Ravenloft: Beyond the Mists


First Post
Let me begin by saying this is one of those Old Skewl threads that got lost after I took a long hiatus from role playing. At the time I was running two simultaneous campaigns that were all interconnected in this massive story arc that was supposed to be finished by the end of college. However, just like every DM my players threw me for a loop. In any event we recently got to play a few more sessions and I went to update the old logs, but couldn't find them! At the time, I was trying to post everything from both stories and I think that got confusing so what I am going to do is reserve this thread strictly for the Ravenloft portion of the mega campaign. Suffice it to say that after many years we have still not completed even 1/3 of it (but are very close). The story involves 3 distinct parts, each from a different perspective:

1. Ravenloft (or Ground Zero)
2. Greyhawk- Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (or Ripples)
3. Rokugan (or Prophecy)...those of you who enjoyed Kevin Kulp's Of Sound Mind will enjoy this altered version I think

I'm digging through the archives as we speak and writing the most recent stuff simultaneously, so I figure by the time I finish all the posting of old material I can post the new stuff. This time I will be smart; however, and SUBSCRIBE to the thread:) For those of you who are interested in the RttToEE part of the game, you can see all the logs and info by going to my website:

Shadowgate Chronicles

And without further ado...

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First Post

Richfest, 591 CY

I write this journal for I know that the end is near. Under normal circumstances I would dismiss such apocalyptic visions, but the evidence is too convincing this time. I only hope that this journal is kept safe from the ravages of the Armageddon as it tears through the fabric of our reality.

I have cast my most powerful enchantments upon this tome to warn the future survivors of the follies of the past. It is all too ironic that I did not see it coming. Every action was so well placed to evoke a precise reaction…it was like a game…and I have lost. In any event, I have not yet warned the other members of the Circle, for fear that they might attempt something rash. No, this time I cannot take a direct hand in events; I can only nurture hope. My contact with Nahlar the Questioner, a powerful Planar sage, has been unsuccessful at best. From what limited correspondence has revealed, he too notes the increase in size of the Demiplane of Dread. Nahlar has always been an accurate source of intelligence, but recently he has been all but inaccessible. His peers inform me that he is on a foolish quest with a benevolent demon by the name of Erandu to end the Blood Wars. In all my years I had always believed that Nahlar was an impassive scholar, devoted only to the pursuit of knowledge. Apparently the creature known as Erandu has been able to shatter the wall surrounding Nahlar’s better judgment and pull at the heartstrings of his heroism…I am sure that he will die foolishly with that visionary.

My powers in divination, although strong, have not been perfected. I have lost three Oracles this month in trying to discern the truth that is hidden behind the Mists. My efforts have been repaid in frustration and the death of three promising wizards. It sounds irrational, but I think the Mists have their own consciousness…their own thoughts. The Dark Powers that control them seem to tease me with bits and pieces of the puzzle without revealing their ultimate agenda. From what the Children of Shade tell me, the Demiplane of Shadow is slowly being engulfed. The Grandmaster of Shadows is not pleased with these developments and has sent his personal army on a crusade against the growing tide of evil. I fear that even he will be powerless to stop it. I have concluded that something must be done from within the Demiplane itself to have any real bearing on the future. I have tried to contact Azalin, but all communications have failed. The Dark Powers are content to allow me to watch, but not to intervene. There seems to be some small contingent of hapless adventurers from a world that is foreign to me within the Demiplane itself. All of the prophecies point to them as our one true chance at salvation…may the Gods protect them.

There is growing unrest in Flanaess. I am receiving reports constantly from my sources all over the continent. The reports pass across my desk faster than I can read them; although, one report was of interest to me. Seemingly unimportant, the report spoke of a small town by the name of Oakhurst. Normally this type of problem is not of any concern to the balance of forces in the universe. I find it coincidental that the druid named Belak the Outcast should be responsible for this disturbance not one month into his eviction from the Order of the Thorn. He was banished from the Order because of his dark experimentation on plant life. Again, this event seems isolated from any form of relevancy, but I was recently informed that the speeches he gave to his disciples spoke of a “darkness rising from beyond the Veil.” Members of the Order sent out some of their men to…dispatch the mad druid. My reports indicated that they succeeded in destroying his plans, but failed to extinguish his flame. They are now headed to quell an orcish uprising in the Yatil Mountains. I fear that the Dark Powers have their tendrils in all of these events to distract us from their true objective: the Temple of Elemental Evil. I am certain that while I am addressing all of these minor problems that the Temple is building its strength, in preparation for the impending arrival of the Demiplane of Dread. With the resurrection of the Temple, no doubt Iuz is somehow involved. If the Chosen fail in their attempts, we will be forced to wage war from this side of the Veil. The Temple will assuredly be the battleground in either scenario. I must work quickly to force events in motion in case the Chosen do fail. We must be ready at any cost!

-Mordenkainen, High Defender of Flanaess and Leader of the Circle of Eight


First Post
Meshtar, Jiqui (Lower Realms of Nymbardax): 7th of Blue, 987 ASG

“This is outrageous!”

Baclian Aeureas glanced over at the fuming Xenos Taraque from over his steepled hands. Baclian was an old man and people his age were prone to senility at around this time of their lives; however, The High Priest of Salvx and Leader of the Righteous was afforded no such leniency. House Aeureas had been producing leaders for many centuries and Baclian was believed to be the strongest man they had ever created. Baclian, like his father, was a fair man-hard-but fair. The decision to remove the Captain of the Watch from his investigation was not wholly political in nature. His candidate, Monsette Dezerai, was highly recommended from the Priests of Viminau as the most capable investigator they had. Although the man had no real field experience, allowing a Priest of Viminau on this case would help further relations between the priesthoods and ultimately benefit the city.

“I understand your frustration Xenos,” Baclian intoned impassively. “Let me remind you that you are not being removed from your position as lead investigator…I am simply supplying you with a partner. Two heads are better than one.”

Whether it was the realization of who he was talking to or discipline the Knights of Justice had instilled in him, Xenos visibly calmed himself.

“High Priest Aeureas. I do not wish to usurp your judgment; however, I must protest. I know very well that this “partner” will now take over my position. You will completely undermine my authority if you remove me from this investigation!”

The boy was smart…smarter than he should be. Unfortunately, he was not cut out for politics. Baclian felt the weight of responsibility crush him as he saw what he had to do. Harm him to help him; remember: this is for his own good.

“Captain are you telling me what to do?! You shouldn’t verse anyone in matters of investigation, when you yourself know nothing of the sort! There is a madman in our city and so far we have allowed him to run free for nearly a complete cycle of the moon! YOU have allowed him to run free as result of your negligence! Monsette Dezerai will be given complete cooperation by everyone under your command and accorded civility. Am I making myself clear Captain?”

Xenos’ face blanched visibly under the castigation.

“Y-y-es High Priest Aeureas. I understand.”

Baclian watched the most heavily decorated of Salvx’s soldiers, Xenos Taraque leave his audience room rigid as steel. The High Priest didn’t have time enough to recover, as an older man with a silk vest and a pipe in mouth poked his head into the room shortly after. Gathering up his resolve, Baclian put on his best face for the entering priest.

“Ah yes, Monsette Dezerai. Please come in.”

Monsette was in his mid thirties. As he entered the room and sat down, his back remained ramrod straight. Monsette had a small mouth, an arched nose, a balding forehead, and small ears. From what his report said, the Priest of Viminau had spent most of his life in the Great Library as a librarian, filling his mind with useful knowledge that would later serve him in life.

“So Monsette, why is it that I should give you this case? Xenos is an excellent man; shouldn’t I leave it with him?”
“The right to assign this case is yours Hight Priest; however, I would like to inform you of what I have learned. Over the past month, this case has interested me and I have been doing my own investigations on the matter in private. I am sure that Xenos is a perfectly capable man for the job, but it appears as if the obvious has been overlooked. First, one will note that the serial killer has moved up his/her timetable. In the beginning the killer was content with one murder every week; however, this last week has seen a murder every night. Judging from his psychotic profile, I believe that he/she is attempting to culminate the murders at the full moon. Many deranged individuals believe that the full moon gives supernatural powers to those with the proper…skills. A foolish belief, but one that will serve this investigation. Also, all the murders committed were on clergy members. Whether these individuals were gifted by the powers of their gods was irrelevant…they were all high-ranking city officials. Stapling the eviscerated bodies to the wall suggest a ritualistic behavior which supports the idea that our killer has supernatural beliefs. The fact that most of the victims were disemboweled while they were alive hints at the degree of the killer’s psychotic behavior."

Monsette took another puff from his pipe, before standing up and moving towards the High Priest’s desk. The investigator knew exactly what he was doing as he rummaged through various maps strewn all over the bureau until he found a detailed map of the city.

“May I,” Monsette inquired as he pulled the map to the top of the pile and began drawing dots with a nearby quill.

“The murder did not strike at random. Notice how the city was constructed in a perfect octagonal shape. The first victim, a Priest of Majar was killed at the very northern edge of town and look over here and again over here.”

Monsette was scribbling dots all over the expensive map Baclian had received as a gift from his fellow Brothers at the Temple of Ishtar. Baclian was not pleased with the act Monsette was delivering.

“Get to the point Monsette!”

The self-absorbed investigator jumped at the High Priests words, as if his mind had drifted for a moment.

“Yes yes, of course. You don’t see it do you? Let’s see if I can’t paint you a picture…”

Monsette’s hand began to draw lines from one dot to the next in exactly straight lines as the blood drained from Baclian Aeureas’ face.

“May Salvx have mercy,” the High Priest whispered.

“That’s right your Excellency, it is a pentagram…an upside-down pentagram. And I have feeling that the full moon tomorrow will be the killer’s last target for quite sometime,” Monsette intoned as he stabbed a point on the star that did not contain a dot.

“Go get Xenos, Monsette and find this killer quickly! I needn’t remind you that all of us are counting on you.”

Monsette bowed reverently before leaving the audience chamber. He did not hear the High Priest Baclian Aeureas begin to murmur simple prayers of salvation as he exited.


First Post
Meshtar, Jiqui (Lower Realms of Nymbardax): 8th of Blue, 987 ASG

Xenos Taraque hated the fact that he had been replaced, but what bothered him the most was that he was forced to take “suggestions” from a greenhorn like Dezerai. He was certain that the aging investigator was taking great pleasure in his discomfort. Well, he would be the last one laughing when Monsette failed in this assignment!

“Is everything ready Sir Taraque,” Monsette asked in a detached voice as he surveyed the map draped over the table.

“Yes Monsette, I have positioned my men as you instructed.”

“Good. Remember to instruct them as to the nature of this operation. We are to remain anonymous until the killer makes his move. None of the guards are to wear their uniforms or carry blatant weaponry.”

“I am not fool Monsette, I heard you the first time!”

“I am sure you did…in any event, I also require a bodyguard as I am to tour the scene myself to make sure that everything goes according to plan.”

“I know just the man for the job. His name is Samuel Fairheart; he is a recent acquisition for the Knights of Justice. A brilliant swordsman, who has achieved the rank of District Sentinel at the young age of twenty. He will accompany you on your rounds.” And with any luck the murder will find you as you stroll through the streets!

Monsette watched the proud Xenos Taraque leave the room. As soon as the Captain of the Watch left, Monsette began to change his clothes. He discarded the priestly robes he was wearing in favor of his tweed pants and silk shirt. While he began assembling his investigation tools, Monsette began to run through the plan again: The killer’s relative position is obvious, but he is no fool. He knew that we would figure him out eventually, so he picked the Warehouse District to make his final kill. I have assigned over half the city Watch to that area, but will they be enough? I could not assign more without troubling the local populous…after all, I might be wrong…no, not this time. I know he will strike there…I know it. Let’s hope that this Samuel Fairheart is not as big a fool as Xenos!

As Monsette was completing his preparations for this evening’s excursion, he heard a knock at the door. Calmly, the priest finished placing all of his items in his backpack before he moved to open the door. The young man standing on the other end of the doorway was handsome to say the least. His bright blue eyes were full of passion and virtue; his blonde hair only pronounced his features more angelically. There was an eagerness in his movements and a smile framing his face.

“Good evening Monsette Dezerai, my name is Samuel Fairheart. I was assigned to protect you on our mission tonight.”
“Good evening Brother Fairheart. I am sure you will do an admirable job, as I don’t have to tell you how important and dangerous tonight’s events will be.”
“Do not fear Monsette, I have been District Sentinel for that area for almost a year now. You are safe in my custody.”
“I am pleased to hear it…”

Monsette’s sentence drifted off as his gaze wondered to the washbasin on his dresser. The light reflecting off of the water was red. Monsette turned his attention towards the heavens directly outside his window.

“Is something the matter sir,” Samuel inquired.
“That’s strange…the moon is…red.”
“An ill omen.”
“Omen? You aren’t a superstitious man are you Samuel? I can’t stand ignorance. You realize that the truth comes in many shapes and forms, its just a matter of understanding it. I am sure this is an optical illusion brought upon by the cloud cover…nothing more.”
“If you say so sir,” Samuel replied uncertainly.

The walk to the Warehouse District was; fortunately, boring in nature. Twenty-five square blocks of the district had been sectioned off for various teams to patrol. As this district was sparsely populated, it made the job of patrolling much easier, but vastly more difficult all at once. On the one hand, it would be easier to spot suspicious activity, but on the other hand it would be difficult to note suspicious activity with all of the empty warehouses. Monsette and Sam were not assigned to any one team; instead they were considered a “roving unit,” able to move freely in the secured perimeter. Sam made idle conversation with Monsette during their rounds to ease some of the tension, but Monsette was not very responsive. The investigator’s eyes were always roving…searching for anything out of the ordinary.

“Strange isn’t it,” Sam said.

Monsette was not even paying attention to what Sam was saying, but the word ‘strange’ snatched him out of his reverie immediately.

“What’s strange?” Monsette hissed.
“Just the fact that we have fog on a night like this. Normally, this time of year, there isn’t enough moisture in the air to produce this kind of weather…strange.”

Monsette was about to respond with a patented “don’t-get-superstitious-or-I-will-give-you-a-lecture-on-truth” speech, when he saw a dark shape move through the fog. Motioning for Sam to follow, Monsette led the pair down a deserted alleyway. The alley stopped at a dead end, with only a rotting wooden door to furnish its dilapidated holdings. Monsette’s keen senses were able to detect that the door’s rusted lock had been smashed and part of the door with it. Monsette motioned for Sam to follow him as he approached the portal.

“Shouldn’t we go get help first?”
“Don’t worry about it Sam, I’m sure its nothing. If there is a problem, then we can go get help. No use in moving valuable men around for no reason is there?”
“Well…I suppose not, but I have this bad feeling again.”
“Sam…this bad feeling is called ‘stress’…everyone has it…even me.”

Monsette ended the pep talk with a well-timed smile. Sam wasn’t sure what motivated Sam to follow him after that…the pep talk or duty itself.

Carefully pushing in the creaky door, Monsette made his way inside the abandoned warehouse. Aisles and aisles of crates, stacked upon one another, created a small avenue system inside the warehouse itself. Fog had somehow entered the structure through a hole in the wall, because there was a blanket covering the entire floor of the warehouse. Monsette wasn’t sure how to explain this one, but the fog was the last thing to worry about right now. Both Sam and Monsette made their way down one of the aisles slowly and deliberately. Sam had to light a torch, because the visibility in the warehouse was so bad…the light had almost no helpful effects other than to give their position away to a possible enemy. Was it Monsette’s imagination, or was the fog rising higher off of the ground? No…that’s impossible.

“Over there sir…I think I see something,” Sam said as he pointed at one of the piles of crates. As they approached, Monsette began to make out the shape: it was human body, stapled to the crates. Monsette had heard reports on the killings, but he had never actually witnessed it first hand. He had to control himself in order to prevent from vomiting. It was the same pattern. The victim had been stapled, while living, to a hard surface and his thoracic cavity cut open with a sharp object: a dagger probably. The trauma from the laceration had undoubtedly killed the victim. This one was a Knight of Justice…no doubt one of the men he had sent to patrol the area.

“Do you like it,” a voice asked from the darkness.

Both men wheeled at the sound, weapons at the ready.

“My work,” the voice continued, “do you like it?”

“Who are you? Show yourself!”
The fog was rising! What is going on?!

A man stepped out from behind a set of crates. He was a middle-aged unkempt human male of average disposition. His wild red hair added to the tinge of madness in his eye, but all of these were details: what was really important was the stained butcher knife in his hand.

“Give yourself up, we have you surrounded,” Sam said mechanically.

