"The dead are restless. And hungry..."
Beginning and the EndEdit
Optional Boss Encounters
Skip Node 1. Now you have to choose between two paths. For the path with the lower energy cost, proceed through Nodes 3-5. Go through Nodes 6-8 for easier battles but overall higher energy cost. Defeat Zombie Master at Node 2 to clear the map and unlock Zombie Master (Brawl Boss). In Nightmare mode, Reiner von Malhaven will appear at Node 10.
- Common Craft: Witch's Doll (Lingering Revenge)
- Boss Craft: Post-Mortal Service Contract (Taste of Vornstaag)
- Special Craft: Charred Dress Scrap (Call of the Underworld) (obtained from Reiner von Malhaven - NM only)
Boss Card RewardEdit
Randoms Card RewardEdit
"Order your men to stand down!" you shout. "The fort's lost!"
Your voice is almost drowned amid the symphony of clashing steel and the roars of bursting spells. But the commander hears, and hazards a quick glance at the courtyard below -- as though unwilling to blieve your words until he's seen their truth for himself, laid eyes on the stream of bellowing Nords that pour through the smashed gates and the chaotic melee their coming has spawned. A sea of royal tabards, mail, fur, gleaming steel... All splashed with crimson.
"Roar, gold dragon!" he screams.
He raises the standard in his left hand, thrusting it at the heavens as if displaying it to the gods. Its purple and gold banner flutters in the chill wind. Then he lunges, driving his sword at your throat.
The crest on your shield meets the blade with a clang, beating it aside. Your own sword fares better. Its unerring point tears cloth and pierces mail, parting chain links and the heart beneath.
He blinks. The banner flutters.
Your sword comes free with a cry of scraping metal. He falls. His body tumbles over the edge of the parapet. It lands in the courtyard, still clutching the standard.
Either the commander's death or the toppling of the fort's banner -- perhaps both -- seems to sap the defenders' will. Within minutes the fighting is over. The soldiers lay down swords and halberds, their eyes weary with the realization of defeat.
Your companions are waiting for you when you descend. A quick glance at each of them reveals only minor wounds. You'll all live to fight another day. That knowledge secured, satisfaction and exhaustion both wash over you.
"Well fought, Kasan!" one of the Nords cries.
A chorus of likeminded sentiment follows from the others, reverberating around the fort's scarred stone.
"Would be nice if they cheered my bleeding name just once." Hugh grunts.
"Prehaps when we encounter a fortress made of pastry," Brachus replies, "and you eat your way through its walls?"
The Titaran doesn't reply. He's probably dreaming of a bastion made of pies...
"Is any of that yours?" Tessa asks. She points at your face with the end of her bow. Then, in response to your confused look, she adds: "The blood."
The Nords are still cheering as you move through the gateway and the mournful remains of its doors. Tents are already being pitched outside. An army on the march learns to make or break camp in the blink of an eye.
"I wonder how the other Frost Wyrms are faring," Rakshara says.
"Porbably doing all right," Hugh replies, "seeing as how they have a bloody bid dragon with them and all."
"I shall lead the force against the forts in the east," Solus said.
"I'll go with the army that's heading west," you replied.
Your friends raised some eyebrows when you told them of your intentions. They'd expected you to remain with the blue drake, prehaps even ride him in battle as your ancestor once did. The though had crossed your mind, of course. But it just felt... wrong. Your destiny had been placed back in your hands. It was time to carve out a new path. And so you parted ways with that simple exchange. The Frost Wyrm Clan yearns to drive all royal forces from Nordent, and shatter the line of forts that divide the province from the rest of the kingdom. It's a task that necessitated the splitting of their forces, and gave you ample opportunity to march in a different direction.
"You ask me-" Hugh continues.
"We didn't," Tessa interjects.
"Well, if you had bloody well asked me-"
"Kasan!" The shout draws your attention and forestalls Hugh's impending wisdom.
A Nord Woman's running towards you, clutching something in her hand. There's a group of warriors behind her. A few are glancing in your direction, but most are staring at the dusky evening sky. You follow their gaze, to the black shape moving across the stars. It looks like...
"A bat," Tessa says.
A hugh one, at least thrice as large as any you've ever seen.
The Nord woman stops in front of you.
"It dropped this, Kasan."
She holds out and ornate, rolled-up scroll, and points at the text written across the curved parchment -- ending besides the red wax seal that adorns the middle of the clyinder. It says '<Player's Name>', underlined by an inked drawing of a pitchfork.
"Ah, Queen Isabella... As lovely as ever..."
Markgraf Otto von Malhaven bows low over her hand. His touch is warm, belaying his nature. She knows what that means. It hasn't been long since he last slaked his thirst...
Perhaps the markgraf senses the thought as it crosses her mind, for he tilts his head and raises his eyes. A smile parts his lips just wide enough to reveal the points of his fangs, unsheathed daggers beneath blood red lips. Isabella feels their touch when he kisses her hand. As always, she can't quite suppress her disquiet. He glances up and smiles once more as he releases her. he felt her tremble.
Now it's her turn to read his thoughts, to discern them from the amusement and pride in his gaze and grin. He thinks she's afraid of him -- a woman shivering before the might of a creature who walked the world long before her grandparents were born, terrified by visions of his fangs sinking into her fair skin and supping the crimson within. Afraid or else enamored, captivated by the dark charisma of his kind. But he's wrong. Her discomfort comes from gossip she heard long ago, the talk of noblewomen who for all their refined manners, aristocratic blood, and lavish attire, loved salacious rumors as much as the fishwives and the prostitutes of the slums.
