stonegod's Expedition to Castle Ravenloft: Ch. I [IC]


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
stonegod's Expedition to Castle Ravenloft: Chapter I

IC: Ch. I, Ch. II, Ch. III | OOC: Ch. I, Ch. II, Ch. III | RG

Current cast:
Past cast:
  • Selase Kolandra (Doomhawk): Human Vol adherent. Killed by the zombies of Barovia, risen by their plague, and put down by her companions.
  • Bergeron "Foebender" d'Jorasco (Kralin Thornberry): Halfling Jorasco scholar. Slain by the foul death magic of a mad Barovian priest.
  • Sir Khensu Feral (GwydapLlew): Shifter Silver Flame Inquisitor. Patrolling.
  • Daellin ir'Ayellan (drogthery): Elven Cyran undead hunter. Killed by the mad spirit of the monastery.
  • Perriwimple (Kafkonia): Human brute. Killed by the mad spirit of the monastery.

Prelude: The Pieces Move

Crownhome, Korth, Karrnath
The room was dark. She could see perfectly, of course, but only a few, dim candles provided any illumination for those not of the night. She waited impatiently, irritated by the delay.

She heard the rhythmic clatter of footsteps before their wearer came into view. The Karrn solider---an eternal solider, now---approached with a measured gait. It bowed, once, a stiff military affair. Her eyes glittered in amusement.

"It is done." The skeletal voice was grating, an unnatural thing. Like everything in the room.

"Good. The pieces move. Now we await the gambit."

The Svalich Woods, Barovia, between Karrnath and the Mror Holds
The messenger ran. Heart pounding. Out of breath. The afternoon mist hung around him, smothering him like a blanket. He never should have left the path, never should have fled into the looming shadows of the twisted woods. But he had no choice. They had been waiting.

The Burgomaster had been clear. The message had to get to the outside. Though he had never left the valley, he had heard the tales from Visanti, passed on via Bildrath, that the outside had means of sending words on the wind, of spreading a single thought farther than the raven can fly. It was fanciful, but the Burgomaster seemed to believe, and that was all that was important. Someone must be found. They must be stopped. They must be.

Up ahead, the darkness lifted, leaving only the oppressive mist. Sunlight, even if filtered, was a blessing. It gave him hope. He uttered a quick prayer to the Sovereign's, and hoped the Divine Blood within would sustain him through his flight. Perhaps it would.


Chapter I: Into the Mists

15 Sul, Zaranthyr 998 YK

The dwarf was impeccably dressed, with a tasteful display of wealth and prosperity. A Kundarak scion, which made his delivery of a package all the more strange. That was the providence of House Orien. The dwarves were master of security, would not deign to be brought to the level of a hired courier. But, nevertheless, there he was, battered silver box in hand, a wax seal with a glowing sigil of a flaming crown warding the seam.

Patting the intricately engraved box lightly, the dwarf looks at you sternly, its manner business-like. "Our patron made it clear that this box be delivered securely and personally to your persons. Its sanctity is sacrosanct; thus, it can only be opened in our presence. In addition, we are to verify that its contents have not been observed, intercepted, or otherwise modified upon receipt. As you are the recipients indicated, let us finish this business."

With that, the dwarf handed the box over. It felt icy cold to the touch, and you felt an involuntarily shiver. The singular questions on everyone's mind? Who sent it?

And why?

That had been two weeks ago. The box was ancient, Janis could verify, and both the strange mage and the itinerant of Vol recognized some of the symbols on the box as being relics of the pre-Galifar age. Once the Kundarak scion has verified the integrity of the contents, the open boxed had revealed documents both aged and recent. Later study of the former would confirm what the latter had indicated. That these were details of a pre-Galifar necromancer, whose power seemed to have been unrivaled at the time. This "Master of Zarovich" had lead a necromantic force for the great Karrn the Conquerer long before Karrnath's fated undead armies. And the location of the records of his ancient power had just been found in some archeological efforts outside of Lakeside in that beleaguered nation.

Mateush Orchem, the mousy Karrn that had assembled you all, the Thaloist Six, had indicated that this would be the case. He had lead that expedition, on the behest of the Twelve, the arcane research branch of the Dragonmarked. And now they sought you out.

"A simple arrangement. These documents indicate that this book of power, this 'Tome of Strahd,' is located in the land granted to the ir'Zarovich's after Karrn's conquest. These lands lay in the inhospitable border between Karrnath and the Mror Holds, an area that had not seen taxman or solider since long before the Last War. It is there were wish you to go. To help us recover this tome for the study and safekeeping of the Twelve."

Khesu had protested; the shifter did not like the idea of a tome of such vile power being freely given away. Mateush had deflected his worries, if not abated them. "Ah, Sir Templar. I understand your fret. But, be it known that the Twelve have only the best intentions in mind for this work. There are many ancient secrets which could benefit the Five Nations, historically if nothing else." In a lower tone, one that only Jannis could here, he added, "And those that assist us will sure share in all of its secrets."

