D&D 5E Lenora's Journal for Our Phandelver Campaign Transition into Curse of Strahd


Session 19 – Straight into the Heart of Darkness

Although Yut was injured from the last fight, we decided not to take a rest. Brigby applied his divine healing to our monk and the monk still had some additional vitality from his last kill. After making sure that the west door was indeed securely barricaded, we continued back to the stairway we found behind us. Bynn in his dire wolf form, sneaked up the stairway to scout ahead. The wind was howling from the south so it was difficult to hear sounds or catch any scents other than the familiar scent of our party. The coast looked clear so we all headed up the stairway to see another stairway in a hall ahead, but this one went down to the west. In the other direction the hallway ended in another mined area, but there was a passage turning north ending at two marble doors. The doors were adorned with runic lettering and the symbols of hammers and anvils. Brigby couldn’t make out the runes even though he could speak the Dwarven language. I took out my book of ritual spells and began incanting a spell to comprehend languages. In the meantime, Syvrina and Yut watched the rear as Brig came closer to shed more light on the doors. Bynn, the wolf, sat and licked himself.

Before I could complete my ritual, Yut and Syvrina were startled by stirges. Both of them were bitten, Syvrina twice. The little flying creatures attached themselves to our friends and began draining their blood. Syvrina was quick to move, stabbing one of them with her sword and the other with her dagger. Both popped with a resounding splatter. Yut was not able to detach the one on him yet, so I broke my concentration to attempt to frostbite the creature. Although my cantrip hurt the stirge, it did not kill it so it continued to feed. Yut lost more blood, but then he smacked the stirge down and killed another, gaining a little of his lost vitality. Bynn bit at one of them and Brigby tried to slam one, but could not hit it. After a few seconds, the stirge were dead and the area was splattered with mostly our own blood.

Not wanting to chance waiting any longer, Yut decided to push the doors open and peer inside the next room. He saw what looked like a Dwarven throne room, with a statue of a Dwarf with hammer at the far end. Six regularly placed pillars spanned from floor to ceiling and there was a table at the far end too. At the table a drow wizard, holding a staff with a spider sculpted on top of it, and a bugbear were speaking with each other. There were a few more bugbear in the room and it looked like 4 giant spiders as well. We feared this was the Black Spider and perhaps we were not ready to encounter her.

Quickly, I shut the doors and told everyone to run back to the stairway going back near the underground pool. We tried to retreat, but Yut, who Brigby healed once more, stood back to wait for Syvrina to escape. When Brynn, Syvrina, Yut and I had made it back nearly 50’ or so closer to the stairway, we realized that Brigby was still behind, and from the other direction (the stairway to the west that went down), another drow, a bugbear and a giant spider appeared. The drow spoke with us and even knew my name. At first, I was hoping that maybe this drow and the other, the Black Spider, were at odds with each other, but that was not the case.

To make matters worse, the double doors near Brigby opened and a giant spider stepped out. It slung sticky webs at Brig, which Brig could not avoid. He wriggled and tried to free himself from the restraining masses, but he could not. An icy ray of frost shot from the other room, but missed our cleric although a bugbear Morningstar hit him pretty hard.

At the west side of the hallway, we faced off against the other foes. Bynn, the dire wolf, bit the drow and took him to the ground. This gave us an advantage which Syvrina, Yut used to score some hits upon the downed drow. Although we hit him pretty well, he was strong. Soon, I was up against him and I blasted him, the bugbear and the spider with burning hands, but it was a flurry of blows from Yut and an attack from Syvrina that finally killed the drow, who turned into a doppelganger after death, just like the one we faced earlier.

Brigby, still stuck in webs, healed himself and withstood one more attack. I told the others to get down to the other stairway to hold the enemy at a choke point. Then, I ran up to Brigby, grabbled him tightly with both of my arms and exerted arcane energy to misty step back 30’. I was able to pull him right out of the webs and drag him back with me. Then, the Black Spider herself appeared from no where right behind us. We fought for a little while, but the giant spider spit webs and entangled Bynn the dire wolf. Syvrina, Yut and Bynn killed the giant spider, but we knew we would not last much longer so we attempted to retreat to the shoreline beside the underground pool. I hoped that we could all get there and I could use Rope Trick for us to hide in before the foes could actually see what we had done.

Bynn, stood his ground and took a number of hits from the bugbear. The Black Spider shot forth magic missiles and hit me with three. Then she shot forth three more and hit Yut. We were hurting badly, but we were able to disengage and run around the corner. Bynn kept the foes from pursuit just long enough, but then he was hit and reverted to his Half-Elven form. I created the Rope Trick in the corner near the pool so it was somewhat hidden from view. Yut was the first to climb up, then Syvrina. Bynn disengaged and ran for the rope and was safe as well, but when Brigby got to the rope, he tried to jump on it and climb up unsuccessfully. Brig was prone when two of the bugbears caught a glimpse of him. They could not reach him so they threw javalins, which missed. Then, before the bugbears could advance and see our rope trick clearly, and before the Black Spider could round the corner, Brig and I went into the extra-dimensional space and pulled the rope up. I don’t think they got a good look at us climbing the rope, so I’m hoping they’ll think we went into the water.

In the extra dimensional space, we tended to our wounds. Bynn apportioned some goodberries to Brig and Syvrina as well. Additionally, Brigby took some time to attune the boots of springing and striding to himself, and I meditated to regain some of my arcane energy. During our rest, we also decided that when the Rope Trick would end, we would have to drop down and expect the worst. If necessary we would have to engage in a fighting retreat to try to get out of the mines.

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Session 20 – Retreat, but blocked by a storm

We knew that our Rope Trick would end soon, but we also feared that Nezzer, The Black Spider and her minions would be waiting for us in force. I was pretty sure that none of the bugbear or Nezzer saw us actually go into the Rope Trick, but I was not 100% positive. We decided to drop down in defensive stances, and just prior to the end of the spell, I sang my bladesong to condition myself and prepare for battle. If we were surrounded, I would try to blaze a trail to the south so that we could run back to the cave entrance.

We dropped down, Brigby and I furthest south, the others behind us. I was lighter on my feet, making little noise, but Brigby could never be quiet. His armor clanged as he set himself in position. I had more difficulty adjusting to the darkness, but Brigby using his light spell and his perception, noted only 1 bugbear guarding the stairway. We engaged soon to find that there was also a giant spider with the bugbear. Then, from the south another bugbear and a giant spider moved toward our group.

Syvrina moved up, and held her bow shot ready to attack the bugbear on the stairway when one of us engaged the brute. Yut stepped up and attacked as Syvrina’s arrow hit the bugbear doing some nasty damage. I stepped up as well and fought the bugbear with my Greenflame blade, hurting it and the spider behind it.

Bynn got stuck in a web so he changed form to burst out and kill the wounded bugbear. Before we could take out the spider on the stairs, and after I dislocated my shoulder trying to stab the creature, Yut and I ran to the south to try to blaze a trail for retreat. Brig kept close to Syvrina, but the southern most giant spider scored a hit upon the cleric and the poison did substantial damage. We ended up killing the southern most spider and started to run.

Running for our lives, we finally made it back to the pit area near the miner’s camp at the beginning of the caves. The wind was howling fierce, and when I ascended the rope, I found that the wind was quite strong and an obscuring mist had blown into the caves as well. It seemed as if the storm outside the cave was monumental; we would not want to go out of the cave until the storm subsided.

Yut and I searched the upper camp area and realized that we would not be able to rest at all up there, so we clambered back down the pit. We decided to move to the west, the other direction we didn’t go in before to get a little further into the caves, hopefully further away from The Black Spider and her gang. Brigby was quite hurt, but we couldn’t rest. We worked our way down a few passages and Yut heard the tell-tale sounds of stirge wings flapping in the darkness. Pretty soon we were attacked from the north and from the west by 8 of the creatures. Yut killed two pretty quickly. But the others flapped in and attached themselves to Yut and Bynn, who had been in dire wolf form. Syvrina killed one of the stirge on Yut, but another one drained him. Bynn was also drained of blood, not enough to make him drop form, but enough to hurt nonetheless. I contemplated using one of my few remaining spells to burn a bunch of the stirge, but to save spell power, I engaged in melee. Bynn bit, Syvrina stabbed with sword and dagger, Yut slashed with shortsword and unarmed strike, but Brigby got bitten and went down. We ultimately killed the stirge, and Brigby didn’t die. Syvrina pulled out a healing potion and gave it to the unconscious Brigby to get him back up on his feet as we killed the remaining stirge.

Our search for a safer location to take a long rest was now first priority, but to bide time and to bolster Brigby and Bynn, I fashioned another extradimensional space using Rope Trick, just at the entrance to the northern passages where we thought the bugbears, Nezzer and the spiders might appear from. We would keep watch above the passageway in our safe space so that if the others came looking for us, we would be able to drop on to them and perhaps surprise them before engaging.
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Session 21 – We’re Not in Forgotten Realms Any Longer

We rested inside the Rope Trick once more, keeping an eye out below to see if any of Nezzer’s forces were still pursuing us. We didn’t see any signs of trouble, but it was hard to see in the dark, even with darkvision. As the magic of the extradimensional space faded, we dropped down to the ground into darkness. Bigby tried to cast light upon his shield as he usually does, but his divine magic didn’t work. Worried that we might be in a darkness spell, I pulled Bigby to the south. He grabbed hold of Syvrina so that she could also follow us as both Yut and Bynn took up the rear guard.

We ran down a tunnel to the east and then south, all the while, Bigby tried to make his light shine, but it did not work. We should have been out of the darkness spell if that’s what it was, so this must presage something worse. Afraid that all magic wouldn’t work, I attempted to create an illusion of a rock on the ground. That worked. Bigby was uncomfortable. He and Syvrina could not see at all so he took out a torch from his pack and lit that. We had a little bit of light, but the flames flickered in the uneven breeze that kept blowing through the cave.

Soon we got to the south end of the tunnel and saw two doors to the left and right with a collapsed, mined section to the south. Bigby chose the right door and knocked. There was no answer. Then he opened it. Inside we saw old stone beds and piles of bones of what looked to be Dwarves and Orcs. I went into the room to see more. Yut also stepped in. Soon, the bones on the floor began to gather and rise, skeletons of the fallen came back to life and started to attack. At first there was only a few, but every second more and more formed. Yut was hit a number of times and he was feeling it. I sang my bladesong and danced into the corner of the room, trying to get an angle so that I could unleash burning hands upon the most skeletons, but Yut was in the way. Syvrina stepped up and hacked at a skeleton, doing some damage, but then she got hit by a few of the boney claws. Brigby saw what was happening so he stepped in and uttered a prayer to his god to turn the skeletons back. It worked and 6 of the skeletons seemed to be repulsed. Then, a fierce breeze and some of the obscuring mist that we had seen near the cave entrance blew down the tunnels and Bigby could not hold on to the torch. He dropped it and it went out, plunging us back into darkness.

Two unaffected skeletons remained to fight as a few more formed and swarmed on Bigby. Bigby took three hits and kept his feet as Bynn was able to heal Yut and Syvrina. Yut jumped back into the fray and took down a few of the skeletons, as I tried to hit them with my rapier unsuccessfully. Since my blade was failing me, I switched over to magic and started frostbiting my targets. This caused minor damage, but at least it hampered the target’s following attack. Soon, with both Syvrina and Bynn stepping up to attack, and after Bigby lit another torch, we moved deeper into the room to find the skeletons that were turned by Bigby’s faith. Yut, Syvrina, Bynn and I took them down, but after they fell, we felt another strong breeze and the obscuring mist swirled into the room, and more bones on the floor began to animate.

Fearing that the bones would re-animate time after time, we made a run for the door and the tunnel that would take us back to the miner’s camp and the exit to the cave. We were exhausted, needed rest and started to panic. Bigby led the way, and we all followed. Soon we got to the rope that we could ascend to the miner’s camp and to the exit. We got up the rope without mishap, but the mist was still thick. Fearing our options, we headed straight for the cave exit, hoping that the storm from earlier had died down.

Outside the cave, the lighting was dull. The trees bent over us like giant claws, wicked and uninviting. They did not look like the trees that were here when we arrived. It seemed it was near sun down, but it was still darker than we would expect. We heard the wind and the sounds of animals baying in the distance. Yut and Bynn looked at the ground, the sky, the horizon and Yut thought that we should travel south. We followed quickly fearing the worst if we remained in this place too long. As we broke out of the trees, we saw a road that led to a set of buildings built on a raised mound of earth. Cliff faces supported the buildings and we could see a town nearby as well. At this point, we realized that there were mountains all around, and the tops of the mountains and even the tree tops were painted with snow. It was colder than it should have been near Phandalin, but this place was not Phandalin. Somehow, we were somewhere different, a gloomy, cold realm.

