In which all-out war is declared : The Curse of Dirwin: the Outback Druid in Ravenloft, part.12

Day Thirty-Eight

We rose at dawn and packed as much as we could onto the wagon. We returned Hans and Katarina to Vallaki and picked up the wedding dress from the seamstresses. Then we continued to Krezk. All ten of our orphans (Myrtle and Freek, our original orphans, and our would-be werewolves, Magda, Vladislav, Boris, Lavinia, Anton, Ivana, Fatima, and Sergei) our mule Bruce and the wagon, Copernicus the goat, 10 chickens, and all of the toys I had bought for the children, all came to live in this sleepy commune. After delivering the children safely, Donavich took some time out to ward the gates while Ireena and I tried to find the source of the mysterious voice she hears every time we come to Krezk.

All together again at lunch time we decided to go up and deliver the wedding dress ourselves and scope out this Abbot fellow. We went up the hill to the fortified abbey and were greeted at the gates by two shambling figures of mongrelmen, made up of different parts of animals. What the heck was the Abbot up to? They led us through and we found more mongrel men, including one in chains who, when we tried speaking with her, bit Ireena and tried to lap up her blood! We were most disturbed, but then we were called in to meet the Abbot.

He was every bit as beautiful and composed as the last time we had seen him, and greeted us serenely. With him was a beautiful young woman, and I congratulated him on his bride. Oh no, he said, I was mistaken. He was not the groom. Who was, I then asked. Has he not told you, asked the Abbot. A dread fell over me. This quiet young girl was to marry Strahd? I took a closer look at her and that was when I noticed the smallest, most delicate stitchmarks on her wrist. No, no just her wrist. Her whole body. I complemented the Abbot on his workmanship and he tried to pretend I was imagining things. Giving an odd look at Ireena, he led us all in for lunch.

Ireena, Radovan and I tucked into the stew, stupidly. Donavich was the only one to push it aside, and when I noticed, I stopped too, and pushed Ireena’s away from her. It was too late: Radovan slumped in his chair. Oh dear, the Abbot said, I had hoped you would not guess and eat up all the stew so it would knock you out until Strahd arrived. He had guessed at Ireena’s identity and was going to give her to Strahd instead! Instantly we rose to the fight, as groggy as we were. It was to be a difficult fight, we realised, as he stood and revealed his true angelic form! We fought as hard as we could, but in the end he managed to grab the sleeping Radovan and force us to surrender.

He had made several mistakes. One of them was leaving us alone, unharried, for an hour in his dungeons, as it meant we could refresh some of our spent energy should it come to a fight again. The other mistake we had no idea about until our rescuer arrived at the door. Turns out the werewolves north of Krezk had long been aware of the mongrelmen and one had informed Zuleika of our capture. She came to rescue us while her pack created a distraction at the other end of the abbey. I turned into the form of a great prehistoric bear and bashed through the door. There was no time to retrieve our confiscated weapons; Zuleika insisted we follow her at speed to the portal.

The portal! I wasn’t sure I was ready to leave, but to get everyone with me to safety was a tempting idea. We raced down the hill to a placid pool with a gazebo beside it. To our horror, we spotted a red and black dot on the horizon, moving incredibly fast. Strahd. We increased our pace.

As we reached the pool suddenly a vision took a hold of not just Ireena this time, but all of us. Sergei, she cried out. Tatiana, a man’s voice called to her, and a watery hand reached for her. Strahd slammed between them and stared into Ireena’s eyes. She fell into his arms. Dirwin, you have betrayed me, came the dark indictment from the creature of the night. As we raced to attack, he shrugged off our blows, and walked steadily towards the pool. He threw a fireball which burned us all greatly, including Ireena, who looked near death. He carried her into the pool.

A foolish attempt! The pool exploded in fury, flinging Ireena away from Strahd and he, scorched and hideous beyond recognition, flung not far from the ruins of the gazebo, where Radovan had run to hide. The child, face filled with fear, picked up a burning piece of the structure and rammed it straight into the fiend’s chest. He was paralyzed!

