Day 14, continued
[ it’s been like 3 weeks since we actually did this campaign, and I can’t remember a damn thing. The overall basic story is the same, but assume more of the embellishments are just coming out of my ass. Thanks!]
With one druid captured, two killed, and a good chunk of needle blights murdered, we decide to leave the unconscious druid with the mage Kasimir and sneak through the area. We find two draft horses, and my eyes light up. Hey, every girl has a weakness, and mine just happens to be for the prettiest ponies, tiny baby cute horsies, yes you are… Ahem. In moving around to the back, we see the empty fields and a door. Going inside the back door reveals a basement with a grape-ton of wine. The label reads Purple Grape Mash #3.
“Oh, this was a lovely year,” I say sarcastically, putting the bottle in my hand back up on a shelf. It does not escape my notice that T’homm and Cera stuff some of the wine in their bags, and I resign myself to clinking companions. Potentially drunk companions, I silently add to myself, seeing another room with a good double dozen of more expensive Red Dragon Crush wines. From Cera’s excitement, this was worth a good ten times more. That finally grabs my attention, and I swipe a wine bottle. Ten gold wasn’t a bad haul. We find more barrels of wine, noting to take them to the Vistani, before we go find his kid. That’ll get us those potions that let us go through the mist, out of this eternally monotone hole.
Fuck. I didn’t want to keep thinking about it, but I was obsessed. I could leave.
We see scratches on a door leading down. We follow it and have to cast light to see, finding a few patches of brown mold keeping the place cold. Nothing to be gained, we head back up. Poking around a bit more, we find fermenting tanks with a huge swarm of ravens. I jokingly salute them. One caws at me. Cal frowns at a door nearby. “Locked,” he announces.
I look up at the ravens, still watching us, and remember the times they’ve been weirdly helpful, and are now just being weird. One caws, and motions upstairs. I head up and see a kitchen, pocketing a few bags of spices. On the road, it went a long way. I guess I’m volunteering for cooking duty the next few nights.
The others explore as well, finding beds with footlockers. Cera discovered and snagged a few Red Dragon Crush labels. I find a small room and discover a footlocker with a chunk of change in it. With a push, I also discover a secret compartment. There is a gold locket with the winery owner’s deceased wife Angelina, and many gemstones. I take a gemstone, twelve gold, and thirty-five silver. It won’t do to take a noticeable amount; this way it won’t get discovered for some time.
I also see on a desk a book. I open it to discover that it’s a list of receipts. Not being able to come up with something significantly less boring, I then close the book again and head back down.
Suddenly there’s a commotion. T’homm has seen a guy who looks terrifying, and who then hops down onto the wine barrels and darts off. T’homm gives chase, crushing a barrel in her pursuit. Cal pursues a bit more gracefully, and both confront Loco. T’homm misty steps in front of him. Loco attempts to steal a horse. Cera, noticing the issue, feather falls down gracefully to help try and get the guy off of the galloping horse… At least, this was relayed to me later, as I am off by myself. I arrive in time to see them beat Loco unconscious and bring back my—the—horse.
The guy had a staff on him, a blight staff, but it sends constant shivers up my spine. It just doesn’t feel… right. It’s evil. Cera seems excited to see it, so I say nothing, but I’m relieved when she goes off to explore on her own. I do the same, though keeping my distance. I’m not one to love being uncomfortable.
Cera comes back frowning. “You know that book?” she says to me.
“Oh. Yeah?” I ask, remembering specifically not having read it. I also inch away. I hate that goddamn staff.
“The receipts include everybody we know of, BV, BW, K, the Vistani… And S,” she says, though glowering at me for avoiding her. “Do you think…?”
“Strahd.” Anvyer is frowning now as well. Nobody has any other ideas.
Okay, so everybody has a hand in helping out corrupt politicians. This surprises me exactly nothing.
“Hey, also I found a key?” Cera says, holding it up.
As a group, we head to the locked door. There’s nothing there. The place is empty. In heading back to the vats, I notice a foul smell coming from the wine. “…poison,” I gag, turning away. We bottle up some of the poison to take with us.
“Oh, hey. One of the druids had some coin on him,” I say, remembering. I give everybody two gold and six silver. Yeah, I keep 4 gold and 11 silver for me, but that’s standard finder’s fee. Plus the red gemstone. Maybe I’ll use some of the gold to make a necklace; I can tell it’s worth at least 50 gold.
After restoring Martikov to his rightful position as winery owner, the wine flow will return to the inn.
