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.

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