Curse of Strahd

Last Stand
Adran's tenth log entry

This may be my final log entry. Although normally I would be loath to interrupt a battle to prepare a report, circumstances have forced my hand.

I caught up with our party in an ossuary. Daisuke had found the Sword of Sunlight and had been charged with wielding it. We explored the labyrinth beneath the castle and ended up in the room of Rahadin, Lord Strahd’s seneschal. We fought him to prevent him from warning his master of our entry into the castle. He was little match for our combined might.

As we continued, we arrived at a room we had been before, where we had fought the iron golems. The hourglass remained, together with the coloured stones we could throw into the brazier to teleport. This time, we threw in the yellow stone, which transported us to Strahd’s tomb below the castle.

The casket was in the middle of the chamber. I verified it for traps, and found none. However, when my companions lifted the lid, Strahd, hidden beneath, launched a fireball attack that greatly injured them. He then summoned his three brides to fight us while he crawled along the ceiling and lobbed spells. Thus far, our combined attacks have injured the monster, but he remains a threat.

Unfortunately, as I sought cover from Strahd’s spell attacks, I ducked into the right-most alcove. I found myself transported to a different area, separated from my comrades. I do not know how the battle against Strahd fares, but I will try to rejoin them as quickly as possible.

I will leave this log entry under a rock in the crypt I find myself. If my band and I don’t make it, I left a copy of my other log entries at the Blue Water Inn in Vallaki. Those entries will indicate what we have discovered about Strahd and how to defeat him. I wish you more luck than we have had.

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Fight! Fight! Fight!
Adran's ninth log entry

As we continued to explore the cells where Oscar had been imprisoned, we were suddenly attacked by a slimy, oozing creature. Oscar cast a spell to remove the water from the cell, which allowed the rest of us to attack the creature without difficulty. The creature’s acidic attacks were dangerous, but our combined efforts defeated it handily.

We then explored the cells in the southern part of the dungeon. We had heard cries for help from this area, and they seemed to originate from a bedraggled man who sought our aid. At Lady Arimaka’s request, I opened the cell. Yet Elga and Oscar were suspicious, and they queried the prisoner. Something in his demeanour seemed off, so they yelled at me to shut the cell door and lock it once more. Amazingly, the creature began to transform, becoming more wolf-like. It was only due to my quick reflexes (and Elga and Oscar’s timely warning) that we were able to lock the man-wolf in its cell once more. Though it yelled and pleaded, we refused to release it (though Oscar threatened to drown it if it did not shut up).

We continued to explore the catacombs and came upon what seemed to be a torture chamber. As we entered, the dread victims of Lord Strahd arose from the dead to attack us. Though they were numerous, they were not particularly difficult to dispatch. Between our combined might, we destroyed them without injury.

The torture chamber contained a passage that continued on behind it. It led to a strange room with two large statues of mounted horsemen. In the centre of the room was an hourglass atop a brazier. It contained an inscription entreating us to throw one of the stones around the brazier into it. According to the inscription, each stone would lead us to a different location.

As we contemplated our next course of action, the two massive iron statues came to life. They leveled their spears and charged Elga, Lady Arimaka and Oscar. They were terrible combatants, their mounts breathed poison and their thick armour plates deflected most attacks. After the first strike, Elga absolutely lost it. She raged without regard to her own safety, raining blows of fury on the statues. Her blows connected more often than not, inflicting massive wounds on the statues. Had it not been for this fortuitous rage, it is unlikely that we would have made it out alive. I provided support, peppering both creatures with arrows. After a long and brutal combat, the statues were no more than scrap metal.

At our leisure, we were then able to choose which stone to throw into the statue. We chose to throw in the yellow stone, which was to lead us to a coffin, in the hopes that it would take us to Sergei’s mausoleum, said to house the sword of sunlight. Instead, we appeared in what seemed to be an attack, surrounded by coffins. Warily, we unsheathed our weapons to explore…

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The beginning of the end
Adran's eighth log entry

Before leaving the abbey, we decided to stop by and speak to our friend Cloven. Once again, we asked him if he wished to join us in our fight against Strahd, but he declined as the abbot required his assistance.

As we were returning on the main room, we heard voices: Strahd had arrived and was speaking to the abbot. The abbot was pleading with Strahd to accept his gift, but Strahd was unimpressed. He coolly ripped the head off the creature and left. “The eyes were wrong.”

