We made quick work of the remaining hippy druids. I'll admit, Zola's quick thinking really saved the group when she sliced the blight staff - it saved us from a whole lot of fighting those cursed sticks. Everyone is happy with the lodging and food we received as a reward. I pushed my luck a bit hoping to get some money for our newest member Creed (and the rest of us), but that was shut down by Stein. This whole "Cleric Charity" thing is getting old...I mean a few gold for each of us is no skin off the backs of Inn keepers with a fresh shipment of wine in the land of alcoholics. But I digress...for now I'll stop trying to help the group get more money.
We have a few new objectives on our plate now: retrieve the stolen bones from the coffin makers house (occupied by vampires) and finding the daughter of a Vistani camp chief. Things are shaping up to be interesting, and what's more is one of our members acquired what seems to be a very powerful blade. Some of the Dawnbreakers think it is best suited in Ryder's hands, but I suppose there will be some future discussion around this.
Lastly, I've been thinking...wouldn't the coffin maker have to invite the vampires into his home? I feel like I've heard something about vampires not being able to enter residential areas without permission...We should get the full story next time we see him.
After a quick breather we are ready to scout out the rest of the winery to ensure there are no more druids, blights or other unsavory things inside. I would hate to send my new friends back to their home only to be attacked! I have to talk some of the party into leaving their belongings alone. There is no reason for us to have to go into their trunks, but then Cecil points out that baby groots could be hiding out in them. Good point.
We don't find anything, so we head back down to the lower level. It's there that we open the door to the loading dock area and find a crusty old druid hiding. He starts babbling incoherently and waving a black stick at us before jumping down into a hole, landing in a cart full of hay. Chekasha throws a dagger and the others start shooting or casting, but I run in and jump down into the wagon. I cough as the hay dust fills my lungs and then start casting at him. I can see the twig guys forming up outside, ready to shoot, so I duck down to protect myself between shots.
Chekasha jumps down to join me and runs out after the druid. If anyone can catch up to him, it's her. I've seen enough actual cats to know they're apex predators. She is no exception. She runs in moments later holding the staff the druid had, which we thought could be used to control the blights... but they're still advancing!
I leap out of the wagon, drawing my sword. I'm not letting any party members stand alone if it comes to a fight against all of these things. Then it occurs to me... they're controlled by the staff, so what if there is no staff?
"Cheeks-" I shout, and suddenly fear she might be angry I called her that. No time to care! "Hold the staff up!"
"What?" Her eyes widen when she sees me hold my sword above my head in both hands, and she lifts it up and out in front of her.
With a mighty strike, I bring my sword down, slicing the staff in two. Blood pours out of both ends in a torrent, drenching poor Chekasa. She does not look happy until we both see the blights wither up and die mid charge.
We go outside to find the Martikovs, but they're already running across the lawn to us. We meet them half way, and I'm immediately swooped into a hug by the old man.
"I knew you would help us!" He says. "Thank you, sweet girl."
He let's go of me but I barely get a breath in before Stefania has me pinned and planting kisses on my cheeks. The little kids grab onto my legs and nearly knock me down. They hug the other party members but I just can't seem to escape their grasp, not that I mind. They're a wonderful family and I'm happy we could help them get their winery back.
"Mr. Martikov... is there any way I could join the family business?" I ask, alluding to the secret he shared with me.
His face becomes stern, but not unfriendly.
"I would not do that to you, my dear." He squeezes my shoulder, and goes to speak with Steinbjorn. Ah well. I tried. I supposed it's best to just... be me.
Its getting late, so we are told to stay the night before setting off with the older boys to deliver the wine. The Martikovs make us a delightful dinner and serve plenty of wine. I even get to learn how to stomp the grapes, which is fun for a little while until the wine hits me. I fall asleep in a comfortable bed, with a full belly and a head full of wine. There is no better feeling.
The next morning we have pancakes and wine syrup, and it's the best breakfast I've had since leaving home. I need to get the syrup recipe for mom, she would be all over it! The Martikovs give me a sweet send off as we prepare to leave, and I will definitely have to come back to see them as long as things go well.
"Zola, you will always have friends wherever you go. They will continue to watch over you." Davian says, nodding at the small group of ravens perched in the treetops.
We leave, escorting the wagon with the wine barrels to Vallaki. We barely get twenty minutes down the road before a rogue bunch of needle blights confronts us on the road. They're too far for me to send spells flying, so I pull out my longbow. I haven't shot it in a long while. Uncle Ulrich and dad taught me well, but I don't know if the muscle memory is still there. I draw back and shoot, and to my surprise the arrow slams into one of the blights- I've still got it!!!
Suddenly two swarms of ravens dive in, cawing and tearing apart some of the blights. I put my bow away and stat sending fire bolts and magic missiles as the others move in. Soon the blights are laid waste and the ravens carry away some of the sticks. I pull put a trail ration and feed them, thanking them profusely. These birds are magnificent!
Moving along we are not interrupted again until we smell pipe smoke and hear laughter in the woods. Some colorfully dressed Vistani pop out of the woods and start heckling us about offering protection against monsters and then escalating to wanting to rob us. Once again, the ravens swoop down and scare them away. We make it the rest of the way to Vallaki in peace, delivering the wine to the Blue Water Inn.
I walk in and am immediately sickened by Ireena giggling at Periwimple. I'm shocked to see her still here, honestly. The innkeepers offer us either money in exchange for the barrels or something more valuable. Information on a strange artifact in the hands of the Vistani just outside the village. It's a piece of a sword, which is something we were foretold by Madame Ava that we need.
"No, I think we want the money." Says Cecil.
"Cecil, let's let the adults do the talking!" I snap.
"Zola, you're only 17." Steinbjorn jabs.
I growl under my breath and go to the bar. The others talk while I stock up on more rations.
"I keep giving all my food to the ravens!" I say, putting the rations in my bag.
"We know," says Urwin. "That's very nice of you."
"They've been very good to us." I add.
"They will continue to watch over you." He says with a smile and a wink.
We all get cleaned up before parting ways for the evening. I join Chekasha and Mike in the bar, getting ready to verse the winner in darts. Rideyr enters the barroom dressed in priest robes, and I nearly spit out my wine.
"Rideyr, you look so... holy!"
"Where are you off to?" I ask.
"Some of us are heading to the church. You can join us if you would like."
"Nah, I think I'm already drunk and I have to beat these two at darts!"
Steinbjorn and Creed come down and soon they're all walking out the door to the temple. I catch sight of Cecil walking out the door with Popov and a bottle of wine, a gnome on a mission.
"Dammit! Zola, you're up!"
I proceed to completely annihilate Mike, and then have to verse Valkyrie. Val kicks my a**. Some hours later the others come back, and I barely register that they're asking us to come out to check out a coffin shop. I chug down some water and eat some bread in an effort to sober up before we leave, but I'm still stumbling down the road as we go. Mike and Chekasha are way worse off than I am.
The coffin shop is as creepy as expected. When we knock we just get a "we're closed, go away." The Dawn Breakers do not take closed as an answer. Mike tries to kick down the door, and ends up sprawled in the street.
"Girl, you cannot hold your wine," I tease. "This is how its done!"
I jump up and kick the door, but end up even further in the road than Mike, spitting out a mouthful of dirt. Mike and Chekasha bust out laughing at my misfortune.
"I win!" I say, standing up and bowing in embarrassment.
Creed's trying to talk our way in still, but the guy is not budging. I hear footsteps approaching, but I don't get up out of the road. Some guards carrying banners for the festival round the corner just as Creed says-
"We have a dead body!"
The guards freeze, looking at Mike and I laying prone in the road, and I bust out laughing.
"Sorry, they're drunk," days Chad. "The inn got their wine shipment."
I've never seen guards move so fast. I'm sure we will see them in the bar later. I get up off the ground and join the group walking out back. There's another locked door, so naturally I attempt to kick it. It slams inward, and we file in.
"See Mike, that's how it's done."
A man rounds the corner, looking more scared than pissed that we broke in.
"You are in grave danger!"
"Is this because it's a coffin shop?"
"Wampires!" Echoes Cecil dramatically.
The man tells us that there is nine vampires upstairs. Because that's just something that would infest your home, like rats or insects. Naturally.
"Have you thought of burning the shop down?" I ask.
"No! This is my home! I just want the vampires gone!"
"Well, you don't really have many options. We could stake them but I have the only stake." I pull mine off my back.
"Is that a shovel?"
"Yeah, a shovel stake! It's a two handed. I'm thinking about selling them!"
The man rolls his eyes.
"It is very nice, but I can make better."
We decide to go to the Vistani before we lose daylight, and the coffin maker will make us stakes to use if we come back later. I'm not sure we are going to come back, but one can hope.
Back at the inn, there are a bunch of drunk guards and townsfolk. The Martikovs give us a barrel of wine and a hand cart to bring it to the Vistani, and we set out for their encampment. The woods part to a clearing with low houses decorated with carved woodwork and lanterns, and up on the hill we can see the classic Vistani wagons outside a large tent. There is a dark grey cloaked figure standing outside a house, and as we pass I can see he's an elf.
"Hola!" I call in elvish. "Cómo estás?"
"Bring the wine to the tent." He orders, a bit unfriendly.
"You're an elf!"
"Dusk elf, yes."
"I thought there were no elves in Barovia."
