The Abyss Stares Back

Laughing in the Purple Smoke

We get to the village of Berez in the shadow of the mountain range that maybe Sebastian saw in his vision. The guards that greet us as we approach wear pelts, some of wolves, and tell us that the town does a decent trade in skins. Mads freaks out a little about their misuse of the forest, but we calm him down with reminders of the monsters in the area keeping down the human population.

We go to the pub and look around. The bartender, surprisingly, has never heard of the ravagers, but he points us in the direction of the huntress, who is in charge of the hunting parties that leave the town. He also mentions that one of the town’s hunting parties recently was lost, but doesn’t have any more details than that.

The huntress is at a table speaking in hushed times with some other men, but privacy never stopped Mads before and it does not stop him now. He introduces himself and lets them know that we are there to help them. And are better than them. She is eventually intrigued by his quirkiness and asks that we come with her.

She leads us to an infirmary where we meet one of the members of the hunting party that went missing recently – it is her father, she says. He has lost both eyes, one leg and a hand, but he escaped his attackers and was found crawling down a road in the mountains to the east. So far, he has been delirious, but we do hear him mention something about being dragged away at “the mirror”, which the huntress says is a pond up in the mountains, and he also mutters something about a bruise in the sky that the hunters were following. It would seem that this is the purple smoke from Sebastian’s vision!

We head up to the pond to investigate, and find signs of a short term camp and a struggle. We are terrible at finding tracks, but Ulrich manages to tap into the mana of the area and detects a magical trail left behind by an amulet on one of the hunters. We follow.

It leads us to a clearing filled with pain and sorrow. There is a ruined barn and some out buildings in a field with about a dozen ravagers milling about and sparing with each other. There is a fenced in area surrounded by stakes, some of which have men strapped to them. There is purple mist that rises up out of a pit in their midst that makes them scream in rage.

I tap into the magical currents below the ground and surge the horrormist, causing it to geyser up over the men and redouble their screams. This is enough to get the ravagers’ attention, and they turn and scream their… something. Joy? Bloodlust? Anyway, we take their momentary distraction as an opportunity, and charge down the hill to murder the fuck out of them. It doesn’t go particularly well, and Ulrich in particular spends a good deal of time rolling around on the ground in his own blood. But just as it seems darkest, with Ravager reinforcements pouring out of the surrounding buildings to join the fight, a shining knight charges in to enter the fray on our behalf. Or, well, Milosh arrives, at least.

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Teenagers, Always with the Spurting

The fight starts off with Orin transforming into one of the acid cultists that we had fought in this cave before. Teenagers. He manages to spurt webs and acid over us before we put him down. We leave him alive, though, so that we can attempt to help him later.

The scholar is still bleeding, though, so we drag them out of the cave to try to help. I try to help the scholar and staunch the bleeding but cannot. We need to get them to Point Hope soon to get some medical attention or else he will bleed to death.

We exit the cave and prepare to make the (probably futile) trip to the fort, but we will be forced to travel at night which isn’t great, and it isn’t clear whether the scholar will survive anyway. As we prepare to head out, though, a carriage approaches us from the road, dark and wealthy looking.

The carriage stops near us and the driver asks us who we are and what we are doing there. We beseech him for help, since we have an injured man (or two). From inside steps a rich looking man who introduces himself as Lord Blackburn, an emissary of Strahd. We ask again for help, and he seems not the least surprised by our description of demon cultists and acid blood.

He evidently has more medical experience than us, and sews up Schneideldorf enough to keep him from immediately dying. We do not ask him to help Orin. We also give away a lot about who we are and what the cult is during the conversation that goes on as the surgery progresses. He gives us a written invitation to Castle Ravenloft to hang out with all of the cool kids there. And by cool, he means bloodsucking. We totally will do that. Right.

Now that the worst is over, we decide to spend the night in the cave rather than travel. But the worst is not, in fact, over! Orin continues to degrade, and begs us to put him out of his misery. Lacking any concrete way to help him, we decide to do as he asks, and use the opportunity to traumatize Sebastian during the execution/murder.

Overnight, Mads has one of his realistic dreams, and has a super sneaky, crazy high rolling night, stealing a key from some cultists in a wormhole and then returning it to the real world. So we have a key! But what we don’t have is a door. Although the dream area looked kind of like the cave that we’re in, it also had corridors and chambers that the cave lacks. We theorize that the dream might have taken place in the galaxy basalt mines around Teufeldorf. Maybe the key opens… something there. We remind ourselves that the mine is rumored to be heavily haunted.

