The party left the Blood on the Vine Tavern and headed across the street to
Bildrath’s Mercantile. There, the owner Bildrath shows racist trends against halflings, and within seconds of walking in Bildrath is yelling at Yenkin to get out. Suspecting the greedy half-king would be up to no good if left unsupervised, Tamar follows the rogue outside.
Brume soon finds out that Bildrath also has a mercenary outlook, because his prices are beyond exorbitant. The lack of competition and scarcity of goods means he can charge what he wants to the handful of Vistani and extremely rare adventurer who pays for his wares.
Brume wishes to head to the Church of the Sun to pay his respects to any pious villagers who are there. Along the way there, however, the party runs across a surprise. A dilapidated peasant hovel — basically, a random representative of most of the houses in Little Barovia — transforms as they walk past, becoming an open-air bazaar style shop. Inside the shop is a horrid looking creature, who introduces herself as Jenny. She’s been nicknamed Greenteeth, although she professes to have no idea why (while sporting a merry set of moss-green teeth, of course).
Jenny tells the party that she barters and haggles for magical services and sometimes magic items. She chooses to appear as she wishes, and in seemingly unnoticed by those she doesn’t want to be seen by. She’ll sell her services for hard gold coins (at a hefty markup) or also loves to peddle favor for favor.
The hag also clearly has a thing for Yenkin, who is rather vocal about not returning the sentiment. Undeterred, Jenny kept calling him ‘dearie’ and even snatched a bug out of his ear to eat it, proclaiming him to be a ‘delicious little thing’. The rest of the conversation happened with at least on other hero between Yenkin and Jenny, and not nearly enough space for the rogue’s liking.
As they were about to leave, Jenny finally took her eyes off of Yenkin – for a few seconds, anyways – and noticed the artificer Tobin with them. They chatted amongst themselves, and Tobin decided to stay to see what magics and alchemy he could learn from Jenny, and the hag herself interested in the thunder cannon carried by the dark-skinned man.
Saying their farewells and watching as the shop faded back into a decrepit house, the adventurers continued along the street to the church. Arriving, it was clear that the church — like most everything seen in Barovia so far — had seen better days. Large cracks in the wall between wooden planks left candlelight fleeing into the dim afternoon air. Inside, they could hear a man chanting through some prayers, until a high pitched scream pierced the near-silence.
The praying man was Father Grigori Donavich, the priest of the church. Gaunt and haunted with large dark bags under his eyes, Donovich was malnourished, sleep-deprived, and still zealous in his belief of the Morninglord. He was praying for his son Doru, who’d been turned into a vampire spawn a year ago. Doru was the source of the inhuman screaming coming from the basement under the church.
Father Donavich explained his son’s fate. A year ago, the Mad Mage had been rallying locals, saying that together they could defeat the devil Strahd. The mage led a group up to Castle Ravenloft and fought a battle against Strahd’s minions, prevailing and storming into the castle itself. However, eventually Strahd himself entered the fray, and the army was shattered. Few escaped with their lives, with even the Mad Mage falling off of a cliff and dying. Doru returned to Father Donavich not long after, changed into undead, and has been locked in the basement since while Donavich prays for his son’s salvation.
Brume unleashes his Radiant Soul, become more angelic in appearance, and attempts to soothe Donavich. Seeing that Brume is clearly a high ranking cleric of the Morninglord, the priest begs Brume to help his son, and has the Aasimar swear an oath to not harm his son before telling them about the trapdoor in another room that leads to the basement. The trapdoor is chained and padlocked shut.
Yenkin is wary of the basement, so he has Tamar and Bogdan stand on the trapdoor while he unlocks it, so that it can only be opened about 1 foot’s worth. The talk to Doru through the gap, who begs for food and says his evil father has imprisoned him below. He says that the reason the church is abandoned is that the town knows what his father has done. The party is unsure, so tries to see if he will eat regular food and drink, thinking a vampire would have no desire for them. Doru takes both, danged from a rope and lowered to him.