Louder now, he addressed the Flamists directly. "But, if that was not enough, I must inform you that we are also asking you to make sure that this historical artifact does not fall into the wrong hands. As you know, Karrnath has had a... problem... with certain extremists." The Emerald Claw. It was unsaid, but the implication was clear. "We have learned that they had certain agents amongst our efforts, and we are certain they too also seek the Tome. It should be clear that the Tome in the wrong hand would be... Well, it would be a tragedy, at the least. We have the best intents for the Tome. Can the same be said for others?"


Two weeks. Two weeks was the time it had taken to assemble the expedition Mateush and his masters at the Twelve envisioned. Provisions for the journey, supplies, a few Orien teamsters, all were arranged. House Sivis sent a scion with a precious commodity---a speaking stone, to establish communication should it be needed. Cannith arranged for an unmarked artificer to accompany the journey as well. Finally, all was arranged, and you had found yourself on the lightning rail, on a one way journey to the Ironroot Mountains.

After debarking outside of Irontown, your caravan had followed the Lower Mror River for several days, inching ever slowly in the mountains. And away from civilization. You doubted that few travelers had been this way in ages. If this 'Barovia' was still habited, they would be a people out of time. Before the Last War. Before Warforged. Before the Day of Mourning. It was almost unimaginable.

It was five days into your journey into the mountains when you had found some traces of the living. A small community, no more than a few farmhouses and a simple inn, nestled in a small, forested vale. Children in the street---no more than a rut, really---had gawked at the two filled carts and your small band. And older man, when asked, shook his head at the mention of the name "Barovia", never having heard it, but knew of occasional travelers from elsewhere in the mountains that passed through. Perhaps the innkeeper knew the name.

And know he did. The proprietor of the Weary Horse Inn spoke of thickly accented traders, few in number, that rarely made their way down from the mountain. He did not know from where, and did not care, but that was sign enough for Mateush. So you stopped for the night; you would press on in the morning.

And that is how you found yourself. Nursing a few drinks, having finished a meal, night and fog having fallen over the mountains. The few patrons of the inn stared at you sullenly when they deigned to notice, so you kept to each other.

Then the door had swung open loudly, its *THUD* startling the assembled. Every head turned to the weatherbeaten young man, his dark hair wild about him from a hard days ride. He looked over the room quickly, then strode confidently over to your table, seeing something the was searching for. With a quick gesture, he tosses a scrollcase on the table.

"The village of Barovia is in need of heroes."
His accent was thick, even deeper than the most green Karrn peasant. "You'll do as well as any." With that, his message delivered, the messenger turns to leave.

[sblock=OOC]Welcome to the game! Action can begin now. I will be handling any rolls (I'll take 10 for you most of the time), so make sure you let me know if there is something specific you want. Please post your speech and thoughts in your character's color, using italics for the latter. OOC text should be in grey, like this. Have fun![/sblock]
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First Post
The faraway, almost-daydreaming look in Selase's eyes disappeared at the solid thunk of the scrollcase on the table. "There's no such thing as a coincidence," she stated softly after a moment of flustered surprise, preempting any such comments.
She starts to reach for the scroll, but changes her mind and turns toward the departing youth. "I don't suppose you could tell us where Barovia actually is?"


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
Doomhawk said:
"I don't suppose you could tell us where Barovia actually is?"
The dark youth pauses at the question, an inscruitable look on his face. With his left hand, he points. "Barovia lies to the west, a full day's ride from here on the Old Road." It is somewhat difficult to make out the words, with "west" almost sounding like "vest" and the vowels short and clipped. "Best you leave at first light. The Svalich Woods are not safe at night."


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
drothgery said:
"And what makes them so?" The elf archer asked.
The courier shrugs dismissively. It is obvious now that Common is not his most familiar tongue. "That is what I have heard. It is a hard road, much fog, perhaps wolves or others beasts. I'm just paid to deliver message. Barovia's problems not mine."

James Heard

The gods twist coincidence into fate and lead mankind in chains with it, Janis thought sourly as she glared at the scroll case as if it were a viper.

Keeping her heretical sympathies to herself though, Janis reached out with a long-nailed fingertip from her spot at the other table, and waggled it as if stirring a cauldron.

"Twist and bits, here comes coincidence," she looked at Selase and shrugged," Or not. Who opens the case? We might as well, since whichever serpent loosed its coils to snag us appears to have struck us dumb for coming this far already."

She paused, obviously looking for the right words, uncertain of how to voice her concerns.

"This isn't Thaliost, I mean. What would happen if we struggled against the fate that conspires against us?"

She shuddered.

"We should open it." she said earnestly.

"What's the worse thing that could happen?"


First Post
He subtly gestures for Janis to hand the scroll to Jarrith.

