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Curse of Strahd [CLOSED]

jfish

Junior Member
Ina greets the elves warmly and briefly summarises the events of the previous night. "It seems as if we must meet this Madame Eva sooner rather than later; prepare ourselves with any knowledge we have lost. Do you know of her?" she sighs, running her hands through her hair, "Events have been set in motion, now that the King is aware of Moire's return," she smiles sadly at the paladin, "Though this temple you mentioned intrigues us, too. Perhaps if we survive our more...intimate encounter we can travel there in the coming days?"
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]"Interesting," Kasimir muses on Syvis' description of Otrev, speaking now in the common tongue. "I wonder if a visit back to his people's birthplace, the ruins of Berez, would change his behavior. Not that I suggest you go there. The valley of the Luna River is one of our gloomiest places, always thick with mist. And ghost-tainted too: Decades ago, Von Zarovich began to turn a Berez girl into a vampire like himself, to be his bride, but her own people murdered her to keep her from him. What's left of Berez, and the voiceless birds like Otrev, stand as memorials to the Count's wrath."

"So you will speak with Madam Eva as I advised yesterday? Good, good. Did I tell you the way? Past Vallaki, the Old Svalich Road winds through the hills until it reaches the great gates of Barovia. It is there that your friend, should he have raced to his doom as you say, would have continued east to Castle Ravenloft itself. Please do not do so. Take the southern fork instead, until the Ivlis River crossing, where a trail on your left follows the river into the forest. That will take you to Tser Pool, where the Vistani make a smaller camp. The trip should only take half the day."

"Oh, and when you speak to Madam Eva, no need to mention my name. I'm just as happy to stay out of her readings if I can."

"And then, when you are ready, we will go to the Temple. I have been preparing myself, studying my old spellbooks,"
he points to the book he was reading when you came in. "The way to the Temple will take us up into the mountains; you will want warmer clothing. I know that Vallaki is no longer so easy for you, but perhaps you will find something in Krezk, or Barovia Village, which is not far from Tser Pool."
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Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
"Good advice and well taken," Moire says. She otherwise defers to Ina in wrapping up the conversation; he's her old friend after all.

There's a bit of disappointment that he won't come with them now, that this valley where the temple is located isn't reachable within a day. She's felt a kind of numb complacency over the past few days but waking this morning seems to have burned it off, like the sun burning away the mists. Urgency now beats in her blood. And she fears that without a secret, without a weapon, without something more than they have, none of them will survive the night with Lord Strahd.

Once her companions are ready to leave, Moire gazes upon the road ahead before setting off. Weighed down by armor and a sword now, she's nonetheless eager to make the best time the party can make. Something tells her that every second might count.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus stands outside of Kasimir's home staring off into the woods and toward the road they will soon travel. The cleric is deep in though, brow knitting and twitching as he ponders what the vision meant.

Are we just as easily slipping back in to the rutted trails of fates road. Tegan argued to go alone in my vision, and yesterday he repeated the same. However, this time I allowed him to leave on his own. I can't free myself from the thought that we may be repeating the same mistakes in different form.

Hircus reaches down and pulls a long piece of grass and chews it as he gazes across the clearing. On the edge of the clearing a small brown groundhog sits up on his hind legs to survey the area. Once the rodent is sure it is safe it digs up a juicy root and begins to chew.

And what about these creatures all reporting to Strahd. What chance do we have? He must know, even now, what we plan to do. If he sees us travel away from his castle will he forcibly correct our course? We will need to be on watch for the creatures of the forest. It is good that we have our new friend Syvis. It is very good.

As the others exit Kasimir's home he rejoins his friends. "So, are we heading to the other Vistani camp, then? I am... sorry for leaving so abruptly. I worry for out friend Tegan. I worry, because I fear my vision yesterday was a warning. We must remember to check the signpost at the crossroad for a note from him, however unlikely."

