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Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
As surely as Strahd is oblivious to the actions of the others, so Moire is equally oblivious. Before her stands the powerful, regal figure from memory. The man who'd bid her drop her weapon. The monster who (presumably) had murdered Markovia, and probably killed them all. Centuries later, he's as untouched by death as she. Strahd was greater than death even back then and, in his presence, the Paladin faces a man of such potence to surpass all of her worldly experience. No pirate, no soldier, no paladin and no monster she'd faced had ever worn such imperishable power as the Vistani King.

Understandably awed, she bends her head in reverential respect, only to find she's dropped to one knee as well. Paladins do not serve Kings, only the Gods, but rising in his presence feels as impossible as looking Ilmater in the face.

"I don't know why I'm here, your Majesty," Moire responds, helpless to stem the words, torn between fear and gratitude that she doesn't know the answer to his questions. "I woke but a few days ago, nearly as you see me now but for some equipment we obtained on the way." His weight of his regard lays heavily on her face, across her body, like the brutal glare of a baleful sun. "Nor do I know how I returned. I-" she wants to turn her head to look at her friends but finds she can't pull her eyes away from his. "We hoped to learn more from Madame Eva. Something that wore her form woke us and sent us here."

She wants to say more. Yearns to say more. She'd planned to profess ignorance of who he was, claiming amnesia (not a lie after all) and then mention their friendship with the Vistani to build common ground. But all of her diplomatic skills fall by the wayside as she waits, caught like a ship in a whirlpool, helpless to break free.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
Ina's trained eye sees that, as always, Strahd's taste in clothing is exquisite: leather, furs, ivory buttons, gilt-laced embroidery. "Something," he says in a long, drawn out breath, echoing Moire's characterization of the being who greeted her, Hircus and Ina in that eerie, darkling grove.

The vampire closes his eyes and inhales deeply over Moire's kneeling form. "Curious," he murmurs. "The fortune teller. Yes, that is well, Moire. See what she has to say. You will all dine with me at Castle Ravenloft tomorrow evening, and we shall sift her words to find what more can be discerned. I will send a carriage for you."

He steps back, turns his head and nods at the dark place to which the great wolves have returned. "Oh, and as to the girl, and her abductor," he adds, "it is the very justice I would have dispensed. Thank you." He raises his arm, snaps his fingers, and spontaneously dissipates into a cloud of mist that drifts slowly upwards into the night.

In Strahd's absence, the wolves behind the throne release exultant bellows and snarls. Understood only by Syvis, they converse with one another:

"Do you smell it sister?"

"Yes, brother, its spoor. Kin to the rump pack that now skulks our forest."

"And it speaks?"

"Investigate?"

"Eliminate."

The Vistani scramble back off the rug as both wolves growl and charge forward around the throne, bound for Syvis with bared fangs.
 

jfish

Junior Member
Ina's breath catches as they finally come face to face with this...entity. The king's very presence was so...commanding, total. She almost - almost - laughed: how she used to think her father was intimidating. She takes in the finery, the effortless display of power. Seeing even Moire kneeling, shefollows suit, keen to not displease this king upon their first meeting.

Her ears twitch in an effort to glean any information from Syvis' exchange with the wolves- they certainly seemed taken aback. Ina was much the opposite of Syvisin that regard- the other elf was much more attuned to creatures than Ina, which is likely why Ina falters as the wolves charge unexpectedly towards the other elf. But he just invited us to? Hells, I should have worn the armour.
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Hearing the King begin to speak again, Syvis watched him, focusing on his words. As he seemed to decide something she released the breath she had held -- that ... had gone reasonably better than expected. Yet as he disappeared, the rumbling from the two direwolves caught her attention. She didn't know what 'spoor' meant, but listening to the rest she thought they were talking about her pack -- they had landed here too? They were still around? The joy that flared up for a moment was quickly dashed by fury as the two large animals began to charge at her.