The only good news is that the cave appears to be having a sit down, and probably only reacts to the presence of people in it. Before we leave, we put up a warning sign, hand Schneideldorf off to the road wardens and continue on to the ruined inn. Milosh leaves with the road wardens to see that the scholar is properly taken care of, and we will send word to him of our next destination once we reach the inn.

The inn shows signs of fire, but there is still a lot of the structure left, and we decide to go in and look around. Specifically, we are looking for evidence of Henrietta’s brother, who was a cobbler, and we hope to find some signs of him having been here. And we do! There are some tools there that are probably his. We resort to having Sebastian have a vision with them, and he finally does, seeing what seems to be people being turned into ravagers, with a group of mountains in the background and purple smoke rising into the sky. We theorize that maybe the attackers here came from the mountains to the south, and depart for the town of Berez to ask about suspicious events in the area.

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Remember Your Failure at the Cave

To Point Hope we go! The introduction between Lucinda and Schneideldorf doesn’t go that well, since he doesn’t like vanRichten at all and she is a total fan girl. We convince them to be relatively civil.

The cultists group is called the Awakened. They stole S’s notes from his house while his apprentice was there (explaining the general mess that we onserved), but he claims that he does not have anything to do with the cult itself. The creatures that they bargain with are called the Svirak. They are sort of like demon lords who are looking for weaknesses between the planes in order to invade.

Specifically, they give homage to Lamoracanthus, a demon of knowledge and corruption. They are down with the corruption of innocence, madness and intelligence. The helpers of this demon could have acid for blood, which would be consistent with what we experienced. The scholar says that if he visits this cave he might be able to track the cultists power back to its source and give us a way to kill shit.

Oh, and he tells us that we are stuck here forever, and that there is no way through the mists.

Lucinda had heard us mention the initials BQ on the statue that we took from the cultists cave, and says that they are those of Quarrypick, a sculptor from Kreszk. We should totally go they, since the brother of Henrietta, barmaid in Point Hope, was last seen there. Synergy! There was a Ravager attack on an inn along the road there where the locket that we found might have been taken from.

We will go to Kreszk, then to the cave, then we will hand the scholar over to a Warden patrol before heading off to the destroyed inn.

The shop of the man who carved the statue is run by a dwarf. Ulrich goes into a back room with the owner and shows him the statue and pretends to be part of the cult that ordered the statue. It gets weird. The owner is initially panicked, afraid that the customer has returned, and insists that he is innocent.

Milosh, who has conveniently saved this man before, convinces him that we are here to help, and the sculptor tells us that the stone that they brought him is galaxy basalt, which is rare and only mined on the other side of Teufeldorf, possibly at a mine called Verbolt.

And then we spend the night at an inn, with Mads working on getting Sebastian and Orin drunk and educated. And he beats up a local guy who attacked Sebastian, totally not because Urban made the guy aware of Sebastian and his breeding and wealth. This does not have the desired effect of showing Sebastian how bad the world is, but instead convinces him that Mads is good and pure and that the world can’t be all bad. All of these are wrong.

Once at the cave, the scholar and his assistant get to work examining the place while Sebastian and Ulrich keep watch over him and Mads keeps watch outside for trouble.

But trouble finds us! Even though we have explicitly told the scholar to be careful, he ends up tearing a hole in reality (which may have been there anyway, really) and there are demon things there! Fight!

The creatures that attack us are small, vicious beasts, and come at us in swarms, but we slap them away. During this, our S yells at Orrin in a constant stream, because he is a dick. Finally, whether due to the latent evil in the area or because of years of abuse, Orrin snaps and attacks his master. In the summoning circle. Oh crap.

Milosh charges in and knocks Schneideldorf out of the circle as he clutches his bleeding gut. But the blood has already been spilled! Green mist starts to rise from the ground and Orrin regrets his decision.

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Scholar of Ill Repute

We make our way to the town of Zeidenberg to meet with the scholar. It is a mid-sized town surrounded by a wall and containing fairly large buildings. The place seems to be a merchant stopover, with a large central square filled with pretzel carts and trinket sellers.

