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TVC - Chapter 34 - Friend or Foe

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#76
Here Niklaus' warning, Peter rolled out of the way, dodging falling rocks. One, about the size of his fist, hit his helmet, and was only deflected by the magical energys within. A huge dragon had appeared in the court yard, part shadow, part decaying flesh. As Peter stood up and dusted himself down, he saw the extent of the damage. Most of the gate house had been smashed to dust, and large sections of the wall had completely collapsed.

Nicklaus stood, in now even more tattered robes, giggling at some unknown joke. Simon emerged from the throne room, the infamous wrath of his grandsire burning in his eyes.
 

Onikaigo

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#77
Niklaus only giggles more at the sound of Simons Wroth tone; looking to the rubble, or in the direction of the rubble on which Lesa stands, and laughs aloud. His voice carries to her, and he can only manage to speak out,

"What a house guest you are! Hehehe, I've never seen anyone actually bring the house down!"

Laughing, he'd look to Peter, dusty and standing as if incensed, and would only continue his laugh; as it seems, niklaus finds this entire situation very, very funny.

"Peter, peter! Come, if we do not hurry, Stirland shall erupt without us. I do not wish to miss another party like this one!"

Laughing, he'd begin to pick his way over the rubble, his maddened eyes looking this way and that, stepping over one of the claws of the beast with an agile grace. Looking to Lesa and Simon one last time, he'd sketch a bow, and parting words ensue;

"Forgive me, hehe, for not leaving a parting gift. I find myself unable to think of where you'd put it!"

He'd pick his way outside of the castle, full well capable of finding Peter von Krahes home, and thus, the path to it.

Something missing, something is still missing....

A worried look comes to his face as he passes the outer wall and steps foot on the earth.
 
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#78
Peter too was unable to keep a straight face for long. With a barely conceled grin. He bowed flamboyantly.

"My Lord, I am affraid I must take my leave. I am sure you have plenty to keep yourself busy here." He turned and mounted Firehoof. Niklaus was a quickly receding shadow, disappearing into the night.

Peter kicked Firehoof into a gallop, who lept the fallen masonary and sped off into the night. Peter drew the winds of magic around him, and whispered spells of speed and strength so the his steed would arrive all the quicker at his castle. With a bit of luck, He would be home before dawn.

*********************************************
Firehoof trotted through the open gates of Swarthafen Monastery. Skeletons patroled the walls. In the courtyard. Peter's forces were gathering, his vampire knights striding between the ranks of skeletons and wights. The sun was rising, and Peter had no desire to suffer its withering glare. He and his Knights retired to their war room to plan the coming conflict.

Before he left, Peter turned to his wight standard bearer. "Should vampire by the name of Niklaus show up, point him in the direction of my study"

The wight nodded creakily.
 

Onikaigo

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#79
Silent feet move faster than any can have suspected. Niklaus must have grown wings to travel as far as he has in one night, but the onset of Dawn brings to mind many...unpleasant situations if he does not find shelter. Looking at the gates of Swarthafen, he growls low in his throat. A bloody monastery!

Stopping outside the gate, the morning light threatening to break at any moment, he strides forward gnashing his teeth. Undead manning the walls know him for undead as well, but still cross their weapons before the door to deny entry.

Bringing a taloned hand forward--Taloned? When did this happen? He loses himself in contemplation, turning his hand this way and that, veins throbbing in his arm and there are...changes in him. His fingernails have curved and sharpened. Perhaps he will save Peter von Krahe the expense of giving him a weapon?

Coming back to the present, he raps the talon on the long, wickedly curved blade of the Wight before him, speaking, "I am Niklaus. Allow me entry, or you shall never see rest." The weapons uncross, and he smiles. Full of himself, as always. Stepping through the main entrance, he is stopped by a sound of rattling armor; the guard on the left is moving.

Turning his head, Niklaus pushes brown hair from his face, leaves and brush scattering from his hair; he starts. His appearance must be atrocious! Back to the present, his eyes see the guard creakily point toward the main entrance to the building proper, and speak with a windy tone. "Stuuudy. Maaaaster....

