To a party of seasoned adventurers such as yourselves, what you see is but another dull tavern in another dull town in some nameless province. It is but another span of time between the challenges of true adventuring.
Outside the tavern, a fog lies over the town this evening. The damp, cobbled pavement glistens as the lights of the street lanterns dance across the slick stones. The fog chills the bones and shivers the soul of anyone outside.
Yet inside these tavern walls the food is hearty, and the ale is warm and frothy. A fire blazes in the hearth and the tavern is alive with the tumbling voices of country folk.
Suddenly, the tavern door swings open, and a hush falls over the room. Framed by the lamp-lit fog, a form strides through the doorway. His heavy, booted, footfalls and the jingle of his coins shatter the silence. His brightly colored clothes are draped in loose folds about him, and his hat hangs askew, hiding his eyes in shadows. Without hesitation, he walks up to your table and stands proudly in a wide stance with folded arms.
In an accented voice he says,
"I have been sent to you to deliver this message. If you be creatures of honor, you will come to my master's aid at first light. It is not advisable to travel the Svalich Woods at night!"
He pulls from his tunic a sealed letter, addressed to all of you in beautiful flowing script. He drops the letter on the table.
"Take the west road from here some five hours march down through the Svalich Woods. There you will find my master in Barovia."
Amid the silent stares of the patronage, the gypsy strides to the bar and says to the wary barkeep,
"Fill the glasses, on and all. Their throats are obviously parched."
He drops a purse heavy with gold on the bar. With that, he leaves.
The babble of the tavern voices resumed, although somewhat subdued. The letter is lying before you. The seal is in the shape of a crest you don't recognize.
Feel free to interact as your character would as techinally you all know each other already.
Vasilios looks alternatively at his friends and at the door through which the man just left, surprise reflected on his face.
-Well, have you seen that? He didn't even give us the chance to inquire!
He finishes his wine with exasperation, negating with his head and leaving the envelope untouched while mumbling something about strangers not being polite.
Sheva Callister looks up from her drink and stares at the letter on the table and scoffs at it. She has her hood up as to not disturb the other patrons with the slight glow from her eyes.
Mimicking the stranger's accent, "I'm not afraid of the Svalich Woods! The Svalich Woods should be afraid of me!"
And then she giggles.
She picks up the letter and looks around at the rest of her group.
"Still, he did buy us another round, so perhaps we should at least see what this is about?"
|Rascal "Raz" Stormshadow|
Well, he's buying drinks, the least we can do is hear him out... or read him out loud Vasilios.
Still, it is strange to get a job this way - I mean he didn't even enquire as to our names or identity. Up he comes and looms over us questioning our honour then throws down this letter, Rascal says, picking up the sealed letter waving it about.
Well, lets be having a look at you.
With that he breaks the seal, opens the letter, clears his throat and prepares to read the contents aloud.
"Would that he at least spared a portion of the gold for our pockets!" Galador states. Still, he's not one to look a gift round in the mouth.
"Barkeep! Our generous host hath command glasses filled! Mine appears to be lacking for want of nourishment. Send round young lass with full pitcher and let us see his noble order obeyed!"
The Battlemaster turns to the Sorcerer. "You have the right of that, my brother Vasilios. Who have we impressed, or terrorized, so greatly that they would know to call upon us by sight? There was that travelling merchant in Grunwald, but a little misunderstanding like that hardly counts.
Aye, good Raz. The fair and eternally knowing Sheva has the heart of the matter. Neither woods nor mysterious employer has spookies enough to disway a chance at honest gold. Read on and let us see what the ever-fickle fate has found for us anon!"
Galador stuffs his mug into his freshly filled lethern jack and prepares to do his duty unto the innkeep's stores of ale.
-I guess it counts for him if the misunderstanding involves his young daughter, my friend... but I'm sure you've learnt that lesson well enough- says Vasilios smiling. -In any case, I'm itching to know what's on that letter, and what better way to know than with a full glass at hand to wash my dusty throat?
Taking a drink, "Perhaps it's that Necromancer from Waterdeep again? He seemed to have a flair for the dramatic and remote locales. I still don't think he's forgiven us for destroying his fledgling skeleton army."
"He was in over his head. If you ask me, we did him a favor."
"I ̴sho͡ul͟d̵ have̷ cǫns̡u͏med ̨his̸ ̧so̷ul̢.̵"
She pauses for a moment, blushing.
"Strong ale they have here."
|Rascal "Raz" Stormshadow|
Errr Sheva - you did that thing with your voice again. You know I like you but it's more than a little unsettling, Rascal says, holding out his empty wooden cup for a refill.
