Fate Comes to Call

MONEY $

<scene,>

<he>

I think that should about do it. Up until now, I have mostly been restrained in my craft by my material components. I had to scrounge and haggle to get any onyx I could, but not anymore.

<his>

At least for a little while. No matter how much I accrue I will eventually run out. There are also logistical issues, I will need to create an undead specifically to carry the means to create more undead.

<it>

At least, for now, it is not an issue, I will worry about it at a later time. If resources do still trouble me I can still turn to my new spell in order to make up for it.

<he>

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The Downtime Files: Harvester – Ready’reat
A Compendium of Downtime Musings

Report 3rd of the Harvester
I’m still not used to being back from that cursed realm. I keep expecting to wake up to castle walls and the constant stench of death. No matter.
Spent most of today repairing gear and taking inventory of my own personal belongings. I realize we did leave a good portion of our materials with Ismark in Barovia. No telling if we’ll ever see it, but that does not bother me. At least the master is no more.

Report 5th of the Harvester
In training I realized that I’ve been neglecting a good many of the spells and abilities the Lady has granted me over the past few years. I prayed and behold, received an answer and a mission: perform a ceremonial burial for a fallen soldier. This would be a good time for me to spend more time with Sassy.

Report 22th of the Harvester
I inquired around town and found out about a battle ground, no more than a week’s ride away from town. The exact details of this battle were lost to time, but the old battlefield was a relic leftover from around the time Five Port began expanding. I spent the past two weeks riding and training with Sassy on the way to this battleground. As I laid an old, rusted sword to rest and knelt in prayer, I felt the presence of the Lady and felt her change within me. Time will only tell if these changes will help our hodge-podge group, but I have faith. I need to get ready for our upcoming trip.

Somehow, pages seem to be missing or ruined – ink bleeding, sand sticking to pages, pages torn in frustration. Only one phrase is clear: I SHOULD HAVE HIRED A GUIDE

Report 9th of Ready’Reat
Praise the Lady, we made it back. I spent the past few days resting and nursing a sunburn. I learned a great deal in my desert wanderings. I do not claim to be a paragon of tactics by all means, I have much to learn about wisdom, tactics and holding in my temper – and that’s why I am such a staunch follower of the Austere Lady. Oh well. Dakras at least had a fruitful trip. I was told to return with the heart of a demon, and oddly enough, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that… perhaps the Eternal Library can prepare me for the fight that destiny is pulling us towards. No matter – today Jolias is supposed to return from his trip and I can hardly contain myself I’m so excited.

Report 11th of Ready’Reat
WHY IS HE STILL ALIVE – I SWEAR IF HE STEPS FOOT IN THIS DIMENSION I WILL NOT STOP UNTIL ONE OF US IS DEAD. HOW DOES RED EVEN KNOW THIS HOW IN THE SEVEN HELLS CAN WE FINALLY KILL THIS MONSTROSITY -
The rest of the page seems to be comprised of incoherent scribblings and ink bleed marks.

Report 12th of Ready’Reat
Just sent Axe to meet Antonio. Hopefully with our plan tomorrow we’ll help track down our missing shipments.
While this is important, I do want to set out to pursue this book fragment as soon as possible. Hopefully after this nonsense with the keep, we’ll be able to set off in the next day or two.

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An End to a Second Chapter...
...and the start of the next.

The old man falls silent after reciting the first chapter, lost in his thoughts. Pipe smoke curled about his aged features, brought back to focus as a glass of ruby-tinted wine was set beside him. He drinks deeply, before setting it down and leaning forward to continue his story, fire and light playing shadows about his features…

End-Book Two


DM Footnotes to All:

Marvelous! Just marvelous my dear adventurers! You have survived a trying adventure, challenging by most any stick of measure. You have grown your characters, and some of them have started to change, and flesh out into something more, or even different.

And yet, you have just barely scratched the surface. You brushed against death with Ravenloft and it’s master, had came out the otherside with digits (mostly) intact. You have also come across some…hints, that there is more at work in the wide world here. Do with that what you will.

