Lost in the Mists

Saima's Journal: The Carnival

Well, the carnival did not turn out to be nearly as horrific as I anticipated. Here’s to small miracles in Ravenloft.

We were taken on a tour of the carnival before it was open to the public. The show was… Interesting. I was entirely unimpressed with the “vampiress” who was certainly not a vampire at all. I’m more vampire than she is. I was absolutely delighted by the Orc demonstrating his sword play. Other than that, I found everything else mildly amusing. We deemed the faire safe but were asked to keep watch while the public enjoyed themselves.
I must admit, part of me was highly tempted to leave with the carnival. The ability to leave this place and to travel to other parts of Ravenloft called to me. But then I remembered Megan. I returned to her later that day with a makeshift purse I purchased from one of the gypsy children and told her that she needed to stay home. She put up quite a fuss; was Astrid ever disagreeable like that?? It’s so long ago that I cannot recall. I explained to Megan that I could not protect her and perform my duties at the same time. She finally agreed to stay put if I promised to start training her to protect herself. It will be interesting to pass on my swordmage knowledge to someone. I guess I should; I am the last of my family after all.

I have been thinking a lot about the tarot card that the fortune teller placed in front of me. The Devil: the representation of duality, the struggle to find strength in times of conflict, or to be consumed by a darker nature. I haven’t fed on blood in quite sometime, but the flecks of red are still present in my eyes. I must stay strong now, for Astrid and for Megan.

Hymn to the Morning Lord, Verse 14
Defilers in the dark

The points began their quest to lay low the villainous Vosk, using the cryptic clues given by Madame Fortuna.
Determining all items tied to Vosk were housed in tombs, they commenced their dark deeds under cover of night.
Finding the first tomb desecrated, Your humble servant used Your light to coax answers from the long-dead Trogan. From his skeletal lips came the revelation that the tomb had been pilfered from within, and the aggressors remained. The defilement was consecrated and the points journeyed on.
Climbing down a dark hole the points came upon shadow fey who worshipped Anndís, the Queen of the Cold Waste. The aggressors were defeated and captured, instructed by the divine wrath to take them to this Queen of the Cold Waste.
Give light, Morning Lord, that we may see.

Life #32 - Tomb Raiders

With the carnival gone, we knew what we needed to do. We needed to discover how to defeat Vosk. I began studying the Guides of Dr. Rudolph van Richten that we acquired from Pacail. Most of the books had nothing to offer in terms of new insights for me. And I actually discovered several errors in the volume that focused on demons. The last two that I read, however, discussed the Mists and the Dark Lords. Here is where I found a great deal of new information.

In the book concerning the Dark Lords, van Richten wrote of “fetters”. These fetters were items that tied the Dark Lord to their realm. If you destroy the fetters, you could conceivably destroy the Dark Lord.

When we met with Madame Fortuna, she spoke of the “Key to the Tower, the Sword of the Brother, and the Crown of the King.” After discussing it for a while we deduced that the Key to the Tower was likely the Mantle of the Regent that Trogen wore until his death. The Sword of the Brother was likely the sword of Hans the First. And the Crown of the King was the crown of Tobias IV, who would had been buried with his crown.

We went to Trogen’s family crypt to get the key first. There we found that the entire crypt had been ransacked. It seemed to have happened quite some time before our arrival. Goodman used his ritual to speak with the body of Trogen, so that we might learn who took his mantle. Dark elves were to blame. They had tunneled up into the tomb.

In the floor of the tomb we found the tunnel that the dark elves had used to get in. We made it to a point where the tunnel split off in a few directions. There we were met by a group of the elves. We were able to defeat them and when only one remained, we took him prisoner. He explained that they were shadow elves, and had come from the Shadow Rift. The elves had given everything they stole from the crypt to their leader, Fanndis, Queen of the Cold Waste.