"Sorry about that. You know how she gets sometimes."
Looking around, "Has anyone seen Iselle? I could swear she was just here with us."
She checks under the table and then stretches to look around the tavern, "She isn't working, is she? I thought we all agreed to take the night off."
The letter reads thusly, in beautiful script of ink.
Hail to thee of might and valor.
I, a lowly servant of Barovia, send honor to thee. We plead for thy to desperately needed assistance.
The love of my life, Ireena Kolyana, has been afflicted by an evil to deadly that even teh good people of our village cannot protect her. She languishes from her wound, and I would have her saved from this menace.
Ther is much wealth in this community. I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea.
Come quickly, for her time is at hand! All that I have shall be thine!
As Razz finished reading the letter aloud, the barmaid finally makes her way to your table, flashing a smile and filling your glasses to the top. it seems she got a nice tip from the sack of gold.
Iselle keeps her daughter hushed and spooning her soup from the wooden bowl in front of her. Turning her head and grinning at Rascal, "Please Raz, you get unsettled by crookedly turned paintings, remember the mayor's manor with the poltergeist?"
Iselle takes a drink of her freshly filled ale mug and saying, "Well... the messenger questions our honor and the message gives us honor. Still... I don't know that we can cure a wound, but no harm in looking right?"
Galador knocks back his mug with the promised gusto and holds it out for more. "Hey. That poltergeist meant business! I still can't find those pants to this day....
Anyway, I'd not look too hard for offense in such a note. Good sir Indirovich is no doubt in a bit of a state, being all with the desperate an the plea an' stuff.
You've a point, Iselle. We -might- not be able to solve this, what with us not being powerful clerics.
When we get there, we better ask for half up front."
"Ah, the mayor's manor... That was a fun day. Wait -- was that the one we had to burn to the ground, or am I thinking of the brothel that was infested with zombies? As I recall, the zombies weren't even the most disgusting creatures we found in there. They certainly paid us a lot of gold to keep that one quiet though."
Sheva takes another drink. "I think we should investigate this. I like the ale here, but these small towns are starting to all look alike. It's time for another adventure."
Ellyn has been wavering in her seat for the last few minutes, perking up for the messenger's sudden appearence, but has been slowly getting sleepier, and sleepier, and sleepier.
She yawns and leans against her mother Iselle.
She catches herself and sits straight again, obviously trying to not be a burden to her mother, trying to shoulder a bit of responsibility herself.
Unless you want to set out tonight, we can end the day here with you spending the night at the bar/inn. Just post your decision as in characters actions. My usual style for PbP games is to wait for a majority opinion.
Looking at Ellyn, Sheva smiles and whispers, "I think someone's had enough adventure for one day."
To the others, "So maybe we head out in the morning? Five hours march isn't that much, but not everyone has augmented eyesight or darkvision. Besides, one more ale and I'll be nodding off with the kid."
Iselle nods and pulls Ellynn close, smiling a bit and wraps her arm around her young daughters shoulder, "Definitely need to get the little one to bed, I agree with setting out tomorrow morning. Can have a decent breakfast before we go even."
Galador tips back his mug, emptying it of the last drop. Then he sets it back down. Then he brings it back to his mouth, and appears perplexed that there's nothing in it. "Why is the rum gone?"
The mystery left unsolved, he rises unsteadily. "Indeed! Let us to road so we may early be abed the morrow!"
Thus stated, he shakily makes his way to his bed and lands upon with a soft crash.
You all enjoy a warm night at the inn, pondering about the sudden messenger and what may lay before you in the weeks to come.
Early in the morning you all begin to make your way to Barovia. Black pools of water stand like dark mirrors in and around the muddy roadway. Giant trees loom on both sides of the road their branches clawing at the mist.
Its a good five hours of walking, but eventually you spy a village in view. The fog spills out of the forest to swallow up the road behind you. Ahead, jutting from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the road, are high stone buttresses looming gray in the fog. Huge iron gates hang on the stonework. Dew clings with cold tenacity to the rusted bars. Two headless statues of armed guardians flank the gate, their heads now lying among the weeds at their feet. They greet you only with silence.
As you approach, the gates swing open though there isn't a soul in sight.
Sheva pauses to admire the stonework for a moment, while also having a look around.
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
She cautiously summons her pact blade to her side in its usual form of a rapier, just to be ready in case there is immediate danger.
With a slight crackle of energy and flames a weapon of black steel with flame patterns etched into the hilt materializes in her hand and she tucks it into a leather strap on her hip.
