Who make Klarg angry!

We begin with Danak unconscious and Raslin staring down A giant goblin, two smaller goblins, and a wolf after chasing a third small goblin as it fled from the group. Liarel stabilizes Danak and pulls him behind a stalagmite. Raslin kills the running goblin and runs back to the group. Mella misses the large goblin with a fireball and hides behind a second stalagmite.

Noticing the firebolt the large goblin yells “Who dare defy Klarg?” and rushes out of the adjoining room followed by the wolf and smaller goblins, one of which stabs Mella in the leg. Never hurls a witch bolt at Klarg as Liarel entangles the wolf and small goblins in magical vines. Raslin kills one of the entangled goblins as Mella heals themself and backs away from the wolf.

The goblin and the wolf break free from the vines and Klarg strikes Never, who collapses. Raslin casts sleep on the remaining small goblin. Mella strikes the wolf before being bitten. Klarg rushes Raslin who puts up a magic shield at the last moment. Liarel stabilizes Never as Raslin runs up the wall of the emptied reservoir and Mella kills the wolf. Klarg runs downstairs, out of the room.

Liarel ties up the sleeping goblin while Mella wakes Danak. The group heads into the adjoining room, Danak carrying Never. The room is filled with crates, all of which have a Lion Shield on them, the mark of a merchant group in Neverwinter. Liarel keeps watch while Raslin and Danak rummage through the crates looking for supplies. Raslin finds a chest behind the crates. In the chest is a bunch of copper, some silver, a jade frog statue, and two bottles.

The group examines the liquid in the bottles but cannot decide what it is, so Liarel force feeds some to the now-conscious, bound goblin and questions her about it. The goblin identifies herself as Fritz and claims to be our friend, but is otherwise unhelpful. Danak makes an executive decision to give the potion to Never. Never wakes and the group keeps the remaining bottle for future use.

Continuing to question Fritz, we discover that King Grohl took a dwarf (we presume Gundren) to Kragmaw Castle and that there is a human in the “eating cave”. We place Fritz in Danak’s backpack and she gives us directions to the eating cave. We eventually come to a room with bedrolls, five goblins, and on a second, higher level two large lumps. We ask Fritz to parley for us, but she begins calling out in goblin. Danak takes Fritz at knifepoint to the entrance of the room as a hostage and we notice a large, fat goblin holding Sildar at swordpoint. She calls for a truce, asking us to kill Klarg and bring her his head in exchange for Sildar. Raslin counters by offering the coppers and silver we found (presumably Klarg’s treasure) along with some bones we had collected. The goblins seem excited by this and agree to the trade.

Having retrieved Sildar we decide to get the fuck out of dodge and leave the cave, releasing Fritz once we get outside. As we head back down the forest trail to our caravan, Sildar tells us that someone named the Black Spider wanted Gundren. Apparently Gundren and two other dwarves had found Wave Echo cave, a rich mine once shared by dwarves and gnomes under Phandelver’s Pact. Wave Echo cave was a source of great magic and so was attacked by wizards and orcs and in the resulting turmoil the location of the cave was lost to time. Sildar says he has a contact in Phandelver names Irno and that he will pay us 50 gold if we escort him there. Never says that payment won’t be necessary and the rest of the group quickly shushes her.

We make it back to the caravan around midday and set off, Mella resting in the back and Liarel riding the ox. It begins the grow dark, but Sildar believes we are close to Pandelver so we press on and eventually come to a small town. On our way to the Stone Mill Inn we pass Barthon’s Provisions, the place we were meant to drop off the caravan. The store appears to be closed so we decide to come back in the morning.

At the Stone Mill Inn we meet the innkeeper, Tobin, who seems wary of Never but is otherwise quite welcoming. Sildar and Raslin each take private rooms while Danak, Liarel, Mella, and Never share one. We decide to pass some time in the common room and overhear Tobin’s wife discussing someone named Thel who had stood up to something called the Red Bands and had been killed, his entire family now missing. Mella approaches a farmer named Narth who tells them of Sister Garlele, who can be found at the Shrine of Luck across the square, saying she had recently returned to town after being hurt in the fight. As Mella begins to leave Narth tells them to watch out for the Red Bands, says they’re bad news, “thugs”.

We all go up to our rooms for the night.

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In the hallway, a forlorn Ireena kneels over Ismark’s body as Elgian examines the area. The rightmost door leads to a dilapidated bedroom and we drag Ismark’s body into it. The leftmost room is similar. There is no obvious way out besides the windows and Corrina, feeling claustrophobic, opens one. The room we are in is 25-30 feet off the ground. We decide to spend the night in this room and climb down in the morning. We close the door to the rightmost room and lock ourselves in the leftmost. While we rest we find a small coffer with four bottles each filled with a metallic smelling liquid the color of melted iron. Ireena talks a bit about Ismark but is otherwise quiet. Corrina and Elgian read. We piece together some old wood to tie our rope to in the morning.

The next morning finds Olana riding from the Vistani camp on a stolen horse heading to Argynvosholt. She is chased by a Vistani man on horseback and two Vistani women each riding a dire wolf.

From the tower the group hears a horse approaching fast. We look out the window to see Olana being chased. We recognize Arrigal. Corrina opens the window and drops the rope down.

Ollana reaches the front of the mansion, positions the stolen horse in front of the abandoned cart, and enters the front door. She quickly ducks into the sarcophagus room as the Vistani follow her inside.

