[ this entry is a two-fer, two games in one!]
After a long rest at the inn, we reconvene at the eating area in the inn. The mood is high: word is out that the Burgomeister is no longer in charge, and we get a bit of extra food at our table with a wink. He was not loved. Still, he is rotting in a coffin by now, and looking around the table, I see that some of our group had fitful sleep. Cera looks rough in particular. I would be among them, but to be honest, I’ve spent most of my life in a moral grey zone. I mean, yeah, he’s dead and his wife and son are in jail. Less than ideal. But I think about those kids in those stocks, the willingness to drag those beneath him behind a horse, and I don’t lose sleep.
I think about comforting her, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Too close.
“So. We free them?” Cera says, breaking our silence.
“Yeah. But we have to be careful,” T’homm adds, warningly. “Maybe I can get in good with Fiona. She knows me, and I did her a great service. I could get in.” Risky, but okay. We can check out the guard situations around the prisoners.
The door opens and Mason Mahoney, my friend in the guard, walks in. I stand to greet him with the 5-step handshake I taught him while we searched for that perfect stranger, my friend Rick. To my delight, Mason Mahoney remembers it well. Still, I know the news wouldn’t be good. “I’ve come to offer you a meeting with the Wacher, Lady T’homm,” Mason says. “I will wait to escort you.” From his tone, we have no choice. Still, it went with our plans.
Wacher brings T’homm into another room to chat about a job. I assume it’s for the head of the guard. She emerges, letting us know about it, and about our position… as underlings. A wide grin cracks my face. We’re her lackeys? T’homm? “Fuck yeah, Lady T’homm,” I smirk. Of course I get a weird look from Wacher, but the annoyed one on T’homm was the goal.
We are led to our quarters, T’homm going off to her own. I pick a bed with a clear straight-shot escape route closest to the door, in case we really are staying here. I don’t savor the thought of honest work, but it might be necessary to cement our cover. Gross.
T’homm and Fiona prep for the funeral, and according to her later retelling to us, inquires about her missing daughter and items… like the bones. T’homm gets a medallion of gold later, as well, my fingers itching at the tips at the sight of it. She also holds up a set of keys… useful. The first thing we do is go and release the rest of the prisoners from the stockades where they still resided, Cera using magic to warm them. When we return to the Burgomeister’s house, it gives off the aura of ‘scary sex dungeon’ with the current motif, and I kind of like it. For the dinner, I get bored and challenge Cera to a bread-steal-off. The person to steal the most bread without anybody noticing wins. We end with a tie, a weirded-out Lady Wacher, and an increasingly annoyed T’homm, who calls for rest.
There is a funeral held for the BM, and we see 13 people acting unhappy about the proceedings. We manage to scare a few of them into smiles but they aren’t around afterwards.
And listen, nobody should be surprised when I go and try and make a few quick bucks. Fiona tells T’homm to reprimand me; I try to be sneaky, but when I wink and whisper “reprimand me” at T’homm, there is a sudden moment of silence. Oops. We also happen to scare a poor maid, T’homm paying 5 silver for a 5 copper pastry and demands more. The poor girl… those pastries take three days to make, so we talk T’homm out of it.
We head to chat with the wereravens for a copy of Fiona’s keys, which they say will take two days to make. We also get a wagon, and soup, and make up an excuse to vanish for a couple of days to ‘find Fiona’s daughter.’ The whole village is being searched, and it’s not really a safe place for the girl and Ireena right now. We get to Krezk and meet Dimitri Kreskov, whose ancestors build Kresk. He wants another three barrels of wine, so we head south to the winery. We cleanse the poisoned wine, fix the fermentation vat, and are off with the three barrels.
The village of Kresk appears to be a hippy commune, with no exports or making money. We head to the abbey and wake the guards who are part animal. I trail a string to distract the part-cat. Cera illusions bird chirping to help out. We high-five, and it’s awesome.
Here are screams coming from a shed, but we are told it’s a psych ward. The people here are anti-Strahd, believing that the bride of Strahd can overthrow the curse.
Cal and T’homm decide to visit the psych ward, and see a crazy flesh Gollum to fight. Or so Cera showed me; I don’t deem it necessary to explore an obviously crazy-haunted place, so that little adventure starts off with me saying “I’m good out here.”
They made a beautiful flesh Gollum to confuse Strahd, and ask for a wedding dress so she could be a trap bride. They get her measurements.