Once the group has traveled far enough from the Vistani camp that Hircus feels comfortable talking freely he voices his other concern. "Should we worry about the gifts that the Vistani have given us? The items we received are more than any of us expected. I worry that they may come with a hidden price." Hircus gestures to the wine in his pack, "I mean, The Archfiend? I may be a man of the cloth, but I think even you all can admit that this is quite a name for a wine that may have some restorative properties. Anyway, I just want to air my thoughts so you can decide for yourselves. I just want you all to stay safe." Hircus finally looks around at the faces of his party to gauge their reactions to his fears.
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Once they get underway, Moire's spirits lift a little. "Yes, we should see if Tegan's left any word for us. We may not remember each other well, but I think he's a man of his word. Much like these Vistani."

Hearing Hircus' concerns, the Paladin gives it a moment of serious thought. "Should we worry? I think we should be alert, yes. And certainly they were given with the spirit of ensuring we held the gift giver favorably, as I do. That said, I doubt they're a trap. At least, not intentionally. For one thing, these were sent for before the Vistani King showed up and I don't think they harm strangers for the sake of mischief. For another, we're not strangers; we're the people who saved their daughter. No, I think these gifts are earnestly given. But just in case, it wouldn't hurt for us to keep watch over each other in case there's some lingering curse."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]luvash.jpgAs if conjured forth by the discussion of the gifts, an unfamiliar Vistana rushes down the hillside, waving his arms. Luvash follows behind at a more relaxed pace while casually eating a rib left over from last nights festivities. When the Vistani leader has reached you in his own time, he makes a great formality of appraising the armor and weapons delivered to Moire and Ina. He sticks out his lower lip, nods his head from side to side and shrugs his shoulders, as if these items might be only just up to snuff. "So," he asks at last, "what do you think? How has Alexei done? Not too bad, eh? He has a talent; I don't know where he finds these things. But if these will not do, just say the word and I send him out again for better."

"Oh,"
he says, as if suddenly remembering something—Ina and Syvis can clearly see this was a planned pivot—"you said something about visiting Madam today. Is that why you head off so early? If it's not too much trouble, please bring her this." He produces a long leather wallet, which he offers to Moire. "She is expecting it. And we will be honored, of course, to have you here as our guests again tonight!" Quite suddenly, he lurches forward and grasps Moire in a firm bear hug, then does the same with Hircus, Ina and Syvis. "Mother Night watch over you, even by day!"

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Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]The journey east begins with the now-familiar short hike back through the woods to the western gate of Vallaki. By daylight, the gates are open again and the town is quiet. Within the palisade, paper lanterns and other decorations from the Festival of the Blazing Sun still hang along the main street. Honoring Izek Strazni's prohibition requires a mile-long detour around the outside of the southern wall to reach the eastern gate, where the Old Svalich Road resumes its eastward course among the tall, crowding trees of the forest.

The morning fog, already relatively sparse by your newly-calibrated standards, continues to rise and dissipate, leaving a uniform white sky high overhead. Several miles ahead, green hills rise up out of the forest. If not for the trees on either side, Syvis estimates you'd be able to see five miles or more.

Despite the recently voiced fears of being under near-constant surveillance, most of the tiny animals Syvis overhears as you travel through the woods are concerned with their own minor affairs, noting the party's passage only to advise their fellows to stay clear of such large creatures. Still, every so often, a swallow or warbler voices some dark commentary. "There they go. Food for wolves. Doomed, doomed. The master's fresh game." The friendliest creature met along the way is a plump raven who plops down in the center of the path ahead and croaks out, "Hello," before taking off again into the trees.

Mindful of the time, and the threatened dinner engagement, you press on as quickly as you can for the next two hours, allowing only what breaks are absolutely necessary for Moire and Syvis, who carry the heaviest loads, to catch their breaths. Finally, come mid-morning, the road emerges from the forest, only to made a sharp rightward turn and follow a low ridge that slowly rises until it clears the treetops, revealing a magnificent vista over the valley you've left: Vallaki nestled at the crossroads in the woods, the long, dark lake—four miles east to west at least—where you captured Pullo yesterday, and to the southwest, maybe three miles away across the forest, a lone, spire-topped building that clings to the side of the opposite foot of the great southern mountain. At this distance, the mansion appears no larger than a piece of dollhouse furniture; if not for Ina and Syvis' keen eyes, it might have gone entirely unnoticed.