A word of caution however. You have earned great wealth and grand rewards, and rightly so, for your efforts. But do not let it go to your head (save, of course, if it would go to your characters!), for you have played it…safe. You have hardly explored the New World, barely ventured past the ‘civilized’ and well traveled coast. You might find your great wealth and power…insufficient should you stray too far. Likewise, playing it too safe may only deny you not only a challenge, but even broker enemies who grow jealous and covetous of your might and coin.

But of course, that’s half the fun! The dice are rolling, and the strings of plot and interested are there for you to find and draw on if you wish, so let us carry on.

(P.S. Strahd’s not dead ;D )


Herein below, contains a simple summary of all that has transpired up to this point since our last chapter update, without spoiling or meta-game information, for reference and refreshing memories in the future.

“When we last found our adventurers, they were left in the aftermath of the night assault on the Citadel of Soldral. In the aftermath, they had only extracted a name and the image of their former companion swiftly retreating on a ship north.

Tending to survivors as they saw no chance to immediately pursue, they eventually found themselves in conversation with the High Incantator of the Citadel. With the conversation and investigation, they discovered a book had been stolen from a hidden vault beneath the ground floor of the Citadel.

Comparing notes and copies revealed that the old elven ledger made a reference to an even older elven outpost, now little more than a few remaining moss-covered stones if the book was to be believed.

More disconcerting was the ruin’s location. To the north-west, past the dwarven city of Gonost, lay the forest of Mith Taure. The forest possessed a reputation, as the party quickly found out. Known also as the Grey Forest, perpetual mist swirled and clung to the trees, thick and dense, easy for one to get lost and never found.

Charged by the High Incantator himself to retrieve the book and seek justice on those who had attacked the church if possible, the party made preparations, sailing up in their new ship, a gift from Lord Eirnwright, dubbed by the party The Duck’s Demise. They also found themselves with a new addition to their party, Maximillian McCloud, a mage with a strong penchant for lightning. Travelling quickly up the coast and into the Sickle Bay, they had their first real experience with Gonost. The city was a marvel of engineering and strong dwarven culture, and apparently the wealthiest hub of, well, anything, that they had come across in their time here in the New World.

Taking a few days to supply and explore, the party ran into some interesting trouble, finding themselves afoul of one local street thug and his posse. While the party was confident their skill surpassed that of the lowlives…they elected to not stir up trouble with the urgency before them.

Not taking long to dally after that, they continued their waterborne journey upriver towards Mith Taure. Max proved his value when the ship came across river bandits lying await in ambush with ballista, hooks and chains to assault the ship with. One lightning bolt later, the ballista was little more than smoking splinters as the would-be robbers scattered, and the upriver journey continued on.

Finding the hunter at the edge of the misted woods that had been recommended to them, a bargain was struck for him to guide them through the treacherous trees to the ruins, in exchange for some magical items. The price seemed to be worth his expertise; the party found the crumbling ruins without much trouble, and began to explore.

Nothing seemed to warrant all the trouble to find a book to locate this small outpost…until a secret entrance was discovered underneath, and members of the assault on the church caught red-handed amid a small library of some sort. Stunned, the interlopers sprang to attack the party, while the one seemingly in charge snatched up a book and ran out of a back entrance!

While the party made short work of the thieves and murderers, a few escaped right after the leader into the mist-shrouded forest. Hot on their heels, the party lost them in the mist and fog, and were left to wander.

After what felt like nearly a day of wandering, the party could only come to the conclusion they were totally, utterly lost. They continued to stick together and do their best to navigate, but had little luck.

By chance, they happened upon an owl while they took a moment to rest, the only creature they’d seen in some time. By chance, one of the party asked questions of it, and while unresponsive, lifted and pointed a wing between two trees before flying off. With nothing better to go off of, they followed the ‘direction’ given by the owl…and found themselves stumbling out of the forest, onto a mud-slick road nearing dusk…and definitely not anywhere they recognized.