We have dinner and go to the barracks next to the haunted hospital of illness. The day before we got here, apparently the Burgomeister’s son died—not our bad! The priest is going to resurrect him. The spell takes an hour and needs a diamond… normally. This version took 10 minutes and no diamond was used. We cast looks at each other.
We head to the local midwife Kitana Dolvy, who needs help delivering a baby. The baby is born without crying… apparently born without a soul. Oh. The son who was resurrected stole the baby’s soul… apparently, Barovia is a closed system.
If we die, our souls are trapped here.
Apparently up to half the people in Barovia suffer from soulessness. Well. That explains why everything is so cheerful around here.
As we start walking back, we notice that Ireena is spellbound, heading to the north of the village, and nothing we can do stops her. I mean, I still slap her to try and wake her up, but mostly because I hardly ever get to slap anybody, and I’m nothing if not opportunistic.
A ghost appears out of a fountain, a boy. “Tatiana!” he cries out. “We’re together at last!”
“Serge!” she calls. Must be some of that recycled souls bullshit. We manage to pull her away, just as thunder rains from the heavens and destroys Serge.
“She is mine!” a deep voice called. Well. Serge tried to take Ireena, and Strahd done fucked him up. Should be fun eventually fighting him.
Cal, Anvyre, and T’homm decide to explore the crazy hospital. Of course, I’m good out here… but Cera and I follow to prank them, making spectral images appear. Other shadows do appear, so the group kicks ass.
After this fun adventure, we go to Lake Baritov to see Rictavio. We manage to spy Von Richen’s tower, which is the most likely place to find him, across a long bridge.
In front of the tower, there is a purple cart. It looks magical, and fun, and we start investigating. The wheels have gold trim, and there’s a sign on the door: “Keep out!!!”
Cal promptly knocks off the lock and the whole things fucking explodes.
We start looking at the tower, me fuming, and see a sign on the door that looks like a bunch of stick figures doing a dance.
Cal promptly touches the fucking door and it electrocutes us, him, and probably Rictavio, if he was in the tower.
I’m going to punch him in the face after this fucking thing.
Turns out it was just telling us to do a dance. Cera completes it, and the door easily opens. Though we’ve been making a lot of noise… and out of the woods, 16 wolves show up. As they approach, a few transform into werewolves.
Fearing for my horse, Moxy, I immediately back her into the tower. This means two things: nobody can now enter the tower… and we are all going to be dead by the time the wolves get to her. Both of these things are find by me.
We scare the wolves with a bit of dancing lights, where Cal, Cera and I shoot stuff to try and heart. Cera keeps causing pile-ups of wolves with force damage, which is ideal. Cal and T’homm race forward to take damage and destroy some wolves. I mostly just insult the living fuck out of them. It seems that the werewolves are not affected by anything not dealing magical damage.
Cal gets bit. Not good. I light up the wolves with fairy fire and Cera beats one the fuck down. As werewolves fall, more take their place, attacking Cal and T’homm. Anvyre bravely runs up to heal our bleeding companions. “I am the alpha wolf!” Cal yells as he hacks down the alpha, attracting more attention to himself.
When Cal gets bit again, he goes down. T’homm risks an attack to revive him, only for him to promptly fall again, causing T’homm to hesitate on healing or fucking up the last wolf. When Cal gets up… he looks… off.
As we catch our breath, suddenly motherfucking Strahd appears from the heavens like a scary lich god. I prepare to fight… and die. No way are we strong enough right now. But he doesn’t attack.
“This group, you are… interesting,” Strahd murmurs, looking us over. “I want it to get a little more interesting.”
A piece of treasure appears at our feet, just for us. And then a pile appears in the center, and we find ourselves forced to take one. Presents? To help kill him? Fine.
I get handcuffs and a bag of tricks, and can’t help wondering what message he is sending to me.
Once the obvious danger is done, I make several attempts to punch a mostly unresponsive Cal and miss horribly with my tiny stick arms. It’s the thought that counts! And the thought is, Cal fucked up. I mean, I fuck up a good amount too, but nobody’s surprised by it. It’s my thing.
We take a short rest and then head into the tower. There are gargoyle statues inside, ready by an elevator, and respond to commands to lift it. T’homm goes up and finds an unconscious and kinda crispy Rictavio, and takes an awfully long time with him. Probably molesting him… girl has issues.
She comes back down, and Anvyre goes to heal him. She talks with him… apparently, the cart Cal destroyed belonged to his friend, Esmerelda. I go up and immediately sell Cal out, and it becomes a good idea to leave.
The group cuts off the heads of a few of the werewolves, and we head off to Villaki, now successful in our attempt to ‘retrieve the keys.’