Lost in the Mists

A servant's tale, part 6
Paths cross

Happenings collide and I would be a fool to consider them chance. The Morning Lord brought us here so that I may track and stop the scarecrow scoundrel, this much is clear. I am on his trail now, for I have found that a man seeking a similar such potion was here only weeks ago and that he bed at least two women, quitting with one in the night. The other, poor soul, has been slain only three nights ago by some mad man or monster known locally as “The Beast”, whom we had determined not to hunt initially, for time waits for no man, most of all the virtuous, and were we to slay every evil we hear whispers of Strahd would as like to die of old age before we found him!
But He is sending me a message again, surely, for no sooner did we decide to move on then I found the trail of my scoundrel and his path, in a way, converged with that of The Beast.
We’ve recently run afoul of the local law, as well. Bunch of drunks and bullies all, near as I can tell. Still, we only subdued them, lest we start killing men for the meagerest of sins. Perhaps they’ll learn a valuable lesson from their beating. More likely they’ll just take it out on someone wholly innocent and meek to make themselves feel strong.
Morning Lord, protect those of this land who cannot do for themselves.

A servant's tale, part 5
Guiding Light

I have received a sign from The Morning Lord that I am on the correct path in seeking Lichdom: while traveling through the plains of Nova Vaasa, a lone rider approached in dawn’s first light. He was a dead man, on a dead horse, and though initially I perceived a threat, he turned out a benevolent force. A doedridere, as was later explained to us. Riders slain in battle that rise to accompany travelers, wholly unique to this land.
A helpful undead that appeared at dawn; His intentions could not be clearer, and His message has been received. I am on the right path. I suspected as much, though it is good to know it as true.
We also, in our travels, met a new companion. His name is Lockhold, a messenger of some kind. We verified he meant us no ill and permitted him to travel in the safety of our group to his destination. It was immediately clear that was a wise decision, for we were beset upon by a herd of hellish fire horses, Nightmares, someone said. They were a very dangerous foe. Lucky that we had Lockhold and the doedridere along with us. Or fate, as Barlow would remind me. His stability seems increasingly gossamer as he looks ever more to the stars. I shall have to ensure that my quest for unlife does not blind me to his ambitions. I will pray on his mental state, in hopes that He can guide me to something that can help Barlow before he goes too far.
I must look further into justice for the family we found skinned, as well. Whatever the monster that brought that evil to them, it must be stopped, lest it do the same to others.
We are tomorrow bound for Vorostokov via Kantora, the capital city of this land. Erik, an elder in the town we are bedding in tonight, gave us an in depth history lesson along with some useful information about the city. The Church of the Lawbringer reigns there, and any that stand out are not tolerated. That should be amusing. I seek no quarrel with misguided worshippers of an unloving God, but neither will I stand aside while good people are struck by those who think they know better. Someone must defend those who cannot. The Sun’s rays burn not only the unholy, but all who perpetrate evil, no matter what mask they wear.

The Grinning Child
In the city of Il-Anuk, Darkon 20 years ago

A rap at the door and Elma was up, startled. What time was it? Moonlight poured through the slats in the window piling neatly into organized lines on the floor. Elma rarely fell asleep anywhere but her own room, let alone the front room. Little Isaac had been keeping her up, his fever would simply not diminish. This had been almost two weeks of her tending to him and its toll was worn underneath her eyes. She wondered if she would lose him before the fall. She’d lost many children, none of which were hers.

The door was struck again and snapped her out of her dismal reverie. She looked to the counter and saw that the candle had been spent. Wrapping her shoulders in a shawl, rushed to the door. Who is it? She inquired warily.

“It’s Uldric, I have a child here!

“Uldric?” her mind reeling to catch up. “Cold earth, what are you doing here at this hour?”

“A child, Elma, I found him wandering the streets. I’d have come in the morning and had him stay at my place, but the missus doesn’t trust him.”

“What nonsense are you talking about Uldric?” She hoisted the bar and opened the dark wooden door with some effort. It allowed a grizzled bartender into view. Next to him he held the hand of a small child covered in a lump of clothing. “What do you mean she doesn’t trust him?”

