Seventh of the Tenth Moon, 396

I arrived at Loviana’s manor an hour before sunrise. She was impatiently awaiting me, but, when I ominously thumped down the black sack I carried, her demeanor changed. I asked for her to take me to the family mausoleum on her property. She hesitated at first, but relented and took me to the darkened crypt.

I took the bag into the tomb and told Loviana to return the next night at midnight. I commanded her not to open the mausoleum for any reason until I returned the next evening. She left frustrated, and when I was sure that she was gone I myself entered the tomb and sealed the door behind me. I moved the stone slab off one of the marble coffins. The desiccated remains of one of the Watcher clan were inside, barely more than dusty bones. I plopped Leo’s unconscious form within the coffin. He would sleep his last day away with the dead.

But there were more tasks to be done. Grinding my teeth, I began to carve a symbol on the inner lid of the coffin. As I continued to scratch the stone, my finger began to char to black. It was practically bone when I completed the symbol of the Morning Lord. I quickly slammed the lid down onto the coffin. The pain in my hand was great, but quickly faded as my body healed itself. One more task, then I could rest. I began to mutter the words of power and the stone coffin began to glow with a faint blue light. Slowly, the division between the lid and the main body of the coffin vanished. In a moment, there was no lid, but a block of marble. But I knew the inside was still hollow. Satisfied, I chose another coffin to rest in and my mind went dark as the sun came up.

Predictably, Loviana was at the mausoleum before midnight. I had prepared for this and was waiting in the dark when she arrived. She seemed angry about being made to wait before revealing Leo’s fate. I beckoned her to the crypt and we entered.

“What is the meaning of this Lord Vasili? Entombing the corpse of my enemy with my family?” she demanded, clearly close to losing herself. I shook my head.

“Listen,” I commanded. Reluctantly, she leaned down to the cold stone of Leo’s coffin. She jumped back almost immediately. I smiled for I knew what she had heard: screaming. The furious screams of an animal trapped in a forest fire. If Leo hadn’t kept his eyes shut, the sight of the holy symbol would have burned him down to the sockets.

“Is he alive?” she asked, already dreading the answer.

“No, my Lady. But nor is he dead.” I answered. She nodded with some recognition and made a sign of faith. The gesture felt like a scorching wind across my face, but I had prepared for such a reaction. “You sought revenge; Lord Strahd has heard your plea,”

“What will become of him?” Loviana asked. I smiled.

“He is imprisoned in the dark and the only sight available harms him. It takes away his power and he will not be able to break from this prison. He is hungrier than he’s ever been and it will only get worse,” I paused to listen to Leo’s wail. No doubt he could hear this, “he’ll drink his own blood but it will not give him respite. He’ll curse the gods so often it will burn his tongue, but they will not help him. He will be driven mad with pain. And then he will waste away.”
“How long will it take?” she asked, clearly terrified.

“A month, maybe more,” I said. Leo let out a terrible cry at that moment.

“Strahd!” he called out, “I know you are there!”

“Indeed,” I said.

“Free me, Strahd! You have won! I will serve you now, you know I have no choice!” he called desperately.

“I rather like you were you are, Leo. I wish you many long nights with your thoughts,” I said triumphantly. Leo began screaming then, bashing his hands against the lid even as the symbol was likely burning them to stumps. Smiling I looked at Loviana. She was white with fear, but met my gaze bravely.

“This is wicked,” she said.

“Aye, but it is true justice,” I countered.

“His darkness has driven me and you to great evils, my Lord,”

“Perhaps one of us was already lost long ago,” I said. She frowned.

“I remember that night. I remember how as my brother was cut down and my father shielded my body with his own. As he died, Lord Strahd came into the room. He was tall, with dark hair and black eyes that blazed. And he was covered head to toe in blood. He ripped the enemy apart before my eyes.” She said.

“He must have frightened you,”

“No, he didn’t frighten me then,” and then she looked right at me, “or now.”

I smiled and nodded.

“Well, Lord Vasili, please tell Lord Strahd that I am eternally grateful for his actions and bringing justice to my family. My family will be forever in his debt.” She said.

I bowed low and left without any further words.

Seventh of the Tenth Moon, 396

Lost in the Mists ignatiusvienna