Donavich revived the felled Ireena and ran to help Radovan hold the stake, while I was locked in combat with Strahd’s fell steed. The other three tried their best to hold the fiend down while I battled the beast and manage to extinguish its life and flaming mane. But alas, even as I had that minor triumph, the pinned vampire stared into the eyes of Radovan and willed the boy upward. As soon as the stake was out of his heart, he vanished into mist, which flew over the hills.

It was a failure, yes. But to come so tantalizingly close and live to tell the tale? That was a victory in its own way. At least that’s what the watching crowd seemed to agree on. We were taken back to the burgomeister’s and nursed back to health. I sent four giant kookaburras into the evening light. One to Vallaki, informing the priest and burgomeister there that the name Dirwin was now mud to Strahd, and that they should make efforts to protect themselves against any repercussions for our association. The second to the Martikovs of the winery, informing them of the development and their eminent danger. The third giant kookaburra to the tower east of Krezk, hoping it would find its way to Ricktavio to inform him of the open warfare state between the master and me. And the final giant kookaburra to Marja and Word, informing them that now was the time to return and join Public Enemy Number One.


Source: Wizards

Day Thirty-Nine

When we woke it was to find many allies and acquaintances calling on us. First came the Martikovs. They came to say they were moving on and abandoning the winery for now, as they were open allies of mine. Also they told me they believed I would be the one to take Strahd down, and they would help me however they could.

Second came Marja and Word, and thankfully they were ready to pledge fully to our cause. Soon after came the third visitor, and it was a Vistana called Esmerelda, so had found our note intended for Ricktavio. Turns out she is a student of his. She decided to pledge to our cause too, though she seems a little bit more likely to rebel against our group consensus should we come to a disagreement. Fourth came Madame Eva and the Vistani! This was completely unexpected. She spoke to me and told me about the Amber Temple far in the mountains to the south. She said it was the source of Strahd’s power, as well as her own. I also theorize it may have been the source of Izek’s power too. She seemed angry at me when I tried to say that I would try and defeat Strahd without compromising with evil. And finally Zuleika and her pack had come to join us. She was perhaps a little ashamed of running away from the confrontation with Strahd, but I told her I understood and that her rescue had been invaluable to us.

With everyone assembled, Donavich whipped up a crowd with a powerful speech against the Abbot. I could finally understand why he would become a priest. I had seen his faith in action, but now I was finally seeing his public speaking in action. He told them of the mongrelmen and of the flesh golem he had made of the body parts of their dead daughters. He told them that the Abbot was a fallen angel who was happy to compromise with Strahd for convenience. Soon the crowd was whipped up and we went up, Krezk inhabitants, lycanthropes, and my party.

While the small army of ours faced the mongrelmen the Abbot placed in his courtyard, we ran into the abbey to find our confiscated weapons. Unfortunately this was a real struggle for us, as we had to wade through room after room, fighting off mongrels and shadows in our search. In the end we had to bust straight into the dining room where the Abbot and his terrible bride were. Ireena and Radovan slipped away and found the weapons in the room underneath, returning to join the fight upstairs. This time, with our additional allies, we had the angel on the ropes. The hideous bride was a great brute and tore a couple of commoners limb from limb, but we stirred her into such a frenzy that what ended up happening was she dealt the final blow to her creator. But we were able to put her down too.

A well earned rest in Krezk that night as we recovered and made our plans. Tomorrow, to Castle Ravenloft.

Day Forty

What a terrible idea! We left Krezk at dawn and went straight to the Castle. We faced great skirmishes – wolves at the gates harried us, and then wights in the courtyard put a mighty dent in our morale. But the final straw was the four dragon statues in the hallway. We nearly died in there. We ran for it, flying on summoned giant kookaburras all the way back to the windmill. After a short rest there we carried on to our secret lair were we spent a night argumentatively. I had to speak sternly and with conviction to end the bitter conversations. Tomorrow, we take on the Dead Dragon’s Lair.


Source: Wizards

Day Forty-One

We arrived at mid morning at Dead Dragon’s Lair or as we later learned to call it, Argynvostholt. The ancient defense of a dragon statue breathed a gentle cooling breeze on us rather than the intended attack. We entered the ruins of the grand old keep.

