The Curse of Strahd Annals

Prologue

Under raging storm clouds, a lone figure stands silhouetted against the an­ ancient walls of Castle Ravenloft. The vam­pire Count Zarovich von Strahd stares down a sheer cliff at the village below. A cold, bitter wind spins dead leaves about him, billowing his cape in the darkness.
Lightning splits the clouds overhead, casting stark white light across him. Strahd turns to the sky, revealing the angular muscles of his face and hands. He has a look of power-and of madness. His once hand­ some face is contorted by a tragedy darker than the night itself.
Rumbling thunder pounds the castle spires. The wind's howling increases as Strahd turns his gaze back to the village. Far below, yet not beyond his ken, a party of adventurers has just entered his domain. Strahd's face forms a twisted smile as his dark plan unfolds.
He knew they were coming, and he knows why they have come-all according to his plan. He, the master of Ravenloft, will attend to them. Another lightning flash rips through the darkness, its thunder echoing through the castle's towers. But Strahd is gone. Only the howling of the wind-or perhaps a lone wolf-fills the midnight air. The master of Ravenloft is having guests for dinner.


Chapter I: Monsters & Mist


Part I: Ghost Trees of Svalich Forest

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[Svalich Forest]

The harp music drifts through the 'Sapphire Cauldron' inn. It drifts past dwarven brothers reuniting after years apart, past an elf drinking wine alone in the corner, past the scarred bouncer and out the swinging doors into the cold beyond. The music drifts out of Daggerford even, faintly audible as far as the Svalich forest. Amongst these ancient trees the music is barely a whisper among the swaying branches. But the glowing blue shape hears it. The ghosts of Svalich always hear the noises of the living…

[A strange forest]
In the Sapphire Cauldron many gather next to the roaring fires to take solace from the misty and cold night outside. The bard in the corner plays the harp to entertain the group, taking swigs from his fine red wine between songs and taking the coppers offered by the audience with a grimace. Lelouche Defontaine was used to far higher coinage, but would take what he could get. One of the few in the audience appreciating his elven ballads was an elf in golden white armour sitting in the corner of the room. Even more indistinguishable in gender than most of her race, the woman watches the bard as she holds a finely crafted sun amulet around her neck. Barbara had spent some time among the churches of the Lord of Light within Daggerford, but much preferred the common inns for nights of relaxation. Two thieves made the rounds in the inn, but only one was foolish enough to try things with the bouncer Yalto watching. The dwarf was named Kazim the Lightfingered and was stealing money to pay for ale for a reunion. After years apart he was reuniting with his brother 'Belliamere', who had spent a great deal of time wandering the wilds. A rarity in a dwarven druid Belliamere laughed and joked with his brother, Kazim having only just arrived in town in search of gold.

Suddenly the doors slam open and the handsome bard looks up from his ivory harp. The newcomer is strange, a heavy set man with massive boots who eyes all those in the room before approaching the bar. He is approached at first only by a rough looking man who takes no pains to hide the daggers about his person. Samson has a mercenary look about him, but steps with the lightness more common of an assassin than a common rough. The strange newcomer buys a drink before addressing the room. He has come on behalf of his master, the burgomaster of a small town to the east. His master, Aragarl, wishes for adventurers to come to his town to help them deal with the spirits that are troubling all those within the Svalich forests in these dark days. He presents a letter from his master, bearing a strange crest of the town of 'Barovia'. And with that the man is gone, promising gold and rewards to any who would come to Barovia to help his master.

The inhabitants of the Sapphire Cauldron take the message on board and agree to meet the next morning to travel into the woods. But first, the night was yet young. Lelouche finishes his music and spends the night seducing a handmaiden of the local lady, leaving her the next morning before she wakes. Kazim and Belliamere drink as only dwarves can, spending all their money and some borrowed from Lelouche to finish a number of casks of ale between them. The next morning the group assembles early, Barbara awake for hours already to perform her elvish rites to praise the sun. It is two days ride through the forest according to the note and the group prepares to move out before realising that none of them are provisioned for a journey of any kind. Heading back into the markets of Daggerford the group separates to purchase bedrolls and tightly packed rations. Some hours later the group leaves Daggerford once again, Lelouche riding ahead on his horse and entertaining the others by playing a marching tune on a tin flute.

The group rides through the forest, Belliamere and Barbara the only ones accustomed to travelling outside of a city. They make camp that night amongst the deep brown trees of the svalich forest, setting watches and falling asleep next to a roaring camp fire summoned by Barbara. Where they awake is somewhere else entirely. The brown trees are replaced by white, their leaves gone and a fell wind making them sway like wheat beneath a cloudy sky. Belliamere inspects the trees, informing the group that these trees are entirely different to those they went to sleep next to. As the group begins to argue about what has happened to them Lelouche begins to compose a ballad called 'the ghost trees of svalich'. Eventually the arguments calm down and the group decides to continue going west, hoping to find the village they were heading towards and escape the fearsome white trees that now surround them.

They arrive at a town some hours later, but it is nothing like what they expected. The streets are wide but the houses mostly boarded up. No music comes from the only tavern in town and despite the midday sun the streets are devoid of life. A sign stands outside the town, creaking as it hands from a large white wooden post. It reads Barovia in a strange script and the group moves further into the town. As they enter from the west two figures step out onto the road, a young boy and girl holding hands and wearing ragged black funereal attire. In a stuttering voice that barely carries on the wind the girl speaks: "There is a monster in our house". The children are named Rose and Thorn and the group quickly agrees to help them. They move through the town to a large old house with a black iron gate. Moving inside the children inform them that the monster is in the basement but the baby lives upstairs. The dwarves move upstairs to fetch the baby while Barbara begins to set a fire. She argues with Lelouche that the best way to kill the creature is to burn the whole building down. Moments later Kazim bundles down the stairs, his eyes filled with terror.

Behind him a clattering suit of armour staggers down the stairs, swinging its fists wildly. Behind it hovers a strange spectre that moves through the roof and lands next to a terrified Lelouche. Barbara steps up, flames bursting from her hands that drive back the spectre while Samson and Lelouche take the children and run out of the room. Kazim draws daggers from his coat and slashes at the armour, each small dent seeming to slow the creature even as the daggers blunt on the metal plates. The ghost surges forward and grips Barbara with an ethereal hand, while Lelouche draws his lute and plays words of encouragement that manage to throw back death by the faintest of margins. Recovering Barbara lets forth a beam of holy light that banishes the ghost, only to be set upon by the animated armour. The armour smashes her again and again before suddenly falling silent. Behind it Kazim stands with two knives in its back, its magic dispelled. As they catch their breath Kazim looks over to the stairs where Belliamere fell, gripped by fear as he was touched by the spectre. Outside a fearsome mist rolls down the street and the children quickly lock the door. With nowhere else to go the group makes camp in the haunted mansion.

Belliamere the dwarf, who travelled far and wide and died of fright in the village of Barovia.


Part II: The Secrets of Durst House

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[Barovia Village]

With a click the false wall swung inwards to reveal stone steps leading downwards. Peering into the gloom Barbara held a glowing ball of light aloft and started down the stairs into the depths of Durst House.

[In the haunted house]
As those stranded in the house settle down for the night two figures make their way out of the fog, running at full pelt up the street past the house. One is a half-orc wearing heavy black chainmail who lumbers ahead of his fellow, a young woman holding a shield and a heavy pack. Gesturing wildly at the fog behind him the two bundle into the house. Gasping they explain that they had arrived in the town unexpectedly, having travelled from Daggerford in a similar manner to those who arrived at the house before them. The Half-Orc is Orok and had travelled from far abroad seeking the land of Daggerford. Eleanor reveals little about her past, but arrived at Barovia by the same method as the others. It soon becomes clear that some malefic force has brought all of those without Durst house to Barovia for a reason. As night falls Kazim digs a grave for his brother in the backyard, Lelouche playing a mourning song as the dwarf is wracked by grief. The Half-Orc reveals himself to be a cleric of sorts, offering to say some words over Belliamere's burial. Barbara also offers to say some words, but between an orc and an elf Kazim decides to simple bury his brother in silence.

The next morning the expanded group spreads out into the bottom floor of the Durst house, seeking the stairs downwards. They find a drinking parlour and hunting room, taking some bottles of liquor and crystal wine glasses to enjoy later. They also rifle through well stocked larders and a number of empty rooms. Moving upstairs the group comes across a massive library. Hundreds of books stand on the shelves on all topics and the group spreads out to investigate the books. Samson comes across a secret door hidden behind one of the book shelves. Within are dozens of books on strange and arcane topics. Books of daemonology, necromancy and other forbidden lores are present. A trapped chest contains the skeleton of its last victim, but with Kazim's dexterous hands the trap is disarmed and the chest looted. The deed to the house lies within, as well as the deed for a windmill owned by the Durst family. Taking the jewels and documents within the group leaves the secret library, Lelouche taking several books surreptitiously as he slides out.

On the top floor of the house the group comes across a strange site. Two skeletons of children lie on the floor of a locked room, clearly wearing the clothes of Rose and Thorn. Almost instantly the children from downstairs appear, their flickering revealing them at last to be ghosts. The ghosts of Rose and Thorn are delusional, believing themselves to still be alive. Samson and Barbara speak to the ghosts, discovering that they died after their parents locked them in their rooms and didn't return. The children are scared of the monster in the basement and the group promises to deal with it, hoping this will make the souls of the children be at peace. As the group leaves the ghosts disappear, suddenly surging into Barbara and Orok. Carrying the souls of the children within them the group are guided towards a hidden staircase. The stone steps run through the entire manor, going far below the first floor to a stoney and hidden dungeon beneath the house.

The area beneath the Durst manor is a strange carved stone crypt. The sarcophagi bear the names of generations of Dursts, those for Rose and Thorn empty but many others filled with skeletal remains. Some of the more fresh remains are filled with giant centipedes that swarm forward to attack those that disturbed their rest. Moving further into the crypt the group find some rooms with bedrooms and food storage, meant for many more people than lived in the house above. From the tunnels come howling grey skinned creatures. Smelling of rotten flesh, the ghouls wear strange red robes and rush forward with sharp brown claws. Battling in the stone hallways the ghouls lash out with their claws, ripping into Barbara's face and sending her sprawling to the ground. The rest of the beasts are slain, but a reeling Barbara lies moaning on the floor, her eye having been clawed out by the foul creatures.

Further down into the caves is a room where the Durst's seems to have collected seemingly random items. A rotten hand, a toad tied to a stick and a bone dagger sit alongside even stranger items. The group spreads out in the room, finding a statue of a man in a massive cloak with fangs. In his stone hand he holds a glass orb filled with black smoke. As Lelouche reaches out to grab the orb it falls to the ground and shatters, releasing the black smoke held within. The smoke forms into shadow creatures that lash out with claws made of pure darkness. The creatures rip into the group before Barbara summons her clerical magic, holding her sun icon aloft. White light fills the room, casting out the darkness and destroying the creatures with a hideous shriek.

Moving further into the dungeon the group are set upon by even larger and more terrifying ghouls than those fought earlier, their claws poisoned and claws rotten and foul. At one stage the group are attacked as an enchanted chest animates and tries to swallow Lelouche whole. Smashing the chest into pieces the group stops to recuperate from the wounds taken at the hands of the ghouls. Barbara and Orok head back upstairs and bring the skeletons of Rose and Thorn. Their remains put to rest the ghosts of the children are banished, releasing Orok and Barbara from their possession. As the group rests Eleanor vanishes and Samson returns from a scouting mission. He had found the way further into the dungeon and the group prepares to find the secret at the heart of Durst house.


Part III: One Must Die

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[The Chapel of the Morning Lord]

"He is ancient, he is the land".
"He is ancient, he is the land".
"He is ancient, he is the land".
The chanting grew louder and louder as the adventurer's got deeper into Durst House. It continues as they pass through a secret entrance hidden behind a loose flagstone.
"He is ancient, he is the land".
Before suddenly, after hours, it ceases. After a pause another chant begins, more sinister than the last.
"One must die".
"One must die".
"One must die"…

[Out of the Death House]
Samson leads the group back downstairs. As they descend the chants get louder, the voices reverberating throughout the Durst house in a ceaseless echo. Passing through the strange museum the group breaks into an old prison, shackles rusted away and bars worn from years of use. The group spreads out to search the prison, finding some odd possessions of those held within the prison. Rustling around Samson and Barbara manage to find a secret door, pushing on numerous flagstones until with a click a false-wall swung inwards. Beyond is revealed a flooded chamber, walls carved with arcane symbols and chains hanging from the roof. The chains hang above an altar stained with blood, and the ruins of those sacrificed upon the altar float in the muddy water.

Moving into the room Samson moves to investigate a pile of mould, branches and human remains. He rustles through the muck, while the rest fan out in the darkened room. The chanting is so loud it hurts in this room, voices repeating the same phrase over and over again as the group searches the room for the source of the noise. "He is ancient, he is the land". Over and over they chant, deafeningly loud. Suddenly as Lelouche steps on the circle of stone surrounding the sacrificial altar the chanting stops. Suddenly black spirits appear above the altar, robed figures with faces of pure darkness start chanting again. This time the chant is different, and the spirits point at the sacrificial altar. "One must die. One must die" over and over.

The group discusses the morality of killing a living creature to appease the spirits. Barbara and Lelouche argue for resisting the demands of the spirits, while the others wish to sacrifice a creature on the altar. Finally the decision is taken out of their hands, the spirits changing their chant. Suddenly the turn to face one corner of the room, where Samson stands next to the pile of branches and debris. "Lorgath the decayer, we summon you!" The massive mound suddenly animates, lashing out with tree branches held together by rotten flesh and mould. The beast lashes out as Kazim runs backwards and shoots his crossbow, Orok leaps towards the mound and slashing it into two with his great axe, but the two parts keep lashing with equal ferocity. Barbara finds her flames dimmed by the unholy energy in this place, but eventually the mound is destroyed and falls into dozens of twitching pieces.

The spirits grow angry, turning burning red before disappearing. Their chant returns to calls of "one must die". The house shakes and the group begins to sprint upwards, trying to escape the seemingly collapsing manor house. Dashing upwards they find the house seemingly possessed, doors replaced by spinning blades and black smoke gushing from the previously empty fireplaces. Rushing through a crumbling house the group are marked with cuts as they dash through the spinning blades, holding their breath as they move through rooms filled with toxic smoke. But finally it is Orok that loses his patience, smashing through a wall with his axe. Even as the brick crumbles dozens of plague ridden rats pour forth, biting and scratching at the group as they swarm across the room.

Boxed in the group fights off the rats, struggling to survive the smoke and blades that spew from the building. Lelouche and Orok manage to leap from the building, but the blades cut them on the way out and they are too wounded to return to help their friends. Samson, Kazim and Barbara meanwhile are trapped in combat with the rats. Kazim falls in the poisoned smoke, only pulled to safety by the heroism of Samson. But as he does so Barbara struggles with the smoke, poison filling her lungs and melting them from the inside out. As Barbara breaths her last the house suddenly stops. The rats flee, the blades stop spinning and the poison gas disperses. The chanting suddenly stops, one final call of "one must die" before the Durst house returns to what passes for normal. Outside Orok is confronted by a tall darkly handsome man who introduces himself as Count von Strahd, the vampiric overlord of Barovia. He attempts to communicate with the Orc, but Orok's hatred overwhelms him and he rushes towards the vampire. He is struck unconscious before he even reaches von Strahd, and the laughing vampire disappears in a flourish of mist.

A day later in the Blood of the Vine inn the group are approached by a young man in rough finery. His name is Ismark, the son of the local mayor who is looking for mercenaries. He intends to hire a group to help escort his sister from Barovia to the nearby village of Vallaki. He had already hired Lorelei Gilna, an elven swordswoman. The group agree to help transport his sister, a beautiful young woman named Ireena. Instantly infatuated, Lelouche tries to seduce the young woman. Ismark says his sister cannot leave until their father is buried, and the group transports his body to the nearby chapel. In the Chapel of the Morning Lord the priest is reluctant to perform the ceremony, his attention held by trying to cure his son, a young man afflicted with the curse of vampirism. He changes his mind after a sizeable bribe by Lelouche and the mayor is buried in the town graveyard.

Barbara Sunborn, Elven priestess whose fire was extinguished by the darkness of the 'Death House'.


Part IV: The Wrath of Perriwinkle

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[Bilgrath's Mercantile burns]

A strong man was Perriwinkle.
But he couldn't really thinkle.
Shashed in Bar'bra's head.
And stabbed Kazim dead.
But now into the ground he'll sinkle.
The Wrath of Perriwinkle, by Lelouche de Fontaine

[Clashes in Barovia]
In the streets of Barovia some of the group stop to speak with an old crone who sells meat pies out of a rickety wagon she trundles through the town. Samson, Lorelei and Kazim stop to eat pies, while a curious Orok watches on. The pies lull the wanderers into a deep sleep, wracked with strange dreams of pixies dancing through a forest and a tall darkly handsome man with fangs. Waking, the group are surprised to spot a green glow on the outskirts of town. The glow comes from a swarm of ghostly spirits, hundreds of translucent men and women marching in formation out of the village Barovia and towards Ravenloft castle, home of Count von Strahd. The group follow the spirits for a time, coming upon a gallows sitting in the middle of a fork in the road. On the gallows hangs a single body, swinging in the night air. The body has the face of Samson, and a frightened group makes their way back into the village of Barovia.

Shaken, the group returns to the manor house where Lelouche already sleeps. Orok decides to sleep in the streets, while the dwarven thief Kazim decides to follow the old lady selling the pies, intending to steal more of the haze-inducing meaty treats. He follows the old hag for some time, watching as she goes from house to house, talking to those within. Eventually her secret is revealed; the woman seems to be stealing children to help cook her pies. Suspicious, Kazim looks around, finding that a young girl in town is also missing. Unable to solve this mystery tonight Kazim returns to the manor. The group sleeps comfortably in the Burgomeister's manor house, intending to leave town the following morning. They sleep through the night, Lorelei getting up early to visit Bilgrath the merchant. She goes to purchase a spear, lent gold by Lelouche, but has a disagreement with Bilgrath's ridiculously expensive prices. She ends up stealing two of his spears, chased out of town by his massive nephew Perriwinkle.

She meets the rest of the group on the road, including the young lady Eleanor who had reappeared the previous night. Orok is still missing after his night on the streets, but the group rides out of town down Svalich road without him. Samson wants to head back into town to look for Orok, but Lelouche is reluctant to take Ireena back into Barovia. The group decides to split, with Lelouche and Eleanor continuing to their destination, Vallaki, while Samson, Kazim and Lorelei return to the village of Barovia to find Orok. Orok had awoken some hours earlier on the street and had a nasty altercation with the merchant Bilgrath. Already angered by theft of his spears by Lorelei Bilgrath was in no mood for Orok's brand of oddness, and the half-orc quickly found himself in a fist-fight with the hulking Perriwinkle. Knocked unconscious, Orok had been captured and was currently tied to a pole outside Bilgrath's shop.