“That’s what I’m tellin ya Ellie! The missus and I were spooked by this little one! We were turnin down for the night when we hears this little one laughing off in the distance in the dark of night! Can you believe it? She begged me and begged me not to go, but you know me, I can’t have any of our little souls running around after the witchin’ hour. She tells me it’s a bad sign and I know it’s a bad idea, I just can’t help myself. So I grab my lantern and Lucy, just in case.”

“That old mutt couldn’t gum her way through your wife’s pastries! What good will she do you?”

“My wife makes some tough pies besides, but you mind yourself! So I heads up towards the Borodin farm and wouldn’t you know it, this mal’chik is sittin on their knotted elm, naked as night. I try not sneakin’ up on him, you know, don’t wanna scare him. But soon as I get close enough he turns and he has this big ol’ grin on ‘is face, bout takes the life out of me! Lucy liked ’im well enough, though. He liked Lucy well enough too. Doesn’t seem to talk, don’t know if he can’t or don’t wanna, but he seems bright enough. I took him back home, tell the missus what happened, and she wants nothing to do with him. Says he’s a downright bad omen. She wants me to take him to the hills, but you know I can’t have no part of that. That’s why I brought him here. Allister’s looks after the kids, just fine as far as I can tell. I hope you have room.”

“We always find room here. Don’t you worry about that. Let’s get you inside and under some covers.” She guided the child in with her hand while removing the scarf draped over his head. “Oh.”

“Yes, well, there’s that too.”

“This is an elf child, his parents can’t be from anywhere around here.”

“Yeah, it’s right strange. Can’t exactly fault the missus for thinking the way she does.”

“Well why don’t you come on in, little omen?”

The grinning child’s eyes twinkled up at her.

“Aren’t you just grim?” her eyes twinkled back.

A servant's tale, part 4
Of darkness & Death

We many Points of light put the horseman of Tranquility to rest and brought his aggressor, the Mayor, to justice. His daughter handled this poorly and took her life before we had even set out into the Mists again.
We came upon a farmstead on the road. The family laid slaughtered and skinned, betrayed by a stranger they gave shelter and hospitality to.
We next found ourselves in a realm beset by undead, a place called Darkon. It’s king had gone missing in some cataclysmic event that turned everyone in the capital into those very undead that were now assaulting the land.
The king, a lich and the Dark Lord, it turns out, needed our help. Demanded it, in fact. He was blocked from entering his former realm as a new entity had claimed it as it’s Domain, and it called itself Death. The Morning Lord teaches that there is only the one true death when the light fades and our soul passes to its final destination, and everything else is just a falsehood. This was much the same. Azalin, the lich Dark Lord, informed us that upon our entering the Necropolis we would be killed and reborn as abominations. He also informed us that we had no choice if we intended to seek out Strahd, for he would not let us leave his realm otherwise.
We Points all died with nary a whisper, and rose again as ironic forms of our living selves. I myself became a Knight of Death, marshalling and bolster my undead allies with cursed energy and scorching my enemies with the fires of the nine Hells.
It was fantastic.
The power granted unto us, coupled with our already formidable abilities, made us nigh unstoppable. The others immediately jumped at the opportunity to turn back, once we dispatched the false Death. I remained silent, stunned by their weakness. If only we could harness these abilities, think of the good we could do!
Ultimately I agreed to turn back to my new, cold metal form, if only to avoid serving Azalin, for I am well aware that he would have me doing more duplicitous tasks were I indebted to him. But in the ritualistic readings there was mention of turning oneself into a lich, able to go on forever without need to feed upon the innocent like the lesser forms of undead. Surely the Morning Lord guided me to this for a purpose. I must commune with Him further. I’m aware of the potential hubris I skirt, I’ve learned from my past mistakes. Cautions must be taken, lest I find myself seeking power for powers sake.
There’s so much evil in this place. I begin to think I should not leave, even if we get the opportunity. I could live forever here in His grace, moving across the lands with the Vistani, cleansing the dark from the lives of good, innocent people like those poor farmers. My eternal place by The Morning Lord’s side would be a worthy sacrifice for such a cause, would it not?

