Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (Mavrickindigo)

Forgotten Dream

Should someone have happened upon the small man crouched among the forests brush they would instinctively become unnerved. Not because the man seemed to be fused with a rodent of sorts, leaving him as a mockery of man and beast, nor because he was missing any clothing. What would unnerve any observer would be the fearful furtive look on his face, a primitive and feral urgency, a sort of fear that is infectious. The rat-man gazed about with small black eyes, rubbing his pink hands together while his ugly scaly tail swished about behind him. He broke cover from the brush, darting quickly among the trees in a brown fuzzy blur. The bush and brush parted as the rat moved with a natural quickness, freezing in place occasionally with his large round ears spinning as if to better hear. Several times the rat man stopped at a tree and hastily scrambled up the branches to sit waiting and watching. This continued on for awhile, the small rat-man scurrying through the seemingly endless forest with the same urgency that was beginning to border the territory of panic. That is, until he chanced upon an inhabited clearing by mistake. In the small clearing sat another man of eerie similarity to the rat. Near in height the other man was reptile in nature, the same odd mockery of humanity with his green scale covered skin and reptilian eyes and teeth. As the rat man burst into the clearing he slammed directly into the lizard man, knocking him flat. Both gazed surprised each other for a very long second before one thought to act. The lizard man broke his daze first, leaping to his feet and charging the rat. The rat reacted in kind with the same savagery, leaping to the challenge. Both mockeries of mankind locked arms and teeth, the reptile seizing the rat around the chest trying to crush him as the rat retorted with biting into the reptiles shoulder. The pain of the rats large teeth forced the reptile man to let go, opting to start hammer the rats stomach with his scaled fists. The unsuspecting blows knocked the rat winded. his teeth loosening their painful grip, enough for the scaled man to force his way free of them. The rat changed tactics, resorting to angry blows as well. The two went back and forth slamming into each other, grunting in pain and snarling in anger. The fight quickly became a violent tumble as the men locked arms again and fell to the ground, kicking, biting, and punching Had the two not been locked in savage combat they would have noticed the splintering trees and thundering slams of the approaching third. It wasn’t until it was nearly upon the clearing that either finally realized the danger. Both beast men gave each other angry but fearful glances as they broke apart. With a crash of splintering trees the massive creature was upon them. The rat man scrambled to his feet to flee, instinctual fear forcing him to not look but run. But before he could take more then a step forward he felt a strong vice-like grip on his tail, letting out a terrified scream (or was it squeak?) as he was hoisted in the air. A blank fear seized him as he was held aloft, closing his eyes and covering his head but still hearing the heavy movement and smelling the ancient horrid stench of of the leviathans breath. As he was hoisted higher he heard shouting, the lizard man was screaming in some language the rat couldn’t understand. But before the rat could make sense of the words he…

…he woke up, coughing and slapping some foul smelling thing from his face before realizing where he was, memory flooding back to him. Hastily grabbing the smelling salts from Variels grip Kess apologizes before quickly packing up his gear. As the small alchemist packs away his equipment he can’t shake the feeling he has forgotten something. That something important should have happened but having no idea what it was. Shaking the thought from his mind he hoist his bag onto his back and turns back to the party. “Let’s go” he says to their confused expressions.

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Journal Entry 12 (Emen)
Journal Entry 12 (Emen)

     We have entered the desert of this place in search of the Nightpeddler. The desert here is different than most I’m used to. The air is hot, and the sun is bright, but the sand is desolate and featureless. Without the sun moving in the sky it would be hard to know the time at all in the place. However, after most of a day’s travel we found a merchant being chased by an air elemental. This place truly has all manner of creatures. It seems the air elemental was drunk and didn’t mean any harm. I am sure it will have plenty of time to sleep off its drink now. The merchant said he was grateful for our aid, and offered us some wares. After buying what we could, he agreed to take us to the Nightpeddler, so we can retrieve his token.

     After making camp however I started to feel weak and went to sleep. I was wary from our travelling today, and my affliction was licking at my heels. Even in my sleep it persisted, when I awoke I remember falling into the desert sand and everyone staring. I suppose at this point telling them my condition is better than withholding it, despite my anxiety about such. I must admit that I am ashamed to not be in greater control of it. This should not be such a problem, and I cannot afford to have it weighing me down.