The abbot was clearly furious at this turn of events, but he attempted to hide his fury from us. Given the circumstances, we decided not to spend the night at the abbey, so we made our way partially down the switchback trail to Kresk. As night fell, we could see an eerie light shining out of the abbey.

Our slumber was disturbed by a rush of hooves, feet and other appendages coming down the trail. The abbot had sent all the Belviews down into Kresk, and it was clear that they intended to raze the village in their bloodlust. Lady Arimaka, Oscar and Daisuke rushed to the village while she charged Elga and me to return to the abbey to ring the bell and warn the villagers.

The two of us rushed to the monastery where we found the path to the belfry blocked by the abbot and Vladimir, another of his assistants. Completely unprovoked, the abbot attacked to prevent us from warning the inhabitants of Kresk. The fight was brutal. The abbot transformed into a large inhuman winged creature wielding a massive maul, while Vladimir beat on Elga. Fortunately, we were triumphant.

After the battle, Lady Arimaka, Oscar and Daisuke joined us. We explained what had happened, then spoke to Cloven once more to convince him to join us. This time, he accepted. In the ruins of our camp, we discovered another message from Strahd: we were to dine with him or we would lose Mika forever.

The six of us hastened to Castle Ravenloft, flanked by large dire wolves. Once arrived, we were greeted by Mika, who led us to the dining room. There, Strahd cruelly informed us that he would wreak vengeance upon us for the loss of Tatyana, before murdering Mika before our eyes. Then, he decided that he had something else to do, so he left us alone and unguarded in his castle. Clearly, this was a failure by his chambellan to adequately vet the comings and goings of strangers from his master’s castle. At the Black Tower, they put a great emphasis on ensuring that you do not leave intruders in your keep or castle. Frankly, it is a bit insulting to would-be assassins.

Based on the Tome of Strahd, the sword of sunlight was located in the crypts below Castle Ravenloft. Accordingly, we headed down into the bowels of the Castle. The lowers levels of the castle were dank and flooded with filthy water. I never regretted Mika more than in that moment when I realized that I would be forced to launder Lady Arimaka’s clothes. Oscar bravely discovered a trap by blundering into it and we were forced to free him from one of the cells in the dungeon nearby. We also discovered a sword that gave off light.

We continue to explore, but my candle flickers. I will write more when I have a chance.

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The Raven
Adran's seventh log entry

Our party finished exploring the Argynvostholt. On the ground floor, we discovered an elf, grievously injured. Lady Arimaka and Oscar cured him with their magic, and soon, the elf was sufficiently healthy to tell us what had occurred. The elf was a Dusk Elf, a family of elves native to Barovia. At some point in the past, Strahd felt that the elves had affronted him in some way, and sent his Chambellan, Rahaddin, to deal with them. The Chambellan slaughtered all the elf women and children, and most of the elf men. There remain perhaps a dozen Dusk elf men in all of Barovia, indentured to the Vistani outside Vallaki.

This elf was part of a scouting party sent to try and find the daughter of the Vistani chieftain, Arabella. He did not dare return without her, but as he had spent several days in the cellar of Argynvostholt, the trail seemed cold.

As we prepared to leave Argynvostholt, we discovered that someone had left us a grisly present while we were inside the manor: a freshly made pine coffin with Daisuke’s name on the front.

I pried the lid off the coffin with my crowbar, and a swarm of bats escaped, crowding Daisuke. We successfully fought them off, but the event remained a grim reminder of the reality of Barovia. The party started heading back to Vallaki, when Oscar remembered that he had some unfinished business in the Manor. Daisuke and Elga left with him to make sure that he did not get into trouble.

Sure enough, Lady Arimaka and I hadn’t taken more than a few steps when a high-pitched (though dwarfy) scream reached us. Lady Arimaka cursed under her breath “Torm’s honour!” and rushed to where the scream had come from.

Oscar had apparently returned to treat with Sir Horngaard, the leader of the revenants. Although, in his simple way, he had only meant to reassure the revenant that we would accomplish the mission that the Argynvost had tasked for us, he inadvertently mortally insulted the warrior.

