The Curse of Doru

The Curse of Doru

The Adventurers stood silently still, among the litter of human corpses in tattered rags, some of them in disbelief, some of them in pride. Hohenhiem held his wife Andetara, as they walked away from the bloody meadow. That quiet place no longer held the same sense of peacefulness, like everything else in this land it was now tainted. The mist that once was held at bay began to creep slowly, twisting and tightening around the flowers and weeds. While nothing visible changed about the place, it simply felt wrong to stay the party searched one more time for the girl, but even Trojan lost the scent. They walked back through the dark Svalich woods, with a new understanding of this dark place, and for Ilaryon and Hohenhiem, a twinge of sadness for one more pure place of nature had been lost.

As the four exited the dark woods, and found the dim glow of the village of Barovia it excited a small spring of hope inside them all. This town, though dismal and dark seemed safer the the wilds, for all their adventuring years they hope even in this strange fog shrouded land even this rule would hold up. The same sad sobs the greeted the party the first time still rang deep through the city. As if sadness was so ingrained in this land it traveled like the wind, with each gust spreading further and further. The party stopped at the city gates. “We need to find somewhere to rest Von Hohenhiem” stated. “Where?!” Zara responded, “We can’t even find an inn!”. Andareta looked around the desolate village, and spotted the hill that overlooked it from the south. A small chapel sat, lonely and dilapidated. “Maybe we could stay there tonight?”

The others looked up at the church, unsure “There’s nothing else around, priest are usually friendly” Ilaryon said as he looked at Andetara and Zara, their nature might cause a problem they all knew, but it was worth a shot. The road leading up to the church was steep, and dirty. Small cart ruts dug into the ground like claws, deep and jagged that filled with stale water from days before. The black fence and gate surrounded the small building was covered in rust and broken in a number of places. the graves contained within sat pooled with water, open to the elements with broken caskets inside, the bodies interred there missing. The Church itself was in better condition, at least on the outside. It was painted a light blue color, with purple accents, and a relief of a yellow sun was seated above the door, although it was far into the process of fading away. The two six foot tall doors stood covered in claw and blade marks, the bottoms looked gnawed away and in some places blood stained. The left door sat slightly ajar, a slight whispering could be heard inside. The side doors sat boarded and reinforced, it seemed trouble plagued the chapel all to often.

“Hello?” Andetara said softly as she knocked on the sturdy wooden door, It swung open slowly, and the pale moon light filled a long hallway. Four doors two on each side, sat closed and behind these rooms rows of destroyed pews sat on stone floors. A blue carpet that matched the colors of the building trimmed in the same purple ran straight down the building to the only source of light in the room. An alter sat at the far end of the room, where a single only candle burned, crouched on his knees in front of the candle sat a figure rocking back and forth and muttering something under his breath. His voice echoed across the room, bouncing from shadow to shadow but remaining out of earshot. Andetara reeled back, and Hohenhiem stepped forward, the party approached spreading out, hoping to not stumble over the littered pews and splintered doors. The man’s figure became more apparent, he was an older male, and sorted a scruffy and ragged beard, which looked out of place. His robes matched the church, and a long purple iron change hung around his neck, at the end sat a large purple disk, painted yellow and carved to resemble the sun. His black hair, was slicked back but loose strands pulled free, and hung to his shoulders. The words he became clearer now and the adventurers heard ” Roland,  deliver us from this darkness, bring the eternal morning you have promised. Shine you’re rays from the eternal sun on the demons and vanquish them from our land of darkness. Most importantly Morninglord, deliver Doru from the plague placed upon him.”

