We continued on the road. One night, while Garret and I were on guard, we both found ourselves awakened without knowing we had fallen asleep. The landscape before us had changed. Garret and I agreed to not tell anyone that we had fallen asleep. When everyone else awoke we followed the road and came to a farmhouse where another horror awaited us: A family slaughtered. The scarecrow that killed them and their dead flesh attacked us and left us with no choice but to kill them again. We searched the farm and found a diary describing a handsome stranger that gave the family the power to bring the scarecrow to life. After it helped the family with the harvest it turned on them, killing them and skinning them. What kind of man would do that to a family?
We continued on into the land of Darkon and found an inn to rest in. That night I had the strangest dream… When I awoke from the dream, I got up and followed some strange impulse to go to the tavern. It seems all my companions had the same dream and the same compulsion. Waiting for us there was the Darklord of the realm, Azalin Rex. He talked for some time. Basically he left us with no choice but to complete a mission for him: Enter the Necropolis, his capitol, and reclaim it for him.
Entering the Necropolis meant immediately dying when we stepped in. Azalin assured us he would bring us back once we defeated the entity known as Death. I was afraid, but I faced my fears with the others. As soon as we crossed the barrier, I felt the life in me extinguished, replaced by The Hunger. I felt as though my insides were hollow. The need to feed on blood overwhelmed me. I looked at my companions, all now horrific monsters. I opened my mouth, now filled with sharp teeth, to ask if everyone was alright but what came out instead was, “I’m hungry.” I did not trust myself to speak again for some time.
We had to fight our way though but we made it to the fortress of Death, discovered how to make him vulnerable and defeated him. When it was done, Azalin returned, thanked us and offered to keep us in our current form and keep us with him as allies. A few of my companions were tempted. I vehemently opposed the offer. Once we all refused, Azalin gave us the Icon of Ravenkind, an artifact that he said would be useful in the fight against Lord Strahd. He returned us to life and sent us on our way.
I have not felt the same since we returned to life. It did not bother me at the time but while we were in the fortress, I caught my reflection for a brief moment. Since then, I have not had my usual nighttime dreams of being alive with my family. That face, pale and gaunt, eyes glowing red and full of rage… that face haunts my dreams now.