It was a sad sight within of former glory now crumbled. We went upstairs and in a room found a hearth from which a small, ashy dragon burst. It flew through the rooms and led us to a dark ghostly knight. His name was Vladimir and he stopped us. He spoke in long dead voice of his vow to see Strahd punished… and that he would stop any who tried to end Strahd’s punishment. I argued that Strahd’s punishment was punishing more than just the vampire. The knight did not care. Since neither of us would budge from our moral positions, it was a fight. He called out six of his phantom order and attacked. We prevailed, though it was hard won. We considered stealing his armour and sword, but his spirit would chase us across Barovia if we did, so we decided against it – at least until we put his spirit to rest.

We met two people in here who did not attack us: an injured dusk elf called Savid who had come looking for a missing person. We healed his leg and promised to help him back home once we were done here. Also we met Godfrey, once the lover of Vladimir, the only undead knight who did not attack us. We begged him to join us, sure that he was the ally that Madame Eva had spoken of in her tarroka card reading she gave me. He said he could only do that once the spirits of Argynvostholt were put to rest.

Also we saw a strange sight – a man rushed into the courtyard, and delivered a coffin. We went down to look, and the name on it was “Radovan”. We were all frightened, but to alleviate the mood I pushed Radovan so he almost fell in. But seriously, that’s something to investigate when we get back to Vallaki. Could it be our old friend the coffinmaker?

As we explored more of the complex we fought more spectral knights and phantoms, all of the order of the silver dragon whose likeness covered many surfaces in the form of art. We also saw more illusory dragons in hearths and heard ghostly voices which spun for us a tale. I will tell it plainly, though we learned in bits and pieces from spirits, voices, letters and paintings. This ruin was once the home of the order of the silver dragon Argynvost, who lived and fought amongst his disciples. They fell four hundred years ago when Strahd’s armies descended upon Barovia. His skull was taken and kept in Castle Ravenloft. If we can find it and restore it to this place, three things will happen: the restless dead here will be able to finally settle; Godfrey will join us in our cause; and the light of Argynvost will shine as a beacon over Barovia as a symbol of hope. We were in truth bitterly disappointed that we would have to return to Ravenloft without a powerful ally, in order to earn the trust of that same ally! But we managed to clear the ruin out and map its known rooms.

We returned Savid to his people outside of Vallaki and the leader of the dusk elves, camped with the Vistani on the outskirts there, asked us to take him to Amber Temple when we go. His sister had been killed by Strahd, and he wanted vengeance. Any ally is welcome!

We returned to our lair to rest our very weary bodies. Tomorrow we think we will seek out Ricktavio before we decide what to do next.

Ch-ch-changes: The Curse of Dirwin: the Outback Druid in Ravenloft, part.11

Day Twenty-Four to Twenty-Seven

Finally we made our way to the orphanage with the kids, after having dragged them around the countryside for the last three days. Whilst Donavich set to warding the grounds with glyphs, the rest of us worked on the mill. Unfortunately we did not make great profit this time.

Day Twenty-Eight

We went back to Krezk as that seemed to be the crux of many of our leads. But when we arrived we met with an expedition being planned. Turns out the Abbot’s miracle was not for free; he had asked the townsfolk for a wedding dress of all things. We got all the details and said to the retiring folk of Krezk that we’d take the mission for them instead.

We stopped in Vallaki to find a seamstress. The news was dire… if we used only one seamstress the dress would take over a month! This was unacceptable, so we hired all the seamstresses to work on it together with urgency. It cost a pretty penny, but it should be done in ten days. With nothing else to do, we thought it best to go back to the mill and try and make a profit again.

With all this talk of wedding dresses going on, Ireena had a vision of something, blood on white, she’s not quite sure.

Day Twenty-Nine  to  Thirty-Five

Work continues quietly at the mill. Still not cutting a profit. May need to rethink business strategy. Missive arrived from Strahd – desires my company for dinner once more.

Day Thirty-Six

Dinner with Strahd turned nasty, though not as nasty as it might have, realistically. It turns out the druids and the werewolves were servants of his, and he was quite angry at me for destroying them. Also he demanded I bring Ireena, Donavich and Radovan with me next time, and that I return the Sun Sword as it belongs to him. I left the castle with one certainty in my mind – the next time I visit that castle, I will not be a dinner guest.