We spend the night in the Goose and Grape, an upscale establishment, and have a meal and drink. We ask about the scholar and are told that he used to be part of the town council, but is no longer. Maybe his interest is defense against the dark arts. Or something.

Mads spends some time at night climbing around on the scholars house, because he is creepy. The house is evidently occupied, since there is smoke curling out of the chimney, but he can’t see any occupants. He returns without breaking in.

The next day, we all go to the house to meet the scholar, and are disappointed to find that he is out. We do find his apprentice, who is a surly 15-year-old goth. His master is likely off getting drunk in the Ill Repute. In exchange for some education in the ways of magic, we convince him to let us search the house.

Milosh goes to the inn to collect the scholar and bring him back for questioning. The inn turns out to be even worse than its name, and is a brothel rather than a bar. The “bartender” says that Schneideldorf just left, and that he might have gone out the back.

Milosh pursues, and find a group of toughs accosting him in the alley. The scholar owes them money, which Milosh offers to pay off, but they are stupid, obstinate and confused and decide they want to beat him up instead, so they end up getting in a fight. Fists vs sword. It doesn’t go well for the toughs.

Milosh brings back the scholar, and we tell him about the cultists using his books and theories to change people into monsters. He is super excited about this, since he hasn’t really done this himself. He is also rather afraid of the toughs returning, since Milosh has angered them.

His fears turn out to be justified, and the gang returns to finish the job. But we finish them instead. And then flee the town, going back to the Vistani camp before we drop off the scholar at Point Hope. Sebastian is there and the gypsies have done what they could, but they say that he needs to be exposed to more hardship in his life and the land might be more accepting if he’s not a cartoon. So now it’s our job to torment Sebastian in addition to other, more noble, pursuits.

Finally, we return to Point Hope to regroup and find out what the scholar can tell us. We need to find our what caused his downfall (if he was part of the town council, he must have been a more useful person at one point rather than the drunkard he is now), find out what exactly he has been researching and how it could have gotten into the hands of these cultists, and what the details are of Big Poppa (or whatever his name is) in Zeidenberg and just how much we’ve pissed him off.

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Beating a Dead Horse

Returning to town, we are impressed by the fortifications that the road wardens have managed to construct. Milosh gives his report to the captain, particularly the bodies in pikes that we encountered.

And then we party! Ulrich gets into bare knuckle fighting, while Mads interacts with old women and small children. He’s turning them into thieves for his amusement.

Sebastian and Urban speak for a while about the ravagers and Lucinda, but then he has a vision of a cave with blood and a woman’s screams. He describes what sounds like a scene of sacrifice, with green and black clothed figures near a stone with blood running through grooves. Milosh doesn’t recognize the (admittedly vague) details.

The party continues, and eventually dancers come out. One of them appears to be half Vistani, and she comes and talks to Milosh about the ravagers. He thinks that they probably will attack again and that if she stays she will probably die, but he doesn’t tell her that. She mentions that her mother’s tribe is near the town of Zeidenburg, but that she doesn’t really feel accepted anywhere. Milosh encourages her to be proud of her heritage. She also hits on him, but he is utterly uninterested.

Mads and I talk about Milosh and his dislike of parties. I conjecture that merriment reminds him of something he has lost. Sad face.

Mads interrogates some of the inhabitants to see if they have a similar icon to the Prince of Shadows, and they tell him about the Gentlemen Caller, who is shifty and seductive and sounds quite familiar. And then they all retire for the evening and play with their socks.

I talk to the mayor and encourage him to both train his troops and prepare to evacuate the town should an attack come.

Milosh and I speak about future plans, and he suggests that we go and talk to this troop that the dancer mentioned and see if they can provide any insight on Sebastian’s vision. It sounds like a great idea!

The next day, we set out to return to Point Hope so that we can talk to Lucinda before seeking out the Vistani. However, while on the road Abalescu halts us, and we see a lump in the middle of the street. Sebastian mutters the word “crow”, but then doesn’t remember that he did. Milosh approaches the lump cautiously, but Ulrich hits it with a magic missile, to everyone’s surprise.

It is a dead horse! And we have just beaten it. There is a blood trail leading away from the horse into the forest. Milosh follows it as I grab some saddlebags from the ground. They bear a marking of a crow on them, and the name “Corvo Couriers”, from the city of Barovia.