"Well. There are Dusk Elves."
We move along, heading to the tent. Elf man is not that nice, too bad. There are two dozen horses of varying size outside the tent, and I stop to pat a big hairy black and white one with feathered legs. He tries to nibble my hand.
There is the sound of a whip cracking inside, and we enter the tent to find a teenaged boy being whipped by a man in studded leather as another man watches.
"Easy brother, I think Alexie has learned his lesson." The other man looks up. "Ah! We have visitors."
After a talk with the men we find out that the boy Alexie was supposed to be watching his little sister while the adults were all drunk, but she went missing under his watch.
"So you're drinking and whipping, but not searching for your daughter?" I say.
"Half the camp is out searching, miss smarty pants!" He snaps at me.
A few of the party members slip away, but the rest of us stay and ask questions. The Vistani have no clues to offer as to the little girl's location, but apparently she really likes water. There is no body of water close by, however. I finally give up with them, and wonder if my new friends have the ability to search for someone. I step outside the tent with Creed and Steinbjorn, and caw loudly at the sky. Both of them laugh, but moments later I have a swarm of ravens land at my feet.
"Hello, friends!" I start throwing them food. "Here's the situation. We are looking for a seven year old girl, name's Arabelle. She's about this tall, Vistani. Last known location this camp. Can you find her?"
There is a chorus of cawing, and the ravens take flight. As we stand waiting, the other party members return. Mike apparently got the hilt of a magic sword of great power. She wants to keep it, but it's obvious that it's best in the hands of our paladin. I think it's best in my hands, being the supreme sword fighter in all the land, but they just think I'm a dumb teenage girl. As we discuss this new development, the ravens return, making an arrow in the air.
"Let's go, let's go! We have to follow them!"
We follow the ravens through the woods, and eventually pass through into a clearing at the edge of Lake Zarovich. There is a lone boater out on the lake fishing, despite it being dusk. The ravens circle around the boat, and then fly off.
"She's in the boat!" I call, getting into one of the other boats. "I'm going out!"
The others hurriedly get into boats, and I paddle furiously out to the fisherman with Cecil posing at the prow of my boat. As we get closer, the man puts his pole down, grabs something from the bottom of his boat, and tosses a large sack into the water.
I put down the oar, and before I can even think about the fact that I'm wearing full chainmail, I jump in the cold water.
We have much to accomplish together between the vampires and returning the bones to the church, returning the young Vistani girl to her people and seeing that Ireena is safe. I have faith in this group that we’ll do our best to carry out these quests.
Post by dragonforgotten on Aug 19, 2019 1:13:47 GMT -5
After a quick nap i feel I bettterr!! Ow. I think I dislocated my shoulder lol. Poped that sucker back into place and now I'm ready to go. We combed through the place till we find a fancy press room. Stein opens a window. Great idea! Some fresh air. He then immediately is filled with needles before closing the window. "there still here." He says with a scowl pulling a needle out of his cheek. Eh, fresh airs overrated anyway.
we move on. It boring here. We start searching the room after room till we stumble upon the master bed room with a book of everything in their history of wine selling s***. Some s*** isn't adding up. These dates are ancient. There booze is good but is it that good to be as old as Strahd.... Maybe. It is good booze. Cecil wants a peek at the logue book so i hoist him up. Everyone searching the room, i might as well to so i check out the rag. Holy lemons! Its so soft! I lay down on the carpet and I could sleep here no problem. Yesss... this feels nice. "Creed. What are you doing?" "shhhhhh, quiet girly. cant you see Im busy." "Doing what?" "finding nervada." She gives me a weird look, her face trying to hide a smile as she wonders off. Cecil wants to peek into the chest to search for anymore twigmen. Its not long when she brings our attention to a secret door and i have to get up on the floor as we start linning up. Behind door number three is a crazed Hobo hippy. Welp, always knew they would eat each other eventually. He's holding a black vampire staff gifted by strahd, apparently it's controlling the tree men. He then jumps down a hole down to the holding. Before i get the chance to jump down Zola jumps then cat lady. Together they get our man and they break the staff as its starts bleeding everywhere, the twig men weather away. YAY, victory! I jump down into the lower level with them as we all leave the house. Thats a nasty stain. Should have read the highly published book of removing stains by Billious Mayious. contains all your stain removing needs from wine stains to galatinous oozz and baslisk blood. Now on sale for 99.95 gold. Buy now before shipping expires. (Does not cover the cost of the carrier raven. Does not deliverinto extra planear dimensions or though fog.) ORDer now or be square! I look around in this giant empty wine feild. Who the f*** is saying that? Suddenly one of the winery peps are wrapping their arms around me and i don't like it and yet i do. I start squirming. "What are you doing with your arms?" "Its a hug! Have you've never heard of a gratitude hug." "no." I end up hugging the woman back, deciding i like hugs. She looks confused when my disguise doesn't hold up when my horns brush her hair. It makes me happy and i don't know why. They feel warm, alive. Good think i start liking them fast because i start hugging all of them. I hug the old man, the kids, the husband, Cecil, I try to hug Ryder but he steps away, Zolas a no go and the hugs seem to stop there. The family is grateful to have their house back and promise a cut in helping them deliver the wine back to the Blue water Inn. They offer us free commemorative ale mugs as well. Sweet! We bring up their the loge book. "Well, we've been selling wine for a long time now. I must have been my great grandfather who sold to Strahd in the past. Of course we don't anymore though. that we swear." I catch something when he mentions his grandfather. The subtle twitch of an eye lid, the pulling of the brows. There is no grandpa isnt there. This one eye sees all. They are older than they appear. I raise a brow but i don't speak up. They've treated us well, no need to be digging. Let them keep their secretes. They offer to let us stay the night and party. Sounds like a plan. I check my watch. That will mark day three. ------------------
After a night of wild partying we head off on their wagon with that murder of ravens following us. It appears Zola made some permeant friends here. I love them. I love them even more when they tear apart the tree men. Durring our travels the mist grew thick and the Vistani appear. My heart nearly stopped When i could'nt find Borus. Everyone looks at me like ive gone loony! But Borus! Oh god, please don't tell me the fog ate him! I was so distracted in trying to find him that I missed what the Vistani were telling us before the ravens chased them off and I found Borus again hiding behind a tree. I disguised myself as Ireen but i don't get any looks much to my annoyance so i revert to my default look. We make it back to the inn and there is much praise and rejoicing. Children and men weep with joy! Such joy! Cecil steps up and tries to barter money from the owners but they refused to budge. I bend down and clap his shoulder. "thanks for worrying but I'll be fine for now." "Just wanted to take care of our newest member of the dawnbreakers!" I release him. We are informed of rumors that a Vistani camp has a peice of the sun swords. thats some tasty gossip, lets def go. Ryder then comes back down the stairs were very priestly attire. "Everyone, I shall depart to the church, will anyone like to come." My hand shoots up immedantly. Ive been meaning to visit it. Looks like its only me, Chad and Stein. Wow. This will be something. I catch Zola glaring at Ireen as big and dump fawns over her. I lean over to her in the bar stool. "Are you jelly?" I taunt. "No." I chuckle. "Heres some advice. For a good man they need a heart beat and a spine but let me add in a new requirement. A brain." She chuckles. I then come up with an idea and whisper to her. "Hey, I'll keep a look out for any cuties while Im at the church. try to bring them here. Whatcha say." I wink. "Deal. How come you'r going to church? You don't seem the type." I shrug. "Eh, I'm bored. All i have to do anyway is just nod and repeat stuff anyway. Besides, I have'nt been into a church since one burned down on top of me." "What?!" "What." She doesn't get the time to repond before Chekasa drags her off to darts. Suddenly i feel light headed, a lump rising in my throat as my lungs start to constrict. 'If you'll excuse me boys, I'll need to powder my nose. Be right back." I strut right by and lock myself in my room. Alone at last I start coughing into my palm as i feel the blood seep through my fingers. Oh creps. This s*** again. I drink some water clearing out the blood as i catch my rattling breath. Could use some of grandpas medication but i havent been able to get back ever since the fire. Just another inconvenience of this sick decaying body. Wish i could drown some of this blood with that red dragon crush. ------------
