Lost in the Mists
After the defeat of Lyssa von Zarovich, our players returned to the new House of the Rising Sun Inn to refresh themselves. They told the citizens of Zeidenberg that the vampiric scourge had been removed and they could return to their homes. Goodman also began taking steps to convert the inn into a small shrine to the Morning Lord.
That morning, the party set out to the dreaded Lysaga Hill to the east. They trekked over the Ivlis River through the dense Svalich Wood, expecting an attack at any time, but it appeared that Strahd had kept his word. The woods parted and they arrived at the rocky, windswept hill. A thorough investigation revealed that atop the hill were the ancient ruins of a stone temple, far older than even Strahd I. There was evidence that dark, bloody magic had been performed at the fell hill. They uncovered a stone slab, which was covered with curious brown stains and radiated power.
Deciding that this important, our heroes began exploring the area and researching the Tome of Strahd. They learned that the stone slab was a runestone, an object of great magical might that was connected to the Astral Sea. It was clear that this runestone was granting Strahd some eldritch power, though it was not known how. Without knowledge of what this power was, destroying the stone was believed to be vastly too dangerous. Goodman hypothesized that there were other runestones in the country that were solidifying Strahd’s connection to the land itself. Madame Fortuna had said that the number “3” would factor into their quest repeatedly: perhaps there would be two more runestones.
With this knowledge, the heroes of Miredus left the dreaded Hill and journeyed to the village of Old Barovia. They found a small, simple community of grim and suspicious villagers, with the specter of Castle Ravenloft looming over them. These folk were of no help to our players, and the heroes were forced to go directly to the Blood o’ the Vine Inn. Inside they were met by the innkeeper Bray Martikova and they told him of their connection with his brother Brom. In short order, Goodman identified himself as a member of the Order of the Raven. Bray welcomed them to his home and shared all the information he had. Strahd was indeed a vampire of incredible power, far more powerful than any vampire of legend. Dozens of heroes had assaulted Castle Ravenloft through the years trying to kill Strahd. The vast majority were never heard from again, but Bray did mention that some survived and claimed to have killed Strahd. If this was true, then evidently something made Strahd’s destruction not as permanent as hoped. Goodman theorized that Strahd’s anchor to the land through the runestones. Bray knew nothing of the runestones, but did tell of a horrible cult of witches that gathered on the Hill randomly. He did not know if they knew of the great power of the Hill or were unconsciously drawn to it. Bray suggested that the party seek out information in Strahd’s library or consult with Madame Eva of the nearby Vistani camp. As it seemed the less dangerous of the two paths, the party left the Inn to meet with Madame Eva.
At the Tser Pool, there was a large, semi-permanent camp of Vistani of the Zarovon clan. This group of Vistani was much less somber, though no less mysterious, as the tribe from the Carnival. The party inquired with the local gypsies and asked to speak with Madame Eva. After a considerable wait, the party was invited to Eva’s cart. Inside, they met the ancient seer of the Zarovon clan, who knew much of their quest and spoke highly of Madame Fortuna. The party had many questions, but it appeared that Madame Eva had no answers herself. She could only offer the party a fortune telling with the tarokka deck. Being used to this by now, the party settled down for an ominous reading.
Madame Eva first drew the Emperor card and began to talk about The Fallen. She explained that Strahd was preparing for them and would ambush them within the Castle once they journeyed there. She asked Goodman to place a card over the Emperor, Goodman placed the Two of Wands on the table. Eva explained that this meant Strahd would strike in the tomb of his parents, located deep within the Castle. There, Strahd would have all the advantage and fate would move against them. Hardly seems fair!
Eva then discussed the three fetters that were attached to Strahd: the Sunsword, the Icon of Ravenloft and the Tome of Strahd. She chided the party with her knowledge of their possessing two of the items. She explained that they would need all three to sever the three fanes where Strahd gathered his power through the runestones: the Forest Fane located by north of the Tser Pool, the Mountain Fane located on Lysaga Hill, and the Swamp Fane located in the Ivlis Swamp. She drew the Eight of Wands and with that told the party that they must bring each of the items to the fanes and spend an evening in prayer at the location. Only then would the power of the runsestone be broken and Strahd weakened. Of course, each fane would have guardians that would have to be dealt with first.