We explained to our hostage that it was in his best interest to lead us to his queen…

Saima's Journal: Holding on to Life

The thought had been itching in the back of my brain, but when I saw Greyson’s half dead body being dragged by Vosk’s Champion through the streets, that’s when I finally made up my mind and walked straight to Greyson’s home. By then most of the servants had abandoned it. Those who stayed did so for his daughter’s sake or because they simply had no where else to go. The woman who greeted me at the door eyed me suspiciously as I told her that I was here to take Megan with me. After all, Megan had no family to take her in and these were not times when people were willing to take in a stray child, not another mouth to feed. I was living alone in my family’s large home and had enough money to take her in. “I also wish to hire one of you,” I told the woman at the door. “I will need a nanny to care for her while I am at The Watch, and I could use help maintaining the house.”

The woman stared at me hard for some time. Finally she spoke, “I will go with you and care for Megan on one condition. You are not allowed to feed on either of us.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” I responded.

And so, Megan and her nanny, Elma, now live with me. It was a very awkward start. Our first dinner together, no one spoke to each other for a long time. Megan was the one to finally break the silence. “I thought you only ate people, not real food.” She said.
“Megan!” cried Elma. “Hush up and don’t be rude to our host!”
“It’s alright, Elma.” I replied. “I know this is a strange arrangement, but I want you both to think of this place as your home. I want you to feel comfortable to speak with me and I hope that in time you will learn not to fear me.” I looked at Megan. “I am half vampire, Megan. I do not need blood to survive. I don’t eat as much food as a regular human, but I still need it.”
“They told me a vampire killed my mother,” Megan said sadly. “But I heard people talking and I know that it isn’t true.”
“What did you hear them say?”
“They said my dad killed her.” She began to cry silent tears. “Did he?”

My heart broke for her but she had to know the truth. We don’t live in Jura any longer. Megan is a child growing up in Ravenloft. She must be strong and she must not be naïve or she will not survive. But I do not want to steal the spark of hope in her by stomping on the remains of her life, so I sugar-coated it a bit. I told her that her father thought he was doing the right thing to save Megan. I told her that he loved her enough to do anything to save her. I told her that her mother loved her enough to give up her life for her.
“Once I had a daughter,” I told her. “And I loved her enough to die for her.”
“Where is she now?” She asked.
That is a good question, Megan. It is the question that fuels my being. I hope that wherever my Astrid is, someone is caring for her, someone is taking her into their large empty home, has hired her a nanny and is keeping her safe.
“I wish I knew.”

Hymn to the Morning Lord, Verse 12 & 13
Carnival of enlightenment

But the Morning Lord saw fit to give His light to the faithful, and the people of Meridus had joy. A mysterious carnival appeared, with mysterious flyers appearing from nowhere heralding it. And while initially thought to be devious, the points eventually vetted it’s safety for the people and reported thus to the Council.
Upon their return the points were given audience with Madame Fortuna, a Vistani woman wiser than her theatricality hinted at. Fortuna dealt a message to the points with her deck, giving insight to help (or hinder) the points and their enemies: the Villain, the Fallen and the Playwrights.
To the native: Judgement. To the seer: The Hanged Man. To the walker-between: The Devil. To the divine wrath: High Priestess. To the change: The Tower. And to Your humble servant: Wheel of Fortune.
Each of the points read meaning into their telling, but Madame Fortuna warned unto them that once predicted, the Playwrights would seek to alter things.
The adversaries were also given a glimpse of fate, so that the points might be better prepared to overcome.
Finally, the points were told that they would visit unto two more fortune tellers, but only one could be trusted.
Departing from Madame Fortuna, the points were met with Professor Pacail, arbiter of the freakshow. He pled for assistance against the Mistress of the carnival, calling her Succubus, referring to books from a man called Van Richten. As proof, he submitted a fearsome Man-beast and hideous flesh abominations kept secreted away. His fervor made Your humble servant wary, however, so the points agreed to talk to Mistress Isolde fore passing judgement.
The Mistress, though initially off-putting, rapidly won over the points with her empathy and earnest nature. She agreed to let any who would leave do so, and join the ranks of Meridus.
The Professor, seeking more bloodshed than justice, was not pleased with this and quickly led his freaks and abominations in an attack on the points and carnival at large.
The points, along with Mistress Isolde, gave them a clean passing, and then began to depart, less the Champion come meter out some of his justice on those not invited into Meridus.
As she departed, Isolde gave one last bit of knowledge from Madame Fortuna: to defeat the Playwrights the points would need the key to the tower, the sword of the brother and the crown of the king.
Vosk’s tower loomed large above as they said their farewells.
Give light, Morning Lord, that we may see.