The sharp fangs made her hair stand up on end, but that was her body's reaction, instincts of seeing such large predators both dashing towards her, but her mind was of a druid -- one that had play fought with creatures much larger than these two siblings of a foreign pack. Syvis focused herself as she called upon the protective Bear Spirit, eyes widening slightly as she realized it was decaying and skeletal in its form, but powered through as it made a silent roar towards the pair of wolves, glaring in their direction, posturing defensively for the members of Syvis' current pack -- its strength washing over them and bolstering them for the potential fight ahead.

Focusing herself once more, her teeth grew within her mouth, sharpening into fangs as her nails grew out into wicked claws and she yelled out in Common for all to hear, snarling, "You attack those your Alpha has claimed interest in?! Shameful members of the Pack that guides you!"
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The great wolves lower their heads and bare their teeth at this sudden manifestation of a ghastly ursine specter in their path. "Impudent half-thing of a dying tribe," one of them snarls at Syvis, "to lecture us on the Master's will." He darts to one side, in a move Syvis recognizes as the prelude to a snap at the insubstantial bear's neck.
 
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jfish

Junior Member
Ina shifts her weight, ready to lunge forwards if necessary. She readies a dagger, thankful she had the forethought to bring those, at least. Her movements are slow but smooth; an attempt not to provoke the wolves any further. As if that helps.

She angles the left blade towards the wolves, hoping that it might cause some damage to the beasts if they struck before she was ready. She tilts her head towards Hircus and stretches her right pinky finger to hopefully draw the cleric's attention to the one still at her hip; an offering.

"If we must do this, let it only be in defense."
 
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Baba Luga

Vestige
The Vistani on either side witness Syvis' phantasmagoric ghoul bear, and her personal transformation, with varying expressions of shock and wonder. Arabelle cries out and turns her face into the folds of Lala's dress. They all take a few steps back to be clear of the spectacle, and the stallion-sized wolves. The man closest to Moire's, however, first gives her an expressionless wink and slides his hand across his waist; the scabbard he wears drops to the ground, along with the curved sword it holds. He's a gaunt, middle-aged fellow with a large aquiline nose, who Moire recognizes from the circle of dancers in the big tent.

As Ina readies her blade, something in the pitch and tempo of her words seems to momentarily distract the wolf on the right from Syvis and the bear spirit. Its focus on the highborn rogue has left it open to attack.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
But... This was just to be a parley, not a melee!

For a moment of disbelief, Hircus stands and watches as the demon dogs bare teeth and threaten Syvis, which is a threat against them all by extension. Moire continues to show her grit by charging headlong into the fray. Syvis conjures a spectral bear which must be some sort of distraction or attack that is unknown to the cleric.

Don't just stand their like a roast on a spit, take action you old fool.

Hircus bends and gives a mighty tug on the carpet hoping to distract the wolves, then turns toward Ina who holds out a dagger in his direction. He takes the dagger and moves passed Ina and Syvis to get to a safer place where he might be able to help turn the tide of this skirmish, Torm willing. As he moves he catches a chuckle from Arrigal which brings the war cleric's blood to a boil.

Noticing the girl Lala and the young one Arabelle, Hircus bellows, "Just hours ago I played the loyal subject to your lost princess, but now we are being fed to the wolves. Do you hold no sway with king's beasts?"
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The heavy rug barely moves under the weight of the massive wolf. It's enough, however, to make it slightly shift a rear paw and whip its head in Hircus' direction, releasing its jaws from Moire's shoulder in the process.

