We wake from our slumber at the Abbey of Saint Markovin, or whatever his name was, I usually just make them up. As we settle for breakfast of gruel and wine, a man approaches the group. T’homm looks up from her task of pouring her wine into the gruel and eating it like that. “Hail?” she says.
“Hail. I am Luco, and I have a delivery for the Abbott.” We all stare as the Abbott greets him. He was Barovian, with a grey tint to his skin; a human ranger.
“Here, Abbott.” He gives him a large, seemingly waterproof bag. The Abbott puts it down, and it thuds dully. Ew. “Your delivery.”
Luco turns, fascinated with the elves in our party, and our dwarf. “What are you?” he asks.
“Elves,” Cera shoots back, quickly.
“And I’m a really hot dwarf, 179 years old, about to hit menopause,” T’homm adds out loud.
“What’s your story?” I ask, curious.
“You want to know?” he replies.
“I’m a bard. I like stories,” I say. “Not like I can get much out of these chucklefucks.”
“Hey,” Cera cuts in, offended.
“Well, I can’t say much,” Luco says.
“Blah.” I look around. “Where is Anvyre?”
The group murmurs back concomitantly. I stand and go search for her. She’s not inside. She’s not outside. I frown. Looking up at a sudden commotion, I see Cera striding down the street, past me and to the horses. Alarmed, I jog to catch up. “What’s up, buttercup?”
“Luco said Strahd may have stolen our friend,” she snaps through clenched teeth. “We are picking up the speed to get to his ass.”
Strahd has Anvyre? My blood runs cold. Part thinking about the possible treatment at his hands—she’d saved my life more than a few times, and the thought is not pleasant. But also… Our healer was out of the picture. I’d have to rely on these hooligans to not abandon me if I went down… I felt the pangs of cold sweat in the small of my back. Also not a pleasant thought. These idiots wouldn’t waste the action.
“Hold up.” We pause as Luco jogs up. “Let me join. I, too, have reason to hate and hunt Strahd.”
“Whatever. Buckle up.”
As we head out, it’s not long before we encounter a shadowy figure, ominously looming overhead. Bad timing, dude; Cera is in no mood and automatically fires off a spell. It shoots him from the perch, and he falls; in midair, he turns into a bat. More of his kind are summoned from air and appear to attack.
My hand shoots forward with faerie fire, and Luco takes advantage of that with a fun splintering attack. With a cry, Cera goes balls to the wall, wiping out quite a few bats with a few perfect hits; T’homm follows up with a mighty throw of her hammer. Only a few remain.
“Luco, you want to take on the mangy rats, or should I?” I call out. The remaining few stiffen and fall out as the psychic damage kicks in. I smirk.
Without hesitation, Luco fires at Strahd with his silver-tipped arrows. “I demand an audience!” he shouts.
Strahd swoops down over us in a huge bat form. I know how powerful he is, and it terrifies me, standing there with no healer. Nobody who’s supposed to make sure I get out okay. I freeze, and to my chagrin, I cannot move until Strahd is out of sight.
A quick talk with Luco shows that we know souls get recycled, and some babies are born without souls. Upon that, Luco opens up. “My son was born without a soul,” he says. “I am here to stop it from happening again.”
T’homm looks at me. I’m getting sick of people assuming that simply because there’s a child involved, I’m immediately invested… true though it may be. Not like it makes me trust Luco more.
We find the marsh, having to leave our horses and cart behind. We set up camp in a cottage, cleaning up a bit, and rest it out.
Day 25 (16th day of the lunar cycle)
[Unknown to Gal: during Cal’s watch, about four zombies creep through town, ignoring horses. He lets them pass without comment. Luco sees traces of it in the morning.]
We leave any remaining horses behind and cross a two foot river, though T’homm was less than eager. We see a red light and approach it, finding a person waiting for sneaky people. We approach; he was Muriel Vimshaw, from the town of Berez. He signals he’s a wereraven, and we stay quiet on that front, motioning like Luco shouldn’t see. The town was abandoned. She makes the scarecrows that hunt the wereravens.
We head to what’s left of the town, only bits remaining. T’homm sees stump with the skull of a giant. On either side of the door are two cages full of squawking ravens. We approach without issue, since the noise of the ravens drowns out our footsteps.
Cera reaches out, and one of the cages bursts open with a loud knocking sound. The ravens escape, flying due south. The white noise of the ravens dies down.
The inhabitant notices.
Baba Lysaga springs out of her tree stump home, jumping into the skull and blasting into the air. She casts a poisonous cloud. I panic and run out, finding the edge and emerging. Once I’m out, I see Cera and head to her side, only for us to quickly get surrounded by scarecrows. The swarm of ravens is there, attacking a scarecrow for us.
I see Cal climb the roots of the house to end up inside, trying to taunt the witch into attacking him. There’s a pause as I see Cera fly up and out of this mess, leaving me with a good fuckton of scarecrows. That’s fine, I have my own tricks, and I don’t mind seeing Cera then blast Baba off her skull, starting to fall.
I hear Cal shout, “Hey Lady, is this your baby?”
Wrong thing to say.
My image suddenly pops out of existence and reappears towards the back of the hut, out of the scarecrow’s range. I hear Baba Lysaga scream with rage, threatening Cal so he wouldn’t touch her baby.
Then the roots of the house began to pull from the found, and all hell broke loose.
The house caught Baba, and holds Cal twenty feet off the ground until Cal got out of the grapple. I now see the damage Luco had caused going loco on Baba, and a repeat shows his skill in doing a lot of damage. T’homm is beat up pretty bad, and I see her flee.
When T’homm flees, and Cal is in the midst of doing the same, the job of the bard isn’t to argue. I shatter the scarecrows on my way out and begin running.
I look up to see Cera, enraged and… pushing it. Baba was beyond furious, screaming at us to leave, and Cera wanted to fire off one last shot. I got nothing out as I saw her shoot magic out and then run, taunting her.
T’homm and I run faster. Still, I keep looking back, seeing the story with no ability to change the ending.
Baba Lysaga holding up her hand and pointing
I look back one last time to see the shambling body of Cal stumble to its feet, with the very real notion it was under her control.
I don’t look back again.