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Curse of Strahd [CLOSED]

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Syvis stepped lightly into the room with the others, studying the new space and trying to look for escape routes already. She smiled faintly at Otrev's comments, "I miss that scenery, little one. Maybe someday we'll return." Already she had lost his attention as he noticed the mirrors. The druid grimaced at seeing so many copies of herself dancing along the walls.

Hearing the others suggest a path she tilted her head, squinting at the Light Hircus carried, "Should we really travel with something so bright ...? I could mute our sounds, though it would likely leave you two in the dark, relying on our sight," she glanced at Fianna.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid Navy; padding: 10px ]The passage that goes farther into this deserted area of the castle extends a short distance before ending at a T intersection. Immediately to the right is a large, high, octagonal chamber, the castle's southwest tower. While it lacks the last room's assortment of mirrors, it holds a few crates and bulky objects, some of which are hidden under tarps. In the other direction, a long corridor stretches east as far as the elves can see in the dark, until it ends in a narrow spiral staircase up. Several lengths of metal and wood, old beams and pieces of organ pipe, lie in a jumble on the floor midway down this corridor.

Prompted by movement in the corner of her eye, Syvis instinctively looks back at the room of mirrors and sees a shadowy mass slowly undulating on the floor there. It lifts a headlike protrusion and two dim eyes stare back at Syvis, who understands that this presence is some abnormal manifestation of the spell she has just cast. With this knowledge, the figure now appears as a shadowy servant, seen only by Syvis, scrubbing the floor in the druid's wake.[/div]
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
"So, we have a dilemma," Moire observes as they come to a halt. "Travel right and we might uncover something interesting but we risk trapping ourselves if our host comes looking for us and the only path out is the way we came. On the other hand, go left and we raise the risk of coming across him."

The Paladin turns back to her companions, then shrugs once and says "I say we chance the right. What say you, my friends?"
 

Esbilon

Seven Thousand Club
"If he comes looking for us," Fianna says timidly, "I think we will be trapped wherever we go. If the right-hand path offers us a chance to learn something useful, I say we take it."
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Looking back at the dark creature that diligently cleaned away their trail, Syvis felt a low growl build in her throat, the hair on her body slowly rising to stand on end. However hearing Moire speak cut her short.

Instead she gave a harsh but short laugh, "I say it's foolish to think either path won't be as risky. This is his nest, expect him to have as many holes and shortcuts as he pleases. Even if not him, another of his kind. I still do not trust the one who opened this path to us." The elf shook her head, clutching Otrev's cage tightly, "Choose as you like, but don't assure yourself with the lie of 'safer'. This effect around us will last an hour, let's make it count."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid Navy; padding: 10px ]There's an almost imperceptible shift in the air, a faint rumble, a deep thud. A check back where the mirrors are stored confirms that the organ has returned to its original position. Dark wood fills the doorway back to the dining hall.[/div]
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Electing to inspect the old guardhouse, Moire is disappointing at her quick search of the covered...well, furniture it turns out. A hatbox. And sealed crates.

The Paladin picks up the hat and, for a moment, everyone can tell that she almost put it on. Instead she smooths the feathers and places it back in its box. "This isn't it," she says to her companions. "Our host isn't the kind to seal a trophy away in a box. It will be out on display somewhere. Let's keep looking."

Lacking any other obvious direction to go, she makes for the spiral staircase. Well, unless Hircus doesn't follow in which case she runs out of light pretty quickly!
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid Navy; padding: 10px ]The hallway is long; it certainly extends past the dining hall. Other than the midpoint, where the extra organ pipes and timbers clog the corridor, it's wide enough for two to walk abreast. When you reach the tight spiral staircase at the end, you see that it continues both up and down, stopping at this floor on its way to unknown reaches above and below.[/div]
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Moire reaches the staircase and looks up. Looks down. Then sighs, only too aware that she's the only one in the party who isn't an elf or carrying their own illumination.

Turning back to her companions, the Paladin says "We've come to our first real crossroads. Let's go up, first. Ordinarily, with a vampire, I would go down but this one rules this country absolutely. He has nothing to hide. If what we seek is indeed a trophy, he'll display it somewhere near public spaces, somewhere he can walk by as often as as he likes and potentially show off to guests he wants to impress."

"Let's try our luck, my friends."