Arrigal stands with his arms crossed and chuckles as the cleric runs past to where two other Vistani have retreated. Hearing Hircus' words, Lala holds her head high, haughty and blameless, as she strokes Arabelle's hair. One of the two men closest to Hircus—young, with a scar under one eye and a green head wrap—reaches out to grip the older cleric's shoulder. "Sorry Bibaxa," he says with genuine remorse, "but this is how it is for a mar-lardjo. Always sorrows, always trials." The man to his left nods in somber agreement.
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Attempting to strike with a claw from the opportunity created by Hircus, Syvis' swipe went wide as the wolf stabilized itself. Seeing the pair focus on Moire made Syvis growl -- she had hoped at the very least they would keep their attention on the druid that apparently had offended them so much. Her new pack could have so easily left her to this challenge by herself -- unarmed and unarmored as they were, and yet they had decided to stand by her! Her teeth lengthened as she moved around towards the wolves, once more trying to get one of them to focus on her as she bit deeper into one of its injuries, tasting the bitterness of blood in her mouth and the dull fur that pulled away with her as she tore a chunk out of the wolf's shoulder, an acidic burn in its flesh. Spitting the fur and blood out she watched as they made their retreat, calling after them: "Remember we let you leave."

At their responded threat, Syvis felt even more tired than she had on the cusp of resting for the night. She hadn't wanted to start some territory war at all ... but perhaps she should have known ... none of the animals she'd met here so far had acted as she'd hoped or expected. Trying to wipe her face off, she approached Moire to try and offer the bloodied paladin a hand, reaching for her pouch of berries to offer if desired. "They will ease your pain slightly ... but I warn they are very filling." The druid's voice wavered as she looked between the party, "I'm ... I'm sorry, but they acted like some of my ..." pausing she glanced towards the Vistani, "... my pack were here somewhere. Those I tried to find before landing in this mist-filled land."

Kneeling on the crumpled rug, the large skeletal bear behind her gave one last silent roar as it stood on its hind legs, fading into the air. Syvis closed her amber eyes, "I have to try ... to see if there's any response ..." Tilting her head back, taking a deep breath, the wood elf suddenly let loose a long and powerful howl, small modulations in her voice, a howl she had learned as it had changed over generations in the pack she had called home. A powerful note, but it only meant one thing: "I am here" -- a long distance source of reassurance that she hoped would be answered ... but at the same time feared what it might draw. Syvis had waited for a chance all day, but with the larger wolves in retreat, this might be the safest chance she had -- while they ran literally with their tail between their legs.
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
When the wolves attack, Moire is grateful to the Vistani man who 'dropped' his sword within reach. With a shoulder roll and a quick motion, Moire's back on her feet and her blade's flashing as she swings at the horse-sized wolf. Only, it darts out of the way and then she's flanked by its partner. Two monsters at once? One powerful blow nearly knocks her down so she retaliates with a wild slash of the scimitar that thankfully scores.

Her luck runs out, though, when she's knocked down and mauled. Groaning in pain, Moire rises to her feet as she calls on Ilmater's name, causing her wounds to heal before the eyes of the monstrous wolves. At which point the animals turn tail and flee.

She peers a bit curiously at Syvis upon being offered a berry, but then she gamely shrugs and eats one. The elven druid's wolf howl raises the hair on the back of her neck and the Paladin covers her discomfort by cleaning the scimitar as best as she can before sheathing it and handing it back to the dancer who'd dropped it for her.

"How lucky for me that this happened to be here!" she exclaims, while making very little effort to actually fake surprise to the middle-aged man with the striking nose. "I return it to you a little worse for wear. May any blame for the blood it shed come upon me and not you, my friend."

"Our luck has not been your luck, I'm afraid," she says, turning to address the remaining Vistani as a whole. "Please accept my apologies for the disturbance tonight. While it wasn't our choice, it resulted from our presence and I hope you all know how dearly we value your friendship, and how much we wish to avoid bringing any trouble to you and yours. It seems your king has further business with us tomorrow night. With your blessing, we'll return to our tent in hopes of being well rested in the morning. At which point we'll bid you goodbye for now until matters are straightened out between us and your king."

Moire bows to her hosts once more and says "Thank you again for your excellent hospitality."

