There are rumors.
In torchlit taverns huddled Humans have begun to whisper what the Vampires have long hoped. Argintazori, it is claimed, has vanished. The angelic defender of Humanity gone - some say it was the Vampires what killed her, while others say the Horned Society simply had her disappeared. The churches say that this is not true, or they say nothing.
In Valahia, it is said, a powerful Human Necromancer has deposed the Vampiric baron of Inchissol and claimed the barony for her own.
And Naletsa, the dread demon, continued to grow in power, as her cult waxes and her vile presence begins to concern even the Vampires.
There are rumors.
And there is a meeting. An unlikely meeting called by a Stitcher between herself, a Vampire Hunter, a infirm Psion, and an Alchemist.
Abigail Godwin lived alone in her family's manor for many years. Well, not entirely alone, but none of the other residents were quite capable of forming even basic sentences, so they probably did not count. Recently she'd gotten a girlfriend, and in doing so gained a housemate.
Despite having no maids or butlers, and no hired help, Abigail did have plenty of servants, and the mansion was well maintained and cared for, although some areas of it had clearly not been used in a considerable amount of time.
Abigail personally welcomed her guests - her servants lacked people skills. She was a stunning woman with ample curves, flowing black hair, and a gorgeous face. She'd worn a conservative black dress, and while she seemed to be aware of her looks, she didn't see to feel the need to show them off.
Escorting her guests to one of the mansion's parlors, she took a seat upon a divan and offered the Alchemist, Cleric, and Telepath chairs of their own.
"So," she said with a smile, her voice soft, "thanks for coming. And thanks for understanding. It is not common for people to be so accepting of what it is I do." She gave a smile. "I do not blame others, though. The world is a frightful place, and progress can be scary." She gave a shrug. "I hope in time my work and efforts will maybe lessen that horror in some small way. But before we continue," Abigail gave a slight wave at Lucy. "How are you feeling, love? Shall I get you anything?"
Beneath the hood of Lucy's long, shapeless cowl you could discern only a few features. Here was a small white nose. Here was a loose black ringlet. It was impossible to tell anything about her appearance beyond the following basic facts: she was smaller than usual for a woman, had skin that was translucent and faint even for a citizen of Umbralume, which contrasted with her raven hair and - most unusually - clutched a walking cane in one hand.
"Please, some water, just water, I've already eaten... I'm not too unwell." Her voice was too clear and certain for what she was saying, as though the words were being read out by someone who had been handed a transcript of a conversation. But perhaps that could be explained by the whispering, dry voice that seemed to be half a second ahead of the louder one.
Abigail excused herself before returning with a glass of water for Lucy. "I'd have had the servants do it, but while some of my better ones can carry glasses, I still can't get hem to pour without making a huge mess." She gave a laughing sigh, "it's frustrating, but I am hopeful."
Smiling, Abigail sat down and continued. "Well, where were we? Oh, right! I was recently going over some of my father's, gods rest his soul, letters and notes when I learned that he had been in a correspondence with Samuel Burnside, about matters of interest to me. Sadly, Burnside, and the entire village near his estate, were overrun by the undead a few years before my father's passing. I'd like you all to accompany my beloved Mishka to the Burnside estate, and to see what you can find for me. I'll pay you all for the safe return of my beloved, whether or not you manage to find anything. I understand the town is relatively intact, all things considered, though, and I am hopeful that some of his notes or letters have survived."
"If there are no questions, I shall go fetch Mishka, and you can all get acquainted."
Titian the Alchemist sat upright in his chair, with a very stiff and withdrawn posture. His hair was black and greasy, his eyes extra wide and apprehensive. In his lap, he clutched an old leather backpack, and seemed to have it ready for use as a shield if necessary.
"Uhm... I'd love to get acquainted with uh, your Mishka...", he spoke with an uneasy voice, "but uh, I hope we won't be leaving immediately after... I didn't come fully prepared to deal with undead, and was hoping to uh, use your labs... I have plenty of money to pay you if needed..."
"Of course, silly!" Abigail laughed. "I wouldn't send you all off on some dangerous errand without feeding you and giving you a place to rest up and prepare yourselves, first!" Abigail then looked up at the ceiling. "Mishka, my love, you can quit being paranoid and overprotective and come down and say hello. Honestly, we're among friends!"
A statue-esk figure hung in the dark above them, clinging to the rafters with innumerable dark limbs. The centerpiece of the creature was the lithe torso of a woman bearing skin the color of granite, absolutely stunning in form, with reddish accents layering the cheeks of a soft face, and small, neat bob of steely white hair curling out from above it. The black leather clothes showed as much of this off as possible, typically. -And yet, the deep, red eyes spoke of a creature desperately trying to avoid scrutiny...
And for good reason. The lower half was that of a gigantic chitinous spider, a glossy jet black armor layering all eight of her contorting legs. Also, wings. Vast blood-red wings spouting from the back, and a barbed claw on the right arm which would not have looked out of place on a Vrock. A gnarled mutant spider shedding it's skin and spewing out baroque, living artwork.
"...It's... It's cute!" A charmed voice echoed down, sweet tones totally juxtaposed with the abominable silhouette creeping down towards Titian. She moved down very slowly and ponderously, nervously attempting to stay in the shade for as long as possible. "The male thing is... He's all wrapped up! Who put clothes on the little darling?..."
Titian leaned back into his chair with his face full of terror. Normally, he would have pissed his pants at a moment like this, but he managed to hold it in. "Y-you're Mishka?! Do you really need our help? SHIT WE'RE HERE AS FOOD AREN'T WE?!!"
Abigail gave Mishka a warm smile. Judging by the way her features lit up she really was head-over-heels in love with the spider-lady. "Mishka! Manners!" She laughed before turning to Titian, giggling a bit. "Mishka wouldn't hurt you, and she certainly wouldn't eat you. You can relax. I know her appearance may be a bit surprising, but I personally think she is beautiful regardless of what those monsters did to her."
Rather than be offended, Mishkala took to incessantly giggling at Titian's outburst. "...I'm.... Ha.... Sorry, it's just... such... A silly little male... hahaha..."
Refraining from ruffling his hair as her whispish left arm apparently wanted to, she instead made her way to Abigail's side and softly embraced her using all four upper limbs instead. "No harm meant, Darling... And thank you." Her forehead met with the woman's upper chest, totally comfortable and unexpectedly submissive. Almost like the creature was pandering to the woman out of some sort of guilt or repayment, even.
Abigail began to stroke Mishka's hair, embracing the large spider-lady. "She means well, but like all of us she is the victim of her culture, and in more ways than the obvious one." She gave a sad little smile.