We quickly ran toward the town gates and made it to the gate just before the guard closed the gates for the night. I turned back to speak with the guard, asking where we were. He looked puzzled and stared at my ears. He asked, “what manner of being are you?” I told him I was a High Elf, and he said that Arlet was right. “There were others.” We chatted for a short while and eventually he told me that the name of the town was Krezk. I had not heard of that town, not in any song or lore I knew, and none of my companions knew of it either. This was strange. Before we left the guard, I asked about lodging and he pointed us in the direction of an inn, a well-lighted place with a warm fire within. We thanked the guard as we continued to the inn to get some rest and find out what had happened.


Blimey, the story has taken quite a twist, excellent work- and beautifully told. Keep up this great tale.

Can't wait for more.

Cheers goonalan


Yes, our DM has switched us into Curse of Strahd. It is very spooky. I like the change. We had another session tonight, but it's too late to write it up. I hope to get to it within a few days.

It is amazing how different the two adventure worlds really are. So far, in Krezk and its environs (now traveling to Barovia), we are much more focused on interacting with the world and NPCs, and exploring to figure out what is happening. Our old quest to purge the mines and ultimately confront the Black Spider, has faded, now we are just trying to figure out what's going on and we are actually quite scared for our PCs.


Session 22 and 23 – Quick Exit from Krezk..on to Barovia…We lose a friend and learn of Strahd

Before we left the gate guard, Yut asked if there was a curfew and if the town was safe at night. The guard said no curfew, but laughed about the safety. It was dark, we were tired, so we walked over to the larger inn/tavern, “The Old Tavern and Inn.”

Inside the tavern, we felt the warmth of the fire and noticed that the place was pretty crowded. Brigby, Syvrena and Yut went up to the bar, as I took out my violin and motioned to the bar tender, silently asking if I could play. Meanwhile, the others had ordered food and drinks and Syvrina even had a glass of wine. Eventually, the bar tender let me cozy up near the fire and play the violin for the crowd. Yut asked the bartender about other Elves, and the bartender said there were a few other “traveler’s from beyond.” He also said that we were in an area called Svalik; there was a werewolf problem, and something about the old master. By that time, it seemed as if the bartender had said too much because he fumbled with his words and refused to speak more. By this time, Syvrina had asked about a room with a bath. The bartender had one of the serving girls take Syvrina up so she could have that warm bath.

I attempted to play a melodious, calming tune to warm up. I wasn’t so bad for someone who hadn’t practiced for at least a few weeks, not to mention my exhaustion. Then, when I used a minor illusion to kick up an upbeat drum accompaniment, I noticed that no matter how I tried, the drumming sounded dirgelike rather than upbeat. I tried to adjust my playing accordingly, and was able to fumble through it in a proficient, yet not inspired manner. As I played, a man in a cloak, wearing a wide brimmed hat, stepped into the Tavern from outside. The room went quiet. As the man entered he pushed his hat askew. He walked closer to me, smiled and tipped his hat. He even addressed me by name. That was surprising since I didn’t recognize him at all. He said he needed to talk with all of us so I called the others over. It turned out that he knew all of our names. When I asked for his, he said he was Arrigal, and his master sent him to gain our assistance. Then he gave me a message with a wax seal, a beautiful tower with what might be a dragon or other flying creature depicted in the wax seal. Arrigal told us that the Burgomaster of Barovia wanted us to travel to that village, a 5 hour jaunt along the western road past the Svalik Woods.

While we were talking, Yut poked at Arrigal’s coin purse. Although he was quite stealthy, Arrigal seemed to notice. Yut, looked dejected and sulked, “no gems.” When Brigby saw this, he tried to distract Arrigal by faking a fall, spilling drink upon the man, at the same time he motioned to Yut, trying to get Yut to take Arrigal’s purse. Yut didn’t understand what Brigby was doing or what his gestures meant. After apologies and apologies accepted, Arrigal threw his purse to the bartender and told him that rounds were on him for the whole tavern. He continued to reiterate that the burgomaster would be expecting us early the next day. It was a timely issue.

After our conversation, and a few drinks, Arrigal left the tavern. Yut stealthily followed him out into the night to see where the man would go. While he was out, Syvrina came down, clean and quite beautiful. We told her what had happened and then we opened the message Arrigal gave us. It was a letter to us, by name, signed by Kolyan Iudirvich, the Burgomaster of Barovia. He was worried of an evil that seemed to wound and present ongoing harm to the love of his life, Ireena Kolyana. He said the community had wealth that he would share if we could help. To us, it seemed as if this was a noble cause. We decided that instead of searching to see if we could find the Wave Echo Cave where we fled from the Black Spider and her minions, we would get up early and travel to Barovia. Before long, Yut came back in. He looked a little pale. He said he saw no trace of Arrigal, but he did see a small girl scatter flower petals around a well, and he heard a strange voice in his head. He said no more. We coaxed him to eat and drink a little more and then we all turned in for the night. It seemed that the money Arrigal gave the bartender was more than enough for room and board.

In the morning, we ate a hearty breakfast and then set out for Barovia. It was a misty overcast day, still cold, but we were unable to find an open store to purchase warmer clothing. The bartender told us that Barovia should have what we were looking for. West of the village, the guards opened the gate for us, and we walked the road. The mist was much heavier, especially behind us. Yut and Bynn noticed that the mist seemed to cover our path, and they also noticed that the mountains we had seen when we arrived at Krezk, were no longer there. Instead, this road cut through woodlands. The road itself often had black pools of water that reflected the trees that seemed to stretch their gnarled branches over us. The mist continued to obscure our vision as we kept walking. Eventually we got to an area where Yut saw a group of crows near the woods. Yut said he could smell death. Then he yelled, “Run!” We did, but as we ran, we looked back to see Yut staring more intensely at the crows. It looked as if they were picking at something. We called back to Yut, which seemed to get his attention and he ran up to us. He muttered about seeing something shiny near the crows, but it seems as if he used all his willpower to run to us.

After a few hours, we saw a large gateway on the road with two large, headless statues on either side. The heads were on the ground near some brambles. I walked over to one of the heads to take a closer look. One was male and the other was female, but time and the elements had left their mark upon them, and I could not recognize either.

We kept walking west on the Old Svalich Road toward what we thought would be Barovia from Arrigal’s description. Pretty soon we were exiting the woods and about 30’ from us near the denser woods, we saw a gaunt figure with wild hair, bare feet, dressed in a tattered gown of skins. It was carrying a staff and twig creatures seemed to be crawling around him. Bynn recognized that the being, man or woman, was casting a barkskin spell. Thinking that the creature was being attacked by the twig creatures, we ran to aid. When we got closer, we realized that the figure was a druid, a mad druid. He turned to face us and the twig creatures grew in size. Five of them surrounded the mad druid as he cackled, “feed the trees!” Yut moved up to a tree creature and Syvrina who had readied her action, fired an arrow at one of the twig creatures, shattering its bark and toppling it to the ground. I was able to sing my bladesong, but I hadn’t casted my mage armor yet. Then I ran to the right side of a couple of twig creatures and blasted them with a burning hands spell. They seemed especially susceptible to fire and they turned to ash. The mad druid yelled, disappeared and then appeared right beside me. He brought his gnarled staff down upon me and it connected with a painful blow. After, I felt as if there were vines crawling up my legs, but I wasn’t held or restrained. Yut ran to help and soon the twigs were down. Brigby and Syvrina combined to take out the mad druid too.

After we checked the body of the druid, I picked up the staff to see if it was unusual. I swear I heard a voice telling me to “run in the woods” like an Elf. I threw the staff down and refused to carry it. Yut took it, but didn’t equip it, and we continued on our journey.

In a few more hours, we saw the village of Barovia before us. Yut, by now, had the staff in his hands, using it as walking stick. At the road leading into the village was a humanoid in tattered clothing carrying an axe. When we got near, she laughed and said we’d find “death.” We tried to speak with her, but she seemed a bit off her rocker.

In town, we passed by Bill Drath’s Mercantile, Blood on the Vine Tavern and Inn, a defeated building that looked like a ruined church, and a mansion with a rusted iron fence, along with many other shops and homes. Brigby spoke with a man on the street to try to find the Burgomaster’s home, and the man pointed it out. As Yut looked at some of the windows of homes in the area, the people inside looked out and then hid behind closed curtains. Yut looked away and then looked back, trying to catch their gazes again. Yut got frustrated with this game as we made our way to the Burgomaster’s home.

The front door of the house looked as if it were clawed and scratched at. The windows in the house were all broken and boarded up from the inside. Brigby noticed some protective runes written on the boarded windows. We knocked on the door and a woman answered from within. She was scared and when we asked about Kolyan, the Burgomaster, she said it was “too late.” I opened the letter we had received and pushed it under the door, and the door opened. The woman was dressed in armor. She carried a sword and had a sad look to her. We learned that she was Ireena, and she told us how Kolyan had passed on a few days ago. She told us how wolves and other creatures were attacking the house, and many memories were foggy, but she did remember red, hungry eyes staring at her. We asked her about her “wound” and she said her memory of what happened was foggy. She was distressed about Kolyan dying so she showed us his body and asked us to help her bury it. She wanted us to take him to the priest, Donovich.

We spent a little time talking and deciding what to do. It was about 3 ish in the afternoon. Brigby didn’t want Ireena to go out of the house. I took 10 minutes to inspect Yut’s staff, trying to identify it since we were worried it had some strange effect. Apparently it had no magic, but Yut didn’t believe it so he decided to use it anyway.

Brigby decided that he and Bynn in wolf form still, would go to the church to seek out Donovich. We said we’d wait at Ireena’s home. After a little while, not hearing from Brigby, we decided to go out to find him. We were worried that something had gone wrong. Ireena would not leave without Kolyan, so she picked up his corpse and carried him out.

Later I found out that Brigby and Bynn had encountered a strange old woman, Morgantha, who was selling pies. Brigby bought two. Bynn the wolf ate one so Brigby ate the other. Bynn fell over and started to sleep and twitch, reverting to his Half-Elven form. Brigby was able to carry him to the church. Inside he heard screaming and when he walked in he saw the priest in a chapel lit with hundreds of candles. He was near a broken alter that had scratch marks on it. The priest seemed crazy too. Next to the priest was a rope that fell from the bell tower above. He was ranting about danger and how his son would be one of them. Then Brigby heard a voice from under the floor boards. “Father, let me out. I’m starving.” This was the same voice that was screaming earlier. The priest went on to say that “Toru must not become one of them.” Then he cackled and when Brigby asked if the priest could help revive Bynn, the priest laughed and said, “wouldn’t it be better just to let him sleep.” Brigby tried to calm the priest, even using a command spell, but the priest was inconsolable. He muttered about “spirits at midnight,” and said, “They’ll be coming for you.” Brigby had seen enough. He took Bynn up and walked out to the front steps.

Meanwhile, we had left to find Brigby because it had been longer than we expected. In the road, we were accosted by a frantic woman who said her name was Vivian. She asked if we were friends of the man and the wolf who were just in town. They had bought pies from a horrible woman. Vivian said that Morgantha had taken her son Lucian away this morning. He was only 7. She also said that she didn’t want her son to be made into pie. That didn’t sound good. I promised we’d try to help (more perfunctorily than sincerely…yes, even my heart is jaded now that we are here in this forsaken place).

While I was talking with Vivian, Yut and I lost sight of Syvrina and Ireena. We did see Brigby and the prone form of Bynn on the church steps. Bynn was performing a ritual with bones when we got to him. Evidently, he was trying to perform an augury to determine if releasing Toru would prove to be a weal or a woe. He actually saw a vivid image of the boy, pale and sickly, but when the boy grabbed Bigby in his vision, he saw him lunge and sharp fangs glistened as everything went black…a woe.

I told Brigby what happened and then we noticed that the others were missing. Brigby and I argued in the street for a while while Yut wandered off, searching for the others.

Later we found out that Yut had heard sobbing in a house and he went to investigate. He found a woman on the floor in one room clutching a malformed doll. Yut said the doll looked at him and spoke, “Is no fun, is no Blinsky.” He also said that the woman had lost her daughter…Ger..he forgot the name. Something about “eyes with so much hunger,” and the daughter in the castle. She told him that she saw a vision of a room with a canopy bed in it with golden tassels, and a headboard with a Z on it. It took a while to get it out of Yut, and I had to begin teaching him the A,B,Cs to get him to recognize the letter from the headboard, but eventually we had some information to go on.

Brigby and I finished our argument (about whose fault is was that we lost Syvrina and Ireena – he blamed me for taking Ireena out of the house) – and we searched for clues. I went back to the last place I had seen them and found some boot marks that may have been Ireena’s. Bynn helped me track them. It led to the old church graveyard. As we traveled, every so often, I shouted out for Yut, but we didn’t see him.

When we got to the graveyard, we found Ireena by an open grave. She had placed Kolyan in the grave. We stood by her silently and she told us she was sorry for our friend. She had felt the “hungry eyes” but when they saw Syvrina, Ireena felt the power fade. She felt free again, but Syvrina became the new fixation. Ireena said that she was gone. He took her. Brigby and I had another argument as we both cursed each other. He blamed me again for losing both Ireena and Syvrina, but I just started laughing. I told him that he and his friends, Yut and Bynn were the ones paid by Syvrina’s father to protect her, not me. I felt bad about it, but questioning my decision making and my skill had brought me to a slow boil. We decided that we would need to find out more about this and we would need to find a place to stay the night. Ireena said she wanted to go home, alone. She said she felt no danger and the presence of evil upon her was gone. Frankly, I didn’t care. I was upset about Syvrina and the mess we were in. Before we parted, Ireena told us that we needed to seek the Vistani, a woman by the name of Esmeralda. If we travel to Vallaki, we could learn more.

