Our intrepid heroes captured and successfully snuck Prince Damian into their quarters. But, were unsuccessful in their attempts to obtain information from him regarding the vampires. The prince tried to escape by turning into a mist form and was instead stopped and butchered horribly by the party. With his dead body lying on the floor Tak-Tak, their handler, appeared. He congratulated the party on on their successful tactics, and then revealed that they actually had a contract on Damian, and that contract came from Grand Duchess Alyssa. Tak-Tak charged them with finding out why the Grand Duchess had placed a contract out on her son. The parties changeling bard, Toox, impersonated the prince and they carried the prince’s body into the palace by just walking past the guards and ordering them to take the party to his quarters. Once in the prince’s rooms they arranged his body on his bed and left it there to find the duchess. Then Toox, still disguised as the prince, went and found the duchess and had the circus troupe perform for their entertainment. Seik found a way to talk to the duchess privately and tried to intimate that they needed to talk more on the subject of the assassination, but the duchess would only say that the contract had been accepted and the deposit made and there was nothing to discuss. When Seik pressed her further the duchess used ghost sound to create a crash outside the dining room and ordered Damian, (still being impersonated by Toox), to correct the servants for their clumsiness. Toox of course left the room giving the duchess a chance to speak more openly with Seik, but she only stated that people in her position did what they needed to do to protect the kingdom and if they were incapable of fulfilling the contract than they should return her money. With that Seik told her that they would meet her in the garden tonight for the final payment for fulfilling the contract. Late that evening, after the prince’s body had been found, the duchess met the party in the garden where she payed them for the contract and walked away refusing to speak to them about her reasons for ordering her son’s death. In a final bid to obtain information Seik called after her, “It wouldn’t have anything to do with vampires would it?” Whereupon the duchess whirled and fired an area spell that hit 3 of the party members in a surprise round. But then it was their turn and through sheer tenacity and smart tactics they managed to bloody the duchess who then called for guards and tried to illuminate the area with a light spell which was promptly put out by Aurzel. With less than a minute before guards would appear the party knew they had to kill the duchess. Using every trick and tactic they had learned over the years as part of the Shadow Serpent Guild they killed the duchess and watched as her body turned to ash right in front of them. Toox assumed her visage as the guards arrived and Toox, as the duchess, stated that she had been attacked and that fortunately the performers had shown up and scared them away! Further questioning by the captain of the guard, professing disbelief over the parties part and offering to take the party in for questioning was met by a sharp rebuff by Toox and then she ordered the guard away. The party decided the best thing to do to hide the death of the Grand Duchess was to have Toox as the duchess profess to need privacy and seclusion and go to one of the outlying estates and then slip away. A plan that they promptly put into motion when Toox, still impersonating the grand duchess, returned to the palace. When the grand duke heard of the duchesses plan he went to her and asked her why she was leaving as the last time they spoke she was going to pay the assassins for Damian’s death. Toox told him that she had been attacked by intruders into the palace and that the performers had interrupted that attack as they had been nearby. The grand duke was shocked that anything could have successfully attacked her considering her considerable power and ability. He then asked if perhaps the presence of the performers had been a bit to convenient and perhaps they knew to much. He asked, “Do we need to have them killed?” Toox replied that, “No, no, they know nothing. They don’t know that we’re vampires. It’s not necessary.” The grand duke looked at her carefully and stated, "I think my dear that considering everything that’s happened, I think it best if you go to one of the manor houses. I will assign a guard for you pesonally. I will take no chances with your safety. The grand duke called the captain of the guard and told him. “The grand duchess will be traveling to the white manor house. I want a fully armed escort for her. I want a guard’s eyes watching her at all times. She leaves tonight” Preparations were immediately made for departure while the party worried outside the grounds waiting and watching for Toox to make her escape. A task made extremely difficult for Toox as the guards took thier orders very literally and watched her every moment. Aurzel was able to mage hand the Amulet of Mist to Toox and guessing that she was on the carriage carrying out the plan of pretending to need seclusion he used ghost sound to whisper the instructions of it’s magical password to activate it. The only thing they could do then was follow discretely and wait for Toox to make her escape which she did under cover of night as she supposedly slept behind her bed curtains.