I immediately called the others to me on returning and discussed what had befallen me. We agreed we had to close down the orphanage and abandon the mill for the time being. We cast out minds about for places we could go, and where we could take the children. We knew Krezk would take the children, but what of us? Ireena suggested we investigate the locked trap door in the woods.

I summoned burrowing bettongs and we dug around the trap door until we had made a serviceable entrance. When we stepped in I noticed some oddities. The tunnel was far more ancient than the bodies buried in it. And those bodies were rising now. We had enough time to step into formation, and I summoned two octopi to aid us. Once enough zombies had swarmed us, Donavich cast some almighty clerical spell that seemed to burn through a good half of the crowd. We noticed three sneaky wights around the edges and started gunning for them. It wasn’t too hard for us to make it through the fight relatively unscathed.


Source: Final Fantasy VI

After fighting that horde we found a door guarded by anti-vampire magic, and beyond it chambers protected from scrying! It was perfect, and we thanked whoever our morbid, long-gone benefactor was. The chambers, with a little servicing, will be perfect for us to use as a base camp as we continue to plan our campaign against Strahd.  Within we also found an unfinished magical item – a wooden stake.

Day Thirty-Seven

The next day we had much work ahead of us. Donavich cast spells so that we might question one of the wights who attacked us yesterday. We learnt that it’s master was someone called Dilisnya, a name which Ireena and Donavich vaguely recalled but could say nothing specific of. Dilisnya had left to ‘find a new home’, according to the wight, whatever that may have meant. We asked how Dilisnya had planned to take on Strahd, and the wight said Strahd’s weakness, his arrogance.

After finding the spare key to the trap door, I summoned more burrowing bettongs to restore the entrance, and also to dig a pit to bury the undead in. I restored the greenery around the entrance again. While Ireena and Radovan cleaned the living quarters out, Donavich cast more warding glyphs around the place. It is ready for living, once we return.

On returning to the windmill we had to give the inhabitants the sad news, that we would be closing the orphanage for the foreseeable future. As we spent out last night as one big family, I spared some time to send raven messengers to Marja and Martikov, informing them of the changes to our plans and my fall from grace with Strahd.

So many changes, so quickly. Was I a fool to think I could make one nice place or hope and light in this dingy, nasty land?


Grapes of Wrath: The Curse of Dirwin: the Outback Druid in Ravenloft, part.9

Day Twenty-One Continued

Arriving in Krezk, we learned that the wagon had arrived safely and met up with the
Martikovs again. Krezk was quite different from what I expected on the inside. Actually
I quite liked it. It seemed to be a bit of a commune type place. However there was the
disturbing spectre of the ‘Abbott’ of Krezk looming over the place. Ireena said she
could hear ‘a voice’. After lunch with the burgomeister and his wife (recently bereaved
of their fourth child!) and learning that none of the children we rescued were from
Krezk, we returned to the vineyard for the night. We did our best to entertain the
kidnapped children with stories, cuddles and animal rides.

Day Twenty-Two

The next day we left the children in the care of the Martikovs. while Ireena, Donavich
and I strode forth to check out the druids’ hill. It was an hour and a half’s walk down
there, and we ran into some scouts we knew from Vallaki who were going there too. Turns out people from Vallaki had been disappearing, and these scouts had tracked them down to here. We resolved to work together and snuck up on the hill.

However, just as we were about to leave the safety of the tree line, we saw terrible
sight upon terrible sight! First, we saw a dark object speeding towards the hill. It was
Strahd, in broad daylight, upon his nightmarish steed! He alighted upon the hill where
he stared into the wall of mist to the west. This kicked the druids there into a frenzy
of activity, hoping to impress the one they worshipped. They took the kidnapped
Vallakians and chained them to a statue, a hideous mockery of a tree. We could only
watch in horror as they slew each of the prisoners, letting their blood flow and
activate a crystal in the heart of the statue. Soon it stood of its own power and began
to stomp down the hill towards us!