Cera approaches me again, but I continue to avoid her as long as she has the staff. Her face twists, and she turns to break it by slamming it on the ground. It screams bloodcurdlingly. “Fine,” she grinds out, walking away. I feel pretty guilty that she destroyed it, but… I can’t help but feel relieved. I’m worried what a thing like that would do to Cera if she attuned to it. Power is never truly free.
As we head back to the Vistani with the wine, we encounter a skeletal rider on a horse, holding a sword made of dark light. We could tell it used to be an adventurer, just like us. It was a fun, sobering experience that left us all a little emotionally scarred.
We get wine to the Vistani, afterward going to Irwin Markitov at the hotel to let him know that wine shipments would resume. He is grateful, and somehow slips that he’s with the Keepers of the feather, the wereraven order who oppose Strahd. We’re just never going to mention we’ve helped him at all.
After a rest, we head to the lake to search for the girl, thinking she might be at the edge of the water. We see a man out on the lake and begin searching. The man stands, lifts a large sack in his hands, and dumps it off the side.
My heart leaps into my throat. The girl.
Both Cal and I take a running leap to the water to jump in and swim, where Anvyer and Cera climb into a boat. They make it there before us and save the girl. The man isn’t moving, but I still want to attack, still hyped up on adrenaline and thinking that he could try and hurt the child again.
For a moment, I raise my arm, preparing shatter as I stare at the man. He’s unmoving, possessed, and in that moment I wonder if he could be a problem for us in the future… My shatter charges. Then my brain catches up with me and reminds me he’s not moving, and that we had the girl. Okay. No murder.
But I would set an infant on fire to get out of here.
We take the man and the girl back to the Vistani. Apparently, the lake had dried up of fish, and the man thought the girl could be the magical sacrifice needed. I kinda want to shatter him all over again, but the Vistani have their own plans. And their own lies.
The potion wasn’t real.
The leader looked me dead in the eyes and said that the potions weren’t for people as strong-willed as us. Then he had to continue staring me in the eyes as my face became hard-set and I refuse to look away. “We will reward you another way,” he tried to wave off, offering us horses even as a I plot to burn this place to the ground.
At least my horse is a piebald gypsy. I call her Moxy, and we go off with her to the inn for breakfast. At the inn, the Keeper hand us a bread basket, with a note at the bottom. “I have travelled to Lake Baritok, I hope to see you soon. –R” Rictavio. I decide that at one point I will definitely help him take down the evil Vistani for the sole purpose of them getting what’s coming to them.
But first, we have to overthrow the government. We trick Isaak to go to the lake at dusk, telling Fiona Wacher the ideal time to get the Burgomeister. We trick him forward by me doing Ireena’s voice and get in a surprise attack. We kill Isaak, but he attempts some kind of magic and blows himself up.
In searching the body, we discover money and keys. His right arm is prosthetic. Curious as to this guy’s life, I cast ‘speak with dead’ and, using the Burgomeister’s voice, ask Isaak about his life.
“I lost arm to dire wolf, nearly died. I was born without a soul, and the only thing that kept me grounded was my sister, who forgot her little head during the attack and ran into the woods. I was teased by kids, and I killed them. I was caught and saved by the Burgomeister, who uses my evil for good. I dream of her… Ireena… My sister.”
“Oooookay and speak with dead over.” That was some incestuous gross tragic backstory. Cera looked conflicted, but I just stood and wiped off my hands. Good enough, we did our shit.
We decided to investigate the Wacher house, nobody but T’homm ever having gone inside. We find a room with a young woman claiming she’s a cat. Her mother is Fiona, and she hates the burgomeister and his son Viktor. As far as I know, she is traumatized by some kind of awful shit, so we decide to take her with us.
In our search, we also find a few shiny things (Cera takes a goblet and a decanter worth quite a bit), and we see Fiona’s dead husband Mikolai in gentle repose, which is the third creepiest thing I’ve experienced today. Amicus, Cera’s dragon thing, finds a key, and we see a chest. It has bones and is lined with lead… whatever is in there, there is a lot of effort in keeping it sealed up and away from resurrection.
We take the box and the girl to the church. Using greater restoration on the girl helps—her name is Stella, and she tells us that Fiona was trying to use her to take over the town. The priest is going to help prevent the bones from being resurrected. Father Lucian agrees to take care of Stella.
After, we head to the mansion. She demands the keys, which are given up awkwardly by Cal. The Burgomeister is dead. We do our part in convincing her not to kill the Baroness… for now. Coups are awkward, and this one is the worst, keeping a straight face when my brain is yelling ‘we kidnapped your daughter!’ But listen, my life is an awkward mess, so we just keep keeping on.