The Abyss Stares Back

A Stitch in Mind
Could also have been the Wheel of Mind

We start off at the edge of the lake and can see the city of Barovia across. Nearby is a dock and a small shack, and being is we can hear the sound of something chasing us through the forest. Mads goes to look for a boat by the dock while i knock at the door. A man answers, a fisherman, and we hastily negotiate for passage.

Across the lake we go, and we see the demon emerge from the flaming woods and destroy the fisherman’s house, and possibly his cats. The man, Peter, is upset by this, and we half-heartedly apologize. And then continue the journey without incident.

We arrive on the other side near the city and head up to the road into town. On the way in, Sebastian drops in pain with another vision, one that he describes as having a lunar eclipse, sacrificial victims in white robes streaming blood, and a large round room.

We reach the city and find an inn to stay at – the Blood and the Vine. We settle down and analyze. Lucinda, it seems, is trapped in a nightmare, making gasps of terror and having her eyes twitching as if in REM sleep.

We talk about what to do. We consider taking her to Strahd and immediately dismiss it as a terrible idea. We also consider looking for a powerful wizard, but Milosh tells us that they all become evil as they get older. Our first step, then, we’ll be to find a doctor and see if any kind of medical knowledge can help her, and then take her to the Vistani and see if they can find, or cure her, of a curse.

I try to diagnose her myself and cannot come to a conclusion, although she for a moment seems to think that I am vanRichten. Mads takes a crack at her at night, trying to get into her dreams by drinking poisons and sleeping underneath her cot. He fails, and ends up convered in his own vomit for his troubles.

In the morning, Milosh goes out to find the doctor, and gets a few recommendations from the mead boy – an apothecary, sisters who “know things” and a quack named Mordenheim. He chooses the sisters, since this is not a normal disease.

The sisters are seamstresses, and Milosh finds them in their shop spinning and cutting thread. He tells them in a Roundabout way about Lucinda’s trouble and they tell him that they might be able to provide knowledge. First, they need something of hers to scan her, and payment from someone else (not money). He agrees, and goes back to the inn to discuss.

We decide to do what we can to help her, and take her favorite vanRichten book out of her pocket to use as a material link and go back to the spinners. Their price is the dearest memory of someone loved and lost. It’s is too high for Milosh, who needs the memory of his lost love to continue on. So they take my memories of Lucinda instead.

They tell us that we need to find the teacher, the tutor, something from the past, and that what had been forgotten can be relearned. There is also talk of the pages falling out of her book, or the colors running on her painting, etc. And that is all, and they retreat, leaving us without my memories. Milosh isn’t exactly sure, but he thinks that Lucinda was originally from Teufeldorf.

Back to the inn. On the way, we find a flyer with my old teacher’s name on it, saying that she is giving a lecture at the local University tomorrow. Even though we are not in our own world. We decide to go today and see what we can learn.

But first, actually back to the inn, where we find Sebastian traumatized and Lucinda awake. She is very confused and distraught, so i go to the apothecary to get some heroin. And then we drug her. like any concerned friends would do.

So we’ll do the university, then off to Teufeldorf.

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The Cabin in the Woods
A lesson in how to kick a hornets' nest

The road wardens took some time recovering from the attack to tend to their wounded, scan the horizon for more attacks, and collect their much-awaited bread from the overturned cart. While they did this, however, there was a commotion coming from inside of the main building, and it seemed as if the people who had taken shelter in the structure during the bread debacle were now running out. Milosh was the only one with enough situational awareness to notice this, and was the first to rush in through the doors. Inside, after struggling through the fleeing crowd, he came upon one of the wardens left to watch Lucinda and Schneideldorf, now crawling down the hall bloodied and half-crazed. He managed to stammer something about a monster that he and the other library garrison members tried to fight, and then slumped against the wall in pain and exhaustion.

Upon reaching the library, Milosh found it in disarray, although no vicious creatures could be seen inside. Books were scattered all about, and the cage where Schneideldorf had been languishing looked to have been torn open from the inside. The scholar (the one we didn’t like) was still inside, now quite dead, with his head bent sideways at an unnatural angle. His condition was confirmed by Milosh with a few quick pokes of his sword. The other scholar (that we do like) was missing entirely, although there was a fair amount of blood splashed on the floor around her desk and a trail of it leading towards the cage. Milosh questioned another one of the guards, unconscious on the floor of the room, whom he slapped back into wakefulness. Lucinda had been taken, the bookwarden relayed, by a huge creature who appeared out of thin air along with a few of the cultists, presumably during our battle with the unbread cohorts of Nedsdad. The cultists even had a message for Lucinda before beating her into unconsciousness – “Blood begets blood. He wishes to speak with you”. And now they probably are.