Upon finally comprehending the words the priest spoke, Andetara fell to her knees, and embraced the priest. She understood he had lost much, and was a broken man. After some time, and some water the priest came to his senses. “Who are you people? Why have you come here?” he looked around at the four ragtag visitors. “We were looking for a place to stay, but what happened here” Andetara asked. The priest looked despaired, “It started not long ago, creatures started attacking the church” He motioned to the windows “We had to destroy the pews, and tables to board up the windows and doors. They came each night, and not long after that the graves opened and terrible monsters began roaming the yard. That was when it happened, my son Doru, he was attacked by the creatures, he became sick, and we were all but trapped in the church. I’ve been praying for days, I’ve lost hope he maybe lost to me forever.” The Priest looked at a small trapdoor in the corner of the room. ” I locked him down there, he one of those Monsters now unless Roland has saved us. But his visits are not as frequent as they once were and his miracles even weakers, a terrible curse has visited this land friends, and you are most unfortunate for coming here now”

(Photo Credit)

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Always Remember Your Silver Cup

Always Remember Your Silver Cup

The six lupine monstrosities stood circled around the adventurers, their mere presence corrupting and pervading that peaceful place. Black and grey fur matted with blood and dirt shown in the moonlight, making the easily six foot tall monsters loomed high, with gnarled and scarred faces, out from which protruded long, terrifyingly sharp fangs which looked more akin to knives then teeth. The monsters circled around them now, live wolves before the kill, their faces showed the pure ecstasy these creatures got from this moment. When they toyed with their food, just before it’s death.

Similar yet all together more horrifying thought ran through the four who were now prey standing in the circle of horrors. Terrible yellow eyes pierced them, and long terrible, deadly claws clicked in waiting. All the while, that ever-present companion, shown pale  the blood of theses creatures former selves.  The Howls must of froze the adventurers, but now they stood resolute, First was Ilaryon who slashed and hacked with his twin swords. He lunged at the nearest beast breaking their tight formation,  as the creature raised it’s massive forearm in opposition. Ilaryon’s years of study and experience in the wilds did not fail him, his blades landed clean on the beast arm as fur went sailing through the wind. The monster did not wince, or retract however, while the blades lay hard pressed on it’s arms it felt no obvious pain. With a savage roar it clawed back using his free hand, and the Springwarden was sent to the ground stunned. “I know of few natural beast which can withstand good steel, these are true lycanthropes!” he shouted as he tumbled under the beast next swing. The wood elf dashed across the grove and readied his bow.

After Ilaryon struck the beast in front of him, Hohenhiem widened his stance and braced his shield, he would cover the back side of his tow allies and they him. His Griffin clad longsword was illuminated brightly, and just at the edges of the light small feathers fell shedding from the source, leaving minuscule orbs of light all around the group. When two of the Wolfmen lunged in close, Hohenhiem rebuked them with skill, and returned a strike to one which did have effect. The beast screamed out in true pain, which sent an obvious shiver through the pack, it was now clear. They were not use to their prey fighting back. Andareta seized the chance, she whipped her hands and invoked her dark gifts. Fire burned clear across the grove and ignited three of the beast who immediately began rolling and tossing attempting to put the flames out. “That will help” she said, “I just hope the forest doesn’t burn down with them” she gripped her mace and the radiance of the sun shown from her hand. Even this was a strange sight to the Beast and cuased the few left to cringe. Zara broke from the formation, dodging the flames and turned back again, she grabbed her lute and strummed a heavy note, deep cords bored out of her and the air began to take a metallic quality to it. She faced two Lycans flaking Hohenhiem’s now exposed side and charged forward. Quicker then even Ilaryon eyes could follow as a bolt of lighting and thunder enveloped her. The two Wolves when flying through the grove and Zara turned to face the remaining beast.

As the creatures roared across the grove, Ilaryon took aim, focusing with nature he imbued his shots with the razor barbed thorns of the earths vengeance and loosed two shots. Both landed spot on and again the grove filled with screams of pain and vengeance. Hohenhiem gathered his strength for another blow, he reared back his blade and chanted an entrentment to his holy divinities “To keep balance with nature, and protect the ancients I smith you!” He ran his gilded blade through the creatures, and forced it deep, the iron hilt wrought in deep carvings of the griffins wings stopped the blades advance. The beast whelped like a sick dog and collapsed to the ground. The rest of the pack broke into either a great fear, or a power frenzy. They all snapped and clawed now, twice as fast, twice as hard, it was now truly a fight for their lives. Hohenhiem pulled mightily at the blade and removed it from the corpse, which rapidly been changing back into the form of a man. There staring him in the face with cold storm grey eyes, and a mangled beard was the pack leader.