After Ireena left to go home, we decided to go to the Blood on the Vine Inn and Tavern. As soon as we got there, a handsome young man greeted us and bought us drinks and food. His name was Ismark and he was with another named Erik. Ismark was very friendly, and he started to ask us about helping Ireena. We told him what happened and he grew noticeably angry that we let her out of the house. He even mentioned that she was a victim of Strahd, the master who lived in the castle. He bit his tongue when he caught himself. To allay his worries, we told him that Ireena was ok. The evil had passed, but now our friend, Syvrina was taken by Strahd. This was the sad reality as we knew it.

That night, Yut took first watch. He woke me in a few hours and pointed out of the window. We both watched as a ghostly processional of glowing green forms that resembled men, women, Dwarves, wizards, men at arms marched from the graveyard into the village and down the roads. People in town closed all their windows and doors as the strange, ghost parade traveled through the streets. I told Yut that we should ignore it. I explained that some of the sights and sounds we experience here are strange and not real. I listed the experiences we had so far to show him what I meant and I was able to convince him to ignore it. I went back to sleep and when I woke up the next morning, I prepared for the new day. We all prepared for the new day and said a prayer for Syvrina.
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24 – Looking for Vistani and Esmeralda – Yut Goes Off the Deep End

Before setting off for Vallaki like Ireena suggested, we decided to check in on Ireena to ask some more questions. When we got to her door, Brigby studied the runes more carefully, and we knocked. Ismark answered and told us that Ireena was resting. Yut got a little hot and demanded to see Ireena, but we decided that we could ask Ismark the same questions so it wasn’t necessary to disturb Ireena.

Ismark told us a lot. He mentioned that he wanted to end Strahd’s dominion, but at this point, he nor us were powerful enough to do that. He spoke about a legendary blade of the sun that Esmeralda would probably know about. With that blade, it would be easier to dispatch “the devil.” We formed an alliance with him and told him that when we found the blade and we were ready to take on Strahd, we’d join forces. When we asked him about our friend, Syvrena, he mentioned that he might not kill her, but he would torment her, as he tormented his beloved sister. He also told us about the windmill, the Bonegrinder, where the hags lived when we mentioned Morgantha. During our conversation, Brigby noticed that Ismark was wearing a holy symbol of an ancient religion, one that was known even back where we came from. He also asked more about the runes they had inscribed on the window boards. Aided by information, we set out toward Vallaki.

Before leaving, we stopped at Bill Drath’s Mercantile. Brigby and Yut did the shopping buying us warm cloaks and boots, a hooded lantern and some oil. Then we set out on our journey. As we neared the town gate, three women approached us. They told us that they had heard of us and that we should certainly seek their kind, the Vistani, in particular, Esmeralda. Alenka, Mirabell and Sorvia told us to go to the Tser Pool on our travel towards Vallaki to find other Vistani. Their bright and hopeful attitudes contrasted greatly with the other town folk, who all seemed drab and dour. They gave us directions and bid us luck.

On the road, we made good time, and although the sun never shone through, we felt a little less dreary until Yut saw something in the woods. I looked as well and saw boots in the grass. Yut went to check it out so we followed. It was a dead man, whose throat had been torn out. He carried a letter that glinted in the dim light. I took the letter, opened it and read. It was another missive from Koylan, the Burgomaster. Evidently he was looking for help against a great and powerful vampire, “the devil,” from others not just us. This letter at least confirmed that Strahd was a powerful vampire, and although that knowledge chilled our blood, it also helped us understand more about our enemy.

After a few more hours, we came to a fork, north to Vallaki…west to Ravenloft. At the fork we a saw an empty gallows, rope swinging in the wind. Right after we turned north to continue, we heard a noise behind us. When we looked back, there was a ghostly body swinging from the noose. Yut walked up to it and seemed pale as a ghost himself. We closed the distance towards him and just as he tried to touch the body, Brigby commanded him to stop. For a few seconds, Yut complied, but then he grabbed for the body again. Brigby and I tried to hold him back, but he slipped from our grasp. As soon as Yut grabbed the body, he fell to the ground, unconscious, and the body disappeared. We tried to get Yut up, but he was out. Brigby hoisted Yut over his shoulder and we walked north. After an hour, Yut regained consciousness, but he could not remember anything beyond when we met the three Vistani. Yut told us that he dreamed of a dark emerald that would fit into his gnarled staff. We were getting suspicious that his mind and perhaps his soul were becoming compromised, but we continued our journey.

Before nightfall we found the Tser Pool and a camp of Vistani. They were singing, drinking and dancing and pulled us in to join them. The mirth of the camp did bring some smiles to our faces and gave us an unexpected pleasant few hours. One of the Vistani shared a story of a wizard who tried to rally forces against Strahd about a year ago, but he and the force he gathered were no match for “the devil.” Strahd took the wizard and threw him down from the cliffs of Ravenloft down 1000’ into the river. The Vistani saw it happen and went down to check what had happened to the wizard, but the river had taken the wizard away, most likely shattered and lifeless.

After that, we met with an old Vistani woman, Madame Eva. She told our fortunes using Taroka cards. Here were here cryptic messages:

1)Druid (History)– Evil tree a top a hill of graves – the Ravens can help. After asking around later we learned that this may be Yesterhill, an area others had heard of, but they didn’t know exactly where it was.

2)Priest (Protection)– Glyphs – Castle amid ruins of a place of supplication. After asking around we found that this might be Arginvastenhalt a fortress of old once home of a silver dragon. It may lie in the hills to the west.

3)Necromancer (Power/Strength) – Here is the weapon of the sun, a woman hanging atop a roaring fire. We learned nothing more about this, but we believe the weapon is the one that Ismark told us about, the blade of the sun.

4)Mists (Help in the battle against Strahd) – The Queen of Spades is the Vistani who searches for her mentor – the Abby of St. Markovia. This most likely was a reference to Esmeralda, unfortunately we could not learn where St. Markovia was at this point.

5)Ghost (Enemy) – King of Hearts – mourns the passing of his father at a tomb.

Yut asked about his staff and the old woman had him draw another card, an Artifact card. She said either Yut would control the item or he’d end up an experiment in another’s workshop. This was strange since I had already identified the item as mundane, but this place is strange.

We spent the night with the Vistani, and in the morning, we set off to the north west. Bynn was nursing a hangover, but the rest of us felt better than we had in a while. The Vistani cheered our hearts, but that didn’t last. Soon we arrived at another bridge crossing the river and we saw the body of a 10 year old girl, who also seemed to be ravaged by wolves. We took some time to bury her body in a makeshift cairn of rocks, and Brigby said a prayer. Then we continued our journey north.

We met another roving band of Vistani, but they seemed more drunk than helpful. At another fork in the road we went Northwest, rather than due east. As evening was approaching we found a windmill on the edge of a cliff. We walked up to the door and saw a raven up on the ledge of one window. We knew that this was the Bonegrider, so we stopped and considered our options. We were afraid to encounter the hags, minions of Strahd, because we thought that an interaction with them might alert “the devil,” but we also felt bad that children from Barovia might be in danger or held captive within. As we were deciding, the raven screeched and it sounded like it was telling us to leave. Then it took to the air, circled and flew north. Torn, we decided to follow it.

Following the raven brought us to an empty cave that would serve well for a night’s rest. We inspected it and prepared for our rest. That night, Yut woke me up again and he told me we had to wake the others. He saw a gem and he was going to get it. I walked outside and looked around. About 50’ from the cave I saw a skeletal warhorse with a rider. I ran back inside and tried to get Yut to ignore it. He wouldn’t. He woke everyone up and then ran outside. As the others got their things together and Brigby lit the lantern, I looked out to see Yut run south after the warhorse.

Eventually, we found Yut and he did have a large dark gem. He said that Strahd spoke to him. Offered him a ride to his castle in a coach that he’d send. Strahd just wanted to talk. We were quite unnerved by this. We got Yut to come back to the cave and then I tried to identify the gem. I felt wracking pain and I blacked out. Brigby tended to me and used a lesser restoration to get me back up. I could not remember anything and I felt weak, unstable.

I went for a walk to clear my head as Bynn accompanied me. Then I used my message spell to communicate with Brigby. I told him we have to go back to the Bonegrinder hill, take the staff and gem and throw it off the cliff. Brigby helped me form a plan. When I got back inside, I told the others that we needed to go back to fight the hags. We could not live knowing that we could have helped children from Barovia avoid a horrible fate. Then, I tried to detect magic on the gem and staff. Again, I blacked out. This time for longer. Eventually I woke up and Brigby told me what had transpired.

After I passed out, Brigby and Bynn, who had assumed his dire wolf form, both lunged at Yut. Brigby tried to hold the monk while the wolf tried to grab hold of the staff. The monk avoided Brigby, but the wolf’s jaws clamped down on the gnarled wood of the staff. Yut and Bynn struggled. Brigby even called forth a thunderwave to try to knock Yut back and take the staff, but the monk was able to avoid the brunt of the spell. After a tussle where Yut got wounded even more, Yut was able to pull away and run.

Bynn and Brigby pursued him as Bynn turned back into his Half-Elven form to cast an entangle spell. The spell stopped Yut for a little while, but not for long. The chase and attempt to knock out Yut continued. Brigby tried to hold and command the monk, but nothing worked. Yut was nearly down, but he eluded capture and finally disappeared into the night.

Brigby and Bynn returned to the cave to take care of me, but we had lost Yut, and were feeling as if our chances of surviving in this strange place were fading.


Session 25 – We Meet Fid and Continue to Vallaki

With Yut gone, Brig, Bynn and I decided that it would be foolish to go back to the Bonegrinder to take on the hags. Although our hearts felt bad for the children, our survival took precedence so we traveled north towards where we thought Vallaki would be.

Within an hour, we saw a cluster of four dire wolves surrounding a small figure, maybe a child. As we got closer, we remarked that it was an ugly child, soon realizing it was no child at all, but a Dwarf wielding a battle axe and a shield. We engaged the wolves to help the Dwarf. I moved up to unleash a less than stellar burning hands to damage a few of the dire wolves as Bynn in wolf form attacked one of them. The Dwarf had no trouble holding his own, cutting into the creatures and resisting their attacks pretty handily. Once the dire wolfs were engaged with Bynn, they turned on him and all attacked. Bynn took heavy wounds, having to drop his dire wolf form, only to transform again moments later. Eventually, Brigby, the Dwarf, Bynn and I were able to kill the last of the dire wolves. Speaking with the Dwarf, we found out that he too was from the other world, near Waterdeep and he had only been here for about six hours. Like us, he wasn’t sure how he got here and had no idea what was going on. We introduced ourselves and he introduced himself as Fid, and he gladly became a member of our adventuring group. Interestingly, he wore a holy symbol. The same one that Ismark had worn, of the older order. Fid said it was a family heirloom, but knew little about it.l

On our travel to the north and then to the west, I told Fid about Ismark and the holy symbol, about Strahd and everything else we knew. I told him we were searching for a blade of the sun, and a Vistani named Esmeralda who might be able to help us. I also told him about Yut who had been influenced by “the devil,” and Syvrina, who I still felt guilty about letting slip into Strahd’s clutches.

At one bend, Brig saw a hollowed out log by the side of the road. We investigated it and found a sack with common clothing in it. Brig took it. As I looked around near the log, I saw foot prints, bi-pedal, naked feet, but we didn’t see sign of anyone near.

We continued toward Vallaki and passed an opening to the north that revealed a very large clear lake. The wind was picking up, but strangely, the water on the lake was calm and undisturbed. As we continued west, we heard a deep voice in the mist ahead of us. A large man in Barovian attire with pelts hanging from his belt, carrying a spear, addressed us and asked why we were out here. By this time, Bynn transformed back into his Half-Eleven form and we spoke with the traveler for a little while and found out that if we moved faster, we’d be able to reach Vallaki by nightfall. He also asked if we had silver weapons, which made us nervous. We remembered tales of shapeshifting creatures that could only be harmed by silver or magic. Both Fid and Brig thought that maybe the clothing we found belonged to such a creature. Fearful that this traveler might be one of them or that others might show up, we bid the traveler farewell and hustled toward Vallaki.

As we got closer to the village, Fid saw something in the woods. He said it was following us. That forced us to run even faster. Brigby used this divine ability to cast and amplify his voice into the woods saying, “Leave them to us. We’ll take care of them,” trying to mimic the voice of Morgantha, one of the hags. We weren’t sure if that did anything, but we didn’t want to wait around to find out. Unfortunately, as we continued to run, we felt a strange nervous panic set in among us and both Brig and Fid were noticeably affected. They started sweating and breathing heavily. They found it hard to keep up with us, and they seemed to be unbuttoning their cloaks. We went back to aid them, but we could tell they were shaken. We pushed them on and realized that Fid was really fatigued.