There were only a few signs of the cultists’ presence here – the overturned shelves and general destruction, a lingering, horrific stench like sulfur mixed with rotting flesh, and the glimmering, sparkling remnants of what appeared to be teleportation magics inside of the shattered cage (said I, after Mads and I arrived in the library to look for Milosh). The magical effects were still lingering enough for us to analyze them, and my conclusion was that it was a medium range, intraplanar portal with a geographical offset of some distance to the east, probably near the city of Barovia. But this wasn’t very accurate, and we were somewhat fond of Lucinda (I was, at least), so we decided to bend our magical might to the task of her immediate rescue. And by magical might, I mean Sebastian, whom we convinced to hold open the link until we could set up for a ritual. Inside the cage, we constructed a tent covered in bizarre runes of Mads’ design, and Sebastian and I worked together to pull the portal back open and hurl ourselves through it. And we did! After a three-hour casting, and without even one of us being torn apart in a magical maelstrom of destruction. Which, in hindsight, was very much a possibility.

We appeared on a rough trail leading through dark woods, the floor of the bookcage translocated with us and still underfoot (along with a sizable chunk of Schneideldorf), but even in the dim light it was not difficult to find the footprints of a large, clawed creature imprinted on the path, along with the boots and acid-scorched dirt that was the sign of the cultists. The trail had the stink of them, literally. We followed it until a hour or so after sunset, at which point we came to a large clearing containing a single-room-sized shack, probably a woodcutter’s or hunter’s, and a large, stench-emanating barn, both backed by a rocky cliff with a sliver of the moon rising over them. On the path between the woods and the shack stood two cultists around a small campfire, watching the path and the boundary of the woods.

Mads went off on his own to scout the area and skillfully avoided the gaze of the two guards, making his way up to a window on the side of the house. Although his view was obscured by a curtain, he could see the rough silhouette of one person sitting on a chair and another two people walking around inside the structure. No one was speaking, and the person in the chair did not appear to be struggling. He then made his way back to us to report. We decided to go smash-and-grab on the shack, with Mads getting into position under the window once again and jumping in to break the person in the chair (Lucinda, we hoped) free and drag her out of the shack before her guards could react, while the rest of us rushed the sentries to keep them and whatever-was-in-the-barn occupied long enough to let Mads and hopefully-Lucinda escape.

So we did just that! Or something approximating that, at least. Mads blinked into the room in a blur, but instead of cutting Lucinda free immediately (it was, in fact, Lucinda), he attacked her captors, who were definitely of a higher calibre than the average cult thug. This gave her torturer time to put his dirty hands on her skull, to what effect we did not know. Meanwhile, as Milosh and I charged the campers, a massive demon-thing exploded out from under the barn and counter-attacked, nearly decapitating Milosh. We could only keep its attention on us for a few moments, but it was enough for Mads to finally get back in on the plan, dump Lucinda out of the chair away from surely-not-death-with-one-touch guy and hurl himself and her out of the shack’s window, followed by the cackling laughter of those inside. Seeing that he was free, Milosh and I turned and ran from the demon and the remaining cultists.

We retreated to the south, keeping one step ahead of our pursuers, and finally came to the shores of Lake Zahrovich, dark and glistening in the weak moonlight. On the other side glowed the lights of the city of Barovia. If only we could reach it…

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The Walking Bread

We return to point hope to compare notes and to interrogate (and potentially assassinate) Schneideldorf. We first discuss with the captain and keeper about the camp and what we found there, including the notes, circle diagram and purple smoke powder, and Lucinda seems to agree with us on the importance of such things.

As for Schneideldorf, they have put him into the book cage, where he is working on something that might be able to close the half-open portal in the cave. We take the opportunity to question him a little more about the cult, since we suspect him of more involvement than before. He is busy writing something on a piece of parchment, and is very impatient for us to leave him alone.

He claims that it is a ritual to shut the portal that opened back in the cave, but that he needs an hour or so to finish his work. We ask him for the first page of the document at least, telling him that we would like to be as prepared as possible when we actually have to enact the ritual, but also wanting to compare his handwriting to that of the notes that we found in the Ravager camp. He grudgingly gives us the notes and Mads, as the resident forgery expert of the group, compares the two sets of writing. His expert opinion, if it can be called that, is that the samples do not match, and that Schneideldorf is not the Scholar mentioned in the text. Too bad, because then we would already have him in prison.

