Curse of Strahd


The trail through the thick woods leads to a hill covered with dead grass and cairns of black rock. Dark, ominous clouds gather high above, and a single bolt of lightning strikes the hilltop. West of the hill, the land, the woods, and the sky vanish behind a towering wall of fog.

Dirt trails run along two concentric rings of cairns that encircle the hillside. Each cairn is a ten-foot-high mound of slimy black rocks.

Atop the hill is a wide ring of black boulders and smaller rocks that collectively form a makeshift wall enclosing a field of dead grass. Lightning strikes the edge of the ring from time to time, illuminating a ghastly, fifty-foot-tall statue made of tightly woven twigs and packed with black earth. The statue resembles a towering, cloaked man with fangs.

At the south end of the hilltop is a sickly copse, a grove of dead trees and shrubs with a huge, misshapen tree at its core. Blood oozes like sap from its twisted trunk. Skulking around the tree are six gangly humanoid creatures covered with needles. Embedded in the tree is a shiny battleaxe, beneath which lies a humanoid skeleton.

As you look west into the curtain of fog, you see a white fortress on a hill above a great city. The city appears quite distant, maybe a mile away. The fog obscures all detail, but you can hear what sounds like the echo of a church bell.

According to the mountain folk of Barovia, there was always a wall of mist near Yester Hill, even before the deadly mists entrapped all of Barovia. The ancient folk called the mist the Whispering Wall, for within it they could hear the whisper of voices from the past and the future. They believed that an ancient god gave up his divinity to preserve the world from destruction and that his last exhalation as a god produced this mist. Within it were all his memories of the world and all his visions of its possible futures, and with proper preparation, a seeker could go on a vision quest within it. Some students of the arcane contend that the Dark Powers took a bit of that fog and twisted it to create the mists of Barovia, and that perhaps Strahd’s domain is just a dark memory in the Whispering Wall.

As they approach the area, Ayrole hears a voice in his mind:

You hear a whisper, a deep voice carried on the wind. “Long have I waited,” it says, “for one who is worthy. My spear hungers for blood. Retrieve it, and rule these mountains in my stead, just like the mighty warriors from the early days of the Whispering Wall.”

Following the sound of the voice, Ayrole is drawn to one of the cairns on the hillside. The rocks of the cairn are heavy but can be rolled aside, revealing a blood spear lying amid Kavan’s moldy bones. Any creature can wield the spear, but only the character chosen by Kavan to wield it gains a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

Continuing on, Strahd appears on horseback. Druids appear from the woods, chanting the words to a ritual. The group decided to hunker down and wait for the ritual to complete, choosing not to get involved with Strahd around.

When the ritual completed:

A thirty-foot-tall plant creature bursts out of the statue, sending twigs and earth flying. The creature resembles a dead treant with green light seeping out of it.

The tree blight is called “Wintersplinter” by the druids and followed their command to go and destroy the winery. Strahd seems to be lost in thought, staring at the fog wall to the west and the druids return to the woods.

The group chases after the treant, fighting 6 druids that appear from under the graves. Strahd has disappeared from the grounds. Once the battle is over they recover the magic battleaxe at the bottom of the Gulthias tree:

Its handle is carved with leaves and vines, and the weapon weighs half as much as a normal battleaxe. When the axe hits a plant, whether an ordinary plant or a plant creature, the target takes an extra 1d8 slashing damage. When a creature of non-good alignment wields the axe, it sprouts thorns whenever its wielder makes an attack with it. These thorns prick the wielder for 1 piercing damage after the attack is made, and this damage is considered magical.

They are also able to recover 2 of the seeds from the tree and the fallen treant. Returning to Davian he mentions the third had been lost on his son Urwin’s watch, and they should speak to him about it. He also asks if they would be willing to deliver a shipment of wine to the village of Krezk – the location of the Abbey of Saint Markovia.

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