The blood trail leads to a cave matching Sebastian’s description, and we hear a scream from within. We charge in! Inside, we encounter a group of cultists surrounding a crying woman and an apparently dead man. They are wearing black and green pants and shirts, and are dripping some kind of acid from their Web – covered bodies. Needless to say, they don’t appreciate our intrusion, and we tussle.

During the fight, the crying woman stands up and attacks us, apparently turning into one of the cultists as acid starts to drop from her arms. With difficulty, she tells us that “they” are making her attack us. But her change only prolongs the inevitable, and we finally knock them all down.

The chamber they are in had a collection of books written by Schneideldorf, a rumored associate of vanRichten, along with a journal that has some bookmarks in it. Ulrich also takes a statue of their god (?) with the initials “BQ” carved on it, and Mads takes some of the cultists’ knives. I examine the saddlebags, and find them packed with letters and packages going to Zeidenberg. I open one and find a damaged doll that I try to clean up like a good guy. We burn the bodies of everyone before we leave.

Finally, we get back on the road to Point Hope.

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First Contact
We have met the enemy, and he is odorous

We were awakened by the sound of alarm bells resounding over Point Hope, calling the soldiers to what we did not know. Mads, outside sleeping in a tree as was his wont, overheard the captain receiving a report from one of the Wardens’ scouts. The Ravagers were on the move, heading towards the small town of Grozny. It was no more than a raiding party, maybe 15 creatures total, but the kind of destruction that even such a small group could do… It was time to mobilize.

Abalescu gathered together a group of a dozen men to accompany him to the town to defend it, and we volunteered our services as well. And then we departed into the woods, followed by a MONTAGE, because that is what heroes do. We had to make it to the town before the Ravagers did, or else. What exactly the else would have been, we didn’t know, other than the fact that it would involve bodies and pikes. Or bodies ON pikes, to be more precise.

Due to our incomparable skills, we did as we needed to, and we got ourselves and the Wardens to Grozny just ahead of the approaching abominations. After a short delay involving Mads and his new-found appreciation for rhubarb pie, we cleared the streets of citizens and prepared to make our stand. And stand we did. The Ravagers attacked without hesitation, howling and scrabbling over each other as they tried to slake their bloodlust, but they were no match for our discipline. Or for the discordant tones of my Canticum, bringing thunder and death down among them.

Mads checked the bodies and found little other than their own filth and the scraps of cloth that served as their clothing, but one of the Ravagers was carrying a small silver locket containing a portrait of a woman in it. It was unclear where the locket had come from – perhaps another village that the creatures had passed through, or a memento of a past conquest. It seemed doubtful that there was any sentimentality in the creatures’ vicious minds, though, so it was just as likely that the locket simply had been trod upon and gotten lodged in the ichor covering the man-thing.

Once the streets were quiet once more, the mayor and some of the braver townsfolk came out to see us and thank us for our help, offering to celebrate us and our victory with a revel that night (not a sleep revel, for, oddly, the people were unfamiliar with such a thing here). Also there would be more pie. Mads had considered refusing before that was mentioned. We agreed, with the stipulation that we not deplete their stores, and that we take the immediate opportunity to try and track the Ravagers first, before the trail cooled. We decided to return in the evening, and Abalescu and his men would, in the meantime, help the townsfolk construct a wall to blunt further attacks.

Over the river and through the woods, the Ravager trail took us. They evidently had moved quickly, as the entire trail was of similar appearance. However, after hours of tracking, we finally came to what appeared to be the remains of a Ravager camp, on top of the burnt out remains of a Vistani merchant/entertainer camp. Judging from the impaled bodies on the outskirts of a set of circled, charred wagons, it looked like the Ravagers had not been welcome visitors. Although I told Milosh otherwise, it looked as if the Vistani had suffered horribly at the hands of their attackers, and that they had remained here for days to do it, as any tracks leading into the camp were long gone.

We did what we could for the Vistani, burying them after recording the positioning on the pikes, and then returned to Grozny for some well- deserved pie.

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You remind me of someone...

Inside of the woodcutters’ camp, the sounds of the forest completely fell away, as if every creature other than us had the good sense to hide from what had happened there. From the interior of the camp, though, we could just make out the sounds of creaking from… somewhere. We thought it was just the wind blowing through the shattered windows of the village. But, we noted later, there was no wind at the time, as if it too feared to bear witness to the death there.