Star Chart 954

Cosmic Event R303-S429-N178 : The star Caldris, and it’s partnered stars have been set adrift from their aligned course, their star paths shattered like so much fragile glass. Only one star is anchored to Caldris and that is Caiphon the Dream Whisperer. In the distance two stars stand in an opposing alignment, Bitralis, the Scholar, and Viamut, the Coachman. These stars are held in the warping twisted sway of Gibbith, the green star. Caldis and the other heavenly bodies will cross their paths, but whichever star raises ascendant, Nox the Darkness In-between has assured that Morstael, the Weeper will rise above all.
I am truly at a loss, I spoke with a Vistani Seer this evening, and her powers of foresight were incredible. She possessed a deck of tarot cards which somehow were tied to the stars. Using these cards she read our futures and revealed some disturbing insights. She also gave me a warning: That when Nox knows I am reading it’s future I will no longer able to trust my predictions. I must be careful moving forward, I will have no choice now but to only read charts that give me the immediate future, or perhaps I will simply trust in the guiding star Caiphon. The Dream Whisper grants infallible insight, I am beyond certainty that Nox holds no sway over the futures Caiphon can predict. Yes, that will be my path. I had read years and years ago that there is a specific formula of star charting that adjusts the perceptions of the enactor to more clearly see the truths Caiphon has to offer. I will have to find the journals again, I’m sure there is a way.
All of this dreadful distraction has left me little time to examine the matter at hand. The carnival which has come to Miredus is torn. The woman that runs the carnival, Isolde is said to be a fair person that displaced the last master and bettered the lives of those that worked there, however a man known as Professor Pacail told us that Isolde affected the carnival folk with a magic that deformed them. The Professor beseeched us to strike Isolde down for him and end her wickedness. The signs I have seen in my star charts tell that in this instance, there is no right answer. Perhaps Isolde’s magic is deforming the workers, but perhaps she is also keeping them safe and fed. Perhaps the Professor is no better a person and would be worse for the troupe. All I know is that the Weeper will have its way. Sorrow will follow whichever choice we make. Knowing that is both sad and comforting. I will not look further ahead see which choice we make. Though the future is already write, this time I shall wait to see what the future holds.

Life #32 - Freaks from the Mists

As the flyer promised, the carnival came to Miredus. Some people in town were happy about it. As if something would come to Miredus that wouldn’t want to murder everyone.

The red and white tent went up overnight. Durgan sent us to investigate and make sure that it was safe. We met the “Master of Cermonies”, Trindol. He explained to us that Madame Fortuna, their fortune teller, had foreseen our coming. Trindol insisted that they were all simple performers merely trying to earn a living. We saw gypsy guards and servants all over the area and Trindol identified them as members of the Vistani, known as the Skurra. And regarding the flyers, Trindol claimed that they always preceded the Carnival’s arrival, but no one knew how they worked.

When we explained to Trindol that no one from town would be arriving until we could guarantee that the Carnival was safe, he arranged a private showing for us. While he began preparations we had some time to mill about. I found myself walking around to the back of the tent where most of the Vistani were. Most of them were very rude, until I made them aware of the fact that I represented the law. Then I was able to get one talking. I learned a little about the Carnival’s history, but nothing incriminating. It turns out the Mistress of the Carnival, a woman named Isolde, protects her troupe. And before their mistress there was once a man named “The Puppetmaster”. He was cruel to customers and his workers alike. But somehow the mistress took over from him and ever since the carnival folk have been much happier. We also noticed that many of the carnival workers who weren’t front-and-center had deformities.