We step past the gates as me and Stein follow in Ryders wake. Theres a large living man digging graves in the grave yard but he isn't alone. There a spirits standing around, waiting and sad. Some look frantic and confused reaching for the dim rays of light. Somethings changed here and it anit good but that grave digger could be a canitdit for boyfriend material. I glance at Stein. I wanted to improve my relationship with him but nothing works. He's so Stein. Look at the gaint church. I wish i could have brought Eliza here to hollowed ground, have better access to pay respects. I cant believe stein when he tells me the dead are resting. The dead don't rest but i mean him no disrespect to him or his god. It's just a dark fact of this land. The dead have been robbed of their rest. As long as the vampires fog remains no one leave so no one rests. Constantly pulled towards that cursed castle every midnight. We enter the church and theres only the preist and his young assistant. I wonder the pews as they speak to him. My interest is peeked when he goes into detail that this church holy artifact, the bones of some myter or something has been stolen, robbing the land of its cleansing properties. No wonder the spirits are wildly today. We accept of course, the man is thrilled. With the bones gone then every corpse in this place is at risk. "Most excellent! Thank you!" "No problem. We must safe guard the living after all." "And the dead." Every head whips towards me as i go back to flipping through the brightlord bible before tossing it back at the pews. Im not apologizing. Undeath isnt always a choice for some. Just because the bodies the souls leave behind become undead doesn't mean they are suddenly beyond help or love. I care for them, maybe even say love them. I kill them because i care, because i love them when no one will. I think people forget how easily undeath can happen, that it never will be them. Someone has to protect them from exploitation. The preist believe the grave digger is hiding something, that he may have stolen them. Let's give him a chat. Between Ryder and Stein i hear them. "Im going to cast zone of truth then question him." "Alright but try not to jump right into it. It's bad manners." I see our man, still digging that grave so i lay on the charm. I lay by the side of the hole batting my eye lashes. "Hey. Why dont you come back to the bar with us. The booze is back in town." "Not interested." He throws a mound of dirt behind his back. What a stick in the mud. "Come on, pleeeeaaasseee..." I bat them even harder playing with my hair. "I said no!" I sit up annoyed. What an a***. "What do you know of the bones." Commands Ryder but the man doesn't flinch. "The bones be gone boy." I tell him with a glare. "I anit know nothing about the bones. Ask someone else." Stein then casts the spell and the grave digger stops what he's doing "We know you stole them. Please confess." He crosses his arms unimpressed "Why don't you bug someone else! You cant make me talk." "Oh! Were playing that game then." I jump down into the grave with him and point the edge of my hand axe under his chin and a shrill of fear runs through his eyes. "Why don't you sing little bird, or would you prefer I open your throat. I hear a served head is still awake before it dies. Id like to test that theory." I turn the axe head uptowards his chin as it draws a little blood. The man crumples into a blubbering crying mess. Ugh, and I thought he was hot. Spinless. He's not good enough for the eye. "OH RIGHT! OH RIGHT! Ill TALK! JUST CALL HER OFF! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW!?" "Very!" I apply chipper as rain as i climb out of the hole as the wuss sings about giving it to vampires and bemaons that he had to protect his family. Same old sob story. Time to get everyone and those old dry bones. --------------------------
We grabbed the rest and made our way to the coffin shop. I almost got arrested but thankfully the booze was better then them doing their jobs. We manage to bust in and learn this place is crawling with vampires. Im not ready for vamps. non of us are. Me, Cat, and Cecil test our luck but we pull back. Im not feeling so lucky. Zola tell the man we will be back but prepare some stakes for us, the wooden ones. The vistiani must be very sad with out their booze anyway. we into our first elf and are pointed in the right direction. My mood sours instantly as we wittness a very drunk man whipping a teenage boy. Apparently the boy was suppose to be watching his daughter but the boy has also had a few too many sips and lost her. Of course we off to help, me more so that i don't have to watch him whip this lad senseless. As Zola talks to her new friends i approach the man. "Say, wouldn't it be better if the kid tags with us. Whats worst punishment then that am i right." I don't get a reaction. Im drawing blanks. " I mean, the boys usless here. He should help comb the woods. Builds character you know." "The boy stays here. We whip a bad boy into a good boy when we're done." I sigh. Well i tired, sorry kid. I give him a pity glance. Zolas raven friends come back as Cat and Mike return hold a hilt. It's apparently the sun sword. She promised we'd help one of those Dusk elves since he's part of the prophcey and such. Help him et into the Amber palace to riase a love one back to life. She tells us all and as we follow the birds to where the missing Vistani girl was spotted. My head is a buzzed with thoughts. I need to speak to that elf. I need to know more about this palace. The ravens lead us to a still lake, a single boat on the water. We pile into a row boat and reach the man just as he throws a sack into the water. S***, that better not be who i think it is otherwise that by really will be dead.
We are currently resting at the tower of Rudolph van Ritchten, a self-professed vampire hunter who we were forced to trust after he aided us in escaping Vilaki after our run-in with the Burgomaster’s guards. I still can’t believe the cruelty shown when they killed the Tiger that had already been subdued. I wanted to try and stop them, but didn’t feel it was a prudent move, since we had been using Vilaki as a base of operations—a much-needed place to rest and recuperate after our adventures. Unfortunately two of our band got detained , and after Chad charmed the guards, we had to run to the Inn, where I had left my vestments, to meet Rictavio— who we later found out was actually van Ritchten. I’d like to think that we can go back and reason with the Burgomaster—even though he’s quite the odd fellow, throwing the weekly festival and jailing anyone who disagrees with him, even a guard who snickered while at the festival. I don’t believe he’ll listen to us, but I have to think that he might need us to do a job for him.
I feel bolstered and very thankful to Steinbjorn and Creed for coming to the church with me and their great work getting the information which led us to the coffinmaker’s home to retrieve the sacred bones and re-sanctify the church. Destroying nine vampires to retrieve the bones was a tall order, but we were able to do it—more on that later. It gave me great satisfaction to carry the bones in with Steinbjorn and present them to the priest who was extremely thankful. It also gave me great satisfaction to be able to celebrate mass and give thanks to the Morninglord.
But about the vampires...Zola and Steinbjorn continue to show their bravery in each and every battle, but none more than in this one. We made our way back to the Coffinmaker’s home and headed up to the second floor where we were told the vampires were. I had spent some time attuning to the newly acquired Sun Sword, but I really wasn’t totally sure how or if it would work. After we were all set up and Chad, who I am very thankful is with us, cast a protection spell on me which probably saved my life, I kicked open the door and entered the room. All was quiet as we moved through the room—there were nine crates which we suspected held vampires, I made my way deeper into the room with Zola, Steinbjorn and Chad as the others spread throughout the room. Mike opened a crate, finding it filled with dirt and all of a sudden saw a hand thrust through the dirt and nine vampires appeared ready to kill us, or worse make us undead. I pulled out the hilt of the Sun Sword and did my best to activate it—still not sure what would happen. All of a sudden the blade came to life and extended out emitting a blinding flash of sunlight that swept through the room and caused the vampires to scream. I could see smoke coming off their bodies as they writhed in pain. I could feel the sword communicating with me as it wanted revenge on these vile, undead creatures. The sword felt alive in my hand and was difficult to control at first as the energy of sunlight radiated out of the blade and flooded the room; I have never felt such power. The sword seemed to attract the vampires and eight of them surrounded me as they continued to try and claw me as if to obtain the sword. I was able to fend off most of their attacks being hit only once as I was clawed by one of the demon spawn. Steinbjorn and Zola stood with me and bravely and with no regards for their own safety, fought off the vampires. All of a sudden the sword pulsed with energy and all eight of the vampires screamed in agony—the sword was doing incredible amounts of damage to them. Chad hit one with a spell and each of us continued the fight. The vampires continued to attack and one was able to get a hold of me and the vile creature tried to bite me, as I garnered all of my strength to fend him off and break free of his grasp. We continued the fight and the sword kept doing its work by continuously damaging the vampires. I was able to finish off one of the vampires, and I believe Chad and Zola took out two more as we finished off the vampire hoard and the rest of our members finished off the ninth, although I really don’t know what was happening at the other end of the room. Finally we were finished with the vampire hoard and were able to take a breath and move on out of the house. Thank the Morninglord for Zola, Steinbjorn and Chad who fought valiantly. I look forward to hearing what happened at the other end of the roomfrom my friend Cecil.
So now I’m sitting outside van Ritchen’s tower with Zola and Steinbjorn as we discuss what’s happened and what we think needs to happen next. Zola is concerned that her raven friends didn’t come to the last battle even though she called them; I hope everything is okay with them as they were incredibly helpful, and I know how much they mean to Zola. Chad comes over and sits with us as we discuss working together to form a strategy to fight the evil beings in this land. I don’t know how effective we’ll be, but I do know that we’ll do far better if we all work together—today was a wonderful beginning, but we just don’t know what we’ll be going up against and know that any altercations with Strahd will challenge us greatly. We’ve formed a strong core that will serve us well in whatever challenges we may face. I hope that van Ritchten is true to his word and can help us in the challenges we now face.
The Dawn Breakers are starting to make a name for themselves in Borovia. In the short span of a day we managed to save the daughter of a Vistani chief, returned stolen sacred bones to and re-sanctified a church as well as helping a coffin maker who was prisoner in his own house. I was thrilled to finally see our group properly compensated for returning the Vistani girl. She was rather level-headed for someone who was almost drowned. And saving the coffin maker was no easy task, but thankfully we had Ryder wielding the mighty Sun Blade. A group of vampires ambushed us on the top floor of the coffin makers house. The sun blade was able to reduce a whole group of them to ash, while Chad, Creed and I occupied two vampires. I think everyone did their best and was pleased with the results. No causalities this time around fighting vampires - that alone is a victory in my book!
I've made two discoveries. First, I believe I've become strong enough to use my psychic powers to give my team a supernatural advantage in combat. Depending on who we are fighting, I'll have to use what knowledge I've gathered thus far about our enemies to decide who will receive this benefit. When we come across more vampires, it'll surely be Ryder!
The second discovery I've made is that Popov is an actual sentient being. It's incredible, this whole time I thought this unassuming puppet was just a toy. I started hearing whispers a couple of days ago. They recently grew louder until I was able to make out full sentences. During our escape from Vilaki, I used telepathy to communicate with Popov. I didn't want to do it in the open just yet, I don't think the other Dawn Breakers are ready for such a startling discovery. I look forward to learning more about you - Popov Donovitz Blinsky.
