Dusk at the Blood of the Vine tavern brings good tidings and good times to all. Elgian and Ada return from stalking the old crone and her dream pastries. Elgian suddenly and excitedly exclaims, “by Yondalla’s ample bosom, I’m a landed gentry.”
The company looks up from their activities to see Elgian waving a deed in his hand. Mondross retorts “I thought you seemed a little higher and mightier these days, perhaps a full three and a half feet tall.”
Elgian glares at his friend, “pipe down or I’ll vote for a tax on musicians and a ban on dancing in the next election.” Elgian shakes the deed again and says to the company. “You know we all got something special from Hayden Spring. Well I got a deed in my pack when I awoke after drinking the waters. I thought it was odd and I didn’t recognize the name of the land indicated on the deed but just now I was looking it over again and wouldn’t you know, the township where my windmill is located is Villaki. VILLAKI!!! Tomorrow when we travel there, we should be sure to go see my holdings. I’ll bet it’s vast and fertile. Oh, I wonder what I shall name my mansion?”
Elgian continues rambling about his new holdings as he and Ada investigate their other acquisition, the dream pastry. The consider it carefully, concerned that it may be made of the children that the krone was kidnapping. After several minutes of analysis they decided that the only way to know for sure is to try the thing. They split the pastry into halves and consume. Elgian feels light headed but Ada immediately collapses with a big smile on her face. She passes out but in her dreamy state she is transported to a warm land that gives her a sense of well-being and warmth. She remains in this state for some time.
Meanwhile, Mondross and Elmer are engaged in the fantasies of the here and now. They have been plying the Vistanni ladies with drinks and complements. The ladies tell them that they are Mirabell, Sobria, and Illenka. They tell the men that the people of the town don’t know how to have fun and that it is good to meet such lively men as they. They also tell them that there camp is near Tser Pool and that the camp mistress Maddam Eva foretold of their companies coming to these lands. They tell Elmer and Mandras that they should seek out Maddam Eva, for she can unlock certain mysteries for them. Elmer and Mondross continue to fraternize with the ladies throughout the evening. Elmer strikes up a special friendship with the fair lady Illenka (natural 20 on persuade for a total of 24). She asks him to come back soon and see her, Elmer promises to do so.
As the company leaves the bar, they decide to go and investigate the wailing which is in a house just a few doors down from the inn. The windows are boarded up but the door is unlocked. After knocking and getting no response, the company enters the residence. Fearing a possible fight, Elmer, who has been carrying Ada’s unconscious body up to now decides it’s time for her to wake. He shakes her awake and she comes too with a terrible hangover and a terrible sense of loss from the wonderful dream that she was pulled from.
The company proceeds up the stairs to the source of the wailing. They find a woman lying on the ground clutching a doll and barely aware of their presence. The doll appears to be another Blinsky doll. The company finally gets her attention and she tells her tale of woe. He daughter, a young lady of 15 has run away. A week or two ago she left the house and (the woman believes) she went to Strahd’s castle. Her daughter Gertruda was kept under lock and key to prevent this from happening but the willful teenager managed to escape and may now be in some serious trouble in the vampire’s castle. We make a non-commital promise to see what we can do and leave the woman to her sorrow. We find out later from Ismark that the woman is “Mad Mary” and that her daughter was kept under lock and key for her entire 15 or 16 year life.
We continue on to the mansion of the burgomaster where we find Ismark and Ireena waiting for us. We search the grounds, make note of the symbols of ill omen and wolf tracks and then go in. As we had not done so earlier, we question Ireena further about her situation. She knows not why Strahd has visited her. She can’t remember the actual visits. All she remembers is his eyes and the terrible hunger in them. It’s possible that she was lured out of the house rather than Strahd entering. We learn that the vampire is unable to enter a private dwelling where he is not invited. This is why the brother and sister do not wish to stay at the Inn. Regardless, the last visit was 3 days past and things have been quiet since, no one knows why. The party makes a guard rotation and beds down for the night.
In the morning, the party disguises the brother and sister and makes there way to the Tser Pool and the Vistanni camp. Along the way they spot a bed of blue flowers (periwinkles) on the river bank next to a stone bridge. They stood out because of their beauty. Karadoc investigates the flowers but they are nothing unnatural, they are simply unusual in this dark place. Ismark tells the party that this was the site of the drowning of a girl/woman named Doreena. She was chased by wolves and dove into the waters to escape them. Sadly she drowned in the water. She lived in Barovia which is how Ismark knew her.