Trindol came back and brought us into the main tent to see the show. We watched as belly-dancers and knife throwers performed their art. A large orc showed off his impressive strength. And then the living skeleton started helping a blockhead mutilate his skull. A fire-eater performed a mesmerizing act. Then we were finally able to see the Vampiress! A woman with large bat-like wings sprouting from her back flew in and darted through the air with ease.

After the show, Trindol then took us to the Hall of Horrors, the Carnival’s freak show. On our way there we met Professor Pacail, the master of the freak show. He and Trindol didn’t seem to get along well. In the Hall of Horrors, we saw a room full of bottles that all had various abnormal creatures. We met “The Imp”, a man with a conjoined twin growing out of his neck. There were three individuals in the next room. There was a massively obese man, a squat, little man that was eating anything, and “The Squid Woman”—a woman with tentacles for arms. The last room held “The Terrible Man Beast”, a were-leopard. His lycanthropy seemed to have the reverse effect of normal though. He is almost always a mindless beast, only regaining his natural form three days a month.

While we saw many bizarre sights, and the people all seemed somehow strange, there was nothing we could find threatening about it all. We were forced to report to Durgan that the Carnival was safe. People from Miredus began going in large groups to the Carnival while we returned for an evening appointment with Madame Fortuna. Before we met the fortune teller, we encountered Professor Pacail. He told us that Isolde was a fiend of some kind. He begged us for help. And said that she was in control of the deformities that we noticed on some of the workers. He offered to meet us later, after our meeting with Fortuna.

So we met with the old gypsy. She told us that she was Vistani and aided the Carnival as was her debt. She had been waiting for the arrival of heroes, so she may help them. The gypsy claimed that we were the ones that could save “everyone”. She showed us a magic deck, claiming it could be used to our benefit. We all agreed to hear what she had to say, and see what the deck had to show us.

As the story unfolded we learned that we would face three foes, and that the number three would be a recurring number in our quest. We will meet three fortune tellers, but Fortuna warned us to trust only two of them. We will face three foes. The first will be The Villain. We will need the skills we learn in defeating The Villain to face our second foe: The Fallen. The Fallen is the one that plunged the world into the Mists. We will need all our cunning and knowledge to defeat him. The last foe we face will be The Playwrights. They are the source of the Mists.

We all drew cards. I drew The High Priestess, which symbolized that my light was purer than most, but Fortuna warned that I not be consumed by my beliefs and my rage.

Fortuna then dealt cards to our foes and finished the “story”. It seems we have some monumental tasks ahead of us.

And we’re off to meet the professor…

Saima's Journal: Fear of the Dark

After Lestin’s trial, he was hanged on the green. I wanted to see fear or remorse in his eyes, anything that would make me feel like justice had been served. But he smiled until the end, and his eyes were devoid of any feelings. I want to revel in his death, but I feel nothing. I feel empty. Its not just me, I can see it in the faces of the others. Its like we are all beginning to to fall apart. Now people are going crazy left and right, selling their souls and wills to whatever whispers them a flicker of hope in the dark.

Fools. Everyone is a goddam fool. No good can come from doing deals with evil things.

My companions and I recently uncovered a plot to kill Vosk and a number of the townsfolk during his announcement. Most discouraging was that the brains behind this operation was Revince, a Captain of the Order, and it was funded by Councilman Greyson. How are we supposed to have any hope when we can’t even trust those whose job is to protect us?
Greyson even went as far as to murder his wife, Elyse to bring forth the devil he had been dealing with. We may not even have known he was behind it if it hadn’t been for Goodman’s handy ritual to speak with the dead. Thank the gods that Greyson’s daughter, Megan, was not in the room when the devil reanimated her mother’s corpse. Before we dispatch of the devil, Al-Keymer, it tried to tempt me by promising to reunite me with my own daughter. Desperation and impulsiveness opened my ears, but my companions started the fight before it could tempt me further. After defeating Al-Keymer we then found Revince and his followers setting up explosives on The Green. We fought them, the once again reincarnated Al-Keymer, and a frost devil. It was a close call, but we were victorious again.