I dive under the water and swim towards where the sack was dropped in. Fortunately I reach it before it sinks down, grabbing it in one hand and swimming up to the surface with the other. When I break the surface I furiously swim to our boats as fast as my armor allows.
"Take it!" I sputter to Steinbjorn, hoisting the bag up.
Stein takes it in the boat, and its clear there is definitely someone or something in it. Rideyr reaches a hand down and helps me back in the boat, and I slide in sopping wet. We get the bag open and theres a small black haired girl with pale skin. She seems far more calm than any of us. She wants to talk to the man that kidnapped her, whom she refers to as Bluto... I remember hearing about him, the town drunk. The only person crazy enough to go on this lake. Unfortunately he is already unconscious, courtesy of the Dawn Breakers treatment.
At Arabelle's suggestion we take Bluto to town, as her father would most definitely kill him. We take him directly to the guard post, where we are told we could leave him there or take him to Isaac Strahsny. None of us want to meet him after hearing about his craziness, so we just leave him with the guards and head back to the Vistani camp.
Little Arabelle gives her family an earful. She's very grown up for a seven year old. When I was her age I was too busy making my parents' lives a living hell. That's still what I do. Luvash gives us the opportunity to choose our own reward for the safe return of his little girl, and we are taken to a wagon of goods. I nearly faint when I see the beautiful unicorn rug, but I know there is nowhere to put it and it's too bulky to carry around. We go with the money instead. We are also warned not to buy potions from the Vistani. Ever.
Back in a room in the Blue Water Inn we have a Dawn Breakers meeting. The biggest item on the agenda is who gets the sun sword. I want it, more than anything, but I would just get shot down if I asked for it. We all know I'm one of the best fighters ever, but they still don't take me seriously. I could be something great. Mike and Rideyr have an awkward standoff, and finally they trade off a cloak for the sword. I don't even have anything cool or magical and I'm always right in the thick of things, but they don't care if I die though, let's be honest. Most of these people only care about treasure.
After that madness is over, we march off to the coffin maker's shop. He made our stakes and is quite keen to get the vampires out of his house. Rideyr leads the way, and we all head upstairs. I follow in after Rideyr, once the door is kicked down, and it's just a room full of wood and crates. No vampires. I walk further in, and realize I've walked out of the zone of silence when my still sopping wet armor creaks and drips water onto the floor. I pause, trying to be silent and listening for anything jumping out. Steinbjorn gives me a look of pure horror, but then when nothing happens he joins me. Mike opens one of the crates and it's just full of dirt. We are all a bit disappointed, until she yells as a hand reaches out at her. Suddenly all of the crates bust open!
The vampire hops out, and I take a swing. I remember they don't take much damage from non-magic, so my sword just barely cuts him. I scream in pain as its claws scratch me across the face. In moments I am surrounded by four vampires, all trying to get a piece of me. One more scratches my arm, but the others just glance off my armour. Nasty, vile things! I ditch the sword and start grabbing them, shocking away.
"I've got you, Zola!" I hear Rideyr shout from the other side of the horde.
The room erupts in light, bright as the sun. I can see Rideyr bathed in light, the Sunsword glowing in his hands as he holds it up. The vampires start sizzling, screaming, and then converge on him. I punch one of the vamps right in the face as it moves away. They all try to get at Rideyr, as Mike, Steinbjorn and I attack from the back. One explodes in my hand, turning to dust.
"Ugh, I got vampire on me!" I gag.
"You're mother would be proud!" Laughs Steinbjorn.
Yeah, she would. She killed a vampire once! Finally the vampire spawn are all dead and dust, and the coffin maker is free. If we die here, we are guaranteed the finest of coffins. Wonderful.
The bones are delivered to the church, and the priest holds a ceremony to re-sanctify the grounds. Rideyr convinces me to stay for a special mass he is doing with the clerics and the priest, and I reluctantly stay. It is a beautiful service, and following it we all drink at the inn. I go to bed that night drunk and happy, feeling a lot better about our chances in the battle against evil.
The next morning we walk out to a parade of sad looking children dressed as flowers, and men and women holding up a wicker ball. The festival! Following after the crowd, watching the stern faces of the Burgomaster and his wife, we arrive in the town square. The sky opens up as the townies attempt to light the wicker ball, and the flame sputters out.
"All will be well!" The Burgomaster calls, striding forward with a torch. It flickers out.
A guard snickers, and it almost echoes in the silence. The Burgomaster turns to the guards, furious.
"Who was that?!"
All guards but one step backward, the guilty party standing forward and alone. His face loses all color.
The guards grab him, and tie him behind the Burgomaster's horse. As the Burgomaster kicks his horse forward, he drags away the poor man screaming in agony. Soon the Burgomaster comes back as though nothing happened. After that horror show, we don't really want anything to do with this festival, so we go look for that half-elf guy from the circus.
Screams split the air, coming from a different part of town. We seek out the source, and find people running towards us.
We go to look and see if we can help, and a man with several guards passes us. His right arm looks... interesting. Inhuman.
"Find and destroy the beast!" He orders, snapping his fingers. Flames spark at the tips of long fingers.
"I want that arm..." I whisper. Creed looks at me like I'm the crazy one.
Rictavio himself rushes out to the guards, pleading with Isaac Strahsny to let him take care of it. The tiger obeys him, he can stop it. Strahsny refuses. He wants it dead. The Dawn Breakers set out to find it before Strahsny and his men do.
Growling tips off the tigers location to us, and we walk out to a courtyard where it stands hunched over and hackles raised. Strahsny and his guards beat us to it, standing on the other end of the court. Strahsny hurls fire at the tiger as I run in with my sword. I intend to knock it out, I don't wish such a beast to die. I have at it and then look up at Isaac Strahsny, winking as coyly as I possibly can. If you can't beat them... flirt with them? Isn't that what mom always did?
Unfortunately, after the tiger falls asleep to someone in our party's spell, Strahsny moves in. One of the guards pushes Creed out of the way, and she falls to the ground.
"Good, you killed it?" Says Strahsny. He swings his axe and misses. Before anyone can do anything, he swings again, this time taking off the head of the tiger.
I don't know what Creed said to piss him off, but Strahsny goes from uncaring that we are here to angry.
"Wait, I thought you killed it!?" He shouts at Creed. "Arrest her!"
The guards start moving in toward her, getting manacles ready.
"You ruined the fur! Taking the head ruins the whole thing, now I can't get a rug out of it!" I snap. Maybe if he thinks I'm in on killing it, he won't arrest Creed?
"I didn't kill it for its fur, girl!" He points at me. "Detain her for being lippy!"
I gawk at him, wondering why he didn't fall for my girlish charms. Cecil tries talking him down, but the damage is done. He's going to arrest us all if we aren't careful... this is not going to end well, I can't go to jail! In an act of desperation, I throw my head back to the sky and caw furiously.
"Lippy AND she's insane!" Says Strahsny.
Nothing happens. Where are my raven friends?! The guards aren't stopping, they're getting closer... I feel like a caged animal, I don't know what to do.
I spin on my heel and run, fast as my feet can carry me. I soon hear footfalls behind me, but I'm too afraid to turn around and see if its friends or foes. I don't stop running until I get to the safety of the Blue Water Inn. I collapsed in a barstool, panting and panicked.
"What's wrong, dear?" Asks Danika.
"Isaac... Strahsny. He tried to arrest me."
"Do not mess with that man, he is bad news!"
Danika puts down a glass of wine for me, and I drink it down in a few gulps. It calms my nerves a bit. Soon the rest of the party comes in, settling in next to me as we decide the next course of action.
"Chad charmed them, they let us go!" Steinbjorn tells me.
Rictavio spots us and comes over. He looks a bit saddened about the tiger, but more worried.
"My friends, I need your help," he says. He then tells us he said some things that may have gotten him in trouble thanks to the tiger being his. He needs to get out of here just as much as we do. Oh, and it turns out he has a tower.
The Martikovs hook us up with horses, and after a teary goodbye and lots of hugs between them and I, we all ride out of Villaki on horseback. Danika gave me the nicest one, black with raven feathers in his mane (of course). When we finally arrive at the tower on the lake, my a** and face are numb from the ride. As we pass over a grass covered causeway, a covered wagon comes into view.
"S***! She's here."
He bows, sweeping his hat off his head, and when he stands up he is no longer the half-elf we know. Before us stands a much older and human man.
"My name is Rudolph Van Richten, from Darkon. You've never heard of it. I am an enemy of Strahd. A vampire hunter."
Where was this guy when we were fighting actual vampires?! Why did he disguise himself as a half-elf? Who is this "she" that he is mad about being here? I have so many questions.
We all start talking and getting to know eachother for real. I passingly mention I love birds, ravens especially. He turns to me with a look of interest, and pulls out a notebook.
"What do you know about...." he looks at something on a page. "Wereravens?"
I try to not let my face betray me. What does he care about them?
"Those are a thing?!" I gush with excitement.
He furrows his brow, giving me another long glance, and then makes a note in his book. I really hope my friends are okay, and that this guy can be trusted.
