Welcome to Barovia

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With the defeat of Gregor, the heroes of Miredus were able to leave Vorostokov and begin their ascent of Mount Baratak. Following the path to the Svalich Pass, our players continued up the frigid mountain while being battered by the harsh winds. The thin, frosty air of the mountain took its toll on the adventures and weakened them greatly.

After a day of travel through the Pass, the party saw that they were about to begin their descent. Before they could, they spied several humanoid shapes on the path. Being ever cautious, the heroes investigated the scene. They found several icy sculptures of people, frozen on the path. Under normal circumstances these statues would be awe-inspiring art, but our players were too clever for that and they knew that these sculptures were sinister in some sense. As they began to prepare for a fight, a haunting wail was heard from beyond the Pass. A sobbing woman walked out of the snow and began to approach the party. The specter may have claimed simpler people, but our players knew at once that this woman was a haunt and meant them harm. As predicted, the ice sculptures came to life and the specter attacked the party. Though this creature was incredibly powerful, she was overcome by the heroes and put to rest.

Lucas explained that in Barovia there was a legend of a girl named Jezra Wagner. The daughter of a wealthy family, Jezra was a wild youth who spent her days in the Svalich Woods and climbing Mount Baratak. As she aged, her family grew to disapprove the girl’s restlessness and felt she should be preparing to find a suitor. Jezra would have none of it and continued to explore the beautiful mountain-side of Baratak. Shortly after her eighteenth birthday, Jezra went to the Svalich Pass on midsummer’s day, to take in the breathtaking view. Unfortunately, an unseasonable storm swept the mountain and Jezra did not return that evening. A search party consisting of ten strong men ascended the mountain in the freak blizzard to find Jezra and bring her home. Of these ten men, only two returned the next day. They explained that they were attacked by a specter of a young woman and the rest of their party had succumbed to her touch. The legend told that Jezra had died in the storm and haunted the lonely mountain ready to steal the warmth of passers-by. It appears that the legend had some truth after all!

After the ordeal, the party began to descend the Svalich Pass and begin their journey on the Old Svalich Road. After many long months far away from home, and many dangers on their quest, our heroes had finally reached Barovia. After everything they had been through, their quest against “ The Fallen” could begin!

The rocky slopes of Baratak gave way to gentle hills as the players followed the Svalich Road. Quickly, the road turned to reveal a large walled town on the shores of a vast, glassy lake. Lucas told the party that this was his hometown of Vallaki, the largest town in the country. Our heroes arrived at the town and found it to be a bustling and friendly community. The players were welcomed readily at the Blue Water Inn and made acquantices with a Vistani bard named Arabelle and several other local towns folk. Several remembered Lucas and remarked that he had been considered dead after his disappearance.

Based on the reports from the townspeople, it appeared that Vallaki had been visited by tradegy and turmoil. Two members of the ruling Council, the Watcher cousins had been murdered in the last week. At the dusk elf camp outside of the town, two whole hunting parties had become missing. And, in the Thaani district, there was civil unrest with nightly fighting. The Burgomaster, Lars Kjurls, had been stretched thin with these events and asked Lucas to help. The heroes agreed to help and started their investigation.

Before they could fully begin, Saimia asked Arabelle for a tarroka reading. The Vistani agreed to read the party’s fortunes, but warned that her gift was not in fortunes but in “seeking”. She suggested that the party meet with the famed Madame Eva of the Tser Pool Vistani camp for a fuller reading. Arabelle drew from the tarroka deck and dealt each hero a focus card that represented them. Shockingly, the focus cards drawn from the deck where the same focus cards that Madame Fortuna had given them! Perhaps Arabelle had more power than she let on.

One by one, the heroes drew cards that would give them a glimpse into their immediate future in the country of Barovia. Lockhold abstained from the reading, ominously saying that he did not wish to see his future. Zephyram drew first and revealed the VII of Wands. This card pointed to the Tser Pool and Arabelle told that Zephyram would have great vitality in the fight that was sure to come there. Saima revealed her card: the Knave of Wands. This card spoke to the Svalich Woods and to a strengthening of Saima’s blood-borne powers. Whether this was a clue to her darker nature, we can only guess. Barlow drew the Three of Coins, a card that spoke of dark magic. Madame Fortuna had explained that the number three would be important to the party, and Arabelle said that the card spoke of the dark Lysaga Hill. But in this dark place of magic, Arabelle said that Barlow would find mental fortitude. Goodman revealed his card, the Fool. Though Arabelle tried to hide it, Lucas knew she was afraid of this card and what it represented. She explained that it was a reference to Strahd and a grim fate for Goodman. She continued with Garret, who had drawn the Three of Swords. This card spoke to Lysaga Hill as well, but were it would be a place of enlightenment for Barlow, the Hill would bring great harm to Garret. Lucas revealed last, and he had drawn the Knight of Wands. Arabelle explained that the knight represented a fortress, likely the dread Castle Ravenloft. But even in that frightening place, Lucas would be empowered.

