(Photo Credit: Jerreth Esq: Music to role-play to)
Mist coalesced around the three rickety Vardno’s as the road ahead sloped ever downward into a thick and onyx black forest. Even the bright colors of Vistanti’s wagons and clothes seemed to fade and a heavy air set deep in the lungs of the caravan. The fours strangers seemed oddly out of place in the group, but somehow also fit in. The tall silent Elf that sat in the front of the wagon held his bow tight, either from fear or habit. The mischievous Drow sat behind him counting her coins and watching the road ahead looking for any sign of civilization. Next to her the naïve Teifling playing with whatever bauble took her fancy for the moment, uninterested in the road ahead. Driving the wagon sits the final member, a stout and iron clad paladin, searching with weary eyes for threats and fighting hard to keep the horses steady. The Caravan marched on, even as the woods encroached father and father on the path, until finally not even the sun shown through the thick canopy. The most eerie part of the forest was the ever present mist that entangled everything, and was always visible even in the almost blackness around the forest. It was as pale as the moon, and followed them as a hunter would prey. Just as the group settled in to the stark difference of their new surroundings the ghastly howl of a beast, not far from the path broke out. Almost instantly in response more calls broke out all around the caravan, It was clear that more then men traveled these roads. The Ranger drew his bow also in response, and the drow picked up her crossbow, they would not be caught unawares. The howls continued for sometime but the source was never revealed, left behind in the wood to remain a mystery. As the road broke from the oppressive trees and roots into an open clearing a large pool, or perhaps a small lake sat. All around were varndo’s like the three of the caravan, and a fire’s blazed at edge of the water, It was a camp, and perhaps even safety.
As the caravan approached, and parked in an odd semi circle fashion, gypsy like characters exited and began various actives, starting fires, preparing drinks and food, one casually strolled over the wagon where the four strangers sat, also preparing a camp for the night. “Come with me, Madam Eva is expecting you, she will have all the answers you seek” the brightly dressed man expressed as he motioned to a particularly old looking varando at the other end of the camp. The group casually shrugged, to one another, it had been such a strange trip so far, why question it now? The Drow began to voice some objection, but the gypsy man simply shook a long cord attached to his shirt, fashioned to it was a ridiculous number of bells and cymbals which caused a metallic racket to loud to over power in a causal tone. afterwards he simply said again “Madam Eva has the answers you seek”.
The group gave a motion of acceptance and followed the gypsy through the camp of oddities. As they walked they passed a group of gypsies gather around a campfire, one of them clad in stripped green and orange costume took a swig from the jug in his grasp. He spit into the fire causing the flames to roar and grow like the breath of a dragon. He began
“There was long ago a hope for the people, he came clad in red robes and clutching a staff of immense power. A Wizard! He came from a far away place, one of those lands not choked by the mist, he knew nothing of our land, our Barovia! save for the name of the man he came to defeat, Strahd Von Zarovich, the devil, the bringer of our sorrows! This man the wizard who’s name is forgotten in time. Hidden among us for a time he studied the devil and when he thought it time he rallied the people! the lowly ones the devil has cast aside. He took them to that black fortress on the mountain and they challenged the despot! Almost immediately at the sight of the monster the villagers ran for safety, and those who stayed did not survive for long, save that mysterious wizard. The two hurled bolts of lighting, and ray of scorching flames at other, and at the end of the struggle our wizard stood at the precipice of that cliff. He was casted down below into the dark, and the last hope for the people of this land faded. “
The party stood ringed around the dancing flames, entranced by the tale of green and orange storyteller. “Who was the wizard?” asked the curious drow. The orange and green man, stared back at her, “He was a man from beyond here, and is lost now, we searched but could not even find his remains, such is the fate of the devil’s enemies”
She went to ask more, but the first gypsy again shook his bells and they knew their time among the warm flames was over. They set off again, towards that ancient wheeled house which was promised to hold all their answers. While it was in reality only a short walk, the four, who had come so far as to trust the one another, couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread, that stretched out mere moments into haunting hours as the approached the foretold sage. The gypsy stopped, and shook his bell’s when an air of finality. He reached out and opened the door to the varando. Inside a sinister light illuminated the small hut, lined with a thousand gold tasseled pillows. At the other end sat a small, frail women whose loose grey hair and hard wrinkled lines both displayed her power and deceived it. “Madam Eva I suppose?” asked the timid teifling, who couldn’t be more curious about the old women.