The Abyss Stares Back

Liesl with an Option to Buy

We get what information we can from Sasha and Liesl about the vampires in the cave. They tell us that there are at least two of the creatures, perhaps a few more, and that the hunters are not aware of any other entrances.

We decide to sneak into the chamber and try to stake a few of the monsters before they realize that we are there, and perhaps pull some of them out into the sunshine. The plan, of course, relies on stealth, which is one of our specialties. And then we screw it up with two ones. The vampires are alerted to our presence, and they are up and out of their coffins before our eyes adjust to the darkness. We are, evidently, just in time to be their snack. But perhaps they will be our snack instead! Fight!

It isn’t long before we have dusted all of the vampires (there were 3, including one that was super disinterested in the fight, and I’m going to pretend that the first two were sweethearts). The coffins in the room contain personal effects, including a letter from one of the vampire’s mothers congratulating her on her alchemy shop, dated about 5 years ago.

In the next room is a desk with some books and papers on it. Inside one of the books is a letter.

Grell, 2 tasks. Find info on the hunter in Teufeldorf (he killed someone’s consort – Katarina). Find the upstart in Barovia, this scholar, and learn his strength. Love, Lord Blackburn

Mads has the idea of seeking out Lord Blackburn and allying ourselves with him (temporarily) against the scholar, who seems to be his competition. For that reason, we don’t share the letter with Sasha and Liesl, assuming that they would try to act against Blackburn if they knew he was a vampire. We conjecture in post that Sasha is this hunter that the letter speaks of.

We return to Teufeldorf and the church, where we find some of the crazy people that Heinrich brought back milling around in the sanctuary, being tended by Mortimer. Mads relays the information about the asylum and remaining patients, and Mortimer agrees to help Heinrich stay sober and Heinrich will help to bring back the patients.

Our plan is to go back to Barovia and talk to Lucinda and Blackburn and whoever else we have there and go from that. One evil possibility is to inform Blackburn of Sasha’s identity IFF an extra bargaining chip is required to acquire his assistance.

Checking Out

We find a first draft of a prophecy that Yaris (the mad scientist that we just defeated) had written for the Awakened. There are a number of re-wordings and corrections that imply that he was writing this not from memory, but rather to sound impressive. Even so, the writing shows that Yaris knew more detailed information about us than we are comfortable with – maybe the rest of the writing has information about our future as well.

We take the patients from the third floor down through the dumb waiter system to the first floor. One we get back to town, we will tell the church of Lathander that the people here need their help, and it will be easier to get them out away from the electroshock room. And Mads makes a promise that he will burn the asylum down in four weeks.

We decide to find room 2135, thinking that Heinrich’s girlfriend might be there (the crazy doctor implied it, although Heinrich himself didn’t pick up on that). Inside, we find the long-dead corpse of a woman, hung from the ceiling, wearing an opal engagement ring on her finger. There is a suicide note carved in the wall that is angry that “he left me”. We cut down the body and remove the ring, but there is a cold wind and her ghost appears.

She is initially angry that we took the ring, and then angrier once she learns that Heinrich is still alive (she thinks that he left her here), and then she just wants to see him. So Mads goes and gets Heinrich for a family reunion, and maybe a ghost death. They laugh, they cry, they realize that her father betrayed them both. And then she forgives him and disappears so that he can heal. And take care of their daughter, who is also here. We did a good thing!

We gather up Heinrich, his daughter, and her two friends and try to leave. The weird receptionist lady is here as well, and she insists on us logging out and turning in our badges before we can leave. So we do that, and in exchange we get a minor magic item or two. Hooray! But then Mads turns in Sebastian’s token and receives a form letter/condolence card instead, which enrages him.

One we are all done we travel onwards with our new wards in tow.

Mads gets shot in the chest by a vampire hunter! Oh no! But it’s Sasha and Liesl, and they are in the middle of one of their cute little vampire hunts, having found a lair in a cave that they are about to assault. Awwwwwwww… We decide to come and help. Or hinder, depending on how things go.

The Leg Bone's Connected to the...

We charge into the room. Well, Mads charges into the room, teleporting into the middle of the group before Milosh and I can react. He is surprisingly angry.