Post by dragonforgotten on Aug 26, 2019 16:16:59 GMT -5
That girl gut gots. Jumped right into that murky leech filled pong water. Sorry not pond, lake, pond is tiny compared to lake. Also in some heavy armor. No hesitation, I like it. Zola maded to pull up the sack from the water and free the girl from it. You know, for someone who almost drowned she's doesn't seemed fazed. Most but an every day event in her life. odd. I offered to just pitch the man in the boat, who turned out to be the town drunkared into the lake but thats apparently immoral. We have to cart them both to town. not bothering with the of bring the drunk to the head authority because one, that man we were told to stay away from and two why do the work when these two guys can. There not going anything important. There just standing there. We bring the girl back and there is much celebration as they free Alexi while the child is as stone faced as ever. She even scolds her farther and he cowers. What is she? Her dad/child beater thanks us and tells us an important advice and that is not to buy potions from them. They sell snake oil. He then let us prick from a wide assortment of nicknacks and bobbles. I wanted the unicorn rug but golds good. I can finally try the dragon crush now! Everyone agrees that we should go back to the bar but to for what i thought we were, Instead of drinking were going to see who gets to hold the magic sword today. Ryder and Mike. Mike wants to trade his cloak for the sword, Ryder wants cloak but also a wants the sword. There is an awkward standoff between the two and i get bored quickly and go down stairs to drink. Much more fun then sitting in a room while two warriors stare at each other. "one dragon crush." I order but i glance at Borus who in the stool next to me looking melancholy. "Make that two!" as the bartender slides them to me i take them both and perpare to side one to him. "Borus! catch!" I slide it down but it goes right through his ghost palms and smashes on the ground. Opps. I forgot he was incorpral. The bartender give me a heavy scowl. "Ill pay for that." After a bit of time of me drinking everyone comes down. It's time to finish the fight we started back in the coffin markers place. To rescue the missing saint. He's surprised we returned but jokes on him! We did come back but he owes us a nice coffin should we die up there. If Im going to die Im doing it in style. I want something real nice. Grandpa always told me that if you'r going to be reduced to bones in the end then surround your corpse with the best s***. Cushions on the inside and a coffin bell for my amusement. I want it to make strahd jelouse just incase i do become a vampire up there. I silence up stairs, Chad gives protecion to Ryder, and we all move into the room. It's quiet and i don't mean with the noise i mean that theres no sign of the vampires. Just these large boxes and planks of wood. Wait a second. I see a box nearby but cecils standing on it so I pick him up and put him down. I cant seem to get the thing open. I see some of the clerics don't look amused with me so I drop the silence just in time for hands to start bursting through the box. Hah I knew it! Boxpires! They destroy their boxs. Vampires! The vampire stands before me hissing and spitting raising up its claws but i stand there and scowl, arms folded. Cheekasha then moves in and takes a stab. The vampires eyes slide off me and then land on Cheeksha who is set upon by its wrath and grapped. It then proceeded to suck the life out of her. Ugh, nasty. I glance behind me to the window but its boarded up. Thats ashame, cant toss him outside. It bits again as she scream. Aw, f*** it. I grow my claws as they grip with acid and dig in deep into its flesh as it screams. I place the ice armor on myself just as Mike jokes behind me and a blinding brilliance erupts behinder her as Ryder stands among the hoard of vampires with sword aloft as they sizzle and shreik with each bright plus of light.Dust swirls from the creatures broken bodies swirl around them. Cool, should keep that underwraps. It lacks.. subtlety. To flashy for my tastes. Cheeksha breaks away just as Mike arrives to back me, Cecil, Chad, and Cheekasha. As soon as she arrives the Cat begins to back up behind chad. I thought shed stop there but then she tears a*** down stairs. What the f***! Is she running!? F***! I throw myself between chad and the Vampire. If Chad loses the protection Ryders hosed. i give it a nice deep scratch with my claws and the creatures oozes and sputters its black decayed blood. radiant energy rains down on it thanks to Chade. "Mike, put that cloak to use and protect Chad." I move out of the way for her to take my place but she doesn't move. What the hell!? I slash down the creatures back as i glance back at Ryder to see he's and the rest and covered in dust, no more vamps. It whails is agony and casts a hateful eye on me but before it can move, Chee suddenly run in an stabs it and it crumbles to dust. She just stole my kill. I say nothing as i stare at her hard and walk away. I understand the need to perserve your life but I cant help but feel a bit stung from her fleeing. If things had gone poorly would she have left. We all wish to live, we all have things we must live for but how can i trust someone who flees and only returns when the fight is in there favor. Just because you come back for the tail end doesn't earn my respect. I'll be watching, the both of them. There are high fives all around and while there chatting I take the time to find the bones. I return to the room me and cecil peeked this morning and go to the closet. I find a compartment and two sacks, one with silver and ones with the bones. I reach in the sack and hold the skull in my hands. Who were you in life. Did you have a wife and children? Were you happy? Were you kind? Did you like to drink? Who did you call your mother and father? I bet you liked a lot of things while alive. I bet you had your own identity as well. But what are you now. You are bones. Old dry bones, an object for people to covert. Its not fair is it. You sacrifice a lot but what about you. Would people in that church do the same for you? I don't see you as just bones. You were alive. You were good. Your lingering will keeps your flock safe in their dirt beds. Let's bring you back to them. I put the skull back and carry the bones out. I hold the bag to my chest as we walk back to the church. Im starting to not feel well again but i choke it down just long enough to see where his bones were placed. I excused myself from the party. I check my watch.
The next day I feel great. A festivale is taking place and i finally get to see the man who runs the town. For someone who loves parties he sure is a chill joy. One chuckle and abit of rain and one of his own guards is arrested. Before we can even enjoy ourselves theres all this yelling about a tiger. We follow the rail and ease drop between the monster arm guy and the circus ringleader. We decide to help the circus elf but act like were uninvolved in that disscusion. Who ever gets there first i and we can decide then. Its not worth getting arrested for a tiger. We find it but tall and scary Isaac Strahsny beat us to it. Zola gives him a wink but that man is crazy beyond crazy. He crisps the tiger but then Chad puts it to sleep. Zola kpertends to stick a sword in it and I got up to it and pertend to give it a quick stab. Before i can even do anything Isaac is towering above me. "It is dead?" "yes." Id hoped he'd but dumb enough to not check. Oh how wrong i was. Im helpless as he doesnt even give me a chance to move away. He cuts the tigers head off, splashing me with blood. "UGh! why man, you couldn't have let me moved first!" His eyes snap to me. "You said it was dead. Arrest her." gos se, I was starting to like this face. "You ruined the fur! Taking the head ruins the whole thing, now I can't get a rug out of it!" Zola snap. "I didn't kill it for its fur, girl!" He points at Zola. "Detain her for being lippy!" Well S***. I don't think she has way of hiding her face. She begins hauling a*** before anyone doesnt anything. S***, this is a rock and a hard place. In the end chad charmed the man and we make a retreat to the inn perparing to skip town before the Popo come for us. It is then in or mad scramble we run into the circus man. HE has a castle we can hide in. Perfect! Lets go. WE push the horses as fast as possible. As the horses slow to a trot cecil on his miniture horse pulls up besides me. "I heard you coughing last night. Are you ok." I stiffen in the saddle but i relax. It was going to be discovered at some point. Theres no one here i can threaten and silence. I sigh. "Sortof. To be honest... Im very sick. You could even call it deathly to a point. Had it since i was a child." "Is there anything we can do." "No. I use to take medicine to ease it but the mist took me before i could get it." "...Im sorry." "Don't. Theres nothing that can be done. My powers will keep me here long enough anyway. Lets ride." we set the horses to charge and within one hour of riding we make it. It is then the colorful Elf relveals his true nature as a human vampire hunter. du dun duuuuuuunnnnnnnn.
Rudolph is kind of a d***. He brought us to his tower, but not only are we not allowed to go in it, we also can't go in the wagon up front. He says we can camp here... outside and exposed to the elements. No, thank you! He tells us the wagon is owned by "Esmerelda" and by the way he talks about her I can't tell if he likes or hates her.
"Is she your wife?" I ask.
"No!" He takes a long swig from his flask. "Just... don't go in the wagon. Trust me. Not hiding anything, she just doesn't want anyone in it."
We trusted him this far, we need to respect the rules. The party discusses our next move. It's still early, we want to go to Krezk, but we also want to go back to Madam Eva.
"If you're seeking adventure, there's an old windmill nearb-"
"NO!" I stop him. "Absolutely not."
"Madam Eva said to avoid the windmill at all costs." Chekasha says.
We tell him who she is and he laughs, clearly disbelieving in that sort of thing.
"Well, I wish you the best. You are welcome to come back here and use my lawn. Try to avoid vampires. And werebeasts."
He turns and gives me a hard stare, and I know he suspects me... I'm not sure if he thinks I am one, or knows that I have a friendship with the wereravens. I laugh nervously.
"Yeah, okay. I'll believe in them when I see one."
We ride off towards Barovia Village. It's a long but pleasant ride, and nothing tries to attack us. We see nothing but the eerie beauty of Barovia's countryside, until we reach the fork in the causeway. The road to Ravenloft now has a large black carriage parked at the split, pulled by two big black horses. As we get closer, the door opens.
"Did Strahd send a ride for us?" I say, half joking. Steinbjorn sends me a warning look. "I'm checking it out!"