With the omens of the tarroka revealed, the party continued to their task. Utilizing tried and true methods of ghoulish communication, under the cover of darkness the party unearthed the Watcher cousins and performed the Speak with Dead ritual on them. The corpses revealed their last experiences to the party. Karl Watcher had been murdered on the steps of his house after returning from his duties. Nikolai had met his end in the Watcher stables. Both men had been killed by a black bearded monk wearing white robes. The killer’s face could not be seen, but he moved with supernatural quickness and wore a golden lion pendant. With the ritual, the party also learned two important pieces of information. First, the Watcher clan had once loyally served Barov von Zoravic and Strahd I, escaping from the brutal murders that all but killed Strahd I. Second, the Watcher clan had passed down a chilling warning, father to son, to avoid the family mausoleum at all costs.

After re-entombing the bodies, the party set out that morning to the dusk elf camp to find the Watcher family mausoleum. The dusk elves greeted the party warmly, and quickly explained that they too were suffering under some dread omen: two hunting parties had vanished in the past month. Kasimir, the leader of the dusk elves, explained that long ago he made a pact with the Watcher family to protect a hidden mausoleum in the woods. He had failed had this task recently as his best hunters had gone missing. He directed the party to the crypt and asked for their help in finding the missing elves.

Following Kasimir’s directions, our heroes found the hidden tomb in the woods. It was well fortified, but Lucas pointed out that someone had picked the black iron lock. The inside of the tomb was quite strange: a bizarre stone box was in the center and the floor was stained with relatively fresh blood. Saima deduced that the box was not made with normal tools and some kind of magic was utilized to shape a hollow rectangle out of stone. The corner of the box had been smashed with a nearby crowbar, but the robber was nowhere to be seen. There was not enough blood for the brigand to have perished at the crypt, but there were no tracks leading into the woods. The party continued their investigation and found that there was no way to open the box, and they smashed the hole larger. Inside the box they found signs of struggle, with the masonry heavily damaged. Every inch of the interior walls was cracked, save for one area at the head of the ceiling. This section had a symbol of the Morning Lord carved into it.

Lucas and Goodman began discussing the scene and together the party suspected that a powerful vampire had been long imprisoned in this tomb. When the burglar had cracked the sealed box, the vampire could escape has a mist, likely making the burglar a quick meal or servant. Perhaps this vampire sought vengeance on the Watchers. In any case, there was a powerful and likely enraged vampire on the loose!

Armed with this disturbing information, our players raced into town to uncover more clues. They performed surprisingly poor at this task and could gather little additional information, forcing them to regroup and try again. They began asking the correct questions and learned that the golden lion was likely the crest of the Dilisnya clan. There had been no Dilisnya in the country since the reign of Strahd I, but they were said to have been loyal to him. Just like the Watcher clan. Father Lucien of the Church of the Morning Lord noted that no monks came to the Church, but one had been seen around town recently. He also mentioned an all but abandoned monastery high in the twin mountains.

The party sought out Brom at the Blue Water Inn, but finding him busy with preparing for that evening’s supper, they began investigating the missing dusk elf hunters in the Svalich Woods. In a gloomy cave in the dark forest, our heroes discovered the fate of the elven hunters. They had been slain and reainimated by a terrible specter, who identified herself as a “mistress of the Castle”. The party would not suffer these undead and destroyed them all.

They then returned to the dusk elf camp and reported to Kasimir. Kasimir solemnly reported that, in life, the specter had been his twin sister Patrina. Patrina had strayed from the natural path and began practicing dark arts and blood magic. She became obsessed with “the devil Strahd” and sought to serve him. She was killed by her kin for practicing these arts and her body was left outside of Castle Ravenloft. Apparently the Count had had use for her after all.

Though this was a troubling revelation, it proved to be more of a side quest and brought the heroes no closer to uncovering where the vampire was. The party then returned to Vallaki to investigate the disturbance in the Thaani district. They found the district a hostile place, and uncovered that strange magic from the Far Realms was at the heart of the neighborhood. They came to the old Markov House, the former the residence of Frantelsek Markov. Markov had brutally murdered his wife and was executed for his crimes. Sensing a link between the violence in the house and the Far Realms, the party went inside to investigate.

Inside the Markov house they found a ghastly scene. The lower floor had become infested with parasites from the Far Realms! Worm-like beasts slithered on the floor and a horrible beholder haunted the house. The party was immediately attacked on entry and they destroyed the abberant creatures. In the attic they found more tentacled monsters and snuffed out the alien meance.