We ran to the side as it came crashing through the forest, heading in a straight line
for the vineyard! We charged after it, and finally some distance from the hill managed
to catch up to it and begin the onslaught. Though we finished it off in a flurry of
blows, nevertheless it managed to outright kill two of the scouts. Immediately after the
battle we bid farewell to their living comrades and ran back to take on the druids while
they were unawares, but first we retrieved the crystal from its core – it was the magic
gem of the Purple Grape Mash Vine!

When we arrived at the hill again we sent flocks of ravens forward first to harry the
inhabitants. Many were taking a midday nap and so we caught them quite unprepared. We focused on taking out all the spellcasters first, which we managed to do before any of
them knew what was happening. However, numbers were still very much against us. We faced down many blights and a handful of brutal warriors. Donavich fell in combat, then
revived to shoot off another spell, only to go down again. I then revived him once more
and he was back at it again. Ireena was near fainting when the battle was through, but
she had carved out the lion’s share of damage with her Sun Sword. I was unhurt, as I had hid most of the battle in order to keep concentration on my raven swarms.

Source: Huffington Post/Amir Hariri


After the battle we sent for aid from the Martikovs. Though the hill was clear and we
were safe now, we wanted an escort home as we were all out of healing spells for the
day. While we were there though, we discovered the tree that was the source of all
blights in the land. We chopped it down with a well-designed axe that some poor
adventurer before us had used, and been killed in the process. We had to rip it out from
the roots, but some horsepower helped there. Also we found a sentient magical spear, and though it is a bit bloodthirsty, Donavich wields it for now. The axe I have given to
Radovan, who was most peeved at missing out on today’s adventure.

Back at the vineyard, we replanted the crystal in the Purple Grape Mash field, and a
modest party was held. Tomorrow we must return to the mill and take these children there for safekeeping. Also, Donavich has had some good ideas for protective spells to cast on the mill. Finally, one very interesting occurence: the Martikovs have offered me
lycanthropy as a rewward once I take on the witch in the ruins of Berez. A tempting

Werewolves not swearwolves: The Curse of Dirwin: the Outback Druid in Ravenloft, part.8

Day Twenty Continued

We helped the Matakovs clean up the mess we had made of the vineyard. I noticed that the vines were looking very unhealthy, dying even. I asked Stefania Matakov and she told me everything I needed to know. There had been a Wizard of Wines, a long time ago, and he had put three magic stones in the fields, each correlating to a different variety of grape. That was what made their wines so good. The first had been stolen years ago. The second had been stolen by these druids, who came from a cult down south. The third had been stolen by the scarecrow henchmen of a witch who lives in the ruins of Berez. As we escorted the vintners’ wagon to Vallaki we were attacked by the emissaries of both! But otherwise we had a peaceful night there.

Day Twenty-One

We got up to go to Krezk with the vintners’ wagon but alas, we were attacked on the road by six werewolves! Just like the ones I originally encountered in Daggerford, they were here for one purpose: to kidnap children! And that they did, running off with Radovan despite all of us fighting tooth and nail. 

Ireena, Donavich and I abandoned the vintners to their rounds and tracked the beasts to their lair. With the help of a rat I was able to find a secret entrance. Taking that, we skulked into the lair. It was a large complex of chambers, and the beasts far outnumbered us, so for now we decided that stealth was the best option. I left Ireena and Donavich in a safe hidden spot and went further in the form of a rat. A hunting party left the main hall and I snuck in. There was but one woman left alone, and she praying with her back to me, while there were eight children and Radovan locked in cages in the middle of the room. Transforming as silently as I could, I knocked the woman unconscious, though not before hearing her fervent prayer that the gods save her beloved from Strahd. A mystery for another day perhaps. Quickly as we could, and as quietly, the three of us got the children out though the secret door and on to my summoned band of horses.


Source unknown (Pinterest)

And we’re back! : The Curse of Dirwin: the Outback Druid in Ravenloft, part.7

Finally, after a break that seemed to last forever, though it was very fun, we’re back in business. It was a shorter session than most as James is recovering from illness, but he managed to keep up enough energy to run this much…

Day Nineteen

After a few days of milling, we returned to Vallaki not only with a cart of fine white flour, but several baked goods that Ireena and Katarina have put together. Everything was so popular that we soon sold out and made a killing in profits! An unexpected success in our first business venture.

