Curse of Strahd

The Grand Tour

Ezmerelda, somewhat shocked to see the party again, stifled her surprise and said that she was “pleased to meet” them all. Sensing a ruse, the party politely (re)introduced themselves — although Marek, who genuinely never met this person, was quite happy to make her acquaintance. Ezmerelda stated that she was a guest of the Abbot, and kindly said that she needed to go into town to get some goods for her work. Furtively, she made subtle hand signals to gesture a request to meet her outside. Mahel recognized this and made a kind suggestion to accompany her to town. They stepped quickly outside and shut the door behind them.

Inquiring about the monstrous creatures that inhabited the the Abbot told the story of the Belview family, plagued with leprosy and roaming from town to town until they finally arrived at the abandoned hospital. Pleading with him to cure their condition, the Belviews agonized in their despair. Using his arcane and holy powers, the Abbot cured them, but at a cost – they became insane misshapen amalgams of man and beast – Mongrelfolk. He kept them imprisioned in the Abbey so that they could do no harm to other people. Picking up on his previous topic of conversation, the Abbot said that he needed a suitable wedding dress for Vasilka. Vasilka, he said, was to marry Strahd; and Strahd was to come to the Abbey in person to accept his “gift.” The Abbot was concerned that Strahd not be displeased with his bride.

Outside, Ezmerelda and Mahel had a discreet conversion — the Vistana surmised that the Abbot (though well-intentioned and powerful in his own right) was himself insane, and wanted nothing to do with his schemes. She was, however biding her time to trap Strahd at the Abbey and potentially destroy him away from his place of power Castle Ravenloft. She offered her help to the Mahel and to the rest of the PCs.

Back inside the dining room, Marek recounted his astonishment at yesterday’s events — the dark voice and the thunder, the destruction of the pool and the gazebo. Marek even went so far as to mention Ireena’s name. Realizing this as potential giveaway, Leowen became incensed at Marek and sent a message of anger and a vision of flames into his mind. Marek became truly frightened… at which point the Abbot, seemingly able to read or intercept telepathic thoughts, expressed his concern with the apparent rude behavior at his table. Marek, embarrased and a little more than terrified at the current situation, slurped his soup.

To calm the mood, the Abbot showed that he had taught Vasilka how to dance. With a signal from the Abbot, beautiful violin music wafted down from the loft above. Vasilka began a slow, albeit stiff waltz swooping around the room with a distinct lack of a male dance partner. The Abbot gazed on her with pride. The music abruptly stopped after a string snapped on whoever’s instrument was playing upstairs. There was an awkward silence.

Realizing the awkwardness of the situation, the Abbot agreed to Leowen’s request for a tour of the Abbey. Ireena, Ismark, Marek, Ulfrik, and Leowen slowly climbed the stairs while the Abbot asked, somewhat eerily, to stay close to him… parts of the Abbey could be…. dangerous…

Parting ways, Ezmerelda bid farewell to Mahel and left to go down to the town. Ever curious, Mahel snuck around the courtyard then re-entered inside, moving down into the basement. In this cold damp cellar, she found several wine barrels from the Wizard of Wines, and feeling tired, decided to take a nap.

The Abbot showed his guests around the upper floors of the hospital, showing them a room with a score of filthy dilapidated hospital beds, a dusty abandoned morgue, a nursery with the wreckage of several wooden cribs, as well as an operating room replete with a table with dark reddish stains on its surface. In the morgue, Leowen spotted a raven, which cawed at her and flew out the window, alighting on a scarecrow in the garden outside. Marek went into the OR, and upon approaching the table, began to hear screams of agony in his head. Slamming his hands on his ears, Marek freaked out and rushed out of the room. Undeterred and seemingly unsurprised by this macabre environment, the Abbot started to lead them out to tour the other side of the Abbey where, he says, things were more… unique. Remembering that the Tarokka reading from Madam Eva boasted of a “weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight. Look to a place where sickness and madness are bred. Where children once cried, the treasure lies still.” Surmising that this artifact was hidden in this place, Leowen distracted the Abbot. Saying that she “dropped her ring,” Leowen signalled Ulfrik to help her search the area while the main group moved on downstairs. During the search, Ulfrik glanced at the window where he saw a ghostly reflection of a nun in the doorway behind him. When he quickly turned, nothing was there. He then searched under the wooden wreckage of the dusty and dilapidated cribs. Hidden under the floorboards was a silver metal sword hilt, seemingly untouched by age or rust. In his mind, Ulfrik envisioned a crystalline sword blade attached to the hilt (although none such actually existed) then images and emotions flooded his mind, almost as if the sword was attempting to emotionally communicate to him. Staggering, Ulfrik rejoined Leowen in the main hospital at which point the two noticed that they could see their breath and that the room had gotten vastly colder… Immediately, stretching out of the corners of the room, evil shadow creatures solidified and attacked the duo with grasping dark claws. Ulfrik screamed downstairs for help while Leowen put up a mirror image spell to distract the entities. Ulfrik ran for his life out of the room.

Marek, hearing Ulfrik’s cries for help, ran up the stairs. Ushering the two into his room, Marek then threw up a protective barrier of blades in front of the door separating them from the shadows. Surging into this magical wall of slashing death, several of the shadows were immediately shredded. The remaining shadows disappeared and the group warily came downstairs to the vague disappointment of the Abbot.

Mahel, awakened by a drop of a viscous substance on her face, stared up at a monstrous drooling figure, perched directly above her on the ceiling, seemingly an escaped monstrosity from this prison of horrors. She attempted to gently communicate to it, while slowly inching away from it towards the stairs. Growling for “FOOD,” the creature attempted to block her exit until Mahel summoned up her courage and forced her will on the creature. She then ran up the stairs and met with the rest of the party.

Taking a hint that this was not the place to have Ireena keep sanctuary, the PCs politely decided to leave, taking under advisement the Abbot’s request for a wedding dress.
A mournful bell tolled — at which the other side of the Abbey erupted into a cacophonous collection of deranged laughter, inhuman cries of “FOOD! FOOD!” and peals of high pitched gibbering and howls of pain. Fearing for their safety, the PCs made a concerted effort to quickly exit the walled edifice of the Abbey of Saint Markovia.

Feeling somewhat dejected, the group fell to arguing where to go next and what their plan was. Should they attempt to find the Abbot’s wedding dress? Should they travel to the drowned village of Berez? Return to the Wizard of Wines? Encounter the evil that inhabits Yester Hill and retrieve the gem stolen from the Martikovs? And where in the Nine Hells was Aike?

As their voices carried into the night, the grey mists began to swirl and coalesce on the road before them…. out of which stepped a dark figure….

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mattgordon

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