It is here that Samson, Lorelei and Kazim find the half-orc. Bilgrath offers his return for a hefty ransom. Terms which after some discussion Samson appears to agree to. Reaching into his cloak to collect the coin Samson instead pulls out his short crossbow, putting a bolt deep into Samson's chest and sending him reeling. Outraged at his uncles wound Perriwinkle screams and rushes forward, fighting only with a shield. Lorelei is the recipient of his wrath, and with successive shield blows he pushes her up against the wall of Bilgrath's mercantile. Samson and Kazim fight with Bilgrath, who has drawn a sword and fights with surprising skill. Kazim is disarmed and knocked unconscious by Bilgrath, and Samson circles Bilgrath with his daggers drawn. Across the road Perriwinkle lands blow after blow into a disorientated Lorelei. Her eyes roll back into head and the ugly brute continues pounding. Finally with a sickening crunch Lorelei's neck breaks, but the oaf continues on. By the time Bilgrath has Kazim and Samson in manacles on the dirty road Perriwinkle has left only bones and blood remaining of Lorelei's head.

Hours later Kazim and Samson wake up, stripped of their possessions, on the outskirts of the village of Barovia. It seems clear that Bilgrath has taken what he thought was his due. Nearby two other figures are bound in their small-clothes. Orok is happy to see his friends, and recounts his encounter with the merchant. The other figure is a pale man in black robes. Thresh slips out of his ropes with ease, magic dancing between his fingers as he helps to free his fellow prisoners. The group make introductions, finding that the newcomer had just as much hatred for Bilgrath as the rest of them. The sun high in the sky, they find a nearby tree and rest until nightfall. Sharing a meal they plan their attack on the village, intending to kill Bilgrath and his behemoth nephew. They sneak into town at nightfall, running into packs of rats that seem to roam the town at night.

Fleeing from the rats the group runs into Bilgrath's mercantile, finding the merchant and his nephew ready for them. Tossing flaming torches down in the store the engage in battle once again. Kazim rushes upstairs, setting a fire there before running back down. Samson surprises everyone by summoning flames directly from his hands, setting fire of a barrel of lamp oil that explodes outwards, tossing steel and wood across the inside of the merchants. Kazim and Samson fight with knives against Bilgrath, ducking and weaving around him as he fends them off with his sword. They eventually triumph, cutting Bilgrath's throat, but not before he drives his sword cleanly through Kazim. The dwarf stumbles out of the burning building, bleeding out on the muddy street outside. Meanwhile Orok fights Perriwinkle, the oaf now wielding one of Lorelei's spears. Orok fights well, but Perriwinkle is a fearsome opponent. The half-orc eventually goes down with a spear transfixing his stomach. The newcomer, Thresh, summons forth a dark steel scythe that magically forms in his hands. From it erupts a beam of dark light that blasts a hole cleanly through Perriwinkle, the massive man finally falling as he rushes towards Samson. Thresh and Samson watch as Bilgrath's Merchantile burns, three of their allies dead at the hands of the cruel merchant and his giant simpleton nephew.

Lorelei of the Forest, head bashed into paste by the edge of a shield in the village of Barovia.

Kazim the Lightfingered, slashed apart by a man who he was trying to rob.

Orok Blackheart. An orc from far aboard, his faith in Gruumpsh did not save him from a well thrust spear.


Chapter II: Merriment & Mysteries


Part V: The Happiest Town in Barovia

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[The town of Vallaki]

Pursued by a crowd of guards and townsfolk the old elven man darts down the streets of Vallaki. A rarity in an ancient elf that has not retreated to the elven realms, his wrinkled skin is still golden yellow and his eyes the burning orange of a hawk.
He dashes down the street at near-inhuman speed, the guards rushing after him holding their spears aloft and shouting after him…

[In Vallaki]
Even as Bilgrath's Mercantile burns to the group the rest of the group arrives in the town of Vallaki. Lelouche, Eleanor and Ireena arrive and get rooms at the Blue Water Inn. The next day Eleanor disappears into the town as Lelouche and Ireena spend the morning at the markets. Lelouche sells some books stolen from the Durst house in Barovia, gambling away the morning in the Blue Water and sharing many bottles of wine with Ireena and a strange old elf who claims to be a portrait painter. Kelran and Lelouche strike up a friendship and spend the day in revelry. Lelouche offers a spot in his fellowship to Kelran, as he is due to meet with the local priest that very afternoon to organise safe haven for Ireena.

Back at Barovia Thresh and Samson carry the bodies of their fellows out of town, stopping to bury them and splitting their possessions amongst themselves. It is not long however until the wrath of Barovia catches up with them. A dozen men carrying pitchforks and burning torches approach from town and the pair quickly begin to flee. Separated by a river Thresh is caught and surrounded by the townsfolk. He lies to them about his part in the burning of Bilgrath's Mercantile, but their leader is too smart even for the forked tongue of Thresh. Finally after much conversation Thresh convinces them to let him go, and he heads towards Vallaki, where he knows his ally Samson will be heading. It is a hard days march to get there, and he passes a black carriage and many other oddities on the muddy road.

In Vallaki Lelouche and Kelran take Ireena to the Church of Saint Anderil, where she reunites with an old friend of her father's, Father Lucien. Father Lucien is in charge of the Church of Saint Anderil, and agrees to take in Ireena out of respect for her father. He does, however, request of Lelouche a favour in exchange for her safety. The church is named after Saint Anderil, a saint of the Lord of Light who fought in these lands centuries ago. Until recently his bones had been stored beneath the crypt of the church, but they had been stolen not two moons past. Lelouche agrees to help and in a nearby tavern conscripts the help of none other than Thresh, newly arrived in the town. They spread out into the town to ask around about a boy named Yesker, the alleged thief. They follow some solid leads, finding out about the local Lord Baron Vargus Vallakovich and a festival due to take place in two days time; the festival of the sun.

Kelran has less luck in his search, spotting some men wearing donkey masks and angering the captain of the town guard with his inquisitive nature. He ignores repeated urges for him to stop talking to the men and finally is chased out of town by a group of guards. He easily outruns them, but slinks off into the forest to wait until nightfall to re-enter the town. In the forest Kelran runs into a heavily built man wearing furs who introduces himself as Oleg. Kelran speaks to the man for some time, but is surprised to find that as soon as he turns away from the man with a ripping of flesh Oleg transforms into a fearsome grey furred wolf. Hounded back to the town walls Kelran manages to just get out of the forest before Oleg catches up to him. However approaching the walls he is shooed off by wary town guards, and finds himself back in the forest some time later. Lunging from the darkness Oleg bites Kelran across the thigh, dragging him back deeper into the forest…

In Vallaki Lelouche and Thresh continue their investigations into the missing bones, eventually tracking the theft back to a man named "Millervoj". Millervoj is a thief for hire, and quickly gives up his employer as the local crypt keeper Henrick. As they turn to leave Lelouche extends his influence into Thresh's mind. The black cloaked man turns, summoning his magical scythe directly into his hands and with a single swing removing Millervoj's head from his body. Lelouche wears a smile as the pair approach Henrick's Hearses, Thresh non-the-wiser at the influence the young man is having over him. At Henrick's Hearses the pair discover Henrick had been investigating dark magic, learning necromancy and directly under the employ of Count von Strahd. Thresh flies into a rage at the man's rejection of the natural order of life and death and promptly blows him into meaty chunks with a blast of grey energy.

Returning the stolen bones to the church Lelouche and Thresh go to meet the local Lord, Baron Vallakovich. Thresh is quickly found not guilty for the murder of Henrick, while Lelouche makes a deal with the Baron that sees him paid handsomely to perform at the upcoming festival. It seems that the Baron holds these festivals every week, claiming the title of the "most merry town in Barovia". Anyone who shows any displeasure is given a donkey mask and shunned, with the Baron stubbornly holding to the idea of Vallakia being a town filled with Merriment. While visiting the Baron Thresh and Lelouche visit the Baron's son, a reclusive child who had been studying a magical tome against his fathers wishes. He had been practicing necromancy, but after a few stern words from Thresh he turns away from this unholy pursuit. He had also been experimenting with a teleportation spell, and Thresh volunteers to help him test it. Standing within the arcane circle the young man chants aloud in a strange tongue before suddenly with a purple flash Thresh simply disappears.


Part VI: Cat and Mouse

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[The streets of Vallaki]

"I am a great seer. I have approximate knowledge of many things".
The Great Seer of the Vistani

[A missing person in Vallaki]
Thresh appears with a pop in a dark tent that smells of animals and stew. Magically flames fill braziers around the room, and a hooded figure raises a gnarled hand as he appears. The old woman seems to know his name, her magical powers of foresight having shown that Thresh would arrive on this day. She is a seer of the Vistani, roaming tribes of men and women who live within Barovia. She offers Thresh a reading of his destiny but he refuses, leaving her tent and spending the night in the camp drinking and feasting with the rest of the Vistani tribe. He hears a legend about a foolish wizard who tried to fight Strahd. The wizard's army was lost, and he himself fell to Strahd fighting atop a nearby waterfall. His body was never found. Thresh spends the night drinking with the Vistani, before stealing a horse and making his way back towards Vallaki the following morning.

Meanwhile in Vallaki Lelouche spends his day attempting to woo Ireena, singing her songs and organising to attend the festival together the following day. Outside the walls Kelran returns to Vallaki, bearing the bite of Oleg the werewolf. The guards on the walls are drunk, but Kelran manages to sneak over the wall after sending one of them tumbling to their death off the walls. The death puts the town on high alert, and Kelran spends the day hiding from Isek and the town guards in cellars and alleyways across the town. It is such that Samson walks through Vallaki's unguarded gates. He walks with four other figures. The one he talks to wears full chainmail and carries an assortment of weapons. Sir Ritter Gregory is a travelling knight Samson met on the road, while the other three figures are Sir Gregory's followers and assistants.

Samson reunites with Lelouche in the Blue Water's common room, the bard already quite drunk by mid-afternoon. Samson introduces Lelouche to Sir Gregory, while Lelouche recounts events in town through a rousing song. They spend the day in the inn, hearing that the wine is running low due to some trouble at the local vinyard, the 'Wizard of Wines'. They also hear tell of a toymaker named Kallokia, who seems to be a friend of Iseks and a patron of the Blue Water. They drink for the day, Samson and Sir Gregory taking things out of hand and continuing even after Lelouche goes to bed. As Samson and Sir Gregory sink wine after wine in the Blue Water Kelran slinks from his hiding place and heads out into town. Unfortunately he runs right into Isek, the captain of the town guard who begins to chase Kelran once again through the streets of Vallaki. Kelran manages to get away from Isek, but as he turns a corner Isek raises his hand. Kelran simply ceases to exist, his body turned to ash by the bright flames that burst from within him, summoned by Isek. His scream is short lived and before long only ash remains to be blown away by the winds running through Vallaki.

The following morning Lelouche wakes up early to visit the town market, buying a dress for Ireena to wear to the festival that day. He goes to the Church of Saint Anderil and is shocked to find that Ireena is missing. Father Lucien had not heard anything during the night but within Ireena's room there were signs of a scuffle. Lelouche barges into the Blue Water not minutes later, taking a private room with Samson and Sir Gregory. He offers each man 100 gold pieces if they help him find Ireena, and even hires a local mercenary named "Pack" to help track down his lady-love. The group return to the Church, the half-orc tracker Pack finding that Ireena had been dragged out of her bed out into the street and back towards the town square of Vallaki. In the town square they find that the festival had started in proper, a massive wicker ball ready to burn to celebrate the "most merry town in the world". The Baron rides a fine steed into the town centre, but grows angry when the flames of the festival are put out by a freak rainstorm. One of the local men laughs at the events and is soon dragged through town tied behind the Baron's horse. The people have pained expressions on their faces as the festival continues.

The group reunites with Thresh, who had returned from his teleportation mishap. He agrees to help look for Ireena as well, and the group soon arrive at the doorstep of the Baron's manor house looking for clues as to her whereabouts. They intend to ask Isek if his guards saw anything, but find he is suspicious of their questioning and unwilling to help. Moving upstairs Thresh stops to talk to the Baron's son, who he had discussed magic with some days past. Despite his earlier warnings the boy had returned to the study of necromancy and Thresh grows angry at the child's insolence. Soon he summons forth his scythe, sending a bolt of grey energy into the back of the boy as he turns to return to his studies. Gasping for breath the Baron's son turns with anger in his eyes. He raises his hands and sends forth a wave of magical energy that freezes all those present, blackening skin and chilling bones. Recoiling from the attack, Thresh sends forward another blast of energy that blows the small boy into meaty chunks.

Seconds later Isek arrives, leading a pack of a dozen of his town guard. His guards beat down Lelouche as he tries to talk to them, Isek interested in nothing but killing those present. Thresh summons forth magical darkness in the room and in the pitch black the town guards and Isek fight against Sir Gregory, Samson and the hunter Pack. Pack goes down first, his head taken by Isek with a spray of blood. Sir Gregory and Samson fight the guards, while Thresh sends beams of magic at Isek, renting his armour and heavily wounding him. Isek flees and his guards rush in to defend him. Samson cuts throats and Thresh blasts men with magic, while Sir Gregory swings with his silver flail and lashes out with his shield. Eventually the guards are slain and the group flee down the Baron's house to escape the inevitable reinforcements. Samson and Sir Gregory flee out the back of the manor with Thresh, while Lelouche goes to the front of the house. Here he is cut off by the Baron and more town guards, Isek having fled the town. Lelouche surrenders and the Baron sends his men in to secure his house.

Kelran, ancient elven monk. After being turned into a werewolf by a wandering hunter, Kelran tried to take revenge on the inhabitants of Vallaki. He was burnt to a crisp by Isek, the captain of the town guard.


Part VII: Keepers of the Feather

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[The Vistani encampment]

The ravens transformed as they swooped towards the ground, their flight turning into an awkward run as clawed feet hit the ground. Half man and half bird, the creatures speak through their beaked mouths to the startled group before them.
"Halt in the name of the law".

[A trial]
Samson and Sir Gregory move through town, Thresh tossed over Sir Gregory's shoulder. A hurried stop at the Blue Water Inn collects their possessions. They stop only to be tricked by two locals, a broom wearing a cloak bringing laughs even from the tricked men. Leaving the Blue Water the pair stop at the chapel, putting Thresh in a spare room before camping out themselves in the basement to recover from their injuries. A few patrols of guards pass nearby, but having lost so many of their number they struggle to mount proper patrols. Meanwhile Lelouche is frog marched by the town guard towards the centre of town. His possessions are taken and his face is covered by a donkey mask, obscuring his identity. Placed in the stocks, he pleads for the guards to put him in a holding cell, anywhere but the stocks. The guards laugh off his requests and even his offered bribes, and Lelouche spends a long uncomfortable night in the town square.

During the night Lelouche is approached by a wood elf named Therin, who is in town investigating a "curse of the forest". They speak for some time and the elf offers to free Lelouche, but not trusting the man Lelouche refuses his offer. The elf leaves, paying the innkeeper at the Blue Water to let him sleep in the barn. Early in the morning Samson and Sir Gregory raise and go to find Lelouche, feeling obliged to rescue their ally. Sir Gregory is spotted by guards, and leads them away from the town square as Samson moves to free Lelouche from his restraints. Unable to pick the lock he blasts them apart with a bolt of magic, sprinting off down the street afterwards. Lelouche runs in the opposite direction, towards the guard barracks. He magically disguises himself as a guard and retrieves his equipment, heading back to the Blue Water only to find the doors shut tight at this late hour. Samson and Sir Gregory were long since gone, having snuck out of town just before the final call at the inn. Lelouche convinces some other guards to help him search the inn, ensnaring the men with magic and riding out of town on his horse.

The group meet up just outside the Vistani camp on the outskirts of the woods around Vallaki. A series of caravans and tents stand next to old buildings, now reoccupied. In the central tent the group are surprised to find two older Vistani men whipping a younger man. The man was being whipped for allowing the chieftains daughter to go missing. The chieftain, one of the whippers, just happens to be the man who brought the letter into the inn in Daggerford some weeks ago. Samson questions him about his purpose with the letter and the man reveals that Count Strahd had instructed him to take the message to that inn. The Vistani have a weary alliance with Strahd, he doesn't bother them and they don't bother him. The alliance is based on help long ago that the Vistani gave to a then-mortal Strahd. The Vistani are desperate for wine, and the group agrees to bring some back with them next time they visit. Sharing the camp with the Vistani are a group of Dusk Elves. The Dusk Elves are all those who remain of the wood elves who once lived in these woods. All their women had been killed by Strahd for some ancient slight, and the race were slowly diminishing as they were unable to reproduce. Their chief, Kamit, invites the group to explore an ancient ruin with him in two weeks time, the "Amber Temple", where he promises many magical items and rewards were to be found.

The next morning the group heads out, having received clues from the Vistani as to the location of Ireena and her kidnapper Isek. They ride west, away from Vallaki, wary of the half dozen ravens flying overhead. The group heads towards a landmark Samson has heard of, the Wizard of Wines vineyard, but their instructions are flimsy and they soon have no idea where to go. They meet the elf Therin on the road, employing him to help track Ireena but even his seasoned eyes cannot tell the difference between the dozens of tracks on the road. Frustrated, the group agrees to travel back through Vallaki to the Vistani seer in the south to seek her wisdom. As they turn back to Vallaki the ravens follow them, flying high above. A few more hours of travel prove enough to rattle Therin, the elf shooting down one of the ravens with his bow. But, to his surprise, upon contact his longbow arrow simple sticks into the raven. Soon the arrow falls out and the wound heals, the half dozen birds starting to swoop down towards the party. Just before the birds hit the ground they grow and change and before their eyes the group suddenly sees six strange creatures. Half man and half bird, the raven beasts speak with human voices through their black beaks.

The birdmen introduce themselves as the 'Keepers of the Feather', a group of were-ravens who like in Vallaki and keep the peace there. They identify the Blue Water inn as their base of operations, and its innkeeper Ewin as their leader. They demand the group return to Vallaki to face justice for their crimes, the alleged killing of the Barons son and a dozen or so guards. The group agrees, and Sir Gregory is soon in conversation with the men about the legal proceedings in this area. The following day the group are on trial in the town square of Vallaki. Dozens of locals gather to watch, and a local historian serves as a judge. The Keepers of the Feather return to their usual human forms, revealing themselves to be the regulars of the Blue Water Inn. The prosecutor throws accusations at the party, but Samson and Sir Gregory deftly counter the arguments and move the focus onto the Barons son. With the Barons son revealed to be a necromancer, the judge's questions soon fall to who landed the first blow against the bow. Lelouche speaks out, offering that Thresh was the one who initiated the fight. Samson speaks next, spinning lies about the boys magic overloading and causing the deaths of the guards. Finally, against all odds, the judge declares the group not guilty.