As I was not present for the altercation, the following is my best reconstruction of the event.
“The spirit of Argynvost has charged us with returning his skull to his ancestral home!” declared Oscar.
“It seems unlikely that the spirit of the founder of our order would charge you, strangers to this land, rather than his loyal knights with this task!” responded Sir Horngaard.
“It is not surprising at all, Sir Horngaard, given that you are all consumed with vengeance and have abandoned the high ideals of the Order of the Silver Dragon.” Oscar blithely answered.
Sir Horngaard frowns.
“Um, I mean that the Argynvost came to us in a vision in the crypt to charge us with this sacred mission.” Oscar stammered.
“What, pray tell, were you doing in the crypt?”
“We broke in looking for treasure” (Lord Horngaard attacks).

Fortunately, Lady Arimaka, drawing on her great wisdom and experience in diplomacy, successfully convinced Sir Horngaard to cease his attack, and the party left Argynvosthold without further incident.

We arrived in Vallaki, seeking to obtain the wedding dress for the abbot. The town was in chaos. The failure of the Baron to prevent the attack on the Vallaki church had led to his overthrow, and he and his family had been placed in the stocks.

Lady Arimaka was tired, so we left her at the inn while the rest of us attempted to parlay with the mob that had taken over the Baron’s estate. Due to some smooth talking, we convinced them to part with the wedding dress the abbot had requested.

We left Vallaki quickly thereafter, avoiding getting embroiled in a nasty uprising. As we made our way to Kresk, we came upon a raven perched on the side of the road. As the ravens had always been good omens to us, we watched it as it flew off. It flew to the abbey of Kresk, and perched outside one of the windows, appearing to beckon us.

We arrived at the abbey. The abbot was overjoyed to see us, particularly as we had brought the dress. We investigated the window identified by the raven, and discovered a tome of forgotten lore. Only this, and nothing more. The tome held valuable information concerning Lord Strahd. I write this as we spend the night at the monastery, and I pore over the tome in the hopes of divining its secrets.

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To the Manor born
Adran's sixth log entry

As we entered the Argyn Vost Holt, a mysterious shadow flit across the entry. What little we could tell from the first floor suggested that the Holt had been attacked and ransacked, most likely after the battle we had observed in the mist below.

The Holt’s chapel was home to a trio of undead, which set upon us as we entered. We defeated them, and the further exploration of the chapel revealed a Holy Book to the Morninglord, hidden in what seemed to be seat of the Lord of the Manor. It was noted that the Lord seemed to worship alone, with neither wife, nor children nor other family.

As we left the chapel, Oscar let out a piercing scream. Lady Arimaka moved quickly to comfort him. He claimed that he had glimpsed the severed head of Daisuke in a shadowed alcove, but upon inspection, it was simply a bust of Argyn Vost, the Lord of Argyn Vost Holt. I am concerned that Oscar’s hold on sanity is fraying, as this is not the first time he has seen something that is not there. I will redouble my watch. Lady Arimaka cannot be compromised!

We continued our exploration of the manor, unleashing a torrent of spiders, who were no match for our steel. We came upon a second group of undead in one of the upper rooms. They were willing to talk, and directed us to their leader, Sir Horngaard, who had taken residence in one of the adjoining rooms.

Sir Horngaard claimed that he and his host were damned, and further claimed to be the jailers of Strahd. He was categorical that should we bring Tatiana to the Holt, he would kill her himself to deprive Strahd of his prize. He also claimed that he and his soldiers had served Argyn Vost until his defeat by Strahd’s forces. He also ranted and raved about some sort of “Dark Powers”.

I believe that Sir Horngaard was lying about some of the particulars of the curse. The battle at Argyn Vost had to have occurred before Strahd conquered Ravenloft, so before Tatiana died for the first time for refusing Strahd. If that is the case, the revenants’ return could not have been tied to Tatiana.

We continued to the manor’s library, where a torn tapestry revealed a truth: Argyn Vost was more than a lord, he was a silver dragon who gave his life defending the valley. The revenants are the remains of the Order of the Silver Dragon. Were they false? Has the weird magic that seems to pervade this valley twisted their oath (as it seems to twist everything else) so that all they remember is their opposition to Strahd regardless of what their master wanted?