Before anyone can stop me, I kick my horse Oskar forward. He snorts as we approach the carriage, and I can feel him tensing up. I look into the carriage, and it's totally empty, not even a driver. There is room for all of us inside. One of the black horses turns and stares at me, snorting and nodding. Steam billows from both of the horses' nostrils.
"You want us to go to the castle, horsey?"
It paws the ground, turning and looking up the road. Its definitely trying to communicate with me, and I feel all my hair standing on end. Strahd wants us to come pay a visit. I rein Oskar around, and gallop back to the party.
"The horse just tried to communicate with me!" I exclaim, halting my own. "Carriage is empty, room for the whole party. No driver. It's definitely Strahd's taxi service."
"We are not falling for that obvious trap." Rideyr says.
As we gallop away, the unmistakable sound of the carriage door slamming shut echoes behind us. We may pay for this later.
Finally we reach the Vistani encampment at dusk. Our first friend, and glorified kidnapper, greets us enthusiastically.
"Our friends! Why have you come back here?"
"We seek more guidance from Madam Eva." Says Chad.
"Ah. Yes, indeed. Come, sit down- grab some stumps! We have wine!"
Creed starts asking about some Vistani guy... who is apparently dead. Our host gives her a confused look.
"Everyone may have wine, except this one!" He announces.
We drink and tell stories as the Vistani listen, enraptured by our tales. Just as it's getting dark, a man comes to fetch us. Madam Eva awaits us within the tent.
Walking in, we find her much the same as last time. She has a plate of something in front of her, and takes a bite.
"Why have you come?" She asks. "Here, have a cookie! All of you!"
I take one of the cookies. Its shaped like a windmill. Cute. It's delicious! Valkyrie refuses to try one and is promptly kicked out. We tell her what we have found, and Rideyr shows her the sunsword, but does not activate it. She claims to not know or care what it is but is happy for us finding what we seek.
"You said you would tell us where we can find Strahd." I say.
"Ah yes, I did, didn't I." She finishes her cookie. "What do you think of the cookies?"
"They're delicious. Did you make them?" I ask.
"Oh, no. I got them from an old lady peddling them from a pushcart. Now... let me consult the cards."
Madam Eva goes through her routine, pulling out the deck and being all mystical. At last, after much deliberating or mysticism or something, she finds the card.
"The devil Strahd will be found in a place where he must return. A place of death."
"His coffin?" I suggest.
"Silence, girl! I read the cards, I don't translate them." She clears her throat. "Did those cookies taste funny to you?"
Oh, great. Were they drugged? I had that brownie I took from mom a few weeks ago, but I don't feel like how that made me feel...
"Excuse me," Madam Eva gets up from her chair, and her men come to her side. "I must rest."
We exit the tent, and rejoin with Valkyrie. I noticed Steinbjorn staring off into the distance, a dreamy expression on his face.
"Steinbjorn?" I wave my hand in front of his face. No reaction. "Steiny, you okay?"
He doesn't show any sign he sees me.
"S***! They dosed us!"
I pull my arm back, and smack him across the face. He snaps out of it, rubbing his cheek.
"Ow! What was that for, Zola?!"
"You were out of it, I think the cookies are drugged!"
One of the guards goes to check on Madam Eva, and comes back saying she's in a similar state.
"Wait... I had one of those cookies!" He says, just as he zones out. I slap him, too.
"Ah! You hit hard!"
There are a lot of children laying around drugged out, and we start slapping them awake. It's not until we see one of the parents gently shake them out of it that we realize we are using unnecessary force. My dad always just shocking grasped me when he wanted me to focus, they're lucky I'm not doing that to them!
We are not allowed to stay with the Vistani just like last time, so we decide to head into the village and take refuge in the church. Halfway through the village we see an old woman pushing a cart. She goes up to a door and knocks.
"Pastries!" She calls.
Nobody answers, so she moves onto the next one. Creed walks up, but the woman quickly hurries away. I get a brilliant, stupid idea.
"Cecil, may I pick you up?"
"Um... yes? Am I going to regret this?"
I shrug, and pick the gnome up, propping him on my hip like mom used to carry me when I was Cecil sized. I walk closer to the old woman.
"Excuse me!" I call. "My child would like a treat!"
The woman turns to me, grinning. She's sweet looking but something is not quite right.
"You are mother?" She asks.
"Yeah! This is my sweet little boy. He's been good and deserves a cookie."
Cecil is going to absolutely murder me. I can feel his fingers digging into my shoulder, and Popov even looks angry. I'm trying not to laugh and give myself away. The old woman pulls out a vial of something.
"I give you something, a trade. This will help you relax! Essential oils, very good for you. You take this, I take child!"
Rideyr comes to my side, placing a hand on my shoulder.
"You are Papa?" She asks him, reaching for another vial.
"I'm not selling you my son for drugs!" I snap.
"Ah! You're squares!" She says.
Mike suddenly leaps out of nowhere, trying to grab the old woman and failing. I set Cecil down, and he stands staring defiantly at the woman as Rideyr and Creed go to his side.
"Hah! I tricked you!" He grins. "I'm not a child, and these are not my parents!"
Cecil quickly gives us the lowdown on this woman. She's going to be difficult to kill. We can't just let her get away with taking kids, though.
The woman mutters some words, her hands moving, and casts something. Chekasha, Creed and Valkyrie all drop, sleeping. Poor woman doesn't realize most of us are half elves, and one true elf!
"Huh... thought I would have gotten more." She says, scratching her head. "You will now pay the price for harassing an old woman!"
I reach out and grab her arm, shocking her, but she doesn't even react. Not good! I move away, trying to think what I can do to her since she seems resistant to almost everything. I watch Mike cast a bonfire underneath her cart, and there is a small, shrill shriek of pain. There's a kid in the cart!
Creed tries to spray the fire, but it does nothing. Rideyr moves in, reaches in, and then pauses. He's totally enraptured in a dream state as his hands burn inside the inferno of the cart. The woman cackles, going after Mike.
"You set my cart on fire!"
Maybe we should have just let her go... too late, now. I run to Rideyr, pulling him out of the flames. Steinbjorn reaches in and pulls out a young boy. He is limp in his arms, badly burnt. I shake Rideyr awake, and he seems okay.
"Thank you, Zola!"
Steinbjorn casts some skeletal spirit warriors on the woman, and she angrily moves towards Stein. She then disappears into thin air, and we all stare for a moment waiting for her to reappear. She doesn't, shifted to another plane.
Chad wakes the boy and gets him healed up, and the boy suddenly wants to be best friends with Cecil. He tells us where he lives, and we bring him back there, finding his parents in a state like all the others who succumbed to the cookie drugs. Creed wakes them up, and it turns out they did trade the boy for the magic dream pastries. They don't seem happy to have been woken up.
"But, the dreams!"
"We have your kid." Creed tells them.
"The kid? We sold the kid."
I walk out, disgusted. Chekasha and Mike tried reasoning with them, but they're scared and think the woman will be back again to take the kid again. This place is awful. I can't take it anymore. We need to stop Strahd so people don't give up their own children to chase a high, just to get an escape from this terrible place.
We go to the church, moods ruined, and are quite ready to get to bed now that it's dark. As we pass through the cemetary, I remember Eliza is buried here. I need to pay my respects.
"Guys, I'm going to stay out here. I want to visit with Eliza."
The others move along, but Rideyr hangs back. Creed looks like she's going to stay, but Rideyr shoos her away.
"You're not staying out here alone, Zola. I'll come with you."
We go to the mound of dirt that serves as Eliza's grave. I need to get him a headstone or something, there just hasn't been time or money for it. I barely have a chance to think of something to say before there is an apparition in front of us. I think it might be Eliza for a second, and nearly faint. No, it looks far too scary to be him!
"No one will ever know you died here!" It hisses, pointing at me.
I can't even scream. This is not good, not good at all! Rideyr and I are going to die out here in the graveyard and the rest of the party... they won't even know!
The Sun Sword glows to life in Rideyrs hand, and he swings at the apparition. Its skeletal face glares at us out of its cowl, and I feel fear creep over me, but we stand our ground. Its eyes burst with fire, fangs snarling, but we don't run! I cast chill touch to no avail, and Rideyr keeps hitting it with the Sun Sword. It reaches out and grabs Rideyr. I can tell by the hiss of pain that it's nothing to be trifled with. I fire bolt it, and it begins moving towards me. Just as it reaches out to touch me, Rideyr finishes it off.
"Let's get inside, shall we?" I say to him, panting.
He nods, and we quickly pay our respects before high tailing it into the church. We find the rest of the party in a room, Cecil sitting on the ground reading a book. He motions to another one, glancing at Rideyr.
"That one's for you!"
Steinbjorn and Chad tend to Rideyr as we tell the Dawn Breakers about what just happened. I don't realize there's tears running down my face until Cecil shoves his book into my hands with a pen.
"Do this crossword, Zola. It might help you with the grief."
I can't help but laugh. It's stupid, but maybe it will. I sit down and get to work.
"Ten down... man's best friend. Dog! Six across, is no fun, is no- how do you spell 'Blinsky'?"
Ten minutes later, the puzzle is done, and though I now have to remember the sad things again, for ten minutes I had some peace from thinking about my cousin.
I sleep soundly that night, but in the morning it appears not all of us did. Rideyr does not look good, dark circles under his eyes and complaining of having dreadful visions all night.
"I'm sorry for getting you into that!" I apologize. The ghost must have done something to him.