Life #32 - Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Dark Lords

After our meeting with Azalin we returned to bed, where we were all brought together in a dream. In the dream, Azalin took us through the path we would use while infiltrating the Necropolis. His dark tower, the Grim Fastness was now inhabited by Death. Azalin told us that his ritual was interrupted when he broke through to the Gray Realm, the realm of the dead. This is what triggered the Requiem. We would need to complete the ritual in order to break Death’s connection to the Gray Realm and defeat him.

We woke up and had been transported to a spot just outside the Necropolis. We grit our teeth and marched through the black gate. The cold emptiness of death swept over us immediately. So strange, it didn’t hurt at all.

I was transformed into a wight; my chalk-white skin was tightly stretched over gaunt, wiry muscles. I decided to avoid looking into reflective surfaces for the remainder of our trip. Saima looked as if she had become consumed by her vampiric nature. Barlow rose as an allip. Lucas was now a ghoul, and Garret was some kind of spirit. Goodman’s transformation was the most chilling, I think. He was reanimated as a death knight.

We marched towards the dark tower. The inhabitants of the Necropolis avoided us. We went down into the disgusting stagnant moat that circled the tower. Crocodile-like monsters and a hooked horror attacked us in the moat. We dispatched them with relative ease and entered the tower through the secret door that Azalin had shown us in the dream.

We walked into a hallway and found a large pile of corpses blocking us. Azalin told us that we would need to face his guardians in order to get through the tower but he didn’t warn us exactly what the guardians were. The true nature of the guardians was one of the more disturbing things I’ve ever bore witness to. The corpses all began to animate, but they quickly began splitting apart in an explosive display of some dark magic. The flesh from the corpses assembled together into some kind of flesh golem. The bones from the corpses pulled themselves together into a large spiked ball. The blood and organs pooled together into a grotesque ball of blood. The three putrid automatons then attacked us.

Despite the disturbing nature of these creations, and the powerful magic fueling them, we were able to defeat them through teamwork and by tapping into the abilities granted to us by the Shroud.

We continued onward, passing the black iron door that Azalin warned us about, and instead making our way to the laboratory. We searched for anything that could help us complete the ritual and defeat Death. While we were searching Barlow found a notebook. Being Barlow, he of course read the notes out loud. The notes were spell, which Barlow activated. He summoned some kind of fire elemental into the laboratory that immediately attacked us. We dashed all over the room fighting the damn thing, but quickly destroyed it.

Sometimes I wonder if Barlow does some of these things on purpose.

We’re continuing our search of the lab in hopes that we will be able to learn all we need to about the ritual. Hopefully we won’t cause another Requiem explosion.

Saima's Journal: The Truth Beneath the Rose

I guess its time I confess this to someone, even if its just my journal: In the chaos after we defeated Vosk, I took the remaining piece of the shattered Sword of the King. Garret looked around for it, but I felt compelled to keep it for myself. I studied it closely, but whatever magic it once held is gone now. When we decided to leave for the Mist, I reforged my glaive and attached the piece of the sword to it. I have caught Garret eyeing it suspiciously a few times, but despite his rapid loss of self control, he is still too reserved to say anything to me.

The dragon charm, the jester’s bells, and a bracelet of Megan’s that she gave me before we left are all tied to the glaive. I cannot and will not forget why I fight. I will not lose myself to the vampire beast in me. It’s harder now without Megan here to call to my human side.

We were attacked on the road, unsurprisingly. We defeated our ghostly enemies and carried on. Not too far outside a town we found three decapitated bodies. We sent Lucas to investigate the town and see if it was safe for us to enter. The setting of the sun brought us a fresh new horror: A headless horseman. We stood to fight him when we saw Lucas on the other side of the bridge into town screaming for us to cross over it into safety. We all made it, although I saved Garret from narrowly losing his head. He half smiled at me on the other side.

I think that was a thank you.

From the towns people and our own investigation, we found out the true tale of the Horseman: A man betrayed by the people he was sent to save. We didn’t even have to check in with each other about whether or not we were going to try to right this wrong. Somehow we have self appointed ourselves some sort of roving league of justice. We returned the horseman’s head and heart to his grave and then defeated his angry spirit. We also sent his murderer, the mayor, out of the town. His daughter…well… her guilt for her part in betraying the Horseman lead her to take her own life. What a waste.

Back to the road we go.