Ismark tells us of Mad Mary and Gertruda. The Gnome grills Ireena again. Ireena again claims to not remember much. We ask Ismark if Ireena is the only victim to get such special attention from Strahd of if others have ever been visited in such a way. He didn’t know of others being so visited by Strahd. He talks of the sins of his ancestors causing the morning lord to turn from them and also says that though the night mother is strong, she doesn’t answer their prayers either. Elgian suggests it’s all superstition.
We continue on toward the Vistanni camp until we reach some gallows. The gallows looks serviceable but the rope ends in a frayed point instead of a noose. We notice several graves and investigate. The only names recognizable any more are Boris and Danya on one stone and Korina on another. Another grave is open and tomb stone rests next to it as if ready to be planted along with a body. The tomb stone reads “Elmer Vandoot”. Elmer is obviously shaken by this and pushes for the party to leave.
The party eventually does as Elmer asks but as they leave they hear the sounds of a rope under a load swinging in the breeze. They turn around and see a corpse hanging by the now restored noose. The body is clearly that of Elmer. Elgian approaches and pokes the body but it immediately turns to mist and blows away.
The party continues to Tsar Pool. When they arrive the take time to drink with the Vistanni who are assembled around a camp fire. Mondross befriends them and engages in wine and song. Elgian mostly just engages in wine. Mondross’s performance causes one of the Vistanni (there are six men and six women) to tell a tale of woe.
About a year ago a mighty wizard came to this land. He was charismatic and wise with powerful magic and he thought he could rally the people against Strahd. He assembled a peasant army and marched on the castle. But when Strahd appeared, most of his peasant army broke and ran. Those who didn’t were killed to a man by the vampire and his hoards. The wizard stood and did battle with the vampire. The vampire rained down lightning on the wizard but the wizard stood. Strahd caused rocks from the mountain to fall on the wizard yet he stood. Then Strahd cast the wizard down, a thousand feet over the falls. The wizard surely fell to his death. The Vistanni went to find the wizards body (and search for valuables) but no body and no valuables were to be found. Surely they were whisked away by the river after the wizard was killed.
We surmised that this was likely the mad wizard that lead Donnavich’s son to the castle last year. Rumors that he was somewhere near Mt. Baratok may be old as the wizard may have died a year past. But no body leaves us to wonder. And the death of all of the remaining peasant army wasn’t entirely true either. We know that Donnavich’s son remains “alive”. But why was he spared (if he was spared) at all? Clearly more questions need answers on that front.
We thanked the Vistanni for their hospitality and went to the tent of Maddam Eva. She was expecting us. Maddam Eva’s tent was appointed as one would expect the tent of a Vistanni seer to be appointed. She invited us in telling us personal details about ourselves (presumably as a way to prove her power of vision). She gave us a card reading and told us that this reading would reveal things that would help us in our quest to defeat Strahd and rescue the people of the land. Specifically, she said “to escape this place, you need several things” and began turning over cards.
5 cards for fortune telling
“The first card tells of history, knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy.”
She turns over the Bishop. “What you seek lies in a pile of treasure beyond a set of amber doors. This is the knowledge of the ancient.”
“This card tells of a powerful force of good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope.”
She turns over the Transmuter. “Go to a place of dizzying heights where the stone itself is alive.”
“This is the card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of sunlight.”
She turns over the Enchanter. “I see a kneeling woman, a rose of great beauty, plucked too soon. The master of the marsh knows of whom I speak.”
Card 4 (the bottom cards)
“This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in your battle against darkness.”
She turns over The Broken One. “Your greatest ally is a wizard. His mind is broken but his spells are strong.”
“Your enemy is a creature of darkness who’s powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him.”
She turns over The Broken One (again): “He haunts the tomb of the one he envied above all.”
And thus ends the game for the week.
It seems likely that the mad wizard in the Visanni’s story is the same as the mad wizard in the foretelling. And both are probably the same one that Dannovich’s son followed to attack the castle a year back. Either his things still exist somewhere and we should search for them as important artifacts to defeat Strahd or he was not killed (which seems likelier since there was no body) and we need to find him. Rumor is that he resides at Mt Baratok so we may want to search there. We may also want to speak to Dannovich’s son and see what he can tell us of this wizard. Perhaps we can promise to sooth his pain. Whatever the course of action, if this wizard is an ally, we should figure out how sane/insane he is to know what use he’ll be.
It sounds like there are three magic items. Scrolls or a library or something that will give us knowledge about Strahd. A holy sumbol. A magic sword that sheds sunlight. The clues provided in the first two items didn’t make sense to me but I got the feeling that “the rose of great beauty plucked too soon” might be the woman Doreena who was chased by wolves and drowned in the river. We might ask Ismark for more details about her and if he knows who this “master of the marsh” is.