“Fool! The time is upon us! The Darkness will claim you and this world, but my service will give me rewards beyond comprehension. Even now it begins…you are doomed! DOOMED!”

With that, the madman began to run away, towards the back of the warehouse. Sam needed no encouragement to pursue the suspect and the fog was increasing rapidly in this place, making visibility nearly impossible. Both Sam and Monsette ran as fast as their legs could carry them.

That’s strange, shouldn’t we have hit the wall by now?

Monsette didn’t have time to ponder what was happening; for, as he burst from the mist's embrace he found himself running towards a house. Sam was a few yards in front of him, right on the tail of the suspect. The house was really a mansion, from the construction and the elaborate designs adorning it. It must have been old too from the look of the gothic statues and woodcarvings. Monsette had never seen a mansion like this and he began to question why it was in the middle of a city he knew by heart. He shook these thoughts from his mind as he saw the fleeing suspect enter the house. Lighting ripped through the sky, followed by the sound of thunder. Monsette barely made it inside before the torrential downpour hit.

Looking at Sam he could see the confusion in his blue eyes. All of his fears were replaced by new ones as the door he had just entered, closed and locked itself…things were going from bad to worse.


First Post
October 7th, 747- "The only thing we must fear, is fear itself"

The foyer of the enormous mansion contained a large ballroom and a winding staircase that led to an upper level balcony, which overlooked the dance floor. Hallways led off to the right, undoubtedly to more rooms. The staircase had various designs worked into the rail, the most noticeable being nymphs in revealing positions. The red carpeting that ascended the staircase seemingly blanketing the entire second floor. A chandelier of antlers provided the only source of light in this morbid house as it swung hypnotically back and forth; its meager light illuminating a small door off to the side of the staircase.

"Where did he go so quickly?" the worry in his voice blatantly obvious.
"Let's check the first floor and then work our way up."

With every step, the floorboards creaked and lightning illuminated the shadows for a mere second. The experience was unnerving. Both of the holy men clutched their symbols for strength as they made their way to the first door. Monsette stood ready with his sword as Sam prepared to fling it open and shed the light of Justice upon its inhabitants. Empty. The next door; empty. They were all guestrooms that were devoid of furniture, save a dilapidated bed and nightstand. Strange...Making their way down the maze of hallways led the pair to a private garden. A flagstone trail led out of the glass double doors, meandering towards a broken fountain filled with sludge. The men looked at each other knowingly before grimly heading upstairs.

Monsette thought he heard something when he reached the top of the stairs, but he couldn't quite make sense of it. As the pair explored the rooms on the second level, they began to note the opulence of this house's former inhabitants. A grandiose balcony overlooking the front lawn, a collection of rare books, a study filled with strange artifacts, and enough rooms to house a small army. So why is it that no one lives here? The sound became more and more audible…like breathing, as if someone was taking wheezing breathes! Sam's knuckles went white with the strain of his grip on the rapier he was carrying.

"Let's get downstairs Sam, I have had enough of this."

Sam didn't even bother to respond as he hurried to plow a path down the stairs, towards the door. The locked door had no effect on the Knight of Justice as he barreled himself into it and bounced off with equal force. Rubbing his shoulder as he got up, Sam suggested trying to hack their way out. Monsette couldn't think of a better idea, so they got to it. As the steel tasted the ancient oak doorway, it drew blood..black blood. This only made the pair hack faster. With every stroke, more blood seeped from the doorway and pooled at the feet of the men. So busy were Sam and Monsette that they did not notice the puddle of blood conglomerate and shoot forth a tendril. Sam barely managed to twist to the side as a stream of black liquid burnt its way through his armor and skin. In a scream of rage Sam thrust his rapier into the puddle of black ooze and watched the steel of his blade hiss. Monsette brought his sword down upon the creature with similar results before attempting a new plan.

"Sam, keep it busy!"

Backing up a distance, Monsette began to light a torch as his friend battled the amorphous abomination. Sam was in desperate need of help by the time Monsette was ready to carry out his plan.

"Sam, stand back!"

In one deft movement, Monsette hurled a flask of oil and the lit torch at the creature. Both men watched as the flask exploded on contact, showering the abomination with oil before the torch ignited the fluid. The energy emitted from the reaction was enough to throw both men to the ground and catch Monsette's cloak on fire. With some help from Sam, that problem was quickly extinguished.

"You can't escape. She won't let you!"

Monsette and Sam new that voice all too well. Turning around slowly, they saw their suspect out on the middle of the dance floor. Monsette would have been tempted to view this as irony...if he was a violent man.

"What are you talking about," Sam demanded impatiently.
"You are doomed...DOOMED!"

Keeping a level head, Monsette responded: "You said that before. Why don't you make this easy on yourself and give up?"

The angry Knight of Justice was on the verge of rushing the madman when the lights from the chandelier simply vanished, blanketing the room in darkness. Monsette thought he heard a strange gurgling sound just before the lights came on again. The room was empty again; the killer nowhere in sight.

"Where did he go," Sam asked anxiously.

Monsette was about to give a encouraging answer when he noticed something on the far wall...something was leaking out of the stone. The investigator approached, unable to contain his curiosity. Upon closer inspection, Monsette realized it was blood...blood was dripping from the wall! The priest tried to back away, but the dripping turned into a spray of blood that engulfed him and the rest of the dance floor. Slipping and sliding in panic, Monsette managed to get up with help from a very frightened Sam. They were making their way off of the polished wooden floor, when Monsette noticed that the blood began to move. Tendrils were snaking their way back and forth across the floor and then stopping at fixed position...they were spelling something! The blood was spelling something!


Monsette had never cursed in all his years of life. It was simply uncivilized to curse; something that barbarians would do when they couldn't find the proper words to describe their feelings. Ignorance was no excuse for bad language after all. Given time, the right word could be found...that rule was quickly suspended.

"Sam let's get the f**k out of here NOW!"

Sam needed no encouragement to yank the poor investigator off of his feet and drag him towards the staircase. As they began to ascend, the floor began to crack upwards under the force of some unseen pressure beneath the house. Where the fissures occurred, pale green light would pour from the wound like puss. The breaking floor and green light only lent Sam strength as he began to run up the stairs with Monsette right behind him. Both men made their way towards a window they saw on the second floor that spilled onto a balcony overlooking the front yard. The screams they heard coming from down the stairs were not human...could not be human. It was the scream of pain; pain that had been festering for centuries. Monsette put his hands to his ears as he ran, attempting to block out the distraction. Sam simply barreled into the glass doors and bounced off again, like he did on the door.

"Not again," Sam shouted in frustration. "Quick Monsette, help me! Monsette, this is no time..."

Sam's voice trailed off as he saw what Monsette was staring at. A black humanoid mist was hovering near the top of the staircase, simply staring at Monsette. Its face was nothing more than an ebony skull lit from within by a malevolent reddish light. Sam pushed the catatonic priest of Viminau aside and boldly challenged the specter with his silver holy symbol. The creature's response was not pleasant: it reared back and flung its face forward...this had interesting consequences. As the creature's face approached Sam's it became more corporeal and more demonic in nature, while it screamed unearthly tones. Sam's holy symbol, a silver cross, melted all over his hand, searing his flesh where the metal came into contact with him and causing him to cry out in pain. Sam's screaming snapped Monsette out of his dazed state, allowing him to hurl his sword at the glass doors directly behind them before the specter was upon them. As the glass shattered, Monsette flung Sam through the opening and pushed him right over the side of the balcony. The investigator wasn't sure if it was him grunting or if it was Sam as the earth came rushing up to meet him...it didn't matter. In a matter of moments, the two men were up and running towards the fog encircling the house. Monsette ran and ran until he felt his lungs were on fire. Panting, the older man asked for the younger Sam to stop.

"I...can't...run...anymore. Let's...stay...here for a...while."

Sam was still wild eyed from the experience and eager to continue running, but he settled down next to Monsette after a few moments of unrest. There the two sat, in the middle of the fog, for quite sometime. Monsette didn't know how many hours or days had past, but eventually the fog cleared and the two found themselves in a thick pine forest. It was close to the edge, because Monsette could see the break in the tree line through the branches of the trees. Sam was helping Monsette to his feet when he heard a snap off to their left. Monsette nearly fell to the ground as Sam wheeled towards the sound and brandished his blade. Not more than fifty feet away from them were two figures. One was a frail man with ragged blue robes and the other was a mountain of muscle, adorned with every weapon conceivable.

"Identify yourselves," Sam yelled defiantly.

As the strange group neared, the man's face seemed to brighten at Sam's threat.

"Thank goodness! We are back in Nymbardax! The nightmare is finally over Shinlaiden, we are free."

Monsette collected his thoughts as he stood up and brushed the foliage from this clothes.

"I don't know where you think you are sir, but we are a long way from home."


First Post
October 7th, 747- "Bars do not a prison make."

Whatever happiness the frail man was holding onto, evaporated under the truth of Monsette’s harsh observations. After some discussion, both groups began to glean information from one another. The frail man and his burly companion were apparently from the world of Nymbardax too, but not the same continent. Vanyel, as he called himself, was a linguist who worked for the True Way and Shinlaiden was his bodyguard. Monsette remembered hearing something about the True Way during his time at the Great Library. From what rumor told him, the True Way was a powerful society of mages that controlled all the lands to the east of Sordania and Nordmar. They were a powerful association, not to be taken lightly. Vanyel was an extremely pale individual, whose raven-colored hair was in sharp contrast to his skin. His blue robes were tattered, but the symbol of the True Way could still be made out. What Vanyel lacked in physical strength, Shinlaiden more than made up for in stature and attitude. The muscular man was over six feet tall and had a mace, battle axe, heavy flail, and daggers strapped to various parts of his leather armor. Both men relayed the story that had brought them here. From what they divulged, the two agents of the True Way were sent to collect taxes from a rebellious town in the remote regions of their lands. A strange fog settled over the town and somehow they ended up in a strange town named Odiare. The locals spoke a strange dialect of Nymbardaxian common, but that wasn’t the real problem. The town was without adults of any kind and at night the dolls of the children came alive and attacked them. A very specific wooden puppet named Maligno seemed to have it out for them, because they barely escaped with their lives from Odiare. Running back into the Mists brought them here: the damp, cold, decidious forest out in the middle of Viminau-knows-where.

Monsette considered all of the facts that he had heard and furnished personally before making a decision. He suggested that they exit the forest and find signs of civilization. This idea went over well with everyone and turned out to be one of his better suggestions as the party spotted a large village near a huge river just outside the forest. The sparsely populated civilization, seemingly, had only residential houses, but after a while the party spotted a dilapidated structure that resembled the local tavern. The villagers eyed the party with suspicion and fear as they made their way to shelter. Securing rooms was more tedious than Monsette found necessary as he found himself up against a language barrier even his knowledge couldn’t shatter. Eventually communication degenerated into Monsette pointing to a gold piece and then pointing to a room down the hallway. The fat, greedy innkeeper took the coin and handed Monsette a key, after which Vanyel repeated the same procedure. Vanyel and Shinlaiden slept in one room, while Sam and Monsette slept in another. Both groups agreed that the "buddy system" was the more prudent direction at this point. Needless to say that everyone was tired from his personal ordeals from the past few hours. In fact everyone had drifted off to sleep just after locking the door, when their was a loud pounding on Sam and Monsette’s door. Sam was about to check it out when three angry-looking men forcibly kicked it in. One was a large, gruff individual who belonged in the forest not the village. The second was a lithe warrior with the look of absolute hatred in his eye, while the final man seemed the more tempered of the lot. He was an older man with a rotund disposition. The younger men pounced on the dumbfounded Sam, while the older man tied his hands behind his back. The perturbed Monsette was reaching for his sword when he saw the older man’s hand go up in a sign of peace. He began to speak, but Monsette couldn’t understand the stream of words coming out of his mouth, so he went and got someone who seemed to know languages very well: Vanyel. The frail linguist was able to make out a few words from the angered men. Evidently, Sam had been accused of the murder of two of the town’s citizens! As the local official and his two men hauled Sam off to the local jail, Monsette began to run facts through his head in order to awaken his mind. This was going to be a long night…

October 8th 747

The sun was coming up and Monsette felt exhausted. All night, both he and Vanyel had been talking to the pot-bellied official named Yaco about the particulars of this case and they hadn’t found out very much. Sam was accused of killing two-now missing-village residents: a man and his wife. Alehandra and Ussi have been missing for several days now and a man fitting Sam’s description was the only stranger in the village around that time. Monsette was angry at this circumstantial justice system, but as an investigator he had to respect fact, not emotion. In order for him to exonerate Sam, he would have to prove that Sam wasn’t in this village during the murders…which meant, he would have to find the bodies and interview the witnesses. Yaco was the town official that dispensed justice and his two "deputies" were Dimitri and Yanis. Dimitri was the younger, hawk-nosed man filled with rage. Yanis was the large, gruff-looking hunter. The village they were in was called Valetta and the country was called Invidia. This village earned its income from logging and Ussi was one of the better loggers of the town. Monsette was getting a serious headache from all of this.

It doesn’t make any sense. Sam couldn’t been the one, because he was on Nymbardax just a few hours ago…wasn’t he? There is too much coincidence! A man looking exactly like Sam walks into town, trades some jewelry for a few pelts, and then leaves. This town doesn’t see many visitors, so this man who looks like Sam is a big deal. The woman who he traded with is a seamstress named Celine and apparently the blonde man who looked like Sam didn’t say a word to anyone…strange. What makes matters worse is the fact that everyone loves this married couple. Alehandra was a very gorgeous petite woman who dropped off freshly baked bread to the guards on duty. Ussi was a stunningly handsome man who was best friends with Dimitri…that didn’t help this situation. Yaco has been searching for the bodies for the last two days and so far he has turned up nothing. He seems to be a very well educated villager…something about studying at the capitol of Invidia: Karina. I don’t think that he will try to abuse his position to harm Sam in any way, which is good for us. Vanyel has to be the translator in all of this because I am not making any headway on the language; maybe I will get the hang of it as time goes on. This place is not filled with monsters and there doesn’t seem to be inter-villager hatreds. The puzzle is missing some pieces…I don’t get it. We must return to the scene of the crime to get any answers…we should go to Alehandra’s and Ussi’s house.

After getting an exhausted Vanyel to get direction to the missing couple’s house, Monsette began stuffing tobacco into his pipe in preparation for his eventual smoke. Yaco was kind enough to lend him some, as he had used all of his up the night before. It wasn’t very good quality, but it would have to do for his purposes.

The couple’s house wasn’t very impressive from the outside. Built entirely out of wood, the structure only contained three rooms: a living room and two bedrooms. A window in the living room allowed light to spill into the main chamber from the street, while a smaller one illuminated the master bedroom. The living room was fairly meager in furnishings. It had a simple chimney with a cauldron, a dining table, and a cabinet filled with a few dishes and mugs. There was a small brown rug underneath the round wooden table, but overall the house seemed very clean. The master bedroom contained two dressers and a cozy bed. Everything seemed to have its proper place, even the dolls were well groomed. Vanyel and Shinlaiden blanched visibly at the dolls. Monsette was snooping around the bedroom when he heard a large crash from the adjacent room. Running outside, he saw Shinlaiden standing over a broken dish.

"What did you do?!"
"Sorry Monsette, I was just looking at it and it just slipped."
"You fool! The first rule of investigation is to NEVER disrupt the environment you find!"
"Sorry Monsette, let me just sweep it up…"
"No, NO, NO! Just get out. LEAVE!"

The dejected-looking behemoth took one more look at the damage he caused and left the house. Monsette was still a mass of quivering rage after Shinlaiden had left. It took all of Vanyel’s skill to calm him down to a rational state.

“That fool,” Monsette cursed as he kicked the cabinet, rattling the dishes in the process.
“Calm down Monsette, he’s gone now…no use getting worked up about this.”
“That monstrosity probably broke an important clue that we will never know about! With our luck it may have been able to save Sam! Damn it,” Monsette yelled as he laid into the immobile cabinet some more with his foot.
“In fairness, you are creating worse havoc now than he ever did,” Vanyel responded calmly.