"Hold, goodman." The shifter knight rises and moves towards the messenger. "Who sent you? If you are so unconcerned as to the fate of Barovia, how did you come to find us?"


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
GwydapLlew said:
"Hold, goodman." The shifter knight rises and moves towards the messenger. "Who sent you? If you are so unconcerned as to the fate of Barovia, how did you come to find us?"
The messenger stops a moment at the looming shifter, a look of irritation coming over his face. "Courier from Barovia find me. He in bad shape, gave me coin to 'find heroes.'" Looking over the mailed paladin once more, he adds, "That is what I've done." He shrugs. "You lucky to be here. Lucky for them, I guess."


Without waiting to see if Janis concurs with Sir Khensu's motions to let him look the case over and open it, Jarrith snatches it from the center of the table and spends a couple minutes examining the case for... well pretty much anything. But primarily anything that might destroy the contents inside if the case is opened incorrectly. He didn't expect to find anything like that (since there would be no reason to destroy a request for help), but he learned long ago that people often do foolish things. (Search check: Take 20 / Disable Device as needed)

"Lucky for you as well, I should think"... Jarrith says over his shoulder to the courier who appears to want to leave post haste. "If we hadn't been here... you'dve had to continue on your journey much, much longer looking for 'heroes'. So I think luck is all around us. The people of Barovia looking for a hero... you looking for a hero... and we looking for Barovia."

After examining the case and doing whatever is necessary to open it safely... Jarrith pulls the cap from the scrollcase and then reaches in to pull out the contents.

"And with a bit more luck... we'll be able to speak the language these papers are written in. If that fellow's accent is any indication... we might need that luck to hold out."


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
The scrollcase is a simple leather affair and quite battered. Jarrith finds no suspicious trappings to speak of, and finds a single piece of parchment on the inside.

The note is in a simple, firm hand. The language is formal, and not in common style, but perfectly understandable:
Hail to thee of might and valor:

I, a lowly servant of the township of Barovia, send honor to thee. We plead for thy so desperately needed assistance within our community.

The love of my life, Ireena Kolyana, has been cursed by the ancient witches of Lysaga Hill, and even the good people of our town are powerless to free her from this enchantment. She wastes away under the witches' curse and I would have her saved from this menace.

There is much wealth in this community. I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea.

Come quickly, for her time is at hand! All that I have shall be thine!

Kolyan Indirovich
Burgomaster of Barovia

James Heard

Peeking over the shoulder of Jarrith like a strange, white-headed crow, Janis read the message herself and then turned away, wringing her hands with sudden apparent glee.

Stupid yokels, everyone knows that Curses are darkest necromancy and have nothing to do whatsoever with enchantments, she thought darkly with much explicit satisfaction.

"Ah," she said, as if that explained it all.

[sblock=For the DM]
OOC: Any hits on "the ancient witches of Lysaga Hill" as to who those people might be and what they might do besides stir pots, turn people into frogs, ride around on brooms, and be discovered by clever youthful sleuths and their pesky dogs named Scooby?[/sblock]


First Post
"Very well," the shifter nods and reaches into a pouch. The glint of gold appears in his hand as he offers a closed hand - palm down - to the messenger. "Some coin for your trouble. Where do you hail from?"


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
James Heard said:
OOC: Any hits on "the ancient witches of Lysaga Hill" as to who those people might be and what they might do besides stir pots, turn people into frogs, ride around on brooms, and be discovered by clever youthful sleuths and their pesky dogs named Scooby?
It is not a place or a group Janis has heard of, which leads her to believe it is only of local importance. Considering how cut off this place is, it is not surprising Janis has not come across them in her research.[/sblock]


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
GwydapLlew said:
"Very well," the shifter nods and reaches into a pouch. The glint of gold appears in his hand as he offers a closed hand - palm down - to the messenger. "Some coin for your trouble. Where do you hail from?"
The messenger holds out his hand cautiously, and simply responds, "Everywhere. I move around. Carry messages, good money. Now, I must go."


First Post
Khensu drops a single gold coin in the man's hand. "May the light of the Silver Flame illuminate your journeys. I hope that what you offer is returned to you tenfold." He smiles a broad, canine-filled smile and claps the messenger on the shoulder before giving him a deep look, and turning to his comrades.

It's got to be a set up. It's too convenient.

[sblock=OOC]Understanding the restrictions of Eberron's alignment system, what does a quick detect evil get me?[/sblock]


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
[sblock=Khensu]Khensu focuses quickly, the power of the Flame filling his sight. It is a quick glance, but there is surely the presence of the oily slick of evil in his sight. Most likely the messenger, though the innkeeper and a gap toothed local are also in his line of sight when he calls the holy power.[/sblock]
The messenger takes the coin, his eyes narrowing at the paladin's piercing look, and quickly exits the inn. He seemed oblivious to the blessing. The other patrons stare at the party and their package, then return to their sullen drinking.
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