"No, I don't think the ghost had anything to do with it. I heard cackling in my dreams."
Ah, the cookie lady. We all have come to the conclusion that she is a hag of some sort, with the child snatching and all.
"I saw something last night on watch," says Valkyrie. "Cecil, too. The ghostly procession of the dead, heading to the Castle."
"Eliza and Kael were with it." Cecil says.
"You should have woken me!" I gasp.
"No, you would not have wanted to see him like that." Cecil says. "And I'm not getting smacked for waking you up, either."
We stop at the Blood of the Vine Tavern before leaving. I go up and ask for wine, needing to get these sad thoughts out of my head. The bartender looks indifferent, perhaps angry at us.
"There is no wine." He says, no hint of any emotion in his voice.
"How are you in business, then?" I ask, perhaps a bit too snarky.
The bartender glances at the three Vistani sitting at a table.
"Business is very good."
Seeing as we are not being served in this town anymore, one can only wonder why, we eat our rations before heading out. He wouldn't even let us fill our water skins! We leave, eager to get the heck out of here, and make it an hour and a half in the direction of Krezk before anything else bad happens. Five large direwolves come charging out of the hills, and attack us. It's a wild fight, and poor Cecil gets knocked down and the wolves all move in on him. Fortunately, we take them down and everyone is alright! Deciding it's best not to carry bloody wolf meat or pelts with us, lest it attract more predators, we leave the carcasses and move on. Another hour and a half passes, and we hear a deep voice up ahead in the fog.
"Who goes there?" It calls.
As we approach, the man comes into view. Tall and big, with drab clothing and a grey cloak, his black hair long and look completed with mutton chops. He tells us he is a trapper, and we tell him we left some dead wolves back the way we came if he wants to take the pelts. He seems a little upset, but covers it up. As he moves away, heading the way we came from, he glances at us all, very shifty. Possibly sizing up our weapons. He leaves and I can hear growling in the woods. When he is gone a couple of the party members mention seeing wolves and the man possibly shifting into one.
"I think we just survived our first werewolf encounter, gang!" Cecil exclaims.
I really hope we don't run into more. Wereravens are good. Werewolves will kill us! Eight more hours of uninterrupted travel later, we arrive at the gates of Krezk. The abbey stands in the cliffside, a bit too far to get to this late in the day. Nightfall is upon us, and we need to get to safety and rest. Four figures stand on the top of the gate wall, holding spears.
"Go away! Gate's closed."
"We need to get to the abbey!" Chad calls up. "One of our party needs healing, and only the Abbot can help him."
"Why didn't you say so?" One of the guards says.
Five minutes or so pass, and finally a rotund man comes out onto the wall with the guards.
"Who is it that says they have business at the Abbey?" Says the man. "What business do you have here?"
Chad reiterates what our deal is, but they won't let us pass without some sort of payment.
"We want wine." Says the man. "We have run out."
"I have friends that make wine!" I say.
"You do?! Who?"
"They own a vineyard, the Wizard of Wines!"
"OPEN THE GATES!" The man bellows.
We are let in, and then the gates locked behind us. The man introduces himself as Dmitry Krezkov, the Burgomaster of Krezk, and tells us there is no inn so we must stay at his home. Tomorrow we need to bring them wine, but for tonight we are their guests.
The Burgomaster introduces us to his wife, Anna. Despite the lack of wine, they are good hosts, and we are fed and made comfortable. There is the lingering feeling that the Burgomaster is hiding something that is upsetting him. Nothing malicious, but he looks like he is going to cry any second.
"Are you missing a child?" Valkyrie, ever the tactful one, asks the Burgomaster.
None of us are prepared for the grown man breaking down into tears in front of us. This should be an interesting tale...
My situation becomes more dire with each passing moment and I am going to ask my friends in the party to carry out my last wishes in case I fall. Zola, the most courageous and pure of any of us, is the one to wield the Sun Sword—a huge responsibility, but one I know she is ready for. I will also ask Steinbjorn to take my Morninglord amulet back to the the Temple of Lathander in Waterdeep and tell them my story so the circle of my life will be closed. I would then ask him and Chad to dress my body in my vestments, say some words and for Zola, Steinbjorn, Chad and Cecil to see that my body is burned and the ashes brought to the church in Vilaki and then to the temple in Waterdeep if possible. I’m not trying to be morbid here, and I realize it may not be possible to carry out my wishes but whatever you can do is fine. I’m not afraid of dying but as an old campaigner I know the value of sorting everything out before the big battle, so to speak, and I can feel something is terribly wrong with me, and my end may be near. Again I realize this is a lot to ask and all of these requests may not be possible but whatever you can do will be much appreciated. I’ve been a loner for most of my life, but I want my friends to know how much I’ve treasured being with them on this sacred mission to free the people of Barovia. Zola, Steinbjorn, Chad and Cecil...it is an honor to serve with you.
We don’t know each other well, but it’s been my experience that soldiers can form a bond unlike any other. I realize that I go to church while others drink and celebrate, and I understand that people may look at me as being idealistic but know there is more to me than that. Believe it or not I was very much in love once, and I’d like to think she loved me as well, but I’ll never be completely sure. Her name was Trynn, she was lovely and we spent the most wonderful moments together. I was attached to the order of the Purple Dragon Knights and went off to war. Leaving her was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do and a day didn’t go by without my dreaming of being back with her. After the war I returned to Waterdeep only to find that she had been taken in a raid, and it broke my heart. I readied to set out to find her, but the Elders of the Order of the Aster convinced me, against my better judgement, to accept the position of High Dawnknight and assume the leadership of the Order. I felt it was my duty, but it always ate at my heart. I had always done my duty, but finally listened to my heart and realized my true duty was to find Trynn, and that’s why I left the Order and set out on my quest to find her, so we could be together. Let me be clear that this wasn’t a rescue mission, Trynn could take care of herself, and if it was rescue mission, the only one being rescued was me. I never found her, and it weighs heavy on my heart. I’ve never shared that with anyone, and it feels nice to have done so. Maybe now you won’t think of me as some kind of one dimensional, holy man...knowing that my journey was actually romantic and based on love. I just wanted you all to know that. I hope in the end it makes you smile, because the memory of being with her makes me smile. I also hope that it reminds you to follow your heart. Even though I never found her, I’ve always taken comfort that I followed my heart and the path of love. I hope you do the same if that’s what’s right for you.
And Cecil, I hope you realize that my joking with you was all in fun and hope my actions towards you demonstrate how much our friendship means to me.
What an unexpected turn of events! We confronted an old woman pushing a cart down the street. Creed tried to hail the woman but she seemed uninterested and unwilling to confront her. The group suggested she may be looking for children, so I...shamelessly pretended to be a child. This caught her interest. We soon realized she was actually a night hag! She put up a fearsome fight, but when she realized the Dawn Breakers were too much for her to handle, she eluded us by traversing planes.
We now have quite an issue to deal with. The hag seems to be "haunting" Ryder for lack of a better term. During the night, Ryder was afflicted with a condition that has weakened him. It seems this will progress unless we find help - we now venture to the Abby to find a cure.
Ryder made us aware of his diminishing mortality. He made it clear who would get his belongings in case he...is no longer with us. This is one of those rare moments I can actually feel empathy. After the incident with my last comrades, these moments are rare. Ryder also let me know he was he was joking around about hurting me when I made light of his religious beliefs. Ha...dry sense of humor I suppose, but I can appreciate that. Now we must focus on getting him some help and keep the Dawn Breakers strong.
I am eternally grateful to my friends for sticking with me and helping to find a way to break this curse. I was starting to lose faith that it would happen, and as I continued not being able to sleep, the more cloudy my mind my mind was becoming. I spent the time sitting up with Cecil and Popov to keep the night hag from entering my dreams and gave him explicit instructions to wake me immediately in case I fell asleep. I woke up once to Popov hitting my cheek. It was actually a bit disconcerting but also funny to wake up to this strange little puppet in my face. I’m thankful that Cecil could make me laugh at a time like this as I was becoming more disconsolate about my situation. I especially value Cecil for his ability to do this. I’ll admit we got off to a rocky start and the Popov business really irritated me, but now I’ve come to appreciate them both. I’m not used to being around people so much, so sometimes my patience is less than it should be, but I’m working on it.
I am heartbroken by what is happening to the children here: the night hag who was stealing them or convincing parents to give up children by offering them enchanted cookies and pastries that drug them into a blissful state is an abomination. While I can make sense of trying to mentally escape from this desolate place, I can never condone abandoning children, but I’m at a loss as to what to do about it. It’s going to take all of us working together to figure this out.
And the sadness inherent in this land is compounded when we get to Krecz and meet the Burgomaster who has just experienced the death of his son. It’s getting more and more difficult to keep spirits up in this place, but we have to do our best. We’ve come here to seek out the Abbott who may be able to help me and almost immediately he shows up offering to resurrect the boy. My senses immediately tell me that this is not a holy man, and I don’t want him to attempt to heal me as I feel that he may leave traces of evil inside me and being cursed once is enough. The others don’t seem to feel the same, and Zola is quite taken with his good looks, but I’ve survived this long partly because I’ve learned to listen to my gut and act accordingly. We’re going to have to find another way to heal me. This feeling is confirmed the next morning when the Abbott returns and resurrects the boy who is acting very strangely and I feel may be evil. The Burgomaster, who had warned us about the Abbott, is now understandedly joyful and has changed his opinion, but I haven’t. This man is evil, and I’m going to keep my eye on him. My suspicions are further compounded when he asks for a wedding gown in return for his services. My mind immediately goes to Strahd as we have been warned that he wants Ireena as his bride. Is the Abbott in league with Strahd? I believe so and quietly communicate that with the party.