Vanyel’s last few words made an impression on Monsette as he began to realize what he was doing. Smoothing out his robes, the investigator began to try and rectify the damage he had induced. It was then that he noticed something behind the cabinet…it was black. Asking for Vanyel’s meager assistance, the two began to move the cabinet with their limited brute strength. Both Vanyel and Monsette were wishing that Shinlaiden were there to help them as they shifted the cabinet. Monsette began noticing many things as he worked that he hadn’t noticed before. In addition to the new scratches being created, Monsette saw old ones near the cabinet. He also noticed a fine white powder just underneath the cabinet and a square drawn with black paint…not paint, but tar! As the investigator approached, he already noted the smell of newly applied tar; it must have only been a few days old. Using his knife to cut the tar, Monsette began to loosen a makeshift trapdoor in the floor of the house. He cut away three sides, so that the last side would simply swing downwards. As he was cutting, he began to notice the smell of decay. By the time he had cut away the square trapdoor, the smell had become overpowering. Monsette turned away from the origin of the stench and emptied his stomach onto the floor; Vanyel wasn’t far behind him when it happened. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand Monsette asked Vanyel for a lamp so that he would see better the hollowed out area directly underneath the trapdoor. With a bit of disgust, Vanyel complied with the request after which he began to mop up his boots. Monsette tied a handkerchief to his face before shining the light into the small burrow. As the light touched the earth, Monsette recognized the decaying face of young woman and the unrecognizable body of a man. The woman face had been twisted to the back of her head. The man’s body did not have a head of any kind; the tearing marks indicated that it had been ripped right off the torso. Its only identification was a hairy hand adorned with a simple golden band inscribed with some writing Monsette couldn’t make out. No other markings were visible on the bodies, which lent some credence to the fact that both died from their respective neck injuries. The white powder was obviously lime, something used to suppress the reek caused by the decaying bodies. Monsette pulled the handkerchief off of his face and turned around to face the waiting Vanyel.

“I think I have an idea where Ussi and Alehandra went.”


First Post
Joël of the FoS said:
Very good, keep it coming :)

What exactly was under the house? Does it have a "D&D" name?


Thanks Joel! Glad to see that you like:) The house itself was intended to be alive. It is possessed by the spirit of a young girl who was raped and then sealed off alive in the basement of the house by brigands. Her soul infused the house and began to exact revenge on those very brigands who had wronged, her but it didn't end there. Every person who now enters is subject to the same retribution. In "D&D" terms it is a giant construct run by a very powerful ghost. I didn't bother to stat her out, but did make a few constructs in the house (tables, chairs, beds, carpet, curtains...etc) in case that would come up. Mainly I was shooting for the "Amityville" feel and my players took the bait;) I'll try to rummage around to see if I can find those old notes. Ironically, I never had to use anything b/c everyone fled as soon as they could.


First Post
October 8th, 747- “When the scabbards are broken, we can no longer hide our swords.”

Getting up off of the floor, Monsette lit his pipe to try and erase the smell of death from the room. While he inhaled the rich taste of the tobacco, Vanyel was busy wedging a piece of charcoal underneath the front door.

“What are you doing,” asked a puzzled Monsette.
“I am trying to make sure that we will know if someone disturbs this place after we leave.”
“Clever,” a hint of admiration escaping the investigator’s lips.

The two began to place the cabinet back to its original position once Monsette had thoroughly saturated the air with smoke from this pipe.

“Now what, Vanyel inquired.
“Now, we go and find out what everyone really knows.”

The streets of Valetta were mostly deserted by the time the pair had finished cleaning up the house. The sun was becoming a sliver on the horizon as Monsette and Vanyel weaved their way through the streets of the logging town. Their destination was clear: Celine’s house; the only problem was remembering the directions Yaco had given them this morning. After a few wrong houses, a woman with Celine’s description opened the door of a familiar-looking house. Celine was a haggard, pale, and nervous woman. It was difficult to even get her to crack the door open more than a splinter; it was nearly impossible to get her to let anyone into her home. Vanyel’s appearance seemed to frighten her somehow, so Monsette had to be increasingly nice to Celine in order for them to get anywhere with her. The problem was that Vanyel had the mastery of the language and Monsette did not, so the priest of Viminau had to constantly ask his companion for words to direct the conversation. Eventually, the distrustful woman succumbed to Monsette’s calming aura and agreed to let them in. Simply because she took a liking to Monsette did not mean that she would do so with Vanyel. After everyone was sitting, she only spoke to Monsette, completely avoiding Vanyel’s existence with her senses. This seemed to have little effect on either man. During the conversation with Monsette, Celine talked about her business venture with the “blonde man,” as she described him. According to her testimony, she admitted to trading to a man who looked like Sam for some jewelry. The “blonde man” did not speak to anyone, but it was easy to trade with him through gestures. Well now we can’t distinguish him from the real Sam, because he didn’t speak a word! This is going to be harder than I expected. Thanking Celine profusely for her time, Vanyel and Monsette left on good terms.

Making their way back to the jail, both men were attempting to make sense of things…Monsette seemed to have the most trouble with the facts as they had been presented. Deciding to hide their discoveries from everyone, Monsette and Vanyel made a quick pact before entering the village’s jail. Shinlaiden wasn’t there, but both Sam and Yaco were fast asleep. From the sounds Yaco was making through his nose, it didn’t seem like sleep was helping him whatsoever. Vanyel gently awoke Yaco, while Monsette did the same with Sam. While Monsette explained everything to Sam in their native tongue, Vanyel questioned Yaco about the whereabouts of Shinlaiden. Yaco wasn’t very forthcoming with details, as he said he had no idea. This troubled everyone, especially Vanyel. Mosette suggested making some more rounds to see what everyone knew…Vanyel quickly agreed with the suggestion.

The information that Monsette and Vanyel were able to obtain was disappointing at best. Asking the various guards on duty only brought about more questions. No one saw Shinlaiden leave and no one believed that Sam was innocent. Questioning Dimitri was worse than talking with Celine. Where Celine was frigid, Dimitri was aflame. If he wasn’t such an honest man, Monsette was sure that he would have attacked him on sight for trying to defend “the murderer.” Although he hates us, I know that he wouldn’t try something petty to exact vengeance. He is an emotional man, but at least he has a strong sense of duty…too bad his righteous anger is focused on us. This place becomes stranger by the minute. First we lose Sam and then in trying to save him, we lose Shinlaiden. No one saw anything and no one knows anything! This is becoming frustrating to say the least! I have to go back to the scene of the crime to figure this all out…there are pieces missing to this puzzle that must be discovered quickly, for Samuel’s time is running out.

Darkness had crept up on the daylight and had almost achieved victory while Monsette was pondering the day’s events. The streets were simply deserted, where they were just a few minutes ago they saw some activity. Both men checked the inside of the house with a lantern before entering…it appeared as if no one had disturbed the house. As soon as Monsette entered, he lit his pipe and began pacing around the room. Vanyel was content to sit down and watch the eccentric priest walk about the house in deep contemplation. The stench from the dead bodies was beginning to rise from the hole in the floor, making Monsette’s pondering a bit more difficult. Why doesn’t it make sense? Two dead bodies and no one found them by now? I know, I’m good, but I find it difficult to believe that neither Yaco nor Dimitri would have found them by now. Something isn’t right. Something is bothering me about those bodies, but what is it? The ring…it’s too…it’s too…extravagant! Why doesn’t Alehandra have an identical ring on her hand? Ussi is a logger by trade and Alehandra seems to be a fairly good baker; how could they afford a ring made of gold and why buy just one? Maybe the other is missing, but why would the murder simply take one of the gold rings? It doesn’t fit.
Monsette was tapping his pipe on his lower lip when he heard a scream from Vanyel.

“What is it,” Monsette asked frantically.
“Sorry Monsette, its just Yaco. I didn’t see him in the window, so he gave me a scare.”

Monsette’s respect for Vanyel shriveled visibility in his eyes as he went to go open the door for Yaco. The rotund official was explaining that he just ordered everyone to keep a lookout for Shinlaiden when Monsette’s attention drifted to Yaco’s left hand. He hadn’t noticed it before but Yaco was a rather hairy man; the back of his hand was covered with hair. Monsette also remembered something about Yaco being married, but the strange thing was that thus far he had heard nothing about his wife. His wedding band is familiar, where have I seen that bef…Viminau have mercy! Suddenly the trap in Monsette’s mind sprung shut and all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together in perfect harmony. Monsette was so taken aback by his realization that he couldn’t hide it from Yaco. The local official’s pleasant attitude melted as he sniffed the air to the house. Monsette watched as Yaco’s face underwent a horrible transformation; the evil smile that split his face was too large…not meant to be displayed by mortal men.

Monsette began backing up while whispering, “What are you?” Barely controlling his horror, the investigator screamed for Vanyel to run while he attempted to draw his sword from its scabbard. Faster than Monsette’s eyes could register, Yaco’s arm shot out and grabbed the investigator’s wrist in a viselike grip. As he struggled against Yaco’s inhuman strength, Monsette noticed Vanyel’s cowering form in the corner of the room. He attempted to yell out to his companion again, but his phrase was incomplete as he was launched the other side of the room with a simple push from Yaco. Monsette’s breath left his body as he slammed against the cabinet and dropped to the floor. The cabinet rocked back and forth before falling over onto the scrambling priest of Viminau. Whatever stupor Vanyel was in was gone when he saw the large wooden cabinet crush his comrade’s leg. Yaco watched calmly as the linguist hurled himself through the small window and into the street. Confidently, the man began to walk after Vanyel as if he had all the time in the world. Monsette, in a burst of adrenaline, managed to shove the cabinet off of himself and run out the door. Upon exiting, he saw Vanyel lying prone on the street with Yaco on top of him. Yaco was pulling his head back and slamming it into the ground over and over again. Monsette didn’t know if Vanyel was dead or not, but he charged anyway! Drawing his sword back, he plunged it into Yaco’s form. The creature let out an unearthly scream as it turned to face the, now ready, Monsette. As “Yaco” stood up, Monsette noticed grey blood oozing from the wound he had just dealt. With another scream to his God, Monsette attempted to strike the creature again; this time with limited success. The creature fluidly moved inside the reach of the sword and brought its fist into contact with Monsette’s face with violent fury. The force of the punch was enough to twist Monsette’s body in midair and send him flying back into the wall. Though disoriented, he could make out the pleas of help Vanyel was shouting at the end of the alleyway. He was about to get up when he heard the air rush by his left ear, followed by the sound of splintering wood. In a feeble attempt, Monsette swung out with his sword once again only to be disarmed by “Yaco’s” tremendous strength. Monsette felt his hands wrap around his thoat and begin to choke him. Desperation took hold of him as he tried to pry the hands from his neck, but it was a futile attempt…his vision blurred and saw the end coming. Monsette wasn’t sure how long he had left, but abruptly the hands that were choking him let go. Looking up, he saw Dimitri and Yanus locked in a deadly battle with Yaco. The odds were against the two men as they tried vainly to hurt the creature. Vanyel tried to equalize the opposition by tripping Yaco…it did not have the desired effect. By directly intervening in the battle, Vanyel had made his presence known to Yaco…it did not like Vanyel whatsoever. Slamming the wind out of Yanus and backhanding Dimitri into the wall brought the proud force of resistance down to one screaming man: Vanyel. The linguist tried to run, but Yaco was faster than lightning. One second he was a good fifty paces from his victim and the next he had kicked Vanyel in the back, toppling him to the ground. Monsette knew that he would not ‘play’ with Vanyel any longer. One more shot from this thing would send his companion to the grave. Summoning the power of Viminau, Monsette drew the power of the One Truth inside him and demanded that the creature cease his attacks. The fist destined to explode Vanyel’s head stopped a fraction of an inch above its target. There the fist hovered, as “Yaco” strained against the forces holding him in place. Monsette turned to pick up his sword and finish what he had started, but when his gaze swept over the area where “Yaco” had just been, he only saw Celine. What is she doing here now? Ignoring the frightened woman, Monsette proceeded to heal his dying companions. Both Yanus and Dimitri had massive internal bleeding; Vanyel seemed to be in the best shape of all the injured.

Telling Vanyel to guard Yanus and Dimitri, Monsette rushed off to the jail cell to save Sam from harm. As it turned out, the creature did not stop by before leaving because Sam seemed just fine inside his prison. Wait…what if it has already killed Sam and taken his place? I should test him.

“What’s your name,” Monsette asked soberly.
“What are you talking about Monsette?”
“Answer me!”
“Samuel Fairheart.”
“How do I know it’s you?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Prove to me that it’s you.”
“You know, sometimes, you act like a complete freak!…sir.”

Monsette smiled while he opened the door to Sam’s prison cell. The two made their way back to the scene of devastation and dragged the injured into the nearby stench-ridden house. There the small band of men healed themselves and tried to make sense of the madness. There was a long discussion on what that “thing” was and why it was in Valetta, but nothing fruitful came of the conversation. Once everyone was well enough to travel, the small contingent of men made their way over to Celine’s house to make sure she wasn’t dead. Celine did answer the door; rather someone who looked like her. Dimitri immediately began a barrage of questions intended to put her on guard. It worked…in a sense. The woman was highly defensive, but she still managed to answer them all correctly.

Frustrated, the band went back to the jail to regroup and reinforce their position. There, they took rotating shifts to ensure that the creature would not get the jump on them again. Monsette looked each one of the men in the eye before he dozed off and spoke with deathlike solemnity:

“That thing could be out there…attack anyone who comes through that door!”


First Post
October 9th, 747- "Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways" (Stephen Vincent Benet).

Monsette was running. Someone was chasing him or he was desperately seeking someone. It was all very confusing, but the sense of urgency was there. He felt it in the deepest recesses of his soul. A light appeared in the distance...he ran towards it. Something was stapled to the wall...a man. His organs were spewing from his abdomen and blood was splattered everywhere. Where was his face? Monsette couldn't see his face! Reaching out with his hand to touch the man, he saw that it was he who was stapled to the wall. But why was he looking at himself. Monsette ran his hand through his hair to try and calm himself...he felt something warm touch his scalp. Looking at his hand, he saw ooze...gray ooze!

Monsette awoke with a start. He could already feel the damp clothing on his skin, where the sweat from his body had soaked through the material. The sun was already up and Sam, the only one not asleep. Going about his daily routine, Monsette began awaking the other members of the band once he had completed his prayers to Viminau. He would have preferred to sit on a chair but it seemed as though Sam had the only one. I could have sworn that there was another one...well no matter. Once Vanyel was up, the linguist seemed to meditate for a bit as well. Dimitri and Yanus were not talkative, as the events from the previous night had left them in a somber mood. After Vanyel had completed his meditations, he proceeded to weave some form of power over the entire group. Monsette recognized the spell as a Zone of Truth, capable of forcing the truth from a liar's mouth. Monsette, picking up on Vanyel's idea, asked a series of direct questions to ensure that everyone was who they seemed to be...everyone checked out. The group then decided to simultaneously inform the village as to what was going on and find their missing companion Shinlaiden. Yanus volunteered to track down their missing friend, while Dimitri informed the village of recent events. Monsette; however, did not want to leave until he had personally informed Alehandra's mother of her daughter's death. No one seemed opposed to the idea, because only Monsette knew the true reason behind the seemingly kindly act: gathering information.

Alehandra's mother was not difficult to find, as she was one of the more conspicuous members of Valetta these days. Monsette wanted her to feel comfortable, so he met with the kindly old lady at her place of residence to conduct the discussion. The old woman proved to be very resilient to the definitive news that Alehandra's body had been found. She did cry a little, but not enough to impede Monsette's questioning process.

"I am sorry to be the bearer of such bad news Mrs. Venustas. Please accept my condolences," Monsette said comfortingly.
"It's alright," the old lady replied, "I knew my Alehandra was gone even before you told me."
"This is a terrible time for you; I know, but I need to ask you a few questions. Could you tell me of any strange events that happened to your daughter...anything at all?"
"This is the fault of the Vistani, I am sure of it! The full moon gives the night evil powers...the full moon is when all the bad things started happening. You see, Alehandra was a special girl, so beautiful, so young. She was always afraid of the full moon. I remember once, when she slept with me because she was so scared. Holding her close that night, I had the strangest dreams..."

The old mother couldn't contain herself anymore, as she began sobbing uncontrollably. Monsette was about to inject another question between the gasps for breath, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him. Turning around, Monsette saw Vanyel shaking his head in adamant protest. Cursing under his breath about the lack of professionalism, Monsette offered his condolences once again before taking his leave.

Once outside, Vanyel, Monsette, Sam, and Yanus made their way through the gathering crowd towards the edge of the village. There, Yanus studied the ground for what seemed like hours before deciding on a direction: north, towards the woods. The trail was slow going, as Yanus stopped every so often to check the ground for tracks of any kind. He said that it was a bit more difficult to track, because the tracks were not fresh and it hadn't rained in quite some time. Once the trail entered the forest, Yanus seemed to slow to a crawl. This will take forever, but at least we are getting somewhere. I don't think these woods are Darkseed or we would probably be dead by now. No, this place is nowhere I have ever read about. The temperate climate suggests Nordmar or even the north of Jiqui, but that can't be right. I have a feeling we are not even on Nymbardax anymore. Maybe we are, but at an earlier period. The language these people speak is ancient in its origin, but seems to have developed differently. Did we go back in time? Another world? Another plane? If so, it would have to be an Outer Plane...I won't think about that for now. Maybe I should ask around for the local faiths to determine whether their lingual and religious roots are completely dissimilar to ours.