As the road continues up and into the hills themselves, the view closes in once more, replaced by steep slopes and shadows. Before long, however, a smaller path branches off to the right, leading to an exposed promontory with a dilapidated stone windmill at its crest. Warped wooden vanes, barely covered by tattered old sails, face out over the treetops and creak haltingly in the breeze.

Pausing here, Ina's eyes are drawn to some markings recently scratched on a stone by the side of the path to the windmill: Someone has left a sign belonging to that secret symbolic alphabet shared by thieves and hobos It means something along the lines of, "Dangerous house, not worth your trouble, keep moving." Below the symbol is a letter T. Kasimir's route to Madam Eva's camp continues along the main road, back into the hills ahead.

windmill_COS.jpg
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Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]The road through the rising hills soon turns away from the windmill and carries on among switchbacks for another half hour or until it enters another dense bit of forest that climbs higher still, exiting again after another quarter hour. Almost immediately after clearing the last tree, you come upon a great marvel of construction among what had seemed a remote natural refuge: high stone buttresses loom above, stretching between the hills on either side of the road. Huge iron gates hang on the stonework, flanked by towering headless statues of armed guardians; their moss-covered heads rest on the earth at their feet, regarding you with empty eye sockets.

raven.jpg raven.jpg raven.jpg

gates.jpgAs Hircus approaches the great gates, the landscape changes. The trees grow closer and thicker, the road straighter. The gargantuan stone guardians are different too, similarly imposing, but the details of their armor have changed and the fallen heads rest elsewhere on the ground. Turning, Hircus sees Aurica Markovia, Moire, Faria and many others. One woman steps forward, unique among the humans, elves and dwarves who comprise the bulk of this band. She is old and hunched, relying on a cane. Her long, dipping neck is covered in golden scales that grow smaller as they cover her elongated reptilian face—one of the dragonborn seers. "It is as I have seen in a vision," she says. "Faria showed us the true way. These are the gates of Barovia."

"But closed,"
says a man from behind. Farther back, where the group has traveled from, the thick morning mist has moved in to obscure the road's origin. The fog has an acrid quality that stings the nostrils and throat.

"Let us see," Markovia says with a confident smile. Slowly, she advances on the closed iron gates that seem better suited for giants.

With a long, screeching gasp, the gates shudder and swing outward, spraying dew from their bars. Beyond waits something dark and terrible that Hircus cannot look at. While the others surge forward after Markovia, panic overtakes him. He turns and runs, the plates of his armor rattling like the gates as he rushes headlong back through the noxious opaque fog.


raven.jpg raven.jpg raven.jpg

"A bit dramatic, I know, but it's home; can you believe I get sentimental?" laughs the rakish young Vistani man sitting beside Ina as the gates between the headless stone titans swing noisily open. The horses that draw their big, colorful wagon are unperturbed by the grating portals.

"You'll see, Inawenys," the Vistana continues as he encourages the horses with a light flick of the reigns, "it will be just as I promised. So many treasures for you, practically left abandoned. The people here are sleepy; they don't care for nice things like you and I do. The old mansion, that will be a good place for you to start. Tonight, you stay with my people at our camp, then tomorrow I'll make you a map and you can start your little collection—goblets, rings, paintings, whatever you want, you'll find there. And that is just one place. If you ever exhaust it—I don't see how, but you never know—I will show you others. Oh, I envy you, the adventures you'll have here!"

The big bright wagon has passed through the gates during the man's loving description of riches and plunder. Now the grinding metal cacophony repeats as the gates begin to close again, and Ina experiences a moment of panic.

"Oh, not to worry about them," assures Ina's companion. "When you are tired of getting rich and ready to go back home, we will go see my cousin and she will sell you one of our potions for traveling through the mists. No problem at all." He starts to whistle a happy little tune that makes this strange new place seem almost as comforting and full of promise as he's said. Ina relaxes, ready to take his advice, until a hoarse voice somewhere bellows, "Run!" and she is running, as fast as her legs will carry her.


raven.jpg raven.jpg raven.jpg

The gates seen by Moire and Syvis are not shut; they hang open, having apparently been so for ages if the corroded iron at the hinges, and dirt and weeds along their bottoms are any indication. The dirt road continues through the gates, appearing to fork some distance beyond.