Up ahead of us, we could see the body of a woman lying in the street, seemingly having fallen (or been thrown) from an upper story window, her head surrounded by a halo of blood partly soaked into the earth. Considering that the attack had occurred several days ago, as described by Milosh, this was… odd. Maybe the Ravagers had returned? Perhaps this was a survivor who had crept out of their hiding spot in terror and fallen accidentally, or one driven by madness to suicide. Whoever they were we could do nothing but investigate, although strict practicality stated that putting a crossbow bolt into them from the end of the street would be wiser.

So compassion won out over practicality, though practicality was proven to be the better alternative in the end. As Milosh approached, the woman proved herself to be animate, but was missing her lower half, as well as her life itself. “Where were you?” she/it questioned Milosh accusingly before attempting to bite off his feet, and its attack brought forth a horde of shambling, clawing undead from the houses around us.

The creatures lacked any sound tactics, fortunately, and we managed to return the creatures to their graves without anything worse than a few gashes to ourselves. A quick inspection of the corpses revealed no specific animating force, implying that the horror of what had been committed in the camp drove the dead to rise in search of revenge. Milosh confirmed that the Ravagers were not known to intentionally raise the undead behind them in the wake of their attacks.

Mads made a detailed inspection of one of the curiosities left behind in the town by the Ravagers – a gruesome set of sculptures, constructed of long stakes and human corpses, or at least scattered pieces of the latter. The construction appeared very deliberate, although even his fractured mind could find no recognizable pattern to either the bodies themselves or int the markings on the pikes. After a quick search of the houses in the town, which revealed many more bodies but no more that were animate, we returned to Fort Hope to regroup and discuss the Ravager threat.

The men of the fort were glad to see us return, and Milosh sought out Abalescu to make his report while Mads looked for Lucinda to ask her whether any logic had ever been noted in the human sculptures left behind by the Ravagers. Both Milosh’s report and Mads’ questioning left their respective other parties somewhat unsettled. However, we got mutton stew and delicious bread in the mess hall for ourselves, so it was all worth while.

Later that evening, I went to see Lucinda in her offices to continue our discussion from earlier in the day. In among our talks about the geography of the region, its major powers and the events of the day, we also discussed one of Lucinda’s primary interests – Rudolf van Richten, celebrity vampire hunter. The signed portrait on the wall behind her desk and the distracted way that she spoke his name betrayed her infatuation with him. However, she did say that I reminded her of him and bestowed upon me an amulet handed out by his fan club that she said had some power over undead. Also, we searched through her library and found some descriptions of the Ravagers’ behavior, including the impaled bodies left behind at the woodcutters’ camp. And then I retired for the evening, promising to continue our talks another night, over another bottle of wine (thank you Sebastian, by the way).

Finally, we all turned in for the night to get some good sleep. A sleep that was almost immediately interrupted by the sound of alarm bells ringing inside of the fort…

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Guerrillas in the Mist

It was only a dream… or so I thought at the moment of waking…

Mist swirled around us as we ran through the dense brush, the darkness of the approaching evening made more foreboding in the shadows cast by the canopy above us. Something behind us howled, blood-curdlingly close, as the pounding of our flight through the woods mixed with the sounds of pursuit – the crack of branches, the snarl of beasts. I could swear that I felt hot breath on my neck, as if the creatures’ jaws were about to snap closed on me, but when I glanced back there was nothing to be seen. Only the obscuring blur of the rising mists, mists that seemed as if they had congealed from a mix of the blood-magic-spawned rainstorm and the dying screams of its victim – Erik Bruns.

The billowing mists, not content with merely shrouding our vision, turned to a caustic, choking vapor, filling our lungs with its filth. My breath turned to a hoarse cough as I fought for air, driven forward by the howls of our pursuers. But the mists seemed to solidify – my legs dragged, my chest burned. Finally, there was no choice but to halt and collapse in the wet soil. My last view… fangs… no, bars… not soil, but bricks…

Ulrich was the first of us to awaken, and he in his gentle way (his words), woke the rest of us. It had been a dream… perhaps. Sitting there, in the cell that we now found ourselves, it was difficult to remember where our actual flight from the werewolves in Avabruck had ceased and where my mind had begun creating its own terrors. Maybe it doesn’t matter now, considering our new situation.