Andareta stuck the beast as soon as it’s head came up, still fresh burned and smoldering. The crack rang for a moment, and the light from her mace, almost made the demon spawn look like a warrior for the gods. The wolf clawed and bit but could not land a strike, it was use to much darker places. Zara snuck around the flank of the dazed beast, and struck it hard with her staff. the Sharp butt oozed poison and the top was shaped like a spider, her Drow goddess Lolth would be proud of the kill, underhanded and efficient, the perfect revenge for failures, fool who could not ambush properly.

The two Lycan bodies dropped at Ilaryon’s feet and recovered surprisingly fast, he stood strong undrawing his bow, at this distance he could only strike one properly, and that would not do. He reached for his blades but stopped himself, they were of no use. Behind the hulking beast he could see his friends wiping clean the pack and Hohenhiem had already noticed his predicament. Ilaryon back peddled, thinking hoping to gain precious second to find a solution. It came to him in a flash, during their last adventures he had laid claim to a rusty battle axe, and a fine silver goblet, inlaid with emeralds something about the small cup called to him. He had not acquired much so it still sat in the side pouch of his bag, he reached behind him and produced the goblet, holding it by the hopefully sturdy base he began to flail it at the beast. “Lycans hate silver!” he shouted, and as the cup made contact the skin and fur of the beast burned. He struck the first hard across the face and it went down, he turned to the other and lunged the small object at it, it turned to flee but was met with Hohenhiem’s blade, as he turned around Zara and Anderata were finishing the other. Always remember you silver cup.

(Photo Credit:  Idk google?)

The Tree’s have Eyes

werewolf2Bounding over roots and holes, sneaking through logs and hollows, Trojan moved at a quick pace, the trail was still strong despite the long passing of time. Hohenhiem  worked hard to keep up, but the only one who could truly keep pace was Ilaryon, and he doubled checked the trail every chance he got, he would briefly catch faint impressions of small feet in the dirt or mud two steps here, three there, then they would vanish for a moment. Or they appeared to vanish, here in the dark Svalich woods, it seemed either no one traveled or everyone did, sometimes its seemed tracked crossed and zigged,  but it was hard to tell exactly how old they were, it was a wonder he could find the girls’ tracks, thankfully they were much smaller then the rest. Finally the determined mutt slowed his pace, he came to a small , peaceful clearing in the woods. The grass here swayed gently in the wind, the sound of small night insects chirped and the ever-present full moon cast calming shadows of the grim world around them, it was like pocket of bliss in nightmare they were currently engulfed.

Trojan suddenly stopped, in the center of the grove he barked but Hohenhiem’s spell had Already warn off, the message was clear either way though, the trail ended here. Ilaryon moved to confirm the suspensions, indeed the trail ended. The four were at first let down, but they began to marvel at the place they found around them, Andareta found a strong felled log, and for a time her and Hohenhiem sat there watching the lighting bugs fly in the pale light. Ilaryon marveled at the beauty of the live game of the area, deer, birds squirrels and other creatures, whom he had all but forgotten now roamed around this peaceful place. Zara, simply walked the entire grove searching for something, she looked excited every time a turned rock reveled some strange unknown bug, or when she found glowing mushrooms new things were exciting and her mind raced with the possible uses for all of the strange curios she found.

After a short time the party rejoined, and regain their sense of purpose this was a nice break but they sought a missing girl, and now had now leads. “We have to find her, but I think this proves my point, the vampire took her! what was his name Stradh? I think” Andareta started off. “We can’t know that, but I think its safe to say there’s nothing more to learn here, as peaceful as it is…” Ilaryon noted, as he gestured around the grove, it was clear the idea of leaving pained him. “I agree” Hohenhiem added “Besides there has to be more information about this devil character in town, it was a god effort but perhaps this girl is truly lost”  Zara simple nodded in approval, the adventurers were not ready to give up, but it was clear this place we of no further use to them.