Within a half an hour, we made it to the wooden fence surrounding Vallaki. We saw pikes with wolf heads affixed to the top of them which strangely made me feel more comfortable so I called out for help. A guard came down to question us and scrutinize our faces, fearing that we might be shapeshifters or other evil creatures. We convinced the guard that we were just travelers in need of help, and we too were in the fight against evil.

The guard told us a little about the village, The Blue Water Inn, St. Andros Church, and the Burgomaster. We thanked him and made for the inn. At the inn we met with the proprietor, Irwin Martikoff, who sold us rooms for the night with food to go with it. He also mentioned that they had no wine since the shipment they expected mysteriously had not arrived yet. Seeing that we were hearty enough, and foolish enough, to travel the lands of this realm, he said if we could find out why the wine was delayed and get it for him, he’d let us stay at the inn free of charge. It sounded like an offer we might pick up on, but we needed food and sleep most desperately.

That night, in my room, I heard a knocking that woke me up. I walked to the door and asked who it was. To my surprise it was Syvrina. I opened the door and hugged her. I almost cried saying, “I’m so glad to see you.” Syvrina was dressed in fine clothing and she was wearing make-up. She said she had had the strangest dreams, but she was glad to see me too.


Session 26 – Syvrina’s back, but what’s up?

I spoke with Syvrina for a little while. She looked pale, tired, though she was dressed well. She said she was tired and had the strangest dreams. I asked her what happened and she couldn’t remember anything. She didn’t even remember Ireena. She did however seem to want to find a way home out of this world and she wanted to go directly to the Burgomaster’s home even at 2 am. She really wanted to go find Yut, the monk we had been traveling with who had gone mad and seemed to be influenced by Strahd himself. I went into Brigby’s room and woke him up to tell him about Syvrina and how she couldn’t remember anything. He left to go speak with her down in the common rooms where she had gone to get something to eat. I went back into my room and continued to meditate for the night. I was happy she had returned, but she seemed to be acting strangely. Well, truth be told, she was still acting like a spoiled child, and I figured that Brigby knew her better than I did, so resting seemed like a prudent action.

Later that night, after I had meditated, I went out into the hallway to watch over the rooms where Fid, Bynn and Brigby should have been. Irwin Martikoff came up to me and asked me if it was true that my companions actually went to see the Burgomaster that night. I assumed that’s what happened after I had gone back to my meditation. Irwin was concerned about some strange purple lights that emanate from the attic of the Burgomaster’s home. I told him we could ask about it when we met up with Syvrina. I asked him about finding silvered weapons or magic spells, books, scrolls and he told me that there was a bazzar that would set up in the town, but also we might want to check out by the old Stockyard by the east gate to see if Rictavio, the carnival master would know of anything. He also mentioned a strange woman in a house on the north side, named Fiona Watcher. He said that she hated the Baron, since the Baron was quite strict with his punishments for the townspeople who didn’t remain cheerful and hopeful in these dreadful times. He also reminded me that he’d be so grateful, and he’d give us free room and board, if we could go to the vineyard to the west to find out what had happened to their shipment of wine. He also mentioned a toy store in town where a bit of magic might be found, Blinsky’s Toys.

After a while, his son, came over and I entertained him with an illusion of a tiny ogre. He like that but his mother called him away.

Just before dawn, Brigby and Syvrina returned and we spoke. Syvrina went to bed, giddy and strangely unconcerned. Danica, the innkeeper’s wife, drew her a bath of hot water, and when she walked by us, she remarked how the lady Syvrina didn’t even wince when she stepped into the tub of scalding water.

Brigby told me that they had gone to the Burgomaster/Barron’s house and they met with them. Lady Syvrina hit it off with Lydia, the Baron’s wife, and it seemed as if she had planned to return after noon the next day for tea. Brigby had spoken with the Baron’s captain or bodyguard, Isssak, and they made arrangements to send people out to search for Yut.

After we had breakfast, we decided to walk up to find Rictavio. We got to the Stockyard and found his wagon. It was warn and seemed to be splattered with blood. We did notice that the wagon itself would lurch and shake when we got close and we heard growling inside. That must have been the sabertooth tiger that Irwin told us about. There was one saying on the wagon that caught our attention. It said that Rictavio could turn “Shadow into Light.” Strangely that made me feel relieved. Although we looked for Rictavio at the Stockyard, we only found another man who told us that Rictavio had gone to the Inn to meet with the strangers who had come to town. That must have been us, so we must have crossed paths. After talking for a bit, we found out that Rictavio was an Elf or Half-Elf from outside…like us. This piqued our interest even more so we went back to the Inn to see if we could find him.

He wasn’t at the Inn, but Irwin said he might have gone to Blinsky’s. Off we went.

Gedoff, the man inside Blinsky’s showed us a number of strangely enchanted toys. Brigby even suggested ideas for some new toys that Gedoff liked. He told us that Rictavio had just left, and two strange dolls caught our eyes. Up on a shelf we saw one doll that looked a lot like Ireena, and another doll that looked a lot like Syvrina. It was creepy to say the least. After some small talk, we pardoned ourselves and left the store to continue our search for Rictavio. Unfortunately, it was getting near noon so we realized we needed to meet back at the Inn to accompany Syvrina to the Burgomaster’s home. We wanted to be with her when she had tea with Lydia.
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Session 27 – More time in Vallaki and A Night Ride to Van Richten’s Tower

We prepared to go to tea at the Burgomaster’s since Syvrina was invited by Lydia. Syvrina called for a coach and had them put curtains over the windows. We all boarded the coach, Syvrina inside, and the rest of us sitting atop. When we got there, we agreed that I would accompany Syvrina as her handmaid. I swallowed my pride and accepted the role.

While we were inside having tea with Lydia, Brigby and Fid stayed outside and spoke with Issak. He told them that his men did not find Yut, the monk who used to be our companion. He offered jobs for the lot of us to work in the guard.

With Lydia, we found out that she was concerned about her husband, who even had one of her friends put to death because she voiced concern about evils that might be working their ways in Vallaki. He made the citizens extol happiness and scheduled numerous festivals to “brighten” the spirits. She also mentioned that her brother, the priest at St. Andril’s church, Lucien, was concerned with greater evils and she hoped that he could help. Syvrina and Lydia had a pleasant time, and we learned a lot.

When we left, we found the others and went back to the Inn before going to the church to speak with Lucien. Syvrina stayed at the inn. It began to rain as we walked over to the church. In the church we met with Lucien, who seemed sincere and truly devoted to the Morning Lord. We asked him a bunch of questions about the information we learned from Madame Eva and the Vistani and we spoke with him about Lydia’s husband. Lucien said he had sensed something strange about the man before Lydia married him, but he has gotten worse. We also found that Rictavio would speak with the burgomaster at times and both of them were against Strahd, but also thought that the Vistani were evil as well. I was confused. I thought the Vistani were on the good side of all this. We also learned more about Argenvastenhalt and St. Markovia Abby both further west from Vallaki. Lucien also told us that he had lost the ability to create holy water, and three days ago, the bones of a saint were stolen from the church graveyard. He suspects that the protections this town had had would slowly fade if those bones weren’t found and returned. He told us that a commoner, Milivage, might be responsible because he had been sowing discontent recently, but he was not sure. We had a number of loose ends to follow up now so we bid Lucien goodbye and told him that we’d be back to help and while we were out we’d investigate the bones.

When we got back to the inn we found out that Rictavio had asked to see us, but Lady Syvrina sent message to him that we were at the church and we’d be back soon. We missed him by 20 minutes. Irwin Martikoff the innkeeper said he was on his way to Van Richten’s Tower with some urgency. We decided to give chase. Syvrina called for her coach, and gave the driver gold to take us out of town. He was reluctant, since it was night, but the lure of coin changed his mind. We rode for a few hours and found an intersection – SE to the Ruins of Berez (where a strange Hermit was said to live), SW – to Dragon Castle Argenvastenhalt and Krezk and NW to Van Richten’s Tower. We took the road to the tower and pretty soon we were riding over rougher ground.

Nearing the area where the tower would be, we heard some laughing. Then swarms of bats surrounded us. We felt a cold chill and shook it off. As we defended ourselves from the bats, we heard a deep voice laughing and commanding the bats. When Lady Syvrina joined our fight, we heard the voice command, “Leave her,” and it seemed as if the bats avoided Syvrina. The bats were tougher to defeat than we imagined. I had to use a burning hands spell, mage armor, bladesong, and a number of weapon attacks and frostbite spells to help. Brigby got hit a number of times and delivered his divine wrath while Fid slashed at the bats and cut them with his axe, which he decided to wield with two hands, dropping his shield on the carriage.

While we fought, I tried to get the driver to rush away, but he came to halt saying there was a dead body in the middle of the path. Stationary, we had to finish off the bats and then I jumped off the carriage to look at the dead man. I felt a chilling intrusion into my psyche, but I shrugged it off. The man looked to have been bludgeoned to death. It was nobody we knew, not Rictavio.

It seems as if Strahd has some ability to command bats and it seems as if he has taken a liking to Syvrina. We hope to find Rictavio soon.


Session 28 – Rictavio, Strange Happenings and a Strange New Place

Our carriage continued west in the night as we tried to catch up to Rictavio. We came to an intersection and turned NW to go towards Van Richten’s Tower. In a few hours, we made it to a land bridge that jutted out into Lake Baratok. The mist was heavy, but we could just make out the tower on a small island across the causeway. Our driver said he’d stay here with the horses a we got off the carriage. Brigby opened the carriage door and helped Lady Syvrina out. Fid, Bynn and I just jumped down and started toward the tower.

As we got closer, we saw a fancy carriage just outside the front door of the tower. The door to the carriage was pad locked closed and it had drapes over the windows. There was also a wooden sign hung on the door saying “Keep Out!” Unfortunately, Fid did not heed that warning and he tried to open the door. A huge explosion erupted from the warded door and we all got blown back. Brig and Bynn were both knocked unconscious by the fiery blow. Immediately, I called forth a rope trick to give us a place to rest, but something went wrong. Three strange looking, more powerful zombies wriggled out from the rope trick, so I aborted the spell. I ran to Brigby, took out a healing potion from my bag and poured it into his mouth. As soon as he got up, he presented his holy symbol and turned undead, but only one of the zombies was repulsed. Before we could interpose or distract one of the zombies near Bynn, started to eat Bynn, killing him outright. In anger, Syvrina and Fid slashed at zombies, taking one down, as I stabbed one with my rapier and bounded away. Syvrina finished off the remaining zombie, but we were quite shaken.

Brigby took out a scroll we had found earlier and started to chant. Syvrina and I tried to inspire our cleric, and luckily, he was able to read the words and revivify Bynn. Although Bynn was up, he did not seem right. He didn’t know us or that he could cast spells or turn himself into wolf form as the druid he once was. That’s when we heard a voice from the trees say, “don’t be too sure he’s alive.” We turned to look and saw a man with a sabertooth tiger. It was Rictavio. Lady Syvrina had some words for him thinking him to be rude. We told him we were looking for him, and he told us that he was looking for Esmeralda because he wanted to ask about a curse that may be affecting his pet, the tiger named Piccolo. He told us more about this tower when we asked if we could rest here. Van Richten it seems was a friend of Strahd’s who tried to prolong his life and power, possibly becoming a lich. Finally, we decided to take Rictavio and Piccolo to Krezk, which should only be a few hours away. Rictavio said that there was an enchanted pool that might be able to help him with the curse. He also told us that we had tried to break into Esmeralda’s carriage. Fid wanted to take some stuff from the carriage, but I convinced him to leave it. Instead, we scrawled a note on her sign saying, “Sorry.” We wanted to find Esmeralda and talk with her so we didn’t want to burn bridges. We also felt that we had to make haste to Krezk to find a place to stay for the night, so we didn’t want to stick around.

When we got to the carriage, we put Rictavio and Piccolo into the cab while everyone else rode atop. Before we could go, the driver slumped over and was twitching, unconscious. He must have succumbed to Strahd’s influence like Yut and I had earlier. We put him into the carriage and Syvrina took the reins.

Syvrina drove the carriage toward what we thought would be Krezk pushing the horses faster and faster. She drove like a demon through the night as mists coalesced around us. I remembered the strange mists when I had left Krezk a week ago and we worried that Strahd was making it more difficult for us although Syvrina did not seem deterred at all.

Through the fog, we tried to get Rictavio’s attention inside the carriage, but heard no response. Eventually, we came upon a town near an ocean with docks and a bay. There were no gates or walls, and this certainly was not Krezk. Still no answer from Rictavio inside, so Syvrina drove the horses to town. We were able to speak briefly to a woman we passed who told us we were in Mortenshire and the “Beached Mermaid” would be a good inn to stay at.

