Ayrole Moff Flynne – Shadar-kai Elf Ranger
Karolinus – Baalzebul Tiefling Warlock
Krl Sgon – Human Artificer/Wizard
Solvayla Thrurash – Dragonbon Paladin
Thulrum – Dragonborn Cleric/War Domain
Our adventurers are enjoying a quiet evening at the campfire after a long day of travel. They are in the general region near Waterdeep, heading to a new town in search of contracts and opportunities. As the night progresses Karolinus begins to notice strange shapes forming in the smoke of the campfire: a man on horseback, a large pack of wolves, bats flying in swarms. No one else can seem to see these shapes.
The woods are quiet this night, and the air grows chill. Your fire sputters as a low mist gathers around the edges of your camp, growing closer as the night wears on. By morning, the fog hangs thick in the air, turning the trees around you into gray ghosts. Then you notice these aren’t the same trees that surrounded you the night before.
As the group investigates their new surroundings, they find the only way open for them to travel is a lone dirt road heading West.
Black pools of water stand like dark mirrors in and around the muddy roadway. Giant trees loom on both sides of the road, their branches clawing at the mist.
As they travel they hear the occasional wolf howl and at one point are passed by a skeletal rider and horse, riding fast down the road, heading West with a lantern that casts no light. They pay the group no attention as they pass by.
After 5 hours of travel they reach a set of giant gates:
The fog spills out of the forest to swallow up the road behind you. Ahead, jutting from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the road, are high stone buttresses looming gray in the fog. Huge iron gates hang on the stonework. Dew clings with cold tenacity to the rusted bars. Two headless statues of armed guardians flank the gate, their heads now lying among the weeds at their feet. They greet you only with silence.
As the group passes through, the gate slams shuts behind them and will not open again.
Towering trees, whose tops are lost in heavy gray mist, block out all but a death-gray light. The tree trunks are unnaturally close to one another, and the woods have the silence of a forgotten grave, yet exude the feeling of an unvoiced scream.
You catch the scent of death on the air.
The foul scent leads you to a human corpse half-buried in the underbrush about fifteen feet from the road. The young man appears to be a commoner. His muddy clothes are torn and raked with claw marks. Crows have been at the body, which is surrounded by the paw prints. The man has obviously been dead for several days. He holds a crumpled envelope in one hand.
Hail thee of might and valor:
I, the Burgomaster of Barovia, send you honor—with despair.
My adopted daughter, the fair Ireena Kolyana, has been these past nights bitten by a vampyr. For over four hundred years, this creature has drained the life blood of my people. Now, my dear Ireena languishes and dies from an unholy wound caused by this vile beast. He has become too powerful to conquer.
So I say to you, give us up for dead and encircle this land with the symbols of good. Let holy men call upon their power that the devil may be contained within the walls of weeping Barovia. Leave our sorrows to our graves, and save the world from this evil fate of ours.
There is much wealth entrapped in this community. Return for your reward after we are all departed for a better life.
After a bit of investigation it appears he was killed by a pack of 5 dire wolves. The letter is dated a week ago. Continuing along the road they begin to approach a town:
Tall shapes loom out of the dense fog that surrounds everything. The muddy ground underfoot gives way to slick, wet cobblestones. The tall shapes become recognizable as village dwellings. The windows of each house stare out from pools of blackness. No sound cuts the silence except for mournful sobbing that echoes through the streets from a distance.
Choosing to go first to the mercantile, they meet the owner, Bildrath Cantemir.
The sparse light from this building spills out from behind drawn heavy curtains. A sign over the door, creaking on its hinges, reads “Bildrath’s Mercantile.”
The building itself is 70 feet long by 40 feet wide. It’s inventory is highly overpriced, 10 times what the adventurers would expect to pay. The owner is not willing to haggle, and gives them a bit of information of the town and area. They are in Barovia, and the land is plagued by a devil. Many townspeople have fled or died at the hands of the devil and his minions.
A single shaft of light thrusts illumination into the main square, its brightness looking like a solid pillar in the heavy fog. Above the gaping doorway, a sign hangs precariously askew, proclaiming this to be the Blood on the Vine tavern.
Arik the barkeep is a strange man, cleaning the glasses on this counter over and over again. He offers little banter and seems off to the group. The villagers of Barovia are a drab, unhappy lot:
However, there are also 3 Vistani in the bar, much more lively and colorful people than the rest:
In the corner sits a young man, willing to talk with the group and needing their aid to help his sister. They learn his sister is the one mentioned in the letter and pass along the couriers fate. He talks willingly of their plight, including his father’s death (the Burgomaster), and asks for help to get his sister to Vallaki.
After speaking with the Vistani girls (learning they are free to come and go from this land as they please, all others are prisoners) and Ismark, the group decides to help him and his sister get to Vallaki. They will accompany him to their mansion when next we meet…