Elgian flies down the rope and notices something watching him from the tower to the left, its eyes burning red before it disappears. Corrina climbs down as we hear a loud crash at our door. She jumps the last few feet, her featherfall ability weak but still effective. Ada begins to climb down followed by Ireena as there is another crashing sound, the door bursting open. Ismark’s reanimated corpse (henceforth Wasmark) stands in the doorway. Mondross climbs down the rope with some difficulty as Wasmark strikes Elmer twice. Elmer begins to climb down but the wood supporting the rope breaks as he is partway down and he falls to the ground landing hard on something in his backpack. Ada collects the rope as Wasmark looks out the window. Corrina and Mondross shoot at Wasmark before running toward the front of the mansion. Wasmark leaps out the window. As he lands his leg breaks but it immediately heals. He tries to attack Elmer but misses. Elgian plows into Wasmark, stabbing wildly and tripping him. Around the front of Argynvostholt Corrina sees the dire wolves and turns back to the group. Elmer brings a flaming sphere down upon Wasmark as Ireena, enraged, draws her sword. She attacks Wasmark but misses.

Olana makes her way through the mansion to the side gate leading outward and sees the ongoing fight.

Mondros casts Bane on the wolves and Wasmark. Ada stikes Wasmark with the short sword as he stands and attacks Elmer who falls unconscious.

The wolves begin to trot over to the group, but a whistle cuts them off as the Vistani exit the front of the mansion and approach the fight. Corrina greets Arrigal, but is ignored. Ollana shoots a firebolt at Wasmark but misses and immediately hides as she sees the Vistani. Elgian tries to engage Arrigal as he stabs Wasmark but is also ignored. Corrina continues trying to engage the Vistani and this time Arrigal smirks. The other two look concerned but do not move to aid us.

Mondross heals Elmer and Ada strikes Wasmark twice, once with the Sun Sword, tearing away part of his armor in the process. Wasmark overswings in an attempt to hit Ada and she manages to strike him again before he successfully attacks her. Elgian continues to stab Wasmark as Elmer casts Sacred Flame. Corrina runs through Wasmark with her rapier and a misty form with red eyes leaves his body and disappears.

Arrigal slow claps sarcastically and asks if we’ve seen an elf. Elmer immediately tells him about Savid and notices that Arrigal looks oddly pleased with himself. Arrigal calls for Savid to join the Vistani on their ride home. Elmer thoroughly antagonizes Arrigal who them attempts to curse him. Elmer resists the curse and launches into a sermon as the other two Vistani try to curse him. The Vistani turn and begin to ride off. As they do we hear Arrigal say “That’s a fine sword you have there. I’m sure Strahd will be very interested.”

Once they have gone a sufficient distance away Olana approaches Elmer and reveals her own holy symbol of the Morning Lord. They flirt a bit by way of religion as Corrina hazes Olana via mage hand, untying her shoe and generally poking at her. Olana and Ada look over Ismark’s body but find nothing of value and Olana reveals that she was a prisoner brought to Barovia as Corrina uses mage and the pick her pocket, finding a quill and using it to write cursive in the air. Olana asks the air if it enjoys wasting time.

We build a pyre for Ismark. Ireena says it is not their custom, but it seems to be a wise choice. We heal as Ismark burns and wonder aloud what happened to Ismark’s resources. Ireena reveals that she took them. Olana asks if we have a base of operations and we all burst into laughter. Olana explains that she heard Argynvostholt was haunted and contained something that could be used to defeat Strahd. We decide to head to the chapel.

From the chapel Olana misty steps through a window looking in on a stairwell heading up through the backmost tower and the rest of us head to the roof. From inside the tower Olana lifts the bar keeping the door to the tower shut and we all enter onto a landing. we take a set of rickety stairs up to a second landing. Here there are two doors and stairs leading up. Corrina opens one of the doors revealing a spectral. The spectral shoots at Corrina as another spectral comes through the other door. Corrina strikes her spectral as Elgian stabs wildly at the other, bits of mist leaking out of their wounds. Mondross dodges several blows, but slips and falls to the ground. Elmer unleashes holy light, partially melting the spectral by Elgian. Ada slashes at the melted spectral with the Sun Sword and it vanishes. Mondross stands and strikes the remaining spectral but is hit in the process. Elgian stabs at the remaining spectral as Elmer casts sacred flame. Olana looks at Elmer and flirts a bit before hitting herself with a firebolt. Ada slashes at the spectral and it dissipates.

Mondross heals himself and we head upstairs, one stair collapsing under us as we do. On the top level of the tower there are windows facing every direction and ravens on the crossbeams. through the windows we can see a windmill, an abbey, Villaki, and the marshes we came from. Speaking to the ravens, Corrina discovers that bones have been rising from the graveyard since the raven was small, but not always. The ravens say there are elves in the forest to the east, we think they mean the dusk elves around the Vistani camp.

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We begin in the Sun God’s chapel with Elmer in the midst of a healing spell. We notice that the bodies of the undead soldiers appear to have been buried before. We decide to return to the room with the sarcophagus wine bar to rest, but hear a creaking sound coming from the west. Corrina stealths over and examines the room to the west and notices nothing out of the ordinary, The room has a large table with chairs scattered about and a water dripping down the western wall forming a puddle on the floor. There are also two statues of knights with winged helms on in two alcoves in the east side of the room. The group passes through it into the main room of the first floor. We begin to head toward the room with the sarcophagus when we hear a horse drawn cart outside the front door. Elgian peers out the front window to see a human dressed in Vistani garb driving a cart up to the front steps of the mansion. In the cart is a coffin. After stopping to urinate against the base of the dragon statue, the human unhooks the horse from the cart and rides off.

