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Party 4

Holice

New Member
As Beldar pondered what the druid had just told them, his head twitched quickly as he was surprised by a whisper from Arinthia, who he thought walked away only a moment ago.
Must be a spell of some sort, he assured himself as he regained composure and focus back on the druid. So do I just whisper back, he wondered, I guess it's worth a shot.
Muttering softly, I feel for this man who thought he had no other options but to follow Strahd.
 

Cravingpages

Double Luck
Rage envelops Juniper. They were children. Those pies. Dream pies? We need to go back before they leave this place and burn the bone mill to the ground.
Thorneburst story swirls in Juniper's mind. She contemplates the pros and cons. She squats in front of Thorneburts watching him closely. She sees a scared child wrapped in a sack and abandoned by his foolish part, but she also sees a man who would do anything to please Strahd. Flashes of the Martikov family appears in her mind. She sees Yolanda's eye widen upon seeing Monte. This druid could have killed them and were prepared to kill us.
Juniper doesn't face the group but continues to talk to them. " He was going to kill them. This was their home and he took it. He was going to kill plenty of others in this process to please the devil. There are more of him out there. But he is here, they are not. I am not sure his fate is in our hands but our hands will get dirty nonetheless."

Responding to Ari's message, "Ari can you do this talky message thing to Davian. This is his home. Tell him we have one of the Druids with us. Would he like us to spare him or let death carry him?

Juniper puts the hood of her cloak over her head and takes out her dagger. Protect... Protect... Protect.
 

GoodTeletubby

New Member
Dess crouches beside Thornburst, listening attentively as he details his story and the tales behind the land. Her thoughts turn toward her homeland.

This land is as bad as Luskan. Threats in every corner, and a knife for every shadow.

She sighs slightly at the less than pleasant memories of her cutthroat hometown, and stands up, flexing her fingers as she looks down at the figure, her expression shifting from interested listener to a colder, more detached one.

"You do understand what it's going to take for us to survive, if your course of action upon being released is going to be to run off and warn people who will want to kill us about us, right?"
 

Ash-6116

Member
Arinthia listened to each of her friends in her mind as she fired off the messages in a round robin, circling back to Beldar then to Juniper and Dess so that each knew what the others had said. To Juniper Arinthia added, "There's a range on this - I'd have to walk back to nearer Davian but I will go ask Davian."

Walking out of the winery, Arinthia retraced her steps to where its rightful owner and his children were. Deciding against using her spell, Arinthia instead used her voice, siddling up nearer Davian and keeping her voice low so the children wouldn't hear. "We've driven out most of the druids and broken their staff, but there is one druid who was charmed asleep who is still in the winery. The others wish to know what you would have us do with the druid?" asked Arinthia, glad the decision wasn't going to be in their hands alone.
 

Garros

Member
The druid merely smiles at Dess. While there is understanding in his expression, the obvious influence of the magical charm makes it... off-putting. Had Beldar not charmed him, you think that there would be a lot more fear behind those eyes. Instead it's clear that he still (magically) trusts everyone and thinks everything will be all right.

In the meanwhile the Martikov clan has reassembled again, with most of the adults tending to the children. Davian looks over at the damages at the winery. He often lets loose a sigh. When Arinthia makes herself known the old man shakes his head, "They took the damn stone. All of this will die without its magic. Sorry you were saying about the druid?" He listens and his face turns grim, "When a dog goes rabid, you put him out of his misery. I will take it out of your hands if you feel uneasy about this. Which is good, it shows that you haven't turned into a monster. There is something else I need to talk to you and your fellowship about. Will you gather them for me?"
 

Ash-6116

Member
Arinthia lowered her head, figuring that execution was probably unavoidable. "They're already gathered - in the winery." said Arinthia, glancing up and watching the children going around. 'This is for them,' thought Arinthia, 'all of this - travelling around trying to do what we can in this tainted land to resist Strahd - it's for people like them.'

