A Black Letter Day

Aldebaran receives an invitation to the Coming of Autumn Ball and Masquerade, an event hosted every year by House Dumont. What is supposed to be an evening of revelry turns into horror, for there is something evil lurking in the halls of Primrose Manor.

Summary

Nearly two months have passed since Aldebaran Almari saved King Marchand Lenande from assassination. In that time, she is knighted and heralded as a hero of Ilmeria.

One day, Aldebaran receives a black envelope via courier. The letter, sealed with the crest of House Dumont, contained an invitation to the annual Coming of Autumn masquerade and ball, a prestigious and somewhat exclusive celebration held at Primrose Manor, ancestral home of the Dumonts.

In the week leading up to the ball, Aldebaran encounters Doran, a half-elf and the all but disowned bastard of House Swain. Doran seeks an invitation to the ball so that he might encounter his friend and former lover, Kurt Dumont, who has not been seen in nearly eight months. Aldebaran acquiesces to Doran’s request, in the hopes their presence might shake up the status quo.

The pair enjoyed themselves, until the members of House Dumont, made their appearance. Among them was the eldest daughter, Violetta Josephine; her brother, Kurt; and cousins Simon and Patricia. Notably absent was the patriarch of house, Henri. Aldebaran was immediately on edge after being able to sense no moral inclination from any of their hosts. Doran, who had attended with intent to cause a scene to embarrass Kurt, found himself seemingly entranced with his former paramour. Aldebaran expressed her concerns to Doran, though they agreed to keep it between themselves.

Throughout the night, Aldebaran noticed a strange man in a tricorn hat and silver mask who stood isolated from the rest of the guests. As she watched him, the man seemed to be keeping a watchful eye on Violetta. Aldebaran attempted to engage the mystery man, who called himself “Ser Gregory”, was summarily rebuffed. However, she was able to discern that the man fell solidly on the opposite side of the moral fence from herself.

Regrouping, and feeling a mounting sense of dread, Alde and Doran concocted a scheme. Doran approached “Ser Gregory”, and feigning as though the man had attempted to seduce Kurt, challenged the man to a duel. “Ser Gregory”, clearly enraged by this altercation attempted to leave the ball without another word. Aldebaran and Doran followed, and seeing he had pursuers, the man began sprinting for the door. Doran caught up to him outside, tackling him to the ground. Realizing he was caught, the man reluctantly spoke to the two would-be sleuths. He informs them that through his own investigations, he has put together clues involving missing persons in nearby towns and the strange and sudden seclusion of the Dumont family. The man suggests that House Dumont has become a house of undeath, and that their hosts could be vampires.

Aldebaran, incensed by both the accusatory nature of the man’s words and the presence of evil, returns to the house to don her armor. Doran quickly follows, attempting to talk her down. Aldebaran, realizing that all of the guests are in danger, says a prayer to the Silver Lady asking for aid in getting them out safely. In answer to her prayers, an oil lamp is carelessly knocked over, engulfing the buffet table and nearby curtains in flames. Panicked guests flee the manor, and once all have evacuated, the flames snuff themselves out.

Alone in the manor, an unseen force knocks them unconscious. They awaken in a cell in the catacombs beneath Primrose Manor. They escape, and while navigating the labyrinthine tunnels, they encounter the brain-addled Henri Dumont. The man has no idea who or where he is, and is only concerned with finding “Gertrude”, who turns out to be a rat.

A Black Letter Day

One If By Moonlight vandalheart