The group heads out the front door, approaching the cart. Elgian examines the coffin, noticing that it looks similar to the coffins found in Heinrich’s shop. The name “Elmer Vandoot” is written on the front. Strangely unperturbed, Elmer opens the coffin. Dozens of bats pour out and begin attacking Elmer. They do not seem interested in the rest of us. Mondross puts most of the bats to sleep as Elmer climbs into the now-empty coffin and hurls sacred flame upward at the remaining bats before shutting himself into the coffin. Corrina traps a bat and attempts to interrogate it, but all it will say is “Kill Elmer”. We carry Elmer in the coffin to the room with the sarcophagus.

After a brief rest in the sarcophagus room we head to the second floor balcony. Ada enchants her short sword as the group comes upon a set of double doors. Elmer and Ismark open them to reveal a dilapidated bedroom. We notice a portrait of a man with thistle-down hair, and abundance of dragon imagery, and a wardrobe. In the wardrobe there is a leather scroll case containing the spells Bane and Mending, but there is little else in the room. Returning to the balcony we take the hallway to the north and happen upon a door that is already ajar. Corrina peeks in and hears a hissing noise. Thinking it will be the flame dragon again the group enters the room.

As we walk in, a small hissing dragon of smoke and ash erupts from the fireplace and flies out the door into the hallway. We follow the dragon up a spiral staircase on the west end of the hallway to the third floor. We exit onto a hallway filled with rubble and rainwater, the floor sagging. Elgian and Corrina follow the dragon over the rubble and around the corner to a room. In this room a gaunt, armored figure sits facing away from the entrance, holding a great sword. The dragon lands on the back of the figure’s chair and vanishes.

The rest of the group makes their way to the room and we hail the figure. He responds, “Go away”. After some prodding he tells:

“If you have come to destroy me, know this: I perished defend­ing this land f r om evil over four centuries ago, and be­cause of my failure, I am forever doomed. If you destroy this body, my spirit will find a new corpse to inhabit, and I will hunt you down. You cannot free me from my damnation, nor would I wish it.

If you have come to free this land from the creature that feasts on the blood of the innocent, know this: There is no monster I hate more than Strahd von Zarovich. He
slew Argynvost, broke the life of the knight I loved, and destroyed the valiant order to which I devoted my life, but Strahd has already died once. He can’t be allowed to die again. Instead, he must suffer eternally in a hell of his own creation, from which he can never escape. Whatever can be done to bring him misery and unrest, I will do, but I will destroy anyone who tries to end his torment.”

We try to engage with him further as an ally, but it seems we only risk antagonizing him, so we leave the room.

We wander about finding two destroyed bedrooms to the south and a collapsed bathroom across the hall from knight. Through this we find a room with religious imagery and stained glass windows depicting three different figures, two of which Ismark and Ireena are sure are St. Andrall and the Morning Lord.  Leaving there through a door to the north we find our way to a large room on the north side of the hallway. As we explore as piece of parchment flutters to the floor. Reading it, it appears to be a page from Argynvost’s journal. It discusses an upcoming battle with Strahd and Argynvost’s likely death, noting that Argynvost’s only regret is that his bones will not be lain to rest in Argynvostholt’s mausoleum. In this room we also find a book called The Oath Celestial, which appears the be devotional text for the knights of the Holy Order of Vallentia. We pocket the book.

We make our way up to the mansion’s roof. One of the dragon statues whispers

“When the dragon dreams its dream
Within its rightful tomb,
The light of Argynvost will beam
And rid this land of gloom.”

that when the dragon’s bones are returned to the mausoleum Argynvost’s light will shine again and part the gloom. We approach the backmost tower, but the door is bolted from the inside so we make our way back to the chapel balcony. On the way we find a curtain we had left open closed. Back on the second floor we come to a small alcove covered b a curtain. Pushing the curtain aside we see a white pedestal with a black cloth over it. Corrina uses mage hand to move the cloth, revealing Elgian’s severed head underneath. Elmer pockets it.

We proceed up a hallway to another, perpendicular hallway, one door at either end. As we approach one of the doors both fly open. A total of seven ghosts surround us. Their attacks hurt but do not cut and they can pass through us easily. When they are struck they begin to dissipate and when they are killed they vanish entirely. After several attacks Ireena collapses and we realize that the hallway we had entered from is closed off by a wall of stone. Elgian takes out one of the spectrals and Corrina, badly hurt makes her way to the rightmost door as there is nowhere to hide. Elgian and Ada each take out a spectral as Elmer heals Ireena. Elgian is struck and collapses, dropping the Sword by Ireena who kicks it over to Ada. Ada takes out another spectral as Ireena is struck and collapses again. Mondross and Ismark are both attacked and both collapse. Mondross manages to wake up and move to heal Ismark but notices that he has died and heals Ireena instead. Elmer is struck and collapses, the group takes out the remaining spectrals.

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The Road to Phandelin

Liarel, Danak, Raslin, Mella, and Never had each come to Neverwinter on their own business when they met Gundren Rockseeker, an affable dwarf. Gundren arranged for the five adventurers to help transport some supplies to Phandelin for him, but was too excited to wait for the crew to leave and headed out on horseback with a warrior escort named Sildar Hallwinter. The following day the adventurers left with the wagon of mining supplies. Over the course of a few days they made their way south on the High Road before turning east onto the Triboar trail. This less traveled trail is known for lawlessness occasional trouble from bandits and outlaws. After a few miles the group encountered the first sign of trouble as they came upon two dead horses in the road.

Danak saw the horses first and signaled for the wagon to stop. We notice arrows sticking out of the horses and ready ourselves for an ambush. Liarel and Mella move to scout either side of the forest as Danak moved up the road to the horses. The silence was broken by the twang of arrows firing from both sides at Danak as a small goblinoid rushes out of the bushes towards Danak. Another rushes Liarel in the forested area to the south of the road. Two more pop in and out of bushes firing arrows on the sides of the road.

