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)