The main doctor guy is surrounded by a number of gurneys flipped up on end, each with a patient strapped in to them and with a juice groove cut into the bottom. Around them all are creatures, looking mostly human, but with craggy features and covered in spikes and such, as if they have been partially transformed. They are carving patterns into the floor – symbols of some kind…

We fight with the doctor and his minions, and enjoy his whispered words of despair and ability to make us distrust and attack each other. But he doesn’t survive for long, and we eventually take him down. All non lethal, of course, since we suspect that shed blood will unleash horror. And then his tentacles flop out of his sleeves. {Shudder}

Mads moves to free some of the patients tied to the gurneys, and has crazy conversations with them about hot air balloons.

We interrogate the good doctor and he is rather forthcoming with his information. The ritual was supposed to summon one of the generals of the Black Amaranth to take control of the ravagers and solidify them as a force under the control of the Awakened. Now that we have disrupted that, I guess that they will continue being crazy.

He confirms that we are believed by the inner circle of the Awakened to be some kind of prophesied group called “The Synod”. He even has a copy of the prophecy, written by him, that appears to have undergone a number of revisions to make it sound more impressive. It would be easy to dismiss the prophecy altogether because of its obvious edits, but they do seem to have information about us that shouldn’t be known by anyone. Anyway, we drag the doctor out into the hallway before dispatching him. He claims that killing him will not be an impediment and that he will be brought back shortly by his master, so we will put his claims to the test.

One last thing that he says, “We should look for her, 2135”. We have no idea what that means.

Blackhawk Down

We don’t want to talk about what happens in the electroshock chamber, but it doesn’t go as well as we would hope. We end up leaving the room one person short of where we started. And maybe one of us has the guilt of shooting the missing person in the head with magical thunder as he was being swarmed by lunatics and devoured alive.

Once we have escaped the chamber, we head to the room above the kitchen and find the dumb waiter from below. It is jammed by the body of a dead patient, which we promptly remove. We can use it to access the third floor, which was inaccessible due to the stairs being collapsed from the second to the third floor.

Mads scouts the waiter exit on the third floor and find the third floor kitchen empty, although it looks like food has recently been prepared here, and Mads can hear the sounds of conversation coming from somewhere down the east wing. So we go that way.

The floor looks to be mostly made up of doctors’ offices, one of which has a cultists in it, peering at a bloodied dagger on his desk and watched over by an icon of their demon lord. Mads and Milosh kill him dead, but not before he refers to us as the “Synod”? We don’t know what he means, but it doesn’t sound like a good thing.

Also not good is the mural that we find on the wall, depicting… us? There are four figures in a painting labeled the Bodyguard, the Spymaster, the Inquisitor and the Oracle. The last one is crossed out in red paint. At least we hope that it’s paint. This might be related to the cultist referring to us as the Synod. They seem to be planning something for us, or are convinced that we are going to do something for them that we are as yet unaware of.

Further down the hall, we find the source of the conversation behind a closed door. Mads peers in with his magic ring and sees an examination room, all set up for torture and converting people into monsters. The room itself is square, but there are examination screens surrounding a central area in a circular pattern. The circular room from Sebastian’s vision! It even has the bleary eyed patients wandering around…

There is an obvious head doctor in the room who immediately grabs Mads attention and this becomes our primary target. It is not, unfortunately, the scholar.

Mads decides it’s go time, tells us to leave the main doctor alive, and vanishes. And then it’s go time.

Happy Thoughts, Interrupted

It’s motherfucking gargoyle time. The children’s guardian drops down from the ceiling, apparently angry that they handed us a key to progress further into the asylum. After we exit the room and close and lock the door, we hear the girls screaming in fear and the monster roaring with rage. Sigh. We can’t let this continue, so Milosh screams a challenge and the gargoyle smashes through the door to engage us. NOT with the body of one of the girls, her bones shattered by the force of the impact, face pulped by its inhuman strength, whom the creature then carelessly tosses to the floor as she whimpers in agony. Nope, not that.

We battle the gargoyle, whose stony skin is nearly impervious to the weapons wielded by Mads and Milosh. It is not, however, resistant to the demon-fueled thunder wielded by yours truly, and it is eventually reduced to a pile of gravel on the floor of the hallway.