As one would expect, the Ranger, Ilaryon first heard the men approach, a rustle of the grass, the snapping of branches whom ever it was, either had no regard for the forest or wanted to be heard. His wood elf ears almost stood on edge as they cross the threshold in to the grove, from every direction he heard them, this was indeed deliberate. It was Zara who first noticed them with her eyes however, it is typical of a drow to be alert for treachery, six men circled the group, and as they grew closer each member reached for their weapon of choice, Hohenhiem gripped his longsword, and Ilaryon the two blades at his hips,  Andareta and Zara reach for this crossbows, they knew these men were not friends.

The Six encircled them were dressed in petty rags and bore no weapons or even shoes, despite this their stance was threating and the four adventures stood in a solid circle facing them. “Please you have to help us, we’ve been lost for days and there are some terrible creatures in the forest!” Andareta and Zara both went to speak, but Zara won out “We haven’t seen anything out here all night, in fact we’ve been looking for someone”

The man at the tip of the pack, the closet to her spoke back, it was hard to understand through his thick accent, and equally think beard, in fact all the men wore thick patches of facial hair, and their bodies seems just as coated in the stuff. ” Well we haven’t see none else out here, we were taken seen, we think by servants of that devil, they crashed on the road and our cage was broken open, we ran for it. Now ere stuck out here could you at least point the way to Vallakai for us?”

Now Andareta responded, and the two dark figures shared a glance, “we haven’t a clue where Vallakai, or whatever is, now why are you out here again? because slaves don’t try to trap the only help they’ve found all night!”

Again the Gruff, bearded voice answers, “I suppose you’re right, we’ll have to work on that for next time, eh?” He took a pause as him and the other men all shared looks. “Were really here look for dinner tonight” As he finished, he fell onto the ground screaming in pain, and the other men fell around them in similar fashion. The dark hair that covered their bodies grew and grew along with the shouts of pain and terror, blood spewed from elongated legs and arms, all around them now stood large lupine creatures, which glissaded in the moon light. From deep in the gullet of the monsters rang that same high pitched cry which had chased them through the roads, these were the monsters lurking, and they had found their prey.

(Photo Credit: Tribaity.com)

Mad Mary’s Melancholy

Mad Mary’s Melancholy

Mournful sobbing filled the streets, like a slow moving artic wind, everyone the sobs touched felt chilled and removed the natural world. Only Andareta stood strong against the laments, her keen ears did not hear just the sadness, not only despair, but she recognized a women in distress. Not a common trait for a teifling, but she felt compelled to seek out the source of melancholy cries. She bolted off into the dark streets seeking the women, and it was a stroke of luck the rest were broken from their addled shock to follow her, even here in the streets, with the break of that bleak dawn those dark claws of mist swirled around them, in every alley, by every door, covering every window mist and fog pervaded every inch of the place and hid secrets darker then that black night they traveled in. Andareta stood motionless as a the building she looked at, somehow the cries seemed quitter now, even though everyone knew this was the source. The Structure itself was unimpressive, a small wooden shack, with the same boarded up windows. However it felt all together older and more disheveled. The mist clung to this place which gave it almost in unworldly feel, and if you listened closely the echo of even greater sorrows could be heard.

“This is it” Ilaryon said softly as he approached behind Andareta. She already knew, regardless of the urgency or her need to help this women, she felt the heavy sorrow here, a small glimpse into what pervades the entire underpinning of the place, despair does not make a good traveling companion, but they all knew looking at his house, they would not escape it in this place. When the rest of them arrived they steeled themselves, again it was Andareta who first moved to open the door, which she found strangely slightly ajar. Inside the conditions were not much better then outside, in fact many would they were worse, all of the furniture was splintered and played across the room. It appears the remnants of it all were used to board up the windows, and until recently the door. Boards sit to the side ripped of, and smeared with blood. across the room in a corner sits a depressed, shambling mound of a women. The moans and cries got louder as Andareta turned her focus to the women, it is her despair that attracted her, but seeing this now, she almost turned away. It seemed this time, even her human half couldn’t find the compassion and resolve to help this women. As she began to exit the cries stopped, a soft broken voice spoke to her from that dark corner. “Please, you have to help me”, “No one has even come this far since It happened, its my daughter, please!” Hohenhiem and Ilaryon entered the house now, Andareta stood frozen only a few feet into the doorway. ” What happened to her?” she replied.