We were in a cell, our gear having been carefully stripped from us, but at least we seemed no worse off than we had been in Avabruck. At first, we believed that the ritual that we had interrupted had also been discovered by others – Edgar, perhaps, or some of the other party guests – and that we had been rescued, in our turn, after saving the lives of the Gavonite ambassador and his hapless squire. However, the accent of the guard who stood outside of the door and told us to shut our mouths was unusual – certainly not from Avabruck, and nothing that any of the three us us could place…

Mads was furious that were were imprisoned and desperate to be free, which I found odd seeing as how he was likely to be more used to this condition than the rest of us. Ulrich was already swearing vengeance against those that had locked us in here. As for Sebastian, he was nowhere to be seen.

Our new state of consciousness must have been something the guard was waiting for, because he soon returned with two other men – one who appeared to be in command, bearing obvious insignias of rank, and the other dressed more as a hunter, with darker hair and skin than his two companions. Both of them watched us for a moment, and I could see the suspicion in their eyes. Finally, after a rapid series of accusations and vague threats from Mads and Ulrich, the commander introduced himself as Captain Abelescu, accompanied by Dalca, his assistant. Again, his accent struck me as odd for Avabruck, but my thoughts were interrupted by both Mads and Ulrich demanding to be released. The captain was unfazed, and insisted that we answer his questions before he would consider any of our requests.

As I was convinced that this was a misunderstanding, I had no issue with answering his questions. The most likely situation was that we had been apprehended along with the werewolves led by the mayor, and that the soldiers could not be sure that we were part of them. The next most likely scenario seemed to be that we were in the captivity of the cult itself and that they already knew that we opposed them, thus we could not tell them anything they didn’t already know. The least likely possibility was that we were held by the werewolf cult and that they had no idea who we were, in which case the truth could mean our death. But the odds of the truth helping us was much greater than its opposite.

The actual case for our captivity turned out to be something that we could not have anticipated. As the captain questioned us on our identities and motives, it became apparent that he had never actually heard of the places and people that we mentioned – not Avabruck, not Gavony, not the Ulvenwald – nothing. Captain Abelescu told us that were were in a land called Barovia, which none of us were familiar with either. We have yet to understand the exact position of our relocation, much less the method of its execution. Perhaps even more important news than the site of our prison was the captain’s pronouncement that Sebastian (now that we had used his name) was found dead in the mists with us. Mads demanded to see the body, and his insistence appeared to surprise our captors. I agreed with Mads – we could not be sure that the body that was found was not the squire, or perhaps even a young werewolf.

Abelescu agreed to release us under the eye of Dalca, whose first name was Milosh, we learned at that point. He was the one who had pulled us from the mists, and in their eyes we owed him a debt. As he led us out of the cell he explained more about where we were – a rough fortification called Fort Hope maintained by the Rödvaardens, in the northern land of Barovia. As we left the building we had been held in and entered the courtyard of the fort, the pale, cold sunlight surprised us, and the forest of pines and firs that covered the area were a stark contrast from the oaks and elms of the Ulvenwald. Milosh explained that the Rödvaardens police the land and deal with inhuman threats to its people. There was also a good deal of talk about a man named Strahd having a great deal of influence over the land and even the mists, but it is uncertain whether us being here has anything to do with him.

And then, Sebastian appeared! It turned out that the captain’s report of our naive wizard’s death was merely a test to judge our reaction, for if we had callously dismissed his demise then we certainly would have to have been evil. I can’t say that I agree with the captain’s logic, but it was good to see Sebastian again. I think that we had all dreaded having to identify his body. Except for Ulrich, perhaps.

Milosh and Abelescu explained that it would be beneficial to us to prove ourselves by accompanying Milosh on a ranging into the woods, and that there had been reports of restless dead being sighted near the road to the west of the fort. At least the undead were something that we were familiar with, so we agreed to the task given us.

Before departing, I noticed a woman at the other end of the courtyard, observing us and taking notes in a small book. Unlike the other inhabitants of the fortification that we had seen, she appeared to have a scholarly demeanor to her – a welcome change from our typical company in Avabruck. I introduced myself, “Urban Richter. For your notes,” and she introduced herself as Lucinda, the Keeper for this fortress. We talked for a while, but unfortunately neither she nor I were familiar with the regions or people that the other one mentioned. We agreed to talk later, after the ranging that we had agreed to, perhaps over wine, if any can be procured here. And without Mads, preferably.