Assuming she's not stopped, she tugs along her companions until they're back in the tent. "I believe we're safe for the rest of this night...but it may be the last we see. Let's get some rest and accomplish what we can once it's daylight."
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
The fight is over almost before Hircus finishes Torm's blessing over his comrades. From a distance it is difficult to tell whether the others will decide to give chase or stand here within the circle of apathetic spectators. Realizing that he stands along the edges almost as a Vistani himself, he takes a step into the circle and begins to survey the condition of his friends. Moire has taken most of the damage, but it seems she is already on the mend.

The circle of onlookers begins to infuriate the cleric. His fist clench and unclench. He whips around to unleash a tirade on the useless Vistani when Syvis howls into the night air. The sound hits Hircus like a plea for help. This breaks Hircus' need for retribution on the still staring Vistani. He looks from Arrigal, to the man in the headwrap then finally at Lala and Arabelle. A long sigh, then the weight of exhaustion and homesickness crash on his shoulders. He listens as Moire salvages what she can from their situation then follows them all back to the tent. Before he leaves he gives a nod of thanks to the man with the green head wrap.

Once in the tent, Hircus flops back on the ground in his corner. "I don't think we have been safe since we left that amber glade. I am not even sure if we are still living. I wonder if we have been drawn into some kind of tar pit nightmare plane of continual torment. I just want to recall our trespasses so that I can understand and begin the necessary penance." Hircus looks down at his clenched fists, "So that I can free my conscience before cutting down each and every one of Strahd's minions. Torm commands it."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
As the wolves retreat into the night, the one that was not injured snarls and growls at Syvis, "When we meet again, we will bring more of our tribe, and crush yours!" The Vistani watch with great interest as Syvis' howl rings across the expansive clearing and into the forest. Timbo steps a bit closer to the druid, studying her with cautious concern, while the man who dropped his sword for Moire exchanges whispers with his companion.

When the distant howling begins, it is not that of Syvis' old pack, but a different group of wolves—several of them—far to the south, proclaiming, "Ours! Ours! Ours!"

Moire's benefactor nods and swallows silently as he accepts his blade back. From behind her, Arrigal proclaims, "Very good, all thing considered!" as he claps his hands together with one resounding smack. "Until morning, then? May Mother Night guide your dreams." he gestures back to the tent from which he roused you not so long ago. His arch, amused manner persists, as if this has all been a game or staged performance to him.

With the wolves and ghostly bear skeleton gone, and the fighting over, the girl Arabelle moves to approach Hircus, but Lala grabs hold of her arms and pulls her back. She crouches down next to the girl and speaks to her softly before drawing her gently away, towards the hill where the wagons and horses are. The other Vistani bid goodnight as well.


"Have you noticed," Otrev casually asks Syvis while being carried back to your tent in his cage, "that our new life seems very stressful? Maybe we should just stay inside and rest tomorrow."
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Listening to her howl echo out into the night, Syvis slowly opened her eyes looking disappointed. The druid glanced up at Timbo before pushing herself to her feet mumbling, "I'm sorry ... I'm fine, I appreciate the concern..." the wood elf wiped around her eyes, moving to pick up Otrev's cage as the group returned to their tent.

She sighed at the small bird's words, "If only it were that easy, little Otrev. I expect the next day will only be longer." With a faint smile she poked inwards at the bird, "I think of anyone you have the least stress among us. A filled dish and clean cage is all you desire."

Setting down Otrev's cage in the corner, Syvis made a nest out of her packed blanket and curled up in it, keeping her weapons close just in case they got another visit. Sighing, "I just want to find my old pack ... even if it was a corpse, then I'd know I did not land here like a foolish pup and abandoned the others for nothing ..." Adjusting herself, "I worry they were those on the pikes this morning ... unaware of the region and chased towards the village by those larger wolves or as fodder by the other pack around here."

Curling up into a ball, she continues, "I'm so sorry ... I messed up earlier, I should have kept to myself, I shouldn't have said anything -- now these people probably are wary of us, those wolves are going to seek us out ..." Arms wrapped around her head, her nails lengthened for a moment, "...I'd understand if you'd want me gone ... I've put the pack in further danger ..."