Monsette's was torn away from his pondering at the call of Yanus up ahead. The hunter seemed to have found a secluded clearing at the crest of a small hill. Many tracks visibly crossed the area multiple times, to and from the extinguished campfire at the center. Poking around the area revealed that there were three sets of footprints. The first were obviously Shinlaiden's and the second were of a smaller man carrying a large amount of weight (Yaco). The third set of tracks remained a mystery to everyone, including Yanus. While everyone was discussing the tracks, Vanyel spotted a small metal box in the fire pit at the center of the clearing. The box was crafted of dark metal, with a seven-pointed green star as its only markings. Monsette suggested to smash it open until Vanyel produced a key with an identical seven-pointed star engraved upon it. It was unsurprising to find that the key fit perfectly into the box's lock and produced a clicking sound when it turned. As Vanyel opened the box, Monsette peered questioningly at him.

"Where did you find that key?"
"When you ran off to the jail after the fight with 'Yaco' I noticed that the creature had dropped this key."
"And you never bothered to tell me?"
"I had simply forgotten until now."

As the lid of the box drew back, the light of the sun revealed a crumpled parchment inside. The text was a flowing script that seemed to have many errors in it, as almost every letter had been struck through with a line.

"It's in that foreign language," Monsette cursed.
"Don't worry Monsette, I have been studying this type of thing for many years, it shouldn't take long to decipher it."
"I hope not," Monsette muttered.

Vanyel's eyes washed over the page many times before he read the parchment aloud in grave tones.

  • X Alehandra Venustas: Valleta, Invidia
  • Gunter Edel: Vallaki, Barovia
  • X Ian McGregor: Immol, Barovia
  • Alex LePur: Pont-a-Museau, Richemulot
  • X Adolf Heinrich: Ludendorf, Lamordia
  • X Nathan Corvus: Corvia, Darkon
  • X Jean Du Leur: Pont-a-Lucine, Dementlieu

"Comb the area everyone, let's find Shinlaiden first and then worry about this later."

Once Yanus was informed of the plan, everyone split up to find any trace of Vanyel's imposing companion. After many hours of searching, not one person was able to find any leads on Shinlaiden's whereabouts...not even Yanus. Frustrated, the group made their way back to the small village of Valetta to contemplate their next move. Monsette had Vanyel explain everything they knew to Yanus, so that he could tell Dimitri. While the conversation was taking place, Monsette took the opportunity to ransack the jailhouse for any important clues pertaining to the reasons a shapeshifter would kill a beautiful woman and try to hide her body underneath her very own house. Whether it was Viminau's sense of humor or simply bad luck, no such answer emerged from Monsette's long search. All that he was able to turn up was mediocre drawing of Alehandra in one of the desk drawers.

"Well, I'm out of ideas," Monsette said exasperatedly.
"I think this...thing...is an assassin," Vanyel said softly.
"I gathered as much from the list and the dead body," Monsette replied sarcastically. "What we should try to figure out is WHY it is killing these people."
"Does it really matter," Sam interrupted. "We should be more concerned with finding him than why he is doing these terrible things."
"If we can find his motives Sam, then we will be one step ahead of him."
"His motives are plain Monsette: kill everyone on the list. We have to find the rest of the people and warn them...period."
"Yes, yes...of course," Monsette replied half-heartedly. "Although, I would like to ask Alehandra's mother some more questions."
"I would have to disagree on this Monsette. The woman has suffered enough and you will get no useful information from her now. I can not condone this recourse."
"I agree with Sam," Vanyel intoned.
"Very well then. I suggest that we get an early night's sleep and travel to warn these people first thing in the morning. Agreed?"

The nod from both Sam and Vanyel was enough to end the discussion and put everyone in bed...on a rotating watch, of course.

Monsette was just about to drift into a deep sleep when his consciousness was stirred by the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. It was a violin, but played with exquisite skill and filled with the power of emotion. Normally, he would just write something like this off, but he noticed that Sam and Vanyel were up as well.

"Well...let's go see what it is," Monsette said with an air of resignation in his voice.

Gearing up, the group headed towards the eastern edge of the village. The guards on duty were transfixed on the sound and almost didn't notice the party until it was on top of them. They made no attempt to hinder the three men as they strode by, towards the source of the beautiful sound. As they approached, Sam was able to spot a small fire in the distance and two shapes huddled around it. The tone of the music became more and more heartrending as party closed the distance between themselves and the fire, until it almost became unbearable. Then, quite suddenly, it ceased altogether. Details became more readily apparent. The first shape was that of a heavy-set man and the second was unmistakably that of Shinlaiden! The man next to Shinlaiden had bloodshot eyes, olive skin, and dark hair. He was definitely in his prime, contrasting his white mustache. Shinlaiden was in bad shape. His upper lip was swollen, blood was all over his tattered clothing, he had scratches on most parts of his body, and he had no equipment whatsoever. The wagon behind the strange man and Shinlaiden wasn't obvious at first, but as the party approached the fire they could make out strange writing on the side and a small iron crib against it. Vanyel immediately rushed over to heal the battered Shinlaiden, while Monsette confronted the strange man playing the violin.

"May I help you with something," the man asked calmly.
"Thank you for aiding our friend kind stranger."

The cheerless man was on the verge of answering when his attention was shifted by the sounds of an infants cries. The screams came from the iron cage by the wagon. Somberly, the man got up and walked over the crib. While he was away, tending to the child, Monsette began grilling the recovering Shinlaiden for answers. The burly man was just as confused as the rest of the party. After he had left the group, he passed out on the street and woke up in the forest, tied and gagged. Somehow he managed to escape the bonds and tried to make his way back to the village. The only problem was that a humanoid catlike creature ambushed him and it would have killed him if not for the intervention of a gorgeous woman. All of these details were not fitting together for anyone; Monsette included. He was about to ask more detailed questions, when Vanyel simply got up and ran towards the man holding the infant. Sam, sensing a problem, was not far behind the frail linguist. Cursing, Monsette got up and stormed over to see what the commotion was about. Vanyel was already using his remaining energy on the infant. As Monsette approached, he could already see how malnurished the infant was. Adding his own healing to the baby boy radically improved its health.

"Thank you," said the olive-skinned man.
"It was nothing, replied Vanyel. "Shouldn't your wife be tending to such matters?"

The man's demeanor visibly darkened.

"My wife is dead. She died recently from a fever."
"I am sorry," Vanyel said.
"Why don't you just go into the village and get a midwife," Monsette asked.
"No one will help the Vistani," the man said.
"In any case, we can't just go around tactly avoiding your name. What would you like us to call you," Monsette intoned pleasantly.
"My name is Raul."
"Well that baby is very sick and needs a midwife to regain its health," Vanyel interjected. "If it doesn't get proper care, it will die Raul."
"I'm not worried about my son...it's my wife that scares me."
"You just said that your wife was dead," Monsette observed.
"I burnt her body, but every night she comes back to nurse our son!"
"Vimanau be merciful..."
"Leyla tells me to play for her," Raul continued. "She looks the same...as if she had never died."

After a long pause, Monsette pulled Vanyel to the side and begin to speak in hushed tones.

“We shouldn’t tell Sam.”
“Why not,” Vanyel inquired.
“We need to reason with this specter, not destroy it.”
“You are right, it may be confused…I will send Shinlaiden away as well.”

Both men, then, walked over to their respective subordinates and issued orders that they return to the village. Sam was very hesitant to leave, but Monsette insisted that they would be in no danger. Vanyel didn’t bother to explain his actions to Shinlaiden; instead he dismissed him curtly. Once Sam and Shinlaiden had left, Monsette and Vanyel hid themselves next to the wagon and waited for the inevitable arrival of Raul’s dead wife.

It wasn’t long before a beautiful dancer’s body began to float through the air, the rain passing right through its insubstantial form. On and on it danced, Raul feverishly playing his violin until it stopped at the iron crib near the wagon. Monsette couldn’t take his eyes off of her…she was stunning. The fascination was short-lived as pain flooded through his left arm. Looking up, Monsette saw Vanyel clamping down onto a piece of his flesh. Shaking his idle thoughts away, Monsette and Vanyel broke cover just in time to see the Leyla begin nursing her son. The color that had been restored to the child by Vanyel’s direct intervention was undone as the baby went pale from the ghost’s unearthly nectar. The suckling did not carry on for long, as the child went limp in the ghost’s arms.

“Hello Leyla,” Vanyel said carefully.

The dead woman placed the baby back into the iron crib before turning to face Vanyel.

“Why hello. Do I know you,” Leyla asked innocently.
“No Leyla, you do not. I have just recently met your husband and your son,” Vanyel went on.

While Leyla was distracted, Monsette darted over to the baby and used minor healing powers to bring it back to life.

“Leyla, I know this may sound like a strange question, but do you remember anything recently?”
“I don’t understand,” the pleasantness leaving her voice.
“I mean do you know what you did this morning?”
“That’s a strange question. Who are you again?”
“My name is Vanyel and I am friend of your husband.”
“I don’t know of such a name!”
“That is because I just met him today…do you remember anything that happened to you today?”
“Well, I just wandered off for a moment,” she began defensively.
“Do you remember anything that happened this morning Leyla?”
“I-I-I…What difference does it make,” she exclaimed in rage.
“That’s just it…you can’t remember, because you died many days ago.”
“But I’m right here, talking with you.”
“Yes, I know you are, but you are a ghost Leyla…a spirit.”
“No, these are lies! LIES,” Leyla screamed as she clutched her head.
“You are killing your son Leyla, you must stop this,” Vanyel persisted.
“You are trying to steal my son with your lies…YOU ARE TRYING TO TAKE MY SON FROM ME!!!”

Leyla swung out with her incorporeal hand and struck Vanyel in the chest. Her hand went right through his body, but he screamed in agony as his life force was ripped from the vessel of flesh. Negotiations had broken down and diplomacy was dead. Sensing this, Monsette infused his weapon with divine power and launched himself into the fray. Blue sparks flew from the contact between his empowered weapon and the incorporeal monster. Vanyel attempted to force the spirit back to its final resting place, but whatever forces had brought her back from the grave proved to difficult to counter. Monsette kept slamming his blade into the monster, but his efforts seemed futile. Eventually the spirit was able to bypass the enchanted weapon and suffuse Monsette with a chill from the netherworld. Monsette’s body was unaccustomed to such trauma so all of his muscles locked up and refused to move. Gaping and paralyzed, Monsette watched in terror, as Leyla was about to finish him off. Monsette would have died, had Vanyel not intervened. Casting his final spell, Vanyel attempted to drive the spirit away with forbidden arcane power. His power failed and the repercussions were severe. Leyla, an enraged vessel of death shoved both of its arms into Vanyel’s body and tore his soul to pieces. Vanyel didn’t even scream as his body went limp and fell to the ground. Monsette watched in anger as he stood helpless to save his friend. It was then that the miracle happened. Leyla’s image wavered as brilliant white light burst from behind her. The woman’s body began to gain substance as she stumbled weakly over to her terrified husband and slumped down next to him. As soon as her hand touched his, her body began to disintegrate.

“I curse you, murderers, from the depths of my heart; may you never feel the healing touch of compassion,” Leyla said feebly as the last of her was turned to dust and scattered by the wind.

“Mind telling me what is going on,” Sam said with a hint of anger in his voice.
“Let’s have this argument later Sam. First help me carry Vanyel back to the village.”

Picking up Vanyel’s limp form, Sam hurried back towards the village. Monsette tested the rejuvenated muscles in his body before daring to use them. Looking back one more time at the sobbing Raul, the investigator began the long trek back to the village of Valetta.


First Post
October 10th, 747- “Who makes frequent inquiries about the road does not go astray.”

As Monsette walked into the Inn’s rather shabby lounge, he noticed that some color had returned to Vanyel’s face. Perhaps the cloak of blankets encasing Vanyel’s frail body had somehow managed to warm him up. The fire had burnt out a while ago, but Monsette supposed that the warmth it had generated did help the healing process. He would have stayed with Vanyel, but the last few days had exhausted him; he could barely keep himself up as it was. Easing himself into a chair, Monsette began pulling tobacco out of his pouch and stuffing his pipe when he heard a large crash coming from the rooms down the hall. The investigator continued to fill his pipe with icy calm as the innkeeper ran down the hall and began yelling obscenities at the top of his lungs. Gathering some tinder, Monsette lit the pile with flint and steel he had borrowed from Sam just before their hellish trip into the Warehouse District a few days ago. He began to inhale deeply while he lit the tobacco with the burning tinder. The smoke was intoxicating. He almost didn’t hear the shouting going on right behind him. Shinlaiden had broken a bed and the innkeeper seemed rather agitated about that. Something about tossing while having a nightmare…it really didn’t matter. The gold coin that Monsette produced was quickly snatched away by the greedy Innkeeper’s. The investigator watched as the glint of gold disappeared in between the rolls of fat covering the man’s deft hands. Monsette didn’t bother to count the sum of money returned to him, while he ordered breakfast amidst the chaos. Everything was going to hell anyway, why not? Looks like Vanyel is up.

Vanyel struggled with blankets embalming his body, until Sam appeared and helped him out of the cocoon.

“She’s gone isn’t she,” Vanyel gasped as the Sam freed him from the last blanket.
“Yeah, I took care of her,” Sam intoned somberly.
“By the Council, what have we done? We have destroyed her only hope of salvation. She was so confused…I am a monster.”

The fork carrying food to Monsette’s mouth clattered to the floor, drawing everyone’s attention. The walls Monsette had erected these past few days to stave off the madness had slowly been crumbling, slowly deteriorating. Spider-web cracks erupted on an hourly basis…whatever Vanyel had said simply shattered them in a single blow.

“What did you say,” Monsette hissed as he slowly rose from his chair. Stalking over to Vanyel, his voice began to grow as he shouted. “We almost died out there because of that selfish ghost! That THING was killing its own child and haunting its husband! It didn’t care about anything but itself and you are defending it?!! Defending a monster that was causing harm to the innocent! Are you insane?!”

The last word rung out in the silence of the room. Monsette wiped the saliva from his mouth with the back of hand and returned to his breakfast with a growl. The investigator’s words had more effect than he had anticipated. Sam and Shinlaiden were staring at him with shock plainly etched in their faces and tears were welling up in Vanyel’s eyes. With a sigh, Monsette got up once again from his food and walked over to the distressed Vanyel. Calling upon the power of Viminau, Monsette attempted to repair some of the damage the specter had caused Vanyel. As the energy poured from Monsette’s hands, into Vanyel, it dissipated over his body! Shinlaiden and Sam’s eyes only got wider.

“I told you Monsette. We are alone out here. I don’t even feel Salvx anymore…it’s as if he has abandoned me,” Sam said with morbidly.
“Shut up Sam,” Monsette snapped.

Invoking Viminau’s power once again, Monsette attempted to repair his own vessel of flesh. Nothing happened. Even Sam’s divine power dissipated over Vanyel’s body.

“We are cursed,” Vanyel said prophetically.
“Thank you for that lifting speech Vanyel. You two watch him, while I go talk to Raul.”

Monsette stalked out of the Inn, leaving plumes of smoke in the air around him. The day passed quickly and still there was no word from him. The party waited impatiently for the return of Monsette: Vanyel drew Leyla, Shinlaiden slept, and Sam drank. Only well after the sun had set on the horizon did he finally return with Raul in tow.

“Here’s the deal. One of the guys on the list without his name crossed off lives in this place called Barovia. This country is a few days away by horse. Raul has agreed to guide us there and help us find this…Gunter Edel. Apparently he lives in the capitol. Everyone rest up tonight, because it is going this is going to be a long trip.”

October 11th, 747

Atop horses provided by a grateful Dimitri did the party proceed on their journey. Raul packed up the wagon and only took his son Nikki with him. When asked if he was afraid someone would steal his belongings, he only became grimmer and answered that they would suffer a fate worse than death…no one asked about that again. The baby was difficult to satiate, as the party possessed no milk, but divine power from both Monsette and Vanyel seemed to stave off death. The party didn’t quite understand why it was that their spells worked some of the time, but then again, no one spoke much anyway.