After a short bout of nearly everyone missing their intended targets, Liarel, Raslin, and Mella each take out a goblin. There is a brief skirmish before Never kills the remaining goblin. Liarel, wounded, lays on the ox to rest. Danak searches for any other enemies and in doing so happens upon a trail heading to the north. Raslin inspects the horses and concludes that they have been dead for about one day.

Raslin and Mella head off to scout ahead on the northern trail. They notice dragging marks and the tracks of maybe a dozen small creatures. As they continue they happen upon a rope trap (which Raslin marks with a handkerchief) and a pit trap (which Mella does not allow him to mark with a handkerchief) both of which are easily spotted by Mella and avoided. After about thirty minutes Mella climbs a tree and sees a hillside about another thirty minutes north. They notice a faint smoke smell coming from that direction.

Meanwhile, back on the main trail, Never chats up Liarel as she rests while Danak searches the goblins’ bodies. He pockets a scroll case, a few swords, and a collection of teeth. Raslin and Mella return to the group and tell them about the smoke coming from the hillside. The group hides the cart while Mella buries the goblins, then everyone heads up the northern trail.

Danak disables the first trap, taking the rope, and we continue up the path until we come to an opening. There is a hillside with a large cave out of which flows a stream. Across the stream is a brier. We smell smoke and notice the dragging marks continue in the direction of the stream.

Liarel and Never cross the stream and approach the brier, finding two goblins. Never panics and throws a dagger at the nearest goblin before being shot. Raslin runs up and shoots the wounded goblin, killing it. Mella wounds the remaining goblin, which starts to run. Mella kills the fleeing goblin and finds a small rodent skull on its person. Liarel recovers Never’s dagger and returns it to her. Mella buries the bodies.

Raslin and Mella take a brief trip into the cave to find guard wolves chained in a room to the right side of the path which follows the stream into the interior. They return to the group and Mella wanders off to walk around the entirety of the hillside while the group rests.

After resting the group heads into the cave moving quick past the three growling wolves. Mella spots a bridge above us and notices movement running across it. Mella and Roslin climb up the side of the wall, making their way toward the bridge. Suddenly, a wave of water comes flooding in, knocking Liarel and Never back to the cave’s entrance. As the party scrambling to regroup and climb up to the bridge using a rope Raslin lowered, Mella sees a goblin walk into view from the passage way on the right of the bridge but it quickly retreated out of view. Mella runs down the opposite passageway across the bridge and finds that it curves  to the left and opens up to an area on the right which is lite by  some fire which was out of his view. There was also a small passageway on the left side leading to darkness. Mella returns to the  bridge and with the whole party together they following the movement Mella saw.

We come upon a room with two large pools of water, one of which has been emptied. There are four goblins hiding behind stalagmites looking toward us. Danak rushes the first one but is then shot by sever arrows from the other three and drops to the ground dying. The rest of the party attacks killed three of the goblins but one flees to the other side of the room out of view. Raslin rushes after and find there are natural steps that lead up to another chamber which the goblin is running towards. She fires a bolt of flame towards him but misses. As she does she sees the natural chamber has a fire burning in the center and the far side of the room contains stacks of creates. A huge goblinoid standing a good six to seven feet tall stand up, a mangy wolf growls at his side and two other goblins turn to look at the disturbance.

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We begin in a thoroughly plundered kitchen, the windows on the side of a large hearth look out onto a graveyard. We proceed to the next room (separated from the kitchen with a curtain rather than a door) which is round and looks to be part of one of the towers. It has also been ransacked. Half a dozen broken beds and other pieces of furniture are strewn about the floor. From here we exit into a stairwell headed downward. Past the stairwell on the right there is a locked gate which leads to the outside. Another set of stairs lead up the opposite side of the stairwell leading to another door which looks to go into the other tower. Corrina picks the lock on the gate to open up a means of escape should we need one. Ismark pockets the padlock and we hide the chain outside.

Heading up the stairs and into the next room, we find a neglected parlor, also circular. Inside there is a lovely mural depicting a silver dragon and several colorful birds. The next room over contains a black sarcophagus with a queen’s effigy carved into it. As we enter the room, flame erupts from the fireplace, taking the shape of a dragon. It says, “My knights have fallen into darkness. Save them if you can. Show them the light they have lost!” and disappears.

Elgian readies the Sword (previously referred to as the hilt) as we approach the sarcophagus. After much discussion we decide to open it. It’s a mini bar.

We exit back into the main room of the first floor and decide to make our way upstairs. On the second floor balcony weapons and shields line the walls and there is an abundance of knight imagery. The hallway to the right leads to an alcove behind a curtain. It looks out over the cemetery. Elgian notices some of the graves appear to had been dug up.

From there we go through a door to the east which exits onto a balcony overlooking a chapel. There is an intricately carved throne on the balcony, but not much else, and we decide to take the spiral stairs down to the first floor of the chapel. On the first floor we see an altar carved with the image of a rising sun, stained glass windows (one of which has been shattered, allowing fog to seep into the room), and three figures kneeling in prayer. They wear armor and appear to be dead.

Ismark attempts to stealthily unsheathe his sword, but the figures take notice and charge us. Corrina casts thunderwave, which has little effect on the soldiers but does damage the balcony. Elgian pulls out the Sword which flares out, filling the room with light. The sun on the altar begins to glow. Ada runs across the room to examine the altar but notices nothing of value.

Elgian slashes at the undead soldiers, noticing that the Sword seems to burn them. The soldiers move with unnatural speed and strength, knocking Elgian to the ground causing him to drop the Sword. All their wounds except the creature who had been struck by the sword begin to heal immediately.