The group celebrates their successful trial in the Blue Water Inn and as agree the Keepers of the Feather give Lelouche information about Ireena. It seems Isek had taken her near to the Wizard of Wines vineyard to the west. The group agrees to meet with more Keepers of the Feather there, and prepares to purchase horses to leave the town the following day. At the stockyard Lelouche purchases a horse for Sir Gregory, part of an apology for Lelouche's attempt to magically influence Sir Gregory the day earlier. While in the stockyard the group are shocked as a nearby caravan rocks back and forth. As they watch the caravan rocks more and more before eventually in a blast of wood and steel a creature bursts from within. A massive cat-creature with long fangs, the creature seems to be wearing some sort of plated armour. Panicking, Samson throws up his hands and puts the creature to sleep. As the group tentatively moves closer they are approached by a man they recognise. The man was a regular at the Blue Water named Ricktavio, and reveals to them that the creature is his companion. He has trained the creature to smell for vampires, and is currently hunting in the town. The group are very impressed by the man, and agree to visit him later to help in his hunts.


Part VIII: Mince Meat

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[The Durst Windmill]

"I will hunt them to their burrows, and killing them while they protect their eggs".
With a thump Thresh closed the book in which he had been researching wolves and walked out the door. None of his companions spoke up as he left Vallaki and headed into the forest. It would be the last time they ever saw him.

[A dangerous windmill]
An argument takes place in the Blue Water inn, with Samson and Sir Ritter arguing that the group should make their way to the soothsayer, stopping at Durst windmill on the way. Lelouche opposes this, but is reminded that he owes Sir Ritter and Samson as the pair still hold a grudge from when he tried to magically influence them into leaving Sir Ritter's squire in the Baron's manor to take the blame. The argument is observed from outside the inn, where Thresh sits in his dark cloak watching his would-be allies bickering among themselves. He had watched the trial the day before, and knew Lelouche had sold him out to the town guards. He had avoided the guards successfully, but in coming to the Blue Water put himself in the path of the Keepers of the Feather. The birds transform in front of him into men, accusing him of the murder of the Baron's son and taking him into custody.

The following day the trial begins, but Sir Ritter is shocked to find that the evidence proving the Baron's son was doing illegal magic had gone missing. Lelouche is called to the stand by the prosecution, Thresh wearing a borrowed coat sitting in chains nearby. He admits that Thresh laid the first blow against the boy, but implies that the boy was about to do magic before Thresh struck. Sir Ritter acts as council for Thresh and aggressively questions Lelouche, further strengthening his argument of self defence. The lack of coordination soon becomes clear, as Sir Ritter and Lelouche debate minor details unrelated to the case and the judge soon waves Lelouche away. With the necromancy of the Baron's son on the record, the judge declares Thresh not-guilty and he is released on a good behaviour requirement back into Vallaki. The group regathers at the Blue Water, Thresh eying Lelouche sideways after he gave evidence in his trial. One good outcome of the trial was that it brought Eleanor back to the fold. She is tight lipped about her activities in recent days, but agrees to rejoin the group for their ride south. With Sir Ritter and Lelouche riding at the front it is an awkward group that walks from Vallaki south towards the Durst Windmill.

After a few hours march the group arrives at the windmill. Sitting on a hill overlooking a fog filled valley the wooden sails of the windmill have long since rotted away, leaving only a skeletal structure swinging in the breeze on the stone tower. The scout Therin walks ahead, finding evidence that a cart has been here recently and the possessions of a traveller, seemingly left behind. A raven sits above the entrance to the windmill, squawking as the group approaches. Ignore it, they enter through a heavy iron and wooden door. Entering the windmill the group finds a makeshift kitchen, with dishware and pots sitting alongside a barrel of croaking toads. An old woman makes her way down the stairs, her white hair stretched over wrinkled skin. Samson and Lelouche recognise her as the pie lady from Barovia, the creator of the 'dream pastries' that had caused Samson vivid hallucinations. She introduces herself as Morgantha and says that she lives here with her two daughters. As Lelouche presents the deed to the windmill she laughs, not acknowledging the legal ownership of the place given the time that had passed since the deed was written. Sir Ritter attempts to convince her of the legality of the claim, but she denies it and instructs the group to leave. Lelouche does so, while the others begin to discuss amongst themselves. She asks them to leave again and again, but the group ignores her. Finally she begins to laugh, and wind whips up in the confines of the kitchen.

With a sickening squelch the old woman's skin is ripped off, revealing a much larger green-grey skinned creature beneath. Baring her brown fangs the swamp hag raises her head and screeches, an ear splitting screech that causes all those present to clutch their ears. She lunges forward, lashing out at Thresh with her claws. The group responds, but Eleanor's sword and Samson's bolts only bounce off her thick skin. Even Therin's expertly placed arrows find little traction, and the elf soon retreats outside the door and continues his archery from there. Soon Morgantha's daughters lumber down the stairs, equally hideous creatures that throw bolts of lightning that blasts Thresh away from Morgantha and leaves him in a steaming heap. Samson is smashed down by Morgantha's claws and Eleanor's shield is blasted apart as a second bolt of lightning is thrown by the daughters. Finally only Sir Ritter remains in the room, fighting with flail and shield against three laughing hags. As they are distracted Lelouche sneaks back into the room, dragging Thresh' prone form outside. Putting him on the back of his horse Lelouche rides off down the road, as Therin slinks back into the forest. Sir Ritter blocks claws on his shield and smashes the hags again and again, but the creatures laugh off his blows and eventually even the honourable knight is lain low. Seeing their master fall his servants and squire take his horse and ride away.

Therin wanders through the forest alone for a while before it gets dark. Travelling alone in the dark he soon comes upon a strange man wearing animal furs, who promptly knocks him unconscious with a single blow of his staff. He awakens some time later in the man's camp, and calls out to the forest for aid. From the dark trees walks a small creature. Shaped roughly like a man, the fey spirit cuts Therin loose and uses its magic to blast the man who captured him. Saying his thanks, Therin begins making his way through the forest back to Vallaki. Meanwhile Samson, Eleanor and Sir Ritter awake in the top floor of the windmill. Eleanor quickly slips loose of her bonds, sneaking downstairs past the hags and vanishing out the front door. Sir Ritter calls out to her, but finds only a hag answer. With a swipe of her claw Sir Ritter is smashed back unconscious, and once she leaves Samson manages to cut his own restraints. Lugging Sir Ritter over his shoulder Samson calls out to his unholy patron, summoning darkness around himself and moving downstairs. As he enters the bottom floor of the windmill the hags turn, looking through the darkness directly at Samson. Realising his trump card had failed he starts to run, reaching the door before the hags and jogging out into the grass beyond. Turning he raises both his hands and a wall of rock shoots from the ground, blocking the only entrance to the windmill. As the hags smash against the wall he limps towards the tree line, Sir Ritter's armoured form still over his shoulders.

Some miles up the road towards Vallaki Thresh is recovering from his wounds, Lelouche having set camp some hours earlier. Lelouche believes his debt to Thresh is paid, but the warlock denies this is the case. Regardless the pair are stuck in the camp overnight, as a familiar black mist clouds the road and blocks their progress. Later that afternoon they are surprised to see Sir Ritter and Samson walking down the road. Having camped in the woods the wounded pair are trying to return to Vallaki, and are glad to see some of their fellows have survived. Eleanor and Therin are still missing, but the four agree to make the trip back to Vallaki the following morning. That night a strange figure approaches the camp. An armoured horseman approaches, riding a skeletal steed. On closer inspection the man himself is revealed to be a skeleton, holding a lantern that sheds no light. Thresh and Samson approach, Thresh performing a ritual that allows him to communicate with the man. He finds out he is cursed to ride these roads after crossing Strahd, and Thresh gladly releases the man from the pain of undeath by invoking his patron's powers. The next morning the group march back to Vallaki, taking rooms at the Blue Water and surprised to find a battered Therin waiting for them. They visit the local stores to replace lost supplies and Thresh visits the local arcane goods store. The shopkeep promises his a health potion if he kills some wolves in the nearby woods, and after a brief bit of research Thresh trudges off through the mud into the woods to hunt wolves.

Thresh, servant of Kelemvor and scythe wielder. After surviving many battles he was torn to shreds by a pack of wolves alone in the forest.


Chapter III: Marshes & Merlot


Part IX: The Wizard of Wines

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[Approaching the 'Wizard of Wines' vineyard]

The battle had just finished in the cellars beneath the 'Wizard of Wines', and a small crack in the wall appeared to be giving off a strange mist. Pulling open the secret door Godal and Lelouche squeeze through the gap and into a dark rocky room filled with brown moss. Amongst the moss sit dozens of bottles of red wine, cooling in the natural cavern.
Sharing a glance Lelouche and Godal bag a bottle each before turning and returning to the group, eager to rid this glorious place of the druids so they have a chance to enjoy it's wares".

[Travelling to a vineyard]
Samson and Eleanor decide to remain in town, heading out into the woods in search of Thresh, while the rest of the group gather in the Blue Water to plan their journey to the Wizard of Wines vineyard. Still eager to find Ireena, Lelouche and Sir Ritter get specific instructions from the innkeeper as to how to reach the Wizard of Wines. They buy plentiful supplies for the trip, and set out the next morning. With Therin scouting ahead in the forest they ride west along the Old Svalich road, but before long their path is blocked. Three rough looking heavily armed men stand around a small shape on the ground, kicking it with their head iron-tipped boots. Sir Ritter and Lelouche ride to meet the men, inquiring about their beating of what seems to be a heavily bruised halfling. The men immediately turn on the pair, drawing crossbows and swords. Lelouche throws out his magical presence, seizing one of the men as the other two charge towards Sir Ritter. Ritter puts his lance clearly through the chest of one man, leaving only the leader of the group remaining. He fights well with two curved scimitars, but Sir Ritter soon smashes him down with a blow from his flail.

While Lelouche helps up the halfling, Sir Ritter questions the surviving bandit. It turns out this was not a random attack, the men were hired by the Baron of Vallaki to kill the group in revenge for the death of his son. A small fortune is found in the bandit chief's pockets, and is distributed among the group and the beleaguered halfling. The halfling introduces himself as Godal Izran, a wizard of, in his own words, "incredible physical strength". Godal had been captured earlier in the day by the bandits, and they had been keeping him ever since. He agreed to join the group in travelling to the Wizard of Wines, an eager lover of wine based alcoholic beverages himself. The journey to the winery is a two day trip, and the group sets off again along the Old Svalich Road, leaving the captured bandit hanging from a tree in a hastily constructed noose. Making camp that night the group settles in, Sir Ritter training his squire in swordplay while Godal and Lelouche share a bottle of wine. During the night Sir Ritter spots a large shape flying above, but it doesn't trouble the group. After a rather heavy night Godal awakes, having drunkenly decided to change his name to "Sploosh Mcgoosh" in mockery of Lelouche.

Slightly ruffled the group heads out on the road again. Therin runs into some blights as the he scouts the forest, evil forest spirits that animate tree debris. He is wounded in the process, and the group stops again to allow him to see to his wounds. It is now that the dark shape reappears, manifesting as it gets closer into the form of the hag Morgantha, riding a gnarled broomstick as she zooms towards the small campfire. The hag leaps from the broom as she gets closer, transforming into her original hideous grey skinned form. Sir Ritter charges forward, smashing her with his flail as her claws bounce off his shield and armour. She casts out her magic, putting Therin and Godal to sleep. Lelouche tends to his allies, waking them as the hag struggles to maintain her magic on so many targets. Eventually the hag realises she is outnumber and moves to flee, pushing Sir Ritter down and loping back towards her broom. Only Godal follows her, dashing up next to her before smashing his staff into the ground. A thunderous boom echoes through the area, magical energy bursting from Godal and blowing the hag back. Laying on the ground she begins to slowly turn to ash, a low moan emanating from her crooked fanged mouth.

Later that day the group finally arrives at the Wizard of Wines, a small two story building on the top of the hill surrounded by acres of red grape vines. Approaching, the group are waved over to the forest at the edge of the vineyard. A group of people huddle here, some clearly a family while others are farmhands. Their leader addresses the group, introducing himself as Davian and the wine-keeper of the Wizard. He is glad for the group's arrival, but despite Lelouche's questioning has no clue about the location of Ireena or her kidnapper Isek. It seems that the Wizard had been occupied by a group of malefic druids, the forces protecting the Wizard no match for the hundreds of evil tree spirits that had been summoned by the druids. As Davian is a member of the Keepers of the Feather the group agrees to help him, settling in to assault the winery and slay the druids who occupy it. They settle in for a rest, and move up to the winery at nightfall, intending to surprise the druids. As they move past the vineyard it begins to move, revealing dozens of twig blights the rush towards the group.

Falling back towards the winery building as the blights swarm towards them, the group barricades the door behind them. As the blights hammer against the outside walls the druids inside the building swarm in, leading another small army of blights. Wearing furs and bearing heavy clubs and staves, the druids speak in a strange primordial language and jibber at the assembled group. Sir Ritter smashes them down with his mace, crushing blights with his shield as their wooden claws fail to pierce his armour. Therin sends arrows through the heads of blights, while Lelouche spins his magic to bolster his allies resolve. Godal wades into the blights, his thunder magic shattering their wooden bodies as he smashes his staff to the ground. The druids fall back, and the group stops to rest. While they do Lelouche disguises himself as a druid and scouts out the rest of the building, and when the others are well rested they blitz through the remaining druids with fearsome room to room combat. At one stage a flock of ravens come to the rescue, clawing a druid's eyes out as he stands over a prone Therin. Eventually the Wizard of Wines is cleared, the final druid knocked unconscious and tied to a chair. From his grubby hands is taken a strange staff. Seemingly made of dark wood, it is spongey to the touch and gives off a foul magical residue.

Interrogating the druid the group discovers that the druids were manipulated by Strahd into attacking the winery, their leader given this foul staff in order to command the twig blights into serving him. Stepping outside Sir Ritter breaks the staff over his knee, and with an unholy screech the remaining the dozens of twig blights hiding amongst the vines crumble into dust. The Wizard saved the group returns to Davian. He thanks them, gifting them the bottles of poisoned wine left by the druids. Although the Wizard of Wines is saved, Davian reveals that the magic that helped the vines grow is gone. Three magical seeds had been planted here in an age past by the wizard who formed the winery, but had recently been stolen by the druids. He knows the location of two of the seeds, and asks the group if they will find them for him. One seed is location in the nearby druidic site of Yester Hill, while the other is in the town of Berez. They agree to do this as a favour to the Keepers of the Feather, and Davian in turn agrees to use his scouts to help find Isek and Ireena. Toasting their victory with some of the remaining wine the group finally decides on a name for themselves, and the "Bastards of Barovia" settle in for a night of drinking and merriment at the Wizard of Wines.


Part X: Aggressive Pruning

Yester%20Hill.png
[Yester Hill]

The hill stands out from the surrounding forest, its dead grass jarring even to the moderate green of the Barovian forest.
Atop it stand hundreds of black stone gravestones and at its peak a massive wooden statue. Made of intertwined wood the statue stands above even the massive black skinned tree by its side. Approaching the group can see the statue in more detail. They see a face they recognise.
The wooden face is clearly carved in the fanged visage of Count von Strahd.

[Cleansing a Druid Infestation]
The following morning Therin wakes to find Sir Ritter had cut the string of his longbow, a punishment, he says, for two stray arrows that hit Sir Ritter in the shoulder the day before. The group intends to visit the town of Krezk to buy supplies, but upon talking to Davian discover this is little more than a village built around the Cathedral of Saint Markovich. They are also informed that Berez, the location of the second of the missing seeds, is a ruin overrun by a cursed swamp. Desperately in need of supplies the Bastards decide to make their way back to Vallaki, wary of the bounty the Baron of that town has out on all of their heads. The travel is uneventful, the group accompanied by a wagon of wines from the Wizard to Vallaki. Ravens fly overhead, the Keepers of the Feather protecting their assets in the wagon. On the road the group comes across a set of clothes covered in straw, but ignore the mysterious object. Arriving in Vallaki as the night falls the group reunites with Samson, who had been searching for Thresh for the days since the group departed. He had found only tracks and ripped clothes, and feared the worst for the warlock.

Taking rooms in the Blue Water inn the group settles in for the night, not straying from the inn in fear of retribution by the Baron. Godal studies the broom taken from Morgantha the hag, discovering that it is a broom of flight and learning how to activate the magical item. Later he and Lelouche do a lute duet that has even the reserved people of Vallaki on their feet clapping, and the rest of the group settles in for a night of relaxation. During the night Godal has a dream, where a deep voice speaks directly to him. It says "there is a town fallen under corruption. A house filled with spirits. Trapped there is a holy symbol of hope". The group cannot decipher the cryptic dream, and set out into Vallaki to purchase supplies and sell gems and other trappings discovered in their adventures. Lelouche purchases horses for the group and a wagon to store their supplies, even Godal is bought a pony to help him keep up. In the town square ropes and rations are purchased, while Sir Ritter visits a blacksmith and has silver applied to his flail. He also is fitted for a new suit of armour, while Godal visits a shop named 'Aurelia's Magicks' and purchases magical supplies to continue his research.

The group heads out of Vallaki, riding past the Vistani camp long enough to deliver the promised wine. They ride with the wagon from the Wizard of Wines and a raven escort, reaching the Wizard later that day. The winery itself lies in ruins, smashed apart. Massive tracks lead through a ruined vineyard back into the forest and as the group approaches they are greeted by Davian and the surviving members of the Wizard staff. Apparently a massive tree blight had appeared the night before, destroying the Wizard of Wines and corrupting the soil on which the vineyard was built. Davian and his people are packing up what they can to head back to Vallaki. The group apologise for not being here to protect the vineyard, and swear to go south to Yester Hill where the druids and blights are located. They make camp near the ruins of the Wizard. During the night a druid scouting party attacks, dozens of small blights and a few druids rushing towards the campsite bellowing warcries. Sir Ritter's silvered flail makes short work of the blights, and druids go down to arrows and crossbow bolts before they even reach the group.

The next morning the group rides south towards Yester Hill, following the tracks of the giant tree blight to a massive hill covered in dead grass. Black stones dot the hill, burial mounds from an age past, and a massive tree stands at its peak next to a wooden statue. Lightning strikes the peak of the hill, random bolts that somehow form a rhythmic beat. Leaving the wagon and horses at the base of the hill the group continues upwards, noting that the statue is the caped and fanged form of Count von Strahd. The tree stands tall, it's black bark marked with red as it seemingly bleeds. The black stones seem to have once had markings, long since faded to incomprehensibility. As the group crests the top of the hill they spot small trees around the massive tree, these ones swaying strange in no wind. As they approach the trees turn, each bearing a rictus snarling face and beginning to lumber towards the interlopers. The blights are easily slain, but more figures appear on the hill. A dozen druids stand in a circle around the wooden idol to Strahd, chanting in a strange language and holding their hands up in reverence.

The Bastards of Barovia move to cut down the chanting druids, a few dropped by Therin's arrows or Samson's crossbow bolts as the rest of the group rush to slay them. As Sir Ritter reaches the druids and smashes one down with his flail more figures appear, leaping from graves. Muscular figures clad in fur, the men are bearded and rush forward with massive stone axes waving. Out of bolts, Samson rushes towards the bleeding tree. He pulls an axe that is imbedded in its trunk, hefting the weapon as a dozen blights leap from the roots of the tree and lunge towards him. He slashes at the creatures, cutting them in two with single blows from the axe that seemed made for the task. Seeing the threat the druids ritual posed Lelouche throws oil casks onto the wooden statue, setting them alight as he dodges random lightning strikes. Further down the hill Therin and Godal fight the barbarians, the elf drawing his rapier and fighting a pair of hulking figures. He puts dozens of cuts on each man before they fall, dodging axe blows. Godal summons thunder around him blowing back druids and barbarians. Overwhelmed, he mounts his broom and flies above, shooting his crossbow at the barbarians as they threaten to overwhelm Sir Ritter.