Perhaps what helped us was the fact that it was election day in Vallaki. Everything went very well and I didn’t need to summon any ravens, thank goodness. But that night I had to visit Strahd again. We had a pleasant dinner and I gave him the bestiary which I had finally managed to finish in the peaceful last few days.

He had some unexpected news for me: he plans to leave Barovia and wishes me to become the master of the land. I felt many strange feelings at that moment, but happily I can say, I felt, and still feel, no real ambition to such a station. However, I am all about making people’s lives better, so I decided to say I would try to help him. He suspects there may be a clue in Kresk as to how he can escape this land. It turns out he too is a prisoner here. When I went home and told the others of this strange conversation, Radovan raised a very interesting question: if Strahd is imprisoned here too, then who is the jailer?

Some time before dawn– I was just finishing my diary entry when suddenly I heard a noise from the next room. It was Ireena, who woke with a fright. She had a dream about Sir again. She tells me we have to go to Kresk next. Good, I was hoping we’d head that way soon. There was a moment between us… perhaps I’m reading too much into it. We had better get back into action. There are many problems in this land and Strahd certainly isn’t stopping to fix up a jolly little farm for himself… so I had best watch myself…

Day Twenty

We headed towards Kresk and found soon that we were followed by a mass of wolves, and yet they weren’t attacking. I spoke to them to get a gauge on them. Strahd had told them I am not to be eaten. Also he had told them to look for a woman travelling alone. So Strahd doesn’t know about Ireena yet. Good thing we’ve been using herbal concoctions to disguise her scent too.

We arrived at Kresk but not to a happy reception. Turns out the village doesn’t like adventurers… or at least, not while they don’t have wine to entertain with! So since the Wizards of Wines weren’t too far off, and we had been asked to check them out a few weeks ago, we went south.

When we got to the vineyard we got pulled aside by the family who live there, who were hiding just off the road. Turns out it is a branch of the Matakov family! They had been evicted from their house by evil druids. I took the patriarch aside and told him the bad news about the Vallaki branch of the family. He was much upset. I promised to save his vineyard from the evil druids.

We went up to scope it out, but suddenly we aroused the attention of their Needle Blight watchers! We made a dash for the vat barn, and barricaded the door behind us. There was a druid in there and she was poisoning the wine. I summoned ravens, and these were joined by natural ravens in the barn. They too were sick and tired of the invaders. Soon it was a mess – after that first druid went down, another came, and then another! Needle Blights, Twig Blights and then finally Vine Blights crashed against us in waves. We didn’t quite get to interrogate the druids as they went down in the hectic battle. Soon it was just us in the barn left alive, and a few of the ravens, absolutely flabbergasted by the fast-paced doom we had wrought on the invaders.


Source: Final Fantasy XIII

A musical interlude

James and I are going to be in a play next week (facebook event here, if you live in Auckland NZ: so part 6 was probably the last installment of Curse of Dirwin for a little bit. Sadness!! I’m already missing Ravenloft so much…

Anyway, I thought I’d share our Ravenloft playlist with you. It’s pretty small at the moment, so please, if you have more suggestions for fun and/or atmospheric music for our campaign, leave a comment.

The number one most listened to thing at our table is Queen. Especially “Don’t Stop Me Now”. It’s become my theme song for Dirwin when I’m kicking butt vs. witches, wolves, etc. But we listen to lots more Queen too – “Another One Bites The Dust” is especially topical vs. vampires.

Second most listened to is the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. My favourite track from this is “There’s a Light (Over at the Frankenstein Place)”. This is definitely a good one when I’m on my way to Strahd’s castle and trying to pretend like I’m not frightened like a little girl.

Another favourite is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand”. Obviously this one came to mind when we were dealing with Izek the demon-armed dude.

Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch” is a really good one, obviously vs. witches, but also was relevant that time Lady Wachtir tried to execute the burgomeister and family.

Also vs. witches, for some reason we were listening to The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” when taking on Old Bonegrinder for the first time. Dunno why, but it’s a good, chirpy song for a fight scene.