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Journal Entry 11 (Emen)
Journal Entry 11

     We have covered more ground since my last entry. We have gained more tokens, but still require more before we can escape.

     We cleared a mountain, which had a multitude of creatures. There were azers, cyclops, even a stone sculpture of immense size which stood through the floor as if it were petrified. I can’t say they held much interest for us though. When we made it to the last room someone spoke from an unseen place. Whichever conspirator it was decided to keep themselves hidden.

     After getting our bearings on the mountain we decided to head for a walled in area. It appeared to be a sanctuary of some sort. Inside we only found a goblin and a unicorn squabbling, and what was left of the creator of this plane. After putting her to rest and acquired her token.

     We then set our sights on the manmolds, as we would find out, this is where all of the inhabitants are made. It seems that they are some sort of intricately made creatures from animated wax. The crafter, Marzalee explained this to us, and has been grateful enough to give up her token in exchange for killing one of the other conspirators. We are setting off to deal with the Nightpeddler in the desert now.

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Journal Entry (Kess)

I’ve been trying to shake this thought since the garden. When I gazed into the stagnant pond earlier it occurred to me that the cyclops never threatened us. Once the thought crossed my mind I couldn’t quite shake it and at best shoved it to the back of my mind. It came back while we were digging that grave, I’m still not sure but the more and more I thought about it the more it seemed we burst into a bar and murdered the owner for…….why did we? I did a good job of keeping it to myself until we met Algon the Ever-Seeking again. I remember giggling at him destroying that zombie only for him to remind me of what we did which certainly did little for my composure. It wasn’t right what we did, destroying evil is one thing but murdering a bar owner when we have no idea what his crimes were is just wrong. That thought rang through my head over and over and yet now I learn its for naught. The bar owner, Algon, Bern, none of them are people. Just constructs of wax made to imitate men, were any of them real at any point? Were they always constructs or are they the mirror image of someone who once lived? I think I’ll keep these thoughts to myself, what we did was wrong yes but no reason to bring it up with the others unless they ask. Nothing we can change about discussing it anyways, I just need to keep trying to do the right thing. As Dad always said over and over like a spinning wheel “It doesn’t matter what a man’s past is, doesn’t matter who he was. What matters is who he is now.”

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Jorunal Entry #6 [Dubon]

It seems my companions have doubts about my virtuous quest, and I understand their concerns. Algon certainly is a path I do not wish to follow, but it is hard to communicate that I am given divine power only so that I may vanquish evil from all lands. Were I ever to err in judgement, Iomedae would met out punishment swiftly and severely. If only they could see the auras, the darkness their hearts radiates, the terrible taste of the air surrounding those most foul.

It does not help my cause that evil has taken to deception. They cry, cry out that we’re trespassing on them, that we’re hindering their personal quests for good, when their word is as trustworthy as their soul. Black and twisted beings capable of the most benign guises. Likewise, the unicorn’s torment of a creature that has yet to actually become evil, by stealing its rightfully earned apple. I suppose not everyone is capable of living as a disciple of Iomedae, but it does no justice to prance about those weaker than you.

The world we’ve entered, it seems, is truely one vast machine. We spoke with the maintainer of the cogs and instruments controlling every part of this land, and although he was loathe to show his face, we did manage a token out of it. It seems he has bad blood with a Marzalee, and took us for assassins. Assassin, what a venemous name. Assassins are simply shadowy thugs whose morals are nonexistent, and whose principles have an easily met price. If we do run across Marzalee, I will have to look into her reasons for attempting assassination. Their death would cause this world to fall into disrepair, and the denizens who do not succumb to evil’s bittersweet fruit would have terrible things befall them. I must get to the bottom of this.

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Journal Entry (Emen)
Journal Entry 10

     We are stuck in this strange place for the time being. I want to escape quickly so I can save Ireena. I remember that letter, and I do not want to think about what might happen if we aren’t there in time. Nevertheless it seems clear how to escape: we must acquire tokens of conspirators who killed the creator of this realm. Eventually we will find a scaled creature known as Zassrion. I fear he is a dragon, something we may not be able to defeat. However I will not give up so easily! We have made great progress thus far in fact.