October 12th, 747

The blue skies became more and more overcast as the group progressed towards the Barovian/Invidian border. The lush deciduous forests gave way to harsher evergreens as the temperature began to visibly drop. The party made light conversation with one another to keep morale up. The two times, the party was frightened was when Shinlaiden expressed worry about “seeing something funny” and when Vanyel woke everyone up because he had a nightmare. Needless to say that both incidents did not help the party’s confidence.

October 13th, 747

As the river wound up towards the domain of Barovia, it forked allowing one branch to go north while the other went south. Nestled between the forks resided a fairly large town called Zidendorf. Raul explained that this town was on the edge of Barovia because Lord Strahd, ruler of Barovia, had recently annexed the land. Needless to say that the land and its people were in turmoil, thus a large battalion had been stationed in Zidendorf to ensure the “peace.” Gundaraks were known for their short temper…this kept many people in jail.

Simply by entering the town, the party already noticed the dramatic difference between Invidians and Barovians. The men in this town seemed bigger, heavier, and meaner altogether. They wore their black hair in braids and donned stout woolen vests. The women seemed to cover every inch of their bodies with drab clothing and no one seemed to be without a male counterpart. The approach of seven heavily armed guards did nothing to lighten the atmosphere. All of the men wore identical chain shirts, covered with an orange tunic that bore crest of a raven. The men’s looks were adamantine. As no one but Raul seemed to understand their thick accents, none of the party members bothered to speak. Although it was tense, the moment was quickly gone as the regiment dispersed with Raul’s last words.

“What did they want,” Monsette asked.
“They just wanted to know what we planned to do in the town,” Raul replied.
“I don’t need the language to tell me those guys thought we were trouble,” Sam said sternly.

Monsette’s mind worked at a thousand paces a minute, while he discussed the party’s next move. The conclusion was that Vanyel and Raul would go look for a midwife, while Monsette, Sam, and Shilaiden looked for information. Shinlaiden didn’t like the idea of leaving Vanyel, but he finally agreed after some coercion from the frail linguist. As Vanyel and Raul disappeared into the crowd, Monsette led his group towards the one place everyone could help but talk: the local tavern. It wasn’t hard to find. Put a bunch of angry men and alcohol together in a cold desolate region and you get noise. All Monsette had to do was follow the sound.

Normally alcohol breaks down social and economical barriers…in this case it did not. There was a visible schism in this tavern. On one side, the men tasked with preserving the peace sat and on the other lied a lesser-armed majority without the benefit of identification. Both groups eyeing one another and muttering in hushed tones as Monsette entered. When the investigator walked in with Shinlaiden and Sam flanking him, all conversation stopped as every eye turned towards him. Monsette couldn’t help but use this opportunity to his advantage. In a halting form of the language, Monsette spoke to the waiting audience.

“I am looking for the capitol of this country. I believe it is called Vallaki.”

The silence was shattered as the tavern erupted in laughter. Both sides laughed and pointed at the now blushing investigator. As the laughter began to die down a man red from laughter spoke between gasps of air.

“Maybe you should go back to Invidian and ask your mother!”

This only produced more laughter from everyone but Shinlaiden, Sam, and Monsette.

“Thank you but no good sir,” Monsette replied calmly. “I am looking for a path to Vallaki. Would you please help me?”
“If I were you Invidian, I would follow the Old Svitch Road to Vallaki. I wouldn’t stray from the path…you wouldn’t want to get attacked by ghouls and goblins on your first night here.”

The man’s somber tones were crushed with another round of laughter from all parties. Shinlaiden’s jaw clenched and unclenched in anger. He didn’t understand the language, but he didn’t need to be a linguist to know that everyone was laughing at them! The burly man stepped forward, his massive frame interposing itself between Monsette and the group of laughing townsmen. Watching Shinlaiden from the other side of Monsette, Sam followed suit. The tension that had been dispelled by the laughter returned with renewed force. The man Shinlaiden was staring at stood up…eight men following suit. Both men simply starred at one another, neither backing down. The men in uniforms looked on with growing amusement.

“I think we have had enough here Shin; don’t you think,” Monsette asked in soothing tones.

Monsette backed his belligerent companions out of the Inn…slowly. Laughter shortly resumed once the group had left. After reprimanding Shinlaiden for almost getting everyone killed, the group linked up with Vanyel and Raul. Vanyel said that they had been unsuccessful in obtaining a midwife, because of the level of racism against Raul’s people. Something about how no one wanted to get involved with “the dark magic of the Vistani.” However, the good news Vanyel did bring was the fact that he had managed to secure a female goat at the cost of some paper and his harp; the most prized possession Vanyel ever had. Monsette added sacrifice to the mix, but donating the remainder of his money and selling his (or rather Sam’s) flint and steel to purchase furs for everyone. Once they were well equipped, everyone agreed that it was safer outside the town than within. Slinging his bedroll over his shoulder, Monsette led the party away from Zidendorf.


First Post
October 14th, 747: “Fiat Veritas pereat vita (Let there be truth and may life perish).”-Friedrich Nietzsche

The party awoke wearily the next morning at first light. No one had slept well; even Shinlaiden, who had pulled the final leg of guard duty, seemed bleary-eyed when he roused everyone. Sam and Raul were eager to make headway on their long journey towards Vallaki immediately, but Vanyel astutely pointed out that the horses did not have enough food to last a long trip. A grappling hook, belt pouch, and strange metal box with a seven-pointed star later, Monsette had grudgingly secured horse feed, a harness, and an old rickety cart to tie the goat to with a small chain he had also purchased. The Old Svitch Road was a large highway, which would have been able to allow three wagons to ride abreast of one another. As it was, no such traffic existed as the party made their way North. Vanyel began to suspect that the sun set faster than normal in the realm of Barovia, but Monsette assured him that the cloud cover was at fault for that phenomenon.

Guard duty had been the same every night: Sam, Monsette, Vanyel, Raul, and then Shinlaiden. Sam was about reaching the pleasant stages of slumber when he was awoken by gentle hands shaking him.

"What? What is it," Sam said groggily.
"Sam, I thought I saw something. Something is out there," Vanyel whispered.
"I don't see anything, you must be just imagining." Sam's voice trailed off.

The Old Svitch Road wound its way north and was flanked, to the east, by an enormous forest of evergreens so thick that the light of the sun could barely penetrate its outermost reaches. To the west of the road lied plains of tall brown grass; the area where the party had decided to make camp, over one hundred yards from the road. Suspended ten feet above the ground, in the forest, were glowing red orbs.hundreds of small red orbs simply suspended among the trees. Needless to say that no one slept for the rest of the night. The party huddled together, weapons drawn, awaiting the inevitable.

October 15th, 747

Morning came, if slowly, banishing the glowing red orbs from forest. Exhaustion had set in anew, wreaking havoc on the party's conversational capabilities. In fact, the situation had become so dire that Shinlaiden was ordered to travel next to Sam in order to catch him if he nodded off in the saddle. Monsette was going over the finer points of his religion; to keep himself and others from falling asleep, when his speech was rudely interrupted by a loud squawk from within the forest. Monsette continued on unabated, but the squawking only seemed to get louder. First a new crow joined in the song and then another shortly thereafter. Soon the sound became deafening as a chorus of crows began to sing with chilling tones. Monsette didn't need any more encouragement to pick up the pace. He was about to tell everyone to move a little quicker when a white dove broke from the forest's cover and landed on Vanyel's shoulder. No one had anytime to react to the situation as a cloud of darkness burst from the tree line right on the dove's tail. The morning sun was eclipsed as hundreds of crows encircled the party in a shower of black feathers. Vanyel attempted vainly to shield the dove with his hands as a storm of beaks rained down upon him. Monsette, in the meantime, struggled to channel the power of Viminau into a shield that could protect the party from the forces of evil, but the hail of claws proved to be more than a match for his concentration. Sam strained his arms to keep his horse from bolting, but Shinlaiden did not possess the skill to do so. The frightened horse bucked and threw Vanyel into the air. Only by the luck did Vanyel backwards into Sam's waiting arms. Once he had secured Vanyel, Sam galloped his horse into the forest not daring to look back. Shinlaiden and Raul urged their horses forward in a similar fashion, while Monsette unhooked the cart from his horse. Unbuckling the straps, Monsette heard the hopeless cries of the goat as the crows tore it to pieces. As Monsette galloped his horse over to the forest, he took one look back at the cart only to see that no trace of the goat remained and the chain had been broken. The crows were dispersing somewhat, but Monsette wasn't will to stick around and find out if the goat had satisfied their hunger.

A few minutes later the party had regrouped a mile or so into the forest. The dove that Vanyel had so desperately tried to save was perched on a branch just above his head, cooing innocently.

"I think that we are supposed to follow it," Vanyel uttered.
"How can you be so sure," Mosette asked.
"I saw this bird in a dream I had two nights ago. It is a guide."
"A dream Vanyel?"
"Yes, it was where I had to make a choice.I don't remember fully, but I do remember the dove."
"The forests in Barovia are dangerous," Raul interrupted worriedly. "Sometimes Barovian brides are taken on their wedding nights and later found in the woods.mutilated. It is a dangerous place at night."
"Why am I not surprised," replied Monsette. "Tell me Raul, is it faster to Vallaki through the forest?"
"Yes it is much faster, but."
"Good, then that settles it. Your baby needs milk after all…we can't just let him die now can we?"

The party’s silence was mirrored in the forest. Not a single bird call; not a single insect’s chirp. The rest of the day was suffocating for everyone as they followed the dove through the forest.

October 17th, 747

New days only brought more misery to the party as they trudged though the damp forest. Yesterday saw a torrential downpour, making the trek more difficult for both the horses and the riders. Only a sliver of the once proud full moon remained hidden in the folds of the clouds. The party’s self proclaimed guide wasn’t much help, as his navigational skills asserted that a small town should have appeared by now…this did nothing for morale. Monsette did everything he could to cling to the crumbling vision of hope. He had about exhausted his stories of victory when Raul spotted a small house in the distance. As the group approached and dismounted it seemed more like cottage than a house. The dove serenely perched itself over the roof of the structure and waited in expectation. Vanyel shivered as he moved forward, but was violently yanked back by Monsette.

“What’s wrong,” Vanyel asked.

He hadn’t noticed it before, but it there were humanoid shapes surrounding the cottage. Monsette counted three of them as he cautiously examined them from afar. They were as tall as a man, but hunched over in a sitting position. Monsette couldn’t make out any features as the figures wore dark heavy robes, adorned with the rot of fungus. All three were sitting in the center of circular patterns outlined in chalk…simply staring at the house.

“This is a bad idea Vanyel. I say we just forget we ever saw this house and move along. The longer we stay out here the more chance there is of Nikki dying.”
“No Monsette…I have to know. All my life I have questioned my existence; I want answers now,” Vanyel replied coolly.

Before Monsette could retort with witty sarcasm, Vanyel was walking towards the cottage.

“You fool! Phah! Well, don’t just stand there you idiots, go after him!”

Sam and Shinlaiden looked at one another with the glance of understanding before chasing after Vanyel. As he approached the house, the cloaked figures began to stir. Slowly at first did they rise from their positions in unison. Their skeletal hands reached out simultaneously but came up against an invisible force. Their arms strained against the barrier causing blue sparks to fly from the very air they touched. As they pushed through, their hands narrowed into curved steel blades. Shinlaiden grabbed Vanyel, pulling him back, as Sam interposed himself between the hooded figures and his companions. The instant Sam freed his rapier from its scabbard did the creatures explode into action. Moving faster than anyone could register, the skeletal men routed their pray. One rushed Sam directly, while the other two went after Van and Shinlaiden. Sam would have lost his life had he not brought his sword up in a defensive posture to deflect the steel weapons growing out of creature’s forearms. For the first in many years Sam saw the look of fear as he gazed into the monster’s glowing green eyes.

Shinlaiden watched as Vanyel’s spellcasting was interrupted by a slash of the creature’s blade across the frail man’s torso. Watching his friend fall back in anguish triggered something deep in his subconscious mind. Primal instincts of protection were awoken from buried corners of his soul. He ignored the skeletal monster attacking him. With a scream of rage, Shinlaiden brought his mace down onto the monster’s skull as Vanyel scurried away to safety. This proved to be a mistake, as the final creature skewered Shinlaiden through the shoulder. Ignoring the pain, the behemoth grabbed the skeleton’s arm and began to ram his skull into its forehead over and over. The force of each blow was enough to move the skeleton back. While Shinlaiden was wrestling with the undead, Sam was doing all he could to stay alive. Raul and Monsette battled the remaining creature with aid of Viminau. In the ensuing chaos, Vanyel slipped away towards the house. During the huge melee Monsette saw Vanyel’s form approach the cottage. When he arrived at the door, light flared up from within the structure. Ignoring the cries of battle, Vanyel creaked the door open. Broken furniture, dust, and dirt littered the floor. The only intact object was a small chair, occupied by an older man. He, like the rest of the room, had a layer of dust covering his simple white robes.

“Who are you,” Vanyel asked in Balok (Local language).
“The better question is who are you,” the man replied with flawless Nymbardaxian Common.

As he turned, his gaunt frame became apparent. A hawkish nose protruded from rather pale skin. His hair was snow white, radically contrasting his dark eyes. They were black pools, without any illusion of pupils.

“So, Vanyel, would you like to come inside?”

Vanyel was torn from his thoughts by the pressure of blood soaked hand on his arm. Turning around, he saw his weakened companion staring at him. Directly behind him were Raul, Sam, and Shinlaiden; still locked in fierce battle against the undead creatures.

“Don’t go in there Vanyel,” Monsette told him.

“Oh come now Monsette. Surely you don’t think I would wish harm on our…unique…friend Vanyel do you? Besides, it’s raining…if you stay out there any longer you will catch your death.”

Monsette was just about to refute the strange man’s point when a light drizzle began. Vanyel looked up at the sky one last time before entering the cottage.

“Tell me who I am,” Vanyel demanded.
“In due time young one. There are many things that must be done…many things indeed,” the strange old man answered.
“Tell me now! No more games.”
“It is…difficult to explain.”

In anger Vanyel wheeled about and headed towards the door.

“I wouldn’t do that,” the old man cautioned.

Vanyel paid no attention to him. Passing the threshold caused an arc of lightning to surround him and hurl the poor man back into the room. Shaking his head, the old man began dragging the smoking linguist towards the center of the room.

“Now, before you do something rash, let me tell you that your friend is only half-dead. Only I can save him now, so do not interfere if you value his life.”

Monsette stared on in anger as the man began weaving his hands in strange motions. Runes began to light up all over the house, encasing the two in brilliant light. Shielding his eyes, Monsette barely saw what happened next. Lightning shot from the runes and began to flow through Vanyel…they moved faster and faster until Monsette had to close his eyes in pain. Then quite suddenly it all stopped and Vanyel was gone.

“That was taxing. Well, I fulfilled my end of the bargain.”
“What have you done to my friend,” Monsette screamed in rage. “I will kill you!”

Clicking his tongue, the old man only smiled. “How are you going to kill me if you aren’t even here.”


Monsette, Shinlaiden, Raul, and Sam found themselves right outside an enormous town on the Old Svitch Road. The stream of curses Monsette proceeded to unleash could have flayed the hide from a demon in the ninth level of the hell…


First Post
October 17th, 747- “Even though you know a thousand things, ask the man who knows one.”

Only after Monsette had made sure that he was nearly hoarse did he allow everyone proceed into the town. The main road was fairly easy to spot; everyone trudged onward. Although it was late in the night, Monsette did notice the familiar glow of torchlight not too far in the distance. Within moments a young man dressed for battle intercepted them. He had on a chain shirt and wore the raven’s tunic Monsette had seen in Zidendorf. Although the man did not brandish his weapon, Monsette was clear on one thing: if he was provoked there would be a battle here.

“Gentlemen, how may I assist you,” the man spoke. It was more a demand than a question.

“Could you tell us where we are? It seems that we have lost our way,” Monsette replied in a raspy voice.

“This is the village of Vallaki. What business do you have here?”

“We are here to speak with a local merchant by the name of Gunter Edel. However, we are very tired at the moment and require lodgings for the night. Could you recommend any places to stay?”

The tension visibly melted from the young man’s face.

“Come with me, I have just the place. It is a quiet place called the Blue Water Inn. The innkeeper is named Takoff…he is a good man. Stay there the night and let me berth your horses. I am the Watch Captain tonight, but it is almost the end of my shift anyway.

The young captain led the party through the streets of Vallaki. For a village, it seemed rather large to Monsette. The main road ended in the center of the village, where a great cobblestone plaza had been built. The plaza was complete with a well, a small park, and most manner of shops anyone could conceive off…for a village, it seemed rich indeed. As it was late, the captain had to wake Takoff from his slumber so that the party had an opportunity to acquire rooms. The rooms were fairly steep for Monsette’s tastes, but it was better than freezing to death outside. Takoff made no fuss about Raul being a Vistani and his wife even offered to take care of the baby for the night. Everyone was so enamored with this show of generosity that even Monsette’s naturally paranoid behavior evaporated.