Finally, Eva spoke of the artifacts themselves. Each one was needed to break the power of the Fanes, but each also had deeper magical power that could be awakened if it was taken to a specific location in Castle Ravenloft. Drawing the Sun card, Eva spoke of the Sunsword—the sword of Strahd’s brother Sergei who was beloved by the people of Barovia and murdered by his kin. Eva had Saima place a card over the Sun card to reveal the location of the Sword. Saima placed the Eight of Swords on the table and Madame Eva told the players to seek the sword “where the river flies”, suggesting they seek it near the Tser Falls.
For the final reading, Madame Eva took the Sun card, as well as the High Priestess and the Judgment cards, to represent the three great artifacts they needed. For the Sun, Goodman drew the Seven of Cups. Eva said that this meant the Sunsword must be brought to the Warlock Academy in Castle Ravenloft to be awakened. She explained that the legends suggested that abhorrent warlocks and devils gathered in the Castle at this location on the upmost floor.
To reveal where the Icon of Ravenloft must be brought, Eva once again had Saima place a card on the table. She placed the Seven of Swords over the High Priestess card. Eva explained that this meant the Icon must also be awakened at the Warlock Academy. The old seer suggested that this must mean that true vile darkness gathered in that desecrated room.
As for the important Tome of Lord Strahd, Eva had Goodman place his last card on the table. Goodman revealed the Eight of Cups and Eva explained that the party must bring the dreaded book to the top of the tallest tower to awaken it as a powerful artifact.
With this Madame Eva warned the party that Strahd would almost certainly try to intervene once they started disrupting the Fanes. The party was grimly aware of this, and set out to find the Sunsword before they continued on to the next part of their task. Researching the Tome of Strahd, they learned of a dark cave above the Tser Falls on Mount Baratak. They bid the Vistani goodbye and left the encampment to ascend the mountain that very night.
As they climbed, our heroes tried to force troubling thoughts from their minds. Madame Fortuna had stated that they would meet three fortune tellers, and one of them would be a liar. Was she lying about that? They suspected Arebelle was a liar because of her association with Strahd, but what if Madame Eva was the liar? Where they walking into any number of traps? Only the Fates know.
After an arduous climb, our players reached a lonely, bleak rock ledge above the roaring Falls. In the bright, winter moonlight, they saw the entrance to a dark cave. Before they could enter the cave, the party was attacked by two large skeletal bats and vicious swarm of vampire bats! Some vile vampire had taken the time to give the Kiss to hundreds of the rodents and set them upon the world. Disgusting creatures they were, and the party fought them on the peak, precariously close to the cliff edge. Our heroes stubborn feet and nerves of steel, and none of them fell to their doom, instead they destroyed all the flying monsters and entered the cave.
Our heroes journeyed into the dark cavern, the blackness of the cave banished by Goodman’s holy light. The winding tunnels where littered with gore and garbage, and a foul, bestial stink permeated through the area. It was clear something terrible and primal had been living in this den for a very long time, preying on man and beast alike.
The party reached a large cavern and encountered a group of werewolves, that they recognized from the same bred they encountered in Vorostokov. But these werewolves had been dead for some time, resurrected as bizarre vampire-werewolf hybrids. Horrifying and perverse, these abominations declared their loyalty to “the Master” and immediately attacked our heroes. Though these creatures were vile and hungry, our players defeated them all without any incurring the curse of lycanthropy.
Together, the heroes continued into the cave and came upon a massive chamber. The rocky chamber had corpses and bones strewn about and the stench was almost overpowering. In the chamber was a massive, bat-like humanoid creature who was flanked by gargoyles made of ice and a throng of vampire spawn. The creature identified itself as “Strigoi”, and claimed to be a vampire of ancient years and incredibly power. The Strigoi said it rivaled Strahd and eagerly sought his demise, but he would not yield to the party’s demand of surrender of the Sunsword.
As is often the case in the Mists, violence was the only way to achieve victory. The battle was joined, with the vampire spawn giving little trouble to our heroes, but the frozen gargoyles offered a significant challenge. The Strigoi moved with an impossible quickness, striding through combat and ripping at the players with vicious claws. An incredibly dangerous opponent he was, but in the end the Strigoi and his minions were defeated.
With their victory, the players searched the debris and quickly found the fabled Sunsword.
Zephraym took position of the Sunsword, which revealed itself to be a sentient artifact of significant power. The sword spoke to Zephraym, pledging its support to the party’s quest of freeing the innocent from the darkness of the Mists. Armed with the third and final fetter of Strahd, the heroes set out to disrupt his fanes and rob him of his apparent invulnerability