We were woken by the sound of our traps and glyphs being triggered. We quickly got dressed and armed ourselves, and Strahd’s zombies and ghouls were upon us. We managed to control our territory and keep them completely away from us with ravens and ranged attacks. Marja summoned up all the willpower she could and we heard the distant rumble of thunder as she called lightning to strike the ground above us, where she couldn’t even see, to carve us out an exit route. But we wouldn’t end up needing it: we spotted Strahd like some hideous spider climbing the ceiling. He wasn’t expecting what happened next: Donavich blasted him with a orb of pure daylight.
We were hopeful that this was our chance. He did manage to rally a little, as he got a hold of Radovan’s psyche and made the boy shoot Donavich (though he was hard-pressed to injure that mountain of a man). Marja broke him out of the spell and he burst into tears. But then he steeled himself, and drew out the stake we had finished making only a few hours prior. He loaded it in his crossbow, and I couldn’t have asked for a better shot (OOC note: best time ever to CRITICAL!) as he stuck it right through Strahd’s chest. For a moment we thought we had him! We blasted him with spells and all the fight we could muster, but sadly the magic stake faded to dust and he managed to escape from the tunnels he had earlier invaded.
It was a dark time for us. He had broken our spirits pretty badly, especially when we realised he had zombified Blinski, Ireena’s father Ismark the Greater, and our two hunter friends from Vallaki. We fled to Vallaki and took down the crucified body of the new burgomeister. We begged the priest for shelter for the night but were met with a closed door, so we slept instead in the office of the stockyard. In the morning people were throwing fruit outside. I yelled at them to get lost and then we would. Once they left, we flew on giant kookaburras with Castle Ravenloft in our sights. But a quick detour: Radovan wanted to go home. So we dropped him off in Barovia and told him we’d visit him tonight to make sure he was okay. He was tearful. I didn’t want to drag it on any longer than that.
Spirits low, we crept into Ravenloft via a lower courtyard open to the sky. We went in through a door to a room with a guest book, and ran into a mongrelman who shuffled ahead of us and insisted we come to the guest rooms. We ignored him and explored the corridors of this wing of the castle. After a few creepy rooms, we found the creepiest of them all: the bone room. Peeking in, we were sure that this room, bedecked with bones as furniture and decor, would house the skull of Argynvost, and we were right! It was above the door. We fought a zombie here but we didn’t stay to fight more. We went back out to the courtyard where we ran into Radovan leading a small mob! He had felt guilty after we had left so he brought his parents and their friends with their pitchforks to help us. We thanked them all and told them to go home and wait for a signal for us one day when it was time to attack, but for now we had to return the skull. We asked Radovan if he wanted to join us again and see this thing through. He agreed, though he told me tearfully that he was going back to his parents after all this was over. We flew straight to Argynvostholt.
This turned out to be the best possible thing that could happen. As we replaced the dragon’s skull in the mausoleum the whole air of the place grew lighter. The revenants faded away in the light of the silver beacon that grew above the tower, making all of our hearts take courage. What’s more, the morbidly humourous Godfrey finally joined us, taking his boyfriend’s armour now that his vengeful spirit is calmed.
Waking today, we had all had pleasant dreams and felt much lighter than before. We wasted no time in getting back to Ravenloft and carrying on from where we left off, this time with the aid of our revenant paladin.
We went past the bone hall today and went on to the office of Rahadin, the dusk elf. There was no parleying with him, though Kasimir had led us to expect that would be the case. Even with demonic aid, we were too powerful for Strahd’s lieutenant. But we had to rest after that encounter. We locked the door and rested. We nearly had a witch creep in on us looking for her pet cat, but Esmerelda’s quick thinking and prestidigitation (making a cat’s meow from far off) saved us from being found.
Down the secret stairs from Rahadin’s room we tripped a trap and a illusory Strahd came into view, though of course we didn’t realise it was an illusion until we attacked. But past that was a room with seven cups of stones and a white fire in the middle. The text around the brazier suggested that the thing was a teleporter.