Sir Ritter lashes out with his silvered flail, slaying barbarians. The men are eventually slain, but not before their distraction is a success. The druids finish their ritual and the statue of Strahd begins to glow with an internal green light. It lumbers forward on black charred legs, burned heavily by the fire set be Lelouche. The massive blight picks up Lelouche, biting down on him and throwing his body aside. It lashes out at Godal, who goes flying from his broom and hits the ground with a crunch. Sir Ritter hefts his flail and charges the creature, fully prepared to die fighting the monstrosity. With a might swing he smashes his flail into the beasts leg…and watches as it collapses into ash. Heavily wounded by Lelouche's fire the massive blight was easily slain by Sir Ritter. The remaining druids and barbarians flee in terror, and the blights are easily slain by the remaining members of the group. The bleeding tree is lopped down by Samson, and it's remains burned. Within the ashes of the Strahd-Blight the group finds a glowing green acorn, the first of the Seeds from the Wizard of Wines. And tracking alone further down the hill Therin finds a long blood stained spear, grasping its shaft as a voice speaks directly into his mind. The spear speaks, and Therin listens.


Part XI: Baba Yasaga

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[The ruins of Berez]

Sitting around the campfire Sir Ritter and Samson coughed and wheezed, the ragged noises not stopping despite the warmth of the fire. The wagon sat nearby, the horses gathered for warmth. Inside Lelouche slept, but the rest of the Bastards pull their cloaks and blankets tight.
The first snows of autumn had begin to fall, and the dark brown grass of the forest was covered in a light pattering of white. The massive grey boughed trees loomed over the small camp, and the darkness seemed to dance and weave, trying to find its way into the light. And the Bastards of Barovia sat around the fire, not knowing that despite the horrors they had faced the worst was yet to come…

[Trouble recovering the second seed]
The group rests just down the road from Yester Hill, healing their wounds and marvelling at the very fact they survived the fearsome beasts the druids threw at them. The next morning they set out towards the ruins of Berez, where the Keepers of the Feather had informed them the second magical seed from the Wizard of Wines was located. They make their way back towards Vallaki, leaving the main path at the Luna River crossroads and moving south. Wolf corpses line the road, and some time later a fell dark wind brings with it swarms of black bats. The creatures have glowing red eyes and set upon the ground as they ride down the road. Godal easily sees the creatures off with booming explosions of magical energy, and the Bastards are soon on their way again. After some time the roads begin to soften, the hard packed earth becoming more and more muddy until finally the wagon struggles to move through the thick mud. Leaving the wagon and horses in a copse of trees the group moves onwards on foot, finally reaching the ruins of Berez.

The swamp had entirely overgrown the town of Berez. The outer palisade had long since rotted away, and only the stone foundations of the village huts remain. Old stone cottages are scattered through the now swampy area, some half covered in mud and almost all obscured by a light mist that coats the area. Swamp plants have overgrown all the stone structures, and above the mud stand dozens of scarecrows. The scarecrows all stare outwards from the centre of the marsh, and the ground is also dotted with black stones not dissimilar to those found at Yester Hill. Moving onwards the ground wades through the marshes, finding hard ground when they can and eventually reaching the centre of town. Here stands an odd cottage, seemingly built on stilts atop a long-dead tree stump. Outside of the cottage floats a massive skull, glowing internally with a strange light as it hovers just outside of the cottage.

The group argues about whether or not to go past the skull, but eventually decides to investigate the cottage. Getting closer they notice that cages outside the hut hold dozens of ravens, the ravens squawking with excitement as they get closer. Moving inside the hut the group finds it cluttered, filled with chests and alchemical supplies. In the centre of the room stands a figure, a hunched old woman in grey and brown robes stands over a white crib. The crib seems the only well lit area in the whole cottage, and the old woman hums a lullaby to a white bundle she holds in her arms. Within the bundle is a baby, swaddled in white. She doesn't reply to Samson's greetings and only turns when Sir Ritter attempts to open one of her chests. For his trouble he is zapped by brown lightning, searing his flesh and leaving him reeling. Finally noticing there are other people in her hut the old woman turns, revealing a hideous wart covered face and opening her mouth to speak: "Hello there. I am Baba Yasaga".

The group talks to the woman, recognising her name as they of a famous witch. She is relatively polite, revealing quickly that she hates the ravens and in particular those of the Keepers of the Feather. It seems she is allied with Strahd, in deed considering herself to be Strahd's mother. She doesn't trust the group, but offers them a deal. She will try to help them if they prove their loyalty by killing the captured ravens outside. Most of the group refuse, but Therin walks outside and starts jabbing the captured birds with his rapier. Samson frees some of the birds, but Therin simply shoots them down as they leave the cage. Shocked by his actions Lelouche orders Therin to leave the hut, and the group soon follow him. Taking their leave from Baba Yasaga the group moves away from her hut and takes refuge in one of the ruined stone buildings in town. They begin to discuss whether they should attack Baba Yasaga or try to trick her into giving them the magical seed. As they do so Samson promptly turns invisible and sneaks away, taking slow steps back to Baba Yasaga's hut.

As the group argues about the morality of Therin's actions Samson goes up the steps to Baba Yasaga's hut. As she faces the wall he buries his axe deep into her shoulder. Her screech is ear shattering, and the group hears it from their hiding spot not far away from the hut. They begin to run towards the hut, while inside Samson battles with the witch. Poisonous gas spills from the hut as the witch summons foul magic to protect herself, and Samson stumbles outside even as Sir Ritter and Lelouche reach the hut. Even as they approach the house seems to shake, rising from the ground as its stilts are revealed to be massive scaled legs. The hut walks towards the group, grabbing Samson where he has fallen the hut pulls him with its claws. With a sickening squelch he splits into three pieces, which are then unceremoniously thrown into the swamp. Sir Ritter starts to engage the hut, smashing at it with his silver flail. He takes its blows on his shield, but eventually even his mighty strength is not enough and his armour is rent. The claws rip into his flesh, cutting him deeply and splashing his blood against the ground.

Above Godal flies on his broom, casting magic at the hut. He holds on for dear life as it swings at him, ducking beneath it's claws until a glancing blow smashes him from his broom. Falling to the ground below he hits the ground, his spine shattering from the impact and his life ended with a meaty thump. His fellows dead Lelouche turns to flee, but the hut catches up to him. Grappling him in its claws it wrings his neck and drops his dead body to the ground. All the while Therin watches on. He had tried to run towards the fight, but his lost leg made quick travel difficult. When the hut animated he raised his bow, but lowered it again when he saw the pure force of the monstrosity. As his friends were ripped to shreds he watched, until finally as Lelouche fell and Baba Yasaga started to retrieve the bodies he simply walked away, back towards the wagon and Sir Ritter's followers waiting for their master's return.

Godal the halfling. A brave but untalented wizard, he was thrown from his broom and broke his little spine on the ground below.

Sir Gregory, an honourable knight. He fell fighting the witch Baba Yasaga, his armour and faith no match for the giant claws of her hut.

Samson, the survivor, who had outlasted a dozen other adventurers. Finally his time came when the hut of Baba Yasaga ripped him asunder.

Lelouche de Fontaine, a bard who angered many allies. His beautiful face hid an ugly soul, and it was soon melted off by Baba Yasaga.


Chapter IV: Moonlight & Mysticism


Part XII: Curse of Argynvostholt

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[Argynvostholt Castle]

The muscled hairless dwarf lay prostrate before the massive stone statue. It seemed to resemble a large dragon, almost identical to the dragons depicted on the dwarf's body tattoos, with spiked crests of scales and large all-knowing eyes.
Looking up with reverence in his eyes the dwarf watched as the statue stood still and silent. Suddenly a gust of wind picked up, pushing leaves and loose snow up towards the massive castle just up the stone pathway.
The dwarf's eyes widened: "What's that my lord? You want me to go into the house?".

[Moving into the mountains]
A week after the events in the ruins of Berez a group gathers with Eleanor in the Blue Water Inn. She had left her friends to go and deal with the events at the Wizard of Wines, staying here and eventually falling in with a group almost as odd as the one she had left. Prince Elrohir is the most out of place, an immaculately dressed noble from Elvandar who seems to dislike all those around him. Karl and Herbert are dwarves, Herbert a measured monk who assessed each situation rationally and Karl a skilled warrior and ex-soldier. The pair had also come to Barovia via the mysterious mists of Count von Strahd. Their last companion had not, he had been in Barovia a very long time. Caked in mud even within the Blue Water the druid Fellherm had recently sworn vengeance against Strahd and was aiding Eleanor in her hunt. The group were hunting werewolves, believing them to be the source of Strahd's corruption in the region. But in order to hunt the beasts they would need a tracker. As luck would have it, one had just ridden into town.

Since the deaths of his allies, Therin had fled the swamps of Berez, riding back to Vallaki on Lelouche's fine riding horse. He let Sir Ritter's followers take the other horses, leaving the caravan filled with supplies to rot in the mud where it was lodged. They were troubled by wolves on the road as they made their way back to Vallaki, but with Therin's skill with the bow and the horses' speed they easily escaped the predators. Arriving back at Vallaki Sir Ritter's followers took their leave, selling the horses to Ewin at the Blue Water and taking up odd jobs within town. It was also within the Blue Water that Therin spotted his old ally, Eleanor, now in the company of a strange group of people. He introduces himself to the group and offers his services as a scout to them, eager to be away from the judgemental eyes of the Keepers of the Feather. The group leaves Vallaki the following morning, the high elf Prince Elrohir complaining about his discomfort at having to walk. Fellherm leads the way, claiming to know that the werewolves live within the Balinok mountains to the south.

Turning south from the Luna River crossroads the group soon hear the sounds of battle. Investigating the sound they walk into a thick mist, coming upon a massive battle taking place between groups of ghostly soldiers formed from the mist. Soldiers of horseback wearing gleaming plate armour charge black armoured infantry, the infantry preparing pikes and wearing helmets with fell looking horns. The knights cut swathes into the infantry, but soon the weight of numbers begins to tell. Knights are pulled from their horses and killed with hooked knives until only a few survive. It is now that a massive shape forms from the mist, a dragon that swims in the mist itself and lays down a burst of ice that obliterates the dark armoured men. It's work done the dragon flies back up into the mist, that parts as it passes. The apparition flies towards the mountains, finally landing on the dark shape of a building off in the distance. Fellherm identifies the horned soldiers as serving Strahd, but has never seen nor heard of the knights before. Meanwhile Herbert is in a trance, believing the mist-dragon to be a sign from above that his destiny is to seek out the source of the miracle. He convinces the group the werewolves might have taken shelter in the building, and the group agrees to search it before they continue to the Balinok mountains.

Moving down the road they seem a glowing green light ahead. Moving through the mist the shape reveals itself to be an armoured man, a glowing green gem in his chest. With a jolt Therin recognises the figure as Sir Ritter, his one time companion. Sir Ritter moves forward, swinging his silver flail. He doesn't reply to hails, and when he approaches Herbert knocks off his helmet and recoils, revealing Sir Ritter's rotten flesh and undead eyes. The group lays into the foul mimic of what was once Sir Ritter, dodging his silver flail attacks and slashing into his rotten flesh. Prince Elrohir fights with a pair of swords burning with golden fire, side by side with Eleanor who dances with her twin rapiers. Herbert dashes back and forth, striking out with his staff, as Karl takes blows on his shield and jabs with his own angular sword. Eventually parts are hacked off Sir Ritter and he collapses into a heap, his flesh turned to mush and a terrible odour coming off the pile that was once his body. Fellherm takes the glowing gem that was imbedded in Sir Ritter, and the group stops to rest and recover from the fight. Therin scouts during this time, just managing to survive an ambush by the group of wolves that had been tracking him since Berez.

Later that afternoon the group approaches the shape on the hill, revealed at last to be a large keep with conical towers. Once a mighty castle, it was now partially ruined and covered in a coating of snow from the mountains just behind it. A massive statue of a dragon sits in the courtyard at the front of the castle, and Herbert shows it great deference. Considering this to be a sign, he leads the group inside the castle, through a door set with brass knockers shaped like dragons. Inside is a fine hallway filled with marble statues, the walls covered in tapestries of silver armoured men hunting black furred beasts in wooded valleys. In some a silver dragon flies above the hunters. Moving upwards the group are set upon by shadowy figures, ghostly remnants of the army that once protected this place. Herbert tries to negotiate with the ghosts, but they seem to have lost their minds and attack in a frenzy. Moving through walls they attack the group, fought off by flaming swords and rapier thrusts. Eventually Fellherm throws up his hands, summoning a beam of moonlight from above that burns the ghosts to ash. Panting the group retreats into a nearby room to recover, Karl finding that a hand print had appeared on his arm from where a ghost had touched him. Fellherm tries to heal the wound, but as time passes the skin around it necrotises and falls off, and mere minutes later Karl's right arm is entirely destroyed below the elbow.

Moving upwards the group reach a great hall, now a ruined mockery of its former glory. Sitting in a throne is a heavily armoured man, his skin hallowed but somehow still noble. He holds a greatsword in one hand that bears the symbols of a dragon so prominent within the ruin. He talks to the group, informing them that they are in the ruins of Argynvostholt, the keep of the Order of the Silver Dragon. It seemed that the castle had been sacked by Strahd hundreds of years ago, and he was cursed to stay here for all eternity. He also reveals that Strahd is trapped in Barovia, the mists keeping people out not of his design but in fact his prison. Strahd is cursed to remain in Barovia, and the knight refuses aid to anyone that would attempt to slay him. The group leaves, but Karl and Therin convince them to go back and try to steal the sword of the silver knight, believing it to be magical. The knight senses their intent at once, cutting down Karl and summoning ghostly soldiers to protect himself. The ghosts lash out with ethereal blades, cutting down Herbert as he fights with his staff. Retreating out of Argynvostholt Eleanor and Elrohir drag the bodies of Karl and Herbert. The silver knight does nothing to follow them, and his ghosts go back to sleep. Reaching the outside Karl is healed, but Herbert is too far gone. Burning their short term ally the group makes camp, Fellherm healing their wounds as they figure out what to do next.

Herbert Hancock, a monk who devoted his life to serving dragonkind. He followed the signs of his worship, and was led to the fell blade of the Silver Knight of Argynvostholt.


Part XIII: A World of Fog

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[Exploring the inside of Argynvostholt]

The adventurers awoke on the soft ground, the mud and dark grass covered in a thick layer of mist. Rousing it seemed the whole world was overcome with mist, trees made of grey fog and a sky made bland by a layer of mist that coated everything as far as the eye could see.
Ahead stood twelve mounds in the mist, the graves of those fallen in Barovia with strong ties to the group before them. As a cracking noise begins to echo through the mist realm the graves break open, figures emerging to slay those that had taken up their mantles…

[Revealing the past]
While Fellherm rests Eleanor disappears, her enigma intact. The Druid rejoins the group the following morning. Meanwhile on the road just away from Argynvostholt a mounted half-elf rides towards the castle. Ventnor is a scholarly looking man, entirely out of place in the dark forest. Unlike most he had come to Barovia by choice, seeking his master Prince Elrohir. The Prince's tutor in matters magical and otherwise Ventnor had followed his Prince to this place after he went missing in the Svalich woods. He is accompanied by another mounted figure, this one a handsome young lady of Vistani heritage. Esmerelda de Aveneer had met Ventnor on the road, herself heading in this direction to avoid a group of Vistani from whom she had stolen a horse. She was heading to Argynvostholt to find an artefact with which to defeat Strahd. She did so at the behest of her master, a vampire hunter named Van Richten. It is not long before the two horsemen break off the road and begin to head into the dense forests around Argynvostholt, finally stopping as figures step out onto the road in front of them.

Elrohir is glad to see his old tutor, but the rest of his allies are aghast when Ventnor speaks down to Elrohir and the normally prickly and proud prince simply takes the insults. Elrohir introduces Ventnor formally to the group and Esmerelda is surprised to discover in conversation with the group that Argynvostholt is not abandoned as she anticipated. The group agrees to guide her to the castle, having been there before, and the pair soon join the adventurers in walking back up the hill towards the towering castle. Just before reaching Argynvostholt however they find their path barred by a wall of black smoke. Before the smoke stands a wolf, black furred and easily the size of a horse. As the group approaches the wolf speaks, human words somehow spitting forth from his fanged mouth. The wolf mocks the group, introducing himself as Count Strahd himself. He speaks of hundreds of adventurers summoned to Barovia to prove themselves to him, laughing at the failures of those who came before. Elrohir speaks proudly of being above those before him, and with a grin Strahd simply says "we will see".

Suddenly the world is dark, the adventurers tumbling downwards before finally landing on a field made of mist. Surrounding them are trees made of mist and arrayed around the field are a dozen large misty mounds. Even the sky is blocked by a layer of mist, and when they move the group find their steps fluid and odd. Approaching one of the mounds Ventnor pokes it with his rapier, discovering a strange black egg shape beneath the mist. As he approaches the egg appears to crack, vicious purple liquid flowing from within as something breaks its way out of the egg. A humanoid figure steps out, diminutive and broad as it leans on a staff. The whole figure is made of black mist, it's staff glowing with an inner purple energy. As the group watches in shock other figures appear from eggs further into the field. A tall figure holds purple flames in her hands, pointed ears made of black smoke. A lithe apparition holds spears in both hands that glow with purple light, a small figure tosses purple smoke daggers, a hulking figure a massive smoke axe. One by one adventurers slain by Barovia are re-summoned as foul apparitions. Hundreds of smoke figures appear, but only those tied to the group manifest as black smoke. An old elf appears as smoke alongside a scythe wielding robed figure. A halfling on a broom, an armoured figure with a purple smoke flail, an armoured man with a curved axe and even a lithe figure with a harp.

Most of the spirits are unrecognisable to the current group, so many had fallen in these lands, but as they died the spirits gave to their killers a brief glimpse into their deaths. A dwarven cleric is scared to death by a house that shrieks into his mind. An elf who worships the sun is smothered by dark gas far from the sun. An elf is cornered and bludgeoned to death, a dwarf cut in two by an expert sword stroke and a hulking half orc pierced by a spear. These images flash into the minds of those present as their smokey bodies are dispersed, howling away into the ether from whence they came. A monk is burned to a crisp as he flees through the streets of Vallaki, a warlock mauled to death by wolves in the forest alone. The smokey apparitions do not go down easily, fighting as fiercely as they ever did in life. Smokey spear, sword and axe reap heavy wounds upon material flesh, but one by one the apparitions fall and the images continue. A halfling is cast from his broom and broken on the ground below, a bard turns to flee before being constricted into paste, a man stabs a witch with two daggers before being melted alive. And finally as last the ghostly apparition falls the image appears of a knight fighting alone against an animated tree, falling and being reborn as an automaton that was slain days later by the very group present, the final fate of Sir Ritter.