Ismark picks up the Sword and throws it to Ada. Ireena defends Elgian as he lies on the floor bleeding. Elmer casts burning hands and notices that his spell feels stronger than ever before simply by being in the chapel. The damage inflicted on the soldiers by the fire seems to delay the creatures healing of other damage from swords and arrows.

Holding the Sword, Ada feels an intense need to take action and rushes the soldier standing over Elgian. Elmer channels divinity, bringing radiant light into the area, this seems to damage the creatures slightly and stop their healing temporarily but has little damaging effect overall. Elgian gets up and tries to distract the soldiers by jumping around. Ada slashes at another soldier and runs back to the altar with the Sword.

Mondross casts bane on the soldiers. The soldiers strike back and Mondross falls to the floor, unconscious. On of the soldiers stabs himself in the leg. Elmer heals Mondross.

Over at the altar, Ada notices no change in the rising sun symbol even when it touches the Sword directly. She rushes back to the soldiers. The soldiers strike Mondross and Ismark, both of whom fall unconscious.

Elmer casts burning hands again, this time killing one of the undead soldiers. A misty form rises from the charred remains, eyes glowing an angry red. Shortly thereafter Elgian and Ada kill another of the soldiers and a similar misty form follows.

After a long time defending herself flawlessly, Ireena is finally struck by one of the soldiers, she resorts by stabbing the creature with her long sword. Corrina heals Mondross. Ada heals Ismark and gives him the Sword. The remaining soldier strikes Ireena then Elgian, both of whom fall unconscious. Ismark slashes at the soldier but misses and gives the Sword back the Ada. Mondras heals Elgian and Ireena wakes up on her own.

The soldier strikes at Ada and she collapses, dropping the Sword. The soldier picks up the Sword and pauses. For a moment he appears as a knight standing tall in shining armor but the illusion lasts but an instant. Elmer casts sacred flame and the soldier doesn’t even try to avoid the attack. The soldier turns to us and says, “Kill me.” Corrina shoots him with her bow and he collapses, dropping the Sword. A similar mist rises from the remains.

Elmer begins to heal the group.

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Standing in the ruins of the mansion, Corrina asks the ghost if he is the Master of the Marsh. He responds, “I was Laslo Ulrich. I was burgomaster of Berez. There was a peasant girl, Marina. She caught the attention of the devil Strahd. Before she could be turned and her soul lost forever, we were forced to kill her. When the devil Strahd learned this he killed us in his rage, myself and the priest. Then the river flooded, forcing everyone to leave. Then the village sunk into the marsh.”

Elgian says we would like to put everyone here to rest, Laslo responds that no soul can rest in this land. Ismark and Corrina notice that Laslo seems distracted when he looks at Ireena and Corrina asks if he recognizes her. He insists Ireena must be Marina, despite the fact that hundreds of years must of passed. We convince Ireena to play along and Laslo says, “Yes! Your spirit has returned!” and he gives us directions to Marina’s grave and “the treasure [we] seek” before passing on.

We begin to follow Laslo’s instructions before we notice the empty shell of a church. Thinking perhaps we will find the priest Laslo spoke of, we mark our location and venture toward it. There is nothing of interest in the church (besides a snake who is very afraid of fire) so we decide to look into the adjoining cemetery. We immediately notice a skeletal war-horse and rider coming toward us, slowly examining the graves. The rider then moves past us, disappearing into the fog. We decide to just turn back.

Returning to our marked location, we notice that the stick we used is knocked over, which is odd. There are no footprints around. We continue on our way. We finally come across a raised pot of land upon which sits a life-sized statue on top of a stone slab. The statue depicts a girl bearing a strong resemblance to Ireena kneeling and holding a rose. The epitaph reads, “Marina, taken by the mists”.

After some trial and error we manage to push the statue over, revealing a hollow space underneath, inside which lays a bundle. Sudden silence falls over the area, followed by the the smell of death and decay and sound of footsteps approaching. Six bloated corpses approach us slowly. Ismark grabs the bundle and we return to church, the corpses losing track of us.

In the church, Ismark unwraps the bundle to find a remarkable looking sword hilt, perhaps platinum, with no sign of a blade. He immediately feels an intense need to take action. Elmer takes the hilt from Ismark and is immediately overtaken by the same sense of urgency. He swing the hilt around a bit, at which point light erupts from the end of the hilt, brighter than anything we’ve seen since we came to these lands. The light retracts as Elmer attempts to put the hilt down. He decides not to complete the motion as a sudden wave of sadness washes over him.

We quickly learn that the hilt seems to know things, that the emotions we feel around it are its emotions, and we begin questioning the hilt. We come to the conclusion that the hilt may have belonged to Strahd’s brother. It is decided that Elgian will carry the hilt, keeping it hidden. The hilt seems okay with this.

The hilt also seems very offended when you call it a “hilt”.

Leaving the sunken village, we decide to go to the Wizard of Wines to help them fight off Baba Lasaga’s scarecrows. Along the way we begin to hear the sound of battle before misty soldiers begin to charge past us, perhaps re-enacting some long-ended war. We watch for a few minutes until a dragon of silver mist appears, cutting through the fog. In the space created by the dragon we see a dark mansion for a moment before the fog fills back in and everything falls to silence. After a brief discussion concerning the color of dragons, we decide the silver dragon is probably good and so decide to head toward the mansion the dragon showed us.

After climbing a steep hill for less than an hour a mansion becomes visible ahead in the mist. It appears that it once had four circular towners at its corners and a large central town in the rear of the fortified structure. The southern two towers are nothing more than rubble now.