We got there and looked inside our own carriage to find that it was empty. What strange magic was at work, we didn’t know. Tired and hurt, we went into the “Beached Mermaid.” It was not too busy so we went up to the bar to get food and drinks and get rooms for the night. Then we saw a strange sight. The innkeeper/bartender looked like our old companion Yut, but he didn’t recognize us. Brigby tested him by asking him to calculate how much change he’d get if he gave him 2 gold. The bartender could calculate the difference, something Yut could never do. He bartender told us to call him “The Captain.” He also told us about a haunted house on Gryphen Hill. He also told us about the horrible dogs that ravage the land at night in this area so nobody goes out. When we paid or food and rooms, he said that Lady Syvrina’s tab had already been paid and she could have the master suite. He also said that a charming man had paid and given The Captain a package for the Lady. After that strange encounter, we went to sleep.

That night, Syvrina stayed up longer and spoke more with The Captain. She found out that there was a sheriff in town and Lord Godefroy used to be the lord of the town, but he was now a ghost. She wanted to leave the inn and find the Lord, but The Captain told her not to and Syvrina decided to stay the night.

In the morning we had breakfast and found out more about the history of the area. The Captain told us about the a tale from 100 years ago when Burton Westcoat had arranged to marry Anne Campbell. It was a strange affair and it seemed as if Anne didn’t want to marry. She killed Michael Westcoat and wondered off into the bog. Burton went in with dogs to subdue Anne, but when he came back, he was crazy with fear. He never spoke about it, but everyone thinks that somehow the Campbell’s cursed the Westcoats. At this point, since Bynn was till a little shaky and didn’t remember much, Brigby tried to cast lesser restoration upon him. As he did, Bynn went unconscious and it looked as if the spell was killing him. Brigby inspected his body and called for some additionally divine healing. That stabilized Bynn and got him on his feet again, and for some reason, now Bynn remembered us, who he was, and how he had studied as a druid. It seemed as if the lesser restoration had reset Bynn back to the moment he was killed, maybe that’s good…we don’t know.

After all this, a boy came in saying that shepherd Dawson had been killed. Then the sheriff came into the inn and asked for help. He deputized us and told us we were going for a bog dog hunt. A shepherd had been killed and he was sick of the terror those dogs were causing. We agreed to help and went out to the farm with the sheriff and what seemed to be the entire town (80-100 people). We searched the area and found a weird looking stick and mud sculpture of a dog towering over the dead body. A wind came and blew it all apart before we could see much more. Then the sheriff took the towns folk out to search the area and he told us to follow up any leads we thought would find those bog hounds.

Bynn assumed dire wolf form and began to track. He led us into a boggy area and soon we heard baying of hounds. Within a few moments we were surrounded by 10 of the bog dogs, stick and mud replicas of dogs that were animate. We had a difficult fight on our hands. I used a number of burning hands spells to weaken the foes, and I also slashed at them with my rapier. Syvrina slashed and cut with her short sword and dagger doing great amounts of damage with her angry huff, as Bynn in wolf form took massive damage, but also attacked ferociously. Brigby used his most potent shatter spell, along with his divine wrath and thunderwave. Fid fared the best of us, taking little damage and hacking away with his sword wielding it in two hands with crazy power. Even though I was quick and my bladesong and mage armor protected me, I needed to use my shield spell a number of times. Even with that, one of the dogs scored a horrible bit upon me and I went down. Brigby got me up quickly and although was weak and it looked as if we might not pull through this battle, we did end up killing all 10 of the bog hounds. Unfortunately, soon after, it seemed as if they were reforming. There was some strange magic affecting them. We would have to run and run we did, deeper into the bog.


Session 29 – Westcoat Manor

We fled the regenerating Bog Hounds trying as best we could to get out of the bog. I nearly collapsed from my wounds, but the others urged me to keep going. We felt as if we were making headway, but soon we heard the sound of the hounds baying and growling. From ahead of us, an old man was fleeing from 4 of the strange beasts. He dove behind a large boulder near us and we set up a defensive position. I needed to protect myself so I tried to fire off a newly learned fire bolt, missing my target, and then I ran back telling the old man to follow me to another rock further to our rear. As I did that, the others took positions near a boulder and met with the charging Bog Hounds.

Fid was quickly attacked by two, then three of the hounds. Even his stout form and heavy armor could not withstand their pack tactics, but Brigby bolstered him with divine armor and a potent healing spell. Bynn quickly took dire wolf from and met with another of the Bog Hounds. He was able to wound it slightly. Syvrina, bounded up beside Bynn, nimbly stabbed and dodged and was able to score a deep wound on the beast with both rapier and dagger before she jumped back behind the others. I noticed her combat powers had improved, and much like me she could move more quickly and bound away from her foe without opening herself up to an attack.

With their pack tactics, Fid and Bynn were suffering attack after attack. I sang my bladesong and ran out from cover around the pack of dogs and unleashed a burning hands spell that caught three of the hounds. The most injured one went down, inanimate for now. The others were weakened by the flame, but they still attacked. Syvrina did her graceful and deadly attacks once more and took down another. Then Fid and Bynn ripped through the rest.

After our skirmish, the old man introduced himself as Douglas Michaels, the gardener at Burton Westcoat’s Manor. The old man thanked us for helping him and he remarked how it was strange that the Bog Hounds appeared during the day. He told us a little more about his position and the Westcoat Manor, and asked us to escort him back to the house. We agreed to help, wanting to meet with Burton Westcoat anyway to find out more about “the curse” that seemed to be associated with the Bog Hounds and his family.

The grounds to the manor were surrounded by a wall which seemed to be barely holding back the decay of the bog, but inside the walls, the grounds of the manor house were well maintained. I appreciated that. The house, however, had seen better days. It was quite weathered and ramshackled. Inside the house Douglas introduced us to his master, Burton Westcoat. Westcoat was a handsome older gentleman who seemed charming and quite welcoming. He thanked us for saving his gardener and offered to give us rooms, baths and dinner. We accepted.

We spoke with our host for a while and then took our rest. During our rest, Brigby consulted his bones and said that having dinner with Burton Westcoat would be a boon, not a bane.

A few hours later, we met down in the dining room and sat for our meal. During the meal, which was rather good, we listened to Burton speak about his past. We questioned him accordingly and found that he seemed quite sincere. He told us how Ann tried to flee before his wedding and how she, perhaps accidentally, stabbed his brother before leaving. He assured us that he only wanted to apprehend her so that she could plead her case to the magistrate and when he found her in the bog, she was sinking in quicksand. He said he offered her a branch to pull her from the mire, but she would not grab for it. Instead, she cursed him and said, “no Westcoat would live in peace.” That’s when the chaos began.

During dinner we asked about the Campbell and how we might need to visit them to look for more clues. Burton told us where their estate was, but since it was a few days journey, we decided not to go there yet. During our conversations, Burton told us that Lord Godfroy was somehow involved with the feud the Westcoats and Campbells had before the tragedy, but he was unclear about details. His theory was that he needed to put Ann’s soul to rest, find her body and give her a proper burial. Unfortunately, when he went out to find her, he encountered Bog Hounds and once he had seen an enormous Hound that towered above the rest.

After dinner, Burton told us that we would need to meet him in the library at 3 am. He wanted us to see something that would happen at that time. We continued our conversation as Syvrina went upstairs to bathe and eat – she had asked for an uncooked portion of lamb to dine upon.

At 3 am we gathered in the library and Burton pointed out the window. We saw a ghostly shape of a girl take shape along with other shapes of dogs. She ran off toward the moors chased by the dogs, and then as Burton shut the window curtains, we saw another ghostly figure that looked like a man. Brigby strained to open the curtain and look more. It was a man giving chase, but it wasn’t clear who or what it was. Syvrina bolted to go outside immediately to follow, but after Burton warned us of the danger, and I reminded her how exhausted and injured we were, we made a plan to set out in the morning to explore the bog and find Ann’s body, or return tomorrow night to follow the ghosts on to the moors.


Session 30 – Into the Bog Again – Looking for Ann.

We all slept really well in our rooms at Westcoat Manor, so much so that we didn’t wake up until late afternoon. Instead of leaving to search the bog area, we decided to wait until the 3 am ghostly spectacle. Douglas came to us and told us about a Bog Hound attack at a school in town that happened that day. He said that the children were saved, but one of the teachers, a Campbell descendant was attacked and ripped to shreds. This gave us pause. Whatever was happening with the “curse” now seemed to effect Westcoats and Campbells and others in the town. We made plans to investigate when the ghosts manifested at 3 am.

In the meantime, Fid searched the manor for anything else that may be helpful. Syvrina and I spent time in the library reading books and checking out Burton’s collection. Bynn kept to himself, gathering some plants from the gardens to help the staff. Brigby dozed and had a strange dream. When he woke up, he threw on his traveling clothing and ran out of the house repeating, “she said, ‘It’s happening now. I need you.’” I gathered my stuff and shouted to the others to follow our cleric, and we gave chase.

Syvrina and I gained ground quickly on Brigby as Bynn and Fid trailed behind. We followed our cleric into the bog through mucky landscapes and vine choked trails. Finally we came to a clearing that had some bubbling ooze in pockets on the ground. As Brigby unpacked his religious gear to perform a ritual, I could have sworn that the mist around and the bubbles from the ground formed into a swarm of hand sized bugs and started to engulf him. I ran to him and tried to beat the bugs off of him with my own hands, but soon realized that there were no bugs and it was only a trick of light or illusion of sorts. Brigby didn’t respond to us as usual and he lurched off again as if some vision or power was guiding him into the bog to find Ann (or the ring that she had worn, one that Burton had previously sketched for Brigby to aid him in his divinations).

We traveled for another hour or so through the bog until we came upon another opening and a pond. On the other side of the pond, we saw a corpselike form of girl crawl from the muck. Brigby seemed torn. He looked to the girl and to a path to the north east. When we called to him, he told us we had to follow the path and he bolted ahead.

It was difficult to travel the path, but Brigby seemed to move with more ease. He started to gain ground on us as Syvrina got caught up in snarling branches, vines and muck. As Brigby started to pull away, I dashed ahead, over difficult terrain as if it was normal ground. Passing one area, the ground near me erupted with vines and mud as a huge vegetation creature emerged. Bynn told us it was a shambling mound, very dangerous. Syvrina was able to shoot an arrow into the mound, but the arrow got absorbed into its masses doing little noticeable damage. Bynn whipped it with a thorn whip spell, but that did little as well. Fid ran up to it to position himself within melee range, and I looked at Brigby to see if he was running down the trail or if he had stopped to come back to us. Since he was still ahead of us, I sang my bladesong, slashed at the shambling mound ineffectively and then bounded away to get in front of Brigby in case he kept running.

Brigby came to his senses and came back to help us just in time to pull Fid from the clutches of the shambling mound. The creature had slammed Fid viciously and engulfed him, but Brigby was strong enough to pull Fid out. Some time during the fight, Brigby healed Fid, but Fid got engulfed once more. Syvrina made careful strikes against the beast leaping in and out of battle as Bynn transformed into his Wolf form to rip into the creature. Frightened, I casted a blur spell upon myself and I tried to burn the creature with burning hands. Unfortunately, the creature resisted the fire damage with its wet mucky form. Brigby used a number of thunderwaves to attempt to push the creature back and save Fid, but the creature did not succumb to the full effects of his spells. I tried to pull Fid out, but my strength was no match for the shambling mound. With Fid inside the beast, the beast lashed out at Bynn and made Bynn revert to his Half-Elven form. Brigby pulled Fid once more and freed him from certain death as Syvrina slashed at the mound with a powerful attack. The shambling mound was nearly cut down, but it was still flailing at Fid and Bynn. I was able to bound up to it and stab it with my rapier, but it still didn’t go down. Then, quickly with an off-hand, dagger slash, Syvrina cut into it and it dropped to the bog motionless.

Brigby tended to Fid’s wounds and Bynn supplied some healing as well, but Brigby told us we had to keep moving and he quickly ran along the path to the north east. Soon we entered another clearing. This one was more verdant than others, and in the middle of it, in a small patch of flowers, there was a beautiful red-haired woman gathering flowers in a small basket. I recognized her from a picture I had seen in the library at Westcoat Manor, but I wasn’t sure who it was. I called out, “Ann?”

Then Brigby put his hand on my shoulder and said, “That’s not Ann. It’s her mother.”


Session 31 – Burton Westcoat is a Turncoat – Saving Ann’s Soul

Brigby stepped closer to the woman in the glade and the woman spoke with him. She told him “their spirits must be brought together…you know where she’s buried.” But before we could question her further, her image disappeared.

We followed Brigby as he continued into the bog. Bynn felt as if a storm was approaching as the air felt still and filled with ozone. Soon we found another clearing a circular area with a large glimmering quicksand patch to one side. From the forest to our rear, Brigby heard something stir and he pointed out a figure holding a glowing greatsword blade. The figure approached and then we realized it was Burton Westcoat. He had been following us all the time. When he got closer to the quicksand patch, Ann’s ghostly form rose from the muck. Burton cursed her and said he’d make sure he ended her entire “whore” family. Syvrina had heard enough, she quickly notched an arrow and shot Burton. Ann’s ghost shouted to Burton, “you are the one who poisoned our mother. You were a scoundrel. Your brother was a good man, but not you.”

