Curse of Strahd Part Seven: Into the Mists

DM Notes
After some debate, the party decide they have no better choice and they enter the carriage. As soon as they are all aboard, the horses again pull the carriage.

Black pools of water stand like dark mirrors in and around the muddy roadway. Giant trees loom on both sides of the road, their branches clawing at the mist. The carriage sways slowly on as the horses silently pull their burden.

Looking behind them, the party sees the fog spill out of the forest to swallow up the road behind them. Ahead, jutting from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the road, are high stone buttresses looming gray in the fog. Huge iron gates hang on the stonework. Dew clings with cold tenacity to the rusted bars. Two headless statues of armed guardians flank the gate, their heads now lying among the weeds at their feet. They greet the party only with silence.

Just off the road, as the carriage approaches the massive gates, a strange sight. 4 white lambs, white as snow walk slowly in a line. The fog parts willfully to reveal their destination. A huge winter wolf sits on its haunches, red eyes blazing like embers. The lead lamb walks to the wolf, and places its neck in the wolf's waiting mouth. The lamb stays motionless as its white fur swells red with blood from its neck down. It appears to lose consciousness and falls limp in the wolf's mouth. The carriage continues on until the animals are out of site.

The horrific display is broken by the creaking of rusted iron as the gates slowly swing open and the carriage proceeds through. As the party passes under the huge stone gate, a chill runs down their spines. The gates creak close behind them.
The road snakes through the ghostly woods until tall shapes loom out of the dense fog that surrounds everything. The muddy ground the horses follow gives way to slick, wet cobblestones. The tall shapes become recognizable as village dwellings. The windows of each house stare out from pools of blackness. No sound cuts the silence except for the clip-clop of your horses hooves on stones. In the village center, A single shaft of light thrusts illumination into the main square, its brightness looking like a solid pillar in the heavy fog. Above a lit gaping doorway, a sign hangs precariously askew, proclaiming this to be the Blood on the Vine tavern.

The only movement the party sees is a glimpse of an outline of a hunched figure slowly pushing a cart down a side street. After a few moments, the looming shapes of buildings give way again to thick fog, and the respite from the oppressive trees comes to an end as the forest swallows the road again.

The carriage continues on until it comes to large arching stone bridge that crosses a rushing river. The river is maybe 50 feet wide here, and flows as clear as a blue winter sky. Shortly after the bridge, the road gives way to woods again. The carriage continues on, silently.

An old wooden gallows creaks in a chill wind that blows down from the ground to the west. A frayed length of rope dances from its beam. The well-worn road splits here, and a signpost opposite the gallows points off in three directions: Barovia Village to the east, Tser Pool to the northwest, and Ravenloft/Vallaki to the southwest.The northwest fork slants down and disappears into the trees, while the southwest fork clings to an upward slope. Across from the gallows, a low wall, crumbling in places, partially encloses a small plot of graves shrouded in fog. The horses pulling the carriage don't pause, and veer for the Tser Pool path, following the road as it descends into the trees.

The party hears a creaking noise behind them, coming from the gallows. Where there was nothing before now hangs a lifeless, gray body. The breeze turns the hanged figure slowly, and it fixes its cold dead eyes on the party.
The road gradually disappears and is replaced by a twisted, muddy path through the trees. Deep ruts in the earth are evidence of the comings and goings of wagons.

The canopy of mist and branches suddenly gives way to black clouds boiling far above. There is a clearing here, next to a river that widens to form a small lake several hundred feet across. Five colorful round tents, each ten feet in diameter, are pitched outside a ring of four barrel-topped wagons. A much larger tent stands near the shore of the lake, its sagging form lit from within. Near this tent, eight unbridled horses drink from the river.

The horses reach the outskirts of the wagon circle, and uniformly stop.

Music and voices can be heard emanating from the camp: as figures are seen around a large bonfire. A footpath continues beyond where the horses have stopped, meandering north between the river and the forest’s edge. Several men and women play instruments while others dance and drink and laugh.

No familiar faces. But a fat, smiling, red-faced man waves the party over and offers for them to sit.

“It’s been some time since I’ve seen an outsider in our camp! Not since… the wizard came.”

He continues “He came to this land over a year ago. I remember him like it was yesterday. He stood exactly where you’re standing. A very charismatic man, he was. He thought he could rally the people of Barovia against the devil Strahd. He stirred them with thoughts of revolt and bore them to the castle en masse. “When the vampire appeared, the wizard’s peasant army fled in terror. A few stood their ground and were never seen again.
“The wizard and the vampire cast spells at each other. Their battle flew from the courtyards of Ravenloft to a precipice overlooking the falls. I saw the battle with my own eyes. Thunder shook the mountainside, and great rocks tumbled down upon the wizard, yet by his magic he survived. Lightning from the heavens struck the wizard, and again he stood his ground. But when the devil Strahd fell upon him, the wizard’s magic couldn’t save him. I saw him thrown a thousand feet to his death. I climbed down to the river to search for the wizard’s body, to see if, you know, he had anything of value, but the River Ivlis had already spirited him away.”