In a quiet voice in Elvish she added, "... wouldn't even be the first time ..."
 

jfish

Junior Member
With the fight over - for now - Ina cleans her blade on the grass before securing it back in her belt. She combs her hair back behind her ears with her fingers and surveys the group; Moire was the most wounded, physically, at least. She watches sadly as Syvis howls into the night air. For a half second, she even feels a tear forming in the corner of her eye, but blinks rapidly, nonchalantly rubbing at her face to try and conceal it with apparent weariness.

At Arrigal's insistence, she follows back to the tent, taking up a spot by the opening to take watch.

"I think we are as safe here as we are likely to get in this land," she ponders somberly, "You should all try and rest some more whilst we have the chance," her suggestion is soft, "It seems tomorrow bring fresh challenges that will require our minds to be sharper than our blades."

Slowly, but not silently, she shuffles over to Syvis.

"Calm, little wolf," she whispers in elvish this time, her hand reaching out to gently stroke Syvis' hair, if permitted, before continuing in common, "We will search for more information as soon as we are able," she's unsure if her sincerity means much to the other elf, different as they are, but she knew they Mar-Lardjos would need to look out for each other.

Her nose wrinkles and she keeps her voice low as she looks over at Hircus, "Mar-Lardjos, they called us; mist-walkers. Strangers, foreigners. And bibaxa; a term for those who are unlucky," she sighs, shrugging half-heartedly. "Neither word is intended as an insult, but the accuracy stings somewhat, no? Anyway, I have spoken enough. Rest, all of you. I will keep watch until morning."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
It might be some aftereffect of the fight with the dire wolves, but on returning to the tent, Hircus finds himself utterly unable to sleep in it. The structure just seems too small and cramped with everyone inside; he keeps having flashes of panic about it collapsing and suffocating him in his sleep. Finally, it's clear that the choice is to stay inside in an ongoing state of anxiety, or lay on the grass outside the tent, under Ina's watchful eye, and get some rest in the night air. It's therefore he and Ina who are the first to notice, come dawn, when the young VIstani man Alexei rides up, sagging in his saddle, with slack jaw and puffy eyes. With a heavy grunt, he dismounts and laboriously presents Ina and Moire's promised rewards.

VG_fancy leather.jpgVG_rapier.jpgVG_splint.jpgVG_longsword.jpg

For Ina, a suit of highly stylized and well-cared-for leather armor, almost embarrassingly showy—it looks to have never seen battle—and a rapier with delicate metalwork on the guard. For Moire, a more practical suit of heavy armor comprising layered strips of dark metal over chain and padding, and a masterfully-weighted long sword with six pale green stones in its pommel. Too tired to remount his horse, Alexei leads the creature to the main camp and his own long-awaited slumber.

The fog this morning has retreated out to about a half mile away, over distant trees. The Vistani and the Dusk Elves are up and about at their nearby encampments and homes as well. One of the colorful covered wagons, led by a pair of horses, is making its way slowly down the hill, tracing a circuitous spiral path around the perimeter.
 
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Abrahms

One Thousand Club
At Ina's soft touch, Syvis relaxed slightly, however there was still tension in her posture. With a sigh she nodded, "I will stay with this pack for now ..." the druid replied tiredly. Attempting to get comfortable, she sat up for a moment, shifting to the form she had taken hours before: that of a wolf, circling a few times in the tent before settling, curled up tightly on herself. Ina would learn when she had truly fallen asleep by the form releasing and returning to the wood elf in her blanket nest.

Eventually waking in the morning, she gathered her things once more, offering Otrev another berry to fill his belly, then sat outside on the grass for a few moments, holding her wolf tooth necklace between her hands as she focused, retrieving knowledge of other spells for the day from the nature around her. While it did not feel the same, at the very least she took comfort in the fact her Totems were still present to help and guide her.