As we approach the mansion we suddenly feel watched. Looking up at the northeaster tower, we see a well-dressed man with thistle-down hair watching us from one of the mansion’s towers. We greet him, but he does not reply, instead closing the window’s curtain. We make our way around to the front of the mansion and see a dragon statue, silver and moss covered, facing the front door. An inscription over the door reads “ARGYNVOSTHOLT”.

As we step onto the first step leading up to the door, the dragon statue’s mouth opens, releasing a cone of cool air. Ismark knocks on the door twice and after fifteen or twenty seconds we hear a faint noise inside, like a door creaking, but there is no response. We move around to the southern side of the mansion to discover that the wall  and towers have completely fallen away. There are giant spiders on the first floor.

Elgian thinks he hears the front door squeak and we make our way back to the front of the mansion to see the door has opened. We head inside and as we enter the large foyer a shadow of a dragon crosses the room and disappears in a hiss.  We see a door in the north east corner of the room  is open. As we approach it we notice the door just to the north of it is partially opened. We approach the door and find a dusk elf, injured, hiding behind it. He waves us over and we enter the room, Elmer healing some of the elf’s wounds. He says his name is Seved and he is alone.

Seved was sent out to look for Arabella (we tell him she has been found and is safe) and was attacked by living bushes. He tells us of Argynvos, a noble dragon who liked to assume human form. Argynvost would give refuge to those hiding from Strahd, but Strahd ransacked his mansion. Now the ghost of the dragon haunts Argynvostholt.
We decide to explore a bit. The next room over is a plundered kitchen.

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We start off with in Vallaki’s town square with Izek, having recognized Ireena, heading toward us. After a brief tussle (during which we learn that Izek can shoot fire from his demonic arm) and a chase through town, the group manages to escape to the Vistani camp outside of town. We make our way to Kazamir’s house with the intention of heading to the amber temple after a night’s rest, but Kazamir concerns about how to pass the gate blocked with an energy field and guarded by two demons we decide that we are not ready for the challenge. He says we are welcome to spend the night regardless and that he will be ready to make the trip whenever we decide that we are.

In the middle of the night Corrina notices a bat on the wall and tries to start a conversation with it. As soon as she speaks to the bat it turns into Strahd, who immediately begins enchanting Ireena. Elmer attempts to break Strahd’s focus while Ismark and Corrina try to physically restrain Ireena. Strahd finally leaves when Elgian threatens Ireena’s life with both hands but not till after Strahd put Corrina to sleep and showed disappointment in Elmers willingness to give up Ireena. He also moved with shocking speed to attempt to stop Elgian from hurting Ireena. The rest of the night passes without incident.

The next morning the group decides to look for the Master of the Marsh and head toward one of the marshes we know of in the area. We eventually come to a crossroads with a broken signpost and notice a giant wolf watching us from the forest. We right the signpost and head in the direction marked “Berez”.

Eventually we come upon a near-perfect circle of moss covered stones, a peasant woman (Muriel Vinshaw) hiding among them. She motions for us to join her, and we do. She tells us of Baba Lysaga and her murderous scarecrows (who were sent to attack the Wizard of Wines) and says that she lives in the ruins nearby. We stealth sround the south of the ruined village of Berez and to the ruined mansion. As we approach a fog forms up into a ghastly, mutilated man. He whispers, “Why do you invade my home? Begone, I beseech you.”

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Looking at the elk-turned-wizard, Ada notices he bears a strong resemblance to Hayden. She calls out to him, but he only responds with “You think my magic has grown weak? Think again!” before beginning to chant.

Ireena and Corinna immediately take cover. Mondross casts Calm Emotions on Hayden, but it does not seem to work. Ada calls out, “We do not doubt your power, and we are not your enemy. We came to look for your help!” This also does not work.

As Hayden continues to chant, visible power crackles around him. He points and a bolt of energy shoots from his hand, hitting Elmer straight in the chest. Elmer is blasted backward into a pile of rocks before falling unconscious.

At this point Ismark and Elgian take cover and Corrina drags Elmer behind a large boulder. Mondross attempts to cast Sleep on Hayden, but it has no effect. Ada uses the healing kit to stabilize Elmer.

Hayden shouts, “Tell your dark masters they can break my body but they can never break my spirit,” before casting a new attack spell on Mondross who barely manages to maintain consciousness.

Ismark takes the opportunity to begin sneaking closer to Hayden and Elgian joins Elmer, Corrina, and Ada behind the boulder. Corrina uses Disguise Self to make herself resemble Hayden. She then jumps up from behind the boulder and says, “We have the same goal! To hurt us is to hurt yourself!” This appears to confuse Hayden somewhat.

Mondross begins to sing the epic tale of the wizard as we have heard, electing to end with the wizard fighting back against the forces of darkness with the help of a ragtag group of adventurers.

Hayden yells, “Run! Run back to the devil!” and a translucent hand appears which picks up the boulder the group is hiding behind and casts it aside.

Elmer casts Light on his holy symbol and Thaumaturgy on himself before launching into a sermon about the bringing of light. He pauses briefly and shines his light on Corrina who says, “We don’t want to return to the darkness, we are adventurers of the light! We seek to save this land as you almost did.” Elmer then casts his light onto Ada who says, “We know you tried to help the people of Crystal Springs, we know you tried to help the people of Barovia. Now we want to help you toward these ends.”

Hayden appears confused and says, “Crystal Springs? I know nothing of this!” then grabs Elmer with the translucent hand before grabbing his own head and screaming. He then begins chanting, his skin turning the color of stone.

Having finally made it all the way behind Hayden, Ismark tackles Hayden as un-aggressively as possible, fully restraining him. After a brief struggle, Elmer escapes the grip of the hand. Hayden shocks Ismark with a jolt of electricity, but remains restrained. The group slowly approaches Hayden and Ada again call out to Hayden who only responds, “Who is Hayden? I don’t know of what you speak.”