     We found a Rakshasa who was the ringleader of a circus. As soon as Dubon saw his evil we immediately battled him. It was close, thanks in part to Kess not participating. It is possible he was under his spell so I will not judge him harshly yet. Nevertheless we were victorious.

     Next we traveled though the forest, and came upon a mysterious creature. It appears he was once a conspirator, but he was willing to relinquish his token after a duel. Dubon obliged him and the token was ours.

     We finally made it to the graveyard, after being troubled by a strange bird. It seems there was a conspirator who guarded the dead. He seemed to know much about us, despite being stuck in this place. Nevertheless undead are but a trifling matter for myself. He was put to rest, and another token was ours.

     We were then met by a most curious figure: a knight calling himself Algon the all-seeking, despite his airs he put on of honor, he demanded the tokens we had claimed thus far, and it was not until a skirmish that he gave up. After that we decided it was time to rest, and we returned to the house we found in the forest. I hope that we can leave this place soon. Although I did not, and doubt I could have known about this event happening, I still cannot help but feel that there is blame on myself for being sidetracked to this place when we have a more pressing mission.

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Bramblesons Cottage, The conversation between Variel and Kess before sleeping.

Scene: Variel and Kess are sharing a room and preparing for bed.

<kess>: Kess is laying out his blanket and pillow and checking his bag. Stopping, he looks over towards Variel “Hell of time its been these last few days hasn’t it?”
<variel>: I suppose it has, first the zombies, then the vampire, and now this.
Variel lays down on his bedroll and takes out a book from his pack
<kess>: Kess chuckles “Aye, it’s been one thrill ride after the next. All we need now is some evil wizard in a tower”
<variel>: I can honestly say I very much hope we can get some peace and quiet before then.
Kess picks his pet rat out of his coat and sets him on his pillow. Then sheds his armor and coat.
Variel starts scribing into his journal, not looking up from it while talking
<kess>: I doubt I’ll get much of that in the future considering that dog is out there waiting for my return.
Kess expression sinks into thought, frowning slightly.
<variel>: Mhm…I had almost forgotten about the business with the wolf. I still can’t say I entirely approve traveling with her.
<kess>: “I don’t blame you friend. I wouldn’t blame you if you left when this is over either.” Kess turns to his bedroll to hide the look on his face “You know something mate? I haven’t thought of her much since we got here.”
Variel sets down his journal
<variel>: Relax, I do not intend to leave your side anytime soon. I’m not the type to abandon his friends.
<kess>: You don’t strike me as the type really, but I’m asking alot from you……..You wanna know what I have been thinking?
Kess looks back at him, from this angle his smirk can be clearly seen.
<variel>: I’m all ears.
Kess giggles.
<kess>: Big round ones with fuzz or pointy ones?
<variel>: The later, I can’t say I’ve ever met an elf with the former.
<kess>: “No, but yours truly has just those kind. Anyways” Kess’s expression changes to be more solemn “I’m changing Variel, I can’t see how exactly but I know something is different”
<kess>: I’ve spent my entire life underground up until the last few months, recently though, I’m getting this….“feeling”
<variel>: Hm? What do you mean?
<kess>: I don’t know. I think back on my home, in the underground warren. I just….I don’t want to go back any longer. My people are important to me, even if I haven’t talked much about them. Now I just….
Kess starts smoothing out his blanket.
<kess>: I started feeling it in the briar patch.
<kess>: Like everything was clearer, better even. All the green and all the smells.
<kess>: I….it confused me.
Variel looks to Kess with a bit of concern mixed with confusion
<variel>: Well, perhaps you are getting accustomed to the surface finally. But…
<kess>: But what?
Variel sighs and rubs his temples for a moment
<variel>: It is not good for one to not wish to return home. I should know.
<kess>: What do you mean?
Variel sits in silence for a few moments
<variel>: I don’t think I’ve ever told you why I call myself “the Exile”, have I?
<kess>: Sometimes when your asleep
<kess>: You talk, I’ve heard a few bits. But otherwise you haven’t told me much of your past.
<variel>: My exile…is a self imposed one.
