Previously On highlights our ongoing RPG campaigns. It is a great space to catch up on sessions you've missed or to just read through our ongoing adventures. Spoilers ahead for Curse of Strahd.
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We rejoin our adventurers Zeruck, Wilhelmina, and Birzoon in Krezk at the snowy edge of Barovia. After exploring the cemetery for signs of recent macabre activity, and finding none. However, an auburn haired, fair-skinned woman did peer through the window of the old monastery just as they began to leave. With her gaze on their heels, they rejoined Davian Martikov with their patched together cart outside Burgomaster Krezkov's cottage and set out for Vallaki.
The sky became heavy and leaden and the party could not shake the sense of something in the woods just beyond their gaze, but the sojourn was uneventful. The church was full of residents, seeking some sanctuary in hymn and sermon from Father Lucian Petrovich. Before they could arrive at the Blue Waters Inn, a girl with dark brown hair and of average stature, about twelve years of age, stood alone in the street staring at our party.
Our always courageous adventurers sent Birzoon, our Gnomish Cleric, to speak with the girl. After the girl's astute observation that Birzoon and his friends had been causing trouble. She said that her mother was going to get them soon. Birzoon glanced back with a bit of confusion and seeking a cue from the others, only to have his arm cut by a small knife the girl was carrying. The wound was minor, though stinging. As the girl turned and ran, Birzoon checked for a poison and found none. The others, nervous by the peculiar encountered, attempted to pursue, but only briefly before she vanished down an alley. Zeruck's experience with Arcana sparked her interest and concern that the girl might find some way to use the blood for a spell of scrying while the three whispered of the witches' coven that they had burned down in the broken down windmill.
The Blue Waters Inn was lively with Rictavio the half-elf's storytelling and the young boys Martikov acting out the tale of the two-headed goblin and its bickering. Ireena Petrovna, in a modest shawl, chuckled at Rictavio's story and lending a hand to her new home in hiding thanks to the heroes' aid. With much travel behind them, they saddled up to bar and were served by Danika. After his story, Rictavio briefly joined them. They asked about why Count von Strahd had any interest in Rictavio, who replied with an offer to tell stories to the Count at some entertainment. He did ask after any knowledge the adventurers might have of the Vistani, who it is said are in league with Strahd. They shared, with some reservations, what they knew of the Vistani.
The morning marked the Festival of the Blazing Sun and all of the townsfolk were expected to attend. What little sun does shine through the heavy clouds of Barovia was not to be found. Vallakians gathered out front the Burgomaster's Mansion, his painfully cheery wife nearby, and Baron Vallakovich's right-hand man, Izek Strazni also at hand. In dreary song, children marched toward town square where the massive blazing sun made of twig and wicker stood. Townsperson after townsperson, young and old came up splashing oil on the ceremonial bundle. With a cry of, "All will be well," the Baron moved toward the sculpture just as a rumble of thunder broke the sky and rain began to fall. As the Baron leaned down to ignite the "blazing" sun, laughter broke the stone silence of the crowd.
A guard, Lars Kjells they would later learn, had broken. His fellow guard stripped him of his pike as the Baron approached, Izek smirking just behind. Charging Lars with "spite," the Baron ordered him chained and handed Izek the whip. Birzoon summoned a Sacred Flame with an attempt to ignite the increasingly saturated sun. With some focus, Birzoon's white flame burned from within, drying and slowly igniting the ceremonial sun; eventually, the oil caught. Wilhelmina moved between the Baron and Lars, insisting that the festival would continue, the blazing sun igniting. Committed to his grim task, Izek lashed Lars, who was now fitted with a papier mache ass's head. Lars, under the mask and with a start, continued to laugh all the while. While another lash struck, Wilhelmina raised the Baron's spirits and he began to inspire a begrudging chant from the townsfolk while Izek, having surrendered his whip to the guards, stormed out of the town square.
In the wake of the macabre scene in the town square, Vallakians sheltered in homes, at the Inn, and at the church, the Baron, going door to door to ensure the bright spirits of those within. Meanwhile, our heroes sought secrets within the Burgomaster's Mansion. Davian and Wilhelmina waited outside while Birzoon and Zeruck made their way up to the attic of the mostly empty mansion, noticing a wedding gown and full length mirror en route. The cluttered attic led to a workroom, its portal lined with magical runes. With a brief--but audible--Dispel Magic, Birzoon made the path clear, catching a glimpse of the adolescent within who, glancing over his shoulder, vanished. A half-dozen patchy cats also lounged around within while three, stock-still children stood in the corner.
With the apparent room to themselves, Birzoon and Zeruck inspected the room. Birzoon spoke and approached the children, who remained unresponsive. Upon touching them and turning the nearest could he tell that they were, in fact, painted wooden dolls. Zeruck discerned a teleportation circle in the corner, incomplete and dangerous, but became even more interested in the cats. The cats, it turned out, were not just painfully thin, but skeletal and reanimated. A close inspection revealed the seal of Wachterhaus.
Outside, Davian and Wilhelmina were met by Izek Strazni, hunched and angry in the rain. Davian was able to encourage Izek toward the Blue Waters Inn where he might drink, eat, and warm himself. As they walked out, Birzoon murmured criticism of the flawed work in the workroom, inspiring the invisible Baronet, Vincent Vallakovich, to blast the two intruders with a Cone of Cold, nearly felling Zeruck in the process. Birzoon responded with Hold Person against the young mage, while Zeruck, a rather ghastly kitten on her shoulder, Zeruck and Birzoon ran for the far side of the attic. With a lonely Wilhelmina below, Birzoon leapt the 25 feet, landing in Wilhelmina's capable arms. Zeruck, on the other hand, stepped off of the window with a flamboyant gesture to boot, tumbling and dislocating her shoulder on the landing. The Baronet appeared on the street in a cloud of silvery mist, cursing at the adventurers as they fled toward the Inn, his adolescent curses following them.
We'll return with Part II later this week! Thanks for reading!