The party approach, now a mix of ten people, approach the gates of Vallaki. The ten people are Brume, Bogdan, Tamar, Clementine, Zach, Zach’s three retainers, Ireena, and Ismark.
Before approaching too close, Brume gives a gift to Bogdan; a pair of fingerless gloves with Continual Flame cast upon them. Brume says this is a repayment for using Bogdan’s Scroll of Remove Curse, and hopes that the gloves will be both useful and cool, since they provide light and will likely make enemies think Bogdan’s fists are literally on fire.
The fortified town is surrounded by a 20’ tall wooden palisade, the tops carved into points. Walkways behind the palisade are evident by guards patrolling on the walls. Sturdy iron gates block the dirt road from proceeding further into the town, and planted into the ground around the gates and road are wolves’ heads mounted on pikes.
Two guards, a man and woman, are behind the locked gates. The man demands that everyone who would enter must first lower their hoods and bear their heads; helmets and hoods are not allowed while entering Vallaki. “Won’t any vampires sneak in on our watch”, the guard tells them. He also asks their business while the party lower hoods, remove helmets, and follow the guards instructions.
The party state they’ve traveled from Little Barovia, and are wanting to find a safer place to live. Vallaki seems to be the best place. (NOTE: Not entirely sure what the party said, kind of winging this)
While most of the party is human, some are not. Brume can pass as one if there’s not much scrutiny, but Tamar and Clementine have some obvious half-elven features. Tamar manages to hide her ears behind her hair, but the male guard notices Clementine’s pointed ears. The male guard calls out to her, telling her she should take her friends to the Blue Water Inn past the center of town. There’s already a “slant-ear” hanging out there so she’ll feel at home there, and proceeds to open the large gates.
The female guard, upon notices the symbols of The Morninglord being worn by Brume, tells him that he might wish to visit Saint Andral’s Church on the far side of town. She also tells him that if he needs supplies, he should look to Arasek Stockyard for those.
The party enter Vallaki through the now-open gates and head towards the Arasek Stockyard. There, they meet the owners, Yelena and Gunther Arasek. Yelena tries hard to convince Zach to rent one or more storage units (playing upon his lower intelligence and vanity), and ends up making a deal with him; he gets a discount on his purchase today, but has to agree to rent a storage unit for 25g/month by end of the week. The party guy a few supplies and continue along the main thoroughfare through the town.
They come across the town square. Limp and tattered garlands decorate the homes and shops, and small painted boxes of dead flowers are mounted on the sides of many buildings. There’s are several proclamations posted for “The Wolf’s Head Jamboree” being taken down, while signs for “The Festival of the Blazing Sun” are being put up. The signs all say ‘attendance required, rain or shine’ and ‘all will be well’ upon them; they are being replaced by town guards, who are in turn directed by a very large man, Izek Strazni.
Izek is the right-hand man of Baron Vargas Vallakovich, the burgomaster of Vallaki. Izek has a monstrous right arm, demonic in appearance and clearly not human as it is capped with fingers and claws more appropriate to a monster than a man. Zach, seeing a man clearly larger than him, feels his testosterone rise up and saunts over, intending to show off his own muscles and large greatsword to Izek, who wield a similarly sized axe. Izek, unimpressed, uses his one monstrous arm and traps Zach’s sword in its sheathe, and with barely a grunt shoves Zach backwards with the sole arm. He tells the smaller Zach that he looks like a troublemaker, and the Baron likes to keep tabs on those types. Zach should report to the Baron’s residence int he morning. It didn’t feel like a request so much as an order, to be honest.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party were drawn more to noticing the three men, two women, and two boys locked into three sets of stocks at the North end of the square. Each stock is locked with a heavy iron lock, and each criminal locked up is wearing a plaster donkey head.
Tamar, asking some local children, find out that the people are punished cause they weren’t happy enough. The small child she asks proudly recites “maliciousness unhappiness” as the cause of their arrest, with only a few stutters. Tamar also has some long deep philosophical conversations with other kids. Her DM forgets the conversations. It’s okay, though, cause ALL WILL BE WELL. The party has a few grumbles about the state of the tired, wet people locked in the stocks, but they choose to not cause a scene and leave, headed towards the inn further into the city.
The Blue Water Inn has quite a crowd, several drinking and several listening to the other “slant-ear” in town,
Rictavio. Rictavio is a half-elf bard, and is entertaining people with impossible stories. He tells of a singing, man-eating plant that seems utter ridiculous, but he swears it is true. Before that he told of a previous companion in his circus acts, a female orc who could chew through thick iron chains with nothing but her teeth.
At a table away from Rictavio, three younger men sat and drank. The three, Vaz Vizorach and Nikolai and Karl Wachter) invite some of the party over. Tamar hangs back to listen to Rictavio, but most of the rest of the party go, including Ireena and Ismark, who try to remain mostly silent.