Finally Brume has the trapdoor opened. He goes down the stairs and uses Bogdan’s Scroll of Remove Curse to attempt to cure Doru, but the spell fizzles with no apparent effect. Immediately after, Brume is set upon by Doru. The prisoner — clearly a vampire spawn, despite his earlier lies — grabs Brume and bites into his neck, feeding upon the blood he so clearly desires. Brume, in a panic and fearing his own life, casts Thunderwave and knocks the spawn back before retreating. He knows he broke his oath not to harm Doru, but also feels he had no choice. As Brume stands on the trapdoor, Doru launches himself up at it, but can’t dislodge the heavily armed (and weighted) cleric. Yenkin locks it back up as the party goes back to talk with Donavich once again.
Donavich refuses to believe his son is beyond salvation, and says that Brume must not give up yet either. The Morninglord, despite not answering Donavich’s prayers, is still the only hope for Doru. The priest then begs that if the party is every near Krezk that the search for the abbot of the Abbey of Saint Markovia. Agreeing that if they get to Krezk they would try to do so, the party then left back towards the town’s center, hoping to carry on past that to Mad Mary’s home. They found her home without too much effort (since the crying inside was their clue from earlier), but no matter how much they knocked on the door they could get no response. Debating if breaking and entering was warranted, they left the boarded up house alone and sought out the burgomaster’s house instead.
The house of the burgomaster, Kolyan Indirovich, was once a small mansion, but is weary and torn down like the rest of Little Barovia. Iron gates have been forcibly twisted, with one gate fully wrenched off of its post and tossed aside. The outside of the house looks like a small battlefield, liberally scored with claw markings and blackened soot stains. The weeds around the house are overgrown, except nearer the walls of the abode; there, paw prints and human footprints mar the turf, and are littered with the broken glass of the windows. The windows are all shattered, boarded up.
Calling out at the door, a woman answers. It is Ireena Kolyana. The party tries to talk to her, but she becomes convinced they are agents of Strahd and refuses to open the door. After some failed diplomacy (and as Ireena’s yelling becomes more fearful and forceful), the party decides they need to return with Ismark Kolyanavich, so they return to the Blood on the Vine tavern.
There, Ismark is visibly annoyed that the party tried to visit his house without him. He questions the party’s motives after Bogdan answers questions out of order, starting to suspect there is something more to the group than they present. Distrustful but not yet dismissing them, he asked for the heroes to come to his house in the morning — after he’s had time to explain and calm Ireena down. They’ve caused enough damage for one day, he snarks to the group as he leaves.
Sleeping for free at the tavern (curtesy of returning Stanimir’s belongings to Alenka, Mirabel, and Sorvia), the party returns downstairs the next morning. There the three Vistani sisters ask if the group is ready to travel and see Madame Eva. It’ll be about two hours worth of travel to get to the Vistani camp. The heroes agree, their plan being to go and see Madame Eva and return by midday in order to meet Ismark at the burgomaster’s house.
They set out in two wagons, with the three sisters riding in their own and the party riding behind on Stanimir’s old wagon. Leaving Little Barovia they enter a broad meadow, and after thirty or so minutes cross the Ivlis River, over an arching stone bridge. An hour later after that they reach a crossroads with an empty gallows swinging in the wind, and a about a dozen graves nearby.
All is well, until after they pass. Suddenly, the once-empty gallows now holds a decaying body of some Barovian peasant. For some unknown reason, however, Tamar does not see the Barovian but sees her own lifeless corpse hanging in the cage. She begs to know what the other adventurers see, but when everyone but her clearly sees something different, she starts to freak out even more. This is twice that she’s seen signs of her already being dead – while very much alive, thank you.
Not long after, they round a corner and arrive at the Vistani camp, nestled against the the waters of the Tser Pool. Five tents and four more of the barrel-topped wagons loosely circle an open area in the middle, where several Vistani lounge. Horses are docked nearer the Pool’s waters. The three sisters explain that Madame Eva hates surprises, so they wish to go talk to her before the party sees her, but that the rest of the camp is open to them.
Despite being mid-morning, some Vistani are already drunk. They give the heroes wine and and sing songs. Soon, a Vistani man with an impeccably groomed goatee starts to tell stories. He introduces himself as Oleg Drazkoi, and it doesn’t take long to realize just how incredibly drunk — and yet functional — Oleg really is.