Continuing longer into a ritual, she sent her awareness far beyond her body, first seeking out fellow wolves. To the south ... and a half-mile away she felt a response to her search, likely the pack that had replied to her last night. Beginning the ritual again, she sought wolves, but this time she put her spiritual nose out for the scent of the larger wolves and was relieved when it took longer for the reaction: a mile away, and to the southeast.

Collecting her things she studied the new objects, commenting softly, "That man looked as if death would be the only true sleep for him ... hopefully these are worth his exhaustion?" She poked at the metal armor, "I have never understood human interest in metal ... it feels too stiff and noisy to be practical. It stinks of forges and the smoke that clouds the sky ..."
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
After the emotional and exhausting day, Moire drops off to slumber with little effort, scarcely aware of Hircus' discomfort, nor of Ina and Syvis' troubled spirits and introspection. A night's rest does wonders for the Paladin, however. She arises some time after Alexei delivered their rewards and she's delighted at what she discovers.

With expert fingers, she adjust buckles and resizes straps to accommodate her figure. While she works, Moire grins at Syvis and says "It depends on what you mean by practical, my friend. If I were planning on sneaking onboard a merchant ship to take it by surprise, no it's not practical. But for turning aside a blade or for that matter tooth or claw, there's little better. I can't speak to what it smells like but with it I'll be able to ignore many source of personal danger. Which will let me focus instead on danger to others, as I swore to Ilmater. It's a tool, Syvis, as useful in its purpose as a spade for a gardener or a knife for a carver."

Once she's clad in the scale mail, Moire takes up her long sword as she steps out of the tent. With a few experimental thrusts and swings, she quickly gets a feel for its weight and balance and smiles as she sheaths her new blade. "Yes, excellent. Still not enough against King Strahd, if it comes to it, but a good start. Speaking of the Vistani King, come my friends, let's talk as we pack our tent away."

Given the tent takes more than a few minutes to dissemble and pack away, Moire talks as she works. "We planned on visiting Madame Eva. With Strahd's interest in us, that feels even more pressing than before. That said, we also offered to escort Ina's friend Kasimir to his ancient temple. A place of Zhudun. We haven't spoken of this much with you, Syvis, but something woke us only several days before. That was the first and only time we'd heard the name mentioned until Kasimir repeated it. If this power brought the three of us back, this power may also hold the secret to preserving us through a coming conflict that feels ever more inevitable. He suggested it holds the secrets to Strahd's power. Before the King sends for us tonight, perhaps we can learn more of him at this Temple?"

Turning to gaze at Ina, Moire says "Will you ask him, my friend, to escort us there? Or do you feel we should go another way, any of you?"
 

jfish

Junior Member
Another day.

Ina's spirits do not rise with the sun, but she can't hold back a smile for Alexei. "Thank you," she breathes, wasting no time in donning the new armour - as quietly as she is able, so as not to disturb Hircus any more. Gleeful, she stretches and performs a few feints in the new gear, working her way into the leather. She can't help but hold herself a little straighter, raising her chin a fraction higher than the previous day. Those still resting awaken to her humming and securing her other equipment to herself, making minute adjustments for comfort. She briefly wonders about returning the scabbard to Lala, though it doesn't take longnto dismiss the idea.

She ponders as they discuss the day's tasks. "Madame Eva, I think, should be our first visit. Though yes, perhaps it may suit Kasimir to lead or accompany us there," she looks to Syvis, "One of these people may know more about your pack, too; people seem aware of newcomers," she pauses, and brings the thread to her lips, moving so that nobody besides their group can see her mouth as it spins a stream of messages to Syvis to summarise their arrival in this forsaken land.

"We can fill you in on the rest as we go; just be aware of prying eyes and ears. But anyway. Would anyone like to come for a stroll to ask Kasimir about his day?"
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus wakes and remains quiet as the others busy themselves with their morning duties. His morning rites our a quiet business as he contemplates his needs for the day. The cleric takes the necessary time kneeling in the matted down grass near the tent. Once his business with Torm is finished, Hircus stands and helps dismantle the tent. Once that is finished, the cleric dons his borrowed armor.