Standing up, Arinthia led the way to where Thornburst had been left with her friends, remembering as she went one of Madame Eva's readings - a final confrontation where they wouldn't just meet Strahd but could potentially end his reign. Deep within the bowels of Castle Ravenloft. "I do feel uneasy about it but," said Arinthia, fiddling with her fingers as they walked, "well, I sort of feel as if I could make it quick. So quick, Thornburst wouldn't suffer. He might be a 'rabid dog' but that doesn't mean that he should suffer." said Arinthia, keeping her voice down as they entered. Pulling the wire from the pouch again, Arinthia motioned to Davian to stay still for a moment then put herself in a position where she could see Beldar, Dess and Juniper but not be seen by Thornburst. Cupping her hand over the wire and in front of her mouth again, Arinthia pointed to each in turn.

"Davian is with me. He has something to discuss with us. And - Davian seems to favour letting Death carry Thornburst" said Arinthia directly into each of their minds.
 

Garros

Member
Thornburst keeps smiling as Ari approaches him. It quickly fades with the Tiefling's blade going deep into his gut. He falls back, clutching the wound. Blood spreads all over the ground and comes out of the druid's mouth. "No..." Thornburst whispers. His eyes widen while looking at the sky. He meekly raises his hand to the air. "My lord... Please, save me..."

Then Thornburst breathes his last breath.

And a blur of shadow and fire rushes past everyone, utterly trampling over the druid's corpse leaving only a bloody mess behind.

A large black horse with flaming hooves and fire in the shape of a mane and tail stands before you. Its deep red eyes look at you all with utter contempt in its eyes. But most striking is its rider: a pale man looking in his late twenties or early thirties with jet-black kept swept back from his face. His dark eyes have an intensity that make even the strongest willed among you nervous. He is dressed in exquisite finery, albeit in a somewhat outdated style, though his only jewellery are a ruby-and-gold necklace and a gold signet ring.

Davian stumbles back muttering in fear, "Strahd..."

The Dark Lord glances over the winery. A look of annoyance creeps over his face, "My, what a mess," He remarks with most utter casualness. His gaze then turns to the group, "Where is the girl?"
 

Ash-6116

Member
As she re entered the room, Arinthia wished Thornburst wouldn't smile at her. A scarecrow attacking her friends was just stuffing and straw. 'He's nothing but straw.' thought Arinthia, desperately trying not to see Thornburst's smile as she got closer. 'He only wants to get back to his friends and endanger those innocent children. This is the right thing to do.' thought Arinthia, desperately trying to steel herself.

A single thrust of her dagger, she'd aimed for the neck but at the last moment realised that she'd come up short. And now she had no choice. Arinthia tipped forward, balancing on one foot and doing an almost cartwheel to angle herself down to a part of Thornburst she could hit - his belly. As she heard his exclamation and withdrew her blade Arinthia was shaking a little. 'It's just a scarecrow. Just a very bad scarecrow.' thought Arinthia, crying tears for the person Thornburst could have been had he not been tainted by the druids or by Strahd.

A wall of fire whipping past her, Arinthia ducked to the side and rolled. Looking to where Thornburst had been and seeing only a bloody mess of guts and blood smear as a horse made partially of fire glared at all of them as Davian said the name of the dark lord. 'He cares that little for someone who so fucked up their life that we had no choice but to put him down.' thought Arinthia, trying to keep her feelings from showing. She knew she was a mess and probably nothing more than the smear of blood on the floor to the dark lord. Arinthia's tail coiled around her left leg, wrapping tight enough she felt it within her boot.

'Shit, Ireena.' thought Arinthia to herself, 'How many creepy bastards are going to come out of the woodwork trying to get her?'

"What woman do you mean?" asked Arinthia, shaking a little and trying to keep it out of her voice. "I count three in this room alone." The whole time Arinthia found herself studying Strahd, looking over his appearance and trying to commit it to memory. She had a feeling that if she survived this encounter with the dark lord, she might be able to use that visage to save her friends and herself someday.
 

GoodTeletubby

New Member
Clamping down on her internal gibbering terror, Dess falls back on the courtesy of her youth, though a vampire lord astride a magical horse is slightly more terrifying and significantly more dangerous than any Luskan pirate captain. She straightens up like an iron rod, sweeping her cloak back as she bows politely to the imposing figure, her skin rapidly going even paler than normal as Ari opens her mouth. She steadies herself against an anticipated second spray of blood. Her voice is almost completely devoid of emotion as she speaks quietly.

"We left the lady on Vallaki, my Lord. They travelled there with us, believing it to be the best place to find a protected location which would allow them to escape your reach."
 