The first story story went something like this (paraphrased):
A mighty wizard came to this land over a year ago, and stood where you’re standing now. He wanted to rally the I people of Barovia against the devil Strahd. He stirred their passions, stoked their fires with the flames of revolt, and bore them up to the castle en masse. The peasant army fought the minions of strand and held their own for a time, but then the dread lord himself appeared and those who had not fallen fled. The wizard and the vampire fought each other, spells flying from the courtyards of Castle Ravenloft to the precipice a thousand feet above us. Thunder shook the mountains and rocks fell upon the great wizard, but he was not moved. Lightning split the heavens and struck the wizard, but he stood fast. But when the devil moved against him directly, the wizard’s magic met its match, and he was thrown to his death. I climbed down to find his body — hoping to find something of value, you see — but the Ivlis had already washed him away.
The second story went more like this:
There was a noble prince, many thousands of moons ago. This prince was beloved by his family and feared by his enemies. He brought peace at the edge of a sword to this valley, but found himself injured and separated from his army. We, the Vistani, found this prince and nursed him back to life. We brought him back to his army, and his family. There, the prince’s beloved brother was set to marry. It was then that the curse struck, and the prince wanted blood above all else. The curse — whatever caused it — made the noble prince become a terrible master. …. I can’t remember the rest …
As Oleg finishes his second story, Madame Eva approaches and beckons the adventurers to enter with her into her tent, a much larger affair than the other tents. Madame Eva announces that she must first uncover the heroes pasts in order to learn their futures. She holds each of their hands and turn, and as she stares at they her eyes glaze over, the pupils and irises disappearing until solid white orbs stare deep into them.
This is what she says about each:
- Child of a monastery, you have wandered far from your path. But do not fret, there are forks in the road ahead, and your curiosity will lead you back to the Sun before your days are done.
- Half a king, half a man, son of him called Short, I see you. I see your fingers itching, twitching, but know that if you so much as pocket a handful of sand in my tent, I shall curse you such that you will wish to be back in the halls of your uncle.
- Daughter of Dragons, you have not yet unlocked your full power. Awaken the ghost of Argynvost and ask him to tell you more.
- You may not know your own past, Brume, but I do. I know of you indeed, Nelchael, “Sword of Thunder”. The Lord of Morning is not your holy father, he is more of an indulgent uncle.
- Your soul smells of kobold, wild Moonthing. You do, however, wish to desire a trait known to many Vistani, though you know it not. Speak with Oleg outside after and ask about ‘his famous list’.
She then proceeds to do a reading of the Tarokka Cards. This is the reading:
1 OF SWORDS – AVENGER
“This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy.”
“The treasure lies in a dragon’s house, in hands once clean and now corrupted.”
3 OF STARS-ENCHANTER
“This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope.”
“I see a kneeling woman-a rose of great beauty plucked too soon. The master of the marsh knows of whom I speak.”
3 OF GLYPHS – HEALER
“This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance, a sword of sunlight."
“Look to the west. Find a pool blessed by the light of the white sun.”
9 OF SWORDS – TORTURER
“This card speaks to change, and tells of how despair may be transformed into joy.”
“An Undying House has a hidden basement. Find in there a cloud made manifest, held in the hand of the devil."
“This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness."
“A Vistana wanders this land alone, searching for her mentor. She does not stay in one place long. Seek her out in the home of an ancient saint near the mists.”
“Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him, when you are ready.”
“He dwells with the one whose blood sealed his doom, a brother of light snuffed out too soon.”
The adventurer’s asked Madame Eva questions, especially about her intent. (other questions?!?!?) She says that she wishes the noble prince of legend restored, and not killed. She wants him to be free of his curse and back like the stories say he used to be, so that he can help all of Barovia recover. It is this desire that fuels her own actions to give aid to adventurer’s in the form of Tarokka readings.
Afterwards, Tamar goes outside to see what ‘special list’ Oleg has, and it’s a list of every swear word he’s ever heard in every language. The druid’s eyes light up.
- I don’t think there was any.
- For going angel and trying to save Doru, Brume is inspired.
- For resisting Jenny Greenteeth’s adoration, Yenkin is depressed but also inspired.
- For seeing her death everywhere and starting to adapt to deal with it, Tamar is inspired