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?)

Advertisements

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)

 

 

 

 

Never trust a Gypsy

Never trust a Gypsy

The adventurers stood still, while the question hung in the air. Something about the cramped wagon, with that lonely candle which mixed both the all to familiar darkness and the bright colors of thoses gaudy gypsy decorations, it made them question why they were even there. Something that had not happend since they arrived in this strange land. “Yes” croaked the old crone, “I am the one you seek, the one who has your answers, that is why you’ve come?” Her ancient eyes studied the teifling, “Andareta, the warlock, summoner of demons, deceiver of the flames”, Madam Eva then turned to the metal clad Paladin, “Von Hohenhiem, the ancient, Spring Warden and lover of lies.” This instantly drew a reaction from the guest, they suddenly realized this was not just an old women who was revered for her age. Her head turned again and locked eyes with drow who sat in the back, watching every move ” Zara, weaver of magics, and lover of wealth, defiant of her people” with this she trailed to the elf, “and you Ilyrion, Spring Warden, Hunter of monsters, master of thorns.”
” and I am Madam Eva, I know why you have come, but I do not know why he has brought you here” her shaking voice trailed into the shadows, while mist curled around the windows of the wagon.

” The land of Barovia is cursed, and the devil Strahd is the source” at the mention of that name, the old gypsy’s voice grew strong and powerful as if a sense of fear brought on the requirement of extra efforts to concisely relay the information, or perhaps confidence  welled inside her, confidence that her audience was now fully listening.

” no one enters or exits this land without his knowledge and consent, and why he sent for you for you I cannot fathom. However I sense, perhaps you could heal this place. My faith in the gods is little here, but the Morninglord does sometimes work his miracles.” Madam Eva looked down at her table, there, next to the candle, sat a round glass ball about the size of fist propped on four ornate claw like feet. Inside, mist swirled and vague shapes danced about. Von Hohenhiem, the man of faith, stared into that crystal ball. Inside the fog cleared, and the sky above a dark castle broke open, a blazing sun rose high in the sky, and the shadows of the castles high peaks dominated the small village below.

Zara, the drow, spoke up first, ” Who is the Devil Strahd? ”

” Strahd was a man, who’s luck was terrible, he now blames the people, and the land for his fate. He rules this land, but only in name, and through fear, if any of his subjects even knew who he truly was, they would leave this place at any cost”

“And you want to stop Strahd?” Zara asked

“Strahd, is not all bad” Eva said, as her voice trailed and her eyes gazed across through those dirty windows. “But he is lost, and his people suffer, he has brought you here, perhaps for his own enjoyment, or for other reasons that I do not know, but I can help you”

“You’re coming was foretold, long ago, in the vague prophecies of my people, perhaps we should look into you’re future?”

“Yes” Zara replied, clearly piqued at the offer, the others were just as interested.

Madam Eva reached into a chest that sat to her side, and removed a small velvet bag. From inside she produced a set of wooden, ornately carved cards she shuffled them in her hands for a moment, and set the stack on the table.

” one of you must shuffle them, go until they sit right in your hands” she said, as her eyes fixed deeply on Andareta.  “you my child, take the cards”

Andareta reached out with inferno touched hands, and grasped the set of cards. They where surprisingly heavy, even though they were no larger then common cards. She shuffled them, and all five of them sat in near silence, while the wooden cards clanked together like a old loose door banging in the wind. After a short time, the teifling stopped, he cards simply sat right, like the final piece of a puzzle, it simply felt right.

Madam Eva knew, she did not even seem to register Andareta had stopped. “good, now place five cards, in a cross and we will begin to see your fates” There sat a small cross of five cards. An ornate picture of that crystal ball was carved into the back of each card.

Madam Eva reached across the small table, and flipped the first card, “This card will tell of history, knowledge of the ancient will help you better your enemy” her voice took on a sinster quality as a picture of mad man, screaming whist he sat shackled. Behind him burned a structure with an impressive visage, burning wildly while smoke trailed into the distance. ” hmmm, the Anarchist” as Eva spoke, her eyes glassed over, and in that same mysteriously quiet voice she greeted them with ” I see walls of Bones, a chandelier of Bones, and a table of Bones – all that remains of enemies long forgotten.”

The trance she entered wavered a little, but only long enough to reveal the face of the next card. Carved into the wood was a wild women, dancing around the cauldron bellowing a mountain of smoke. “This card will tell of a powerful force of protection, a holy symbol of great hope, you must search for the crypt of a wizard ordinaire. His staff will be your key”

Again, as she set the card down, Eva returned briefly from whatever misty place she visited, but before long, she produced another card face, and another piece of the future. This card showed a lonely, worried women, who clutched her staff as shepherded her flock into the mist.”This is a card of power and strength, it tells of a weapon of vengeance; a sword of sunlight, to find it you must find the mother- she who gave birth to evil”

This time, Eva’s trance did not fade she swiftly moved to the next card, the bottom of the cross, as she revealed the saintly image of a women, her hair in buns, dressed in an ornate gown, light radiates behind her as if good followed her every step. “This card sheds light, it will show you the one to help you greatly in your battle against the darkness, and it is Evil’s bride whom you seek!”

Madam Eva’s voice rose as the last notes of the words left her throat, her hand quivered over the last card, the cross was almost complete it simple missed a center, a heart. “Your Enemy is a creature of Darkness! whose powers are far beyond mortality, this card tell us where you will find the monster!” her hands moved now quickest of all, The card’s face was grotesque dungeon scene, where chains hung from the ceiling, and only the small light that shown from behind cell bars offered any hope. “He lurks In a dark Hall of Bones, down deep in the pit of his castle”

There the five cards sat, a cross of confusion and mysticism, the Mad man Anarchist, the powerful Evoker, the lost Shepherd, and the naïve Innocent, at the center of it all the Donjon, the pit of bones. It created a sight that burned deep in the outsiders for a long time to come. While Madam Eva sat sunken down, warn from peering into what will be.

(Photo Credit Pinterest)

 

 

 

 

Strangers in a Strange Land

Strangers in a Strange Land

 

(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.