Corrina begins to bind Hayden’s hands with rope as Hayden yells, “Unhand me! I will never bend to the devil’s will!” and disappears, reappears some distance away.  

At this point, Elmer notices three Abjuration auras around Hayden: a weak aura surrounding him, a stronger one emanating from him, and an impossibly strong aura coming from his head. Elmer informs the group that he believes these spell auras are the reason for Hayden’s confusion.

Corrina takes one of Hayden’s journals and approaches him, asking him to trust us and remember who he is, saying, “You’re under a spell! You have to fight the spell, not us!” She then drops the book at his feet and backs away.

Ada call out, “We seek the downfall of the devil Strahd! We need your power to achieve this goal.” Hayden responds, “Yes! My mind is protected by my powers! I do not know this Hayden you speak of. I can’t remember anything!”

Mondross begin singing the contents of the other journal, but Hayden yells, “The spies are everywhere!” and the group hears barking but cannot see the source.

Elmer then notices a transparent, yellow, shimmering, four-legged creature in front of Hayden. The barking seems to be coming from this creature.

The group decides to disengage and come back when they figure out how to dispel the spell auras surrounding Hayden. As they begin to leave, Elgian, who had been closest to Hayden, feel a large creature bit down on his face, pick him up, and throw him.

Elmer and Mondross stabilize and heal Elgian. Hayden picks up the journal and begins to move away. The group scurries down the mountain and makes its way back to Vallaki.

Once back to Vallaki, the group decides to take Ireena (still disguised) to Blinsky’s shop. As the group passes through town square they see Izek and two guards carrying a twelve year old boy toward the stocks. Isaac looks toward the group just as Ireena’s fake mustache falls off and, recognizing her, begins walking toward us.

Ismark steps between Izek and Ireena and draws his blade.

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Old To Do:

  1. Deal with Arabelle and the Vistani men. (Reward? Information? Allies?)
  2. Work on the children angle
    -Check in with Blinsky (since we’ve found ourselves back in town)
    -Ask him and others about Mad Mary’s daughter and her doll
    -Should also ask about Morgantha who is kidnapping children and selling dream pastries, maybe she’s living in a gingerbread house, all we need to do is follow breadcrumbs
  3. Check out the mad wizard of Mt Baratok
  4. Check in on Elgian’s windmill as a potential base of operations
  5. Check on the wine order from the Wizard of Wines Vinyard
  6. Check out the marshes that were mentioned (should we take the two guides from the bar?)
  7. Amber Castle

Vallaki To do:

  • I want to talk to Ireena and ask about her doppelganger marionette.
  • I want to talk to the Burgomaster and Issac and make common cause (if the group agrees).
  • I want to find out what was the deal with the Ricktavio wagon.
  • I wanted to see what became of Henrick, his house, and the vampire spawn that we battled.
  • If time permits, I’d like to see about the mad wizard across the lake
  • I’d like to go back to the inn and also see if there might be some suss out some more information, resources or allies

At the end of their rather long day the group decides to rest at the church. Mondross and Ada drink the water they saved from Hayden’s Spring, Mondross noticing a shudder washing over him as he drinks. After a night’s rest Ada feels magical energy in her hand and has the impression that she could enchant something, if she chose, by touching it. Mondross notices nothing different about himself. Following all this talk of spring water, Corrina decides to test her feather-fall ability and notes that while it is still in effect it is slightly weaker than it had been.

Back at the Blue Water Inn, Ismark and Ireena have spent the last day keeping a low profile. Having spoken to Darakova, the innkeeper, Ismark learns that there are two trouble making brothers (Nikola and Karl Wachter) who frequent the inn’s bar and belong to a family which has ties to Strahd. Their mother outwardly hates the Burgomaster, but her alleged connection to Strahd keeps her from being punished for this. It is also said that she has a mad daughter who is kept locked away.

The next morning our main group leaves the church with a warm send-off from Father Petrovich and heads to the Blue Water Inn where they find Ismark and Ireena eating breakfast but no other patrons. Corrina starts questioning Ireena about the doll bearing her features in Blinsky’s shop, but Ireena claims to have never been to Villaki before nor to have ever met anyone who could be involved in the ordering or making of the doll. Meanwhile, through ordering their own breakfast and asking about the figure on the coins (which resembles the marionette found in Blinsky’s shop) the group learns that the figure is that of Count Strahd.

Shortly after this exchange the door opens and an elderly half-elf comes in. He is dressed quite colorfully, especially for the area, so it is not difficult to guess that he is a traveler as well. Mondross approaches him and we learn that he is none other than Rictavio and that he is indeed a carnival ring master from a far away land, though he is currently on “hiatus”. Curious about the creature in his caravan, Corrina asks if he works with any big cats. He says he has worked with many animals in the past, but none currently. Noticing that they are both bards, Rictavio and Mondross make plans to swap stories that night at the inn and Rictavio retreats to his room.

The group decides to visit the Burgomaster under the pretense of being a group of travelling performers, taking Ismark along as their “manager”. Ireena is sent up to her room for safekeeping and Karadoc is left behind to babysit. On the way to the Burgomaster’s the group decides to stop by Arasek’s Stockyard to pick up some provisions. A healing kit catches their eye, but is out of their price range at 25 gold apiece. In an attempt to lower the price, Elmer begins talking to the shop owners, Gunther and Yelena, about all the good works or group have done and continue to do. Half a hour later the price has been reduced to 12 gold and the group leaves with a healing kit and an invitation to dinner.

Passing by the inn again, the group stops so that Corrina can have a brief conversation with some ravens. She learns that Rictavio stops by his caravan every morning and drops food into it through the top for some unknown creature. The ravens end the conversation with a warning to be careful “of everything”.