Moire is soaking in the vague familiarity of this massive wall, when suddenly, with no evident cause, Hircus turns and shouts, "Run!" so that his voice echoes off the pitiless stone wall and through the hills. With wild eyes he takes off at a dead run following the road back into the forest. Ina, with a strangely blank expression, nods and sprints after him, almost immediately passing the heavily-armored man as she too makes for the woods.[/div]
 
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Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
"...Ilmater Wept," Moire says, softly but with feeling.

Then she promptly dumped her backpack to free up a little weight and sprinted off after Hircus. With a glance back in Syvis' direction, the Paladin shouts, "Take cover at the tree line!"

And if it's possible for her to catch either of them and stop them around the tree line, she'll attempt to do so.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]Moire's pack, and the big bundled tent that rests on top of it and extends across her shoulders, hit the ground with a thud as she takes off with Hircus. The two of them are neck and neck for about thirty seconds before the priest of Torm's breathing gets labored and his pace slows. They're about two-thirds of the way to the trees now, into which Ina has already disappeared, quick and nimble as she is.

Although he's barely jogging along now, Hircus is clearly pushing himself to his very limits. His cheeks puff and he gasps for air as his arms flail forward. Moire has no problem keeping up with just a brisk walk. Another desperate thirty seconds, and he pitches forward onto his knees, hyperventilating and drenched in sweat, with the trees still almost a hundred feet away.[/div]
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Except Hircus doesn't make it to his knees. Gasping for breath or not, Moire slips an arm around his shoulders, puts one of his arms around her shoulders and she helps him keep his feet. "I've got you, my friend," she says softly to the panicked, doubtlessly insensible cleric. "Just a little further to those trees and you'll be safe. You're always safe in my arms, Hircus, just as I know I'm safe in yours."

Supporting the cleric's weight as much as he needs, Moire intends to help him reach the treeline one way or another.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]Fleeing alone from the terrible portals, Hircus is soon lost among the choking mists, but he must press on, even as his legs fall out from under him. As he's about to hit the ground, an arm reaches out to steady him. It's Moire, the paladin from Markovia's inner circle who he met just weeks ago. She speaks comforting words, and with her help, he's able to continue east along the road, despite the nearly-blinding fog, away from the gates of Barovia.

raven.jpg raven.jpg raven.jpg

Carrying Hircus along with her, Moire doesn't have to go far into the woods before she spots Ina flat on her back in the middle of the road a few hundred feet ahead. Syvis catches up soon after. Minutes later, both Ina and Hircus seem to come to their senses, though both are completely exhausted.[/div]
 

jfish

Junior Member
Runrunrunrunrun.

Ina's heart pounds even quicker than her feet against the ground, barely recognising that she was now alone. Her instinct to get away is so overwhelming that she doesn't consciously register the slightly spongier floor as she passes the treeline, though her gait adjusts automatically: a remnant her distant elven ancestry - after all, they all came from natural climes once upon a time.

Her next conscious thought is sheer exhaustion. She forces her eyes open and groans at the effort of raising herself onto her elbows as she sees the others approach.

She frowns at their wariness, at Moire practically holding Hircus upright.

"It happened again, didn't it?" she sighs, attempting - and failing - to get to her feet. "Could we rest a moment? I can barely keep my eyes open." At least, that's what she was attempting to say, but she's unsure which words were actually understandable.
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Ignoring the strange structure off to the side, Syvis had continued with the others as they traveled, the scenery rather dreary but at the same time made her homesick.

Then suddenly large gates come into view. The druid tilts her head, impressed by the scale of them, but her relative ease is quickly destroyed as she sees two of the pack take off like death is charging at them. Even with carrying the birdcage she tries to shift into a battle ready stance ... but sees nothing? Moire orders a retreat, perhaps she sees something the druid does not, but Syvis is not keen on a blind run, especially with trying to carry Otrev's cage. Instead she makes a slower retreat, attempting to keep watch for any threats that might give away its presence ... and still there is nothing. Her amber eyes seek the horizon as she eventually joins the others in the trees, seeing Ina and Hircus struggle for breath or even speaking.