We are told that there may be a gown in Vallaki and the Burgomaster asks us to escort his wife there. I want to head there to confer with Father Petrovich at St. Andral’s church as maybe he can help me, but the issue is that we are no longer welcome in Vallaki; we’ll have to come up with a plan. More on this the next time I get a chance to write.
Post by dragonforgotten on Sept 3, 2019 13:53:14 GMT -5
What a let down. for just a second i thought we were going to be staying in this sick looking vampire hunters tower. Now he's saying is that he meant that we will have the honor of sleeping in his backyard rather than a bed due to a lovers qurellel. Figures. Guess, we'll just finally go see madam Ava and find out what the heck she was trying to tell us. He mentioned when he was grilling Zola for the details. Hmm, makes sense. Doesn't change my thoughts. They fed me and make amazing booze. They cant do no wrong now. Im very intrigued by Rudolphs home land darkridge. Will make a nice get away for me once I'm free of barovia. Maybe they will have a cure over there. Or it's full of lots of undead. Just the way i like it. We saddle up the horses and moozy on out of there, more than happy to avoid Rudolphs ex. She's apparently a very scary lady. With the hint coming from her garishly colored wagon then i can only wonder. I ride my new black stallion, Jerry with everyone else. We're making good time. We'll be back soon. Boris cling to my back as we ride together. It's very romantic. I think he's happy. Hell be home soon and then he can be with his kin again. Just as we near the encampment we hit a cross road. One leads to the town but the other one leading to the castle has a black carriage sitting in it with two intimidating black horses pulling it. No ones driving it. The door to it swings open silently. Spooky. Zola goes up to investigate it as i trot behind her curious. Im all for the spooky s*** . While she's trying to make conversation with the horses I take a peeksy into the carriage. It's empty but big enough to carry everyone. Oooooo. Nice! I look over to Zola "Hey, who wants to go on a field trip." Her jaw drops. "No! It's a trap." "Yes but i want to see where this rabbit hole leads. It's rude to snub an invitation. It's got quality leather seats and cup holders. Who can say no to that?" "Does it have cheese and wine." I go silent, cup my chin, glance back in and then turn back to her. "Your right, it sucks. Lost complete interest. Let's go." I trot jerry back to the group. The carriage is obviously unhappy because it slams its doors shut. Im sorry carriage. We'll take a ride next time. Cant get side track yet. Soon we enter the familiar encampment again. I owe these people a lot. They found me stumbling about in the mist and its were I met Boris before his untimely demise. He looks over joyed to be home again. More then I've ever seen him.. We all sit down on a log and i search around for Boris family. I never got to met them and i cant find them. The guy starts pouring everyone a glass of wine. "Pardon, but can you let Boris family know that he ok now. that he's is home now." "Who's Boris?" what!? don't play that nonsense with me! "You know him! Boris! Boris Arnovion. Your madam Ava sent him off with me and he died! He died helping me!" "Creed. calm down." "How can you not see him! All of you! He's your family! He's standing right here! He's been here this entire time!!" "Alright, no wine for you." he then places my mug away. FIne! Im not f***ing crazy. Im in a sour mood by the time were shepherd to Madam Ava, still as old and cryptic as ever. She offers everyone a windmill cookie she got from an old lady but my stomach turns at the sight of it. My illness is acting up again, I cant eat sweets otherwise I'm just going to throw it back up again and I'm sure shell be pissed if i vomit here. It's the stresses fault. She starts playing with the card and its mombo jumbo. Tells us well meet strahd soon, cyptic bull****, the place of his death. Whatever thats means. Im sure hell find us long before we'll find him. Suddenly Madam Ava puts a hand to her head and dismisses us, saying she needs to lay down. I offered up Stein and Chad but she said she's fine. Suite herself. Not five minutes later Steins stops moving and he's not responding to anyone until Zola gives him a good slap in the face. The cookies! we rush back and confront one of Avas guard as he asks us our business till he starts spacing out. He gets a quick slap and he's back to normal. Its then we realize that all the children are catatonic on the ground and it takes our collective heroic slaps of salvation to save then till the mothers tell us to stop hitting their children. Bruises are a learning experience. It builds character. I tell Boris were leaving but he gives me a shake of the head. He's staying here with his kin. "Weve been through so much in these past couple of days. Please be well." I telling him wipping the tear from my eye and give him a hug. "What is she doing?" "Shhh.. Shes saying by to Boris." "Ok, who the hell is Boris!?" I ignore them Off to Barovian town and pay the corpse of young dead Eliza a visit. He's only got five days left. -----------
We're just making our way to the church to rest when we find an old lady pushing a cart knocking on doors and selling baked goods without a license. This looks exactly like the witch from children bedtime stories. The one that makes giant gingerbread house and eats children. Hmmm, cookies, old ladies. No once seems to be opening any doors for her and Im hungry now. "Hey lady, I'll buy one of your cookies!" The moment i start walking towards her she shuts up and turns around. Well, what bad customer service. Zola then does a skit with Cecil, that her "child" wants a cookie. The old bat does a full one eighty and is pulling out all her goods, then she takes it to an eleven saying shell pay Zola if she sells Cecil. Me and Ryder then do the protective wall blocking her from Cecil. No once taking Cecil anywhere. I crack up once she asks if Ryder is the daddy. "You hear that Daddy." Ryder, stoic as he'll ever be doesn't even let a chuckle out. Suddenly Mike picks the woman up and she does some weird hand motions. Why.. am I ... so... THUD! ------------
I wake to Zola kicking me awake before running off. The cart is on fire, theirs a child scream inside it. The old woman is going crazy and from Cecil it turns out she's not just a little old lady. Maybe shell calm down once the fires out and then we can apologize. I take out one of my spare waterskins and try to dose the inferno with a shapewater. I missed. Well, s***. Ryder goes charging in but just as he puts his hands in to grab the child he freezes with the same dazed look in his eye. The Stein goes in and pull the child out as Chad wakes up Ryder. Ryder pulls out the sun sword and Im screaming in joy but theres doubt in my chest. He's pulling that thing out way too often. It's going to get stolen if he keeps relying on it. Just as we all get our s*** together the old lady vanishes. yay, we won? I'll take it. the boys ok thank the gods and we take him home to mom and pap only to find out ma and pa sold him for drug cookies. Thats not what i imagined. I imagined a heartfelt reunion but instead i have Mike and Cheeksha having a fit, bring up child custody and that when we come back and he's gone they slit the parents throats. I give a slow sarcastic clap. Way to inspire people. Ya, thats too far. We cant stop and help every kid with a sad story. Life is pain. It's part of living. All we can do is stop the cause of everything. Drama done We scurry to the church as the light dims. We walk through the graveyard and i see Elizas resting place and choke up when i spy his spirit leave Zola to sit ontop of the mound with black tears. Im sorry my boy. We'll fix you. He isn't the only one that gets choked up. Zola stops moving looking at us. "Im going to pay my respects. I'll be really quick." I want to say I'll go with her before i can speak Ryder walks besides her and places a hand on her shoulder. "Ill stay with you. It's dangerous out there." I try to say something, that i want to go to but i cant. With Ryder giving me the eye I simply turn away coldly. Guess he hasn't forgotten my stunt from before. I was hurting, everyone was, what does he expect from me? I go back in with a lingering glance as the grave before heading inside. -----
Im looking under the bed when the duo come in panting, pale and the sun sword out. "Ghosts! Theres ghosts out there!" I stand up curiose. "Really? What were they like? Were they male, female? Young or old?" "I was too busy trying to get out alive to care." "ah true, true but remember they were once people as well." She doesn't answer me and i place a hand on her shoulder sensing the problem. I can see the tears and the bloodshot eyes. "Greif is hard. It's alright if you arnt ok. You can talk to me about it. If you like." She thanks me and is instantly caught by Cecil who has her complete a crossword puzzel. Genius. Im going to bed now. I lay down my bed roll and as i curl up on it and i notice the empty wall were Boris would have been sitting in. A sense of loneness crushes my heart. I miss him. -------
In the morning it becomes apparent that Ryder is unwell. His glowing complexion is now a sickly grey and theres dark bags under his eyes. Cecil being the smarty pants know whats happening and it's beyond us currently to help him. To save Ryder from the nigh hag that was the old lady he needs a preist. Time to go to the abby. One rude send off later from the town and a few run ins with wolves and a possible werewolf we reach the gates with me feeling a little guilty that i told the man about wanting to skin his dead kin. It's getting dark and cold and the abbey is far so we turn to the town but by the time we arrive to Cryst the gates are shut. S*** this is bad. "Please let us in! Its dark out here!" "No!" "We know the wizards of wine!" "What! Let them in immediantly!" We enter the leader of this towns home. The man is morose and quiet. Theres an emptiness in this home. A home lacking. There evidence of children here but non in sight. Its in the air and no one wants to say it. "So what happened to the kids?" ask Valkry and the man starts sobbing.