The shadow of the Silver Dragon wishes for us to retrieve his skill from Castle Ravenloft and return it to the mausoleum of Argyn Vost Holt. Without magic, this will be extremely difficult. I am concerned that Lady Arimaka leave Ravenloft quickly, lest she too be corrupted by the same magics that seem to affect the inhabitants of this valley.

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The Man with two Brains!
Adran's fifth log entry

With the realization that Cloven was likely the “man of music” identified in the Tarokka reading by the Vistani, the group returned to the abbey to determine if Cloven could be convinced to support our cause. We chose to return slightly before nightfall, knowing that the abbott would have to leave shortly to meet the burgomeister.

Lady Arimaka charmed (not in a literal way) the abbott, and convinced him to permit us to spend the night in the abbey. He led into the cellar, where we unrolled our bedrolls. After the abbott left, we searched out Cloven.

Cloven was passed out drunk under the belfry. Oscar successfully sobered him up, and he agreed to answer our questions if we assisted him in feeding the Belviews. Some of the more delicate party members lost their lunch when they learned what the Belviews ate. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we learned very little from Cloven.

We learned that the Belviews are hopelessly insane and that Cloven believed that the abbott was misguided in attempting to cure them. We learned that Cloven resented the abbott and his work caring for the Belviews. We learned that Cloven does not seem to have any fight training or access to magic. In short, our interview with Cloven failed to disclose any reason why he would be an asset in the fight against Strahd.

Lady Arimaka learned one other thing during our second visit to the abbey: the abbott was a Celestial. This was confirmed when we returned to Kresk, and the burgomeister informed us that the abbott had brought his son back from the dead. The burgomeister had undertaken to recover a wedding dress from Valaki in exchange of the miracle, but we offered to perform this task for him.

In the mean time, we decided to explore the manor on the hill. At the entrance of the manor there was a large statue of a dragon: doubtless it has some link to the family that owned the manor. Our initial exploration has not turned up anything except a trio of revenants in the manor’s chapel. We continue our exploration.

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A Man of the cloth
A hell of a guy

We climbed up the switchback trail to the abbey, Daisuke, Oscar, Elga, Ireena and I. The abbey was a large stone buildings, built along two wings. One wing was quiet, while the other echoed with screams and strange sounds, more animal than human.

The gates of the abbey were guarded by a pair of strange creatures, part human and part animal. They spoke passable Common, and ushered us into the courtyard. They advised us that they would seek the abbot. While we waited for the abbot, another odd creature climbed out of the well in the middle of the courtyard. It attacked us, but Elga dispatched it handily. The door opened, and we were summoned to meet the abbot.

The abbot greeted us in the mess hall of the abbey, a large room with a roaring fire. He was accompanied by a young woman, with pale skin and long auburn hair. Daisuke was drawn to her, but observed that her skin bore traces of stitching, and that such marks were widespread on the parts of the body that were uncovered.

The abbot gave us a warm welcome, and we reciprocated, offering up a bottle of wine from my stash of the Wizard of Wines. While we ate (turnip soup), we spoke of many things, Strahd, the mysterious woman, the inhabitants of the abbey, and the abbey’s namesake, St. Markova.

The abbot was both forthcoming and extremely pleasant company. He was clearly an erudite man with a taste for the finer things, if the music drifting down from the upstairs lodgings was any indication. The abbot advised us that his assistant, Clover, was an accomplished harpist. True, at one point during our meal, the abbot seemed to have some difficulty remembering the name of his patron deity, and he was a bit evasive concerning the nature and rituals of his religion, however, my experience with the faithful has shown me that contrary to the stereotypes one hears in the stories, many god-faring folk are uninterested in the details of their faith, and have difficulty recalling the name of their patron. Anyway, in the interests of thoroughness, the abbot worshipped the Morning Lord, an aspect of Pelor.

The abbot informed us that he had entertained Lord Strahd at the abbey on occasion. Obviously, this made the abbey an unsuitable location to house Ireena. However, from his discussions with Strahd, the abbot had learned that Strahd was not native to Barovia, but rather had claimed the land by right of conquest, erecting the castle and naming it after his mother, Queen Ravenica. Strahd had a younger brother, Sergei, who was to be married to Tatiana. Strahd was jealous of his brother, and entered into a great wrath.