Setting the cage down, she begins patrolling the small camp they've made for the moment as the pair rest. Annoyance is on her face as she circles, "We do not have much time to spare with our goals for the day. Do the gates scare you? They seem merely a remnant of Man's structures, old and abandoned, reclaimed by nature." Another circle around the group, "Perhaps if sight scares you, we could lead you forward, blindfolded."

Continuing around once more she offered, "You cannot lead a horse to water and make it drink, but you can lead it past a terror it cannot see."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]Perhaps attracted by Hircus' shout and the sounds of stamping feet, a plump young raven alights on a branch over the road. "Oh, hello," he croaks. "Nice day." His dark eyes flit among the four humanoids below for a moment, then a second young raven flaps down to settle on her own branch. "Hello," she croaks. When three more of the black birds arrive, Otrev grows agitated and does a warning dance in his cage. "What's this then? Don't get any ideas, you!" One of the ravens mimics Otrev's dance, aping the same message, though it's unclear if the two birds have actually understood each other or if the raven is just displaying its proclivity for imitation.

A louder whirring noise presses through the forest, as new arrivals cause the quintet of ravens to triple in size. Fifteen birds or more now sit in trees about the road, croaking their hellos and staring down at Syvis, Moire, Hircus and Ina.[/div]
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Watching the birds gather and arrive, Syvis squinted at the incoming flock. Moving to stand protectively around the cage, she spoke to them -- using Common so the others could get an idea of the conversation. "Hello. Do you visit for conversation? Or a message? Otrev's cage is his own."
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
An exhalation barely forms the word, "No..." before Hircus turns away from the terrible thing on the other side of the gates, away from his trusted allies who are depending on him, away from his oath sworn to Torm. Hircus turns from all of it and runs. There is no path he follows or road drawn by gods, Hircus runs from that which he can't face.

The wet grass grabs at his legs as he sprints away from the gates ignoring all those who would stop him. The mists drag cold across his face. There are no thoughts or goals or cares, the cleric just runs until his chest screams for air and his mouth tastes of metal. Sharp pain stabs him beneath the ribs as his body begins to give up, but he continues to run. Then he is heading for the ground barely able to see through the mists, the sweat and the tears that fill his eyes. "No..."

Then he is lifted up, he is being carried, Moire is close to his ear speaking encouragement and helping he flee. The world begins to shift back to him as he regains his senses. The tree line, yes. He continues with the paladin's help to the shelter of the trees. The trees, where there is now a growing jury of crows balking and cawing at his approach. Judging him for his weakness.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]Several of the ravens ruffle their feathers and turn to regard Syvis. "What?" exclaims one. "Oh, Hello," says another. "Who are you?" asks a third. And then the raven who was possibly the first to arrive hops up and flutters aggressively, before settling back down, staring at Syvis, and saying, "Squawk! Squawk!" To Hircus, Ina and Moire this is indistinguishable from anything else the ravens have said thus far. Syvis, on the other hand, can plainly tell that the bird is spouting nonsense. It's like he's mimicking the bird calls an unschooled human might make.

"What?" another raven asks the squawker. "Squawk!" is the reply. The questioning raven tips her head to one side, then nods and also brays a hearty, "Squawk!" The mantra ripples through the conspiracy, until all any of the birds will say is, "Squawk!" while they continue observing the people below from their roosts. Soon, even more ravens arrive, each greeting the others with bit of intelligible conversation before receiving pointed correction that gets them squawking along with the others. There are now too many ravens to keep track of; by the time you've counted off a dozen, some of them have moved around, so you can't be sure you aren't counting the same individuals again. At least thirty birds seems like a good guess though.[/div]
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
The cawing of crows brings Hircus back to the moment and his face shifts from pained to surprise. "What? Did I visit that other place again? Was I mad... again?" The cleric attempts to stand, but can't find the strength. Instead he falls back against a tree with a huff. He takes a moment to survey the area and his compatriots. Moire is close. She clearly assisted him through whatever state he found himself in. He acknowledges this with a nod of appreciation toward the paladin. Hircus watches Syvis as she seems to greet the crows. The cleric gives a short chuckle and a shake of his head at her odd behavior. Ina, she looks nearly the same as Hircus. The girl seems to be in the same state as the cleric. Did they travel to this land together? He searches his memory of the scene for her presence. Ina was not there.