We go back to Dorfman and torment him a bit more, saying that we are going to release him from the cage at some point, but that it is too dangerous right now with the Awakened roaming around who-knows-where. Possibly even here, although that seems unlikely.

But it suddenly becomes much more likely! Mads and Milosh, best friends forever, take some time off from protecting the innocent and witty banter to help the Roadwardens with another pressing issue – the bread delivery is late. Needless to say, a warden without his breakfast bread is not operating at full capacity. The two of them set up a watch on the fort’s walls and finally, to everyone’s joy, the bread wagon rumbled up to the gates. It’s Ned’s dad, Lumpumsomethingshire! And he had bread! But he also carries with him a staff, and a message. The message came from a golden-haired, curly-locked lunatic on the road, who warned us, through Nedsdad, that we should back off or bad shit would happen. And to prove his point, bad shit did then happen, with Nedsdad stamping the staff against the ground releasing a burst of DEMONENERGY, as well as a bunch of actual, snarling demons. Fightclub that shit!

Ned’s bread dad could have fled in misled dread, but instead was bled, shred and left for dead by his braindead retread of the unsaid, inbred dead-ahead cheese spread. But at least the bread was ok!

Cultist bitches just stepped it up a notch, and they have Ned the inbred, unwed bread head. Time to respond, gangnam style.

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The End of an Era

The battle does not immediately get better. Ulrich goes down again, as do I, and things get grim. Milosh arrives and joins in the fight, but can’t stop the big guy from taking another swing at Ulrich and obliterating his life force. Crap. The guy also crushes his hand into the ground, destroying the evil wand that he carries.

But it doesn’t stick! Ulrich is restored, and surely it is not for any terrible reason. The wand that he was using is gone, but the hand that was crushed has been replaced with something that looks like the wand – dark and shriveled. He leaves the fight, which we don’t understand, and goes off towards the men who are imprisoned in the circle.

We continue to fight, and with a few well timed critical hits we down the big guy and his last minion. Success! Sort of. There is something wrong with Ulrich, in that he attempts to magically enslave one of the ravagers, someone who was just recently converted in the circle (and who has just killed the other men there, as well as a few other people who were in a separate cage). And does! But he and Milosh disagree on the best use for a ravager pet and Milosh kills it even though Ulrich tries to intervene.

We free the last few survivors in the cage and toss the camp. The smoke is coming from smoldering stones in the pit that dissolve when exposed to cold water. I gather up a sample in a vial for later examination and bury the residue. Also around the pit are symbols carved into the soil, although most of them are obscured by trampling footprints. They are vaguely reminiscent of the circle in the cultists’ cave earlier.

Milosh goes through some of the other buildings and find papers and diagrams that remind him of Schneideldorf’s writings. There is a letter to a man named brother Terence that instructs him to use subjects of some kind to create a battalion of creatures to defend the cult. So… the cultists are responsible for creating the ravagers? And this camp is the origin point of the whole shebang? The letter is signed by “the scholar”. Maybe Schneideldorf knows more than he has been admitting?

Mads goes into the large shed that the big ravager came out of and finds a number of bodies in various stages of decay. Included in the pile are several figures in the robes of the cult. So maybe they created the ravagers, but their creations turned on them?

So now our two foes appear to be related in a way that we did not suspect previously, and perhaps looking into the cult would give us more secrets of the ravagers and vice versa.

Anyway, we try to render the camp useless to the ravagers (put out the smoke, obscure the runes in the dirt etc), but leave it unburned with the intent of having the road wardens come and investigate further.

We leave the camp and make our way back to Berez, then head north to the ruined inn to spend the night before returning to Point Hope to give our report to the Roadwardens. The night, however, is dark and full of terrors, and while the rest of us sleep Ulrich departs for points unknown. He leaves a note for Mads, saying that the elf is the only one who might understand, and says that he is going to meet his master, from whom he will gain true power. When we wake, we discuss this, and assume that Ulrich has gone to Strahd to hang out with vampires and other evil shit. We briefly discuss going after him, but we decide that we have more pressing matters to attend to, and head to Point Hope instead, with the understanding that we will probably encounter Ulrich again in the future.

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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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