One that has recently come into our playlist is the very atmospheric “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus. Obvious application with that one…

And finally here are three joke tunes we occasionally play:

Crocodile Rock, Elton John

The Theme Tune to Skippy

The Monster Mash

So let us know below if you can think of any more songs we can add to our playlist when we resume the Curse of Dirwin (hopefully on the 7th of June!!)

Settlers of Barovia: The Curse of Dirwin: the Outback Druid in Ravenloft, part.6

Day Ten Continued…

We returned to Vallaki for safety’s sake that night, taking the children with us. While in town we had several goals. One of my first was to commission toys for my orphanage from our toymaker Blinski. He started making a rocking roo, and has plans to make the biggest doll house you’ve ever seen. We bought a mule, who we called Bruce, hired a cart, and bought some carpenter’s tools and supplies. And then we went and found us the two hunters from the other day as guards, an architect, a carpenter, nine labourers, and a nanny/cook, a kindly old woman called Katarina.

Day Eleven

We left at first light and arrived back at Raven Mill to a terrible sight. All our chickens were dead and something had attacked them and the mill. It appeared to be old Spiky. We resolved to hunt him down while the labourers got down to their work and built their dormitory.

We tracked him into the forest only to find ourselves ambushed by Spiky and Lady Wachtir’s imp. Despite the hideous spikes we recognised the spiky demon instantly – it was Izek, somehow. He attacked and just like last time picked up Ireena and ran. But he and his accomplice did not know of my secret weapon – swarms of ravens. They were harried by them and we managed to catch up. We freed Ireena, made short work of the imp and then focussed on Izek. Once we had killed him he incinerated and we collected his ashes. Had his demonic pact been the cause of his transformation post-death? Would we ever know?

That being done we returned to Raven Mill and Donavich and I begun our task for the day, which was digging a pond for our resident toads. My wombats did the trick with digging and Donavich created the water through his spells. We dumped Izek’s ashes within. That evening the dormitory was finished, which we were all most relieved about!

Day Twelve

As the workers began on fixing up the windmill into a livable structure, Ireena and I went back into town. We heard that elections would in a week’s time, and that the priest had been warned by an emissary of Strahd not to stuff this up. We dropped off the wagon we had hired and got more supplies – including ten chickens and a goat called Copernicus – then went back to the mill.

That night I went to dinner with Strahd. He did not try and press me about Ireena this time, happily. We talked of business and of my conquest of the mill. Then we went running as wolves. He showed me a most disturbing sight. He had wiped out the secret camp of the wereravens. I had to hold my face still and watch as wolves devoured the bodies of the Matakov family, my allies. Vengeance will come.

Day Thirteen

We went back into town to pick up the rocking roo, and not only that, but we bought every toy Blinski had in stock. I figure it’s only fair since we had killed his most prolific customer…We went back to the mill where the mechanics of the mill had been fixed. Tomorrow we will fix the vanes and know whether we can use this mill for its intended purpose. I bought some wheat in town just to test it out.

Day Fourteen

A quiet day at the mill as the workers constructed the vanes. The only things out of the ordinary were that they found a lock attached to the ground in the forest (what could that lead to?) and that Copernicus’s milk was curdling. Donavich worked out the cause, and we removed the ashes from the pond – we would have to take them to hallowed ground.

Late afternoon the vanes were finished. I made a gust of wind and we found the mill to be fully functional! That night for supper cook made us fresh bread.

Day Fifteen

As the team made a wagon for us Donavich, Ireena and I went down to Vallaki again for a two-fold purpose. First to bring back Hans, Katarina’s husband with us. He would be our maintenance man at the mill long-term, and as a veteran guard hopefully good enough to help defend the mill should it come under attack. The second purpose was of course to ask the priest to put the ashes of Izek in the vault. But as soon as we entered the hallowed ground of the church the ashes burst into flame and vanished. The bones of Saint Andril saw to that.




Day Sixteen

Today the fences were completed and the work complete. My mill/orphanage/home is complete. We left behind Hans, Katarina, Freek and Myrtle and took the hired workers back to Vallaki. We threw one last big party all together, with their families, in the inn. They were a good team, and I’m grateful to them for all the work they’ve done. We’re sleeping at the inn tonight – tomorrow we head back to the mill with our cart full of grain to grind.