Vlad, Pytor, Aujaq and Hailong returned to the Church, leaving the underground tunnels through the entrance that had been found under the church alter. The building was empty, the guards apparently pre-occupied with keeping the panic and plague ridden worshippers away. Leaving the others to deal with things, Vlad immediately left for his own house, as he was now infected with the plague from the needle the demon had stabbed him with. Demi and the Doctor had been using his house as a base for their work on the cure, so it was the best palce to try and find them. Hopefully they actually had a cure right now, otherwise his escape would be rather short-lived.
Walking through the streets he was left alone by the populace apart from many stares at his battered state. People at this point were too scared of the plague to approach anyone. Arriving at his house he found the door shut – presumably the others are off working on the cure or some such – Vlad reached for the door only to find his hand stopped short by some force. This was… odd. Vlad sat down for a minute thinking, when the obvious answer came to him. He was anathema now, as were a few of the others. Demons by another name. His own wardings against demons were blocking him. Moving round the building, Vlad used a stick and a piece of cloth to wipe away select parts of the warding glyphs. He then replaced the removed glyphs with a new, more complex set of glyphs, restoring the ward with one key difference. It now had a specific exception for himself and his friends so they could freely enter and leave. Finally entering his home, Vlad took in the disarray and clutter. Vials, liquids and various unnamed bits littered almost every surface in sight, and the pantry looked like a plague of locusts had visited. Shaking his head at the mess, Vlad settled in to await the return of the Doctor.
After a couple of hours, the rest all arrived at Vlads home. A slightly heated discussion started up between the 7 of them, discussing the days events. Somewhat unsurprisingly (to Vlad) the Doctor, Demi and Mal had also just exalted. Unfortunately, they had done so in the middle of the legion camp and right in front of Lisara no less. This put all of them in danger since the Dragonbloods tended to have a very strict kill first, question later policy with known associates of anathema. While the discussions raged over what to do next, the Doctor started poking at Vlads wounds, studying the entry wound of the diseased needle. Pulling a vial out of his robes, he proceeded to clean the wound, force Vlad to swallow a little of the vials contents, and used the rest to coat the wound. Mal mentioned something about for external use only as Vlad gagged at the taste, and the Doctors work causing him some discomfort. Briefly Vlad considered how familiar, even somehow welcome, all these pains had become over the last few days. What was the saying? Oh yes, “tells you you are alive”.
A few minutes later he had the uncomfortable feeling of the poison being forced out of his body by the cure. A minor inconvenience compared to previous events, the doctor had to continuously remind Vlad to not move. After an hour or so Vlad was feeling markedly better, as the sweating stopped. The towels and clothes were gathered up and burnt, and the Doctor turned his hand towards Vlads other injuries – setting his arm, cleaning the cuts and slashes elsewhere. Between the Doctors skills, and Vlads own enhanced constitution, the smaller wounds could be seen closing and healing.
With Vlad well on the road to recovery, discussion turned to how to proceed. A few wanted to go to Kerker Hall, as we still have a trapped ghost to return, and Margarethe would likely have useful information and also potentially be able to teach some new skills, as she is a powerful sorceress. Others (including Vlad) wanted to head back to Reinerheim and the temple under the castle, as there was more information about where the anathema came from there. The question of staying and curing the plague was brought up, and Vlad spoke up saying he didnt care about the people, they needed to know more about themselves. Some argument followed, but the decided the temple in Reinerheim was the best next step.
Swift preparations were made for the 4 day trip via horseback – a couple of the group expressing their dislike of horse travel. Vlad would have thought they would be used to it by now. They left early in the morning, slipping out as the sun rose.
The journey gave Vlad plenty of time to think about recent events, and he was disturbed by the changes he (and the others) had undergone. Within a few hours of becoming an anathema, something they all had been taught was a monster, he had chosen to abandon a city full of innocents – people he had grown up knowing, and spent years defending from demons – without a second thought. His only conern was for his own empowerment and knowledge. He hadn’t even considered the unresolved situation in the tunnels with the pool and whatever it was being used for, something he really needed to get back to now he thought about it. If the discussion is between whether they are heros and monsters, Vlads opinion was that they were definately monsters. Even reality seemed to think they were demons, going by the wardings. Clearly in the future, Vlad would not be able to trust his instincts to choose the correct course of action, as they had become corrupted by this new power. Logical thinking and deliberation would be needed to ensure they stayed on the heroic path. And if the others stray from it and become true monsters? Well, another demon to be put down and sent back to Malfeas.
Arriving at the outskirts of Reinerheim, they discover that the queens guard appears to have ‘won’ since their last visit, as they are now guarding all the gates. The city itself is locked up tight, likely to prevent the spread of Vendigs plague. The horses are left with an inn-keeper for safety, and that evening they scale the walls and enter the city undetected.
Moving through the streets quietly, Vlad takes the opportunity to practice the use of one of his new charms, Insignificant Embers. The memory of its name, and how to use it coming from the flashes he received as he exalted. Staring at some of the queens guard as they walk down the street he finds he can now perceive the strength of their soul, the amount of Essence they can control. Surprisingly all of the members of the guard are empowered, unlike normal humans. Aujaq, apparently using a different charm, comments how they are empowered like Michel – God or Demon bloods. A concerning turn of events to say the least.
Arriving at the base of the castle, Aujaq prays for Koda – his compaion god – to appear, and when Koda shows he looks around warily, as he realises he is surrounded by Solar exalts. When he is asked to open the portal into the temple he shrugs and responds with a cryptic “Well, it’s your temple…” before moving to the wall and opening the entrance. Vlad thanks Koda as he passes, causing the god to perk up a bit, Inside the entrance corridor, they find that the statues they had seen before have changed. Each statue now looks like a member of the group, with 2 extras – 1 completely strange to them, and the other is the queen of Belicht.