Nova Vassa is a barren, dismal looking place. Of all the places we’ve wandered through, few have made me long for the halls of Pelor’s citadel in the Astral Sea like this one. After several hours of walking through the plains we found a razed fort where the soldiers had been impaled on tall poles before being murdered. We buried the slain soldiers before setting up camp for the night.
Before breaking camp we were approached by an undead rider atop an undead horse. They didn’t attack us, but the rider wouldn’t speak either. He would only shake his head to answer questions. After running through many questions, we eventually determined that the rider wanted to follow us south. We decided to allow it to follow, at least for a while.
We continued south. As the day wore on the heat became brutal, but we press. We took a brief rest so that Goodman could use a ritual to gain insight into the rider’s final moments. He confirmed our suspicion that the rider died a savage death in battle.
As the sun began to set we stopped to make camp. Dusk became night and the rider began to grow restless. Later in the evening the rider motioned eastward, and we saw a dust cloud approaching. As the cloud grew closer we could see an orange glow emanating from within. When the dust cloud got closer we could see what was approaching. They were nightmares; a herd of them! Our silent companion helped us fight off the beasts. Garret and Barlow were beaten and burned by the foul creatures, but we were victorious.
The following morning we continued on our journey. Later in the day we found a road that led us to a village. We were greeted by a man named Erik, and as our undead friend left us, Erik explained the nature of our silent companion. In the lands of Nova Vassa it seems that when a traveler dies on horseback while trying to get home, they can come back as an undead creature that tries to help travelers reach their destination. They are friendly, but lonely creatures, it seems. In all my lives I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such a thing.
Erik gave us some provisions and explained the area to us. He told us of Vlad Drakov’s soldiers terrorizing the land. And then, after the defeat of the soldiers, they destroyed everything they came across as they retreated. The destruction of the fort was likely their handiwork.
We told Erik that we were trying to get to Vorostokov and then through the mountain pass to Barovia. He offered two routes and we decided to go with the quickest option. We would journey to the capitol city of Kantora, and then through the forests of Vorostokov.
Erik spoke more of the history of the area. He told us of what led up to the current ruler, Othmar, coming to power and becoming a tyrant. Othmar has refused to step down from his stewardship at the appropriate time, apparently mad with power. Some of us in the group were unsure if we should help the people of Nova Vassa, but we seem to keep getting distracted by things like this. The people of Miredus are counting on us.
We left the next day and after three more days of travel, we arrived in Kantora. The city was a strange visage against the dreary landscape. Brightly colored towers stood high above the stone walls. As we explored the city we found that the streets were filled with the destitute, and looming over them were the very privileged few who lived disgustingly opulent lives.
We secured rooms at an inn and were ready to leave the following day. While the city seemed to be in dire need of people like us to right the wrongs the masses were facing, we were too afraid of further delaying action for Miredus. That night we all struggled to sleep peacefully. Our shared discomfort over the course of the night convinced us to stay one more day to investigate the city.
Some of the locals told us of a “Beast” that had been preying on the city for more than ten years. He preferred young, beautiful women, and would leave them brutally murdered in the streets. Sir Tristan had so far been unable to bring the man to justice.
Meanwhile, Goodman also followed up on the mysterious traveler who gave the farmer the potion that created the murderous scarecrow. Goodman found a wizard that may have been able to provide more information. A stranger showed up in Kantora several months ago and bought such a potion from the wizard then. He then seduced two of the women in the city. One left with him while the other one was left in the city.
Goodman tried to find the girl who stayed in the city, and discovered she had just been murdered by the Beast a few days before.
So much for leaving Kantora in a hurry…