We pass back through the room and reenter the kitchen, where we find the three girls hiding in the oven (fortunately, no one does much cooking in this institution). Mads awkwardly lets them know that we destroyed their tormentor/daddy, and they seem to be more or less OK with that. We ask them some questions about what lies further into the building, and they warn us about the “funny man” guarding the way up to the next floor, as well as the “lightning room” that we will have to go through once we have ascended.

So it’s off to the funny man, whom we find perched on a smoking pile of… something… at the end of the hall leading to the stairs up. The smoke is mind altering, although only Sebastian and I are affected by it (bad trip LSD for the former, cocaine for the latter THISISTHEGREATEST). We all share, some of us unwillingly, in the ridiculousness that follows.

Finally we make it to the man himself, and it turns out that the pile he is sitting on is BURNING DRUGS, no surprise there. And also, he is crazy. Still, no surprise. He cackles in delight at himself and invites us to RIDDLEFIGHT with him. And we DO, and we WIN. So he pushes his little stash out of our way, opens the door the the ascending stairway, and then beats us with a series of puns that would have had much more gravitas if the riddling had gone differently. Oh Cicero, you scamp.

Upstairs, we find a hallway layout similar to what we have just come from, with the first wing of the building populated by a series of looneycells, minus most of the loonies. A bit further on is the morgue, which gets just enough of a glance from us to verify that the Awakened are still messing with dead bodies in what we can only assume are experiments designed to create ever more horrific creatures to spread wisdom and knowledge across the land for fun and profit.

And then, past that area, we find a set of double doors through which can be seen the electric blue flashes of… well, electricity. In we go, to Electroshock Therapy. It is a large room with a van de graf generator in the center spitting electricity into the air, surrounded by a horde of pacified crazymen. They seem to be very very fond of the generator, almost as if it is their deity of peace. Around the room are cells, closed and locked, that look to contain a higher class of violent offenders, judging by their scars and the thirst for blood visible in their eyes, as well as a small enclosed chamber on one side that screams CONTROL ROOM. And also which has “Control Room” written on the wall above it. The hallway at the far end of the room was blocked off by a wall of arcing energy, preventing us from exiting out that way.

We enter the control room and find a set of four multicolored wheels begging to be spun into some predefined positions, but whose instructions had been lost to the ravages of crazymen. Fortunately, we recall the rhyme of the girls downstairs, who had sung of colored things in their nursery rhyme. Although what a “violet cry” is, we don’t know. We keyed in that sequence and, lo and behold, the generator shut off. And the cages opened. And EVERYONE EVERYWHERE began howling for our blood and charging towards the control room.

This is what happens when you take away the weirdos’ binkies.

Won't You Take Me to CRAZYTOWN

Heinrich, whom we go to visit, is a drunk and a wizard, but the wizard part has yet to be proven. He is distracted and obviously a slob, as his house is a mess and smells of booze. And yet we speak with him.

He is aware of the sanitarium and its history, and he tells all. It was a place with a shifty reputation since many people who were not actually crazy were shipped there, including women with child and other undesirables. About 5 years ago there was a patient uprising and the doctors and other staff were killed or captured, and the place has been off the grid since then.

The cult has also been to visit this guy (and left acid pits in Heinrich’s chair to prove it). They wanted to know about a magic item called the ring of erudition that this guy used to own. He tells us, and told the cult, that he sold it to Schneideldorf. This explains Schneideldorf’s messed up house, ransacked by the cult looking for the item. And Schneideldorf was awfully suspicious of us and wanted to accuse us of stealing his jewelry.

We convince Heinrich to come with us to aid in the casting of the ritual that we are carrying from Schneideldorf, and he does! The five of us immediately head off for the sanitarium.

We come to the front gate of the asylum and are set upon by some of the patients who evidently have been turned into werewolves. We are forced to destroy them, unfortunately, and feel even worse when we find a nest that they were living in inside a bush with a teddy bear inside it.

