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Previously On: Curse of Strahd, 20 and 27 May

To catch up on the previous few sessions of our Curse of Strahd, we're going to be a little speedy about it! Spoilers ahead for Curse of Strahd in Vallaki and the Tower!

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On 20 May, our reluctant heroes Zeruck, Birzoon, and Wilhelmina, along with Davian Martikov, were making the best of the cold, rainy day in the wake of the Festival of the Blazing Sun in Vallaki. Much of the town had gathered for food, drink, and religious observance at St. Andral's Church. While the Martikov's managed a private observance, the party went to the church where the service was not the most enthusiastic.

During the service, scratching came at the windows and doors. Wil rose to inspect the double doored entrance while Birzoon checked out one of the windows. Wood moaned and glass tapped as the vampire spawn outside revealed themselves, just as bats flew down the bell tower to accost Father Lucian Petrovich and the parishioners! With a moment of relief, it seemed that the creatures were unable to enter, as they had not been welcomed in when the strange girl from streets of Vallaki--who had pricked Birzoon before running down an alley and vanishing into the night--stood up and said, "Oh, won't you all come in and join us?" signaling a burst of activity and combat.

Birzoon was wrestled outside of the church, being held aloft by one of the spawn, who we could now see were once adventurers from a foreign land (suggestive of Kara-Tur, an East Asia inspired campaign setting). Wil forced the main door as tightly closed as she could, before going toe-to-toe with two spawn, and more entered to attack the townspeople. Several were fed on by the monstrosities while Zee unleashed scorching rays on the creatures. Father Petrovich did his best to rally the townspeople to beat away the bats, though many took what cover they could under the pews.

Artwork by Wayne Reynolds, D&D 4th Edition, Wizards of the Coast

Zee was able to free Birzoon, who from outside unleashed an orb of sunlight in the church, giving light to Father Petrovich's worship as he did his best to treat the wounded. Zee had to dance about pews and townspeople to avoid the press of vampires Wilhelmina handled, whose hand crossbow's string broke in combat, trying to manage both her own attackers and those leaping at the townspeople. As Birzoon's sun burned on, the forces weakened, the bats were captured in cloaks and cloth by the townspeople and beaten back. Zee's scorching ray defeated more than one of the fading creatures while Birzoon's assailant fled the scene in fear of the sunlight. Wil finished the remaining combatants in a blur of sword work.

Wounded, winded, and mourning the lost townspeople, the survivors did their best to treat the others and return a sense of order. The grounds of the church had been desecrated and it would provide no sanctuary to the townspeople any longer. In the wake of the combat, the heroes returned to the Blue Waters Inn to find that Ireena, whose keep had been secured, had gone out to gather water from the well and vanished in the night!

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A few days prior while Birzoon, Wilhelmina, and Zeruck were visiting the Wizard of the Wines and Krezk, Ireena had joined fellow adventurers Cali the Rogue and Nars the Barbarian. In an effort to catch up, the crew takes what appeared to be a shortcut and ended up on the shores of Lake Baratok, a creaky tower standing out along an earthen causeway, a barrel-shaped and gold accented wagon parked within fifteen feet of it. Cali and Nars investigate the tower and find the door lacks a latch, though it does have a circular, clock-like symbol with various symbols on it. Instead, they attempt to climb the rickety scaffolding.

Source: @PlayWithVault on Instagram, Curse of Strahd Source Book, Wizards of the Coast

Upon the second level some twenty feet up, just as they began to peer into the tower's rotting levels, the scaffolding began to collapse! Nars attempted leap down, though the scaffolding itself rained down atop him. Cali tried to climb onto the tower, but its crumbling, rotting stone was inadequate purchase. Ireena patched them up as best she could from below, before taking a second--and a third--look at the door.

Cali attempted an interpretive dance of the symbols in clockwise order, but in response blue electricity ran along the tower and up above it, creating a draconic form, first spectral and then very real! Cali quickly retried the combination as depicted by the line while the young blue dragon flew into the air and swooped down, joining Cali as she ran into the tower! Inside, four clay statues stood about a square indentation in the floor, several chains hanging down from the floors above and crates scattered around the twenty foot-wide, octagonal room. The dragon, following Cali close behind, bit and clawed at her! Nars, from outside launched javelins, but the close quarters forced him within, joined by Ireena brandishing her shield to protect the wounded Cali!

In the close quarters, the blue dragon unleashed an electrifying breath attack to a woefully unprepared group within. Ireena did her best to shield her compatriots while Nars switched to his greataxe and swung fiercely at the creature, which gained some altitude in the cramped quarters. Cali was unable to conceal herself, but managed several cutting blows against the dragon, while Nars broke its wing, grounding it. While it attempted to recover its breath weapon, it was now overwhelmed by its assailants and disoriented, preventing it from landing several blows. Nars cleaved a wing off, securing quite the trophy, and with help from Cali, landed a killing blow after several heated attempts.

Slowly, the body dissipated into sand and subtle white bolts, but Nars' trophy was kept. The main floor, more of its boxes now in shambles, was only an entrance, with nothing of note. Cali began climbing the chains while Nars inspected the clay statues. With a word of request, the statues sprung to life and began manipulating the chains, lowering a platform above. Cali flipped over the descending platform and continued her ascent where she found a bedroom and study, of sorts at the top (the second and third floors little more than rotting floorboards).

The prize of the room included suggestions of a since-moved scroll or map as well as a peculiarly preserved--and lavender-scented--head. The head was of a male with the dark black hair suggestive of the Vistani. Armor, a stove, a desk, firewood, and a bed were also in the bedroom, which had windows looking for out over the shimmering Lake Baratok, the Svalich Woods, and the land-bridge back to the rough trail. Wolves could be heard howling in the wood, though from no determinate location. Ireena and Nars joined Cali, who was loathe to handle the head, though Nars had no such qualms.

Below, their attention turned to the wagon. A sign read clearly to keep out above the rear entrance and no horses or other beasts of burden were anywhere nearby to haul it. Cali inspected the wagon, but could not adequately resolve the lock. She called on Nars to use a more *ahem* direct method. As Nars landed a blow against the door the scene froze as a wire trigger within resulted in alchemist's fire within being release. The explosion echoed in the valley and deafened the three there. The wagon was utterly destroyed, bits of metal turned to slag and papers burning in the air and sizzling on the cool mountain lake. Cali and Nars were both knocked unconscious in the blast while Ireena ran to treat them. Nars, though woozy, was able to recover, while Cali's wounds were more severe. While stabilized, Cali could not be stirred.

With the remains of the day, Nars and Ireena hauled the comatose Cali back to Vallaki to join the party, both grim about Cali's ultimate fate.

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