Fourteenth of the Fourth Moon, 470

The early storms of the spring have started to charge the Apparatus. The lightning has been weak so far, but I can feel the storm in the air; within the next week there will be another storm and it will be great enough to fully charge the device. Once it has, I will be able to leave this accursed realm.

But even with victory in my grasp, there is still defeat.

I had been neglecting my hunger for weeks in focus on my magical ritual and preparing the machine; this evening when I awoke I was almost on the verge of frenzy. Azalin mocked me for abandoning my work for the evening but I ignored him and took flight from the castle. The moon was full and bathing the forest in a wonderfully cold light. I flew over the town of Barovia hoping to find someone outside after dark, but alas no one was that foolish tonight. I continued to fly towards the other towns within my reach, looking for an easy meal as opposed to terrorizing the barricaded populous.

After a few miles of flight above the forest, I heard the howling of the wolves followed by screams in the night. The sound pleased me, for it meant my servants had found some fool in the wood. I beat my wings fast and arrived at a camp. Several large black wolves had assaulted a family that had made camp in the woods. It was incredibly moronic for them to have stopped in the woods. They should have kept moving. The fire was still roaring and the tents were ripped apart. The bodies of the father and mother were being consumed by the wolves. A young boy was screaming while the omega beast was gnawing on his torso. As the child still lived, he was of value to me and I ordered the wolf away. Dejected, it slumped away while I met eyes with the child to make him forget his pain. No need for the boy to suffer. Once he fell into his last sleep, I took his life’s blood.

My meal was interrupted by a shrill scream about a quarter mile away. No doubt one of the family members had escaped. Though the blood of a child is very fulfilling, I preferred to feed on adults, so I discarded the boy for the wolves and raced into the forest after my new prize. I felt a rush of excitement, deeper than just the notion that I would feed once again. It was for a deeper hunger, but I did not know what kind at that moment.

I came upon a rocky crag connected to a very large boulder. Two large wolves were snarling at the dark form desperately trying to climb onto the rocky summit some thirty feet up from the wolves. Height may protect her from the wolves, but there was no escape from me. The shape belonged to a young woman, barely twenty years old with dark hair. I smiled darkly and approached. The girl could sense her death coming and began to cry. It was that cry that brought it together. I had heard that cry before, and I became aware that I had heard that heart beat before.

“Tatyana,” I said. She likely did not know that another person was there besides herself, and was startled by a voice in the dark. In her fright she lost her grip on the jagged rock and fell from the boulder. She fell so quick; before I could position myself to catch her she landed hard on the smaller boulders beneath the main crag.

I gave out a cry of anguish that matched her own. She landed on her shoulder and skull, the force shattered her back. The once flat scpula bone pierced through her flesh and shown in the moonlight. Dark blood leaked out of her ear canal and her right eye blackened by burst blood vessels; she would be gone in a few minutes. I couldn’t heal her and there wouldn’t be enough time to bestow the true Kiss upon her. I picked her up and held her close.

“I’m sorry, Tatyana,” I said.

“Who—- I’m Olya—-“ she said weakly.

“Of course you are, my love, rest easy,”

“Strahd—-“ she said. I gasped at the mention of my name and looked at her face. The pain was gone from her eyes as was the life. There was laughter in the air once again. The wolves began howling and I was thankful that that drowned out the laughter and my sobs.

“Now this is a sight,” Azalin said from the dark.

“It’s poor form to laugh at a funeral,” I spat.

“I heard no laughter, Lord Strahd. What makes you weep for this pathetic mortal?” he asked. The two wolves turned to the lich and snarled viciously. He raised his staff towards them.

“Do not harm them and do not question me, lich,” I ordered.

“Of course not, Lord Strahd. You know you could raise her as a zombie. She is quite beautiful, I’m sure you’d find uses for her even with the damage to her brain.”

“No, servant. Return to Ravenloft and I will be there soon.” I barked.

“Most interesting,” Azalin said. He bowed and vanished into the shadows.

I buried Tatyana there in the woods. I hope that the Apparatus can return me to a place I most desire: a place outside of this realm of death and loss.

Fourteenth of the Fourth Moon, 470

Lost in the Mists ignatiusvienna