Brigby bounded over to protect Ann’s ghost and as he did, Burton called out and 9 Bog Hounds appeared and started to surround Fid, Syvrina, Bynn and I. Bribgy unleased a thunderwave that Burton partially resisted. Then an even larger Bog Hound, standing 10’ tall materialized and started baying. At that, Burton said, “choose your side. Vanquish the ghost of the whore and I’ll call off the Hounds.” Then he slashed Ann’s ghostly form with his glowing sword and it seemed to injure her.

I responded, “then you shall die, Burton Westcoat,” as I took a swipe at a nearby Bog Hound and bounded over to Burton. The other hounds closed on Fid, Bynn and Syvrina. During the battle, the hounds nearly knocked Fid, Bynn and Syvrina down, biting them a number of times. Fid stood defensively and tried to hold fast. Bynn turned into his wolf form and attacked as Syvrina moved around and stabbed with shortsword and dagger eventually killing one of the hounds. The larger hound seemed to embolden the others with its baying, but then it moved over toward Brigby.

Brigby was able to blast Burton with a divinely charged thunderwave and knock him through the air over my head, but one of the bog hounds moved up behind me and bit at my unguarded flank. I saw him coming and called forth an arcane shield to save my skin. Then, using some of my newer more powerful spell energy, I casted a burning hands that hit both Burton and the bog hound near me. The spell burnt both Burton and the hound badly, but they were still up and snarling mad.

Fid was dodging and trying to keep from going down while Syvrina and Bynn tore at some of the other Bog Hounds. It looked like my companions would be overrun pretty soon. Seeing an opening, I ignited my rapier into a greenflame blade and drove it straight through Burton’s chest, killing him finally. As he died, he looked to Ann’s ghost and said this was not the end…but it did seem like it was. Brigby, seized the moment to find a “dream cake” in his pack. He grabbed it out and jammed it into the oversized Bog Hound’s growling mouth.

Then, as each of the remaining Bog Hounds raged and took one more bite at Fid, Syvrina and Bynn, they were able to attack but once before their forms faded into nothingness, and when the giant Bog Hound finished chewing the dream cake, it fell to the ground, unconscious and then dissipated as well.

The ghost of Ann thanked us for ending the curse. She had nothing to give us except her sincere gratitude and as she dissipated we all felt like we had actually accomplished something for once. Fid ran over to Burton’s fallen form to look at the greatsword he wielded and Bynn, now in Half-Elven form, used some of his healing spells and goodberries to bolster our wounded ranks. Brigby searched the quicksand area where Ann’s ghost was and he pushed into the mire to find the Ann’s ring.

With a short rest, we were able to bandage ourselves and I got a chance to detect magic on the ring and the sword. Both seemed magic. Then, I attempted to identify both items. The ring was a ring of warmth. I was able to explain how it would keep a person warm and protect them from cold damage. Brigby gave the ring to Lady Syvrina. The sword was more difficult to identify. Although it seemed magic, I found that part of its magic was making it impossible for me to learn more about it. I told Fid about that and let him keep the blade.

It took us about three or four hours to make it back out of the bog, but instead of going to Burton’s Manor where we wanted to take his body and expose his evil, we saw that we were walking down a road toward Vallaki and Burton’s head was gone from the bag we had put it in. Since it was 3 am and the town was closed up for the night, we decided to visit the Vistani Camp right next to Vallaki.

As we got closer to the camp houses, the fire and the horses, we saw an Elf by the nearest house. We hailed him and spoke for a little while. He was a Dusk Elf, and he said that no souls are safe in Barovia. He also told us that the Vistani here were not as hospitable as we might think as he offered his name, Grinelli. He also told us that the leaders here were named Luvish and Arrigal. Arrigal’s name rang a bell. He was the messenger who found us our first night in Krezk. He said he worked for his master and gave us the letter from the Burgomeister in Barovia. He was not what he seemed to be and we started to worry about this upcoming encounter.

As we went closer to the middle of camp, we saw that the horses of the Vistani were not well cared for. The camp in general was squalid and more dreary than we expected. It was not happy, lively and welcoming like the other Vistani Camp we had visited. When we saw a few women and children, Syvrina spoke to them and with great etiquette and tact asked about their generosity and hospitality. That made the woman laugh. She said we should see Luvish and Arrigal before we presume any hospitality. She pointed to a tent and we went to it.

Inside the tent, we saw two men whipping a boy tied up to a post. There were other unconscious bodies on the ground too. It seemed as if Luvish was whipping the boy and trying to find out about his daughter. We introduced ourselves and Brigby intimidated them with his forceful presence. Luvish threated to kill us, and whip me, but Arrigal seemed to step in to keep his brother from getting too hot headed. We did not like how they were dealing with the affair and Brigby told them so. Then, when Luvish tried to punch Brigby, Fid stepped up and decked the angry and obviously drunk Vistani. Just as it looked as if Fid would start a brawl, Arrigal stepped in again and reminded us that there were a dozen other Vistani just outside…looking in on us, and he assured us that he didn’t want to hurt us. We let him know that we recognized him from before, but it didn’t seem to faze him. He only asked if we had found what we were looking for. Then I turned to Syvrina and told her that I thought Arrigal worked for Strahd so I did not trust him.

After a few tense moments, Brigby asked more questions about the missing daughter, Arabelle. We said we’d find her and we told them that we didn’t approve of the way they were treating the boy and the others they had whipped. We also asked about Esmeralda, but Arrigal told us that she would not come to this camp. Apparently, she thought that these Vistani were not good enough. After we got Luvish to give us a doll that Arabelle owned we asked Bynn to take to wolf form and track her down.

Bynn led us to the lake a few miles away. At the lake we saw some row boats, but out in the lake itself, there was a boat with a fisherman on it. Brigby was able to see another form that was lying down in the boat, and a small slippered foot just barely poking up over the side of that boat. Quickly, Brigby and Syvrina got in one row boat as Fid, Bynn and I got in another. We rowed as fast as we could out to meet the fisherman. He didn’t respond to any of our requests so I asked Fid to row up beside his boat. Then I jumped into the fisherman’s boat and saw that the figure in the boat was a young girl in a sack, tied up. I pulled her up, but then, as the fisherman seemed to chant, “The blood of Madame Eva shall bring me luck,” he tried to push me off the boat. I was able to keep my feet, but I was angry so as I carried the girl, I kicked out at the man with my booted foot and caught him in the chest. He toppled over the railing of the boat and splashed into the water. He didn’t even try to swim. He just kept chanting as his body sunk under the water deeper and deeper.

I was able to get Arabelle back into our boat and untie her. As we rowed back to shore, we found that she was abducted by that man and he said that “the master demanded” him to do it. When Brigby asked about the girl’s father, she showed great distress and said she didn’t want to go back to him. We found out from Arabelle that Esmeralda was the only one who was actively trying to defeat Strahd. Her father and brother were not. After a discussion between us, we decided that we might take Arabelle to Madame Eva, but first we wanted to get into Vallaki and spend the night.

We got back to the town walls, and the guard would not let us in. Brigby used his boots of springing and striding to bound up to the top of the wall right next to the guard, and then he intimidated that guard and got the guard to reconsider. It worked.

Inside town, we made it to the Blue Water Inn and saw Irwin. He recognized Arabelle immediately. We told him we’d be protecting her and taking her away from her father. He said that once the brothers learn of this, we may be in for some trouble, but he assured us that the Vistani do not come into Vallaki. With this warning and reassurance, we took rooms.

Before going to sleep or meditating as I like to do, I looked at Fid’s new sword again. This time, I could make out some of the magical runes upon the blade. Although I could not identify it, I did feel as if the blade itself could be described as “bloodthirsty.” I told Fid about this and warned him to be careful.

We were able to rest the night, and when I was done meditating, I took out the scroll of Fireball we had found earlier and scribed it into my spell book. Then I prepared my spells for the day (Mage Armor, Shield, Burning Hands, Feather Fall, Misty Step, Blur, Counterspell and Fireball…keeping Leomund’s Tiny Hut, Detect Magic, Identify as rituals in my ritual spell book). I also gave my longbow and 18 arrows to Syvrina. With the ability to cast firebolt, I decided to get rid of my bow and travel a little lighter.
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Session 32 – Arabelle, Madame Eva, and The Bonegrider

As we were getting ready to leave Vallaki, we were suspicious that people would notice Arabelle, so I broke out my old performing disguise kit and tried to make her look like an ugly boy. She enjoyed the game of pretend and I made a somewhat passable disguise. Then Fid suggested that we go to see if Rictavio was back in town on our way to rent a carriage and two horses.

We found Rictavio at his cart and got a chance to speak with him. Apparently, he thought that we left him so he had to go to Krezk himself to get the pool water to cure his pet tiger. We told him that he and his tiger disappeared from our coach, but he had no recollection of that. He said that he had met with Esmeralda too and told her about us. We also spoke to him about Luvish and Arrigal. He said that Arrigal was working for Strahd and Luvish was a big dumb ox. These were the Vistani that he did not like and now we understood why. We told him we still wanted to find Esmeralda, but we had to travel back to see Madame Eva. We offered for him to join us but he was still worried about his tiger so he thought it best for him to stay in Vallaki.

On our way out of town we saw a parade of children all dressed like flowers. Evidently, the Burgomaster was staging the sun festival he had mentioned. It was pathetic. After we hitched horses to the carriage, Arabelle, Syvrina, Brigby and I rode inside as Fid and Bynn rode a top. Bynn handled the horses well and within a handful of hours we traveled back to the other Vistani camp where Madame Eva was.

The Vistani story teller greeted us and told us that Madame Eva was expecting us. We went into her tent and she immediately recognized Arabelle. Then she told Arabelle to go out and play while we talked. It seemed she had information for our ears only. We found out from Eva that Arabelle had run away before and if the brothers found out we were involved they might make things difficult for us, but she assured us that the girl would be safe with them. Then she told us her own history. Her real name was Katarina and she was the daughter of King Barov (Strahd’s father). 400 years ago, she came to Strahd’s court for the wedding of Sergei and Tatiana. Strahd went mad and killed his own brother, Sergei. It was horrible. Since then, she has kept her distance and has tried to resist Strahd’s power by making a pact with Mother Night. We talked about the power of Mother Night and I mentioned that we may have already benefited from her help when we were in the bog and the moonlight seemed to fall upon us when we were in the darkness. Brigby told Madame Eva about how Strahd seems to be able to manipulate our travels, making mist that obscures towns and even teleports us to strange locations. He asked if she had anything that would help us and she dug out a compass and gave it too him. Not to be rude, I just assumed it was magical. She told us to begin chasing her prophecy by finding the Tree. We said we did some research and found that the Tree on a hill of graves was probably Yesterhill, but we didn’t know where that was. She told us it was south of Van Richten’s tower. We thanked her again and told her that we were still looking for Esmeralda. Then we went out and had some drink and good cheer before sleeping for the night.

In the morning we headed back towards Vallaki, but when we got near the mill, The Bonegrinder, we heard the scream of a child from within. This time, we knew we had to act. Fid got off the carriage and we followed. He kicked in the door of the mill and asked to buy some cakes. We all heard some cackling and a voice from upstairs said there were cakes inside. We made our way up the stairway, Fid leading. I told Brigby I should go next because if I could see the hag and she casted a spell, I might be able to use a counterspell.

Upstairs we saw Morgantha and after a few unpleasant words, Syvrina shot an arrow at the hag and we were in battle. We all fought the hag who looked like an old lady and realized that she was tougher and stronger than she looked. Fid tried to grab her and throw her out of the window, but she was able to escape his grasp and disappear. That’s when her daughter came down a stone stairway and tried to cast a lightning bolt at us. I countered the spell and Brigby called lightning of his own down from the stormy sky. Pretty soon, another daughter appeared and we were fighting two of them. Fid decided to use the new glowing sword we liberated from Burton Westcoat, and as he hacked at the hags, we could see that his blows were dealing more damage. The magic of the sword, although unknown and potentially dangerous to Fid, seemed to be helping us against the fiends. I tried to use burning hands against the daughters, but they resisted the fire and took only minor wounds. Then, one of them pointed a finger at me. My Elven body usually resists sleep, but somehow, I felt everything go black and I fell to the ground unconscious as if I had fallen to sleep. Brigby was able to shake me out of unconsciousness and then he blasted the sisters with a lightning bolt from the sky. Bynn in wolf form attacked using his pack tactics and although he could bite a hag, it didn’t do as much damage as usual. Syvrina jabbed at a hag with her angry huff and again did damage, but not as much as usual. One of the daughters was able to cast another spell at Brigby and Brigby was wounded with psychic pain and became frightened.

After trading blows with the hags Brigby fell to another spell and went unconscious. Fid kept attacking using the glowing sword, and it was his relentless attacks that caused the daughters to retreat. Eventually both of them used some kind of Ethereal Jaunt or Plane Shift to escape us. We got Brigby up using a healing potion I had, and then we searched the upper areas of the mill. Syvrina and I went upstairs while the others stayed at the second level prepared to attack any hag that materialized.