The party members grow antsy, and the man points them to the largest most colorful tent and tells them to speak to Madam Eva. They agree, somewhat in a daze.

In the tent, they meet Madam Eva- a withered old fortune teller. She whispers mysteriously: “I have seen you, travelers. The Ranger seeking his father. Protector of little birds. The angel seeking understanding. Seeking love. The little bird, cursed, wings clipped. The Paladin, denied his greatest wish. One spoken oath from darkness. Oh yes, I have seen you Giantslayers. Pact breakers. Lord makers. Child Seekers. I have seen you, and I have seen your future. Would you like to see?” The party agrees and she lays out 5 cards before them.

  1. This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy.
  2. This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope.
  3. This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight.
  4. This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness.
  5. Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him!
And then flips over the card, reading them:
  1. 4 of Stars, the Abjurer: “I see a fallen house guarded by a great stone dragon. Look to the highest peak.”
  2. 3 of Glyphs, the Healer: “Look to the west. Find a pool blessed by the light of the white sun.”
  3. 8 of Stars, the Necromancer “A woman hangs above a roaring fire. Find her, and you will find the treasure.”
  4. The Broken One. Your greatest ally will be a wizard, and Ava’s worst enemy. His mind is broken, but his spells are strong.
  5. The Beast. The Beast sits on his dark throne.

She then tells the group they should head back to Barovia village.

The party sets out for Barovia village, braving the mist. The sun shines somewhere, though it is heavily obscured by thick cloud cover.

As the party passes the gallows (which is now empty once again), they notice a small cemetery just off the main road. Something catches Caecilius’ eye: something on one of the tombstones is written in Draconic. He inspects it to find his own name written there. The nearby tombstones similarly bear the party members’ names. Shortly thereafter, the ground rumbles and four skeletons claw out of the soft earth! The skeletons eerily matched their counterparts.

The party battles the skeletons, and handily defeats them before continuing on to Barovia. They arrive in the town, head to the inn, and meet Ismark Kolyanovich in the Blood on the Vine tavern. They are horrified to meet the innkeeper is a husk of a man. Ismark explains he has no soul, much to Ava’s horror.

Ismark tells the party his father: Kolyan Indirovich, has recently died. Indirovich was the former Bergomeister of the town, but died 3 days ago of fright. It seems the Bergomeister’s mansion has come under attack for the last several nights, as Strahd seems to have his sights set on Ismark’s sister: Ireena Kolyana. The party returns to the Bergomeister’s mansion and agrees to protect them through the night, and then help the siblings carry their dead father to the church cemetary where he can be properly buried. The party rests, but their mission becomes clear. They must defeat the devil Strahd, and free this land of the terror that befell it.

Journal of Vrice Kilcannon

We are greeted by a fat annoying gypsy who makes me want to punch him in the face. He tells us we are in some cursed lands ruled by a vampire lord. I wonder if this is the dark force that has taken my father. He wants to meet some wise woman in the town who reads our fortune. I barely listen as she talks about stone houses, a white sun, and finding some treasure. I start remembering the lessons the Knights of the Eternal order taught me about vampires and wonder if I kill this Strahd and assuming he is controlling my father if it will free him and us from these lands.

We decide to head towards the nearest town to start our investigations. Caecillius wants to storm the vampire’s castle and I warn that is suicide but he still grumbles about it. He is a great warrior and from his displays of power he does have the favor of his god but I have seen that favor fade as gods are fickle. I worship Kelemvor because I know he will leave me alone and only judge me as I try to pass on. Not long into our journey we see a small untended graveyard with several of the stones with our names on them. As we are looking at them undead rise out of our graves and attack. I am really getting fucking tired of these undead...I hate this damn place. I focus my rage and attack these creatures and we put them down with some effort. We finally make it to the village of Barovia and head to the Blood on the Vine tavern...oh my god what a name. There we meet more odd people including a barkeep who has no soul...why am I surprised. We also find out that the Bergomeister’s house has been attacked by creatures of the night and the son of the Bergomeister asks for our help. I am eager to help and try to do some good in these accursed lands.

The Personal and Private Accounts of Driessa Nomnialla
Little book, I am told we are in Barovia. In all honesty, I feel we are actually in some version of Hell. Soulless shells of Beings walk among those who are able to feel and acknowledge their horrible lives that they will never know an escape from. I am trapped. We are all trapped in this game and Strahd is the Gamemaster, controlling our actions like we are his toys. I escaped a cruel game once and though this place yields more horrors than the Palace I swear I will escape again. Strahd be damned. There is an anger swelling inside of me that I have only felt once before. It is the feeling of true power and pure fire. It is all consuming. I will escape again.


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