"I will accompany you Ina." Hircus bends to grab his gear, "I should make an apology for my behavior yesterday."
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
The druid merely crossed her arms as Moire attempted to explain it to her, ending with a shrug. Helping to pack the tent she listened as the group discussed their goals and plans. "I have heard bits and pieces, though much soars over my head, it is apparent your time here has not been simple." Hearing the fast paced words of Ina whispered directly to her ear she struggled to keep up.

Reaching for the bird cage, Syvis offered her input: "When I would plan my patrols in the grasslands I lived, I would plan my routes from where I wished to end my day. It would help prevent backtracking that could be better spent on other tasks." She tilted her head, "I question if ..." she lowered her voice, "I question if you all intend to accept the invitation given, or attempt to avoid it. I warned Moire last night that other animals seem to report to him and no doubt at any time we are being watched." Returning to a normal volume, "If this Madame Eva seems to have insight, knowledge is always a good ally to have to aid in future judgement and decisions." Shifting her weight, "Is there any idea where the temple is or how far?"
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
Moire nods agreeably to Ina's suggestion of prioritizing Madame Eva first. Her impression (whether borne by reality or not) was that the Vistani elder was closer than the temple, so it was only good sense. If Kasimir added any legitimacy to their request, all the better. When Ina suggests going with Hircus, again Moire nods and proceeds to begin breaking down the tent for storage and transport. The weight of her new armor is not insignificant as, for the first time since coming here, Moire has to start planning how she's going to carry everything for her party.

Once Ina and Hircus leave, Moire gives the Elven Druid a considering look as she rolls up canopy. "It's easier to plan one's routes when one knows the route, the land, the distance and time involved. We don't. If the King's carriage is able to find us, then that's a conversation we'll need to have. If we happen not to be available for entirely understandable reasons owing to our newness in this land's geography, all the better." Which is a diplomatic way of not quite answering Syvis' question.

For Moire herself isn't sure what she intends to do. Ever since waking here, she's felt a strange passivity about her fate. Her brief memories of Strahd mark him as a man or monster of great power, one who bewitched her in the past and who bewitched her again just recently now. The Paladin has no doubt he could kill her at once, if it suited him, and she guesses it probably will sooner or later. Yet she feels no real fear. Planning for that eventuality feels difficult, like pushing through a windy rainstorm, and working up a righteous fervor feels like an effort she doesn't have the energy for. And Moire can't shake the notion that a stronger version of herself already brought the full might of her righteous fervor against the King of the Vistani and perished anyway.

She doesn't feel fear but she does feel curiosity. They have leads, two of them. Fighting Strahd feels as abstract as fighting a god. But learning more about the King, about the source of his power and about themselves may yield an answer she doesn't have. It's worth a try, anyway.

"I don't know where the temple is," Moire says, realizing she's long since finished packing away the tent and Syvis has been waiting all this time for an answer. "Nor do I know how far Madame Eva is, exactly, beyond a general sense of direction the Vistani gave us. I also know that staying here means standing while the noose is drawn tight. If the King can watch us at all times, there's little we can do about it." The Paladin chuckles and binds the tent to her pack before lifting it onto her back. "Even if it were conscionable, we can't actually kill every living thing that sees us. What we can do is try to learn more than we know already. Either way, I'm glad of your company, Syvis. And should the time come that you feel you're safer on your own than away from us, I won't fault you in the least for going a different direction."

She leaves it unspoken that the Elven Druid has already been seen in their company by Strahd and so it may already be too late...
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
vcamp.jpg
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The dewy grass darkens the tips of your boots as you circle the hillock back to Kasimir's hut among the other dusk elf homes. The few male elves who are out and about here regard you somberly, their demeanor a marked contrast to the generally cheery Vistani you've met.

kasimir.jpgYou find Kasimir ensconced in his parlor, wrapped in a robe, reading a heavy, leather-bound book. As the younger elf who escorted you in withdraws, Kasimir puts the tome down and rises to greet you, wincing a bit as he does. "What news, little sister?" he asks Ina. Then, seeing that Tegan's place in the party has been taken by Syvis, says, "You are welcome here too," to her in elvish. "Your familiar?" he asks, tilting his head to one side and regarding Otrev through the open cage door.