Creaking with old age, his arm drops back to its side, and he resumes his post with the solemnity of ages. Smiling, Niklaus pats him on the shoulder before turning back to the Monastery and quite immediately losing that smile.

This whole place reeks of Sigmarite. If he can stomach staying here, this will be a very...enjoyable experience. Muscles tense, rippling through his short frame, he moves to the main entrance, taking care not to wreck the door--He doesn't want to be the same sort of Houseguest as that Femme d'Fatale that was at Drakenhoff, does he?

Moving to where he assumes the study is, since he deduces that the Wight did not want him to Study his master, he would tap one claw on the doorframe, leaving a pockmark in the wood.

"'Tis I, Niklaus." And he would open the door. Can niklaus truly travel as fast as a Shadow Steed? Or quite nearly so, since it has been a candlemark and a half since Peter himself arrived. An amazing creature, and one, that when the door is opened, would be contemplating his new found Claws with a small smile; madness lurking behind his eyes at the thought of Sigmarites beneath his heel, hand, and teeth.

The thought makes him smile even wider.
 
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#80
Niklaus stood in the door of the study. In the hours they had been apart, Peter saw that he had changed. His robe was little more than a rag. But more noticably, Niklaus had grown claws. Each was as long as a dagger, and looked just as sharp.

"Well haven't you grown up," joked the Blood Dragon. His knights shuffled uneasliy, but said nothing in the presence of the new comer.

"My scouts report a gathering of Sigmarite priests and zealots in Stirland. A fiery warrior priest leads them, claiming that their only chance of salvation is too hunt down a "beast" whos taken up residence in Drakenhof. Although the force is not large, and my Master could crush it easily, I'm sure he has enough on his plate at the moment without chasing one the Theogonist's "finest" around the countryside". Peter didn't bother to hide the contempt in his voice.

"There are a number of lessr priests in the force, along with a number of knights seeking to make a name for themselves. A number of cannons from Nuln have also been spotted. The rest of the force is made up of state troops and militia. We march at sunset, and should engage the enemy by tomorrow night. In the meantime, make youself at home"
 

Onikaigo

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#81
Niklaus smiles, knowing his way around the countryside quite well. His eyes flash red once more, and he gets a dreamy, slow tone as he can just imagine himself among the slaughter.

"I wish to reach there before the main force." Looking to the knights about him, all uneasy; Vampires? Spawn. He disregards them. Stepping forward, he would look Peter in the eye, if possible, placing his palms on the table and fingers splayed.

"May I reach there with the scouts? Sowing the seeds of fear and distrust make such forces crumble with ease. What would happen, say, if this Warrior falls victim to a blade in the night?" Twisting his hand into a fist, he smiles with malevolent intent. "Or five blades?"

Turning his shoulder, he laughs as he walks a pace or two off, the knights brushing away from his filthy, ragged form as if he was diseased. He might just be, Strigoi blood flows in his veins. Turning on a heel, he would look back and laugh, a quiet, secret laugh. "I owe you a Life, Peter. May I offer you Sigmars Finest?"
 
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#82
"As you wish Niklaus. Go now. Run with my dire wolves. I place them in your comand. Strike hard, and strike fear into Sigmar's dogs". Peter grasped Niklaus on the forearm, the Strigoi's claws scraping on his armour.

"And a final request, if possible, kill some of the priests. Then my magic will have more effect. But if you can restrain yourself, leave the leader for me."
 

Onikaigo

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#83
Clasping Peters forearm awkwardly, Niklaus gives his wolfish smile. No amount of premonition or clairvoyance is needed; the Sigmarites are in for a very, very long night.

With the sound of metal scraping metal, Niklaus releases Peters Forearm to speak, "I will leave at sunset." Surely the order to leave now was being figurative? The sunlight is damaging and truly unpleasant; it was a wonder that he made it inside the walls in time.

Turning on a heel, in order to better move toward the door he casts his voice over his shoulder; "I shall kill as many as can be killed, My Lord."