Unless someone objects, Moire proceeds up the staircase.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus nods and follows Moore's lead, but slows his step when seeing the stairs ahead, "Maybe I should stay toward the end of the line and... keep an eye out for anyone who might follow." The big cleric, now more conscious of his size, steps to the side and allows the others to pass first. Once the direction is decided, Hircus will take a deep breath and follow. "Moire, I think one direction is as good as another. If you need my vote, I'll say up."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid Navy; padding: 10px ]There's precious little light ahead of Moire as she leads the group up the tightly wound spiral. With Hircus bringing up the rear, the muted light from his shrouded hammer only dimly shows the way ahead. There are no windows or other features to mark the rotations through this long-lost servants' staircase, and its uncertain whether the group has ascended thirty, forty, fifty feet, or more, before they reach a landing. To the left, the staircase continues its ascent, while another servants' hall extends to the right. This passage is even more neglected than the one below: great gossamer drapes of cobweb hang down from the ceiling, obscuring its length. Even with their keen eyes, the elves can barely make out the moonlight that glows through arrow slits along the left wall, and a narrow white patch on the right-hand wall that could be a decoration or servants' door. Roughly fifteen cobweb-clogged feet lie between the staircase and these features.[/div]
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Between their situation and the lack of light, Moire finally brings out her shield and draws her sword in case of surprises. But none appear to be forthcoming...yet.

The Paladin notes the servant's hall, swallowed up in darkness as it is, and whispers back to her companions. "Let's see how high this staircase takes us. Start at the top, work our way down, and hopefully get out from these servant's passages and into the castle proper, which is probably where that trophy is."

If there's no disagreement, Moire gamely continues ascending the stairs.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid Navy; padding: 10px ]Another couple of turns of the staircase and everyone starts to feel a cool wind blowing down, along with the intermittent whipping and whooshing sounds of tonight's wind. Finally, at their very top, beneath a small awning, the stairs open out onto a broad parapet that stretches out across the courtyard ahead until it reaches the shadowy outer wall nearly one hundred feet away. Standing at the top of the stairs here, still inside the keep, it's clear that the parapet also continues to the right, hugging the exterior of the castle's keep. Before Moire walks through the doorway to emerge into the open air, the wind shifts and a loud clank like a chain blowing against something stops everyone in their tracks. The sounds repeats, and again. Not a chain, but ponderous, metal-clad footfalls just out of sight to the right, on the other side of the doorway.[/div]
 

Esbilon

Seven Thousand Club
Fianna puts a hand on Moire's shoulder to stop her from going any further. "Be careful", she whispers, "remember when I said I was carried from here by a gargoyle? I think there's a real risk that parapet does more that just keep arrows from the castle's defenders."
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Moire turns back to her old friend and smiles appreciatively, even if she can barely see the other woman by Hircus' dim lit. With a nod of understanding, she motions the group back down the stairs and then proceeds to start backing her way down, as quietly as a woman clad in armor can.

If the group obliges and returns to the landing below, the Paladin joins them out in the servant's hallway. Unable to make out that drawing or door or whatever it might be on the right-hand wall, Moire proceeds to walk cautiously forward into the gloom.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The loose, sticky strands of cobweb are easily brushed aside, but just as easily cling to the arms or objects used to clear them. Before long you look like a quartet of mummers done up in shabby ghost costumes. The servant's door is less than ten feet ahead—something is faintly drawn on it—when a shrill shriek announces the arrival of a bat through the arrow slit in the left-hand wall. Otrev flutters in agitation. Syvis can't make out what the bat is saying as its speech dips in and out of her hearing range. "..er...ere...ome....ers....ers!"

Two more bats force their way in through the arrow slit, then another four. Two of the bats fly into the cobwebs, rapidly cocooning themselves as they struggle in the pale threads. Their tiny shrieks echo up and down the servants' corridor.
 
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Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Following quietly where the others led through this stone nest, Syvis' head turned quickly towards the sounds of bats trying to flit through the small area, only to tangle themselves in the cobwebs above.

Even though she knew they probably were just spies for the vampire lord, she didn't hold any anger towards the creatures around. Their wants were simple, they probably did everything for food or shelter. Far easier to understand than humans. Regardless, she gently but quickly set Otrev's cage down on the floor and reached upwards, standing on her tip toes as she spoke softly, "Sshhh, little ones, calm and I will free you from the strands. Let me help, be still before you wake even larger beasts."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The struggling little bat squeaks pitiably in Syvis' hand. Freed from the larger mass of cobweb, it begins licking itself to remove the lingering strands.

To Syvis and Fianna's eyes, the moonlight through the arrow slits dims perceptibly as everyone hears a far louder chorus of bat squeaks and the onrush of tiny wings. The half dozen bats were just a vanguard for the hundreds that start pouring in through the arrow slits, screaming madly as they careen about the servants' passage. The bat in Syvis' hand delivers a sharp little bite on her thumb before tumbling loose to join its fellows. Aggressive and out of control, they swarm around the four guests of Ravenloft, biting and scratching wherever they find an opening. Otrev cowers at the center of his cage while several of the creatures ricochet off its bars.
 