October 18th, 747

The next morning, Monsette awoke rather refreshed. The rooms they had rented were simple, yet very cozy. As he existed his room, Monsette found Raul playing with his baby in the company of Helga (Takoff’s wife). Breakfast had already been laid out on the table, so Monsette politely obliged by taking a pastry and cup of coffee. While he ate, he began to go over the events of the previous night in his mind. What did that man mean about half-dead?

Sam and Shinlaiden joined him a little later in the company of an older gentleman. The man was garbed in simple blue robes and almost completely bald. As Sinlaiden and Sam sat down, so too did the old man. Both of the warriors exchanged perplexed glances with each other and with Monsette. The man didn’t hesitate to help himself to everything available on the table. Monsette was just about to ask them man if he could help him, when he began to launch into a litany of questions.

“Came in last night, eh,” the man asked murmured.

“Yes, last night…we are travelers from a distant land,” Monsette replied smoothly.

“Distant land eh? Where did you say that was again?”

“A small country far to the south…I’m sure you never heard of it.”

“Come, come. Tell me the name. I am a traveler as well, I am sure that I know it.”

“It is called…Gamoosh,” Monsette declared quickly.

“You’re right. I never heard of it, which explains your funny accent. I would have said that you were from Invidia, but there is something wrong with your pronunciations. So what are you folks here for?”

“We came looking for a man called Gunter Edel. Do you know him?”

“Of course I do. Gunter is a good friend of mine. Why one time-”

“Do you know where he is, I meant to say.”

“Well he did leave town a while back, but his daughter runs his store in the meantime. Here name is Anya. Beautiful girl she is.”

“I’m sorry, I never properly introduced myself. My name is Monsette Dezerai.”

“Fezzini, at your service. And may I give you folks some advice about Barovia?”

“Every little bit helps,” Monsette answered knowingly.

“This land is ruled by Count Strahd von Zarovich. Is a ruthless man; a true tyrant…lives in Castle Ravenloft, a large keep overlooking a huge lake. He only has two rules: don’t ever go to his castle uninvited and don’t ever harm a Vistani. No one really much likes the Vistani, but anyone who harms them is executed. The people in this town mind their own business, so don’t go poking around too much if you know what I mean.”

“Thank you Fizzini, you have been most helpful.”

Leaving Raul with Helga and Fizzini, Monsette took Sam and Shinlaiden to the shop Fizzini had described. It wasn’t difficult to find as it was directly across the plaza. It was a small shop, devoted mostly to common items useful for long journeys. Anya was as Fizzini described her: beautiful. Monsette nearly forgot was he was going to say, until Shinlaiden bumped into him in an attempt to enter the building. While Monsette recovered his sense, he asked Shinlaiden to remain outside with Sam. He then proceeded to strike up calm conversation with the lovely Anya. From little dialogue Monsette was able to piece together a very important bit of information: namely that Gunter Edel had traveled to a festival in Karina…the capitol of Invida (the country the group had traveled from)! In a fit of rage Monsette ran out of the store and began to punch a confused Shinlaiden in the chest. Once he had calmed down Monsette reentered the store and began to explain the whole story of why he was in Vallaki. Anya patiently sat there and listened to everything. Monsette asked many questions of Anya: where Gunter was staying in Karina, what day he and his wife were married, what he looked like, what kind of nicknames did he have, who he was traveling with…and so on. At first Anya was hesitant with the information as some of it was of personal nature, but Monsette assured her that this information was crucial to the group finding him and warning him of a possible assassination attempt. Monsette was so persuasive that Anya granted him a hefty loan to save her father. Still…Monsette wasn’t satisfied with the amount of information he had received…he needed to be sure. Before heading back to the Blue Water Inn, Monsette visited the local baker (Petrov) and a rich merchant named Aressek…both knew Gunter and would be able to corroborate any information Monsette had. Although both had nothing terribly interesting to say, Aressek let slip the fact that there was a ship about to set sail from Zidendorf. The captain’s name was Timothy and if Monsette could catch it, he could make it to Karina in no time!

Dropping by the Blue Water Inn to pick up their things, the party said goodbye to Raul who had decided to stay in the village. Raul suggested picking up a guide in a village called Berez; someone who might be able to secure safe passage through the woods to Zidendorf…if it was indeed Monsette’s intention to take a shortcut through the forest.

The trip down the Old Svitch Road was fairly uneventful. Monsette and the rest of the party had no trouble locating Berez, as it was the only other village on the Old Svitch Road besides Vallaki. Whereas Vallaki was near in stature to a small town, Berez was closer to a hamlet in size. Only one large building graced this dirty, ragged community: The Boar’s Tavern. As it’s name implied, it was mostly filled with disreputable men forced to hide from the reality of life with large quantities of ale…well it was mostly that way. The rough tavern was typical…except for the dark armor-clad individual that no one would sit next to. He was a very tall man, endowed with obvious physical strength. His armor was freshly polished and decorated with many markings of a distinguished military officer. Clasped to the armor was a rich blue cape and adorning his hands were thick leather gloves. Covering his face was black hood with three red lines streaking across the face. The man would occasionally lift the mask to sip at the small mug of tea in front of him. No one dared to look in his direction, for the pale blue eyes that the mask did not hide were as cold as steel.

Summoning his courage and his entourage, Monsette walked calmly over to the intimidating warrior and asked if he could sit. Without speaking the man motioned for the only other chair at his table.

“Hello good sir, my name is Monsette Dezerai and I as I am new to these parts I am need of assistance,” Monsette said through forced calm.

“What can I do for you Mr. Dezerai,” the man intoned coldly.

“Well, you see…my companions and I need to get to Zidendorf quickly, but the only obvious way to the town is on the Old Svitch Road. Now if someone knew how to-”

“-navigate the forest, it would get you there much quicker,” the man finished smoothly.

“Yes…that’s right.”

“I happen to be going in that direction and I wouldn’t mind escorting you and your friends. My name is Sullivan Dane,” the man said as he extended his gloved hand.

Monsette shook it vigorously with thanks and was willing to pay the man for his services, when Dane refused. As it turned out Sullivan was a priest for a deity named Ezra. The faith he described was very similar to Monsette’s and the two had a long theological discussion before setting out on the road. Dane rode atop a large black war horse; an animal that seemed to fit him all too well. The group rode in absolute silence, with Dane stopping every so often to get off his horse in order to allow it to rest. All day and all night did the group travel until by divine intervention did they reach the town of Zidendorf without any encounters with the Children of the Night. Monsette and the rest of the party were only able to stay awake through sheer fear of being devoured by evil…Dane had told them he had been hunting vampires a few days before, but that others might come to avenge them at any time…he coincidentally timed this story when it was too late to turn back onto the road.

October 19th, 747

The town of Zidendorf was a sight to see at sunrise. True, he had cursed the town most of the way to Vallaki, but somehow it had changed from a thug-infested border town to bastion of hope! With a bright smile plastered to his haggard face, Monsette and the rest of the party walked down to the docks in search of Captain Timothy. As it turned out, he wasn’t a very hard man to find…his ship, “the Virgo,” and him were infamous in these parts. He looked and talked like an old sailor…which wasn’t saying much for him as person. Negotiations were slow going as he really didn’t want anyone on else on his ship. Monsette had to agree to a hefty sum of money to get all the members of his group on the ship…and even still, Captain Timothy didn’t agree to allow any horses on. This left Monsette with the task of selling the horses off at nearly half their price to the local merchants. The only other passenger on the Virgo besides Monsette, Shinlaiden, and Sam was an alluring woman by the name of Miss Romaine. She also claimed to be headed towards the festival. Miss Romaine was a quiet and soft-spoken woman whose voice resembled crushed velvet. Her scarlet dress clung to the contours of her body, testing Monsette’s powers of will. The only way the priest was able to distract himself from the seductive woman was to listen to Captain Timothy’s racist remarks on the Vistani. Apparently he had an endless supply of stories on Vistani cursing sailors and the consequences of such evil magic on their lives. Monsette listened to the bigot drone on for hours before he had had enough. Before going below deck to his “sleeping quarters” (the cargo hold floor), he took one more look back to see Shinlaiden and Sam staring up at the stars in the company of Miss Romaine. Although neither Sam nor Shinlaiden could communicate in the local language it was interesting to watch them try. Smiling to himself, Monsette went to bed…it was going to be one of those trips after all…


First Post
October 21st, 747- "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword."

Monsette watched the acres upon acres of vineyards wash by his vision as the Virgo approached Karina. Captain Timothy was talking about something, but it couldn’t distract Monsette from the gorgeous view. The leaves were beginning to change color…

“So I’ll be staying at the Black Swan if you are interested in REAL entertainment,” Captain Timothy announced.

His attention now diverted, Monsette began to ask about the city of Karina and where one could find the “Maiden’s Kiss.”

“That is far too expensive for my tastes…but since you asked…go down East Front Street to the Wine Garden until you hit Brewer Street…even you three can’t miss it,” Timothy said with a slight chuckle.

Entering the city with weapons proved to be rather expensive, but almost worth the economic impediment. Everyone appeared to be joyous and merry. No one was without a glass (or in some cases a bottle) of Karina’s finest wines as they danced through the streets adorned with colorful costumes and masks of interesting design. Monsette was about to go explore a small stand selling interesting trinkets when Shinlaiden grabbed him roughly and pointed into the crowd. The investigator couldn’t see anything at first, but after a few moments he spotted Vanyel in the throng of people! Using Sam and Shinlaiden as human plows, Monsette pressed forward. Grabbing Monsette, the group made for the nearest quiet area…which turned out to be Vanyel’s room (located in the Maiden’s Kiss). As it turned out, Vanyel had no idea how he got in Karina, or even that any time had passed at all. Right after he vanished into thin air, Vanyel remembered floating a void with a grey, white, and black orb. The orbs told him that he would be tested and then he woke up in this Inn. Needless to say Monsette wasn’t satisfied with this answer…

“The creature that kidnapped you said that you were ‘half-dead’…care to explain that,” Monsette said with a rather penetrating stare.

With a heavy sigh, Vanyel began to recount his tale.

“Ever since I was a young boy I had been deemed “special” by all those around him. I have powers that come naturally, beyond the arcane instruction the True Way have so generously donated. I am attuned to the life energies around me; I feel the life in all living things.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before,” Shinlaiden demanded.

“I am your superior Shinlaiden…you need to know whatever I decide is necessary,” Vanyel said with a hint of irritation.

Sam burst out laughing.

“We are fighting for our lives out here and you are still concerned with pulling rank,” Sam gasped between fits of laughter. “We are finished out here!”

“Sam, we shouldn’t lose hope. We are doing good deeds while looking for a way out of this situation,” Monsette declared in the hopes of diffusing the situation.

After checking into the Maiden’s Kiss, Monsette inspected the guest list for any signs of Gunter Edel. Sadly, the man had checkout out of the Inn a few days ago. Angry, Monsette decided to call it a day. The rest of the night past quickly in slumber once every door and window was checked…with the addition of a secret passcode only known to the party…

October 22nd, 747

In the morning Monsette saw his reflection in the wash basin smile wickedly back at him. The day pretty much started the way it ended…badly. A pipe full of tobacco later the group was off looking for Gunter Edel. The search party consisted of Sam, Shinlaiden and Vanyel. Monsette wanted to stay behind in the off chance that Gunter would come back.

The excursion party seemed to do more sightseeing than searching. Karina was indeed a beautiful city; the huge clock in the center of the city was testament to the creativity of the people. Nestled between two rivers, Karina seemed to have mild weather at any given time of the day…the drawback was that the humidity produced fog. Vendors littered the streets, making it difficult not to sample many of the wines available. People from all over the realms were at the Festival: Borkans, Barovians, Falkovians, and even merchants as far as Dementlieu. The only contrast to this joyous occasion was that for some reason gallows had been erected in the middle of the main plaza of the city. Further inquiry revealed that at the completion of the Festival, prisoners were to be executed.

Sam, Vanyel, and Shinlaiden returned to the Inn empty handed and a bit inebriated. Getting anywhere in the city was difficult because of the sheer number of people in the streets. Luckily everyone made it back without injury, even after an arrogant nobleman attempted to ride the party down because they did not move quickly enough for his tastes. Shinlaiden and Sam rested a bit before Monsette switched places with Vanyel…More searching and questioned revealed little, if not the layout of the city. The city seemed constructed around the great plaza housing the clock. To the east lay Brewer street, with its rich shops, eloquent minstrels, and lovely cafés. To the west lay what people referred to as the Maze…it was an extremely poor section of town, inhabited with prostitutes, street thugs, and other degenerates society had to offer. Directly south of the Maze was the Falkovian Quarter. Apparently Falkovian merchants were able to purchase an entire section of the city together. Where the Maze was chaos, the Falkovian Quarter was absolute law. Apparently the Falkovian merchants brought some soldiers from their home country to ensure that none of their goods were “liberated” by the local populous. In the center of the Quarter stood a small fortress with a flag bearing the symbol of a hawk on it. The locals described the Falkovians as cold and ruthless disciplinarians...no one with half a brain would antagonize such people. Monsette made a quick appraisal of the environment: “east part of town nice, west part of town bad.”

While staying on the pleasant side of the city, the party the party was privy to many wonderful sights and sounds of the Festival. The day was not completely without its brush with reality; however. While through the Wine Garden, the band noticed a duel break out between two important members of a wedding: the man to be married and what appeared to be the “Best Man.” The fight was quick and brutal, with both men dying instantly after drawing blood…Monsette didn’t need to be an alchemist to know that poison was at fault. That wasn’t the strangest part…during the fight a woman approached Sam as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Between the screams of horror and rage, the woman began to flirt with him! Monsette agreed that she was well beyond the bounds of gorgeous, but he refused to let Sam endanger his vows of chastity over a woman. Monsette explained the reason for Sam’s inability to speak: mental retardation. The priest of Viminau, sworn to the pursuit of the truth, told the fair maiden that Sam couldn’t speak because a donkey had kicked him in the head when he was a boy. Needless to say that the woman didn’t stick around for much longer once she was presented with that piece of information.

Sam was about to ask why it was that the woman left when he noticed Shinlaiden staring down a man in the crowd. It was the very same noble that had nearly run down the party earlier in the day! Cracking his knuckles, the 6’ bruiser strode forward with purpose. Stopping two inches in front of the noble, Shinlaiden simply stood menacingly. The noble seemed no stranger to fights, because his eyes bore right into Shinlaiden’s skull. Things might have gotten out of hand had Monsette not intervened with soothing words for both men. The priest was so successful; in fact, that the noble invited the party into the nearest tavern for a drink. Ordering Sharp (local ale), the noble sat down with the members of the party.

“I can tell that you men are foreigners from your manners. Frankly I don’t care where you’re from or what you are doing here. My name is Matton Blanchard and I have invited you here to offer you a very important job,” the man said contemptuously.

Before anyone could respond to the man’s “offer,” he continued on unabated.

“A woman of great importance was recently kidnapped by a she named the “Gentlemen Caller.” I have found out that she is being held captive in a mansion not far from Karina. The man who holds her is evil beyond understanding, which is why I will pay you five gold marks per day to find and return her to me. There is some entertainment scheduled tonight at a warehouse in the Falkovian Quarter…if you want the job, meet me there at the stroke of midnight.”

Leaving the tavern in a contemplative mood, Monsette directed the party back towards the “Maiden’s Kiss.” The group was about to turn down Brewer Street when they heard a barker hail them.

“Brave the ghosts of the past for a modest fee,” the man challenged.

He was instantly recognizable as a Vistani from his dark skin tone and colorful clothing. He stood next to a large wooden box with a curtain hanging over the face. An exotic bird was perched on top of the box, squawking at the pedestrians passing by.

“Come…it is safe,” the man encouraged.

Monsette was really in no hurry to get back to the Inn and it seemed that Shinlaiden was in need of some entertainment, so he sanctioned the immense warrior to give it a try. Logically speaking, Monsette didn’t really know what a box with a curtain over it could really accomplish in the way of entertainment. From the look of its depth, it would appear that Shinlaiden would only be able to walk in and out…if barely. Shinlaiden stepped into the box and the Vistani closed the curtain behind him. Sam and Monsette starred at one another with looks of confusion for a few minutes and then went back to watching the box. What could he be doing in there that could take this long? It was then that his questions were answered. Shinlaiden fell out of the box on the verge of tears; he looked like an emotional wreck, but he was physically fine.