Life #32 - You Only Live Twice

We left Tranquility and continued along the road for a day. When the time came to set up camp we bedded down just off the road. The next morning we discovered that the world around us was completely different! Instead of the road we had walked on the day before, a new, recently constructed highway stretched ahead into a landscape that was radically different. There were rolling plains and wooded areas, and towering high above in the distance were two mountains.

This Ravenloft is a baffling place.

We walked along the highway until we came to a farm. The farm was eerily quiet. It looked as though it had been abandoned for some time, and after a little investigating we found signs that the former inhabitants were likely murdered.

There was a scarecrow in the field, and five leather aprons hanging on a line by the scarecrow. We would later learn that the aprons were made of the skins of the family that once lived at the farm, but first the scarecrow and the aprons animated and attacked us.

After destroying the scarecrow and the aprons, we found a journal that one of the farmer’s sons had written. It spoke of some stranger who came to the farm for rest and provisions. As a gift for the help, the stranger offered a potion to the farmer that would help them harvest their crop. The potion brought the scarecrow to life so that it could work tirelessly in the fields. After all the crops had been harvested though, the scarecrow attacked the family and slaughtered them.

Besides the journal, we also found one of the fliers for the carnival that had been to Miredus.

We left the farm and continued onward, arriving at the town of Maykle. The town had a moat and a high wall protecting it. While no one in the town harassed us, they did eye us suspiciously. We learned that we were in the domain of Darkon and that the new King’s Road was the road we had been walking on. Those we spoke with told us that the king had been gone for some time, but had recently returned. During the king’s absence, undead had begun to wander the land of Darkon.

We secured rooms at the inn and turned in for the evening. During the night we all had the same bizarre dream. We left our rooms and found ourselves all drawn to the tavern. There was someone in the tavern with us. When Goodman tried to illuminate the room with the Morninglord’s light, the figure remained enveloped in darkness.

The mysterious figure introduced himself as Azalin Rex, the Darklord of Darkon. He found us very interesting, by his own admission. Vosk’s defeat at our hands was the particular event he found so fascinating. He wanted to help us in our quest to defeat Lord Strahd. As we suspected, the price of his help would be costly.

According to Azalin, seven years earlier there was some kind of cataclysmic event called the Requiem. The cause of the event, not known by many, was the result of Azalin’s attempt to escape Ravenloft. The explosion sent shockwaves throughout Ravenloft and, among other things, destroyed Azalin’s physical body. For five years he was left as only some incorporeal form, during which time a powerful entity calling itself Death took hold of Azalin’s capitol city of Il-Aluk. When Azalin regained physical form, he tried to reclaim his land. He reclaimed Darkon, but his capitol was now a new domain unto itself. This Necropolis was ruled by its own Darklord, Death.

The price for Azalin’s help in our quest to defeat Strahd would be to help him get his capitol back. We would need to defeat this Death. The worst part, though, is that the Necropolis is blanketed by some magical effect called The Shroud. It kills any living creature that enters the city and reanimates them as undead. We’ll all need to die in order to help Azalin. Azalin assured us all that he would be able to resurrect us after we destroy Death.

Despite the insanity of this plan, we have agreed. We have little to go on in our quest to destroy Strahd and we need all the help we can get. It also would serve the people of Darkon to destroy this large bastion of undead on their doorstep. But I fear what will happen to me because of this shroud. My kind is not normally subjected to this kind of fate, of being an undead monster. I will focus on my oath to Pelor and hope that I can avoid becoming corrupted by this transfiguration.

Dream in Darkon #1

You stand on a platform in a castle courtyard, bathed in the early morning sunlight. You are
dressed in a regal cape and crown, and you hold a heavy, bejewelled sword. Hundreds of peasants press in tightly around the platform, all eyes on you in silent, fearful anticipation.

A row of headsman’s blocks stretches down the length of the platform. All but one is accompanied by a headless corpse lying in a spreading pool of crimson. One last prisoner stands by the nearest block. He is tall and calm, with a youthful face.

The prisoner turns to face you. You find no malice in his face, no matter how desperately you search.
“I forgive you,” he says, softly.
You hear yourself speak in a harsh voice. “But I cannot forgive what you did, the deceit you
practiced, nor what you have become.”
He bows his head. “Nonetheless,” he says with regret, “I still forgive you.”