“I do not know!” she exclaimed angrily “ever since her father died in those cursed woods, I have made it a point to know where she is always, she never leaves the house, and now she is gone!” She returned to lamentation after this, and fell into a kind of trance. ” Can you tell us anything more? or perhaps where she might go?” Andareta asked the disheveled women but her cries only grew louder and it was plain she would be of no more help. Hohenhiem was across the room, where he found a pile of rags and cushions, a bed he presumed. lost in the sheets was a small doll, it looked misshapen and weird, missing one eye, where a small “x” was stitched in its place. However, it still had a distinct stare that made the Paladin feel even more uncomfortable in this place, around the small doll sat a sackcloth dress, obviously made by someone with little skill, perhaps even a small child. Sewn into the seem is a warn and frayed but legible tag, that reads “Is no fun Is no Blinsky!””I think I’ve found her bed, and some strange doll, but nothing here tells us where she could have gone” Hohenhiem told the others as they searched the rest of the one room home. Outside they spoke, slightly more freely now that they were away from the already distressed ears of the mother.

“I bet it was that devil, Strahd?” Andareta started off, she said it with a conviction, “How else would she just disappear, who knows what he’s capable of!” “But, we can’t know that, it sounds like she’s been stuck there her whole life, maybe she just left?” Ilaryon rebutted “Not it was Stradh!” Andareta replied, “I know it was, and we can save her, lets go to that castle, go and stop him” she continued. “I’m not quite sure that’s the best idea” Zara spoke up, but it was obvious the others agreed, “like you said we don’t even know what he’s capable of” Hohenhiem embraced Andareta, “What about Trojan, he might be able to smell where she went” he looked around, and got looks of agreement. With that it was decided and the group set out to find their wagon, parked just at the entrance of town. There sat Lia, checking inventory. Their pseudo-butler and professional chief, Alfred had started a fire to cook, and dancing around the two wagon horse was a mastiff, “Trojan!” Hohenhiem called, and the dog came running. Straight to Andareta, the two played and pawed at each other for a few moments while everyone else waited, sharing glances of either amusement or boredom. Hohenhiem constrained focusing on Trojan, now he felt more in tune with nature, he could hear the leaves and feel the wind. “Trojan, we need you to find this girl” he said as he produced the misshapen doll, a few stiff later the mastiff looked at him, and barked twice before he ran into the dark Salavich woods that surrounded them. Hohenhiem however did not hear the barks to him Trojan sounded like a deep voiced, and throaty man “She’s in the woods, keep up!”.

Photo Credit (WoTC Curse of Strahd Source book pg.44)

All Roads lead to….

All Roads lead to….

Stanimir laughed and shook his new coin purse at the group as they walked away covered in that pale moon light. “He would get pleasure out of swindling us, no way a map of this place is worth 25gp, I bet we can find one in Barovia for 5!” Zara exclaimed as they walked.

” Well either way we know where were going now, but do we leave tonight? it’s always more dangerous at night, more animals lurking about” Ilaryon asked, but the entire group looked around, hoping someone else would speak up. “Yes we have to leave now, I can’t stand it here for another second, besides would it even be safe to stay here? I feel like the longer were here the more these people hate us!” Andareta exclaimed as she shook her hand, she clearly had some strong objections to what the others were thinking. “Honey, they don’t hate us” Hoheniem said as he took her gently into his arms, “We’re outsiders in a camp of misfits, they don’t trust anyone, Madam Eva gave us her blessing simply by inviting us, her people won’t harm us” he continued. “No, maybe it comes down to that I just don’t want to be here! I won’t stay!”Andareta responded back. “I agree, something about this place… these people, I don’t like it either, besides it doesn’t look like I’m making much money here” Zara interjected as she began packing up her wagon, hey absent minded assistant Lia helped but as usual wasn’t much help. The two men looked at each other, from the looks on their faces, they agreed, It was time to leave, even if it was only because the women were.