Galador strides up to just in front of the gate. He calls out, "Halllooo? Hello? We are but simple travelers. Is...is it okay to enter?"
He leans close to Sheva and whispers, "This ain't Barovia is it? The letter mentioned great wealth, yeah?"
Out of a habit formed from years of being hardened by surprises most lethal, Galador clamps down his helm and unsheathes his sword. "Alright, until we see a friendly face, let's do all we can to NOT look like these two statues here. I mean, who decapitates statues? That's so weird.
Raz, back me up. Sheva, Vasilios, stay behind us. Iselle...just do that thing you do."
Galador stalks forward, eyes roving.
" ... " Sheva tries to reply to Galador, but is overwhelmed.
The scent evokes a sudden sense memory for her -- I'm fifteen again. A green flame flickers. Screams of the Sisters and splinters of wood. Laughing with a mouthful of blood. The screams won't stop.
She stops in her tracks and bows her head.
"T҉h̀e̸ st҉e̶n͜c͝ḩ ̕o͢f Death. S҉o̶ ҉d͜elicio͠u͟s̸."
Sheva immediately begins pacing around looking for the source of the scent.
|Rascal "Raz" Stormshadow|
There is a foul stench in the air as you continue down the road toward the gates. The foul scent leads you to a human corpse half-buried in the underbrush about fifteen feet from the road. The young man appears to be a commoner. His muddy clothes are torn and raked with claw marks. Crows have been at the body, which is surrounded by the paw prints. The man has obviously been dead for several days. He holds a crumpled envelope in one hand.
I don't have that strong a grasp on your daughter's character yet, so if you could include that in your post, that'd be great.
Sheva grimaces at the body. "That's definitely where the smell was coming from."
She kneels down for a moment by the corpse, clutching her symbol of Selûne, and says a brief silent prayer for the unfortunate young man before taking the envelope from his hand.
|Rascal "Raz" Stormshadow|
Made a bit of a mistake. Mean to say the stench that you followed made you go past the gates already. So for all intents and purposes, you guys are in Barovia. My bad
It takes a bit of prying, but Sheva is able to pull the letter from the dead man's firm grasp. The parchment is worn and flimsy. If opened it reads the following.:
Hail thee of might and valor:
I, the Burgomeister of Barovia, send you honor - with despair.
My adopted daughter, the fair Ireena Kolyana, has been these past nights bitten by a vampyr. For over four hundred years, this creature has drained the life blood of my people. Now my dear Ireena languishes and dies from an unholy wound caused by this vile beast. He has become too powerful to conquer.
So I say to you, give us up for dead and encircle this land with the symbols of good. Let holy men call upon their power that the devil may be contained within the walls of weeping Barovia. Leave our sorrows to our graves, and save the world from this evil fate of ours.
There is much wealth entrapped in this community. Return for your reward after we are all departed for a better life.
You all hear the howl of a wolf in the distance.
Sorry I've been silent recently, every time I've tried to make a post it gets eaten and throws up an error, hope this one works.
Iselle stays back for a moment as she kneels down to face level with Ellynn, "Stay right with me Ellynn, and if something happens, find the darkest place and be quiet until its over, just like I taught you, understand?"
Smiling in reassurance as her daughter nods her head, saying, "I know Mama, I hide real good!"
"Well Ellynn, you hide well." Ruffling Ellynn's hair, she turns back and pulls out her shortbow and three arrows (holding the arrows in her off hand ready to go). Her head turning towards the howl of the wolf and says to the group, "We might not have the time to bury anyway, and I don't like being so exposed. Lets keep moving, the dead attract scavengers."
Sheva composes and steels herself. "Vampire... We haven't faced one of those yet."
With a hint of bravado, she flashes a wicked smile. "I suppose it's a good time to start. Lead the way, boys."
When he hears the word 'vampire' Vasilios shivers. Many memories come to mind, and questions without answer overwhelm him.
-Vampires... I've heard they can be dealt with by burning them. Could this be my destiny? Is that why I am here? After all the things I've caused with my fire, is it to be put to good use?
Vasilios shakes his head and carries on walking. The answers to his wonderings, only time will provide.
Tall shapes loom out of the dense fog that surrounds everything. The muddy ground underfoot gives way to slick, wet cobblestones. The tall shapes become recognizable as village dwellings. The windows of each house stare out from pools of blackness. No sound cuts the silence except for mournful sobbing that echoes through the streets from a distance.
There are houses all around you and the street leads further into town.
|Rascal "Raz" Stormshadow|
Sheva slowly looks around as the group walks forward, using her Devil's Sight to see into the blackness.