The prisoner kneels over the block, you raise the sword, addressing your words to the crowd. “Let all who witness my action today,” you proclaim, “take forth the word that justice and the law apply equally to all!”

The blade drops. You wake, your hands trembling.

Josiah's Journal

736, Yellow Summer of My 17th Year

The fields are well tended and producing much crop. Glory to Aurifar and may he continue to rain blessings on us!

The heat of this season is hard on Mother and little Abigail, but even with this we are blessed. Father tells that we will be able to eat very well through mid-winter and onto the rain season. Father even promised that he would show Lucas and I how to read elfish this winter, if the yield is great enough!

I am concerned that even with Lucas, Father and I working we will not be able to harvest everything before the frost claims it. It’s hardly fair that we should suffer such fortune. Still, there should be more than enough so that we could finally sell some crop at the market.

Glory to Aurifar!

739, Yellow Summer of My 17th Year

A peculiar thing happened today. A man came to our farm asking for aid. He was very strangely dressed and spoke with a gruff whisper. He looked as if he had never worked the field and would not survive in the wood, but I did hear Mother later say to Abigail that he was very becoming and winsome. Father laughed at this later for he is a good soul. The Stranger said he was wandering the road, but I think he was running from something for he kept looking around for some kind of sign he was pursued.

The stranger begged for a meal and stated that he could pay us in gold. Father welcomed him to our table for three gold coins. I’d never seen gold before; we could buy a new cow this spring! He accepted our food and told us many stories of the world. He must be some kind of bard to tell such tales.

Everyone loved him, especially Mother, but I did not. I did not like how he looked at Mother or little Abigail. He eyed them how a fox eyes the henhouse. But he seemed to lose interest quickly, so I suppose no harm.

The stranger left quickly, but asked again for food for the road. He said he had no gold left, but that he could give Father something better than gold. The stranger noted that we would lose a third of the crop simply due to lack of able-bodied hands. Lucas was upset at this, but Father agreed and that hushed him.

The stranger told of a magic potion that he had, that he could give Father to make a laborer. Abigail was crying at the mention of magic, and Mother took her away. The stranger told took Father in the other room and told him how to do it. Father seemed convinced and accepted the trade.

Lucas was scared. He uttered that saying that we heard in town last summer: “The day you see magic is the day you die”. Father disagreed and said that perhaps this is a sign from Aurifar.

Aurifar guide us!

861, Blue Summer of My 17th Year

We were anticipating this day for weeks. Not only because it was the first day of the Harvest, but also because it is the time to use the Stranger’s magic! Father said he prayed nightly, asking Aurifar for a sign that this was the wrong thing: no sign came. As Aurifar sees all, we must be blessed in this endeavor.
We worked hard all day and harvested a quarter of the corn field. The Stranger was right, we will lose at least a quarter of the harvest.

That night, we built a bonfire like the Stranger said and took one of the scarecrows from the field. While Mother and Abigail danced and sang the Harvest Song, Father opened the Stranger’s bottle. Its contents were dark and smelled of afterbirth; Father smeared it on the burlap sack that was the scarecrow’s head

We had to name it then, and we let Abigail name it because then she wouldn’t be afraid.

She named it Harold.

There was no magic flash and the scarecrow was just as lifeless as it’s always been.

Father was upset because it looked like he had been cheated. At least we still have the gold.

862, Blue Summer of My 17th Year

Aurifar Be Praised!

It looks like the Stranger was not a cheat after all. When we rose to work the field, we found that there was someone in the field already! Father grabbed the axe and called to Lucas and I. We raced out, expecting to find some miscreant stealing our crop, but we found something extraordinary.

The scarecrow was working the field! It was gathering hay, swinging the scythe like a madman. It seemed like it had been working all night. Father told it to stop and it did so, but it kept trying to resume work. It was amazing! After we determined that it was following Father’s commands, we let Harold return to the field.


873, Blue Summer of My 17th Year

Aurifar has blessed us!

With Harold working night and day, we have completed the harvest weeks ahead of time! Harold is tireless, completing the tasks Father gives him and then returning to the fields once again! We have loaded the barn with hay, and filled the silo and wagon with other crop. All done before the end of Blue Summer!