Upstairs we found some crates and when we opened them we found a little girl and a little boy. They were both from Barovia. We coaxed them out and brought them downstairs, but as I was studying from my ritual book to detect magic, the entire windmill started rocking and breaking apart. Outside Morgantha had appeared and was firing lightning bolts at the mill, the top of which as now collapsing in on us.

Broken debris rained down on us. Syvrina and I were able to avoid getting hit, but Bynn, Brigby and Fid were not as lucky. In fact, a large chuck of grindstone smashed down on Brigby knocking him unconscious once more. Another chunk also smashed the little boy. Bynn reverted to his Half-Elven form so he could cast healing magic on Brigby and then save the little boy. Fid moved to a nearby window and when he saw Morgantha below, he said he was going to jump down on her. Before he could act, Syvrina jumped out another window and fell acrobatically to the ground. Then Bynn turned back into wolf form and dove out a window too. All the while, the mill was still collapsing down on us so I grabbed the two children and ran with them down the stairway and to the front door. I pushed them both to the left side of the door away from Morgantha and I stood up to the hag as Fid came leaping down attacking her with his glowing blade. In a few seconds, Syvrina rounded the mill from the north and fired an arrow at Morgantha, hitting her. The hag pointed a finger at me and tried to cast a spell, but it didn’t succeed against me. Brigby used his boots to spring down with us and he joined our fight as well.

After Morgantha tried to cast another spell at me, which failed, we seemed to be gaining some momentum. Then one of the daughters appeared and she had Bynn, Brigby and me lined up for lightning bolt spell. When she casted, I countered her spell using my last bit of higher level magical energy. Pretty soon the other daughter appeared so Bynn charged to kill. Unfortunately, he could not take her down, so I misty stepped behind that foe to give the wolf an advantage.

We seemed to be close to taking at least the two daughters down, but then Fid’s sword flared and Fid went into a rage of blood lust. He attacked Brigby and knocked him unconscious, and it looked as if he wanted to attack our cleric even more. Syvrina was able to land one more blow upon Morgantha, and then Morgantha told her daughters to flee. Bynn had one more chance to attack one of the daughters so he attacked. His jaws sunk into her flesh, but her tough hide lessened the damage and she survived. Then she and her sister disappeared. Before Fid could attack Brigby once more, I remembered that I had a scroll of charm person. I took it out and casted it upon Fid. The magical charm took hold, so I told Fid that he was our friend. He needed to attack the hag not Brigby. It worked. He hacked into Morgantha a few times, but she did not go down. Instead she snarled and disappeared. Brigby looked on death’s door so I ran to him to fish through his jacket to find a healing potion. I could not find it. As Brigby fell closer to death, Syvrina ran over and found the potion within Brigby’s pack. That saved our cleric.

After the fight, I told the others my fear that these hags could shift dimensions or travel magically so we should get away from here. Brigby tried to take Fid’s sword away from him, but Fid didn’t let him. Fid wanted to search the ruins for magic, but I told him we needed to get away from here with the children and come back later. Brigby and I remembered a nearby cave that we had once used for shelter so we made for that cave. Once inside, I conducted a ritual to form a tiny hut so that we could rest the night. We had rescued two children and found out that Fid’s sword had a curse upon it. The sword helped us tremendously against the hags, but it almost caused Brigby’s death. We would have to be careful with this weapon.

Our plan is to go back to The Bonegrinder in the morning, search for magical treasure and then take the children to Barovia. Of course, we'll have to be on guard in case the hags return, but now we know some of their strengths so we might be more prepared. After that, we’d head off to try to find the Tree that Madame Eva told us about or Esmeralda.
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Session 33 – Dretches in the Rain and Back to Barovia (A short session)

We woke in the morning inside the magical dome I had created inside the cave. We got into our carriage and rode toward the hags’ mill that had collapsed after we had vanquished (yet not killed) them. We decided to drive the cart within 150’ of the ruin and leave it behind with the children we rescued inside. Bynn volunteered to stay with them as the rest of us started to approach. Soon, Brigby saw some small demonic figures near the ruins, but they caught scent of us as we closed a little more. To start the party, I fired a fireball at them, killing one and injuring the other four. Syvrina was able to fire her bow at another before it could act and down it went.

As the creatures closed on our positions, Fid waited and readied his longsword and Brigby waited as well. I had already conjured my mage armor earlier, yet I neglected to sing my bladesong before two of the creatures came close. One of them missed me with bite, but hit me with its claws. In close proximity a mist surrounded us and I felt a poisoned sickness overtake me. The other dretch also attacked me and bit me for light damage. Brigby swung his morning star at one of them, but fell off balance and hurt himself in the process. He also felt sick from the poisonous odor. Fid stood strongly, and although he missed on his first readied attack, he was able to strike all three of them down on his next attack, a remarkable display of combat prowess.

The bodies of the dretch melted into an ooze so we quickly looked around the ruins to make sure there were no other foes. When all seemed safe, Brigby began a ritual to consecrate the land and I began a detect magic ritual. Fid and Syvrina stood guard and in ten minutes I could feel a faint residual magic that had faded in the ruin area. I could also tell that the greatsword that Fid carried (which we already realized was special and cursed) was magical, so were Brigby’s boots and Syvrina’s ring. But of course we already knew that. Realizing that nothing of value remained in the ruin, we got back to the carriage and headed toward Barovia as fast as we could.

In Barovia we found the homes of the children and felt like heroes for a few moments. The reunion was bittersweet. Of course the families were happy to have their children back, but there was one who didn’t make it. That was heartbreaking. After this sentimental encounter, Fid asked some of the locals if there was anywhere to buy silvered weapons. The townsfolk were not sure, but they suggested going to the church. That’s when Brigby remembered that the priest, Donovich, had locked his son in the basement of the church because the son had been transformed into an undead creature of the night, most likely a vampire, and Donovich himself seemed insane.

We went back to see what had transpired between Donovich and his son, and when we got there, we found him still wracked with guilt, pain, fear, and his son was still in the basement. Although Donovich had not fed his son in a few weeks, the son was still wailing for his father to release him. We conferred and after a small discussion, Brigby agreed that we should put the tormented undead son out of his misery. Donovich didn’t want us to do it, but we assured him that his son was already dead, and this was just a horrible torment for his son’s soul. Quickly, Fid, Bynn, Syvrina, Brigby and I talked about a plan to kill the vampire in the basement. I will sing my bladesong and open the door in the floor while my companions will be ready for the creature that emerges. I’ll dodge as soon as I’m able and let the others strike the creature down while Bynn focuses a moonbeam upon it. If necessary, I’ll join the fray attacking with greenflame rapier.
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Session 34 – Doru (another short session)

Brigby was able to convince Donovitch that we needed to release Doru from his torment as a vampire, but Donovitch could not watch. He went off into the other room as we waited by the door that led down into the basement.

I sang my bladesong and pulled the door up, expecting the fiend to burst from the basement. There was no such attack, but we could hear some faint whimpering somewhere in the basement. Fid took the lead and climbed down the stone stairway into darkness, a profound darkness. Brigby lit a torch and followed. I, in turn, followed Brigby and Syvrina and Bynn followed close behind. At the bottom of the stairs we moved cautiously toward the center of the cellar. There were no windows, and support columns every 10’ or so made it difficult to see. As we scanned the room, Doru lunged toward Fid from the northwest corner of the room. As soon as the fight began, we shouted up to Donovitch, “shut us down here! Close the door!” Bynn heard the door close and we shifted our weapons to take on this tormented undead creature.

Doru was able to connect with Fid, with one of his claws, but he could not wound the fighter when he tried to bite. Fid pulled out his cursed blade and swung at Doru with four vicious attacks (action surge) scoring a number of deep wounds. Then Syvrina slashed at the vampire and cut it, but not as badly as she would have liked. Doru seemed to heal from the wounds he received and then he lunged at Fid again. This time, he bit the Dwarf and grappled him. Fid could feel his life essence drain away as the vampire feasted on his blood.

Brigby bashed Doru with his torch, but that caused the torch to go out so we were cast into pure blackness. Lucky for us, Bynn evoked a moonbeam that shined down upon the vampire searing it with radiant light. That gave me a chance to position myself behind the vampire where I harried and distracted him so that Syvrina could gain advantage. She stabled the creature, but it was still fastened on to Fid. Brigby tried to smash the vampire with his Morningstar, but didn’t connect, but Bynn maintained the moonbeam.

Fid, unable to break free, was drained of more life. Then, I ignited my Greenflame blade and stabbed Doru a few times over the next few moments. Fid broke free from the vampire’s clutches to deliver a few more devastating blows with his glowing, cursed blade. With the moonbeam still searing the wailing Doru, Syvrina scored a few more hits and one last angry huff took Doru down.

Not sure how to kill a vampire, Bynn kept his moonbeam on the body for the duration of his spell as Fid chopped off its head. The body of the vampire withered under the radiant light and eventually turned to ash. All was quiet.

We killed our first vampire, and we were lucky that Fid’s sword didn’t possess him and cause him to lash out at one of us like he did when we fought the hags.
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Session 35 and 36 - Back to Vallaki - Strahd Makes an Appearance (about 3 hours of play)

Before leaving the church, Brigby casted lesser restoration upon Fid, just in case. With that, Fid had a strange vision. He saw a bathing pool somewhere and Esmeralda was there doing some kind of remove curse ritual upon his cursed sword.

Donovich was simultaneously distraught and relieved to see the dead body of the creature that used to be his boy. He buried Doru in the graveyard and then we bid him farewell. Since it was late, we checked into the Inn, The Blood on the Vine, and found Erik and Ismark. We spent dinner speaking with Ismark about our adventures and asked more about the card reading that Madame Eva gave to us. He helped us pinpoint more accurately where the Gulthius Tree might be and also the ruins of Argenvastenhalt, as well as St. Markovia Abby (which he said we’d need to go to Krezk to find).

In the morning, we checked on Ireena and found her to be in better health and spirits. The manor seemed to be in better repair as well.

All the time, Fid kept asking people about silver weapons. We were a little worried that we might encounter werewolves so this was an important precaution. Unfortunately, none of his inquiries paid off.

On the way back to Vallaki, we stopped at the Vistani camp near the Tser Pool and their upbeat spirit, the dance, song and wine was a welcome. We spoke again with Madame Eva (Katarina) and the story teller in the camp and checked to make sure that the little girl we had rescued was still ok. She was. After a night, the Vistani bestowed us with a few small vials to help us along our way. One turned out to be a potion of hill giant strength and the other a potion of vitality. We thanked them and again told them we’d find Esmeralda and continue to gain influence so that we could one day challenge Strahd.

Back at Vallaki, we checked into the Inn and took our rest. That night, Syvrina called for the Martikoff boy, and asked him to deliver a note to Lady Lydia, the Burgomaster’s wife. We all wanted to speak with the lady since we heard that during the Sun Festival, a soldier named Lars Ceurls was dragged behind the Burgomaster’s horse to punish him for some unfounded crime. We heard that Lars died and his gear, which might have included a silvered weapon, was confiscated so we wanted to get our hands on it, and also find out more about the incident. As Syvrina was talking with the boy, the boy showed her that he could turn into a raven. He also said his father could do it too. Perhaps these were the ravens that Madame Eva foretold would help us in our quests.

The next day, after securing a meeting with Lydia, Irwin spoke with us. He revealed that he and his son were wereravens, but that must be kept secret. Then he told us about the path to the Wizards of Wines, and the path to the Gulthius Tree beyond and the road to Krezk.

Late morning we rode the carriage to the Burgomaster’s home and met with Lydia. Syvrina and I stayed together as the others waited in the parlor with Issak and the butler. After only a few minutes of conversation, it seemed that Lydia wanted us to go see her brother Lucien again since he was the one who performed the rites on Lars and he kept his equipment. She offered to write a note to her brother granting the spoils to us, but Syvrina convinced Lydia to reluctantly go with us.

On our way out, we saw two familiar visages in Arrigal and Luvash. They were waiting by our carriage and seemed to be upset. Arrigal told us that we shouldn’t have taken Luvash’s daughter to the other Vistani camp. He was telling us how we’d have to pay. Immediately, I used my message spell to alert Isaak that there were Vistani inside the walls of Vallaki. His reply confirmed that this was not something that the Burgomaster would abide. Before Arrigal could offer more terms we saw two groups of thugs come from around each side of the Burgomaster’s house. Fid lost it and attacked.