With their belongings squared away they group sat down to look at the map, It looked detailed enough, but Zara still had a few comments to make it its quality, It showed a road that connected all three of the towns of Barovia, and the dreaded castle that loomed not far north of their current position. The Old Salavich Road, formed a highway, it went east to the town of Baroiva, and then onward to the edge of the domain. If you followed it west it hugged the curve of a mountain in the south, Mount Ghakis, which peaked south of the map’s border. Continuing west on the Salavich road, brought you to a fork, in which one path cut back to that dread castle, and the other to a town called Vallaki, following that brought you to the city of Krezek. All of this was a mystery to the four adventures, none of the cities sounded familiar, except Barovia, and the Natural lakes and mountains were all foreign. It was odd, when they met these Gypsies, near the Triboar trial outside the city of Phalandever, everything seemed as normal as it could be given the circumstances, and they knew well the areas around there, in fact the had a rich caches of maps and books of the area. So that when Zara check them as they traveled along on the Salavich Road. None of these place on the new, gypsy, map were mentioned. But it only took a day until they had reached this new place, how could they have never even heard of it?

“Where, Exactly are we headed?” Asked Von Hohenhiem as he sat next to Ilaryon at the front of the cart, it seems they were also stuck on first watch. “Well” the ranger responded “We’re not really sure, but if we take this short route here, we’ll make it to the main road, from there I was thinking the town of Baroiva, it’s the only place we really know about, and Madam Eva did suggest we check it out” Ilaryon continued on about the merit of his plan until they reached the Salavich road, by then Hohenhiem was convinced. The wagon started East, and as soon as the back wheels hit that ancient dirt, the Howl of those creatures in the forest started up again. “Have you any idea what beast that is? it seems to follow us when the moon shines” Hohenhiem asked, his hand resting on the glowing long sword in his lap. After a moment on concentration Ilaryon gave a gesture of frustration, ” I cannot figure it out exactly, it sounds like a wolf, or bear, but not quite, I’ve tracked a lot of strange things in my day, but whatever this is, I have not seen it before” “Well whos to say what it is, before now, we didn’t even know this place existed. At least it wasn’t on any of our maps, or in any of out books, maybe these creatures are new as well, as long as we can kill it, I don’t much care” Hohenhiem replied. After that, they sat in silence for a while, contemplating what ever is in the Salavich woods that now surrounds them.

Day was breaking as the wagon groaned near the first buildings of the huddle of shacks called Barvia.It was the sun that let them know day had come, but rather the absence of the strange sounds in the woods around them. Things got brighter but only barely, it seemed day wasn’t much different from night in the dark and depressed land. Every house looked like a warn pile of old boards nailed together, except for the doors, which had a surprisingly strong and clean character about them, most windows were boarded shut, and in almost every home the barking of dogs seemed constant. The wind sounded hard and heavy, but as the adventurer’s disembarked from the wagon, the sound cleared up and it was obvious gust and storms were an infrequent occurrence. The Sounds was a low, heavy, depressed sobbing, it floated through the streets as if coming from everywhere, and yet nowhere. The Few villages out didn’t seem to notice it, but Andareta knew it was that of a women’s voice, someone was alone and defeated.

(Photo Credit: BoardGameGeek)

Dead Men Walking

Dead Men Walking

Everyone is the small crammed wagon sat quietly while the light of that one table candle flickered around. Shadows danced across the decorative and fringed pillows and cushions that lined the room. The thick silence was final broken when Zara finally found the question they were all looking for. “Where is Strahd? we’ve heard so much about him, but where is he from?”