He killed his brother by flinging him from the battlements of Castle Ravenloft, and murdered the other wedding guests. Tatiana, to flee from Strahd and join her beloved, killed herself by throwing herself off those same battlements. The abbot believed that this great tragedy lies at the heart of Strahd’s curse. In order to alleviate Strahd’s curse, the abbot made him a (wo)man, with red hair and no tan, who’s good for relieving Strahd’s tension.

The abbot also gave some background on the abbey itself. It was built to honour St. Markova, a cleric of the Morning Lord, who had defied Strahd and fought him. The outcome of that battle was brutal, with Strahd prevailing, but walking for days afterward with a limp. Given the great age of the abbey, Strahd has been the ruler of Barovia for a very long time.

The abbot has also been a resident of Barovia for a very long time. He ascribes his youth and vigour to his patron (once again, the Morning Lord). Now, I am not one to proselytize, but perhaps Oscar should renounce his service to his Dark Lord in favour of the abbot’s patron. Sure, Oscar would likely no longer be able to call upon the spirits of the damned to defend him, but the abbot indicated that he was capable of raising the dead.

The abbot also told us the sad history of the other r├ęsidents of the abbey, the Belviews. Apparently, the Belviews were once human, but sought to perfect themselves by incorporating the traits of animals and magical creatures in their body. The process drove them insane, so they (and their descendants) remain sequested in the abbey. Some Belviews (such as the guards and Clover, the abbot’s assistant) retain sufficient sanity to assist around the abbey, but many must be locked up for their own safety.

The abbot gave us a tour of the monastery. It was utterly unremarkable, though on the tour we met Clover, the abbot’s assistant and a man with two heads. Madame Eva’s Tarokka reading told us that a man with two heads, a man of music, would be of great assistance against Strahd, but we figured that this was a little too on the nose for prophecy. There had to be a hidden meaning.

Regretfully, we had to cut our visit short. If Strahd did visit the abbey on occasion, Ireena would not be safe there. As we headed back down the switchback trail to Kresk, we passed by the shallow pool that provided Kresk its drinking water. The pool seemed to call out to Ireena, and her eyes glazed over. She began walking to the pool, and it was all we could do to prevent her from entering it.

At the same time, an ill wind blew a storm over Kresk. Not to be excessively dramatic, but the clouds formed into Strahd’s face and he threw lightning bolts against us. As Ireena approached the water, a reflection in pool formed into a man, and Ireena gasped “Sergei!”.

She entered the pool and I tied a rope around her waist to ensure she would not drown. As she pushed further into the pool, her body became translucent and the rope slipped from around her waist. At this point, only Daisuke was holding onto her hand, and Elga was holding on to him.

My reckoning was that since Strahd seemed upset about what was happening, we should clearly encourage it, so I wasn’t too fussed when Daisuke let go and Ireena disappeared into the pool. As she vanished, all the magic seemed to disappear from the pool. The villagers of Kresk were not particularly happy that we destroyed their magical pool, but they are communists, so who cares.

We have decided to return to the abbey and recruit Clover, in the hopes of better understanding Madame Eva’s prophecy. Afterwards, we intend to confront Strahd. This may be my last scroll.

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Howl's Stationary Tower
Fourth log entry - Adran

We spent the night in the tower, with one of the party keeping watch at any given time, but we were not disturbed. Once daylight broke, Daisuke and I climbed the scaffolding outside of the tower to get an idea as to what the upper levels held.

The scaffolding broke under Daisuke’s weight. Clearly he is not as lithe and agile as I. I landed on my feet, like a cat, but the element of surprise was lost. Never matter. Lady Arimaka and Oscar used the platform to explore the upper levels. The second and the third level were disused, and the floor in poor shape; however, the top floor seemed inhabited. The squatter was not present, but our examination of the room yielded little except a polished suit of armour that radiated magic and a severed head pickled in brine.

Oscar and Elga attempted to make the suit do something to no success. I will not go into detail concerning their experiments, because they do not deserve posterity. Suffice it to say that we left the tower in considerable disrepair.

From the window, we saw wolves circling the tower. Their behaviour was unusual, even for Barovia, so Lady Arimaka, Oscar, Elga and Daisuke left to investigate while Ireena and I remained in the tower.

