- Rictavio apologies for the way his Sabretooth tiger, Shearah (sheer-rah), went after the party. She was accidentally freed by the Wachter kids, Nikolai and Karl.
- Rictavio calms Shearah down. He admits that she really doesn’t like Vistani. A troupe that lives outside of Vallaki in a camp called Tsernovna had treated the tiger badly, and she associated that mistreatment with the smell and sights of all Vistani.
- Paloma is tired of waiting on the roof with Santa Muerte, and asks if he can do anything to help her.
- Rictavio says yes. He quickly grabs Brume’s hand and places it on the tiger’s head, saying ‘Here hold this’.
- The cleric awkwardly and fearfully pets the tiger a little and it doesn’t seem to mind.
- Rictavio runs back, holding a bottle of liquid. He tosses it up to Paloma and tells her to pour it on her.
- Brume guesses correctly that it’s tiger urine, and helpfully calls out “It’s topical! Don’t drink it”
- Paloma upends in on herself, gagging a touch, and climbs down to join the rest of the party
- They go with Rictavio back near Arasek Stockyard, where his wagon awaits
- The half-elf bard has Brume feed the tiger for him with some raw wolf steaks. The tiger devours them and then starts purring around Brume.
- Paloma wrestles with desires for a big cute fluffy kitty, and not wanting to be eaten. Not wanting to be eaten wins … this time and heads back towards the inn to take a bath.
- After several minutes of conversation, the rest of the party also head towards the Inn, with Rictavio saying he wants to make sure his wagon is secure. He’ll meet them there in a short while
- Lots of villagers are about and scared, having dashed away from the festival and town square earlier. They ask about the tiger. The party becomes more of a hero in their eyes, as they’ve taken care of the evil Baron as well as now “saved them” from a tiger.
- Once back at Blue Water Inn, Urwin Martikov and his wife Danika come up to congratulate the party. He says he’d give them a drink on the house, but after supplying this latest festival his wine stores are extremely low
- Brume asks Urwin how he’d feel about being the new Burgomaster. Confused, the innkeep says he thought Lady Fiona Wachter was taking that over.
- The party explained that she basically decided that herself, but that they never really backed her. They ask – not entirely subtly – if Urwin has ever noticed anything odd about Lady Wacther or odd things around the Wachterhaus.
- Urwin answers that he has heard about some cloaked people coming and going. It’s not odd in and of itself, but that they often wore cloaks even when it wasn’t raining, and always seemed to go there in handfuls at at time
- The party asks about Vasili von Holtz. They had found his name on a delivery receipt; the delivery was for the crates that held the vampire spawn they found in Henrik van der Voort‘s coffin shop.
- Urwin says Vasili is a bit of a shut-in. Or, rather, he’s just not around out-and-about in town often. He’s a minor noble that’s family is much poorer than they used to be and he lives further north of The Wactherhaus.
- About this time, a short, dark complected man walks in. Rather, it’s an elf, and his skin is so dusky as to be a dark purple. He says his name is Rahadin. He hands a letter to Bogdan and tells the party they are invited to his Castle Ravenloft to enjoy dinner with his master. When asked who his master is, he replies “Count Strahd, of course”.
- << my notes are illegible here. My handwriting sucks. I think Brume smarts off? >>
- Rahadin, feeling the party has disrespected Strahd too much already, administers some swift punishment. Most of the party starts feeling pain in their heads, as if the death wails of thousand of people were to originate from within their skulls. Adding to this pain and confusion, Rahadin was a whirlwhind of speed, lashing out time and again with his scimitar. The party got a couple of hits in, but within seconds everyone is downed and unconscious … or dying.
- Paloma, having heard the ruckus, came dashing downstairs only mostly dressed and still wet. Rahadin, with a few smears of the parties blood on him, looks at her to see what her reaction is. Paloma does not attack first, realizing the dusk elf is a deadly foe. Rahadin reaches down, grabs the now bloodstained letter from Bogdan’s body, and hands it to Paloma. He tells her “Please do not test or disrespect my master again. I would need to revisit you, otherwise.”
- Paloma manages to heal Bogdan, and between them they revive Brume, Kheldar, and Zack
- The letter reads:
Know that it is I who have brought you to this land, my home, and know that I alone can release you from it. I bid you dine at my castle so that we can meet in civilized surroundings. Your passage here will be a safe one. I await your arrival.
Strahd von Zarovich
- The rest of the inn is also hurt. The party help out where they can, bandaging people and bringing some sense of order. A couple of the villages actually died in the onslaught from whatever psychic effect Rahadin was bringing to bear.
- Rictavio arrives and helps as well. He asks what the hell happened, he was only 20 or so minutes behind them!
- Seeing the shape they are in, Rictavio thinks maybe they need help, or at least a way to disapear for a while from the limelight of Vallaki. He says he knows about Ezmerelda d’Avenir, a famous Vistani monster huntress. Paloma reveres Ezmerelda. RIctavio says he’s heard rumors that Ezmerelda is out west, somewhere around Lake Baratok, and would make a great ally (and perhaps know of a good place to hide from Strahd).