It took a long time before the frail women at the other end of the small round table spoke. “He stays in the castle on the cliff, Far above the village of Barovia, where it cast a shadow of fear that stretches across this entire land” she paused for a moment, to inspect the four adventures across from her. She was a wise women, and knew no warning would spurn the four youngsters. “I would not advise it but if you seek the devil, Castle Ravenloft is where you should look, If you do seek him, check first in the town of Barovia, someone there may know more of what you yet seek”

She said that last word with a hint of exhaustion ” Please, I’ve done all I can for you now, and this has been a tiring exercise, whatever you do remember the prophecy or the devil will claim you”

Madam Eva shirked back into the mass of pillows behind her, and it almost seemed like the already dim light flickered into an even less luminous flame.

The visitors each shared a look, and Andareta was the first to take leave of the wagon. Outside the group was met with that same bright colored gypsy, his stripes and flairs were almost dizzying. However he was beginning to become a familiar sight his short brown hair topped with what looked like a squishy red hat, those sharp storm grey eyes and his his bare feet were becoming more welcoming every time these strangers saw him, soon they thought they might even discover his name. “See, I told you Madam Eva would answer your questions!” he said with a grin. Andantra give him a look of pure frustration, as she threw he hands up, “all she really did was give us more questions! well that and tell us about how were all going to die!” Von Hoheniem moved to consul her “Honey, It alright you heard her we should go to Barovia see what we can find there, the gods have not completely forsaken this place” It was always interesting to see these two lover quarrel, Zara and Ilaryon knew better then to interfere with the Teifling and her Paladin lover. “Ha!” the gypsy screamed out “You must be one of much faith, your kind do not last long here, the only true god we have is the devil, and he is far from merciful” Ilaryon saw the chance and took it, “Gypsy! your fortune teller told us of the town of Barovia but as we do not know this land we need a guide, will you bring there?” The gypsy replied in lock step as if he anticipated the question ” My name is Stanimir, not Gypsy, elf!” after this he stared a Ilaryon for a moment, “and yes I can bring you to Barovia, in the shadow of the castle, we can even take my wagon, if you are willing to pay… say 100 gold?” His jovial eyes and dancing bells almost turned sinister at this remark, and everyone could sense he truly meant business. ” It is dangerous to travel so close to the castle, who know what of the devil’s playthings are loose there?, besides I hear tell he visits a women of Barovia often” Zara was quick with her counter offer, a business women her self, he subordinate  Lia had been plying baubles I the camp since they arrived. “50 Gold” she spouted, “It may be dangerous but were are here to protect you” Stainmir raised his hand in objection, “This is not a game dark elf, it is 100 gold, or I do not guide you, any others here will offer the same price, we do not work for less then our skills are worth” The adventurers then searched through their respective coin pouches, Together they each held out in a circles 25 gold,

“We have enough” said Ilaryon, “But is it worth it?” Zara Replied, “Fuck it! we need a guide” Andareta retorted, ” but I’m not playing anymore then this” she continued. The entire group looked at Hoheniem, “No” he replied we can follow the roads, we’ll make it somewhere and somewhere has cheaper guides” The group broke from the huddle, “Stainmir, we will find Barovia on our own” said Andareta, she stood ready for a counter offer. “I see” the light haired gypsy replied, he reached into a pouch behind him and produced a small piece or parchment, folded into a simple square, “Guides are expensive, maps on the other hand are quite a bit cheaper, it will be much easier to navigate if you have this” “And I suppose that’s a 100 gold too?” Zara asked with a hint of sarcasm at the end.” Why no my dear, only 50 gold for the map, all the other adventures I’ve sold it too didn’t have a problem with the price” Stanimar replied, with a smile a smooth as think honey. Zara already had a reply ready at “Other adventures” ” used goods, Stanimir 25 gold, take it or leave it, we’ll get there either way” Stanmir looked away for a moment, and turned back, “for dead men walking you all sure are a pain, here 25 gold for the map, I hope you last longer then the last group and try to avoid getting blood on it” he sneered as he handed the map over and snatched a hand full of coins. As Stanimir walked away you could almost see the mist swirling around him, as if those wicked claws of night and fog were reaching out to grab him. The mist looked even more pale in the light of the full moon, this was their first night in this strange haunted land, but something told all for of them, that moon would be their only true companion every night.

(Photo Credit Pintrest)