Eighteenth of the Fifth Moon, 458

As the years creep into decades, little changes in Barovia. This fact makes any deviation from the norm extremely interesting.

Last summer, a group of demon hunters stole into Castle Ravenloft. This task was not too difficult; I have welcomed intruders for it saves me time in procuring meals. Their goal was interesting: they had come to slay the Devil Strahd. No doubt leaving Brother Grigor alive led to rumors and legends of my true nature. I initially thought that I should be much more careful in the future, but these heroes granted me such entertainment that perhaps I will not.

There were well prepared, brandishing with torches and garlic and stakes. They were ready to fight a vampire, but I am not some blood-drinking ghoul: I am Strahd, Lord of Barovia. And I was not alone. My decades of perfecting necromancy have filled the castle with dread servants. Half of the brave heroes were dead before they realized that escape would be impossible and their only chance was to face me.

And face me they did. I had forgotten how much I loved battle, even if these pests were less than worthy opponents. I remembered my battle-brother Alek, and wondered if he would still would stand with me if he were alive today. I drowned out these troubling questions in the blood of my enemies. I savored the experience and it took them weeks to die.

With the destruction of these fools, I anticipated that there would be no similar attempts on my life for several years at least. I gloomily noted that that meant a return to the ever-lonely nights. I returned to my study of the Art and the Dead, but I found myself awaiting Tatyana’s return. It had been over a century since I first lost her. And the memory of poor Mirana was beginning to fade. For if she came back to me once she could return again. And if she did, I would not lose her.

This spring, a note came with the usual taxes. The people of Krezk reported that they were being beset by a monster, and as such their taxes were very low. I was shocked. Was not I the worst thing in this land? Didn’t every other evil thing owe it’s loyalty to me? My rage was matched by my fascination. I left that very night.

I found the town of Krezk quiet as the dead. Most towns in Barovia barred their windows at night and never ventured outside their houses past sundown. I could tell though, that something strange was going on, for the village was very tidy even so deserted. And I felt a powerful and dead prescene, easily detectable as it was not my own. Apparently, this creature sensed me too, for within a few moments of my crossing the town square, the door to the burgomaster’s house opened. And out walked my adversary.

It was some kind of undead creature, with glowing red eyes that burned within a dusty skull. The wight was dressed in the fashion of foreign royalty, with robes of oily black color accented by vibrant crimson. It held a staff carved with glowing runes and when it looked upon me it was not the gaze of a thoughtless puppet.

“It took you long enough to come here, oh Lord Strahd,” it mocked, “I figured that was because of your fear.”

“An interesting choice of final words,” I retorted. The wight laughed.
“I’ve been in this hovel long enough to hear about the ‘devil Strahd’. And I’ve wondered about this domain. Foul magick brought me here. Fouler magick must keep you here,”

“True enough. And if you are here then you are trapped too. Bow to me or be destroyed.” I commanded.

“You haven’t the skill to defeat me, Strahd. But we needn’t be enemies, as we both want the same thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Escape,” the wight said. I contemplated what the creature was saying. Clearly, this was not a normal undead skeleton, and it wasn’t native to Barovia. Meaning that this creature had come from outside the Mist. If there was a way in, there could be a way out. Begrudgingly, I nodded to the creature.

“What is your name then?” I asked.

Azalin,” it replied.

Eighteenth of the Fifth Moon, 458

Lost in the Mists ignatiusvienna