“What have you done to my friend,” Monsette demanded.

“The help you need can be found at Vulpwood…if you have the courage,” the man replied just before slipping inside the box and disappearing altogether.

Trying to drag the troubled Shinlaiden back to the Inn was difficult. His eyes were wide with fear and he kept yelling about how he was a dead man. Monsette waited until they got back to the Inn before questioning the poor man about what happened. Recounting the tale was slow going, because Monsette was barely able to piece together the fragments of fear Shinlaiden was experiencing. To the best of his ability, Monsette managed to get this out of Shinlaiden’s incomprehensible story: the were-panther that had attacked him back in Invidia was somehow contained in that box. This was impossible as Shinlaiden barely fit in the box, not to mention that no sound was emitted the entire time Shinlaiden was inside. However, according to the story he had fought with it inside and managed to wrestle it to the ground somehow. In a fit of rage, he snapped its neck…or so he thought. When he looked down again it was himself he was holding and his neck that was snapped…very disturbing indeed. Monsette would have continued to try and piece things together had not Raul burst into the Inn’s common room!

The Vistani looked haggard, like he had run all day and all night with no rest in-between. Dashing over to the table the party was sitting at, he sat down quickly…a wild look in his eyes. Before he could speak, Monsette spoke:

“Raul, mind telling me how you got here? Never mind the fact that you don’t have Nikki with you.”

“Nikki is back at the camp with my people in Vulpwood! The Mists transported me somehow from Barovia in order to fetch you for the Zarovin clan. They are the oldest tribe of the Vistani people and they summoned me here to get you! You must come quickly,” Raul said out of breath.

No one wasted anytime talking, they just acted. Within minutes, they were heading towards Vulpwood completely ready for anything that could possibly happen.

The group was heading towards the North Gates on the High Road when Vanyel and Monsette heard “Watch out!” from directly in front of them. People had only seconds to react to the oncoming barrels. The driver of the cart was thrown out of his seat as his horses went wild and bolted down the street. His cargo unfortunately was casks of heavy liquid that were hurtling towards children playing in the street. Everyone reacted at once. Shinlaiden ran towards the kids while Sam tried to stop the horses from trampling any other innocents. The burly man did manage to save one child from injury, but he could not rescue the other from a broken leg caused by the heavy barrel. As soon as the danger was over, the parents of the children ran up to Shinlaiden and Monsette to retrieve them. Everything instantly went back to the way it was…like no one had seen anything. Monsette was livid! The driver of the cart nearly killed two innocent children and he didn’t even apologize for his negligence! Monsette was about to grab the nearest pedestrian and demand what was going on when he spotted a child scowling at him from across the street. He was obviously a noble of some sort from the way he dressed: black and white finery. All time seemed to slow...the boy and the man simply looked at one another. A group of revelers unconcerned with the chaos passed between them laughing…once they had passed, the boy was gone. Monsette continued to stare at the spot where the boy was.

“What should we do Monsette,” Raul asked.

“Nothing…no one cares anyway,” Monsette replied sourly.

The group moved quickly to make up for lost time. I want answers! This had better be worth it!


First Post
October 22nd, 747- “We all labour against our own cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.” -Sir Thomas Browne

With their heads held high, the party walked into Vulpwood. The forest in question was barely a few miles north from Karina, but everyone still remained tense as soon they left the safety of the stone walls the city provided. Raul seemed to have a good indication of where he was going, as he guided everyone through the dense deciduous forest. Shinlaiden remarked on the abundant wildlife, something that was nonexistent in the dark woods of Barovia. The attempt to lighten the mood was earnest, but unfortunately everyone was too deep in thought to embrace such emotion. After a good bit of walking, the forest began to thin out and eventually reveal a clearing. Within this clearing stood a circle of wagons not unlike the one Raul used in their first encounter...although these seemed to be much more elaborate in design. Campfires gave off warmth and light within the circle...just enough to notice two figures standing infront of the wagons: the Vistani the party had encountered in Karina and an elderly woman!

Before the party even closed the distance, Shinlaiden was running towards the man with a look of hatred in his eyes. Sam and Raul had only seconds to react before the great warrior attacked the Vistani with his bare hands. Luckly, the combined effort of Sam and Raul's body weights was enough to bring the behemoth to the ground. Restraining him was a bit more difficult and consequently required the physical strength of Monsette as well as the soothing words of Vanyel. Once the anger from Shinlaiden had subsided, Raul began to apologize profusely to the old Vistani woman. During the litany Raul gave, Vanyel was picked up the names of both of the mysterious figures: Vincenzo and Madame Eva. Neither one of them seemed to be concerned with Shinlaiden's blatant act of violence; in fact, Madame Eva waved the attempt on Vincenzo's life away as she would a pesky fly.

With some short introductions from the party, Madame Eva invited everyone inside the circle of wagons to the revelries contained within. Vistani danced around the fires to the sound of Raul's violin. Monsette noticed over 20 wagons (Raul's included) and 5 campfires. As the party approached the fires, the investigator began to flesh out Madame Eva's features...it was obvious from her wrinkled flesh that she was very old; however, her eyes betrayed a hunger for life that Monsette had not seen before. Not the hunger of youth, but the one of the wise man who had too much to do before his time expired. Once everyone was seated and with drink, Madame Eva whispered something to Vincenzo that not even Monsette's keen ears picked up.

"It is time for the Daroq," she said solemnly.

A look of confusion passed over the party as they were completely unfamiliar with the customs of the Vistani. As they began to question what Madame Eva had said, another woman by the name of Marsella, supported by Vincenzo, made her way to the campfire the party was seated at. She was young and attractive woman, but her eyes seemed glazed over. It was as if she was not looking at anyone now, but some far off place that only she could see. As soon as she was seated, she
began to speak in a melodious voice.

It was a story of a mother in need and a treacherous daughter…the story of Gabrielle Aderre, a Vistani woman cursed by her own evil. After watching her mother die from a mortal wound inflicted by a werewolf, the Vistani woman wondered the Realms and finally arriving in Invidia. Using her powers of seduction, Gabrielle was able to weaken the previous ruler, a tyrant named Barkolis, and slay him in his sleep. As the new ruler of Invidia, Gabrielle enjoyed much power afforded by the position…power, which she exploited much as the former ruler to harm the people of Invidia. Then, one day all of that changed when the great seductress was enchanted by a man she called the “Gentleman Caller.” It wasn’t long before the “Gentleman Caller” disappeared, leaving Gabrielle with child.

“It is this child that the Zarovan clan is concerned with,” Madame Eva interrupted. “He is the Dukkar…a creature of evil beyond your comprehension. You must find this creature for us…it is our responsibility to deal with it.”

“What of our needs,” Monsette retorted. “Why should we risk our lives in pursuit of this…Dukkar?”

“What is you wish for Giorgio,” Madame Eva asked.

“First, we want to know how to remove a curse that was placed upon us. Second, we want to know how to cure lycanthopy. Finally, we seek knowledge in the Occult,” Monsette recited.

“This is fine,” Madame Eva said impatiently.

“Could you tell us more about the creature,” Vanyel interjected. “Can it assume different forms? I am also curious why is it that you have selected us for this task.”

“As far as we know, the Dukkar cannot change shape. The reason you were selected was the fact that you can pass easily through Karina and the surrounding area. The creature can sense Vistani…this makes it very difficult to find it.”

“What of the Mists,” Monsette said intently.

“That subject is not to be discussed,” Madame Eva hissed.

“Why not,” Monsette demanded. “It is the Mists that brought us here and they can get us home. I want to know what is going on right now! We were brought here and soon thereafter cursed by a ghost…I want to know how to fix these this!”

Calmly allowing the angry investigator to vent, Madame Eva simply watched him from across the fire.

“The Mists brought you here…for what purpose I do not know. The curse is your fault. You wished to save Raul against his wife…noble, but foolish. I have a proposition: find the Dukkar and you will be rewarded. If you don’t like what I offer that is your own problem,” Madame Eva intoned calmly.

“I am through with your riddles and your games,” Monsette screamed. “Find this thing yourself for all I care!”

Bolting up, Monsette began to stomp away from the camp. Vanyel and the others were soon upon him inquiring what had just happened. Both Shinlaiden and Sam did not have a good grasp on the language yet, so the events had to be explained to them…the facts did not please Sam.

“You did WHAT?!” Sam was enraged beyond the belief. “That was the only chance we had to get home and you THREW IT AWAY! You FOOL! I can’t believe that they put you anywhere near the concept of responsibility back in Nymbardax.”

“Be careful Sam, I am still your commanding officer out here,” Monsette warned.

“Oh yes sir, how could I forget? May I polish your boots sir? I am at your command. Can I fetch your pipe?” Sam’s voice dripped of sarcasm.

Both men then stalked off in opposite directions…Vanyel went after Monsette and Shinlaiden went after Sam.

“Hold on Monsette,” Vanyel called.

Stopping a few paces away, Monsette began to fervently stuff tobacco in his pipe.

“That IMBECILE,” Monsette yelled.

“He is just high-strung…you have to apologize to him to fix things.”

“I will do NO SUCH THING!”

“Come…let’s talk about it back at the Inn,” Vanyel spoke softly.

The two walked back towards the town, discussing how to reign their subordinates under control. Monsette still wanted Sam back but only if he knew his place. Vanyel attempted to explain that the environment was eating away at everyone…himself included. Monsette still wasn’t convinced, but he listened nonetheless. Back at the Inn both men engaged in a long debate on authority and the rights it had. Monsette believed his power was absolute when men were entrusted to his command. Vanyel, on the other hand, tended to think of Shinlaiden as man like any other…but he still agreed that it was better to keep the strong warrior under control…he had seen what the man was capable of in a fight.

Monsette was just about finished relaying the finer points of etiquette to Vanyel when his discussion was interrupted by the sound of shattering glass. Looking up, he saw the bloodied body of Sam lying near the window. Screaming erupted from all corners of the common room as people dashed out the door. Monsette followed suit to intercept whatever had done this to Sam when he noticed a man out of the corner of his eye. It is him…Gunter Edel! Not now! Monsette cursed as he saw his target being carried off by the crowd. Not stopping to indicate his plans to Vanyel, Monsette rushed after him. Forcing his way through the throng of people, Monsette followed Gunter Edel into an alley next to the Inn. Rounding the corner, Monsette came upon his worst fear: Gunter Edel was face to face with the monster that had thrown Sam through the window. The creature was over seven feet tall with jet-black fur. It was cross between a man and a panther; it’s eyes glowed a malevolent green. Rushing up to the monster and throwing Gunter aside, Monsette slashed into it with his sword. The were-panther brought its forearm up to block the attack…the sword bit through bone and sinew, stopping halfway through the appendage. The monster merely roared with stronger ferocity. Backing away in fear, Monsette watched as the creature slowly approached him with a look of hatred in its eyes. Fumbling with divine power, the priest of Viminau attempted to freeze the creature in place with enchantments…it did not work. Monsette was saved by the sounds of the local Guard and the sight of many lit torches. The creature, sensing danger, ripped the sword from its arm and leaped to the roof of the nearest building. As the guards poured into the alley, Monsette began to give them instructions on how to defeat the creature while simultaneously retrieving the unconscious form of Gunter Edel.

Dashing back into the Inn, Monsette lay Gunter Edel next to the bloodied form of Sam. With little to no success in rejuvenating Sam (courtesy of the curse cast by Leyla), Monsette asked the guards to fetch for a local healer. While the local herbalist was retrieved, Monsette and Vanyel worked to rekindle Gunter Edel’s dying flame. Apparently the shock had been too much for his frail heart to handle. The old man had stopped breathing and only through the combined divine efforts of Vanyel and Monsette did he begin to breathe again. The healer did come in time to patch up Sam’s mutilated body. With a few words to the guards, Vanyel and Monsette called that a night…well they went to their rooms armed to the teeth anyway.

October 23, 747

Shinlaiden awoke with a start. He didn’t remember what happened…one minute he was talking to Sam and the next minute he was here. Where am I? Looking around, the great warrior found himself near stream in a heavily wooded area. This still must be Vulpwood. Searching the area thoroughly, Shinlaiden found no trace of Sam anywhere. His clothes were shredded, his sword belt torn, and his boots were in pieces. Not understanding what had happened, Shinlaiden set out for Karina. It was a long walk without footwear, but eventually he managed to haul himself back to the Inn. The guards gave him reproachful glances, but this was a festival after all!

Upon arrival Monsette began the questioning with Vanyel’s help. Shinlaiden tried to answer the questions as best he could, but he simply didn’t remember anything. He did remember going after Sam and talking with him. While they talked, he remembered feeling rather hot…odd since it was late fall. His memories ended there. Taking the warrior upstairs, Vanyel began to berate him in the presence of the unconscious Sam and Gunter.

“You will never go off without my permission again,” Vanyel ordered. “You are under my command, do you understand?!”

Shinlaiden nodded sheepishly. With his head bowed, Monsette noticed something that he hadn’t noticed before…it seemed as though there was a needle prick at the base of his neck. It was too centered to be haphazard. Even the best shot in the world wouldn’t be able to land it in that spot.

“I would say that you were the were-creature that attacked us last night Shinlaiden if it weren’t for the fact that yesterday say a new moon, not a full moon,” Monsette remarked.

“His illness might not be normal lycanthropy…his might be a different infection,” Vanyel observed.

The two went on about any strange occurrences they had noticed with respect to Shinlaiden for some time, completely oblivious of the man’s presence. After some time, the two decided to wake up Gunter Edel for some questioning. The answers they received were troubling at best. It seemed that the old man neither remembered where he was or his name. When asked, he even managed to get the year wrong. Vanyel was convinced that he was lying and was about to use more extreme methods of magical interrogation had not Monsette stepped in with a more gentle hand. Monsette was not being charitable in any way; he was simply convinced that Gunter was the shapeshifting creature that had nearly killed them back in Valetta! It took some more questioning before both men came to the conclusion that Gunter’s memory had been erased somehow…but most likely it was the doing of the evil force working against them or what Monsette classified as “the Bad Guys.” Just to make sure, the men waited for Gunter’s traveling companion Carl to see if he could corroborate Gunter’s facts. The men waited all day, but Carl never came back to check up on his friend…

October 24, 747

Monsette spent the day accomplishing many errands while Vanyel and Shinlaiden waited back in the Inn. His first order of duty was to hire a local blacksmith to make huge chains and a lock to secure Shinlaiden should the desire to become a beast overtake him in the future. His next stop was in the city prison to talk with the Lieutenant of the city guards. He explained about the “hit-list” his party had found and left his contact information with the man should anything come up as it pertained to the investigation he was conducting. Finally, using a messenger service, Monsette drafted a long letter to Gunter’s daughter explaining exactly what had happened. The rest of the day was spent feeding Sam through the corner of his mouth.

October 25, 747

Monsette jolted awake with the sound he had so desperately been waiting to hear:

“Ow,” Sam whispered.

Everyone was awake in seconds, mostly through the efforts Monsette made in kicking everyone as hard as he could.

“I really am sorry,” Shinlaiden murmured.

“It’s not your fault. I tried to warn you about the monster, but you feinted before I could speak out.”

“So you definitely saw both Shinlaiden and the were-creature at the same time,” Monsette asked pensively.

“Yes…I am sure of it,” Sam replied in a hoarse whisper.

Leaving Sam in locked room, Monsette and Vanyel went to investigate the area Shinlaiden claimed to have passed out in while talking to Sam. It did take a while, but eventually their efforts were rewarded. The patch of land was much as to be expected: the floor of a forest, littered with dead leaves. However, a few hours of inspection revealed a small pile of blackened herbs. Vanyel suggested that the herbs were used to cast a spell, but that theory was quickly discarded within minutes of examination. Placing a small sample into a pouch, Monsette headed for the Vistani camp to set up a meeting. Marsella and Vincenzo greeted him even before he reached the edge of the circle of wagons. It was decided that within one hour the meeting would take place on neutral ground, so that no one would gain an advantage. Monsette was elected to do the bargaining even with his tarnished record with the Vistani.

The meeting did proceed as planned. Madame Eva, Marsella, and Vincenzo met Monsette, Vanyel, and Shinlaiden at the edge of Vulpwood. There it was agreed that both sides gained with the following arrangements:

For the Giorgio: 1) information on were-creatures (enough to cure the infected Shinlaiden), 2) removal of the curse, and 3) a way home (at this point Monsette didn’t care about knowledge on the Mists themselves).

For the Vistani: the party would determine the location of the Dukkar and immobilize it with a special item the Vistani would create for the party. The party’s task was to find the Dukkar and throw the object at it…their contract ended there.