As the last of the black smoke apparitions fall the white smoke that surrounds the area seems to recede. As the mist fades and they recover from the battle the group sees that they are right where they lost consciousness, the wooded glade just outside of Argynvostholt castle. Around them are the bodies of those they slew as smoke, now piles of clothes and ectoplasm. Within some of the corpses however are magical items too powerful to be dispersed by mortal means. Elrohir claims a magical cloak of protection, while Karl is glad to have a light weight axe which he can use in his one remaining good hand. Time had passed during the dream, and the night now had a firm grip upon the mountainside. The group makes camp, lighting a large fire to ward away the unnatural cold of this place. Ventnor goes into his pack, bringing out a musty tome he had purchased in Vallaki and reading the history of Argynvostholt. He reads into the night and when the group rise in the morning he reveals to them his findings.

Argynvostholt had been the name of the Silver Dragon who had built this castle, as well as his name in human form as the noble knight Lord Argynvostholt. He had built his keep here to protect the Amber Temple, a source of ancient evil that exists within the Balinok mountains. He had a war against Count Strahd, leading his Silver Knights against his forces before eventually being defeated and having his bones scattered across Barovia by Strahd himself. The group scouts Argynvostholt castle that morning, avoiding the Silver Knight now revealed by Ventnor to be Vladimir Horngard, Argynvostholt's most senior Silver Knight. They show deference at the crypt of Argynvostholt, figuring out that if the dragon's bones were to be returned to the castle a silver light that once emanated from the castle to throw back darkness would once again remove the area from under the yoke of Strahd. All those present had their own reasons to oppose Strahd, whether it be to escape Barovia or pure hatred, and the group discuss among themselves the best way to activate the beacon and cast out Strahd's light. They discuss heading to Castle Ravenloft, but Esmerelda warns them that none can enter that place without first see Madame Eva. Eva is a Vistani soothsayer of advanced age, and the group agrees to visit her before travelling to Ravenloft to confront Strahd and end his dark taint on the lands of Barovia.


Part XIV: Matters of Destiny

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[Madame Eva's Camp]

Sleeping prince, servant of light and brother of darkness, the secret lies with him.
A holy symbol of great hope. A wounded elf has what you seek, he will part with the treasure to see his dreams fulfilled.
To find the Sword of Sunlight, go to the mountains, climb the white tower guarded by golden knights.
An ally against darkness can be found in the leader of the feathered ones, who lives among the vines.
You will find your enemy on his dark throne.
Madame Eva's Reading

[Visiting Madame Eva]
Making camp in the shadow of Argynvostholt the group listens as Esmerelda recalls the tale of Strahd, of his love for a young woman named "Tatiana" and of the pact he made at the Amber Temple to gain his immortality. Moving out the following morning the group bumps into a gang of Vistani, Esmerelda and Ventnor moving off the p. ath to avoid the men. The Vistani are here graverobbing and hunting, and Fellherm points them towards the location of the Amber Temple with a promise of great treasures. Not long after the group reaches the Old Svalich Road, marching eastward towards Vallaki. Arriving at the crossroads the group hear howls in the distance and are soon set upon by a pack of black furred beasts. The beasts are run off as Fellherm summons a massive barovian strangler made of pure fey energy, and those that fall are soon skinned and left to rot. Later that day the group arrives at Vallaki, entering the gates just before sundown and taking rooms at the Blue Water Inn as so many had before them. The group settles in, Elrohir and Karl joining Esmerelda in a Vistani drinking game that has them both waking up in rather unflattering positions the next morning.

The next day the group spreads out into Vallaki. They take the wolf skins to a tailor to have winter cloaks made, while Elrohir pays top dollar to have his worked into his enchanted cloak. Meanwhile Therin visits the blacksmith and has his arrows silvered to better battle the supernatural forces of Barovia. Fellherm visits a local park and angers the town guards by using his druidic magic to grow the plants far beyond their previous side, eventually hiring a local child to prune back the overgrown plants. Karl sits down with Lichensten the blacksmith and works on a plan for a metallic arm to replace his missing one. The blacksmith promises to give the plans some thought. Another night passes in the town and the group finds out from the locals that the werewolf tribe, far from being placed in the southern mountains as Fellherm had asserted, were located to the north-west of Vallaki. Esmerelda agrees to meet the party at Van Richten's tower after they have visited Madame Eva, to attack the werewolf clan together. The following morning the group heads out east along Old Svalich Road to visit Madame Eva and have their fortunes told.

Heading south-east from Vallaki the group comes upon dead wolves and commoners on the road, leaving them and soon passing an old windmill off the path. Therin recounts a tale of his old comrades assaulting the windmill and the slaying of Morgantha the mother of two other hags. Later that day the group passes a massive crumbling stone gate, once the border of the lands of Barovia, before finally arriving at a large waterfall and veering off from the main path. Following a sign towards Tser Falls, the location of Madame Eva's campsite, the group passes a strange black carriage bearing the sigil of Count Strahd. Passing through a chasm next to the waterfall the group follow a muddy path downwards, eventually arriving at a meandering road that leads to a spattering of colourful tents alongside a small crystal clear lake. Around the tents sit a dozen Vistani, drinking and laughing as they roast a large pig over a roaring fire. A centre tent sits beyond the others and it is to this one that the group are drawn. Within the tent a magical red fire roars and an old woman in a blue shawl hunches over a table. The centre of the table holds a crystal ball and around it a silk black tablecloth holds only a large deck of cards.

Madame Eva raises her head, greeting each of the group by name and telling them she had been "expecting them". She picks up the deck of ancient cards and begins to shuffle them, flicking the bone coloured cards between her finds as she speaks a phrase she had uttered dozens of times before, to dozens of other groups: "The cards will tell you your fate, of the tools you will need to stop the fanged one. My fortune will help you rid this land of Strahd". She has each member of the group draw a card, their facings revealing things about history, a force of good, a sword of sunlight and an ally against the darkness. She reveals the locations of these elements in a riddle and answers a few questions from the eager adventurers. It seems that once Strahd had a brother, Sergei, who was married to a young woman named Tatiana. As the group sets up camp Ventnor grills Eva about her history, finding that she used to visit Ravenloft castle as a young girl. She received her divination powers from the Mothernight, Old Goddess of divination long long ago, but gives little more information about her heritage or relationship with Strahd.

Sitting around the campfire just outside of the Tser Pool camp the group discuss their next move, arguing whether finding the items listed by Madame Eva or going straight to Ravenloft would be the smarter move. Fellherm and Therin argue for killing the hags at the windmill and finding the artefacts, while Ventnor and Elrohir begin making plans to infiltrate Strahd's domain and steal back the bones of the dragon Argynvostholt. They also discuss in private the notion of using Strahd's power to further Elrohir's ambition. Finally after much arguing the group comes to a consensus. They would slay the hags at the windmill and then infiltrate castle Ravenloft. After retrieving the bones they would place them back within the crypt at Argynvostholt and use this to cast out the darkness using the silver light of that lost keep. An agreement made the group rests in the relative safeness of the Vistani camp and the next morning head north towards the lost windmill.

A few hours later the group arrives at the windmill, finding a group of commoners hammering at its door attempting to get a taste of the dream pastries that had been denied to them since Morgantha's death. Ventnor calls out to Morgantha's daughters, promising a trade of children in exchange for the dream pastries. The two hags move out of the windmill, their human forms ugly but concealing much more hideous faces. The illusion is quickly broken as a pair of silver arrows thud into the chest of one hag, her body vanishing into smoke as her robes fall to the ground. Her sister screams and rips off her human skin, growing into a grey skinned beast with sharp claws. Elrohir begins to dance, his magic amplifying his speed and skill to unnatural levels as his blurring blades cut deeply into the hag again and again. Eventually she falls, her body turning to smoke like her sister's. Meanwhile Fellherm had summoned his fey serpent and the commoners had been eaten. Within the windmill the group finds a number of strange magical items, from freshly brewed potions to magical weapons and a blue silk cloak. Passing them out among the group they begin to make plans for their infiltration to Castle Ravenloft.


Part XV: Beasts Within

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[The forests of Barovia]

The golden elf stood high above the pack of wild looking men and women, a glow around him the work of Ventnor, weaving magic from a hidden spot to make his lord look all the more glorious. At his feet is the bloodied corpse of the werewolf, dead in seconds at the hands of the elven blademaster.
Raising his flaming sword high Elrohir addresses the men and women before him: "I am Grand Prince Elrohir, your new master".

[Werewolves]
Making camp outside of the stinking windmill the group are soon interrupted as groaning and the sounds of shuffling feet emanate from the nearby forest. Moving to investigate Elrohir is surprised to find a group of twenty or so Barovian commoners moving out of the forest, the stink of rotten flesh and the odd missing limb revealing them to be horrible zombies. Elrohir begins to move towards the creatures, even as a figure emerges from the forest behind them. The hooded figure draws two hand crossbows, putting bolts through the heads of the creatures even as they are cut down by Elrohir's twin flaming blades. Finally the last of the creatures are slain and the hooded figure reveals herself to be Eleanor, the one-time companion of the group who had vanished near Argonvostholt. She reunites with the group, introduced to Ventnor and joins the camp as stories on both sides are heard over roasted mutton provided by Therin. It seems Eleanor had been laying low in Vallaki, and had also discovered the location of the werewolf hideout. Although the group had agreed to next go to Ravenloft her return convinces them to deal with the werewolves north of Vallaki and the next morning the group hit the road once again.

Heading north to Vallaki the group stops for a short time, long enough only to resupply and for Eleanor to pick up a rapier she had paid the local blacksmith to lace with silver. Moving out of Vallaki at midday the group passes Luna River Crossroads and head west towards their meeting point with Esmerelda. The peace of their journey is broken only when howls fill their ears from the surrounding forests. Massive brown furred beasts lope from the trees but prewarned by Karl's keen nose the group are ready, slaying the furred beasts with arrow, axe and blasts of magic. Elrohir, Ventnor and Therin stop to skin and butcher the wolves, salting a stack of wolf steaks much to Elrohir's enjoyment. Heading north the group soon comes to Lake Baratok, a cold mountain lake some mile across. On the edge of the lake, in an area of swamp, lies a massive stone tower. Crumbling in parts the tower is many stories tall and built of the same grey stone as the mountains just visible beyond the lake. At it's foot is parked a wagon with brassed rimmed wheels in the Vistani style, and soon the group are greeted by Esmerelda.

Esmerelda had come to the tower looking for her master, the vampire hunter Van Richten, but expresses disappointment at having not been able to locate him. The tower itself had been trapped by her master, and so she had set up camp in its shadow. She agrees to honour her pact with the group to kill the nearby werewolf tribe, and they in turn agree to accompany her to find her master, believed to be located at the Amber Temple in the Balinok mountains to the south. The next morning the group heads out, a misunderstanding leading Karl to spend the night constructing a barge by which to cross the lake. Leaving his barge to move on foot through the forest the group are led by Fellherm, who transforms into a wolf to scout ahead. After a few hours of travel around the lake the group reaches the edge of the forest and look up to the mountains beyond, spotting at once the den of the werewolves. The cave itself seems shaped like the maw of a massive beast and within it's torchlit depths can be heard the howling of wolves. The group discusses sneaking into the cave but before the plan can come together Elrohir draws his weapons and begins sprinting towards the cave mouth.

The rest of the group hurry to catch up with the elf as he barrels into the cave and comes face to face with two shocked looking humans. Covered in furs and holding stone spears one of the pair is cut down before he can even react and his mate howls in pain. Ripping off her own skin the feral looking woman transforms into a werewolf and begins to lash out at Elrohir. From within the cave more howls answer and beasts rush from corridors and caverns to defend their den. Massive brown wolves lope from the caves while fur wearing men and women transform into were wolves themselves and rush towards the group. Therin rides his horse into the cave, his arrows taking the eyes of wolves as they rush forward, while Ventnor rushes to his masters side and defends him from the beasts. Fellherm casts up his hands and with a resounding "bwarmp" brings down a beam of moonlight that burns the werewolves as they stand, forcing them to transform back into human form in agony. Stunned they are cut down by Karl's axe or expert thrusts from Eleanor's silver rapier. Soon the beasts are slain, the only real injury an arrow in Elrohir's back from Therin's bow.

The group spreads out to search the den, finding a crude wooden statue of a werewolf and a woman praying at it. Zuleka is a werewolf herself but soon reveals no love of Strahd. Her brother had been captured by the vampire and she wishes revenge, stopped only by the leader of the tribe Kiril who has sworn loyalty to the Lord of Barovia. Ventnor speaks to the woman at length, discovering that Kiril had taken most of the tribe out hunting and that if he was to be slain Zuleka would take over the leadership of the den. With the subtlety of a diplomat Ventnor convinces Zuleka to help the group to kill Kiril. Moving away the bodies the group sets up to ambush the tribe when they return and hours later almost two dozen wolves appear from the forest, brown hunting wolves alongside the black wolves of Strahd and the hulking forms of werewolves in wolf form. As they enter the cave the lead wolf transforms, Kiril revealing himself to speak to Zuleka. It is now that Elrohir strikes. Magically augmented by Ventnor and his own powers he blurs forward faster than the eye can see and with a succession of blows from his flaming silver flail Kiril is laid low before he can even react. Elrohir raises Kiril's head and declares himself their ruler.

Even as he does so Fellherm steps out, his hatred for the wolves clear on his faces. An explosion rocks the line of wolves, killing several in a burst of rocks and magic. The wolves begin to frenzy once again, but the calm Zuleka and silver tongues of Ventnor and Elrohir manage to calm them down. As this happens Therin plants an arrow in Fellherm's back, the druid unable to attack the wolves any further as his lifeblood flows on the dark rocks. The group discusses an alliance with Zuleka, now the leader of the tribe and Elrohir offers her a flaming sword as a sign of their allegiance. The wolves loyal to Strahd are slain and Fellherm, under the guise of healing the beast, poisons Therin's horse. Therin is outrage but Fellherm claims the horses life as recompense for the wound taken at Therin's own hand. The pair argue, the rest of the group moving about the den in their own business. Therin justifies his attack but Fellherm will not listen and eventually Therin puts an arrow in his horse's head to put it out of its misery. The druid walks away, not seeing the hatred brimming in Therin's eyes. And in their distraction no-one had noticed the small figure that appeared by Elrohir's side. A heavily robed child newly animated by the Prince with necromantic magic.


Chapter V: Mountains & Malice


Part XVI: An Empty Hilt

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[The Balinok Mountains]

The wind howled as the small group made their way up the icey stone path. Step by heavy step they ascended the Balinon mountains, leaving the relative green of the Barovian forest behind as they move above the clouds and into the great white. Pulling wolf fur cloaks tight they huddle for warmth as they walk, barely talking amongst themselves as they plod ever upwards.
On the narrow cliff path Esmerelda leads the way, colourfully dressed as always and dogged in her pursuit of her master Van Richten. Therin brings up the rear, his horse struggling on the icey steps as his hawk-golden eyes scan the area for any sign of hostiles…

[Through the mountains]
Fellherm summons horses from the forest and the group rides back to Vallaki. In town the druid purchases Therin a horse to replace the one that died, while Elrohir purchases a mask to hide the rotting face of his child-zombie. Meanwhile Karl sneaks off to fence at item he stole from the werewolf tribe, but despite the sale that night in the Blue Water Inn his nightmares are filled with hunting wolves pursuing him for his theft. Elrohir buys a whole barrel of the 'Red Dragon Crush' wine during the night, breaking into a nearby orphanage. Ventnor pays for the damages in the morning, while Elrohir notes that the orphanage may be a good place to find new "servants" in the future should the need arise. The next morning the group leaves Vallaki, laden with heavy winter cloaks and packs full of supplies for a stay in the mountains. With Therin leading the way on his new brown mare the group leaves Vallaki and makes their way along the Old Svalich Road towards the Amber Temple.

Marching south from the Raven River Crossroads the group pulls their coats tight as snow begins to fall. Moving up the foothills of the Balinok mountains the trees begin to thin and soon a heavy coating of snow covers the ground. As darkness begins to fall the group makes camp in a fissure of rock cut into the mountainside. Within the cave are a dozen massive vampire bats, eyes red and fangs eager for fresh blood. Seeing the creatures off into the night the group camps in the fissure, finding remnants of the people who had done so before them and fallen prey to the black bats. Enjoying a dinner of roast bat the group sleeps well and head out at daybreak the following morning. The march up the mountain is harsh, stark grey stone steps leading ever upwards towards the Temple. Eventually the path thins, heavy snow on either side as it twists and turns around the mountainside. Finally as night begins to fall the group's path is blocked.

A massive stone gate blocks the path, topped with scowling gargoyles. Behind the portcullis sits a wall of solid green flame, burning without oil or wood and stopping passage. As they approach the portcullis opens on it's own and the group analyse the green flames. Unable to dispel the powerful magic Fellherm simply walks through it, screaming in pain as the flames burn and crisp his skin. The others decide against this strategy, Karl taking out his climbing pack and expertly clambering over the walls of the gate. The others follow on the ropes and pitons he prepares but as soon as their boots hit the stone on the far side the true guardians of the walls awake. The gargoyles atop the walls break lose of their stone moorings, screaming from inhuman mouths as their black wings carry them down towards those who would defy the gate. As the beasts swoop down Esmerelda raises her hand and casts forth lightning that smashes one to pieces, the dead exploding in a poisonous cloud. The second gargoyle swoops down and grabs Elrohir's zombified child, ripping it into pieces with razor sharp claws. The gargoyle is eventually killed and it's remains scavenged by Eleanor's sharp knives.

Moving up the pass, which Esmerlda identifies as "Tsolenka Pass" the group soon comes upon a strange white stone tower topped with golden statues. Remember the words of the seer Madame Eva the group moves into the tower, climbing up it's outer walls and reaching the top. On top of the tower lies dozens of dead men and women, their armour rusted to nothing and their skeletons lying still where they fell on the top of the tower. Around it's top are golden statues of knights holding golden lances and from amongst the skeletons Karl picks up a strange golden handle, the hilt of a sword seemingly without a blade. Even as his hand grips the hilt a shriek fills the air as the snow itself seems to animate and rush forward. A frenetic fight breaks out on the top of the tower as the ice spirits try to slay the interlopers. In the chaos a single arrow from Therin misses it's mark, hitting Elrohir in the back and sending him plummeting over the lip of the tower. Fellherm lunges after him, landing heavily and stabilising the Prince before his wounds take his life. Once the spirits are vanquished Ventnor berates Therin for endangering his Lord, taking away his bow and telling the wood elf he will return it once Therin has proved his loyalty once again.