Vosk’s announcement to the people was even worse than we had all anticipated. He declared that he had appointed a champion. This so called “Champion” rode out on a black horse, dragging the conspirators behind him, wailing in pain, and barely still alive.

Deep within my gut, I felt the first real feeling I have had in ages: Fear. I can taste it in my mouth, and smell it in the crowd. From the looks on my companions faces, I can tell they are thinking the same thing: Vosk and his Champion must be stopped.

I have much more to write, but when I turned the page of my diary, it appears someone has slipped a notice into it.

It seems I have been invited to the circus..

Life #32 - The Devil Wears Elyse

Al-Keymer, possessing Elyse’s corpse, was not going to take “no” for an answer. His machinations had already been foiled when Miredus was pulled into Ravenloft. He wanted the souls he was owed and he was determined to prevent us from stopping him. He summoned other hellish fiends to aid him in the fight, but it was to no avail. We sent them all back to the Nine Hells.

Greyson was taken into custody. With him locked up we needed to find Revince and stop him from detonating the explosives. In the sewers we found Revince and his accomplices. They were setting the explosives under the green. Goodman and I tried to talk them down, convince them that their plan had already failed, but it was no use. The fight was on.

Revince showed us just how far he had fallen from the path of righteousness when he sacrificed one of his own men to bring Al-Keymer back from Baator. Al-Keymer summoned a frost devil to aid him. He was desperate to claim all the souls he was owed.

The fight was a difficult one. We were facing devils and well-trained guards, after all, but in the end, we were able to win the day. We were able to take several of the guards in alive so that they could face justice.

We were needed at the green for Vosk’s announcement. Even with the conspirators apprehended, I still felt uneasy.

We stood there for hours before Vosk finally appeared. He had harsh words for the council. He actually blamed them for the danger the citizens of Miredus have been facing these last few months, for all the lives lost. It might have been funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Vosk announced that in order to keep Miredus safe, he was appointing a champion to carry out his wishes. Any who opposed his champion would be killed. With that, the gates to his tower opened, and out rode his heavily armored knight on a black horse. Dragging behind the horse were all the conspirators we had apprehended. They were still alive, but their bodies were twisted and broken. This was not justice.

A wave of despair washed over the crowd as Vosk’s champion rode past. Vosk disappeared back into the tower. And the people made their way back to their homes. The air was thick with anguish as they left the green. The others and I just stood there, wondering what could be done to stop Vosk.

Just a few mornings later, I awoke to find this bizarre flyer for a carnival. It was on my table. Time to sharpen my ax.

Hymn to the Morning Lord, Verse 11
Black speech & blacker acts

Dark tidings found the points: Vosk would make his annual speech, and then murder was revealed.
The victim: Lirn, the apothecary, found in his shop killed by vampires. Your light gave the man voice one last time and his truth was revealed to the points. Not vampires, but a dark cabal with evil designs yet to be revealed.
Further murders committed, including the wife of Councilman Grayson. Your light once more gave voice to the dead and the poor corpse revealed her husband as her aggressor, in coordination with the devil Al-Keymer.
The devil launched an attack upon the points, but was easily bested, claiming vengeance to come and souls to be reaped.
The points on the hunt, the conspirators were rapidly revealed: a Watchman named Revince, and several other fellows as well. His twisted plot soon understood, to give the souls of the people of Miredus on the green during Vosk’s announcement to Al-Keymer and ensure their escape from this dark realm.
When confronted with the reality of failure in the sewers beneath the green, Revince responded by sacrificing his ally in the name of Al-Keymer, giving him mortal form once more.
The points bested evil once more and the men were brought to justice.
That night on the green, justice was meted out in the form of a dark champion dragging several of the men behind his black stallion, while Vosk chastised the Council for not keeping the people safe.
Not for the first time, Your humble servant wondered if the correct choice had been made.
Give light, Morning Lord, that we may see.


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