While they deciphered the location of the Dukkar, the Vistani would begin the creation of the object in question with the help of Raul.

“Where do we start to look,” Monsette asked.

“Look for a man called Scar in the Maze of Karina…or if you prefer, go to the “Dog Fights” your friend Captain Timothy generously invited you to,” the last words were uttered with a knowing smile by Madame Eva.

Monsette only had time to stand dumbfounded as the Vistani melted back into the forest…


First Post
October 25, 747- “Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.” –Steven Wright

Morale for the group had reached an all time low. Not only were they at the mercy of a land they didn’t understand, but now they had to deal with backstabbing gypsies. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. To Monsette it seemed like a futile task to continuously clean up the mess everyone else was making. In an effort to clear their friend’s name, they had secretly stumbled upon a “hit-list” of some shapeshifting monster and every time they thought they got close to some real answers, they invariably were always two steps behind!

No one said much on the journey back to the Maiden’s Kiss. It wasn’t necessary. Everyone’s mind was ablaze with conspiracies and possibilities. It was difficult to keep their objectives clear with all of the continual problems that plagued them. Everyone yearned to get home, but no one wished to return there dead…or worse. At least we are all alive, Monsette thought.

The festival had begun to wind down. In a few days, it would culminate in the public executions of the finest scum Invidia had to offer…or just some poor unfortunates, depending up on which side of the gallows you were on. The streets were visibly less congested with merry revelers, except for the few diehard drinkers who came to Karina with only one thought on their minds.

I guess no one finds the thought of were-creatures running amok in their streets a festive idea.

His small moment of triumph was short lived, as he saw yet another obstacle on his road to victory: Gunter Edel was leaving the inn. Apparently he wasn’t the only one, as Shinlaiden was already upon the man and shoving him back into through the doorway none to gently.

“What is the meaning of this,” Gunter spat with incredulity.

“Stay put,” Shinlaiden warned as he turned to watch Monsette and Vanyel enter the common room and close the door.

Monsette automatically took a survey of his surroundings. Old habits die hard. The Inn was completely empty. The Inn Keeper, a large man getting on in the years sat at a corner table near the shattered window and sipped a glass of ale. The look on his face was a similar sight. Monsette had seen it countless mornings as he stared into his companions faces. It was the look of defeat. The commotion Gunter was causing didn’t seem to detract the Innkeeper from his appointed task: drowning his sorrows.

“Perhaps we should continue this conversation upstairs Shinlaiden,” Vanyel said while he motioned for the stairs.

With a nod, the bruiser simply picked up the now screaming Gunter and walked him up into one of the rooms they had purchased. As soon as he crossed the threshold of the doorway, he deposited the flustered man upon the bed and folded his arms. The look he gave him gave no doubts as to what he would do if the Gunter became uncooperative. Monsette and Vanyel hurried in after the pair and again closed the door, sealing the man off from escape.

“Where are you going,” Vanyel asked.

“I’m leaving,” Gunter screamed whilst he shot a dangerous stare at the frail man.

“To go where,” Vanyel asked.

“Anywhere I damn well please! You can’t do this! This is kidnapping,” Gunter spat.

“Remember the conversations we had yesterday,” Vanyel’s voice lowered and became almost hypnotic in nature. “I was trying to explain why what you say doesn’t make sense.”

“Don’t you understand? I have a child who cannot care for herself. My wife-“

“Is dead Gunter,” Vanyel interrupted smoothly. “She died many years ago and you know this. Anya has been more than capable of taking care of herself and running the store in Vallaki. The year is not 737, but 747 as hard as that may sound.”

“Shut up you liar! My wife isn’t dead!! How dare yo-,” Gunter sobbed.

Monsette used that cue to slide over to where Gunter was sitting and sit down next to him. With a gentle hand he placed an arm over Gunter’s shoulders.

“Listen Gunter, no one is expecting you to take this all in stride. You have had a huge shock. I’ve read that sometimes when the mind doesn’t want to believe what is happening it forgets whatever it desires. I won’t tell you what caused that to happen, but you must believe us. We are here to help you and saved you from harm. Even the Karina Watch told you this and were so trusting of us that they left you in our custody after they spoke with you. Why would they do this if we were bad people,” Monsette asked.

“I…just…want…to go,” Gunter gasped between sobs.

“I understand that you do. You are scared and want to go back to something familiar. I understand this more than you can possibly imagine. But through that door leads death Gunter. The person who tried to take your life last night will come again…next time he will not fail. We have a list of people that this man wants. He has already killed one person and you are next. He is extremely dangerous and powerful. Alone you will not survive Gunter.”

“I don’t understand why this is happening to me…”

“Neither do we, but we will figure it out, don’t you worry Gunter. You are safe here. Stay with us for a bit until we can figure all of this out together,” Monsette said soothingly.

The investigator looked up from Gunter and gave a quick head jerk to Vanyel. Vanyel nodded and signaled Shinlaiden to stay near Gunter while the two discussed a suitable plan of action out of earshot.

“What do you think,” Monsette asked.

“I think he is being honest with us. I generally know when people are lying about emotion…his were sincere,” Vanyel replied.

“I was afraid of such,” Monsette intoned absentmindedly as he instinctively began to light his pipe and walk down the stairs to the common room. “We are in no better position now than when we started. I wish we could get something useful out of all of these ordeals.”

“Perhaps we have. Our new alliance with the Vistani has opened a few possibilities. This Scar character in the Maze, Captain Timothy, or even that arrogant noble Matton Blanchard are all people who we have yet to tap for information.”

Monsette’s eyes lit up. “You are right! Why didn’t I think of this before?!”

“What’s that,” Vanyel’s voice betraying the slightest bit of fear.

“Remember what Captain Timothy said to us the night we got here? Something about a ‘good time’ at a seedy warehouse in the Falkovian Quarter. Well, after that bastard Matton Blanchard tried to hire us he told us to be at that very same place at the stroke of midnight. Of course that was a few days ago…still, why all the interest in this place? I must say my curiosity is peaked. Captain Timothy was staying at the Black Swan if I remember correctly. I wonder what time it is. Damn, we may be late.”

Monsette’s eyes took on a new fervor as he rounded on Vanyel, puffing his pipe furiously.

“Here is what we will do. Go upstairs and tell Gunter to stay put while we go check this out. We will lock Sam up in the other room…I don’t trust Edel as far as I can throw him. Shinlaiden and you will come with me. We will make our way to the Goldfinger first to check the time. If it is on our side, I say we head for the Black Swan and see if Captain Timothy is there. If not, then we go directly to that warehouse in the Falkovian Quarter! The directions are already coming back to me.”

Vanyel stared at him with a new appreciation.

“Well what are you gawking at Vanyel? There is work to be done!”

While Vanyel carried out Monsette’s instructions, the investigator took the opportunity to walk over to the Innkeeper and toss a handful of silver coins on his table.

“That should cover us for a while…and that-,” he said as he dug into his pouch to toss over a handful of gold coins, “-should cover you for all the trouble we caused.”

“Thank you,” the man replied. “I’m sorry about your friend. You don’t have to do this.”

“Well I feel partly to blame for the loss your fine establishment has endured.”

“I don’t know how I can repay you,” the Innkeeper said.

“I always enjoy useful information. If you could just keep your ear to the ground so to speak and let me know what is happening that would be much appreciated,” Monsette said with a smile. His confidence was growing by the minute. It was almost as if he saw the opportunities now and believed that they would all make it out of this festering cesspool.

“I overheard what you said to your friend. I would be careful about going to the Falkovian Quarter if I were you. The entire area is under martial law. Even the town Watch won’t venture there as they frequently have run-ins with the Falkovian Infantry. Before they acquired land in Karina that area used to be a safe haven for thieves, brutes, and cutthroats…now there is no crime…period. Everyone who crosses them mysteriously disappears and those who would openly challenge them are mercilessly cut down. Their Commander has a good stranglehold on the local economy because of his ruthlessness and few can challenge his power,” the Innkeeper said just before taking a large swig of ale.

Wiping the foam from his mouth, he continued…his voice dropping to little more than a whisper: “That however isn’t even the problem. Recently there have been killings near Bog Street. Thankfully most of the people have only been Falkovian soldiers, but some others were not. The fog that comes up from the river makes the entire area difficult to navigate by night and this killer strikes when the fog is at its worst. They call him the Midnight Slasher. He leaves bloody writing on the walls near his victims…ravings of lunacy from what I hear.”

The tense silence was broken by the heavy footfalls of Shinlaiden making his way down the stairs. Monsette realized that he was holding his breath the entire time and took the opportunity to take a deep gulp of air. The innkeeper just went back to staring out the window.

“Is everyone ready,” Monsette asked as he composed himself.

Shinlaiden and Vanyel both nodded.

“Then let us be off,” Monsette said with forced confidence.

The three men braced themselves as they opened the door. Their breaths caught on the crisp night air as a slight breeze stung their faces with its icy rapture. But it wasn’t the cold that made Monsette’s blood freeze…off in the distance, a blanket of fog began to creep over Karina.


First Post
October 25, 747- “I have seen the universe yawning; Where the black planets roll without aim; Where they roll in their horror unheeded, without knowledge or luster or name.” –Cthulu Mythos


The Goldfinger; in Monsette’s opinion, was the only thing of substance Karina had to offer. It was a tower over 60 feet high, hewn from polished yellow granite that could reflect the sun’s rays like a beacon of light in the darkness. Atop this marvel of stonemasonry stood a white clock face, whose hands and numbers were painted lustrous black. The endless rhythmic churning of gears could barely be heard from the foot of the clock tower; its sound only punctuated every hour by the chimes. To Monsette the courtyard housing the tower was the last bastion of hope against the chaos that had threatened to engulf he and his colleges during the past few days.

11:30. Do we have enough time? I guess we shall find out.

Monsette led the party down Tower Road, across Bog Street and onto East Front Street to find the Black Swan. It was not as difficult as the investigator might have anticipated. With all the fog that had now covered the docks and the streets a few blocks up, Monsette believed that it would be like finding a needle in a haystack. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Confirmation of the correct establishment came in the form of a drunken sailor hurtling out the front window, followed promptly with a roar of laughter from within. Monsette gingerly stepped over the bloodied man and made his way to the tavern’s barkeep.

“Excuse me good sir,” Monsette called with diplomatic trepidation.

The barkeep, engaged in an arrangement of sorts, turned away from the charming woman of “easy virtue” and rounded upon Monsette.

”Wadda ya want?”

“I was hoping you could help me,” Monsette said with a little more force. These brutes only respect strength. “I am looking for Captain Timothy.”

“So,” the barkeep snorted.

Monsette produced a handful of silver from his robes.

“It’s a simple question with ample rewards,” Monsette with an irritated look on his face. “Do-you-know-where-he-is,” he said with slow deliberation.

The barkeep was about to say something and visibly stopped himself before completing the translation of thought into speech.

“Ya, I heard of him. Captain Tim be enjoying some late night sport if ye catch my meanin’. You can find him where such things occur I’m guessin’.”

“Thank you,” Mosette said as he dropped the silver on the bar and exited the Black Swan.

Having missed their objective, the group hurried towards the Falkovian Quarter by cutting down Bog Street.

“Stay close,” Monsette warned as the group hurried onwards.

It was obvious to everyone but Shinlaiden that group had entered the right area. Despite the fact that the Festival was almost over and the dense fog obstructing everyone’s vision, it was clear that this was the Falkovian Quarter. Infrequent pedestrians ran quickly down the clean cobblestone streets, their eyes transfixed upon the road. The clank of armored divisions marching was a disturbing backdrop to this somber place. Iron bars and shutters were on every window. No scrap of the Festival’s merriment had ever made it here.

Monsette was ripped from his musings on the varied definitions of tyranny by the sudden appearance of a shadowy figure standing on the street corner. The investigator must have stopped for; he felt Shinlaiden’s form colliding with him.

“What’s wrong,” the large man asked.

Monsette’s stare was enough to silence him. The warrior turned slowly to follow the priest of Viminau’s gaze.

The slender man was leaning up against a building near a street lamp. He wore a wide-brimmed hat and a billowing cloak of dark fabric that seemed to drink up the night. A dark scarf covered the lower half of his face. Abruptly he stepped out of the light and was instantly swallowed up by the darkness. Where he was standing, Monsette saw a crumpled piece of parchment lying on the sidewalk.

Shinlaiden instantly drew his sword and interposed himself between his companions and the parchment. Monsette drew his sword as well and the group advanced upon the parchment slowly. Upon reaching the illuminated area containing the parchment, Monsette immediately scanned the region for any signs of the man. Nothing moved. His attention focused on the parchment.

“Shinlaiden, Vanyel keep a lookout while I check this out,” he said absentmindedly while his mind raced to absorb every detail of the paper.

He slowly reached down and grabbed the crumpled piece of paper. He could see that it was wrapped around something and stained through. As he loosened it, his eyes went wide with terror.

“What is it,” Vanyel demanded.

Monsette moved the paper closer so that all could see. A gasp came from Vanyel as the light more thoroughly illuminated the object. Sitting atop the paper was a freshly severed human finger, still wearing an iron signet carved with a resplendent hawk’s head. On the paper itself, a message was scrawled in blood:

The darkness is mine.
The anger is mine.
The vengeance is mine.

Monsette cringed as his thumb accidentally brushed against the last verse, smearing the fresh blood across the page. The investigator neatly folded the note and tucked it into his pouch for analysis at a later time.

“Let’s go.”

Everyone nodded at that suggestion, but no one wanted to sheath their weapons as they made their way down the street. This fog may be a blessing. Perhaps we won’t run across any of the Infantrymen I keep hearing about. No doubt that with our weapons drawn like this, they will not hesitate to use force.

A few blocks later, Monsette called a halt. He could barely see the warehouse a block up, but his attention wasn’t on the structure in question, but rather on the man directly in their path that seemingly emerged from the mists. Matton Blanchard was tall and would have been handsome save for the nasty scar that ran down the side of his right cheek. He was dressed even more elegantly than usual.

“Normally I would have you flogged for the offense you caused me, but luck is on your side it would appear,” the nobleman said with a sneer.

Monsette recovered quickly from the advantage Matton had gained.

“I’m sorry we could not make the appointment, but our group was indisposed. That incident by the Maiden’s Kiss…have you heard of it,” Monsette asked.

“Yes, the supposed monster that attack revelers.”

“The rumors don’t even hold a candle to the truth. We were attack and are down a man because of it.”

“Don’t feed your excuses to me, as I am uninterested.”

The last phrase made Shinlaiden’s knuckles go white on the hilt of his brandished sword, a low growl escaping his lips. If Matton noticed, he gave no sign and continued on unabated.

“Be thankful that my contact is as punctual as you. It was fortuitous that you chose this night to arrive, because I have…assurances that he will show this time. Your job will be simple: ensure my protection. We are to locate the contact inside and at that time I will negotiate for some information. You will not be privy to that conversation but don’t stray too far and try to keep a low profile. If the information is accurate and we succeed in our task, you will all be rich men.”

Matton gave the group a long stare before rounding on his heel and walking towards the warehouse. The warehouse’s most obvious entrance was a pair of sturdy wooden double doors over ten feet wide; large enough for a horse-drawn cart to pass unimpeded. The noble; however, did not fancy this entrance for he walked straight past it to a smaller side door and rapped his knuckled upon it three times in rapid succession. Monsette took in his surroundings. All the portals to gain entry to this building were heavily fortified and the windows had reinforced shudders. The whole building seemed to scream “go away.”

A slide window opened in the door and man’s voice called out.

“Vat do you vant,” the man asked in a thick ascent.

“Arkendale Lives,” Matton Blanchard replied smoothly.

Monsette heard the numerous locks unlocking and thought he may have heard a wooden bar being slide of its holsters. The door swung open revealing a small side room decorated with a few crates and another door in the back. Four heavily armed Falkovian guards stood at the ready, their shortswords plainly brandished and in defensive stances. Monsette’s eyes immediately noted that their swords had been silvered. I guess they believe the rumors after all. One of the men had a salivating war dog on a chain leash. It howled and yelped as it tugged against its master. What was unnerving to the investigator were the symbols branded upon each man’s forehead: the same hawk’s head that he saw on the ring they had just recently discovered.

“Kara smells fear,” the man with the dog said. The other soldiers chuckled and cautiously lowered their weapons. One of the men immediately went to re-secure the door after the last of Matton’s escort entered.

“Sheath you veapons, the fight is in the pit,” the soldier said with a smile as he moved to open the back door.

Monsette thought he could hear howls in the distance.

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

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