The leader of the wolves was a man, who identified the tower as the “Tower of Khazak”. Although he did not seem to live in the tower, he was angry that we had trespassed. He attacked the band which had gone out to meet him. Immediately, I let a quarrel fly which smashed into his shoulder with a satisfying “thunk!”. The creature didn’t seem to notice it.

He did seem more affected by Lady Arimaka’s magical axe and Elga’s magical spear (and Daisuke’s marvellous iron fist). Oscar once again did that trick where he summons the souls bound to his god and they swirl about him and attack things. I have yet to decide whether it is his god who is angry or just the souls attached to it.

While the fight continued, a mysterious horseman arrived. She attacked the wolves and their allies. Once the wolves had been defeated, she identified herself as Esmeralda d’Avenir, apprentice to Rudolph van Richten, monster hunter. Ms. d’Avenir is part Vistani, and therefore, can arrive and depart from Barovia at will. Mr. van Richten, however, is not, and had come to Barovia to kill Strahd. After discussion, we realized that van Richten was none other than our friend Rictavio in Valaki. Esmeralda set out to join him.

We also found out part of the backstory of a grisly trophy we had found in the tower: the severed head of a Vistani. Using his connection to his dark god, Oscar compelled the head to speak. We learned that Yan, the head, had been discovered by van Richten stealing from him, so van Richten had slain him and pickled his head.

We continued on our way to the monastery of Kresk. There was a slight difficulty to enter the town (people are so picky when your actions result in the death of a search party!), but with the assistance of the Wizard of Wines, we entered the gates. The inhabitants do not use currency or barter, preferring to keep their items in common. They also discouraged us from continuing to the monastery. I have business with these locals before we attempt the treacherous climb to the monastery…

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Fire and Fury
The "Oooh, ooh, it burns!" edition

Daisuke and I stalked silently towards the witch’s hut. The hut was surrounded on all sides by wicker cages stuffed with ravens, cawing pitifully. Still, to date, two simple truths had never steered us wrong in Ravenloft:

1. Ravens tended to help out against whatever was attacking us that week; and
2. You can never go wrong stabbing old people, particularly if they were ugly.

Accordingly, the two of us approached the hut and freed the ravens, keeping an ear open for movement from inside the hut. As more and more ravens escaped, the cawing grew less frantic, and Daisuke heard movement from inside the hut. He signalled silently to me, then clambered onto the roof of the hut, as silent as a shadow.

I took a position next to the entrance, my crossbow ready to fire. The moment the old woman stepped out, she received a quarrel to the head. This was immediately followed by Daisuke tackling her to the ground. Lady Arimaka and Oscar rode up on Lady Arimaka’s er… adequate mount. The old woman barely had the opportunity to shoot off a spell before being reduced to a fine red paste.

As we entered the hut, we saw a crib with a child in it, crying. Lady Arimaka reached out to it while I reloaded my crossbow, but the child turned out to be an illusion. More than that, we soon realized that the child was none other than a younger version of Lord Strahd himself.
I am not particularly given over to flights of fancy, but I could not help but imagine what would have happened if the child had been a smaller version of Lord Strahd.

In any event, we realized that the gem we were seeking was located underneath the crib. Our first attempt to seize it resulted in Lady Arimaka almost losing her hand, as the hut seemed to spring to life to protect itself. Our second attempt resulted in Lady Arimaka’s axe being bisected (fortunately Oscar was able to mend it). Finally, our third attempt was successful.

We searched the room and found a chest. Oscar’s attempt to open it was unsuccessful, as he had failed to notice that it was latched shut. His failure was a stroke of luck, as in addition to being locked, the chest was ensorcelled. We successfully banished the spell and I picked the lock, only to be attacked by a swarm of dismembered hands. Although not a threat for the party at full strength, I shudder to think how much damage they would have done had we been substantially injured in the fight against Baba Lesaga.

Daisuke suggested that the gem might be able to disrupt the magic keeping us in Ravenloft, so we decided to detour by the gate leaving the valley before returning to the Wizards of Wines. This detour would result in our passing near Kresk.

The road along the way passed at the foot of a fortress in the mountains. As we approached the fortress, we saw ghostly visions in the mist of a terrible battle, with a dragon made of mist burning an invading army horribly. As there was no way to reach the fortress from the road, we resolved to return later.