<variel>: I’ve failed my kind, my house, and most of all, my family chasing after a fool’s dreams.
Kess turns to face Variel, sitting back on his butt atop his bedroll.
<kess>: What happened?
Kess cross his legs and rests his hands on his knees.
<variel>: I am a kinslayer, both actively and through negligence.
Kess eyes well up in tears.
<variel>: I have my father’s and my brother’s blood on my hands.
<kess>: Don’t say that word
Variel looks up, concerned.
<variel>: Are you alright?
Kess covers his face with his hand. “Sorry sorry, go on. I don’t mean to interrupt”
<variel>: Right…Well, I spent much time away from others of my kind in my youth…including my family.
<variel>: In my absence, a…darkness found it’s way into my house.
<variel>: A foul woman, who’s heart was as cold as her flesh brought my only brother under her sway.
Variel stops for a moment
<variel>: There where so many corpses that night.
Kess rubs his thighs unconsciously with his free hand.
<kess>: How many were made by you?
<variel>: One…There should have been three.
<kess>: Who was it?
Variel looks down and mutters under his breath sadly
<variel>: Lethaldirin, my dear brother. Please forgive me. I should have slain your captor, and then myself for failing you so.
Kess removes his hand from his face.
<kess>: I guess we are more alike then we thought
<kess>: I am also an exile
<kess>: I think…
<kess>: I think I may have killed my parents
Variel looks up, with his eyes wet with tears
<kess>: I don’t know for sure, what I do know is I have slain my kin.
<kess>: We were digging, tunnels you see, for the warren. It was my fathers business. When we struck a tomb.
Variel looks to Kess in silence
<kess>: It was just me and the workers at the time, the dead rose and struck fast. In our panic those who were not felled ran. I with them, straight back to the warren.
<kess>: We led the dead right to our people.
Kess looks down at his lap.
<kess>: I wish I could say that was the end of my folly….
Kess traces a clawed finger along his thigh.
<kess>: I ran home and grabbed my bombs and whatever explosives I could find and joined the defenders.
<kess>: In my…..my hubris I did more harm then good. I collapsed tunnels, burn down houses, exploded alley ways, anywhere the dead was found I carved an explosive path.
<kess>: When it was over they investigated what happened, the council that is, and I gladly stepped forward explaining. Thinking I was to be hailed a hero!
Kess starts rubbing his thigh again.
<kess>: The council was horrified, they told me I caused more death and destruction alone then all of the dead.
<kess>: They wanted me dead on the spot, I argued for my life and managed to convince them to let me live.
<kess>: After a vote they decided to exile me, though my intent was pure my actions were not.
<kess>: For the short time I was…..imprisoned..one of the guards told me of my parents death. I think….I think from the way the guard acted I killed them with one of my explosives.
<kess>: I…
Kess eyes well up in tears again.
<variel>: Shh…you needn’t say more.
Kess speaks through the tears.
<kess>: I wanted to go back!
<kess>: Every day of my exile I wanted to go back. Back there I had family and friends! I had my people! I was completely alone in my exile!
<kess>: Until I met you
Kess smiles through his tear stained face.
<kess>: Guess I have that to be thankful for.
Variel gets up from his bedroll and walks to Kess
<variel>: It would seem birds of a feather truly do flock together doesn’t it.
Kess smiles, looking up at his friend. “Yes, yes it does”
Variel kneels down and hugs Kess
<variel>: For I am very much glad to not be alone either anymore.
Kess releases his friend from the hug. “It’s good to have someone there”
Kess wipes his face dry. He pauses, looking at his hand.
Variel returns to his bedroll and picks up his journal again
<kess>: I don’t trust him
<variel>: Hm? Who?
<kess>: Dubon
Kess looks up at Variel.
<kess>: The more I think on it, the more I worry
<kess>: If Dubon is a paladin, then he is destroying evil. He is doing the right thing. If what he claims is true we should help him. But I don’t trust him regardless.
<variel>: He seems to be a little bloodthirsty, but I feel his heart is in the right place.
<variel>: However, I still do find his…condition a bit odd.
<kess>: When we we’re in the tent, when Dubon ran into Berns cage and killed him. I saw something that scared me, that got me really thinking.
<variel>: You are worried for your safety?
<kess>: No no, well….I guess
<kess>: It just…..
<kess>: I saw who I was before. It was like looking into a mirror.
<kess>: Someone so cock-sure, someone so sure in them self they don’t care who gets hurt
