on his sword. Lovac spoke up “ Katherine is the chosen assistant of Count Karlan himself. The Count looks on her as a daughter so much so she has even taken on his last name. She will always scurry away to the shadows rather than fight. I pray to God every night for the ability to catch her, and her vile master so I can send both unholy beasts to Hell where they belong” His voice sounded resolute as he said this. Toron was curious “You called yourself a man of God, but which of the Gods are you referring to friend?” he asked the Friar. Lovac bent down to be closer to Toron’s eye level “Why my friend the one true God… creator of life itself. I have pledged my life to God’s will. I must admit the pantheon of Gods your planet praises perplexed me at first, but it is not of me to judge for only the Lord may do so.” He said, placing his hand on Toron in a friendly way. Toron chuckled “Well Friar, I don’t know about all that, but I don’t really care what you believe as long as you’re not hurting anyone. You have helped us, and the city of Karnok tonight so consider yourself a friend. I don’t suppose a ghost can drink spirits eh?” he asked, tipping his flask towards Lovac with a wink. The Friar laughed heartily “ Ah Toron being good certainly does outweigh anything else, as my time on Jalldoon has proven to my once rigid theological code. Thank you as well for the kind offer my friend, but as much as I do miss my wine, a ghost has no need for food or drink.” he said, waving the flask away with his hand.
As the new friends talked Captain Nasho rounded the corner with a squad of Cityguards at his heels. Looking at the scene in shock he exclaimed “ You got them all? Even Katherine?” with hope in his voice. Algor shook his head “ No such luck Nasho. That creep got away, but our new friend here has LOTS of information for us.” the Prince placed his hand on Lovac’s shoulder as the group headed out of the alley. A short time later at the imperial Palace they explained the situation to Emperor Pullo, and it was decided on Lovac’s advice, Katherine knowing they were on to her would flee the city before sunrise. Just to be safe Nasho and Lovac would keep on high alert for a few days patrolling the streets at night. Special care would be taken to make sure the “Butcher of Karnok” was truly gone, but it seemed the City was once again safe for decent folk thanks to the work of Prince Algor and his friends. Algor and Toron said their goodbyes to Pullo and Nasho, and made plans to meet Friar Lovac at Hawkstorm Keep in a few days time. Both Slimes felt exuberant about making yet another powerful ally in the fight against evil, and as they mounted Ziggy for the return trip to Hawkstorm the mood was light and cheerful.
Later on the top of the high cliffs overlooking The Borgo Hills and Morgunborg Wood screams of rage rang out in the crumbling keep known as Castle Karlan. Katherine had delivered the news of what happened in Karnok to her Master, and he had not taken it well. Lashing the sedated “meal” laid out on the table in front of him with his claws the Ancient Vampire bellowed “Bring this General Skale who hired your band of brigands to me Katherine, do not fail me Daughter” to his just as angry assistant who replied “ As you command Father” With a deep bow. Count Karlan sucked the remaining blood from his victim before pushing the dry husk to the floor. As his non vampire slaves rushed to clean up the mess he walked over to the window glowering into the night. How long had this cursed ghost dogged their every step, and now he had help? This would not stand, and he would gather all the information about these Slimes who had helped his nemesis kill his children..how dare they attempt to fight the all powerful father of all vampires on Jalldoon. They would pay all of them, but the apparition in particular would feel his wrath the most. He clutched his clawed hand as the first rays of sun peeked over the horizon…one thought rolling through his head again and again “Lovac!”.