The group waits out the nightly storm within the ruined tower, sealed stone walls and a roaring fire a luxury they had not enjoyed since their last stay at the Blue Water. The next morning they move out once again, passing over a stone bridge that marks the end of the Tsolenka pass. Crossing the bridge the group are confronted by a strange sight, a massive goat trotting down the hill towards them. Fellherm recognises it as once as the legendary 'Sangzor', a fearsome beast said to dwell in the mountains. The creature lumbers towards the group and with a single motion bucks Karl in the chest and sends him sprawling off the bridge. Elrohir dashes to the side of the bridge and extends his magic, slowing Karl's fall as he plummets to the ice gorge below. Meanwhile Sangzor is pierced by Eleanor and Ventnor's rapiers and dies in a pool of its own blood. As Karl clambers back up the cliff towards the bridge Fellherm sets about butchering the massive mountain goat, taking it's skull as a helmet and wearing it's pelt over his filthy robes. High above a massive winged shape circles and as Fellherm finishes his butchering the group moves upwards towards the Amber Temple.

After another day of marching through the mountains the group arrives at the end of the road. Ahead of them the Temple is carved into the mountainside itself, stone and ice pillars magically forged and guarded by hulking amber statues that protect the Temple against outsiders. As night begins to fall the group makes camp, intending to enter the Temple the following morning. During the night Fellherm consumes Sangzor's heart in a strange ritual, while Ventnor and Karl analyse the hilt he found in the golden and white tower. Magically identifying the hilt Ventnor is shocked when the hilt answers his call, speaking directly into Karl's mind. The sword knows itself only as "Sunsword" and is a blade of pure light. Linking with Karl it summons a beam of pure sunlight into its empty hilt, the length perfectly weighted for Karl's strength and fighting style. The blade has a mind of its own and lusts for the death of Strahd. It makes a deal with Karl, agreeing to serve him if it leads to Strahd's death. The following morning Karl stands before the group, glowing sword of sunlight in his hand, and they prepare to enter the Amber Temple.


Part XVII: The Amber Temple

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[The Amber Temple]

The vast temple wall stood before them, carved into the mountain itself centuries ago. Grey stone carvings depict ancient battles between good and evil, while at the top of the reliefs stand a dozen statues. Each the size of a house the statues are carved from pure amber, facing outwards to ward the temple from those who would plunder it's depths.
Built to contain ancient evil the Amber Temple had been protected by the Knights of Argovostholt for centuries before being plundered by Count Strahd and his forces. Of those who entered the Temple only Strahd left it, changed forever into the being of darkness he is today. The adventurers camp at it's doorstep, protected from the howling winds of the mountain and the flickering light of the fire playing off the amber statues. Tonight they would rest, for tomorrow they would enter the famed Amber Temple and confront the evils within…

[Into the Amber Temple]
Resting just beyond the stairs leading downwards into the Temple Ventnor and Fellherm discuss the Amber Statues, neither of the learned men recognising their visages. All those present feel the discomfort resonating from the Temple, a feeling of ill ease that seems to soak through their skin into their hearts. The next morning Eleanor decides the feeling is too much, refusing to enter the Temple. Even Karl, who takes the lead heading out, looks haggard from a night of poor sleep. Scouting the outside of the Temple wall Karl discovers a small fissure of natural rock that leads into the Temple. Sending forward his feline familiar Elrohir gets a glimpse of a half dozen wild looking men taking shelter in a carved stone room before the hunting wolf accompanying the men rips his familiar to shreds. Fellherm offers to speak to the men, who are quickly impressed by his trophies. In particular the barbarians respect his ownership of the pelt of Sangzor, the legendary mountain goat. They agree not to harm the party, and Fellherm offers them gifts of friendship in return. Returning to the group they soon make their way beneath the massive archway at the entrance to the Temple and down black marble stairs.

It is not long before the ground evens out and from the darkness a voice whispers. Emerging from a side room is none other than Van Richten, Esmerelda's master and famed vampire hunter. He wears leather armour over his robes and carries a fine cane. His chest is adorned by rows of silver stakes and flasks of holy water and he grips Esmerelda's hand with warmth. Accompanying Van Richten is a dusk elf clad in purple robes. Kasimir had come to the Amber Temple on his own business, having fallen into company with Van Richten when the pair were both assaulted by a magical creature in the Temple atrium. The group agrees to help Van Richten slay Strahd, with the dusk elf Kasimir wanting personal vengeance for the sterilisation of his people at Strahd's hand. It is a large group that leaves the confines of Van Richten's hideout and heads out into the Amber Temple. Karl leads the way, natural dwarven senses giving him the advantage in this underground temple. Therin comes not far after, his bow returned to him that morning, and then Ventnor and Elrohir side by side as always. Fellherm walks at the rear with Van Richten and Esmerelda, while Kasimir walks by himself.

The group moves silently through the corridors of the temple, carved stone walls broken up by massive doors carved from amber. Carefully avoiding the room in which Van Richten was attacked the group searches through ancient study areas and barracks, eventually coming upon what appears to be a lecture hall. Cowering in the corner of the hall is a thin man with a badly burned face. His red robes are singed too and he raises his hands in surrender as the group approaches. Vilnius was the apprentice of a powerful wizard who had come to this place to find forbidden knowledge. The wizard was dead and Vilnius had hidden here for some days, eating rats and hiding from the protecters of the Temple. Karl and Ventnor speak to him at length, discovering that his master was slain by skulls animated by fire magic and that the hallways of the Temple are patrolled by golems made from pure amber. The group attempts to convince them to join him, but he elects to remain behind out of fear.

Moving out of the lecture theatre the group comes upon the first of the amber golems, a hulking beast with the head of a bird that lumbers towards Karl as he enters the room where it stands. Moving forward Karl activates Sunsword, slashing deeply into the creature as he ducks one of its amber fists. The rest of the group pile in, but non-magical weapons and arrows simple bounce off the creature ineffectually. Kasimir and Van Richten blast it with magic from afar, slowing breaking off chunks as it lashes out with its fists at Elrohir and Esmerelda. It begins to slow as it breaks apart before with a swirl Karl cuts it cleanly in two with Sunsword. Stopping to recover their strength the group moves on, scouting the atrium where Van Richten was attacked but seeing only a gargantuan granite statue and no hostile forces. Finding a staircase downwards Fellherm argues against descending, but is soon overruled and the group descend the stone staircase downwards to where the air smells of death itself.

The staircase exits into a circular room with three slabs of amber laying on plinths. Around these sarcophagi stand a half dozen grey skinned creates with milky white eyes. Elrohir and Fellherm lash out with magic, golden and green flames scaring the creatures back as Therin's arrows find eyes and pierce skulls. The group rushes in, Sunsword and Elrohir's blades cutting down the undead beasts. Soon the creatures are slain, but not before Elrohir brushes up against one of the sarcophagi. His eyes widen as the being within speaks directly into his mind. Zrinhala, the Howling Storm, offers him power over lightning if he would be submit. The arrogant Prince accepts, moving to the other sarcophagi as Fellherm speaks a warning to him not to touch the amber prisons. Speaking to Drizlash the Nine Eyed Spider and Dahalver-nar of Many Teeth he accepts their boons, letting the ancient evil spirits grant him power.

Elrohir is wracked with pain as half his face begins to sag and from his bloody mouth fall his teeth. Fellherm warns the others against touching the amber, explaining that his research led him to believe they are the spirits corrupting the natural order in Barovia. Ventnor confronts Fellherm about his knowledge and the druid reveals he had spent many years trying to track down the source of the evil in these lands. He says that they are stored in these amber sarcophagi and warns that any deals made with them would corrupt the soul of the dealmaker beyond all saving. This frightens most of the group away from the prospect, but the ever loyal Ventnor accepts the blessings of Dahalver-nar of Many Teeth so he might be reborn alongside his master Elrohir. His hand on Sunsword Karl refuses and the group soon leaves the strange tainted amber coffins behind. Making camp in the Temple above the group discusses their next move. Few notice Therin leaving. Coating his arrow with a fast acting poison of his own concoction he takes aim at the cowering wizard Vilnius, his arrow taking the man cleanly in the eye. Minutes later he returns with the man's spellbook for Elrohir, the Elven Prince the orchestrator of the murder. No-one questions the encounter, the taint of the Amber Temple already seeping into their souls.


Part XVIII: Heart of Darkness

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[Within the Temple]

The beast lumbered forward, huge muscles covered in a thick coating of black oily fur. It's massive mouth held no teeth and it's eye sockets were pools of black that seemed to reflect the night sky far above. From it's back two skeletal wings stand erect and from a rip in it's once fine leggings a single arachnid eye observes those before him.
The group backs away as the creature draws forth a flaming silver flail.
Puzzled, Ventnor steps forward: "…Prince Elrohir?"

[Darkness at the heart of the Amber Temple]
Retracing their steps the group returns to a room in which a massive pit falls away to the lower levels, Prince Elrohir eager to explore the amber sarcophagi below. Clambering down into the pit he finds three more of the amber tombs, each lit by the strange green glow of a floating skull. As he enters the room the skulls begin to laugh in unison and cast forth flames that scorch the room. Fellherm and Karl drop down into the room, their hard landing followed by waves of fire from the skulls that burn their flesh. Karl jumps up at once, cutting one of the skulls into two with Sunsword while Fellherm summons a beam of moonlight that burns the remaining skulls to ash. Seemingly in a feverous state Elrohir dashes between the sarcophagi and speaking to the spirits within. He accepts the blessings of Saunok the Inscrutable, Shaniamoré the Lady of Delight and Tarakanedes the Graveworm. As he clambers up the rope into sight of the rest of the group he is wracked with pain, massive skeletal wings sprouting from his back as his eyes seem to turn to jelly and melt down his face. Ventnor simply shakes his head at his pupils rashness, while Therin jumps below and touches Tarakanedes' sarcophagus, returning with skeletal wings of his own.

Moving onwards into the ruined temple the group finds that the barbarians Fellherm had parleyed with were gone and just beyond them more of the floating green flaming skulls. This time the group are not taken by surprise, Esmerelda and Van Richten lunging forward to hack one to pieces with silvered blades while Sunsword and Therin's silver arrows find their mark and destroy the others. It is at this point that the group realises Ventnor has disappeared, but move on without him. Searching the nearby rooms they find an ancient alchemist's laboratory and what appears to be an architect's work space. A massive scale model of Ravenloft castle stands here. Although it's blueprints have long since rotted to dust Karl and Van Richten spend some time studying the castle, taking notes on it's layout to help them infiltrate the bastion of Strahd at a later date. Meanwhile Fellherm comes across the remains of a wizard, the master of the now slain Vilnius. Fellherm takes from the man a staff made of pure ice and a large ancient tome. As the group stops to rest Fellherm adorns the staff with his druid tokens and in a ritual inserts the magical acorn. In the meantime Ventnor returns, a heated debate breaking out with Elrohir about the viability of his new 'blessings'.

Moving onwards the group are set upon be a dozen or so ancient spirits. Dressed in rusted armour these ghosts once guarded the Amber Temple as the living, but defended it still. Karl is a force to be reckoned with, his holy sword cutting the undead apart with every stroke. Meanwhile Elrohir summons forth a beam of lightning that charrs many of the ghosts, the beam not his normal golden white but a sickening dark purple. One room features an illusionary feast, the false food hiding in its midst one real item. The jade ewer is filled with a fine sweet wine, and Ventnor's study of it identifies that it will fill again on command. Elrohir drinks the whole gallon, refilling it and attempting to drink the rest. He is incapacitated shortly after and the group are forced to stop again. Van Richten and Esmerelda talk among themselves but the elf Kasimir seems impatient to be going about the still secret business he has in the Temple. During the rest Van Richten approaches Karl, having noticed his pallid complexion and dark eyes. He offers to cure the dwarf of his curse, a blessing that Karl readily accepts as the old vampire hunter casts off the foul spirits that had been troubling him.

After a rest the dark weight of this place still lies heavy upon the group as the pass into another site of worship. A black obsidian statue of a cowled man seems to draw the eyes of those present. The ensorcelled party walk slowly towards it until with a blast of purple magic Elrohir smashes the statue asunder. Passing through secret chamber after secret chamber the group comes upon an apparent dead end, a tower of skulls blocking their path. Smashing the skulls aside they find a path downwards, slaying more wayward spirits to reveal an exit near the base of the statue in the centre of the Temple. The group discusses attacking the statue, Van Richten having warned them about it's power. Fellherm is eager to attack, to make the temple safe once and for all, but the others argue for caution. Tiredness is obvious in the eyes of all, the evil of this place seeping into their very bones. Only Karl, Esmerelda and Van Richten seem unaffected. The group argues for a spell but when Ventnor returns with news of more rooms in a side passage they follow him away from the statue.

Move cautiously past it they walk along black marble corridors, the walls here made of pure carved amber. White marble statues of wizards hold golden staves and the polished amber holds many reflections. Not of the party, but of the hundreds slain in this place, still screaming in agony and warning. Ventnor scouts ahead, attempting to steer his master away from more amber sarcophagi that he discovers. But Elrohir is insatiable and soon the blessings of Delban the Star of Ice and Hate and Khirod the Star of Secrets lie upon him as well. Two rooms of amber prisons are pillaged by the party, Elrohir soaking up the powers of Yrrga the Eye of Shadows and Yog the Invicible as well as Taar'Haak the Five Headed Destroyer. One sarcophagi lies shattered, the broken lid reading 'Dendar the Nightserpent'. Elrohir rushes away from the group to plunder the crypts, while the group moves from room to room searching for more foes.

As Elrohir plunders the amber sarcophagi the group are ambushed by a strange creature. Black scales cover the head of a frog, but this creature holds itself on two legs and bears a massive black curved sword. From it's mouth spews forth a cloud of poison that sends the group stumbling back. As they fire spells and arrows at it from beyond the poison Ventnor rushes forward, plunging his flaming rapier into the creatures heart. It explodes in a flame that burns his poison like oil and the room is soon filled with a conflagration. As the smoke settles Ventnor is no-where to be seen. In his place lies a scaled creature with the visage of a dragon. His life had been saved by a foul pact made with one of the spirits imprisoned here. The group rushes to his side in wonder as Elrohir approaches from another room. Now bulging with muscles and nearly eight feet tall his back holds massive skeletal wings and his sagging mouth no teeth. His eyes are the deep black of the night and he speaks with a drawling whisper. "Ventnor, your prince requires assistance". As the creature turns to walk away Ventnor looks at his with disdain through new draconic eyes. "You are no prince of mine…"


Part XIX: The Grand Prince

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[Moving deeper into the Temple]

A dozen bodies sit on the floor of the chamber. Blood runs on the black polished marble and moans fill the room. Weapons sit where they were cast aside or dropped and the amber walls are scorched where magical blasts cracked their polished service.
A single figure still stands, surrounded by his once-allies…

[A schism]
Now a hulking form of draconic black scales Ventnor explains that his pact with Dahalver-nar of Many Teeth had saved his life, but he had been reborn as a strange creature. Fellherm and Ventnor discuss his physical characteristics, but neither can place their strange mixture of draconic and humanoid traits. Moving onwards into the Temple the group encounters more spirits, slaying them with slashes from Sunsword or blasts of moon energy from Fellherm. Moving down ancient stairwells the group comes across more Amber Sarcophagi and soon more corrupting blessings are added to the soul of Prince Elrohir. He shows no new physical effects, but his behaviour grows more and more erratic as the group moves onwards. In a massive library the group finds spellbooks and forbidden research from the wizards who once lived here. The books are unreadable to all but Elrohir, to whom the secrets are revealed in all their horror.

In an adjacent chamber the group comes upon the sleeping form of none other than Eleanor. Her packed filled with forbidden lore of her own she had snuck into the Temple, tailing the group. She is quiet about her interest in the ancient magical tomes and agrees to accompany the group further into the Temple to find the source of Strahd's power. Moving downwards it is a disparate group that goes deeper into the Temple. Karl scouts ahead still, but Therin flies above on skeletal wings. Elrohir paces behind, Ventnor watching him carefully from back where he stands with Eleanor. Fellherm walks with Esmerelda and Van Richten, while Kasimir grows ever more desperate as he searches every room the group enters for whatever he had come here for. Descending one final staircase the group arrives at a room with three amber sarcophagi and a dozen wooden coffins.

As the group descends the stairs the wooden coffins burst open. Grey skinned beasts with massive fangs leap forward, howling in rage and frenzy. Rushing forwards to defend the Temple on behalf of their master Strahd the vampires clash with the adventurers who had dared to enter this place. Eleanor and Esmerelda's silver rapiers go to work, piercing the creatures and cutting them to pieces, while Van Richten's sword-stick cane seems to set the vampires ablaze from the inside out. Fellherm summons a beam of moonlight that burns them as well, while Elrohir's silver mace crushes them with single blows. The creatures fight with insane abandon, grabbing at the group and trying to bite them with their fangs. Most wounds dealt to them heal almost at once, skin reforming over cuts as the beasts fight on. But as they fall Van Richten rushes to them, splashing them with holy water that dissolves them once and for all.

As the dust settles Elrohir paces to the sarcophagi, followed by an equally eager Kasimir. Kasimir accepts one of their gifts, his skin rotting away as he takes on the visage of an undead. What blessing he received is uncertain, but it seems this was what he came to the Temple to find. At another one of the sarcophagi Esmerelda and Van Richten listen to the presence trapped within. It offers them the ability to become a vampyr, the source of Strahd's power finally revealed. Elrohir is attempting to leave as Van Richten's voice rings out. He questions whether Elrohir accepted the blessing that had tainted Strahd and Barovia itself. The Prince doesn't respond and an uncomfortable silence falls across the chamber. As Esmerelda and Van Richten put their hands on their weapons the Prince smiles and replies, a cryptic non-response in which he neither confirms nor denies accepting the 'blessing'. Van Richten and Esmerelda spread out around Elrohir while the rest of the group watch in anticipation. Finally Ventnor speaks: "He took the deal".

Van Richten and Esmerelda draw their weapons and rush towards Elrohir. From above Therin's arrow finds a spot in Esmerelda's back before the others can react. Eleanor stumbles back in shock as the room descends into madness, Fellherm summoning a beam of light from above that burns Elrohir's black furred skin. Seeing that the group were turning on each other Therin summons his wings and flies away, bursting through corridors and rooms as he flies up and up out of the Temple. Finally passing the giant statue he is suddenly blasted from the sky and falls unconscious. Elrohir lashes out with his flail, knocking down Kasimir as he draws his wand to attack. Eleanor finally gets involved, piercing Elrohir's heart from behind. With a flash of light Elrohir is reborn, a dwarf standing with a smirk where the Prince once stood. Elrohir screams in pain as Fellherm's beam burns his flesh asunder, the dwarf turned to ash as in a flash of light a half-elf stands in Elrohir's place.

Pointing upwards half-elven Elrohir unleashes a beam of necromantic energy that overloads Fellherm's defences and sends him sprawling backwards. Finally only Van Richten and Ventnor stand against Elrohir, the once-elf lashing out with his flail and sending Van Richten flailing backwards in a spray of blood. At last only Ventnor remains, the loyal servant facing his master. Elrohir's flail smashes Ventnor down, a bright light bringing him back as a human. His mouth is full of teeth and he feels the blessings that brought him back from the dead gone. Lashing out with all his magical knowledge Ventnor destroys Elrohir's half-elven form, burning him asunder as he is reborn in a flash of light. Grinning from ear-to-ear with a set of teeth Elrohir lunges forward, a knife darting up to cut his old master's throat. As Ventnor slowly bleeds out Elrohir holds up his mouth and drinks deeply of his mentor's life fluid.