Holice

New Member
As he notices Arinthia move in with her blade, Beldar turns his head, averting his eyes in disgust. Consumed with feelings of anger and sadness, he is unsure whether to weep or cry out. There is no soul beyond redemption. All who turn from the light can once again find it if shown the way.

As he hears the gargled sound of the druid cry out, he gapes as he sees the bloody mess unfolding. No man deserves a death like this....what has she done?!

Beldar quickly fills with rage, and begins to move towards the druid, hoping he can either heal the man, or make this a more peaceful passing. But as he takes the first step, he sees the druid breathe his last breath and turns his rage on Arinthia.

As his mouth opens to ask her why, a sudden blue of flame sweeps by him. Stepping back confused, he hears Davian say something he was not expecting....Strahd. Eyes wide now, Beldar silently prays to Chauntea, while random thoughts race through his head. We can't confront him. It's too soon. What girl? Does he mean Ireena?

His attention turns to Arinthia who seemed to have asked the questions going through his head out loud. Hoping that she was trying to stall, his jaw drops open as Dess tells him Ireena's location. DESS!!!!, he yells out in his mind, eyes now fixated back on Strahd. What have you done???
 

Cravingpages

Double Luck
Juniper slowly sheaths her dagger. Silently thanking Ari for doing the deed. Seeing Beldar's reaction, Juniper slowly moves towards him, hand extended and then stops dead in her tracks. Strahd.
He's here? How?

Juniper looks down at the druid. "I guess that was a bad idea."
Juniper forces herself to look at Strahd.
Slowly moving toward Davian, she watches Strahd and the others as they speak.
The minute the words leave the mouth of Dess, Juniper's eyes widen.
"What the freak." She slaps her hand over her mouth. Why did she say that?
Juniper settles right in front of Davian making sure there was some type of barrier between him and Strahd, even if it was a small one. This can't be happening so soon. We are not ready.

She looks at the Druid once more. Madam Eva's reading. Saint Markovia's abbey. Village of Krezk. His enemy is there. We can't do this alone.

She looks over her group members with pleading eyes. What do we do?
 

Ash-6116

Member
Still shaken with what had just transpired, Arinthia had to put a lot of effort in to keeping her face neutral as Dess let slip where Ismark and Ireena were. At Juniper's exclamation that Thornburst's death was a bad idea, Arinthia looked to the bloody streak on the floor that had been the all too trusting druid. 'Even Strahd cared nothing for him.' thought Arinthia to herself, the tip of her tail lashing against the floor in agitation that she could no longer contain within herself. 'He died begging for this man to save him, which proves Davian's point in a way - Thornburst was a rabid dog that would just have endangered the children. Just a very bad scarecrow.'

'Yet... here he is,'
thought Arinthia, looking over Strahd's outfit once again, taking it all in and grateful that her eyes were one solid colour of ruby red, such that it would be impossible to tell exactly what Arinthia was looking at. 'The Dark Lord came anyway. And if it was Thornburst's death that summoned him - I've endangered the children.' Arinthia drooped her head a little, trying to make it seem less of a thing than it really was. As she did so, she caught Juniper's pleading eyes. Ideas of what to do flitted through Arinthia's mind in rapid succession. Stab Strahd in the back the moment he turned away from her. Use her message incantation to talk into Juniper's mind. Use her other magic gift to slam a window open then closed hard, shattering the glass and hopefully distracting the Dark Lord long enough they could escape. 'Father Donavich said the Dark Lord cannot enter a dwelling uninvited.' thought Arinthia, 'this isn't a dwelling but if we found one and got inside-' Arinthia shook her head, realising that plan was as foolish as her other plans. Stabbing Strahd would get them all killed, the children too. Using spells would most likely get her killed. Fooling about with the windows was an old trick that Strahd would no doubt realise could only have come from her.

Once again Arinthia looked at the streak of blood that had been Thornburst. 'Thornburst - if you had been able to take a different path - what would you have done right now?' thought Arinthia - remembering with a sickening pang in her mind the procession of the dead they had witnessed in Barovia. 'Have I - have I just condemned you to march for eternity, Thornburst?' thought Arinthia, her tail coiling and loosening so rapidly that within seconds she had lost all feeling in her left leg. 'What would Mom do? She had to have faced similar situations when she was adventuring.' thought Arinthia, thinking back to some of the stories she'd grown up with as a child, 'Heck, what would Grandma Grandis have done? She was a tough woman, she'd have been able to stare the Dark Lord down.' hoped Arinthia as she forced herself to meet Strahd's gaze as she waited to see how he would react to them.
 