<kess>: I saw myself
<kess>: I don’t want to be like that
<variel>: Mhm, You are afraid he will do something brash then.
<kess>: Maybe
<kess>: I would
<kess>: At least
<kess>: Who I was before would
<kess>: I don’t want to be that man anymore
<variel>: People change, paths diverge. If you do not want to be that man anymore, then you are already on the path away from being that man.
Kess smiles.
<kess>: Rational like always…
<variel>: It’s a change of pace from before…
Variel seems deep in thought, or is just staring intently into his journal
Kess looks down at his lap.
<variel>: I have…dreams, visions.
<kess>: Hmh?
Kess doesn’t look up.
<variel>: For as long as I can remember, I have had prophesies and visions sent to me as I sleep
Kess brings his hands together, tapping his claws lightly together he says “Of what” his tone is curiously flat.
<variel>: Glory, power, wealth. All bestowed upon me. I had thought them to be of Ketephys’ doing, and by following them I was doing his will, and becoming his champion.
<variel>: Now I am not so sure.
Kess smiles wistfully.
<kess>: Can’t say I’ve had anything like that before. Is that what you want?
<variel>: Now? No. But back then…It is because of my dreams, that night was aloud to happen.
<kess>: Does it matter?
<kess>: We’re here now are we not? Does how we got here really matter?
<variel>: Perhaps not. But I deal with a constant reminder most every night.
<kess>: Your visions haven’t changed?
<variel>: I decided to walk my own path, separate from my dreams since that night. And for a while, no I still had more or less the same type of dreams.
<variel>: But lately…
Variel sighs and finishes writing an entry in his journal
<variel>: Lately they have taken a turn for the strange and morbid.
<kess>: How so?
<variel>: I’m not even sure what to make of them now.
Variel sits and thinks for a moment
<variel>: Do you remember that cloaked figure from when we first met the others?
<kess>: Yeah, that bastard said things I’d kill lesser men for saying
<variel>: He…or someone like him, has been showing up, accompanied by a sense of dread and confusion.
<kess>: That is…
<kess>: Worrisome
<variel>: And worse, when we spoke, he seemed to know of my dreams. You are the first person I’ve told of them since I left my home.
<kess>: Any idea what it means?
<variel>: None. In fact, the main reason I wish to travel with the knight and the priest is because I hope their travels will lead us back to him, and to some answers.
Kess slumps over onto his bedroll, tucking his arms behind his head he stares at the ceiling.
<variel>: But I am just thinking aloud at this point. Perhaps it is nothing.
Variel fold his arms behind his head and lays down
<kess>: At this point I should say something about how we should kill him or beat the answers out of him. Something violent you know?
<kess>: All I can think of right now is a forest, just walking through it.
Kess slowly grabs the tip of his tail with his toes, lifting it up and down in thought.
<variel>: Mhm, You would like the elvish lands I would think.
<kess>: I don’t plan on getting killed, one day you’ll need to show me.
<variel>: Forests as far as the eye can see, trees bigger than most houses…
Kess smiles.
<kess>: That’s a pleasant thought indeed.
<variel>: Perhaps someday, I can return. And if that happens, I will be sure to bring you.
Variel stares wistfully at the ceiling.
Kess giggles loudly, starting to outright laugh before covering his mouth.
<variel>: Mhm? Did I say something funny?
Kess laughter dies down to a few chuckles.
<kess>: No mate, its just. I got this picture in my head
<kess>: Variel, the slayer of the Barovia tyrant and hero of the land returning home with a rat man and his little werewolf in tow.
<variel>: Hm, I wonder how fast it would take before we caused another incident.
Kess expression sobers slowly.
<kess>: I haven’t thought of it much but, do you think I’m going to get my self killed because of her?
Variel is silent
<variel>: I will not allow it.
Kess looks over at him.
<kess>: How’re ya gonna do that?
<variel>: I…don’t know. But I will not allow you to die.
<kess>: If its any consolation I feel the same way
Kess smiles ruefully.
<kess>: I suppose we should get some rest now.
<variel>: As much as I dislike to.
Variel turns over to his side and closes his eyes
<kess>: Hey Var?
<variel>: Yeah?
<kess>: I’m glad we met, I know I’m not the greatest friend. But I’ll have your back to the bitter end. I just wanted you to know that.
<variel>: And I’ll have yours as well. Good night, and hopefully we will all be back in Barovia when I wake up.
Kess smiles before turning over, falling asleep immediately.