"The markgraf's loin-dead," Lady Eleanor said.
"Loin-dead?" Duchess Bloodwym inquired.
"Yes..." She stared at Isabella as she replied, as though relishing the corruption of the youngest among their little high-born gathering. "Some vampires lie with women like living men do. Others change. They don't love with their members anymore. They take all their pleasure with their mouths instead..."
Isabella blushed. Lady Eleanor smirked like a predator moving in for the skill, delighting in her embarrassment.
"...With their bite."
Months later, when she met Otto von Malhaven at a ball, those words came to her as he kissed her hand -- transforming a delicate, debonair act into an indecent one. The years that have passed since then, the dozen or more times he's greeted her first as a mere noblewomen and then as a queen, have done nothing to quell that impression. Isabella still feels almost violated whenever he kisses her hand.
The vampire's movements are noiseless as he bows himself out of her presence and into Crenus'.
His bow before the king is stiffer and statelier, stripped of its rakish suavity. The change in his manner is jarring, and yet Isabella doesn't doubt his sincerity. If there's one thing von Malhavens respect, it's blood. Especially the blood of the Seluthas.
Crenus shakes the markgraf's hand. If its warmth strikes him as its struck her, he gives no sign. he's known Otto von malhaven since he was a child. The undead don't perurb him.
"You remember Marlus?" Crenus asks.
The question is rhetorical. Of all the innumerable folk he's known over the centuries, from the great Arcadius Selutha to the lowliest maiden whose neck received his fangs, he's forgotten none. But it does as the king intended it would. The lofty vampire is forced to acknowledge Marlus' presence with a prefunctory bow that yields in return a curt nod of the advisor's head. Courtesy toward the humbler Quent bloodline comes hard to the patriarch of the von Malhavens. Two-named nobleman as marlus is, he may as well be a commoner to the ancient vampire and his centuries-old sensibilities.
The four of them sit and speak by candlelight, the sun made unwelcomed by thick drapes drawn across the windows. The vampire tolerates its light when he has to, but he has no fondness for it save when it's rendered soft and silver by the moon. First there are pleasantries, for the markgraf is a respected visitor and has long been a friend of the royal family. But the troubles of the age cannot be warded off for too long.
"Stromhamre will remain loyal, Otto says. His eyes flash. The necessity of such assurances is galling to him. "Taxes, iron, and wood will flow. My family will assure it. The peasants know their place."
Either by instinct or by design, the vampire's tongue licks across his left fang, bulging his lips. The gesture makes Crenus wince and fills Isabella's head with unwelcome images.
"Forgive me, markgraf," Quent says, "but the Unsburn matter..."
Otto's eyes flash once more.
"A handful of deluded troublemakers," he replies. "Demagogues who found treason and sedition more palatable than honest labor."
"-was quelled. Now those very same demagogues speak out in favor of His Majesty and the von Malhavens."
"A remarkable change of thinking."
"Remarkable indeed..." The markgraf smiles. His fangs seem to grow longer, filling the space between his lips.
Crenus sighs. He meets the queen's gaze for the briefest of moments -- long enough for unspoken and unhappy words to pass between them. Violent uprising or appalling suppression... It's a choice that's become all too common of late, and no less palatable for its recurrence.
"While the von Malhavens hold power," the vampire continues, "your rule shall go unopposed in Stromhamre."
There's a pause, a stretch of silence that seems to challenge each of the markgraf's three interlocutors to break it. In the end the king accepts the duty as his own.
"Thank you, Otto. Your loyalty is as valuable to me as it was to my father and grandfather. But I fear that not all the von Malhavens are so... dutiful."
"Ah, I am ashamed that the foolishness of some of our younger scions has reachs your ears. Turbulent times give new life to old scheming. But rest assured, Your Majesty need not concern himself with the doings of-"
"Katrina von Malhaven." Tessa taps the wax seal. It's imprinted with the image of a cat. "It's the mark she uses when she doesn't want her missives to be recognized by anyone she doesn't trust."
You nod. The name is familiar, though you've never met the women who bears it. One of the nobles Tessa Tullian told you about back in East Kruna. A potential ally.
The seal breaks with ease. Whatever's contained within, she didn't deem it necessary to fasten it with magical wards. You unroll the parchment. Then you frown.
"It's blank!" Rakshara says.
Save for your name, the pitchfork, and the broken seal on the outside, the parchment looks untouched.
"There's a message there," Tessa says. She draws her dagger. "It's just hidden..."
The sharp blade passes across her palm. Then she turns her hand and holds it above the empty parchment. Crimson droplets fall from her open flesh. They disappear when they hit the scroll, vanishing as though drunk by the thirsty parchment. Tessa lowers her hand and reaches out towards Hugh.
As Brachus closes her slender wound with a murmured cantrip, red script appears before your eyes -- the elegant writing of an aristocratic hand.
"Blood-sealed," Tessa says. "She can bind it to any blood she's tasted."
"Tasted?" Hugh says. "You mean she's a blooding-"
"And you let her-"
"It was necessary. For things like this." Tessa gestures at the newly revealed message.
"Katrina wants us to go to Stromhamre," you say, your eyes skimming over the crimson words.
"What?" Hugh asks." Have they blooming well run out of locals to feed on, so they're bringing in victims from outside now?"
"She says I can help her overthrow the markgraf."