As we approached Kresk, we came upon a party of foresters. They informed us that a small girl had been stolen from Kresk. They believed werewolves were responsible, and we decided to assist them in recovering the girl. In hindsight, this may have been a mistake.
Lady Arimaka had a spell which would permit us to track the girl, but it required knowledge of an identifiable item upon her person. Accordingly, Lady Arimaka lent her mount to one of the foresters to take to Kresk to find someone who knew the girl and could identify what she was wearing. In the mean time, Lady Arimaka and Daisuke attempted to track the werewolves.

I spoke to the foresters. In particular, I had noted that one of the foresters referred to the little girl as “soulless”. This struck me as an odd way to refer to a person, so I questioned him. He claimed that certain people in Ravenloft were born without souls, they tended towards grey and listless and simply seemed less “alive” than other inhabitants. His comment reminded me of some of the townsfolk in Valaki, who repeated certain motions mechanically. Even among the foresters, while some of them had splashes of colour in their outfit, others seemed drained of vitality.

The mount returned with one of the girl’s kinsmen. Lady Arimaka cast the spell and it led us to an ominous tower on the shores of Lake Baratok. Just outside of the tower, there was a ruined wagon, of the style used by the Vistani. It was locked and bore several inscriptions to keep out. Mindful of what had occurred at Baba Lesaga’s hut, I examined the door for runes. None were found. I then attempted to pick the lock. My attempt was unsuccessful. Oscar, impatient, broke the lock with his axe and swung open the door, igniting the several dozen vials of alchemist’s fire contained within. The wagon went up in an enormous conflagration. The entire party was burned within an inch of their life. The foresters and Ireena were not so lucky. We managed to save Ireena’s life, but the foresters were burned to a crisp.

Later on, at the foot of the tower, we discovered the body of the little girl, dead. She appeared to have been killed by some short of electrical discharge, but we have not yet ascertained the cause. We spent the night on the ground floor of the tower putting off exploration for the next day.

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The Wicker Man
Third log entry - Adran

Following the massacre in Valaki, we were concerned about remaining too long in the town. The captain of the guard already seemed to have recognized Ireena, and Strahd clearly knew she was there as well. As a consequence, we decided to try some country air, and assist the Wizard of Wines recover one of the stones permitting him to grow his grapes.

We headed to Yesterhill, feeling that the trail was warmer for the druids than for the scarecrows. The hill was large, covered in mounds and stone cairns. As we proceeded up the hill, Elga was called by one of the cairns. She approached the stone monument, and began to dig, recovering a mysterious magical spear. Naturally, she began to complain about the scarcity of magical greataxes and greatswords. I believe I will spit in her food tonight.

It was fortunate that following Elga led us off the path leading to the top of the hill, for we were overtaken by a rider on a jet-black horse, Lord Strahd himself. Daisuke and I attempted to follow him (using some modicum of caution), but he was too fast. We did reach the top of the hill, where we saw a curious spectacle.

Strahd was speaking to a gathering of druids. He was upset with them and their failure, but we were unable to understand more. The druids seemed to worship Strahd in effigy, a massive statue of twigs and wood was built upon the top of the hill. While we watched, Strahd set off again on his horse, and the druids began to chant, initiating some strange ritual.

Whatever the ritual was, it was clearly not in our interest, so I snuck closer to one of the druids and skewered him with a crossbow bolt. The remaining druids and their berserker companions set upon the party. After a pitched battle, the druids and their allies were no more.

We examined the statue and discovered the missing gem in its recesses. Curiously, the statue seemed to have been built from living wood, and we managed to follow the roots to a massive, ancient, withered tree. The tree seemed to radiate an evil aura, and had attracted various of the plant based creatures we had seen. When we threatened the tree, all of them attacked us. The fighting was vicious, with the larger blights alternately lashing and entangling us, but in the end, we were victorious. Our examination of the tree revealed that it was the source of the bizarre plant based blights in the area, so with great effort, Elga chopped the tree down while Daisuke and I uprooted it: Daisuke with his shovel and me with my trusty crowbar.

We also discovered that the axe in the tree was magical, with peculiar properties against plant-based foes. Lady Arimaka claimed the axe, and we felt some small measure of relief in being able to rest for the evening without the threat of crazed druids or plant creatures. We now intend to attempt the ruins of Berem, lair of the scarecrows, to recover the remaining gem.

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