Ventnor, a loyal servant and adept to a golden Prince. Wise and learned, it was his loyalty that led him into the darkness at the heart of the Amber Temple. And he never returned.


Part XX: A Toothless Grin

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[The final staircase]

Four figures walk from the gates of the Amber Temple into the snowy morning air. They are bloodied and overladen with the possessions of their dead allies.
Nine walked in days earlier, four will leave.
Such is the way of the Temple.

[Heroics]
His flesh regenerating from the horrific wounds he had suffered at the hands of his once-allies Elrohir stands from the drained form of Ventnor. The forms around him move still, and so the Prince goes to work. First he approaches Eleanor, a single punch crushing her skull and splattering her brains over the floor. Next he moves on to Kasimir, but as he approaches the dusk elf rises, drawing his wand and pointing it at Elrohir. A blast of magical energy washes over Elrohir, burning his skin as Kasimir unleashes his magic. But the monster-Prince is not so easily slain and soon Kasimir's neck is broken with a twist of Elrohir's hands. In a rage Elrohir walks over to Esmerelda and Van Richten and breaks both of their necks. Elsewhere in the Temple Therin awakes, tied to a bed. He looks around and sees a black robed figure in the corner. The strange fox-like beast looks up and raises it's hand, engulfing Therin in a burst of flames that burn him to a crisp.

Far below Elrohir moves towards Karl. Standing over the dwarf he reaches down and breaks his neck, the lifeless corpse rolling over to reveal a toothless grin. In a flash of light Karl is reborn, a dusk elf standing above Elrohir with his Sunsword raised. With a single motion he grips the sword in both hands and cuts Elrohir down. Elrohir smiles as the blade passes through him, his wishes fulfilled. Far above in an empty tomb he awakens with a shock. His skin is now pale, his fangs long and his eyes red. He had drunk the blood of one who loved him and been killed by one who hated him. Whether Karl knew it or not, he had helped Elrohir fulfil his pact and become a vampire. He searches the remaining rooms in the Temple above, taking plunder and slaying defenders with ease. He summons a hellhound to serve him, although it's burning mane of infernal flames still cause him discomfort. He accepts the blessings of
Fekre Queen of Poxes, Zantrass the Kingmaker and Sykane the Soul Hungerer. His flesh now stinking of rot he continues on his rampage through the temple. Not long after laughing all the way the vampiric Elrohir turns into black smoke and flies out of the Amber Temple and into the cloudy sky above.

Looking around him the now dusk elven Karl is shocked at the bloodshed. He quickly realises that without the support of Van Richten that his mission to kill Strahd would be doomed. Approaching a sarcophagus he accepts the blessings of Zhüdun the Everliving. Soon Van Richten lives again, raised from the dead by the unholy will of Zhüdun. Van Richten in turn takes the blessing, raising his apprentice Esmerelda to serve him once again in undeath. From above Fellherm approaches, having been unconscious through the entire ordeal. Surrounded by the bodies of Kasimir, Eleanor and Ventnor the four agree to do whatever it takes to slay Strahd. Karl summons Sunsword and plunges it into the amber sarcophagi, the energy of the sword burning whatever once lived within with an unholy screech. No more vampires would be born in the Amber Temple.

While united in their goal the group soon finds they are divided on how to achieve it. Van Richten wishes to do more research before attacking Strahd, while Karl wants to travel straight to Ravenloft and slay him once and for all. Fellherm also councils patience, but wishes to kill allies of Strahd's in the area. He seems particularly bent on killing the witch Baba Yasaga in the ruins of Berez. Karl is driven with a sudden rage and refuses any objective that does not obviously aid in slaying Strahd. He agrees to give Van Richten a single tenday to do his research, while Karl and Fellherm will gather allies. Karl also agrees to visit the Dusk Elves outside of Vallaki, Fellherm convinced that they were referred to in one of Madame Eva's divinations. Taking valuables from their dead allies the four leave the Amber Temple, carefully skirting around the mysterious statue and pacing out into the cold morning air.

Unwilling to take the long trek back down the mountain Fellherm comes up with an alternate plan. Slamming his ice staff into the ground he summons forth giant owls made of the snow itself and soon Esmerelda, Van Richten and Karl are all mounted atop one of the icey creatures. The group are soon flying up and over the Balinok mountains, soaring downwards as a strange sight and the sense of magic draws their eyes. A massive winged shape stands over a nest built on the side of a cliff face. The bird swings its wings in an attempt to put out a roaring fire that seems to have been set within. Four figures stand within the flames, three attempting to escape it's burning tendrils while one stands in its midst and throws balls of fire up at the bird. Sending his birds with Van Richten and Esmerelda further down the mountain Fellherm and Karl swoop in to help the figures. Leaping from his bird Karl reaches out and summons a ball of darkness around the head of the bird. He lashes out with Sunsword, fighting alongside the man who still throws flames at the sprawling bird.

As the fire in the nest spreads Fellherm summons forth more ice-owls and the remaining figures jump aboard, the owls swooping off down the mountain. Finally however the fire is too much for Fellherm and he flees in terror, transforming and flying down the mountain away from the conflagration. Suddenly only Karl and the stranger remain. Throwing his brass tattooed hands up the stranger calls more flames up as Karl lashes out again and again until finally with a hideous shriek the bird falls from its perch and onto the mountainside below. Some hours later the ice-owls drop their riders at the base of the Balinok mountains, where the trees start to grow again. Not long after a pair of flaming eagles appear, the stranger having saved Karl from the blaze with a magical transformation. Covered in sooth and burns the newcomers wash in the nearby river as Karl and Fellherm eye them wearily.

Eleanor the many-faced. She danced in and out of the conflict with Strahd but eventually got into a fight she couldn't run from.

Therin of the forests. A hunter at heart, he killed regularly and without conscience until eventually he was killed by a hunter more patient than him.


Chapter VI: Magic & Mustering


Part XXI: New Allies

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[Wilderness at the bottom of the Balinok mountains]

Davien wipes the surface of the table, as he had done every day since his winery had burned down. He was lost, despondent. Even the son who put a roof over his head refused to talk to him. He was resigned to wiping down tables and serving drinks.
He stops as as strange figure approaches. A dusk elf who bears an ornate gold-hilted sword at his waist. A dusk elf who bears a dwarven made shield and wears strange studded leather armour. A dusk elf who sits at the table with two large glasses of purple grape mash number 9, sliding one towards Davien as he starts to talk
"I have a proposal for you…"

[Out of the mountains]
It is a strange group who sit on the edge of the river and recover from the quick escape down the mountain. Karl speaks at length with his new friend, the strange who had set fire to the bird's nest. A tall half-elf he wears plain coloured robes and has forearms entwined with brass tattoos. He introduces himself as Pearl, a sorcerer who had been plucked into Barovia against his will. He had come to the Amber Temple intending to find the means to kill Strahd, who he blamed for bringing him here. He, like the others, had been grabbed by the massive bird as they explored the Balinok mountains. One of the strangers, a tall elf with a deep green cloak, strikes up a conversation at once. Acker Bilk is a bard who had been trying to find the dwarf named Karl. He had heard that this dwarf was in a party intent on slaying Strahd and had come to tell his story. A lute and longbow sit on his travellers pack and Acker is overjoyed, if confused, to find out that the dusk elf before him is in fact Karl.

To the side a woman in white robes uses a rag to polish the soot off an ornate set of plate armour. Bernadette wears the sigil of the Lord of Light, the patron god of the sun from the lands outside of Barovia and holds a holy mace by her side. She also wears sigils of the Morning Lord, the Barovian god of sunlight and says a small prayer to her patrons as she cleans and blesses her armour. Another figure sits nearby, cloaked in black and entirely hidden from the group. His black pointed hat has a mask that obscures his face and even his eyes are hidden by jade inlays. He introduces himself as Yayauhqui and says simply that he "is not from around here". Introductions made Karl informs the newcomers of his intentions to travel to Vallaki and eager for safety on the road the group sets out. Fellherm leads the way, following the river north to where he hopes it will meet with the Old Svalich road.

The air grows warmer as the river flows away from the mountains, the trees becoming less sparse as the strange travelling party makes their way north. They walk to a drum beat, the elf Acker playing a marching tune that echoes through the quiet valley. Crossing a ford in the river the group settles down to camp for the night. As night falls Acker summons a magical encampment, a secret ritual of his people that will keep the group safe from the creatures of Barovia. As the sun sets the travellers sit comfortably within Acker's hut, sharing food and stories of their time in Barovia. Of the newcomers only Yayauqui came here by choice. He speaks at last, removing his hood as the sun sets and revealing a bald half-elf beneath. He says he came here by choice on behalf of his order, but is tight lipped about the nature of his order or his mission in Barovia. The group talks as the sun sets, Fellherm revealing he was once married as Bernadette informs them of her intention to commune with the Morning Lord. They sleep soundly within Acker's mystical encampment and as the sun rises head further into the forest along the banks of the river.

Moving through the forest it is not long before Fellherm's staff begins to glow a green hue. Following the magical energy the group happens upon seven ancient tombs, each guarded by a single figure. As they approach the figures leap to life, their eyes glowing green as they pull out ancient bows. Pearl strikes out at once, throwing a ball of fire that explodes with a resounding boom and sends the creatures to the ground. They are still smoking as they are set upon, Acker's arrows and beams of radiant energy from Yayauqui's outstretched hands cutting them down. As the dust settles Fellherm searches the bodies with a fever, finally coming up with a glowing green gem that matches the one in his staff. When Acker asks to look at it he gets defensive, and Pearl is soon suspicious of the covetous nature with which Fellherm treats these gems. He explains that there were three and if they were united he would be able to harness unthinkable natural energies. He implores Karl to help him travel to Berez and claim the final stone, but Karl is fixed on his plan to assault Ravenloft castle as soon as possible. Beheading and burning the undead the group continues to the north through the dense forest.

Soon the group finds the Old Svalich road, reaching the Raven River Crossroads. It is here that Van Richten says farewell, agreeing to meet back with Karl and Fellherm at his tower in one tendays time. As Van Richten walks west the rest of the group moves east, arriving finally at the walls of Vallaki. Fellherm and Karl break off to visit the Dusk Elves while the rest of the group walk into Vallaki. At the Vistani camp Karl successfully talks his way into the dusk elf camp. His attempt is almost ruined when Fellherm interrupts him, but things are soon smoothed over. The pair soon leave with a silver statue of a kneeling woman, the artefact that Kasimir had been storing in his hovel. In Vallaki Karl and Fellherm try to have it identified, but neither the magical store owner nor the priest Father Lucien knows much about it. Lucien identifies it as a religious icon of the Morning Lord but can tell them little more than it is a protective item of some kind. Sure that Madame Eva would not have pointed them towards it unless it was important Karl carefully pockets the item.

Meanwhile Acker, Pearl and Yayauqui had taken rooms at the Blue Water Inn. They speak among themselves and agree to join Karl's crusade to kill Strahd. Bernadette goes to the Church of the Morning Lord and spends the night deep in prayer. As Karl returns the group discusses what they will do next. A few words are all it takes to get Davien, the leader of the Keepers of the Feather, on board. He agrees to accompany them to Ravenloft in a tendays time for the attack. With Esmerelda, Van Richten and Davien agreeing to help them Fellherm suggests again going to Berez and claiming the final gem for his staff, but Karl insists on no more delays. The group will rest in Vallaki for the night before travelling east to meet with the werewolves. After recruiting them the large group would make their way back through Vallaki and assault Ravenloft. The newly formed alliance toasts to their upcoming victory.


Part XXII: Final Preparations

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[Van Richten's Tower]

The tower sits amongst the swamp, grey stone and rotted wood showing a structure that might once have been mighty. Eager to meet with their allies the group strides towards the dilapidated tower.

[Gathering Allies]
During the night Fellherm slinks out of his room at the Blue Water and flies out of town. He returns hours later, holding in his hands a glowing green gem. Having retrieved the gem from the ruins of Berez he is ready to combine the gem with the two he already possesses. The next morning the group meets in the common room of the Blue Water Inn. It seems that during the night Acker had traded his favourite drum for 300 breakfast pastries with the town's baker. The whole of the inn enjoys a delicious breakfast and Acker manages to buy back his drum from the frumpy baker. Finally the group leave Vallaki, travelling along the Old Svalich road with the intention of calling in a debt owed to them by the werewolf clan that lives in the northern lake area. Pearl is eager to move on to Ravenloft as soon as he can, and over the day convinces Karl to abandon his pact with the werewolves. Fellherm, who had always held animosity for the beasts, is happy to see their alliance at an end.

Avoiding the werewolves lair the group soon arrives at Van Richten's tower, but find no sign of the elusive vampire hunter. Van Richten doesn't reply to hails and Fellherm soon detects that the door into the tower is trapped. As Karl unhooks his climbing apparatus and prepares to climb the tower Acker walks forward and simply touches the magical rune protecting the tower. He is blasted backwards as a massive beam of lightning erupts from the walls of the tower. Crackling lightning engulfs the length of the tower and drives the group back away. Enraged, Pearl casts beams of brazen flames at the tower that seems to be absorbed by its growing lightning shield. As the lightning grows it seems to take on a form, coalescing into the form of a massive blue dragon. It blasts the group with beams of lightning as they spring to react. Bernadette rushes forward with her mace held aloft as the very light itself seems to manifest into an armoured form that moves to protect her.

As the beast lashes out at Bernadette it breaths a beam of lightning that blasts Fellherm off his feet. It screeches it pain as Pearl summons harsh flames that burn its flesh, while Acker turns invisible and dashes through the lightning storm and into the tower. Karl summons Sunsword and slashes at the massive lightning dragon. As Bernadette takes blow after blow on her shield Karl and Pearl continue to lash out at the beast. It's scales are soon scorched and charred as it takes blow after blow. Finally in an act of desperation it lashes out with a blast of lightning, burning Bernadette within her fine armour. She lies still, skin burned and abandoned by her gods. Lashing out with a powerful beam of fire Pearl burns the beast where it stands and finally with a rush of hot air the dragon disperses.

Inside the tower Acker finds rows of clay figures, carved into the form of soldiers. Stepping onto a platform in the centre of the room Acker is elevated upwards as the clay figures pull on massive black steel chains. Far above Acker finds Van Richten and Esmerlda, preparing to fight off whoever set off the traps. Van Richten informs him that the traps are not his and he has no way of dismantling them. They wait for the rest of the traps to disperse, while Pearl grows increasingly angry and impatient. Fellherm awakes not long after, finding that Pearl had stolen his staff. He returns it upon being asked. Karl meanwhile has grown sick of being a dusk elf and asks Fellherm to kill him. Fellherm obliges and Karl is reborn. With black skin and horns sprouting from his head he is the corruption of Barovia made manifest. As the group moves towards the tower they notice the body of Bernadette starts to move. Assuming it possessed by unholy energy the group slays the undead, Karl cutting off the creatures head with Sunsword.

Pearl rounds on Van Richten, enraged by her wounds at the hands of the lightning dragon. After some arguing Van Richten finally agrees to go early, packing up his research and joining the group. Meanwhile Fellherm inserts the final green glowing gem into his solid ice staff. As he attunes with it a voice rings out, a dull voice that speaks in common. It calls itself the Nameless One and agrees to help Fellherm. Karl and Pearl are suspicious of the voice but decide not to make a fuss, too focused on their current goal. The group packs up and travels back to Vallaki, Acker walking with Van Richten and taking notes for his upcoming book. Back in Vallaki some hours later the group buys final supplies, getting rooms at the Blue Water free of charge. Erwin also provides the group with free drinks, which Acker gratefully takes advantage of. Karl purchases a finely crafted shield once made for Sir Ritter while Pearl threatens a nearby shopkeep and takes some health potions as compensation.

Acker plays a ditty on his lute, inspiring the locals to the point that one of the Keepers of the Feather agrees to come with them to Ravenloft. A nearby mercenary named Kled also agrees to come along, but demands 30 gold pieces for his trouble. Acker drinks to excess, waking up the next morning in the Church of the Morning Lord in the confessional booth. After taking the confessions of a few locals he returns to the Blue Water, reuniting with the group just in time to leave Vallaki. The group heads out of Vallaki only minutes later. Fellherm and Karl are the only ones who remain of the group who went to the Amber Temple, while the newcomers Pearl and Acker accompanied by the mercenary Kled and Keepers of the Feather Davien and Elrin. They pass the now abandoned windmill, the Vistani camp and finally arrive at the black carriage that leads to Ravenloft castle.

Bernadette, daughter of sunlight. Cleric of the Lord of Light she was blasted apart by the lightning dragon of Van Richten's Tower.


Chapter VII: Masters of Barovia


Part XXIII: Ravenloft

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[Castle Ravenloft]

The black carriage trundled towards Ravenloft castle. Within warriors of light sat eagerly awaiting their arrival to a long foreseen conflict. The carriage is pulled by two horses the colour of midnight and atop its metal frame sit three silent ravens. The crest on the door of the carriage matches that on the banners of the castle the carriage approaches as lightning crashes overhead…

[Arriving at Ravenloft Castle]
Entering the black carriage the group are carried for an hour along a winding road before getting their first glimpse of Ravenloft. Dark grey stone towers sit within the tall walls, buildings topped with purple tiles below them. A single bridge leads across to the castle and the carriage trundles across it. The gates swing open for the carriage and it pulls up in a courtyard ringed by buildings. The group step out onto the large flagstones and the Keepers of the Feather transform back into their human forms. Fellherm shies away from the flames that persist despite the heavy rain that patters down on the stones. The forests around Ravenloft swarm with strange fey spirits, watching the tower. Acker leads the group, walking through the massive doors into stone hallways lit by burning braziers. The group moves to follow, walking down an eerily quiet hallway and into Ravenloft castle.

As the group moves deeper an organ starts to play an ominous tune. Statues of dragons animate and move to attack but Pearl speaks in a tone of command. The dragons halt, commanded by Pearls draconic speech. They retreat to their plinths, returning to stone form. Moving up some stairs the group are met by a dusk elf wearing a black coat who bows and introduces himself as Rahadin, chamberman to Count Strahd. He agrees to lead the group to Strahd, taking them to a room beyond massive bronze doors. In the dining chamber beyond a figure raises from the seat in front of the organ. Strahd smiles as he looks over the group, pearly teeth exposed and visible. Pearl is angry, he wants to leave Barovia and blames Strahd for keeping him here. But before the sorcerer can strike the vampire disappears in a fluff of smoke. In rage Pearl unleashes a wave of flames that burn up all the furniture in the room. As the organ smoulders a secret door behind it is revealed.

The group moves inwards, walking past a room that has stored a hundred or so standing mirrors. Acker starts to drink some amber liquid he found, growing ever more intoxicated as the group progresses. The group moves upwards and out, walking along the tops of the walls for a minute under pouring rain before returning to the castle. They move upwards before finally arriving at a room with a floor of black polished marble. At the end of the room on a silver throne sits none other than Count Strahd. Karl rushes forward with Sunsword raised. Strahd recoils as his flesh is burned by the holy blade, unable to heal from the radiant weapon. Acker shoots arrows at the vampire while Fellherm pulls beams of moonlight from the sky to burn his flesh. Strahd insults the group as he fights, throwing beams of darkness that rot flesh where they touch. Everyone rushes in to attack and Strahd summons in his fist a ball of black fire. The ball of fire explodes, throwing back the Keepers of the Feather and causing a panicking Fellherm to flee back into the hallways.