Finally, we departed for the woods, chatting more with Milosh about this Barovia that we found ourselves in. He told us, gravely, about the greatest threat that the Rödvaardens faced – a group of bestial abhumans called the Ravagers, who came through the mists recently and have committed a great deal of violence to the outlying towns. To punctuate his description, he led us to a woodcutters’ camp that had been attacked by the Ravagers. It was horrific what they had done to the men here, tearing them apart to paint the buildings with their blood. Those buildings that they did not raze, that is. Some of the bones showed signs of butchering as well, as if the woodcutters had been carefully stripped of flesh to serve as a meal…

Oh, and there were zombies that we had to destroy. If only everything were that simple…

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Here Comes the Rain Again

Sebastian reaches the camp with his entourage, which is populated by a few dozen soldiers. This would be a sizable force for the Avabruck militia to deal with, actually, since it’s a smallish town. The commander of the camp welcomes the “emissary” back and asks how it went. So they go off and talk.

Sebastian tries to talk the commander down with warnings about the dwarves being a threat, but the commander encourages the emissary to go directly to the dwarves to negotiate. Argument!

After they reach a stalemate, the commander then decides that it’s a good idea to poison the well instead. Nice guy. It seems that he cannot be dissuaded. For reasons that we don’t know about, they need a lot of silver and want the mines here.

Sebastian, as the emissary, uses a relationship point in a new way! Yay! He knows of a thought-to-be legendary city of silver dedicated to the Angel that they can steal from. It’s seems like it will work! They will go to this city, leaving only a small force to protect the emissary. 2 guards and a squire?

During a well-planned deceptive bathroom break along the ride back, we meet up with Sebastian and debate what to do. We decide to ambush the other guards, leaving the squire alive, and act as if the emissary has been kidnapped. Which he has. And we do! We give the squire to the false guard and return to the town. With our new horses.

A short while later, we attend the sleep revel. Everyone in town is there, and we introduce ourselves to the host and his wife, then dig into the food and drink. After a few inconsequential conversations, the celebration moves on to another ritual where they carry around Eric and shout pall bearer.

They mayor and Anneliese don’t seem interested, and we notice one of the servers (a blonde elf) leave out the back, and Mads follows. Then they’re in the cellar. We are suspicious about everything! Mostly without reason. Sebastian tries to get into Eric’s cellar. And does, escorted by the somalier.

Then he finds a secret door, uses a wine bottle to knock out the somalier, and goes through the now-revealed secret passage. At the end there is a ladder leading up to a moist trap door, but he does not investigate further, then comes back to the kitchen and alerts them to the state of the somalier.

I talk to the dwarf leader and tell him that we went to the black brier mine and did not receive good service. The dwarf who we met there disappeared after initially meeting us. Huh. The dwarf lord thinks this is very important. So he and his host leave to form a rescue party. Anneliese takes Eric upstairs and the room is quiet.

We return to the kitchen, now that everyone has left, and go back into the cellar. Above is a cave, with what looks like a dungeon in it. There are chains hanging on the walls (for temporary use only), some dried blood, and a scrap of purple cloth that might match the purple sashes on the soldiers.

I propose that the mayor is behind the Order of Night in this town (if they are even associated), and has had the emissary imprisoned here, and that at least Anneliese, the blonde elf and the major are involved. Perhaps Eric is as well. We don’t know why, exactly, but we have been told that the mayor doesn’t want foreign intrusions in town.

We track from the cave and eventually find an evil ritual being performed in the woods. Drums pound, cultists chant, and fires blaze. Listening in, it seems like they are going to sacrifice 3 people – Eric, the squire and the emissary – in order to try to restore the rains. Hells no. We attack!

There is a mammoth battle (off screen) where the drummers turn out to be werewolves and we tangle, freeing the emissary and squire. We kill the cult leader, who is revealed to be the mayor, but Anneliese kills Eric. Once that happens, rain falls from the sky, mist rises from the ground and more werewolves appear. We flee into the rising mist.

We find ourselves in a different forest, surrounded by choking mist that drags us into unconsciousness. The last thing we see is the silhouette of a lone figure coming towards us through the fog.

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