Garros

Member
The silence after Dess and Juniper’s comments only lasts a moment, though some of you could swear it was an eternity.

Strahd raises an eyebrow, “Fear. An appropriate response. Yet also a disappointing one.” The vampire lord tugs at the reins of his nightmarish horse. The beast reared a bit off the floor, anxious to leave. “Take the girl with you next time. She needs to see all of it.”

The horse then suddenly darts forward. Instead of colliding into you, it disappears along with its rider.


Davian Martikov clutches his chest as he regains his breathing, “That was... Unexpected.” He shakes his head, “All my life I’ve fought against that monster. Not even a look of acknowledgement from him. Perhaps that’s for the better.” He looks to you after finding back his determination, “I will get to the point. My winery was dependent on three magical jewels to grow the grape vines. The druids just took the last one.” Motioning to the east he continues, “The second one is in the ruins of Berez somewhere. Baba Lysaga, a horrible and powerful hag with an army of animated scarecrows stole the jewel from us last month. As for the third... Nobody knows where it is. My eldest Urwin was supposed to be on guard the night it got taken. It was due to his incompetence...” The old man shakes his head, “Never mind, that is not important now. Perhaps my son in that inn of his in Vallaki has more information for you. If you do this for us, you would not only be rewarded you would also help the entirety of Barovia. And you would have some allies you can count upon in this dark place.”
 

Ash-6116

Member
Recovering a little from her shock, but only a little. "A hag? As in the type that Thornburst was talking about? The ones that make 'dream pies'?" said Arinthia, having to keep from choking up as she brought up Thornburst's name. 'I - I know it won't mean much. But if I stop any more children being killed by that hag - I don't know.' thought Arinthia as she looked to Davian. "Is there somewhere relatively safe you can take the children?" asked Arinthia, trying to avoid Beldar's gaze for the moment.
 

Garros

Member
Davian shakes his head at Arinithia's questions. "No, not like them. Baba Lysaga is stronger." He lets the emphasis on the word hang in the air for a short moment before continuing. "I suppose we can take the children to Urwin's inn. Me and a few others will stay at the winery however. Even if it's no longer producing wine this place is a symbol hope in these bleak lands."
 

Holice

New Member
Speaking louder than he intended, Yes, please take the children to someplace...safe. But as he finished the statement the word safe, he shuddered as he immediately thought, Is there any place safe?

If we are discussing where we should head to next, I believe that the location of knowledge Madam Eva mentioned to us is most likely going to be the werewolf den we recently learned of. I figure that's as good a place as any to start.
 

Cravingpages

Double Luck
There is actually a village not far from here called Krezk. Madam Eva said we can find someone who might aid us in battle at a place called Saint Markovia's abbey. I remember that place is in the village of Krezk. Maybe we should head there first because she doesn't stay in one place for long.
 

GoodTeletubby

New Member
As Strahd vanishes again, Dess drops to the ground, breathing heavily as her tension fades. She spends a few moments collecting herself, and thinking over the repercussions of the momentary encounter. She closes her eyes as her head falls backwards in contemplation, only half listening to the conversation, until it turns to their next destination. She haltingly hauls herself back to her feet, visibly shaken, but slowly composing herself.

"I don't know if that was better or worse than some of the Luskan captains. They're more vicious, but where they command deference and obedeince through cruelty, Strahd demands it through presence and power. Did he strike anyone else as almost, I don't know, bored? Like he wants us to get strong enough to give him a challenge whenever he finally decides we're worth the effort of him crushing us? I don't like the thought of being his idea of a game piece."

Her hand rises up to her throat, fingertips running down her jugular absentmindedly.

"Or his idea of a bottle of wine he's letting age to its prime."

Dess shudders slightly before giving herself a shake.

"The monastery and an ally would be welcome right now, I feel. And from what I've been studying of the map this morning,, and some of the druid's words, I think the sword we've been directed to seek out lies deep in the mountains, at the Amber Temple. But first, back to town. We should see if any of the wine is still safe."

