As the wizard took his last breath, a quiet descended upon the hotel. The threatening visage faded from the faces of both spirits, as the soldier’s face returned to more human-like proportions, and the claws at the end of the woman’s fingers faded into blood red fingernails. They turned towards each other, the woman caressing the man’s face with the back of her hand. His shoulders straightened a bit, though it was still apparent that he carried a heavy burden. He turned towards the group, bowing in thanks as the woman motioned towards the half locket Hugo still held in his grasp.
As Alucard neared the room, he felt the lighter growing warmer, to the point of being uncomfortable to the touch. The man recoiled, looking up at Alucard, but as the guardian pulled out the lighter, the woman placed a calming hand on the man’s shoulder, pointing to the lighter. With a word, she gestured towards it, concentrating until it grew hotter in Alucard’s hand. In seconds, it became too hot for him to handle, and burst into flames. As he dropped it, it consumed itself before hitting the ground. The man calmed, but still looked warily at Alucard.
“This is Wade Bannister.” A voice broke the silence, and it took a bit before the group realized that it was the woman speaking. Her voice came from her, but her mouth did not move as she spoke. “And I am Madame Kletoraska. The ‘Furd Hely’”, she paused, correcting herself, “The ‘Fontaine’, was once my hotel- that is, before Ed Lyman and his ‘friends’ burned it to the ground. They were searching for Wade, you see. Though I bore no children, he could not have been more the son to me. And when I found that he and Katherine were in love, I encouraged it. A mother wants to see some light in her child’s life, and he’d had such a time of it.”
“But I should have known that such a beautiful thing was destined to a heartbreak of and ending,” she said, sadly, and a chill wind flowed over the party at her words. “When Wade destroyed those cannons,” she began her voice more ethereal as she gave herself to the flow of her memories, “he gladly gave the credit to Ed, which Lyman took as his due. But it didn’t turn out well for him; others knew that it wasn’t him, and he was swept aside, shamed for attempting to take credit for something that he’d had only a small part in. After drinking heavily, he came to punish Wade, but overheard Katherine warning me about his intentions, and telling me to warn Wade. Katherine, who was his betrothed. Katherine, who was the only thing holding him to any of the good things in life, like morals and decency.”
“Storming the hotel, he drove everyone out- everyone but Katherine and I; he had special plans for us.”
“Tying me up, he set the place on fire and took her. I thought it was the end, but Wade had found out, and rescued me. But Ed was waiting.”
“They beat him so, and called him the foulest names. I didn’t know a man could take such a beating. But he heard Katherine screaming his name, and that drove him to superhuman feats. His flesh hung in strips from his powerful frame, and blood ran from his body like rivers of flame. He fought with seemingly inhuman strength, but even with that fire, what could one man do against so many?”
“In the end, he still struggled towards his love, calling her name. She tried to go to him, but Ed kept her from his side, even at the end. Said he had plans for her.”
Wade had calmed by now, and was kneeling close to the locket that Aiden had dropped.
“That was his half of the locket. Hers should be in her room- this room- somewhere.” He looked from the locket to Madame Kletoraska with hope in his eyes. “Find it, and find her.”
“Put us all to rest,” she implored. “Please.”
It was not too much of a stretch to find the other half of the locket. Alucard found that even with the lighter destroyed, he still retained a little of its power- fading, but enough for this task. Once conjoined with the other half, the scene abruptly switched, and they found themselves in a small rustic house. Coals smouldered in the fireplace, and haunting music echoed through the space, set to a counterpoint of a lone rocker squeaking with the back turned to the fire. As they approached the rocker, they could see set in stark relief in the door past the chair, a bedroom with a lone, four post bed, the diaphonous veil wafting in a wind, the crumpled white bed sheets, illuminated in the light from an unseen window. Misery emanated from that room, perhaps pointed to by the ominous dark stains on the bed linens.
Moving around the chair, they could see a withered and miserable woman huddled in it, her spare frame wasted from starvation as her eyes stared into nothing. Her unkempt hair hung limply framing what looked to have once been a beautiful face, now thin and skeletal. Even as they waved a hand in front of her face, her lax expression changed not a bit. This changed, however, once Alucard brought out the locket and held it in front of her. The chill in the room disappeared as her eyes opened wider. Her lips, forming an ‘o’ of surprise gained color before their eyes, turning a deep, ruby red. And not only her lips, but color returned to her cheeks, and a lushness to her figure. She reached to touch the locket, and as her delicate hands made contact, Alucard no longer felt the locket in his hand. There was a strange sensation as at passed through his flesh, but nothing more than that. She clutched the locket to her like a lifeline, holding it for a long moment, her eyes closed as she was suffused in memory.
Then, suddenly she looked up, scanning the area as if someone called her name. Light shone through the front door, and as they all turned, they could see Madame Kletoraska and Wade standing in the threshold, fully restored. He smiled, and she ran to him with all of the speed she could muster. They embraced for a long moment, then, after looking into each others eyes, turned to leave. But at the end, Wade looked back to Alucard and nodded his thanks. As they disappeared into the light, there was the clinking sound of something hitting the ground.
“They thank you, for though the world could not contain their love, they are hopeful that the afterlife can. And with his happiness, I am also fulfilled, so I thank you, too.” She pointed at Alucard. “You are more than you appear, and more than you allow yourself to be. May you learn that as you learn more about the man whose legacy you hold.”
She gestured to a circular object left by Wade’s passing. “For you,” she said simply, before finally fading away to her final reward.
Campaign Notes: Alucard gains The Unconquered Rage of Chaos, every gains Significant Milestone.