Mads climbs up to the second story to look in one of the cracks in a window and has someone’s eye look back at him. We debate for a moment whether to go in through the attic or the basement, but follow Milosh’s suggestion and use the basement. After breaking through a chain on the cellar doors outside, we enter a storage area. Inside are cans of food and a… receptionist?

She asks us why we are being admitted and we describe our maladies. She listens carefully, then gives us our IDs, which are charms specific to each of us (a tree for Mads, knife for Milosh, moon for me, lightning bolt for Sebastian and bottle for Heinrich).

We go upstairs, gather clothes to look vaguely like patients, and start exploring. On the other side of a set of double doors are a set of little girls jumping rope and singing a rhyme. It’s about us! Maybe. Mads talks to them and nearly reassures them of our non-threatening nature. But then their guardian, a monstrous gargoyle, shows up (whom they are afraid of) and we run away. But so do they, after giving us a key to escape the room!

Who will the gargoyle chase? Inquiring minds want to know…

Everybody Needs a Hobby

We take our time messing around with the cult lieutenant, trying to threaten him into telling us where the sanitarium is. No dice. He doesn’t fear us, seeing as how he is already sworn to a dark god, and even after Mads cuts off one of his fingers, he remains silent. The man knows the things that make us interesting (my demon words, Mads’ star talking, Sebastian’s visions, Milosh’s ability to be static). This, according to him, is due to the Scholar sucking the memories out of someone whom we have obviously never met, so I’m not sure how they would know so much about us.

We regroup and try a different tactic, something that’s usually successful when you fail to talk/threaten someone into helping you. Mads tries to get him to believe that Mads wants to switch sides if he can get the cult to help him get home. It sort of works, since the cultist tells him to take us north, away from the sanitarium. Mads tells him that he will let the cultist go (and then will try to follow him with ghosts), but decides to kill him instead. Because Mads.

We continue south to Teufeldorf, and then question some of the townsfolk about crazy dudes and where they might end up. The consensus is that the Church of Lathander is the place to start, since the head priest, Mortimer, helps the sick there. However, the acolyte of the church is the most interesting, AND HE HAS A NAME, since he had been to the site of the sanitarium. He is part of a low level group of vigilantes (so cute) that has tracked vampires in the surrounding woods and who can give us some other clues. If we meet other vampire hunters, we are to mention the “hand of the Morning Lord”, which sounds quite euphamistic. Who knows what that will get us… But anyway, he’s seen the sanitarium on some of his jaunts, although he has never been there. He also begs us to not tell Morty about his side project, since that guy is old and would not approve of murdering evil creatures of the night. At least not if you’re a baby man.

Someone whom we haven’t talked to, but has been mentioned by the townsfolk, is Heinrich Leipzig the spellcaster, who might know about Magic and rituals and such. He is also an investigator, so is like totally cool.

Finally, Frankenberries

We go into the experiment room, now that Mads has disarmed the trap on the door leading into it. Inside is a long hallway with two long shelves leading parallel away from us, made up of a collection of stacked books, cages and furniture. It continues to reek of acid and decay.

Mads goes a short distance ahead to check out the cages. Inside are what looks like the remains of large rats – a ball of decay and fur that he doesn’t look at more closely for fear of squid attack. Yes, squid attack.

Further into the room there is a large, fish tank-like structure holding an unconscious creature. In fact, there are two such tanks, one that holds a very dead elf and another that holds a less dead collection of human parts. Milosh dumps over a corpse from a nearby gurney for some reason and explodes its head, which is cool and all, but then the rest of them attack us. Fight!

We crush the zombies, even though the flesh golem leading them is pretty brutal. Going through the room, we notice that just about everything useful has already been removed, but we do find a page from someone’s notes with reports on some of the cultists activity, mentioning the caves near Kreszk, the ravager farm near Berez, and a sanitarium named Merrimeade. The latter is the location of a gathering that the author of the page is currently attending. For a ritual. That we should go and stop.

We find some old explosives in the mine, wire it up in the lab and then blow the whole thing up. And then we remember the lizard men… Oops.

We make for Teufeldorf, but before we get to the main road we hear the sound of a crazy preacher guy saying that the faithless are coming, and that we don’t approve of them, etc etc. We are apparently the faithless, and these are a bunch of cultists who don’t like our style. Or our murdering of them. Wah. So we come out of the woods in the middle of his followers, then Milosh summons some ghosts and all hell breaks loose, quite literally.