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
"Shelter sounds like a good idea right now, Raz."
Galador finishes the letter and shouts, "Oh confound! Don't you see?? This letter is by the same person that sent us our letter! This letter says that they -know- they are all going to die! Yet our letter invited us in!
Methinks we are but bait!
Still...mayhap if all are dead then we will have no vampire to contend with. And both letters make mention of great wealth, which is not something I would dismiss too quickly.
I'm for gathering at least the feel of this place before advancing another step. Please indulge my caution.
But for inns and taverns, I would give up all hope. All signs point to this being a community besieged. They are either all dead...or there are a few survivors being hunted by a vampire. Either way, methinks they will not have an ale worth tasting."
Galador goes to the nearest hut. Sword out, he raps on the door a few times. If there is no answer, he enters it, just looking about for it's state before moving on.
Rolling: 1d20 ⇒ 17
Roll the second: 2d4 ⇒ (3, 2) = 5
Galador, out of braveness or reckless behavior, goes up to a door and knocks.
There is no answer.
Upon receiving none, he opens it.
Before you all stand 5 dead humans. The smell of rot hits you, and as you cough and sputter the heads of all five turn to gaze at you with sunken eyes. However, they do not attack.
You could enter the house, attack, or leave and continue down the road.
Wincing from the stench, she mockingly says to Galador, "This is why we don't let you open doors, Imrael. Once again you charge in head first we end up in a room full of zombies!"
Sheva's hand immediately goes the hilt of her demonic blade, ready to draw at a moment's notice, but she does not attack yet, curious as to why these undead do the same.
"They're -- not attacking? I think perhaps we back away quietly for now."
"Something is very strange here, and we shouldn't announce ourselves too loudly until we understand what it is."
As she steps back, Sheva has a horrible thought, "What if this whole place is undead? What in the Nine Hells have we walked into?"
|Rascal "Raz" Stormshadow|
-Zombies not attacking, that's interesting...- says Vasilios full of intrigue. -Shall we dispatch them anyways? I mean, they are abominations to nature anyway, and they could be... I don't know, warning the vampire, maybe?
Galador closes the door and holds it fast. "Aye! Vasilios, you have the right of it, methinks. Make torches and set the hut to blaze. Any abominations in our rear area might leave their home and come upon us later when we expect it not!"
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Sheva secures her lantern to her backpack and readies for action.
"If we're going to take care of those zombies, then we should just do it discreetly."
"B̷u̕r̛͞͝ń̕ ̷i͡t̷͢!̀͘ ͘L͘e͘t̡͜ ͜͡th̴͟͡e̷̕͟r͏̷e̷ ̨̛b͡͞ȩ̕ ̨͏f̷i̵r̛e҉̢!́́"
"Quiet!" Sheva yells to seemingly no one.
Galador nods, still holding desperately to the door's handle. "Alright. Well, if we can gather together some rubbish, we can pile it in front of this door. Then their movement will be impeded and we'll be able to kill them one at a time. I feel confident we should be able to slay them all this way."
Trying to make like a waist-high wall or barrier in front of the door (which I assume opens inward, so we won't be able to block it.) Then we can fire at them from a bottleneck. Also...it seems like we might be able to talk to them? But I wouldn't want to try with some tactical advantage. Does everyone agree? Or do you just want to move on? Also, Sheva, nice use of your alternate voice! =)
Thanks, Galador. :)
"No rubbish here. Let me see if there's anything else we can use."
Sheva scans around the nearest properties for wooden boards, shutters, chairs, benches, farming tools, anything that can be used as a makeshift barrier.
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13
It's odd, not a scrap as far as you can tell. Well...maybe a few scraps of loose stone and debris that litter the road.
From what you can tell, the only way to get a sizable piece of debris to block an entrance even momentarily, you'd have to find some intact piece of furniture which would probably be in another house. As far as you can see, there's nothing suitable to this around in the open.
|Rascal "Raz" Stormshadow|
Are we really doing this? Seriously friends, lets get off the streets and burn the place to the ground in the full light of the sun! Lets find another place to ride out the night until sunset...
Iselle keeps an eye on the street around while the rest of the group argues among themselves, her eyes scanning left and right nervously. "Honestly friends, they are zombies, not exactly the brightest of abominations, take some rope from my pack and tie it tightly to the door, let the zombies trip themselves as they walk out, easy to kill then. Or we just leave and find better shelter, I'm feeling mighty exposed out here."
Iselle plants the three arrows she had in her off hand into the ground for quick retrieval and reaches into her backpack, pulling out the coiled rope and holding it out.