There, he's finally said it. He's spoken more than once of his debt to you, but now he's formally spoken of his allegiance. With finality, he would take himself from the Study and look for a change of clothes more suitable for...infiltration. Perhaps another robe of some sort to disguise himself as another abject follower? The voice in his head already tells him that shan't work, and he gnashes his teeth; one the sigmarites are in sight, there shall be no subtlety. There shall be death, and blood, and screams.

There are many preparations to make.
 
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#84
As the Strigoi left, Peter terned to his knights, "We will hit the Sigmarites, and take out their leaders, without the power of Sigmar guiding them, they will flee like dogs. Go and prepare for the nights march. I must cast some spells so that we may travel in the sun."

The vampires filed out, and Peter sat down at his desk, and opened his spell book.

***********************

Outside, the army waited. The ranks of skeletons, still clad in ragged Empire uniforms stood silently. Wights clutched at rusting great swords. Ghouls, descenents of the degraded monks of this monastery scuttled in the shadows. Skeletal horses champed on rusting bits. The Horde of the Raven would march again.
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#85
As the other two vampires left Lesa turned to the incensed Carstein. For once she had the decency to look apologetic, and smiled at him sheepishly.

"I am sorry Simon," she said under his glaring eyes, "it was not my intention to damage Drakenhof, I am as well aware of how much your bloodline honours this place. But I was not expecting this to happen, as far as I knew this dragon had crumbled out in the forest. Instead it seems it has somehow merged with my shadow dragon."

As if the creature heard her, it slowly shifted its weight, pressing against one of the courtyards damaged outer walls. With a crack the tortured wall finally gave in, crashing down to mirror it's destroyed twin on the other side. As Simon's face turned an interesting shade of purple, Lesa decided she now would be a good time to remove the beast before it did any more damage. In a blink of an eye she scaled the dragon's leg, shoulder, and neck, before finally settling on it's massive skull. At her command its wings flashed downwards, propelling them both into the sky. It was only she looked back and saw Simon slowly standing back up, that she realised the gust created by the dragons wings had knocked him off his feet.

"Well I suppose all the better I have something to attend to," she thought as they flew off into the night, "give Simon chance to calm down.........."
 
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#86
Kagekiba followed his instincts until he came to see the outline of a large castle in the distance, near the castle he could make out a large creature-obviously what was drawing him. He continued forward, knowing that he was prepared to handle whatever might lie in his path.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#87
Simon clambered to his feet as Lesa and her new dragon rose into the sky. "Get my defences rebuilt immediately!" he roared to his undead minions who dropped what they were doing and began clearing up the mess. He clicked his fingers and Ancalagon began to reform and stand up.
 
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#88
A fell wind blew...

The majesty of Drakenhof, now open to the elements, was filled with even more unnatural energy. Tapestries blew, contorting already macabre countenances into disturbing new displays of rage and terror. Suits of armor rattled on their stands, and on the bones of the Wights. At attention, they noticed it but spoke not. Doors, unhinged or unlocked slammed as the almost tangible foulness flew down the halls, knocking over the occasional vase or setting portraits of long-dead monarchs on disquieting angles. Windows rattled in their frames, bones clattered as skeletons fumbled into one another, and clothing was blow backwards very dramatically. Confused by this new disturbance, Simon gazed into the sky...

A black coach, unlike any that he had ever seen, was descending upon the castle. Two fiery horses with great, pteropine wings shredded the air, spurned onwards by the foul gale. The carriage itself was a Gothic masterpiece, embellished stylishly with bats and other vampiric designs. It was larger than most, and more vicious by appearance, with scythed wheels and a shimmering aura of deep indigo. Where normally a Cairn Wraith would have spurned on the Nightmares, a unknown corporeal figure drove the Hellsteeds forth, filling them with unnatural vigor. Behind and around the vehicle swam several black-shrouded figures, insubstantial and of a terrifying aspect. The entirety of it inspired absolute terror in the living and awe in the dead.