Finally we defeat them and knock out the main guy, resolving to torture information out of him later. Oh, and we also rescue the Huntress, whom he had kidnapped. Now we’re off to Teufeldorf to figure out what this sanitarium is that the page speaks of, and hopefully this is where we can disrupt the ritual. We only have a few days left, after all…

Wizard and Lizard: Canceled

The lizard men are not mining out the wall as we originally thought. Instead, they appear to be carving something into the wall, and the stone on which they are doing so is both black and sparkling. They are being watched over by a single guard who is wielding two whips, simultaneously. He’s good!

Mads decides to try to make friends with the lizards and get them to rise up against what we assume is their master. So we do that. Mads goes in and tries to put on a show of being their friend, even though he doesn’t speak their language, since he’s SO DAMN SMOOTH. It works, at least enough to distract then for a while, although their slave driver tries to get them to attack us while he does the same. Fight! The lizards are distracted enough by Mads to fight at half power, which is pretty sweet.

We are victorious, and we even leave a few of the lizards alive (no thanks to me), having freed them from their magical collars. Two of them flee from us into an equipment storage closet and then down into a volcanic steam crack. We don’t follow, assuming that were we to do so it would end in burning and acid.

In the other direction there is a hall that leads gently down into the mines. There are several doors along the sides, and one of them is boarded up. Mads listens and decides that the boarded room is EXTRA quiet and this should be the one that we investigate first. This turns out to be a bad idea, because the room is haunted by the ghosts of some dead miners. Who attack Mads and at least partially possess Sebastian. Fight!

We defeat the ghosts (and I smack Sebastian in the head to keep him from being fully possessed), but they don’t go away, at least not totally. They ask us, through Sebastian, to release them from their torment and find their bones. These are up in the main entrance area at the first cave in that we saw, and the ghosts give us a map to them, imprinted into Sebastian’s mind in a script made entirely of anguished sadness.

We go up there and clear the rubble, free the bones and satisfy the ghosts. They owe us favors now! And nothing bad could ever come of that.

We continue our investigations. Further down the tunnel, we find another door, but this one is visibly chained and locked. There is a sign outside the door warning of active experiments. Mads is suspicious and checks the door over for traps and, sure enough, finds and disarms a nasty one. Then we quietly push the door open a crack. The acrid scent of decay wafts through, along with the caustic, acidic fumes that are becoming so familiar to us. Experiments? Decay? This can only be a good sign.

What's Yours are Mines

We depart on the road, traveling overnight to Valleki, then sleeping half a day before moving on to an inn in the road to Kreszk, sleeping again, and then traveling to Berez. Once there, the Huntress offers to escort us to the mines north of Teufeldorf, where we believe the cultists to be, because of the material for the statue that we had seen before.

We skill (and demon-hornet-kill) our way to the mines, where the Huntress leaves us, but not before she issues warnings about the dangers there – the spirits of miners who had been killed there, as well as lizard creatures. Lizard creatures? Here in the cold? Must be evil.

We find the entrance of the mine and Mads goes scouting, finding that the first chamber of the mine is being guarded by two cultists and a large, sleeping lizard-like creature. Mads disarms the trip wire across the doorway and we charge in. The lizard turns out to be a dragon, but a small one. Which is good, because now we have to fight it. Them. Everyone!

We defeat the guards without them calling out in alarm and drag the bodies outside, then rearm the trap. There are two exits from the room, although one of them is blocked by a cave in. We take the other fork, heading down into the mine.

Along the way, Mads notices a secret door on the wall, and notices that there is a plate on the door with the image of a dragon in it. This image matches the dragon image on the key that he stole from a dream… So he uses it, even though he has never used a key before in his life. Inside is a small alcove, with a shelf that holds a box. Inside the box is a ring that can be used to peek around corners and the like. Score!

We continue down and come to a larger cavern with a group of lizardmen mining a galaxy basalt wall under the whips of a slave driver. We don’t like slavery. Or lizardfolk, probably. And damn it, we’re going to do something about one (or both) of those.


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