- Rictavio also talks about Ireena … but I didn’t write down what about.
- After discussing their options, the party decides to take the chance to go explore the basement of the Wachterhaus again, to see if they can prove (or disprove) Lady Wachter’s knowlege of The Four Quarters cult that was in her basement.
- They sneak around and get to the house just as night fully falls. When they enter the basement, a single skeleton raises from the dirt. Its wearing the same clothes as the cultists were the last time they were here.
- On the beds nearby they find three more corpses that don’t seem to be rotting, also wearing the clothes of the cultists from before. There were four cultists before …
- Bogdan doesn’t want to take chances, and goes around and pokes MORE holes in all of the corpses just to be safe. Staff-sized holes.
- Brume casts a spell to detect evil, and finds out the pentagram is NOT desecrated … but perhaps more interestingly that there is a fiend upstairs.
- They traverse the house with stealth (and a nice stealthy assist from Bogdan’s Pass Without A Trace) and arrive upstairs.
- They check an empty bedroom that appears to be the two sons, pass another door that has the sounds of a cat (sorta), and finally approach Lady Wachter’s room.
- They hear Lady Wacther’s voice inside. She says “Majesto, I do so wish Nikolai were hear with me more than this.”
- They try to pick the lock and fail a few times, alerting whoever is inside.
- Inside, the bed is rumpled with blankets bundled up on it, and behind it is Lady Wachter. She casts spells as the party tried to dodge behind the door.
- Something invisble swarms at Bogdan, and Brume’s senses realize it’s the fiend. He yells in “fiendish” (e.g., Infernal) for the beast to be gone, but it only laughs at him. Whatever it is, it’s tiny and crawls down Bogdan’s shirt, tearing into the monk with poisonous bites or claws or something.
- Lady Wacher is feeling the heat and tries to retreat, but there’s not really anywhere to go with Khedlar dominating her bedroom. She casts Sanctuary and calmly leaves the parties reach, opens the window, and starts climbing downward. The thing on Bogdan reveals itself to be a shapechanging imp, and it flies to be with its Master/Mistress.
- Bogdan jumps out the window, crashing into Lady Wacther, and they both slam on the ground outside. Lady Wacher is dying but Brume managers to heal her so he can question her later.
From Kheldar’s field notes:
-Brume, Bogdan and myself were nearly killed by a lackey of Strahd named Rahadin, a small elf with powers that contradict his size. I knocked him down to the ground and then received searing pains to my head without him even flinching. The next thing I remember was Bogdan and Paloma bringing me back up from the dark. Some of the locals were not so lucky.
-I like this Rictavio fellow and his tiger. He could provide useful info as a traveling bard. He revealed that the brothers running Tsernova are the same people that lead my new allies into this quest with a forged letter allegedly from Ireena’s lover who was actually her father. Rictavio mentioned that the brother of the man in command is the one that disconcerts him over the man in charge himself. He also became very intrigued when he found we were interested in exposing Lady Wacther and against Strahd. He mentioned an underground resistance group lead by Ezmeralda. Rictavio holds no fondness for the men from Tsernova, if we need to confront them he may be able to provide more assistance.
-We snuck into the Wachter house and started in the basement. Sneaking is definitely not my strong suit but Bogdan’s ability to conceal us made the task possible. As my new allies described it was apparent something nefarious was going on. Bogdan attempted to kill a shambling skeleton quietly but this took too long so I gave it a quick whack with my flail. Crunch, so satisfying.
We found another Four Quarters summoning circle and another group of failed corpse summonings. A quick three hits to their heads with said flail made sure they wouldn’t be able to rise again.
-We snuck through the house following Bogdan and Brume’s lead until we reached Lady Wachter’s room and heard her conversing with another.
-The fiend apparently was the size of a large insect and attacking Bogdan and Brume. Leaving me little choice but to go and subdue Lady Wachter. I couldnt very well swing my Halberd at my allies’ necks in hopes of hitting an insect…
-Initially I was not sure how involved she was and how much of this was the work of the fiend taking advantage of her, so I wanted to subdue her peacefully. These doubts quickly went away when she pulled out a focus with the four quarters on it and attacked the group via spellcraft, along with the fiend. I do not take joy in wailing on a frail widow, but she made her choice. The next thing I know i had this inability to act, all I could was sit there and watch her slowly walk to the window and start climbing down.
-I remember Paloma looking at Lady Wachter and looking at the injured Bogdan and choosing to help Bogdan instead of stopping Wachter. Then the fiend vanished
-It started to look like we were going to be stuck having raided the Wacther house without having captured Lady Wachter or the fiend. I was not looking forward to the optics of this and her word against ours.
-Bogdan, now looking healthier, ran to the window and jumped out onto Lady Wachter, crushing her.
-Brume jumped down and brought her back to stable, and Paloma sent her hawk Santa Muerte to catch the fleeing imp. Both were succesfull in their tasks.
Very nice additions. My note-taking was not the best this last time, plus I had meant to write it up on Thursday and slacked off and forgot about it for a few days and then forgot more.
The brothers Kheldar mentioned are: Arrigal and Luvash