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Baba Luga

Vestige
The sudden army of bats screeches and swarms about, injuring Hircus and Syvis while Moire and Fianna manage to avoid the worst bites and scratches. Almost as soon as they arrive, they swoop off down the corridor, streaming back out into the night through distant arrow slits. Only a score or so of the creatures remain behind on the floor, rendered temporarily unconscious by Fianna's sleep spell.

Just as the bats depart, footsteps sound at the top of the stairs. It's Strahd's serving maid, accompanied by three other, similarly ghoulish individuals in servants' uniforms. All share the maid's leering grin, which is even more wild and gleeful here in the gloomy privacy of the backstairs. The four of them crouch forward, animal-like, their fingernails almost dragging on the stone floor. To Moire and Hircus, the maid and the butler beside her are cloaked in shadows at the outer range of the shrouded axe's light. In silent fits of laughter, they make tentative feints forward towards Fianna and Hircus, the nearest guests.
 
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Baba Luga

Vestige
Bold displays of arcane, holy, and martial power quickly fend off the inhospitable servants. The serving maid and one chambermaid are dead, partly anatomized by Moire as a precaution against regeneration. The eerie glow of Fianna's faerie fire still surrounds them. The butler and the second chambermaid have fled from the sight of Hircus' holy symbol, going up and down the staircase respectively.

By the bright light streaming from Moire and Hircus' weapons, the full length of the servants' corridor is visible. The retreating bats cleared away most of the cobwebs ahead, and this floor matches the layout of the one below: The hallway continues another forty feet, then turns right just before a large tower room at the castle's southwest corner. The narrow servants' door is still close by, with faint writing scratched on it.

All at once, the twenty-some bats on the floor spasm into motion, squeaking and flapping out through the arrow slits into the night.
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Limited in her fighting due to the tight space, Syvis relies more on trying to freeze the vampires out -- even if they may not feel it, their joints and muscles slow from the dull ache of the magical cold she conjures around them.

Moire and Hircus do far more against the creatures than she could manage and watches with narrow eyes at the retreating figures. If they were like most hunters, they'd merely circle around and come at them another way, given the pack was in their territory. Flinching at being pelted by leathery wings that tried to fly off, Syvis quickly reached down to one of the unconscious ones, grabbing it gently but firmly in very specific places, trying to prevent more nips and harm to the animal. "Shhh," she cooed to it as it woke and began squeaking, "Shh little one, I do not wish to harm you. I wish we had never met and you were far away in the caves and trees. I ask what you know of this place -- do you and your colony often roost here? Have you flown these halls? How many two-legs linger here?"
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The bat frantically struggles for a few moments before calming down. Just like the one she freed from the cobwebs a minute ago, this bat's speech is partly outside the range of Syvis' hearing. "..I...one...ow....a....oo...ot....ow. Ih...ides...ees...pa...I...ee...uch...uh...oo...aht...ee...emb..."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
Meanwhile, a quick search of the ghastly maids by Hircus turns up the following: The chambermaid's pockets contain a dull metal skeleton key, an oily dust rag, and a hand-sized soft doll that is a plump man wearing a dapper jacket fastened at the front with a single large button. The serving maid's possessions include a salt cellar, a crumb scraper, and a bent spoon, the back of which has been polished to the point where it functions like a tiny distorted mirror. She also has a soiled, worn calling card of Count von Zarovich with a note on it:

Antonie Kalinová, Your presence is graciously requested at Castle Ravenloft for gainful employment as a member of the Count's household.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus bends and Pat's down the bloodied bodies on the floor. Beginning with the chambermaid, he turns out her pockets onto the floor. Using the found dirty rag he places the the key and doll he finds into his pack. With a quick swivel to the serving maid he does another thorough search and uncovers two more items he decides to keep. The salt cellar and spoon both go into the clerics pack with a nod.

"A few items of note," he says to the group, "A key, a doll, some salt and a spoon with a mirror finish. The key may be our biggest find." Hircus stands and brushes himself off looking toward the group.
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Moire's taken to standing by the stairs, listening to the flight of the other servants up and down the stairs. The two who perished here had nonetheless stalled her party long enough to make their escape. And chances were good they would not return alone.

When its obvious there will be no immediate ambush, the Paladin turns back to her three companions. "A good try," she says to Syvis' efforts to speak with the bat. "Good find," she says, agreeing with Hircus. Paladins as a rule didn't stand for looting the dead but this was enemy territory; she and her friends weren't trying to make a profit, they were trying to stay alive and learning all they could was essential to that.

"Might as well keep the calling card, for that matter."

"I'm going to check this door," Moire says, with a toss of her head in the direction of the narrow servant's door with its faint writing...which she tries to read before going for the handle. "Then I suggest we get a move on. They know where we are. Let's not make finding us easy for them."
 

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