Within the attic, there were countless discarded papers and drawings from which our heroes pieced together what had happened. Six months before, two librarians had moved into the abandoned Markov house with the intention of opening a public library. They had grander aspirations and hoped to open a wizard’s college someday. They had researched tirelessly for weeks trying to untap magical abilities that were denied to them. The headmaster began reaching out into the void searching for power, and unfortunately he became linked to the Far Realms. In a few days, his body and mind became host to a monster from the Other and he quickly corrupted his companion. The creatures had tried to breach the planar wall to bring more of their ilk into the world, and this breach caused the unrest in the district.

With that issue resolved, the party was no closer to discovering the lair of the vampire. They sought out Yelena Aresek, who was rumored to be the last person to see the mysterious monk. Lucas led the meeting and brought the party to Lady Aresek’s house. The Councilwoman was nervous with the recent murders of the Watchers, but allowed Lucas, Lockhold and Garet entry. She explained that she had met the monk six days before when he walked into her shop after dusk. She asked him how she could help, but the monk left without saying a word. Lucas and Lockhold detected that Yelena was struggling to remember and began to press further. The combined efforts of our heroes led them to discover than Lady Aresek was under some spell and could not remember specifics of the meeting.

Lucas and Goodman believed that a magical effect was blocking Yelena’s memory, so they sought out Father Lucien to teach Goodman the Remove Affliction ritual. Lucien spent all night teaching Goodman the potent ritual and at dawn, Goodman performed it. It was dangerous indeed, and inflicted some suffering to the innocent Yelena, but it was successful and Lady Aresek’s memory came crashing back.

Yelena remember that after the monk entered the store, he immediately seized her and bite her neck. He used his vampiric gaze to remove any memory of the event. Occult observation suggested that Yelena had not been given the Kiss and was not in any danger of becoming a vampyr—-so why did the vampire monk bite her in the first place?

The party recalled their earlier investigations into the Dilisnya clan and learned that Strahd von Zoravich I was rumored to have sired a bastard son with the lower noblewoman named Lady Marcellia Oleynan. Yelena was a member of this bloodline. Samia and Lucas deduced that a vampire drinking the blood of the Von Zoravich line may have protection from the Dark Lord, or at least could avoid detection.

The party left to prepare for the journey to the Monastery of the White Sun, but before they did they returned to the Blue Water Inn to interrogate Brom about what he knew. Though the innkeeper was reluctant to share any information out of fear of the dreaded Strahd, the party was able to convince him that they were allies. Brom explained that he was a member of the Order of the Raven, a secret society that sought to destroy Strahd. Brom informed them of the obvious truth, that Strahd the XI was actually Strahd von Zarovich I, living through the centuries as a dread vampire! He suggested that the vampire they sought was Leo Dilisnya, a former captain of Strahd that had become a vampire and imprisoned by the Dark Lord. Brom warned that secret histories painted Leo as a monster in life, and generations of confiment likely had made him quite worse. Armed with this information, the party left Vallaki to pursue the vampire to the Monastery of the White Sun.

Armed with this information, the party left Vallaki to pursue the vampire to the Monastery of the White Sun.

They traveled through the morning and ascended the northern face of Mount Ghakis. Our heroes fought through the bitterly cold mountain air to arrive at a rocky ledge facing the north. The Monastery was perched on this ledge and the players could see far into the country of Barovia. From this ledge, the party could see the village of Vallaki to the north and the town of Barovia to the west. Towering above the small hamlet of Barovia was the ominous Castle Ravenloft encircled by dense mist. This sight chilled them more than the frigid air and they turned to the Monastery of the White Sun.

Our heroes wasted no time in breaching the doors of the monastery and raced inside to face Leo Dilisnya. They found the once holy place to be infested with vampire spawn and foul undead creatures. The vampires had corrupted the altar of the Morning Lord in order to profane the site. This depravity was not to go unpunished, and our heroes slew the vampires with righteous fire.

Continuing deeper into the temple, the heroes came to a large, inner courtyard and found their adversary. Leo Dilsnya, adversary of Strahd von Zoravich, greeted them with hatred and contempt. Surrounded by his vampire spawn and a manticore he bound to his service, Leo offered the party an opportunity to join him in his quest to destroy Strahd. Our players were not swayed by the offer and attacked the black-hearted vampire and his minions.

With a combination of powerful magic and skillful attacks, the party overcame all the foes and put the evil creatures to rest. They were able to clear out all the remaining spawn and rescue the surviving monks. Like true heroes, our players helped rebuild the monastery and, once they returned to Vallaki, they arranged for supplies to be sent before winter set in. After a well-deserved rest, the party now pondered about their next move.

They did not have long to wait before fate gave them a nudge.

Welcome to Barovia

Lost in the Mists ignatiusvienna