As it approached, the figure driving it became clearer. They were clearly masculine, and dashing with eyes like lightning and fangs that gleamed in the moonlight. His build was difficult to determine, as he bore some kind of plated mail, made of what looked like bone. His mouth was set in a lop-sided grin, and as he came closer it became fairly obvious that he was slightly unhinged. His head was tilted slightly to one side, his eyes smouldered with madness and his posture hinted at insanity. However, he was of noble bearing and projected an aura of authority.

As Simon watched, the carriage descended. It skimmed over the roof of the castle, and smoothly approached the courtyard ground. The Helsteeds' hooves adjusted very smoothly from trampling only air to hitting sodden earth. It slowed as it approached the place where Simon stood, and the driver stood. The spectral figures stopped revolving as the coach approached the ground and now stood behind and beside the new vampire. They numbered seven, and the one that stood directly to the newcomer's left whispered into his ear. The vampire nodded, still grinning wolfishly, and the spectre stood back slightly.

The vampire appraised his surrounds. He had heard of the splendor of Castle Drakenhof, but here it was clearly in disrepair. The walls of the courtyard were rubble, and the mighty halls stood in ruins. The banquet tables were overturned, statues lay in pieces and the windows now caught the light only by the myriad edges of the shards. This did not perturb him however, as he had not come to admire the place. The man he had come for stood before him, identifiable by scent alone. The von Carstein blood flowed (or if not flowing at least existed) in his veins and the scent of pure authority lay thick upon the air. The stranger spoke, his accent rich and buoyant.

"Greetings, Master Simon von Carstein. I am Zaak the Uncanny, and find myself at your service." He bowed stiffly and comically low, and when he rose once more his grin was more pronounced than ever. Eyes skimming over his immediate vicinity once more, he commented, "It appears you're having some technical difficulties. Is this a bad time?" He smirked (which is quite difficult considering he was already grinning) and then proceeded to extend one hand towards a slightly larger pile of rubble. "Allow me to offer you my assistance."

As soon as the words were ushered from his mouth he snapped his head towards the pile and bent his fingers into a claw. The pile of stone picked itself up into the air, swimming around as though suspended in oil. Arranging themselves with a constant inch or so gap between any two edges, they stones hovered near where part of a wall should go. He clenched his fist, and they locked tightly in against one another. With a flourish of his hand, they flew across and slammed into place. A sizable piece of the wall was now repaired, and Zaak turned back to Simon. He panted ever so slightly from the effort, but grinned as usual. One of the wraiths extended a cloaked arm towards him, and he felt instantly revitalized.

He spoke. "I have come to pledge my allegiance to both you and your cause." He drew his sword from the sheath at his waist and held it in one hand. It was a bastard sword, and also made apparently of bone. Despite this, it looked extremely sharp, and any magically attuned individuals could feel the power radiating off it. He took the blade gingerly in his other hand, went down onto one knee and symbolically offered it to Simon. "I pledge my sword to you, and my magical skills." He looked up, and waited for a response.
 
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#89
Kagekiba stepped gingerly out of the forest where he came to stand near Drakenhof's entrance. He decided it was best to observe the Castle's inhabitants and their habits before barging in.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#90
Simon took the sword. It was very well balanced, quite an elegant weapon for a bastard sword. Nearly as well made as his own. "An interesting toy." he said tossing it back "Can you use it? Zaak the Uncanny." he enquired "and how powerful are your magical abiities? I've rarely come across anyone who can match me."
 
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#91
Zaak caught it deftly, and with a very small flourish held it at his side, ready for use. He responded to the Count's questions quickly. His voice was lilting, and a bit sing-song, as though he were talking to a child. He meant no disrespect it was simply his way. "I can use it well enough. It has it's boons. In fact I would say I can wield it better than anyone else could. I made it after all." He paused and briefly admired his handiwork. "It's name is Osgladius. And this," he spoke, rapping his knuckles against his armour, "Is the Osarmatura. Also mine. They have both served me well." He again paused and fiddled his fingers, watching the overlapping plates glide smoothly across one another.

