- Avarice Avernus, Mummy Matriarch and Skilled Duelist, played by Jen (Mommy)
- Annaria Avernus, Dhampir Daughter and Scout, played by Evie
- Adelaide Avernus, Shade Daughter and White Witch, played by Carrie
- Uncle Nester Nihlity, Avarice's younger brother, Non-Player Character
- Rudolpho, Cranium Rat Spokesvermin, Non-Player Character
If this is your first time reading our Avernus Availed stories, please feel free to check out previous posts before reading ahead!
Many as One
Avarice Avernus was not pleased with the condition of her home. With the walls battered and smashed, the structure's interior open to the elements, and weeds and ivy overtaking the once-beautiful landscaping, the matriarch's absolute last concern was the rats in which Uncle Nester laid the blame. Avarice's "old" younger brother (he was in his 70's now), admitted that during the Bane War Muridae Manor was used as a fortification for local militia fighting the Witches and their armies. Many fought, and died, within the building's once powerful walls. But it wasn't the spirits of these fallen soldiers that created such fear in Uncle Nester's heart, but the rats that lived within the buildings walls. Due to his terror, Uncle Nester only maintained three rooms on the lower level of the home, allowing the rest of the building to fall apart.
Avarice was not about to let a few rodents stop her from retaking command of her home and restoring it to it's former glory. Even though she may be a Mummy, she had to maintain appearances for the Avernus family and Muridae Manor! Avarice commanded her daughters to do as they were trained while serving the Coven, and secure the house properly. First the matriarch transformed the arms of her sarcophagus shell into a pair of hooks so that she could pry the boards off of the entrance to the manor's second floor. Annaria used her incredibly sharp eyes to scout the stairwell and the hall at the top of the steps in total darkness before lighting a lantern and handing it over to Adelaide. The youngest daughter had a journal and quill ready to document everything they found.
The upstairs hallway had a dead soldier laying on the floor face down. Adelaide and Annaria approached the body, knowing that it had to be dead but not sure exactly how dead it was. Despite being the family's perceptive scout, Annaria was prone to screaming when she was frightened, but she was able to keep control of her voice when she flipped the body over. The figure was in fact dead, consumed by thousands of tiny bites. Avarice called down to Uncle Nester who admitted that various rebel factions had used the house as recent as a few years ago, right up until the end of the war, and that there could be a few surprises upstairs. This did not make the women happy.
Next the women found the door to the study. This room was special to Adelaide, who would often find solace in the study with one of her books. When the youngest daughter opened the door, she was sad to discover all of the books missing, the room in shambles, and the strange bearskin rug that always scared her as a child still on the floor. As the women moved into the room, Annaria saw in the corner a hole in the wall, and five pairs of tiny eyes looking right at her. Again holding her mouth shut to refrain from screaming, Annaria pointed to the eyes, and her sister shined the lantern in that direction. A sound of dozens of voices boomed out from all around the women.
"What are you doing in our home!?!"
This puzzled the Avernus ladies, as they were fairly certain the house was in fact in the Avernus name. When the women didn't appear to be scared the voices subsided, and slowly the bearskin rug started to rise. This was too much for poor Annaria, and the dhampir scout uncovered her mouth and started to scream, running into the hallway outside. Lady Avernus watched her daughter charge out of the room, and then looked right at the rug. Not thinking twice, Avarice slapped the overgrown shag carpet, causing dozens of rats to pour out of the bear's form and scatter about the room.
Adjacent to the study was a secret workshop that Adelaide remembered from her childhood. Often her father Alistair would work in the secluded chamber while the young daughter would read her books and draft her own tales of faeries and good spirits. Using her sister's lockpicks, Adelaide opened the door, only to reveal the broken remains of her father's laboratory. Perhaps with some assistance she would be able to restore this room to it's former glory. The next room the trio entered was the garderobe, a simple privy chamber. The women were surprised to see one of the rats with it's rear hanging over the edge. Quickly the rat jumped and ran into a hole in the wall. This was getting strange.
The women decided it was time to go to the Library. Passing through the shattered remains of what was once Avarice's master bedroom, the door to the Library was unlocked and swung open easily. For being a library, however, there were no books to be found. Like the study, all of the shelves were empty. The voices of the rats surrounded the party again. The rats declared that "they" were the owners of the house, and that the women should respect their deal made with Alistair Avernus. Hearing of this "deal", Avarice started to question the voices, although her daughters took turns shouting insults. While the mother wanted answers, both Adelaide and Annaria were disgusted by the rats, and had no problem voicing their opinions. Even when the rats admitted that they lived in the house when the dhampir and shade were only children, the younger Avernus women still did not relent in their insults. Finally, the rats requested of Avarice that they meet in the lobby on the first floor so that a more civil conversation could occur.
Avarice agreed to the meeting, and the three women traveled downstairs to the main hall of the building, where several hundred rats appeared on one side of the room, many of which possessing large, pulsing brains that protruded from their skulls. A single, somewhat charismatic rodent appeared and introduced himself and his kin. They were cranium rats, creatures formed in a far-off place that had existed in Muridae Manor since it was built by Alistair Avernus. The rodent that spoke to the party was named "Rudolpho" by Alistair, although in reality the rats were a single hive-mind. The cranium rats admitted that they were in the building when the militia occupied the home, as well as when the Banes stormed the building and took the thousands of books that were held in the study and library. Rudolpho explained that it was fortunate for the remaining members of the Avernus family that the rats existed in the home, since they had absorbed the knowledge from each and every tome before the books were taken.
Rudolpho asked Avarice Avernus for continued haven within the walls of Muridae Manor, as was promised by her husband Alistair. Understanding that the situation was a bit out of the ordinary, the cranium rat "spokesvermin" offered a token of their thanks and reverence for the Avernus family. Rudolpho stated that Lady Avernus' enchanted engagement ring had been sold by Uncle Nester to the twisted Mayor of Augsing, Piter Goering. In turn, this ring was given as a token to an evil spirit named Arachnis who lived in the nearby hills. Arachnis was a plague to the few farmers who tried to make a living growing crops in the cursed countryside of Valkenholm. Vanquishing the spirit would most certainly endear the locals to the Avernus family if it were to come out that they were the slayers of Arachnis. In addition, Rudolpho would come with the trio as an "advisor," bringing with him all of the knowledge of the Muridae Cranium Rat Clan, and the library of Muridae Manor. Avarice agreed to both allowing the rats to remain as well as taking on the mission to hunt down Arachnis, with the understanding that the rats would have an active role in the Avernus family home's restoration.
"Is this my home or a dump?" - Avarice Avernus was not thrilled with the condition of Muridae Manor
- "It's not negotiable… you will stay." - Avarice to Uncle Nester
- "You can stay in the ruined bedroom… it's not completely collapsed." - Adelaide to Uncle Nester
- "We can always build him an 'outhouse!'" - Annaria, referring to Uncle Nester
"… and I dare say it appears to be moving. Undulating about the floor." - Avarice's description of the rat-infested bearskin rug.
"I'm going to dramatically slap that rug in the face, as it has the audacity to do this in my home." - Avarice threatens the rat-infested bearskin rug.
"There is no One, there is only Many." - The GM channels Planescape: Torment
"You are so cute!" - Evie changed her perspective of the cranium rats so quickly once the puppet appeared.