As the group recoils from the flames howls reach their ears. From nearby corridors a dozen vampire spawn rush into the room. Drawing their silver weapons Van Richten and Esmerelda rush forward to engage their foes. Strahd hovers above, flying away from the brazen fire summoned by Pearl. And below Karl kills the vampire spawn with blows from Sunsword, turning them to ash. One by one the vampires go down, pierced by Van Richten or hacked to peices by Esmerelda or Kled. Finally only Strahd remains, fleeing to the floor as Pearl sets the roof ablaze. Karl strikes at the vampire again and again, cutting deeply as Acker rushes forward. Surrounding himself with a miasma of cold energy Acker charges Strahd, his sword bouncing off the vampire's flesh again and again. Strahd laughs as he reaches out but recoils once he touches Acker. The cold coalesces around him, roaring up his arm and freezing him solid. He falls to the ground in crumble of icey fragments. But even as the group celebrates he begins to reform, mist whirling around his form as he regenerations. With a fearsome "bwarmp" a beam of moonlight comes from the roof. Fellherm had returned and now burns what remains of Strahd. The beam goes again and again, the radiant energy burning the lord of Barovia into ash.

As the fires in the room burn still the group sits in shock. Strahd lies dead, but Van Richten informs the group that unless they find his coffin and destroy it he will reform still. Acker performs a ritual, finding the location of the coffin. But he can only take one person with him. Karl volunteers, taking a bottle of holy water and a stake from Van Richten. With a pop and a burst of energy the two disappear, reappearing far below. Meanwhile the remaining group members recover from the battle. One of the Keepers of the Feather lies dead but Davien is healed back to health by Fellherm. The rest of the group tries to track their way down to the coffin, running afoul of a group of gargoyles that animate to attack them. Pearl summons the stone dragons to protect them and a battle takes place in the foyer of the castle. The group moves deeper into the castle, coming upon a massive and ancient chapel. Symbols of ravens and suns sit covered in dust and among the refuse Fellherm happens upon a silver amulet in the symbol of a sun. Black robed figures sit in prayer around the amulet, long dead. Stairs lead downwards.

The lower levels are flooded with black water, Kled the half-orc leads the group wading through the corridors. A strange series of traps teleport the group into rusted cages. The group easily breaks out of them, finding one prisoner still in his cage. Malnourished and hairy Pearl releases him, discovering that he is the brother of the leader of the werewolves north of Vallaki. The group moves through the flooded corridors and arrives in a large circular room. At the centre of the room sits a bronze brazier filled with white flames. Around the brazier sit a dozen coloured stones and the walls are carved with a strange script. Reading the primordial writing Fellherm reveals that the stones are each aligned with a location within Barovia. They can be used to teleport to that location in an instant. It seems the violet stone leads to mount balinok, the orange to a peak and the red to the heart of the law. The green leads to a coffin and the yellow to the womb of evil. Hesitantly Kled pulls out the green stone and casts it into the fire. With a fizz the fire turns green and engulfs the room. When it settles the group finds themselves in a wooden room with crates and boxes stacked around the walls. Moving a box Fellherm looks out a window and sees a familiar sight. Vallaki.


Part XXIV: Sunlight

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[Sunlight falls on the town of Krezk]

Old Kell shovelled the mud from the road to her hempen bag. This was primo mud and the walls around Vallaki needed repairing. The town mayor would pay her two whole coppers for the work, a small fortune for one such as Old Kell. She stopped, coughing as dust kicked up from the road, and felt a strange sensation on her skin. It was a sensation she hadn't felt for nearly a century. The feel of warmth. The feel of sunlight.

[Light comes to Barovia]
Meanwhile hours earlier Karl and Acker teleport to the bottom of Castle Ravenloft. In an ancient series of catacombs putrid waste fills their noses with a foul stench. Dozens of stone coffins line the white marble floor and three sets of descending steps lead out of the room. The stairs upwards are sealed with heavy stones, Strahd's final hideout only accessible by those with magical means. Ignoring the stone coffins Karl and Acker move downwards. In one of the areas they find the grave of King Zarovich, father of Strahd and last rightful ruler of Barovia. Within are the skeletons of Strahd's parents. Acker does some grave robbing, taking a fine silken shawl. Moving back into the main catacomb the pair begin to open the stone coffins, finding the bodies of many nobles and courtiers from the King's court.

Moving into another of the marble sarcophagi the pair find the tomb of Sergei, brother of Strahd. Acker casts a ritual and the pair talk to the man, discovering that he was murdered by Strahd and that he was the original owner of the Sunsword. Unfortunately Acker misunderstands the nature of the spell and soon Sergei is sleeping peacefully once again, the allotted questions wasted on small talk. On his body however they find Strahd's journal. Stopping to rest Acker reads the journal, learning of Strahd's jealousy for his brother and his journey to the Amber Temple to find his eventual destiny. Finally the pair move on from the tomb, moving towards the final white marble tomb. As they get closer a feeling of unpleasantness washes over them, a feeling Karl first felt at the Amber Temple.

Soon the floor gives way to dirt and the ill feeling grows. As the pair move deeper screams fill the stone corridors as three female vampires rush forwards. Strahd's brides desperately defend his coffin, slashing into Karl and Acker as the pair try to fight their way past them. Sunsword cuts into their foul grey flesh but the evil magic of Strahd heals their wounds. Finally Karl manages to cut one in twix, but eventually the other two force Karl and Acker to flee. Luring the vampires back towards Sergei's tomb the pair loop around them, trying to rush back and destroy Strahd's coffin once and for all. The pair rush onwards but the vampires gain on them. As Karl lopes ahead Acker turns, pulling an iron lever and dropping a portcullis that cuts Karl off from the beasts.

Karl turns back, seeing that Acker had become trapped under the portcullis. He walks downwards towards the coffin as the screams of Acker fill his ears. The elven bard is ripped to shreds by the vampire brides as Karl steps foot on dark earth. After a few minutes of walking he finds Strahd's coffin, a dark wooden box unadorned despite its importance. Raising Sunsword high Karl slashes into the coffin again and again, the holy energy of the sword destroying it utterly. Within he finds the ashes of Strahd, his soul burned asunder by Fellherm's moonlight and the holy blows of his sword.

In Vallaki the group leave town in a hurry, eager to get back to Ravenloft. Pearl stops long enough to set the coffin makers store afire and with the guards occupied the group easily gets out without being spotted. Fellherm summons fey horses from the forest and the group ride towards Ravenloft. Riding along Old Svalich they make their way towards the castle. As they ride along the muddy road the clouds break overhead and a single beam of sunlight reaches the ground below. The group stops and stares. It was the first beam of light they had seen in Barovia. The first natural light any of them had seen in months. And a sure sign that something had changed.

Karl leaves the room, finding that the brides had crumbled into dust at the death of their master. Karl picks up Acker, finding an empty tomb and placing his friend in it. He thinks about his short but powerful friendship with Acker and how he was only able to succeed because of the elf's help. He has a moment of silence before throwing a stone through one of the glass windows on the outside of the tomb. Looping his rope around a stone pillar Karl clambers down the outside of the castle and goes out into the world.


Epilogue

As the sun rises over Barovia for the first time in living memory the people of Barovia celebrate their freedom. Word of the deeds of Karl Lightbringer and his allies had already spread through the tales of Acker Bilk and the coming of the sunlight was proof to most that the tyrant Strahd was dead.
As the mists recede dozens leave Barovia behind, spreading out into the lands outside of the Svalich forest and a world that had forgotten they existed. Fellherm is among them, flying far to find a swamp where no-one would interrupt his solidarity again.
Back in Barovia Ismark takes up the mantle of Burgomaster of Barovia but still bereaved at the loss of his sister soon falls into an ill mood from which he doesn't recover. Pearl takes up in Ravenloft castle, uncovering Strahd's secrets and mastering the monsters kept within. Esmerelda also remains in Barovia, hunting down the remaining vampire spawn and making sure that Strahd will never rise again.
Van Richten and Karl leave Barovia, parting ways outside the walls of Daggerford. Van Richten would go into legend himself, while Karl continues his crusade to slay any who would overuse or abuse their power.
In Barovia Davien rebuilds the wizard of wines and life goes on. The people who once celebrated the fall of Strahd fall back into vice and although the sun shines through the clouds the days grow darker in that accursed land…


Campaign Appendixes


Dramatis Persona

The Bastards of Barovia:

  • Lelouche Defontaine: A wandering bard drawn into the events in Barovia due to his interest in ghosts. He abhors violence and always has something to say.
  • Barbara: An elven cleric of the sun god. She is covered in arcane tattoos and enjoys using flame magic against her enemies.
  • Kazim the Lightfingered: A dwarven thief from Mirabar. He is a city thief who carries a great deal of throwing knives about his person.
  • Belliamere: A dwarven druid and brother of Kazim. After wandering the lands and seas for many years he has come to Daggerford.
  • Samson: A mysterious man who has come to Daggerford to find work that pays well. His skills as a rogue are noteworthy as is his tempestuous nature.
  • Orok Blackheart: A half-orc paladin who has travelled from far abroad. He worships Gruumpsh and makes offerings with his great-axe.
  • Eleanor: A young woman who hides many secrets, Eleanor tends to fight with twin daggers when in battle and a razor sharp tongue when engaging in dialogue.
  • Lorelei Gilmore: An elven warrior whose presence in Barovia is a mystery. She has struck a deal with Ismark to help protect Ireena.
  • Thresh: A mysterious warlock who appeared in the town of Barovia in his black billowing robes. Fights with a deadly scythe and serves the God of Death.
  • Kelran: Ancient Elven monk with many stories to tell about his life. His motivations are unclear, but even in his advanced age he possesses a rebellious spirit.
  • Sir Ritter Gregory: A knight who travels with his retainers. Gregory has fallen on hard times, teleported to Barovia, but still holds a noble spirit.
  • Therin: Elven Hunter who travels the woods of Barovia alone. An expert marksman, he is an ally of the forest and often calls upon them for aid.
  • Godal Izran: A halfling from a family of powerful wizards. Not a particularly gifted wizard himself, he relies on his father's spellbook and higher than average strength to get by.
  • Karl: An ex-soldier turned criminal come to Barovia with his ally Herbert. Haunted by the horrors of war, he still fights with skill with his long thin sword.
  • Herbert Hancock: Measured monk, Herbert is investigating the imbalance in Ki that makes Barovia such a strange place. He is a skilled hand to hand fighter and unnaturally agile for his kind, gaining his strength from worship of dragons.
  • Prince Elrohir: An elven noble who was banished to Barovia after insulting a powerful warlock. Although his manner is prickly, he more than makes up with it with his skills with his magical blades.
  • Fellherm: Local swamp druid of advanced years. Kept alive by his magical staff, Fellherm favours destructive magic and avoids civilisation if possible.
  • Ventnor: Half-elven tutor and aide to Prince Elrohir, he followed his master to Barovia to keep him safe and continue his tutelage.
  • Pearl: A fiery half-elven sorcerer who blames Strahd for brining him to Barovia. He burns his enemies with brass coloured flames.
  • Bernadette: A priestess of the Morning Lord who intends to perform a miracle in the name of her god. Wears ornate and ancient plate armour.
  • Acker Bilk: A wood elven bard intending to tell the tale of Strahd's betrayal.
  • Yayauqui: Mysterious monk who summons bolts of daylight to vanquish his enemies. Comes from a land far abroad and shares little about the order in which he serves.
  • Kled: A half-orcish mercenary who was hired by the party to help their assault on Castle Ravenloft for a price of 30 gold pieces.

Notable figures & NPCs:

  • Count von Strahd: Vampiric lord of Barovia, Strahd has been in the land as long as living memory. He lives in Castle Ravenloft and sends out his minions to enforce his will across the shrouded and haunted lands he claims dominion over.

Village of Barovia:

  • Rose and Thorn Durst: Children from the village of Barovia, claiming to have a monster in their basement.
  • Ismark: Son of the Burgomaster and technical mayor of the village of Barovia. He wishes his sister to be taken safely away from the town.
  • Ireena: Daughter of the Burgomaster of the village of Barovia and subject of Count von Strahd's unwanted affection.
  • Bilgrath and Perriwinkle: A grumpy old merchant and his oafish nephew, Bilgrath owns the shop 'Bilgrath's Mercantile' within town. His nephew Perriwinkle is unnaturally strong, protecting his uncle's shop.

Vallaki:

  • Father Lucien: Priest at the Church of St. Anderil in Vallaki, he has taken in Ireena after she fled Barovia village.
  • Baron Vargus Vallakovich: Baron of Vallaki. Obsessed with running festivals to keep his people happy, he violently punishes anyone who speaks against him.
  • Isek: Leader of the town guards in Vallaki, Isek takes the security of the town very seriously.

Barovian Wilds:

  • Morgantha: An old lady who makes the infamous 'dream pastries'. Her humble appearance hides that of a shadow-hag, and those who cross her often find themselves put in her pies.
  • Oleg: A hunter who serves Count von Strahd. He roams the forest as part of a werewolf tribe.
  • The Vistani: Wanderers who serve Strahd through an arrangement made long ago.
  • The Corrupted Druids: Clans of barbarians who worship Strahd and evil forest spirits.
  • Baba Yasaga: An ancient witch who serves Strahd and hates the Keepers of the Feather.
  • Kiril: Leader of the werewolf clan who are dominated by Strahd.

Castle Ravenloft:

  • Rahadin: A dusk elf who betrayed his own people.

Enemies of Strahd:

  • The Dusk Elves: Elves who have been heavily victimised by Strahd. They are fiercely opposed to him and eager to see the end of his realm.
    • Kasimir: Leader of the Dusk Elves near Vallaki, Kasimir has sworn vengeance against Strahd for slaughtering his people.
  • The Keepers of the Feather: A group of were-ravens who serve as keepers of justice and peace across Barovia.
    • Ewin: Innkeeper at the Blue Water Inn in Vallaki. Leader of the Vallaki 'Keepers'.
    • Davian: Owner of the Wizard of Wines vineyard and father of Ewin.
  • 'Ricktavio': A vampire hunter who pretends to be a travelling bard. The name Ricktavio is a cover to hide his identity as the famed hunter Van Richten.
  • Vladimir Horngard: An ancient knight doomed to live forever for his failings, he fought in a war against Strahd long ago serving the Silver Dragon Argynvostholt.
  • Esmerelda de Aveneer: A Vistani vampire hunter and apprentice to Van Richten.
  • Madame Eva: An ancient Vistani seer who does tarot readings for adventurers wanting to threaten the vampire.
  • Zuleka: A werewolf whose husband was kidnapped by Strahd, she opposes Kiril in trying to lead the Beast Cave pack.

Dark Spirits of the Amber Temple:

  • Zrinhala, the Howling Storm
  • Drizlash the Night Eyed Spider
  • Dahalver-nar of Many Teeth
  • Saunok the Inscrutable
  • Shaniamoré, Lady of Delight
  • Tarakanedes the Graveworm
  • Yrrga, the Eye of Shadows
  • Yog the Invicible
  • Taa'Haak, Five Headed Destroyer
  • Delban, the Star of Ice and Hate
  • Dendar the Nightserpent
  • Khirod the Star of Secrets
  • Zhüdun the Everliving
  • Fekre Queen of Poxes
  • Zantrass the Kingmaker
  • Sykane the Soul Hungerer

Locations

The Scimitar Coast:

  • Daggerford: A walled town a few days out of Leor that serves as a popular stopping location for travellers and traders to that large city. In it's centre is the Lord's massive castle, rumoured to be Dwarven built. It is home of many inns, including the Sapphire Cauldron.

The Realm of Barovia:

  • Village of Barovia: A strange partially abandoned town within the ghost woods.
    • Durst House: A partially abandoned manor on the east side of town, beneath its floors lies a secret dungeon.
    • Bilgrath's Mercantile: A second-hand store run by the gruff and miserly Bilgrath.
    • Blood of the Vine: A tavern that services the people of Barovia.
    • Burgomaster's Manor: A dilapidated and ruined manourhouse for the mayor of the village of Barovia.
    • Chapel of the Morning Lord: Ruined chapel on the outskirts of town, run by father Nerovich.
  • Ravenloft Castle: Demense of Count von Strahd, this ancient gothic castle overlooks the village of Barovia and is the source of horrors that roam across the realm.
  • Vallaki: Town in Barovia. Protected by a wooden palisade, this town has a strong militia that protect it from the horrors of the forest.
    • 'The Blue Water Inn': Central to Vallaki, this is a gathering place for all those in the town.
    • The Chapel of St. Anderil: An ancient church dedicated to a local saint of the Lord of Light.
    • Henrick's Hearses: A coffin maker by trade, Henrick is a socially awkward man who adorns his shop with bones.
    • Vallakovich Manor: Home of the Baron, this is a fortified manor heavily guarded by the Baron's guards.
    • Luvash' Camp: Vistani camp near Vallaki. Filled with Vistani and Dusk Elves and led by a man named Luvash.
  • The Old Windmill: Once owned by the Durst family, the mill has since been occupied by Morgantha and her daughters.
  • The Wizard of Wines: A vineyard famed for its quality grapes, the Wizard of Wines is rumoured to have been founded be a wizard and even to use magic to this day to help create wine.
  • Yester Hill: An ancient druidic site near the Wizard of Wines. Home to druids loyal to Strahd.
  • Berez: A town that has become ruined and overrun by the swamp.
    • Baba Yasaga's Hut: In the ruins of Berez lurk the witch Baba Yasaga and her magical hut.
  • Argynvostholt: An ancient ruined castle once occupied by the Knights of the Silver Dragon. It was destroyed by Strahd long ago, and now is only haunted by those too stubborn to stay dead.
  • Gates of Barovia: Ancient and crumbled, these gates mark the divide between the lands of Vallaki and Barovia.
  • Tser Pool: Located just north of the village of Barovia Tser Pool is the location of Madame Eva's hut.
  • Lake Baratok: North of vallaki lies this vast calm lake of dark water.
    • Van Richten's Tower: An ancient and ruined structure once owned by a wizard who opposed Strahd, this tower is now occupied by the vampire hunter Van Richten.
    • Cave of the Beast: A den north of Lake Baratok where the werewolves of Kiril live in squalor.
  • Balinok Mountains: A mountain range at the centre of Barovia, rumoured to be the home of an ancient evil.
    • Tsolenka Pass: A bridge over a gorge that leads upwards to the Amber Temple, guarded by an ancient white tower.
    • The Amber Temple: An ancient source of evil once protected by the knights of Argonvostholt. It was pillaged by Count Strahd and is rumoured to be the place where he received his dark powers.

[1] Map of the village Barovia

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[2] Village of Barovia surrounds

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[3] Village of Vallaki

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[4] Barovia

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