Abigail plays with Harold sometimes, the scarecrow will pause to play. It’s a strange magic of course.

We had a grand feast tonight, celebrating our fortune! Harold even celebrated too: dancing on the roof like a horse trotting along. It was thunderous and wonderful!

876, Blue Summer of My 17th Year

Aurifar Guide Us!

The Stranger’s magic has not changed and Harold continues to work the field. But there’s no crop left! He has been digging, already plowing far ahead of time. This could destroy the soil. Father commanded him to stop, but the scarecrow kept working! And every night Harold goes to the roof and dances.

Abigail cries in fear constantly now. Mother keeps telling Father to burn Harold, but Father wants to lock him up in the barn. Even I’m starting to be afraid.

What kind of magic is this?

880, Blue Summer of My 17th Year

Aurifar Help Us!

We locked Harold up in the barn with the cows last night. We heard him banging on the walls all night long. At dawn I went out to feed the chickens, I checked on Harold. I could see through the loft window that all the cows were dead. Harold had slaughtered all of them; skinning them with the scythe!

So terrifying was this that we kept little Abigail away and only told Mother a little bit. Father wants us to go to Town to find a cleric we can hire for the gold. We are loading up the cart to sell some of the crop and hopefully return with white magic to undue this foul thing.

Father is going to stay behind to keep Mother and Abigail calm. Lucas and I will go into town at noon. We will probably have to stay in town and return tomorrow morning. Father says everything will be okay.

881, Blue Summer of My 17th Year

We searched all through town, but Cleric Jorel could not be found for he had gone to a traveling carnival with most of the town. Lucas insisted that we buy a proper sword to help destroy Harold. We did, and we had just enough to eat and lodge before returning that morning.

How foolish we were to accept that Stranger’s offer! It has damned us all.

The sun was very hot as we approached the farm. It seemed very still. But I saw a shape moving on the house’s roof. As we approached we could see it was Harold. The scarecrow seemed to be kneeling on the roof over something.

Once we reached out outer fence, we quickly saw that Harold was laying out bloody blankets to dry in the sun. There were two big ones and one small one. I knew it first, and then Lucas cried out.

They were not blankets, but the flayed skins of our family.

Harold seemed to notice our despair and began dancing like an idiot on the flesh of our family.

He has remained doing so this past hour while I wrote this entry. Lucas has readied the sword we bought and I was able to grab the axe from the tree stump in the yard. We are about to go destroy this foul thing.

I will leave this journal by the well, in case we fail.

Maybe Aurifar has abandoned us. Do not trust in magic.

Life #32 - Peace Returns to Tranquility

With the raised specter of the hydra put to rest, we had the Horseman’s head. Now we needed his heart.

We returned to the mayor’s estate in Tranquility for dinner. We sat down at a long table with the mayor and his daughter. During the meal, Lucas excused himself and acquired the Horseman’s heart.

We raced back to the graveyard and restored the Horseman’s grave. Goodman blessed the area and we placed a small marker. We made our way back to the road and were faced with the Horseman’s spirit once again. Despite our attempts to peacefully resolve the situation, the Horseman’s ghost was too strong, and too deranged, to go quietly.

The Horseman’s ghost charged at us, and raced about the road as we fought to take him down. He was a monstrous opponent, but we proved victorious in the end. With the final blow, the people of Tranquility would no longer need to fear this horrifying tormentor.
But our work was not done.

We returned to the mayor’s estate. Between what the White Reeve disclosed to us, and what else we had learned along the way, we could not in good conscience leave Tranquility without confronting the mayor. While he first attempted to avoid any blame, he quickly gave in to our questions when it was apparent that we would not allow his charade to continue.

The mayor left the town. His daughter decided she would not be accompanying him. We agreed to stay in town for several days while the town elected a new governing council. The townspeople were overjoyed that the Horseman would no longer be terrorizing them, but the joy was marred by one more tragedy. The mayor’s daughter killed herself. Her body was found at the Horseman’s grave. We buried her body next to his so that they may hopefully find peace together.

It looked as though Tranquility was in good hands, and would have a much better future. And so we left to continue along the road. There is still so much more to do. I wonder where the mists will take us next.


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