He turned his attentions back to Simon. "My magical skills are not as great as some others', nor are am I the greatest combatant. However, I am skilled enough to hold my own against either. I could cut down a wizard, or burn a champion in his armor. I don't have the raw power of many other magicians, but then again I am not alone." He clicked his fingers (surprisingly, as normal gauntlets would not allow him to do so), and a spectral attendant drifted to his side. "These are my coven. They are all relatively powerful in their own right, and I take from their power when I need to."

As a demonstration, he made a swooping movement with his hand, and three armor-clad grave guard burst from the earth. The spirit at his side then breathed some black, swirling mass towards Zaak, which he absorbed into his skin. "One area in which I do excel beyond any that I know is in the summoning of the dead. Give me ten minutes and a graveyard and I could raise you a battalion. Give me an hour and a massacre and I could raise you an army. Give me a week and a battlefield and I could raise for you alone a force that the world has not seen since the time of your predecessors." A wild glint in his eye showed that he meant it. "I can make other... 'toys' such as these," he spat, observing his sword and armor, "Should you will it, and if you give me the resources. Or, with enough time and assistance, I could raise this castle out of the earth and march it on legs of steel against your enemies. Be it your will," he finished, with a slight nod and a smirk.

He stood back. "I would require no lodgings, bar a place for the Carriage to rest. Note that it's contents are... sensitive. I will have no-one touch it, not even you, my lord. Merely a precaution. I will serve you until a time as you see fit, or where I find myself called away from you. Whilst I am here I offer you my services as a warrior, a wizard, a summoner, a forger of artifacts, a craftsman of constructs and anything else you see fit for me to do. Will you have me?" He raised one eyebrow quizzically, and one fang poked out over his lower lip. He knew what response to expect, but was prepared for others.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#92
Simon laughed "I like you Zaak. You're arrogance is unparalelled and it just so happens that I have need of someone with your abilities as soon as my servant Gabriel arrives you can work together on a little project of mine until then make yourself at home." He turned to leave as skeletal masons arrived to work on the damaged areas. "One more thing." he said turning back to face Zaak "I am a wizard and I am a champion in armour it would be most unwise to try and cut me down or burn me alive."
 

Ghouly

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#93
Graveclaw bounded through the forest at nearly twice the speed of a horse, trees whipping by at breakneck speed. Jumping a fallen log, Graveclaw felt the Nerach's grip tighten around his neck.
"Graveclaw mussst be going sssssoft," the Strigoi growled silently to himself. Why was he helping the council? He hadn't killed a single member of the Council since joining the previous summer.
"Not even the Carsssstinessss," he rumbled aloud, disgust evident in his voice, "and now Graveclaw issssss ssssseaking their help!" he snarled.
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#94
As Gravelcaw bounded though the woods V'azrin held on grimly, wondering for what seemed like the hundredth time why7 he had simply not blasted the damn Strigoi. But one thing he could not deny was the scholar's curiosity that all his line had, and the reason behind Gravelclaw's reluctant request for help intrigued him. Hearing the muttering below he shifted forward.
"So why have you allowed the arrogant Simon to live?" he asked, "I would have...ah....though a creature of your strength would have......disposed of by now.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#95
Simon stepped into the library of Drakenhof. The library had started off quite small but had been expanded by Konrad during his reign where he obsessively hoarded books,Scrolls and archaic artifacts from across the world. Mannfred had continued this after Konrad's death when he had begun the extensive remodeling work on the castle and added the five towers to the keep.

Making his way to the centre of the library Simon was greeted by Lucius who along with his brothers had been standing guard over the library and its contents specifically the remains of Vlad which lay safe and secure within an elaborate casket. "Not long now." said Simon "Soon all of our sacrifices will be well rewarded." The others nodded "What are we to do if certain council members try to stop us milord?" asked Maximillian "Then they are to be considered enemies regardless of past services and eliminated no exceptions!" replied Simon
 