As they prepare to depart, Dess explores the rest of the winery, quietly squirreling away some of vials of ink, a pen, and some parchment from the wreck of the upstairs printing room, and grabs four empty bottles and corks, filling them with the poisoned wine and corking them before stashing them in her backpack.
 

Cravingpages

Double Luck
Juniper walks over to the now died Druid and retrieves her rope. Whispering to the Druid, I hate that they made you like this. She licks her thumb and runs it across his forehead.
Juniper walks around towards Yolanda.
Hi sweety. Thank you so much for watching Monte. You are so brave for protecting him. Golly, I wish I was as brave as you. Juniper lightly taps her on her nose.

Monte returns to her shoulder, giving Juniper's ear a snuggle and attempting to tell her all about what happened when they were outside.

Having Monte back was like inhaling a breath of fresh air. She leans toward a wall and slides down it.
So that was Strahd huh? She let's out a nervous laugh. Yeah. He could care less about who we are. We are no threat.
 

Garros

Member
As you walk on the road to Krezk, you catch a whiff of pipe smoke in the cold air and hear laughter through the fog.

You see four colourfully dressed Vistani, smoking, drinking from wineskins, and telling ghost stories. One of them has a bundle of dead rabbits hanging behind his back. They notice the group and wave at you: "Ah strangers. Do you need some more guides? For a small fee of 100 gp we guarantee that no wild animal will attack you."
 

Holice

New Member
As the scent of smoke hits Beldar's nose, he squints to make out some figures in the distance. From the sound of laughing, he is hopeful that they are not immediately dangerous.

As the party continues towards the strangers, Beldar greets them with a smile as they make his party an offer.

Greetings! While that does sound like a generous offer, 100 gold is no small fee for us. So what exactly do you offer that would guarantee our safety?
 

Cravingpages

Double Luck
Returning a wave, Juniper bounces over to the Vistani. She has such a fascination with these people. I wish we weren't in such a rush to get to Krezk. I would love to hear more ghost stories.

Juniper's face contorts when she hears the man's offer. Rude. She adjusts her frame at the attempt to look bigger.
We have two well renowned wolf hunters to protect us weaklings.
 

Garros

Member
The Vistani laugh heartily, "Ah yes, they look like two fierce hunters indeed! But we dear strangers," Their leader winks, "It is well known that us Vistani are in the service of Strahd. And all the dangerous wildlife around here serves him as well! We have a mutual arrangement of sorts."
 

Ash-6116

Member
Shaken out of her thoughts about Thornburst by the sudden presence of the strangers, Arinthia listened to their pitch. Knowing that she didn't have enough gold and even if they pooled their money the party probably wouldn't have enough gold, Arinthia figured there was nothing else to it. They needed money - there was plenty in the strangers coin purses. Especially if they were going around charging random travellers such high prices. 'Normally I wouldn't do this,' thought Arinthia as she sidled up to one of them, 'But we kind of need the money and these people have already said they have an arrangement with our enemy.' Sticking her hand into one of the coin purses, Arinthia's tail lashed against the Vistani's legs. Looking up as her hand got stuck on the way out, Arinthia gave a small grin, "Err, can't hang a girl for trying, right?" said Arinthia nervously.

With the look on the Vistani's face as they turned to glare at Arinthia whilst drawing a sword, Arinthia realised that talking it out wasn't going to be an option. Being slightly quicker on the draw, Arinthia pulled her own shortsword and rammed it straight into the VIstani's side, managing in her haste to hit a sweet spot just in the side of the Vistani. With the sword a good three quarters of its length embedded in their side, Arinthia and the Vistani looked to each other, both realising what had happened at the same moment as the Vistani's legs gave out from under them. Arinthia guided them down gently as she withdrew her sword, the damage having already been done.
 
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GoodTeletubby

New Member
As she watches Ari and the hunters quickly drop a pair of the bandits, she feels like it would be safe to try dropping them with another sleep spell. She traces the same sky blue rune she used earlier, without the earlier embellishment, and a faint burst of energy pulses over the group, dropping the two remaining Vistani into a magical sleep. She quickly pulls her rope from the side of her pack to bind the uninjured figure before he wakes.

"Useful, that. Get the other one, would you?"

Aftet she finishes binding him, she slices his coin pouch from his belt, and lofts it at Ari.

"Looking for that, weren't you?"
 

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