The three young men love to drink, talk, and cause mischief. The sons of nobles, bother powerful and minor, they have little else to do. While talking, Vaz realizes how much adventure and danger the party has seen, and becomes enamored of the stories. Its clear he’s envious of the adventurer’s life, and wants to “kill some bandits” himself. It’s revealed that the Wachter family is extremely rich and powerful, and basically are vying with the Baron’s Vallakovich family for most powerful in the city.
Bogdan is feeling the mischief synergy, because he uses some Ki to make Zach’s sword “talk” with a convincing illusion effect. The Paladin becomes immediately convinced that Buster, his so-large-it’s-compensating-for-something greatsword, is in fact magical.
Karl, having been drinking too much and indulging a bad idea, distracts Zach and tries to steal the “magical sword”. Zach trips him before he gets far and intimidates him, so that Karl runs away in fear. Nikolai apologizes for his brother’s behavior, and leaves to see to him and make sure he doesn’t anything foolish to himself or others.
Brume goes to talk to the innkeeper, Urwin Martikov, and arranges food and loding. He passes over the cheaper fare (boiled root veggie stew and Purple Grapemash No. 3), and opts for the better food (wolf steaks and Red Dragon Crush, a higher quality wine). He noticed that the wine barrels behind the bar were both blazoned with the same brand for “The Wizard of Wines”. He also gets three rooms with a total of ten beds put in them for everyone to sleep for the night. He starts to indicate that Ismark and Ireena were looking for safe homes, but Ismark cuts him off, keeping the Cleric from potentially saying too much to a stranger they don’t know yet.
Brume and Bogdan briefly consider going for a late-night mission to unlock the people in the stocks, but decide it would lead to punishment as they weren’t sure where to hide the people they’d free, nor why anyone wouldn’t automatically suspect the newcomers who just walked through. Instead, the party discusses what to do about Ireena and Ismark. Brume is of the mind that they’ve completed their task; the two are in Vallaki and safe, and have lodging for the night. Tamar suggests that the party (sans the two Little Barovians) scout aroud the city tomorrow and get a better feel for things. This way, they can suggest a more permanent solution. The party agrees, and goes to sleep. The next morning they pay for another day and night’s worth of lodging to be sure, before heading out to explore.
Their first destination is Saint Andral’s Church, on the far West side of town. There, they meet Father Lucian Petrovich, who is cleaning up the church. <<<some>>> After a quick talk, Father Petrovich takes Brume aside. Noticing the Cleric is a devout of The Morninglord, he asks Brume to do him a favor. The church has recently been vandalized, and a holy artifact was stolen — the bones of Saint Andral himself. The Father wants Brume to help track them down and return them.
Father Petrovich says they should start by asking Yeska, a young altar boy. Petrovich had told Yeska about the bones a few days prior, to put the boy at ease when he had nightmares of monsters coming into the church. Investigating, the party found out that Yeska in turn told Milivoj, the groundskeeper and gravedigger.
Milivoj is outside in the ground, a muscular sullen young man who packs his shovel around on his shoulder. He doesn’t agree with the Baron’s “All Will Be Well” mantra. Brume finally intimidates him, with a little bit of deceit, into admitting his act in the theft. Milivoj had told Henrik van der Voort, the local coffin maker, about the bones. A day later, Henrik had paid Milivoj a lot of gold to dig them up and bring them to him. Milivoj accepted, because needed the gold to help feed him and his family, especially his younger sister.
The adventurers go to visit Henrik at his shop. Knocking on the door yields no results, as the man inside yells “I’m closed.”. More knocking, and shouting through the locked door only lead to more and more panicked shouts of “GO AWAY!” from inside. Bogdan tries to pick the lock to the door but doesn’t get it open fast enough, so Zach kicks in the door, bashing it nearly off the hinges in his haste to get inside.
They question Henrik and find out that the coffin maker has the bones upstairs. He claims it’s not really his fault, however, as they made him do it. It turns out they are vampire spawn who’ve been living in his storage area upstairs. Henrik is clearly scared.
Bogdan sneaks up the stairs and uses his Ki powers to cast silence. He sneaks through the kitchen and into Henrik’s bedroom, and looking at the cabinet he was told about finds the hidden compartment that holds a canvas sack of bones. He returns to the party. They talk and decide to kill the vampire spawn up above.
They all go back upstairs, silence still around them. Once in the storage room they see six crates, all very obviously marked “JUNK”. They place themselves strategically, and when first crate is opened … all open at simultaneously in some sort of trap the party must have missed.
Combat ensues, with the party fighting for their very lives. It quickly becomes apparent that the vampires are taking little damage from most of the party members’ attacks, and that they are healing themselves almost as quick as the heroes damage them. Even the bones of Saint Andral had no effect on them. Things are looking dire…
- Bones of Saint Andral, in a lovely canvas sack
- Tamar – for having more in common philosophically with human kids than human adults
- Brume – For lying to Milivoj for the greater good (and feeling bad about it after)
- Bogdan – for making Zach’s sword magical.