"The Gates of Barovia..." He states plainly as if he was a tour guide with a pre-written script. "Moire, you were there. We stood there together facing the closed gates. Faria led us there, but she was not the one who knew. There was another woman there. A dragonborn elder. She confirmed that we were heading in the right direction and then... Markovia approached... and there was a..." Hircus trailed off with a shake of his head. "I don't know. I was too afraid to face it. I fled. I ran through the mists like a frightened child. We must return to these gates. It is another piece of this puzzle." The big man leans back against the tree and stares at the branches above him and at Syvis and the crows.

With a start he swings the backpack off of his back and digs for a moment. A second later he pulls out the stick with a bird skull attached to the end. With a waggle he shows it to Syvis. "Have you ever seen anything like this. I found it in the home of the crazed man, Pullo."
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Listening to the ravens start to act dumb, Syvis put her hands on her hips. "So you're going to act dull? I suppose the other birds were right after all, ravens have nothing in their tiny heads. I suppose I'll have to let everyone else know -- it seems owls truly are the most intelligent."

Staring at a few of the birds for a moment, her attention was taken by Hircus offering her the strange stick. Studying it for a moment, "... almost looks like a totem of a kind. Yet I'm not sure ... what this ring would be for?" Turning it this way and that she read a small tag outloud, "...is no fun, is no blinsky? What is a blinsky?" Reaching for the small ring she pulled it, wincing at the painful groaning sound that emerged from the beak, then stared at the small, brightly-painted sparrow's skull that sprung from its top.

Blinking a few times she handed it back to the cleric, "It seems to be a puppet. A ... very strange puppet or toy. Perhaps it was the girl's at one point."
 

jfish

Junior Member
Ina mumbles groggily and pushes herself to a sitting position, gratefully taking the time to recuperate from whatever madness it was that that took her. She listens with interest to the birds above, and then to Hircus telling of his vision.

"I travelled through those gates, before," her voice is somber, "Back when I was full of...a lust for treasure, I suppose. There's no hiding it; I was always interested in trinkets and jewels. There was a Vistani man... he told me of a mansion where I would get my fill - it sounded like a veritable dragon's hoard." the elf sighs wistfully, her mind in the past, "But he also - ah, later. We must be on, no?" she remembers the ravens above, wary of how much to talk in their presence. She shakily gets to her feet, already feeling much better than she had even five minutes before. Perhaps the knowledge of a way out of this realm had inspired her? Or was it the promise of treasure? Surely I would have hidden any valuables in my time before. Ah, but that way of life got you here, Ina. Someone has seen fit to give you another chance. Do not waste it.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]The black birds are not so easily goaded back to sensible speech; the chief squawker cocks his head quizzically at Syvis' barbs and answers only with the pippip of droppings hitting the leaves below.

As the hour passes and Hircus and Ina are somewhat stabilized with the aid of Syvis' berries, the ravens seen to lose interest. They depart in groups of two or three until, by the time the travelers on the road are ready to move again, only five birds remain. These five stragglers however, prove quite dogged. Bit by bit they follow to the edge of the small wood, then take flight high above, circling as Moire gathers up her dropped gear and the party makes a second approach to the great gate.

This time, Ina and Hircus remain grounded and can see the ancient wall as it is today, without intrusions of memory or hallucination. Not far beyond the wall waits the fork Kasimir spoke of, where the road splits around the base of a tall hill. The eastern fork, the one that apparently reaches the gates of Castle Ravenloft, widens, studded here and there with remnants of cobblestone befitting its former glory. The other way, south, makes a wide circuit through the hills for about forty minutes, finally coming to an arching bridge of moss-encrusted stone which spans a chasm ahead. Stepping out of the trees and onto the bridge widens your view to another wild vista. Off to the right, a mighty waterfall twinkles on the mountainside over a half mile away, dropping into a pool that becomes the river Ivlis, flowing dizzyingly a thousand feet below you.