I was very keen to use it but others were a little frightened. So instead we explored further corridors off that room. We found a grim looking arena of torture to the south. To the north, we found a corridor and then Godfrey and I fell down a chute. After checking out the bottom I flew back up to the others and told them to come down too. We were stuck inside a half submerged prison cell. We managed to get the door open with group effort and explored the other cells. We found a magic sword in one. Through the doors to the south we heard a man crying out from help and when we found him I realised who he was: Emile, the mate of the werewolf Zuleika. I mentioned Zuleika to him and told him we had been looking for him, if only to reassure him we could be trusted. We broke him out and looked for an exit.
We had a bunch of false starts on the road to exit, with Godfrey triggering multiple chute traps that led to different prison cells. We managed to break him out of all but the final one, so he slit his own throat – the idea being that his spirit will find another corpse to occupy. It was a grim prospect but he did it cheerfully. Despite us all being disturbed, we had to carry on. We walked west and found the terrible arena from before so we went there and triggered the revival of a crowd of zombies. They didn’t last long, happily. We found ourselves back in the teleporter room and on a whim decided to go to the violet location, “mountain spire”.
We found ourselves in an ancient tower in a stormy, snowy pass. Esmerelda informed us it was the Tsolenka Pass. At some point during this time Emile slipped away from us. Hopefully he finds Zuleika. Meanwhile, we went to the top of the tower, where we were met by elemental ice maidens who attacked us. After that, at the bottom of the tower we met the demon goat Sangzor! But he was easy prey for us too. However, the last thing we encountered that day was not easy prey at all. We reached a great gate with green fire dancing in the portal. It was guarded by four stone demons. We gave up and were about to fly away on my four kookaburras, but that attempt to circumvent them the statues sprung to life! The fight was truly brutal as they had many attacks that could poison or paralyze us. But, as always, our teamwork won out. As we left to return to Argynvostholt, we worried about this road… for it is the road up to the Amber Temple, the one we will have to take again surely. What kind of road has these defences? What kind of temple gives sentient evil to a mountain goat?
But another gift was given that night. I felt my power grow stronger and visitors from the fey lands beyond the mortal veil came to me in a vision. They gifted me with new spells, such as the ability to shoot a magic bolt at range, to understand foreign languages, and more importantly the ability to summon fey creatures to my aid. This seemed to convince Marja moreso than before that I am a good ally for her and her environmental cause.
Also, Godfrey found his way back to Argynvostholt… in the body of Blinski. We obviously weren’t happy about this, but what can we do? It’s not like we can be party to his death a third time…
On our third consecutive raid we decided to use the teleporter straight away and go to red for “lore”. Sadly this was not the shortcut we hoped it would be (we were looking for Mad Dog’s Crypt in the hopes we’d find the promise knowledge prophesied within), but instead we found ourselves in Strahd’s library. This was not bad, as I had been there before and so I knew where we were! Going out into the hall we went into one of the great tower staircases of the castle. Little did we know this was the best possible result we could ask for. Above us hung a great, magical heart. We realised what it must be: a regenerative source of Strahd’s health. We attacked.
It tried all it could to throw us off the stairs with earthquakes and magical halberds, but we got to the top (flying aid from kookaburras and my hybrid form was needed to save people from falling to their deaths!) and we cut the heart to ribbons. But as we basked in our triumph (or rather, Ireena wiped copious amounts of thick blood off her) eight vampiric servitors came up after us. That was a tough fight, but we held out against him.
Out the top of the tower we saw open sky and decided to head home for the day as we were badly hurt after the attack of the vampires. But first we had to fend off some undead soldiers. This wasn’t hard, especially when we used gravity as our ally. This time instead of kookaburras I summoned my new pixie friends. Eight of them were enough to polymorph each of my companions into birds. You can’t really request specifics from pixies though, so our higgeldy-piggeldy army made of flamingos, parrots, and me the raven, flew back home with pixie riders.
Everything’s going well. Too well. We had better hurry up, because if we take too much longer, Strahd will strike out against us and destroy more innocent lives to hurt us.
But he will not stop us.