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Journal Entry #5 [Dubon]

This place is bizarre, although I am actually happy to be here. Iomedae has certainly sent me to prove myself here, in order to prepare me for the fight against Strahd ahead. I’ve already slain two great evils, and I feel it in the marrow of my bones that more are coming. It’s even possible that the keeper of the Striding Fortress, Zassrion, is himself a dragon! Iomedae is guiding me to play the part of a fable’s hero, leading his companions in a daring rescue to save the princess in the tower, although I would hardly call Ashlyn a princess.

Nevertheless, things are looking up.

I’ve conquered the Ringmaster, a sly crocodile who attempted to con one of us into becoming his pet if we couldn’t catch him in a lie, but I caught him like a sitting duck there in his cage, and we made swift work of him. He melted into some strange goo, but that seems to be how these creatures pass.

We journeyed into forests thicker than stone, and happened upon a rabbit’s clearing, Brambleson, who challenged us to a duel. While he was quick as a rabbit, he fell right into my blade’s path each time he lunged at me. Strange fellow, but a good sport who parted ways with his token.

I haven’t let the Barrow King’s words extinguish this burning sense of purpose in me, despite there possibly being truth to his words. I am not a traitor, though. I am not of the dead, I am alive. My spirit shows this, as well as Her light shining brightly within. No, I deliver the dead from unrest, and deliver all that I meet from evil.

Ah, it isn’t that I’ve become full of myself, but that I’ve become full of Iomedae. These are merely trials in my path, and She seeks my display of strength and valor to prove worthy of Her.

It does help, however, that we’ve been rid of Tris, at least for the briefest of moments.

It is a good day.

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Log of a Hero

Yet another day in my tireless quest. I continue to roam the lands of my home, eternally seeking to slay my hated foe.Nothing can get in my way. No perceived goodness in any evildoer will slow me down. I will cut down every last one of those who try to stop me.

In fact, just now there was this one individual, was quite disagreeable to my quest at first, but after a few beatings, I was able to get him to soften up and give me exactly what I wanted. Then I finished him off! That will show him what happens when he gets in the way of my righteous quest!

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Journal Entry #4 [Dubon]

Our journey has taken a curious turn.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself, as I am wont to do.

Kess and Rajani have decided to keep the werewolf as their pet, and like a dog they’re going to teach it to behave. I will not tolerate any disobedience from her. However, I will allow Rajani her distractions. Her distractions. Not mine.

Balam is Strahd’s equal in atrocity. I have no one to blame but myself for accepting that agreement, however. We did not even need its help in the end. Regardless, I must be more wary of whom I trust, which is now only compounded by our current situation.

We went in search of the Sunsword, giving the Crossroads one last try. While we had found, indeed, the spot where it once lay, upon retrieval of the box we found it empty. Ashlyn had taken it, and my suspicions were only confirmed when we went to the town, where Ismark said she had indeed been here earlier, most angry that a fortune teller had shortchanged her on a reading.

We went to this seer, All-Seeing Hajeck, who has taken residence where once Madam Eva plyed her trade. We sought knowledge of Ashlyn, and where she had gone, and as to whether she indeed had the Sunsword or not. Hajeck asked us if we wanted to go to where Ashlyn was, an seemingly innocent question, we were ripped from Barovia and dumped into a carnival of another plane.

A plane where clown crows were attacking a defenseless chef, Biyo Venna, who knows where we are, at least. We are on the private plane of a powerful sorceress, Sonnorae, and she used the Harrowing deck to travel between planes. The cards indeed have power, which Rajani was quick to pick up on. It seems that we do not have power over the deck, only that we may ask it for help.

Biyo told us he had heard of Ashlyn, Meloigne, and an old companion from when we first entered Barovia, Roque. They have been taken captive at the Striding Fortress, but we are not able to rescue them until we’ve retrieved… tokens, from these creatures known here as Conspirators.

And we’ve a wedding to attend on the morrow’s eve, one during which Strahd will marry Ireena, one which we must stop. I can only pray to Iomedae that we are outside of Barovia’s grasp, and that the time we spend getting back does not operate at a similar speed to outside, back home.

Yes, home…

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