The river meanders off among the fog-clouded treetops beneath the left side of the bridge. Over a mile away, on an open piece of land by the riverside, you can just make out some tiny structures that might be a group of tents. However, if that's Madam Eva's camp, then Kasimir's instruction to cross this bridge, then follow a path along the riverside into the woods is hardly practical. Upon crossing the bridge, the road continues along an open cliffside, beginning a steep, winding descent through the mountainside forest into the valley below. No death-defying switchbacks, no terrifying sequence of rickety ladders grants quick access to the river. Kasimir's path might be just one step away, but it's a step that plummets a thousand feet straight down.

High above your heads, five ravens circle lazily. [/div]
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
"Well, that doesn't seem like a leisurely walk to the river." Hircus leans cautiously toward the precipice then steps back toward the road. "No, I'd say we have to find a better way down there. This body isn't built for death defying climbs down a shear cliff. I say we keep moving and try to find another way down. If the road veers too far off course, we may end up blazing our own trail around." The cleric takes a few more steps down the road, then turns to the group, "Unless you have a better plan, like flying a magic carpet or teleportation. Sadly, I think hoofing it is our only way. Torm draws my path, but he hasn't ever led me down the side of a canyon."
 
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Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]The road follows the mountainside for over a mile, heading gently downhill as it goes, until it makes a switchback into the forest that grows on the mountain's flank and begins its descent in earnest among the evergreens. After nearly an hour walking the winding road through the woods, your shins are starting to ache and the mists that have been absent all day are making themselves known again; you've come down to their level. Even after clearing the hillside forest, you can see you have a ways to go. The dirt road before you twists and turns on the hillside, taking its time in getting down to a far-off intersection. Beyond that meeting of roads, more forest, and then impenetrable fog.

As you at last set foot on level ground and make your final approach to the intersection, you estimate it's been nearly two hours since you crossed the stone bridge high above the Ivlis River. Encouraged by a chill breeze, perspiration gathered in layers of clothing and armor asserts itself as a cold, clinging blanket against your skin.

Something ominous waits at the crossroads: an old wooden gallows creaks a greeting as it offers up a single hooded body swaying in the breeze. A bright yellow shirt worn by this criminal or victim stands out among the grays, browns and greens of the countryside. The first impression is that a human child has been executed here, but as you draw even closer, the proportions of the limbs make it seem more likely that this was a gnome or halfling, or perhaps an adult human man of unusually short stature. Nearby, a low wall, crumbling in places, partially encloses a small plot of graves.

Across the road from the gallows, a signpost points along the three arms of the intersection. The way from which you came is marked Ravenloft/Vallaki, the sign pointing east reads Barovia Village, and the way northwest, which heads back into the forest, apparently goes to Tser Pool.[/div]
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus trods downhill keeping pace with his companions. The cleric occasionally glances around to not their progress, but mostly keeps his thoughts to himself as he reviews the events of the last two days. Their trek through Barovia may have been the strangest, most interesting trip he has ever made. Ahead on the road he spies a structure, which becomes a gruesome site as they get closer. A small form hangs by it's neck from a rope.

"Gods of pity, how much horror does this land contain?" The large man's eyes go wide as he realizes this is the kind of situation that tends to throw him into a fit. Hircus closes his eyes steels himself in an attempt to prepare his mind for another vision, which does not come. A moment later he opens one eye at a time. "Did we lose anyone? Are you all in your right mind?" Satisfied, Hircus approaches the small body on the rope and walks a circle around it. "A small mercy, but I first thought it might be the corpse of a child. Do we just leave it and continue on our way?"

Hircus takes a step closer to the corpse to try and determine the victim's age, occupation or station. "Yellow? You know, there is something familiar here and I can't place it. This man and his yellow shirt is a little out of place to me. Maybe a reveler from the Sun Festival back in Vallaki?"
 

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