Ghouly

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#96
Graveclaw snarled anger at V'azrin's words "Graveclaw would At firsssst chance he getsss" he growled "But Graveclaw would have to then fight the entire council Graveclaw wouldn't be sssssstrong enough to sssssucsssseed in that attempt". V'azrin blinked in surprise at Graveclaw's sudden rationality "ah....so how much sooner until we arrive at this place?" he asked.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#97
The doors to the library opened and the four vampires were joined by a cloaked human one of Simon's cultists. "Milord your presence is requested at the amphitheatre" the cultist stated. Simon nodded turning to Lucius "Continue to guard this place it contains the future and the past of our race." Lucius bowed in respect "Yes my lord. It will be a very stupid or suicidal being that breaks in here." Simon smiled "You have all been very well trained my grandchildren. Our enemies will be no match for you." He left the room with the cultist "What news from the south." he asked "Lord Aurelius has been fortifying the Border Princes milord and increasing our forces down there." replied the cultist "We've lost contact with the Baalak Gul force we sent after the she vamp. But the others have stared to arrive here on schedule."

The amphitheatre had been constructed during Konrad's time. The insane vampire had very much enjoyed blood sports pitting all kinds of races against each other in fights to the death. The amphitheatre had not been used since that turbulent era. Simon entered it and approached the two figures that stood in the middle of it. He stood and stared into the dead eyes of the Wight King who towered over him "Vardek Crom! How the mighty have fallen." commented Simon "I guess you'll have to think twice about fighting a von Carstein in future. If only you were capable of independent thought." Simon turned away from Crom and faced the second figure who was even bigger than the Wight King. Savage and feral slightly bigger than Graveclaw and just as goodlooking Jerek von Carstein stood with an undisguised hatred of Simon as he was attached to the floor by chains. "Dear uncle its so nice to have you back with us again." said Simon stepping back as with a primal roar Jerek swiped at him. "I guess you should have stayed with us and remained a powerful lord in this form you are so easily controllable." Simon smiled "I'm going to have quite a task for you when you're in a better mood."
 

Get of W'soran

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#98
The Necrarch was beginning to feel uneasy with all this running around.
V'azrin cleared his voice noisely
"Well? Are we almost here?" he shouted into Graveclaws ear.
__________________________-
Darkness rippled near simon as Akkarin stepped out of the nearby shadows
"Tsk...should a waste of potent blood" murmered the Assassin with a look at Jerek.
Turning to simon he bowed his head respectfully
"Reconstruction of the defenses and other structures are progressing at an acceptable rate My Lord" stated the vampire
 

Get of W'soran

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#99
Finally Graveclaw began to slow down as he bounded into a clearing in the woods; his stop was so sudden that V’azrin was thrown from the Strigoi’s back.
Muttering the vampiric mage stood up slowly dusting of his robes
”Damned imbecile! Watch where your going or I’ll…” spat the Necrarch before dragging off as he looked up and took in his surroundings.
The clearing was massive, within which dozens, maybe hundreds of Ghouls clambered around, most of which where gathered in the Centre.
Around the sides of the clearing within the forest line the ancient scholar could see guards in the form of Dire Wolves and Fell Bats.
Frowning faintly V’azrin concluded that due to the large concentration of ghouls and the fact they entered unmolested that these where obviously servants of Graveclaw.

V’azrin moved forward, his back straight and walking tall, traces of his usual stooped walk gone. Reaching the large gathering of Ghouls he saw what their furious actions where at, around the centre of the clearing was a primitive dig site and the Ghouls where intent on clearing away the ground.
Sensing a trace of a familiar pattern through the winds of magic the Necrarch roughly pushed the Ghouls out of the way to get closer to the hole being dug by Graveclaw’s minions.
When he reached the point on which the diggers were focusing on he hissed in surprise, the Ghouls were uncovering a large set of doors, it was these that V’azrin had sensed through the winds of magic for they where protected by powerful wards…the creator of which the undead wizard guessed easily from the “scent” of the spells.

Turning around V’azrin murmured at the approaching Strigoi
”What’s going on here Graveclaw?”
 

Simon von Carstein

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Simon nodded "Good Drakenhof is a temple it would be sacrilege for it to be left to rot. This place is after all the cradle of von Carstein existence. This is where Vashanesh founded our line properly and it is where I intend to resurrect him."
 
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