Finally reaching the Burgomaster’s residence the groups encounters a three people carrying bundles of twigs. We follow them inside to see that there are a large number of such bundles inside as well. A maid informs us that the twigs are for tomorrow’s festival and leads us to a waiting room where we will be allowed to meet with the Burgomaster. After 20 minutes (which Corrina spends rearranging the furniture in the room) Isaac, the Burgomaster, and two large dogs come in. The Burgomaster smells slightly musty and Isaac carries a ring of keys on his belt loop. Elgian addressed them, claiming that the group offers its services for tomorrow’s festival. The Burgomaster seems thrilled with the idea, especially after a short demonstration of the group’s skills. He keeps saying that it will be the greatest festival yet, it will keep the devil at bay, and, of course, all will be well. Corrina asks about pay, and we are promised two gold for our services. As the group prepares to leave, Ismark realizes that Isaac bears an odd resemblance to Ireena.

As the maid begins to escort the group out of the house we overhear the sound of women talking and Corrina claims to hear a friend of hers. The maid says it is the Baroness and some of her friends, but we would likely be welcome to join them. Opening the door, Corrina recognizes several of the women from her previous visit to the house. She repeats that she thought she heard a friend of hers and we are invited to join the ladies for tea and cake. The Baroness seems completely focused on the decorations for tomorrow’s festival. We inform her that we are going to perform tomorrow and she asks us to come by in the morning for costumes.

It is still mid-morning as the group leaves the Burgomaster’s house, so we decide to go looking for the mad wizard. We stop by the inn to pick up and disguise Ireena then make our way to the lake and row across to the base of the mountain. There is no sign of human life on shore. The group decides to climb above the layer of fog that covers the valley, only to see an elk on a rocky outcrop. Slowly, the elk begins to transform into a man with black and grey hair, his eye crackling with eldritch power.

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Old To Do:

  1. Deal with Arabelle and the Vistani men. (Reward? Information? Allies?)
  2. Work on the children angle
    -Check in with Blinsky (since we’ve found ourselves back in town)
    -Ask him and others about Mad Mary’s daughter and her doll
    -Should also ask about Morgantha who is kidnapping children and selling dream pastries, maybe she’s living in a gingerbread house, all we need to do is follow breadcrumbs
  3. Check out the mad wizard of Mt Baratok
  4. Check in on Elgian’s windmill as a potential base of operations
  5. Check on the wine order from the Wizard of Wines Vinyard
  6. Check out the marshes that were mentioned (should we take the two guides from the bar?)
  7. Amber Castle

Vallakii To do:

  • I want to talk to Ireena and ask about her doppelganger marionette.
  • I want to talk to the Burgomaster and Issac and make common cause (if the group agrees).
  • I want to find out what was the deal with the Ricktavio wagon. And I wanted to see what became of Henrick, his house, and the vampire spawn that we battled.
  • If time permits, I’d like to see about the mad wizard across the lake
  • I’d like to go back to the inn and also see if there might be some suss out some more information, resources or allies

As the party flees the house of Henrik the Coffin maker with the Vampire (or as we soon learn Vampire Spawn) in hot pursuit we notice several things that I will list in no particular order below.

1.      They can run on walls. As we ran from them, they often used this ability to gain ground on us.

2.      They are fast but only not much faster than we.

3.      They are dressed in strange garb but not Vistani clothing. They may have also been outlanders.

4.      They heal very quickly. The damage we did to them seemed to be gone within moments of causing it. And much of the damage from our physical weapons didn’t seem to have an effect.

5.      They could control bats. They caused swarms of bats to chase us into the church.

6.      They seem to be barred from entry to the church once the bones were restored to the crypt but it wasn’t clear that they were bared from entry before that (despite not being invited)

Once we made it to the church we began to harass the vampires and slow their progress against us long enough to restore the bones of St. Andral into the crypt. Upon completion of that task the vampires fled and we were able to rest and recuperate. The priest proved to be a great help in our time of need and provided us healing after the battle was done.

The priest (Lucian Petrovich) took time to question his grave digger further. The grave digger said many of the same things he said to us, that he was trying to pay for food and possible a means of escaping Barovia which is why he stole the bones. He had heard that the Vistani possessed a vial of potion that would allow the drinker to walk out of the fog without perishing. We knew from our discussions with the Vistani that this potion was bunk and told the grave differ so.

Petrovich eventually leaves us to rest in antechambers and conducts services for a small group of his faithful. We watch from the wings and meet a woman named Wilamina who is praying for her son’s safe return. His name is Udo. She says that he went missing after saying something negative against the wolfs head jamboree. We finally wise up and DON’T promise to rescue her son J

We do ask Petrovich a bit more about the festivals and he tells us that the Bergomaster hosts them to “keep the devil Strahd away”. But Petrovich also says that he believes that they are a waste of time. But it does lead us to believe that the Bergomaster may be truly aligned against Strahd and as such, may be a sort of an ally. Petrovich agrees that the Bergomaster is probably not in league with Strahd but he doesn’t take a position on the second part.

He tells us that many people are brought to the mansion to be “cleansed of evil”. When Corina tells us again about the peasant women that were brought to the mansion, he tells us that this is in keeping with the activities of the Burgomaster. He also tells us that when people are brought to be cleansed of evil, purple lights can be seen peeking out of the shuttered windows suggesting that there may be some magic afoot. In sum, Petrovich doesn’t believe that the Burgomaster is in league with Strahd but he also isn’t sure that he would be any kind of an ally to us.

When we wake in the morning we are greeted with a letter from Strahd… a dinner invitation at Castle Ravenloft.

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