Taking in the whole group, he asks, "But what happened to your other companion, the man who stood apart and aloof? I hear rumors the Count called for you in the early hours. Was your friend taken from you then? You see the dangers of lingering too long in this idyllic glade: Grow old like us or be ended by the Count. You will set out this morning, yes? Where are you bound? To retrace other paths you walked long ago?"
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Even with all the local people being elves, Syvis still felt out of place. It had been a long time since she'd seen so many of her own kind. She clutched the cage closer as they walked, entering into the hut.

She dipped her head, "Syvis Glynrel, greetings." Tapping the cage she shook her head, "Not a familiar, a friend. I'm trying to convince the silent songbird there's more to the world than his cage. His name is Otrev." At the sudden onslaught of questions, the druid looked at the rest of the party expectantly.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
The damp morning air feels cool and invigorating to Hircus as he traverses the hill alongside his friends. Torm's blessings slowly begin to raise his spirits and the cleric once again begins to feel a smile on his face. The events of the previous evening no longer stoke fury in him, but now inspire his step down the path. This morning Hircus walks with intention and leaving the Vistani camp is the first step toward clearing his mind and forming a plan. The Vistani are not their allies. At best, the nomads are an indifferent to their predicament. Last night showed that they are either powerless to stand against Strahd or enjoy his gifts too much to worry about those of us who have stumbled into his trap. Leaving this mound is the first step toward ending their time here in Barovia.

One other thing is on the the cleric's mind as he trods along. His backpack carries the wine he was gifted last evening. The weight of it shifts as Hircus walks downhill. In the back of his mind, Hircus wonders whether the bottle of wine he carries brings with him the same duality that the Vistani themselves. Luvash claimed that the wine had some sort of restorative property, but followed with a warning about it's potency. Hircus can't help but wonder whether this gift is just another trap as everything else in this land. Like Vallaki and it's secrets, the Vistani and their loyalty to Strahd and... The cleric's thoughts trail off as he looks toward the gifts the Vistani have bestowed on them. His mouth opens and he lets out a wavering sigh. He wonders whether they all walk wrapped in curses and magical traps. He resolves to bring up this fear once they are out of the Vistani camp. The others should at least consider have a chance to consider his suspicions about their new equipment. For now he keeps his worries to himself and forces the content smile back to his face.

Kasimir's home comes into view and Hircus begins to mull over how he might apologize for his issue from the previous day. Entering the home washes any thoughts of preparing his words from his head. At first, he wonders if this is the same house from yesterday, today it seems so much smaller and more cramped than the previous day, but yes, there sits Kasimir and Hircus realizes this is the same house. It just feels smaller and more cramped to him today.

The cleric is roused from his thoughts by the exchange about the bird. "Ah, Tegan..." Hircus interjects, "Our friend has taken a more direct approach to improving our situation. Just after our introduction yesterday he set out for the the Vistani king's castle." Hircus looks around the room at the party, "Before I go any further. I do want to apologize for yesterday. I am feeling much better..."

Hircus trails off as his vision from yesterday comes back to him. The scene was that of Tegan arguing with a man about a dog. Then, he remembers. Tegan's last words in the vision were "Hircus, you should have let me go alone." The big man's breath catches and he excuses himself and steps outside for a little air, and a chance to think. "I think I need a bit of air. I hope you can forgive me." He says as he hurries out of the house.

Are we just repeating ourselves? Do we truly have a second chance or are we stuck in an endless loop of horror? Torm, give me guidance.

Hircus looks up into the sky and clenches the amulet of Torm in his fist.
 

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