Before Brigby could act, Arrigal took Brigby down with one poisoned sword attack. Luckily, Bynn could save Brigby, healing him so that he could call lightning to decimate some of the thugs. Syvrina, Fid and I fought with Arrigal as Luvash joined the fray. Arrigal was quick and tough. I had difficulty jabbing him with my rapier. Fid connected a few times and Syvrina also stabbed him, but kept fighting. Bynn turned into his wolf form and engaged with Luvash, ripping into him a few times. When Brigby tried to hit Arrigal with a lightning bolt, we found that Arrigal could evade damage using his quickness and stellar reflexes. Luvash was more of a fighter, attacking three times with his scimitar. Brigby continued to call lightning to destroy some of the remaining thugs, Bynn kept Luvash engaged. Then, as a result of Syvrina’s deadly attacks, and Fid’s cursed weapon attacks, Arrigal disengaged and tried to run. I ran after him, but he seemed so quick, even I had trouble handling him. I started to doubt my own courage when Fid came beside me to take on the assassin. Fid delivered a lethal blow to Arrigal, and the tainted Vistani went down. Moments later, Syvrina thrust her shortsword right through Luvash and toppled him as well. We had no mercy for these Strahd loving Vistani, and I felt a strange satisfaction seeing Arrigal, the one who first drew us into this mess when we arrived in this strange place, dead. Again, I used my message spell to contact Isaak to tell him that we dealt with the problem, and I heard him clapping.

After finding some gold on the two dead Vistani, we traveled to the St. Andril’s church to see Lucien. He and Lydia spoke for a short time and then Lucien asked us to help guard him during a ritual that he needed to perform to protect Vallaki from Strahd. He gave us Lars’ silvered shortsword and we gave that to Syvrina. Lucien warned us that anytime he performed a ritual Strahd was watching. In fact, people in town no longer come to Lucien to perform rituals because Strahd has disrupted Lucien’s work all too often.

Before the ritual, we took Lydia back home to keep her safe. Upon our return to the church, Lucien took us to the basement and walked up to an alter. We surrounded him and the alter keeping our eyes to the walls and windows on the perimeter of the room, guarding him. He began the ritual and within a few seconds Strahd himself materialized in the room with us. He warned Lucien and spoke lovingly to Syvrina, calling her Tatiana. Then he gazed at her and asked her, his bride, to come with him. Syvrina fought the urge, and was able to resist the vampire lord’s magnetic charm. Strahd laughed and turned into mist, seeping out one of the windows in the basement. Lucien continued his ritual, but then the room grew cold and from more seeping mist, five vampire spawn appeared, all bent on taking us down.

We fought for over a minute trying to keep Lucien safe as he continued his ritual. We didn’t know how long it would take, but we hoped that the deeper he got into his ritual, the more chance we’d have of defeating these powerful foes. Through the fight, Brigby was taken down to unconsciousness a number of times. Bynn went down at a point and so did Fid. Fortunately, we were able to bolster the fallen and Fid did a fantastic job of fighting defensively to withstand more than his share of vampire attacks. I used two of my fireball spells and a few burning hands to injure a number of the spawn, but they were hardy creatures that just kept attacking us with claws and draining bite.

Strangely, the vampires did not seem to attack Syvrina, in fact, one hesitated momentarily and turned away from Syvrina instead of attacking. At one point in the battle, Brigby cluched his holy symbol and urged the vampires to be gone. Two of the creatures put up their hands and cowered. Throughout the fight, I tried to stab creatures with greenflame blade, connecting at times missing at other times. I danced around and even used misty step to reposition myself so that Syvrina and I could focus our efforts on one of the most injured spawn. I had to use my shield spell a few times to avoid a vampire bite that would have drained my life essence, and I managed to remain unscathed for a while.

Toward the end of the battle after we had caused two of the creatures to turn to mist and run, I went down. Brigby moved over to my fallen body and used one of his last spells to get me back up. Then, Fid and Brigby went down again, but by the grace of gods, Fid stood back up again stabilizing and revitalizing on his own. Bynn got Brigby up and also used his moonbeam spell to damage a remaining spawn. Syvrina seized an opportunity and cut it down causing it to turn to ash in the radiant light of Bynn’s moonbeam. Fid and the others took out the last vampire spawn as the turned ones fled.

Lucien continued his ritual, but we were afraid that these creatures or worse would come back to finish us off. That’s when I began my own ritual to call forth Leomund’s Tiny Hut to encase Lucien, the alter and all of us in a protective dome.


Session 37 – Purifying Bones and Resisting Strahd

I was able to call forth Leomund’s Tiny Hut to encase Lucien, the alter, me and my comrades, but as Lucien’s ritual continued, black shades, shadows and writhing forms emerged from the bones themselves. Then, outside our protective dome, we saw and heard Strahd. He goaded us and called to Syvrina. Inside the protective dome, the shadows that rose from the bones turned into swarms of bats, and outside, Strahd waved his hands and dispelled my protective hut.

He continued to call to Syvrina, and Syvrina heeded his call and started to walk towards him. Brigby ran over to try to grab Syvrina, but she was able to squirm out of his grasp. Strahd laughed.

Sorely wounded, we dodged and attacked the swarms of bats. Fid evaded their attacks as did Brigby and I. Bynn wasn’t as lucky, but the bat bites did not bring him down. As we fought, Syvrina, still locked in Strahd’s charm, broke his spell and pulled back. Again, Strahd laughed and told us that he’d come back later to take his meal. With that, he disappeared, not turning into mist, just disappearing entirely.

Syvrina was able to cut into some of the bats, as did Brigby, but they were still fluttering and biting all around us. All this time, Lucien continued his ritual.

Fid was the first to fall, but I was able to use my frostbite cantrip to kill a number of the bats. Syvrina, Bynn and Brigby chipped away at some other bats, and I was able to get off one more frostbite cantrip before I too fell.

Fid stabilized as Brigby, Syvrina and Bynn fought the others, but then Strahd returned. Once more he motioned for Syvrina to follow, but this time Syvrina resisted immediately. Again, the fiend laughed and took his leave. Bynn, Syvrina and Brigby fought off the last of the bats and Bynn was able to use a few goodberries to get me and Fid back on our feet.

Lucien was still chanting, but the bones looked much more pure. Brigby told us that the ritual seemed nearly complete.

Fearing another attack, I reconstructed another tiny hut. Brigby used his last cure spell to heal Fid slightly and we all shared the rest of Bynn’s goodberries.

As Lucien finished the ritual, we took a short rest and recovered slightly. Lucien assured us that the bones had been purified and that would help protect Vallaki once more. We spoke with him more about the Burgomaster and the safety of the town. He told us that his sister, Lydia, believed that although the Burgomaster was somewhat crazy, maybe even tainted by evil, he could be redeemed. Lucien had his doubts. We worried about taking on such a politically powerful man given that he had over 40 guards and Isaaak, who seemed to be no slouch. We had bigger fish to fry and needed to pursue the omens foretold by Madame Eva.

Lucien bid us farewell and we hurried back to the Inn to get a night’s rest. Resting, I was able to train with my rapier. My fighting prowess increased as I could now attack with double speed. I was also able to learn a spell to hasten one creature for one minute and a spell that could put up to three willing allies into a 10 minute catnap that would give them the benefits of a full hour’s rest.

Our next step will be to travel west to the Wizards of Wine to investigate why Vallaki has not received wine shipments from the winery. This would please Irwin Martikoff, the innkeeper, and it might turn up some more clues for us as we head further west to find the Gulthius Tree, Krezk, St. Markovia Abby and Esmeralda, and ultimately Argenvostenhalt, the ruined Silver Dragon fortress.
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Session 38 – Esmeralda and the Wizards of Wine

In the morning we ate breakfast and spoke briefly with Irwin Martikoff about his relations at the Wizards of Wine. He told us about Davian and his family, but admitted that he had not gotten a chance to see them lately, and he was worried. We told him not to worry, we’d check on them on our way towards the Gulthius Tree and Krezk.

The day was miserable, heavy rain and dreary conditions, and to top it off, we couldn’t take the carriage so we had to buy Syvrina a mule to ride. Brigby and I pitched in to purchase a nice spotted mule that seemed in good shape. Syvrina could ride the beast and it could carry a few additional items for us as well.

Traveling west, we decided to go back to the Wizard’s tower on the way and see if Esmeralda’s cart was still there. We had not had any luck finding her yet, but since the tower was on the way, we took the chance. As we approached, we could see that her cart was there and then Fid noticed humanoids in the forest, hiding. He walked closer and we saw what had caught his attention. There was one or more humanoid figures, caked in mud, wearing skins and dirty clothing. The one that Fid approached had a large stone axe and it bared its teeth and hissed at Fid. To me it seemed like a feral being. As Fid got closer, the creature started to lunge at him. I used my minor illusion to create a roaring lion sound coming from Fid, and a few other creatures in the woods backed off although the one near Fid kept charging. Fid fought with him and cut into him badly with a number of longsword slashes.

The other dirty humanoids seemed sheepish. The one that was closest to the hurt foe, put down its weapons and tried to pull his injured friend back. Syvrina moved up and pulled the injured one closer to his friend, and Brigby stepped up to attempt to parlay. He spoke in common, Dwarvish and gestured as best he could for the feral men to move off. We could not speak their language, but maybe they understood Brigby's gestures. Then Brigby walked up to the seriously wounded one and cured his wounds slightly. The others backed away and pulled their wounded comrade with them. Then, from behind us we heard a female Vistani voice tell us how the feral folk do not look for fights. We had finally found Esmeralda, or she found us.

She took us to her cart and uttered some magic to disable the wards. We went inside to have tea and speak with her about all we had encountered. She told us the history of the Vistani and how her family had been responsible for taking Van Richten’s son, Arismas, to Strahd. She had felt guilty for that and for the evil that the Vistani had done, so she befriended Van Richten and fought beside him for years. Then, she parted with him due to some squabble, and she feared that he was unable to survive an encounter with Strahd. She told us about his tower and it’s former owner, Kazan, and she listened to our stories about Madame Eva’s fortunes, Rictavio and the encounter we had with Strahd. Fid asked her if she could remove a curse from his enchanted blade, and retold the vision he had of a fountain of water bathing the blade to make it safe to wield. She told Fid that she could help him if we met her in Krezk the next night. We told her that we wanted to visit the Wizards of Wine and the Gulthius Tree to help Irwin Martikoff and follow up on one of Madame Eva’s foretellings, and she assured us that we could travel to those places and get to Krezk in a day. She also told us about the Blight Druids who had been disturbing the area. She made it seem as if they might be the problem at the tree and at the winery as well.

After our chat and tea, we walked west to get to the Wizards of Wine vineyards. It looked as if the vineyard was left unattended, some equipment just left out, not the usual sight for a working vineyard. As we walked closer, a voice form a copse of trees whispered to us. It was an older man, who turned out to be Davian. He introduced us to his family (Edrian, Elver, Stefania, Dag), all of whom were hiding in the copse. He told us that the Tree people had taken over his home and winery. At least three of them, with a host of twig blights were now occupying his beloved estate. We assured him that we could take care of it and we told him to hide here until we returned. We also left, Spot, our mule, with him.

We walked up to the stable part of the winery and when we got within 30’ from it, we noticed the sticks and roots all around the vinery began to animate and become a hoard of twig blights. They were all over and they started to close on us so we ran to the stable doors and opened them. When we found a few horses, but no other doors going into the winery from the stable, we bolted to the next door. The twig blights closed on us, but we were able to jump into the winery before they got to the door.

Inside we explored and found a few rooms before getting to the main vat room. Inside we saw a Druid woman on an upper balcony pouring some ichor into one of the wine vats. Syvrina hid and slowly tried to climb the stairway up. Then a number of twig blights appeared in the room and soon were surrounded. Fid, Brigby and Bynn all took some damage from the blights. Bynn turned into wolf form and disengaged from the pack. Brigby called to his god and delivered a force that shattered a large number of the blights. Fid hacked two or three with his longsword, and I used misty step to get beside the Druid so that Syvrina could attack more effectively. As the blights died, others appeared to take their place. My friends were fighting a large group of the brittle creatures as Syvrina and I took on the Druid. Unfortunately, I tried to attack twice with my rapier, but I lost my footing and needed to regroup. The Druid, sensing my weakness waved her hands at me and uttered magical words to evoke a thunderwave. I took some damage, but I was able to keep my feet and prevent myself from falling from the balcony. Syvrina quietly positioned herself for a deadly strike and landed her blows with shortsword and dagger. The Druid was severely hurt, but still able to fight. As the others fought below, Syvrina and I kept the Druid occupied. The Druid called forth vines and branches from the ground around us and I was caught inside them. Then she tried to dash past me to escape. Syvrina was quick enough, and skillful enough, to stab the Druid and kill her with one more vicious attack. By that time, the others dispatched the blights below and we were able to continue investigating.

We opened a sliding door onto a veranda and saw the hoard of blights outside, so we closed the door and went around the rooms inside closing all the doors to the outside. We followed Fid as he went down a stairway into a wine cellar/basement. Down there, we encountered another Druid and a number of stronger blights. We fought around a large wine rack that concealed the foes until we turned the corner of the rack. I took a full force tunderwave and got knocked back as Fid, Syvrina, Bynn and Brigby fought. Finally, Fid slashed at the Druid and took him down; then he moved over to a blight and took it down too. Bynn and Brigby killed the final blights and Bynn turned into his Half-Elven self to cast a new spell, Healing Spirit. Over one minute, I felt the soothing balm of his spell refresh me and mend my wounds. The others also received some of the healing as we prepared to go back upstairs to find the other Druids.
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