Following signs of cart tracks and footprints, they followed the road till they saw a dim light in the distance, and much to their relief, found the source of it to be a lamp, hanging outside The Weary Horse Inn. Glad to be out of the mist and woods before nightfall, they took food and ale while taking stock of where they were.

Their musings and planning were interrupted when a man came through the door, looked around and took stock of the room, before wandering over to them with what else, but a sealed letter. Not addressed to them, the man told them he was paid and instructed to give it to the first group of capable people he met, appraising the party to be such folk.

The letter, upon reading it, begged for aid from the Burgomaster of a village known as Barovia, for they were under siege from undead! While there was some concern, the party decided that would be their next course of action, although for each their own different reason.

The letter proved to be all too true once they managed to find their way past the wrought-iron gate standing in the way, opening on it’s own as if to welcome them in. Undead appeared as they walked to the entrance to the village, growing in number as they moved further in. It was a fight to get past crude barricades to the center of town, and just in time as a small swarm of zombies were fighting to feast on the survivors that had made the town square their seeming last stand.

After the undead had been vanquished and they had earned some breathing room, they talked to the survivors to find out what was going on. While grateful for their aid, the party got some strangle looks when they asked to see the Burgomaster, finding he seemed to have been dead for some time, hardly in a position to send a letter!

They also met a paladin, Ashlyn of the Lightbringers, an undead hunter seeking her missing companions. They also found out quite a bit more information about the area they had come to, very far from home indeed, having been brought to the dismal region of Ravenloft in the lands of Barovia. More unsettling was learning of the immediate lands…and it’s ruler.

The dreaded Castle Ravenloft and it’s master, Count Strahd von Zarovich, who had ruled the castle and the lands for over a thousand years, and by all accounts, a most powerful vampyr.

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Seeing not much choice, they helped to fortify the town center and organize the remaining villagers before exploring the area and continuing their quest, seeking out the three men who had escaped them with the strange book, having fled to the castle by description and accounts.

They met more of the town’s prominent people; Ireena Kolyanna, the burgomaster’s daughter, Ismark the Lesser, son of the late burgomaster, who the group helped spur on into taking on the mantle of his late father. Arik, barkeep of Blood on the Vine Tavern. Bildrath, the hard, skinflint merchant who runs the remaining Mercantile shop with his dim but strong nephew Parriwimple.

The encounters and individuals they met before even setting foot into the castle were strange and intriguing, to name a few:

-The explorer learned of his people, the gypsy people known as the Vistani, led by their Madam Eva. She performed a fortune telling for them, giving them glimpses of hope and knowledge in the dark times they faced, telling them of a sword of light and a crimson amulet that would arm them in their struggle against Strahd, of his secret places of power, and where he could be found when they sought to strike at him in the final battle. The gypsy caravan was also quite happy to provide goods for sale…at a steep cost to the party’s coffers.

-They met a Knight of the Raven, Sir Urik, at the gallow-laced crossroads, fighting alongside him to defeat the murks and haunts possessing it, some of the party becoming initiated as fellow Raven Knights after seeing his might and bravery.

-A nameless monk, begging by the roadside intrigued them, and they showed compassion with food to him, an act he recognized in this downtrodden land. It proved to pay off in a good karmic fashion; stumbling later into the territory of werewolves, they instead allowed the party to come and go.

Alas, the dark lands were not kind; these encounters were glimpses of hope and light in the mist-shrouded region. They found the focus and wrath of the castle’s master shifting to bear on them. Attacks from his minions followed: Kavan the Grim, a savage vampire with the strength of ten men and the ferocity beyond that. Sasha Ivliskova, the lord’s mistress and her own minions. Varikov the Trapper, an insane dwarf and master hunter and trapper, stalking the party.

Over their time exploring and following the guidance of the gypsy woman’s fortunetelling, they recovered and reforged powerful relics: The Sunsword and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind. More importantly, their discovery of the three Fanes that link and empower Count Strahd’s already monstrous strengths as lord of the realm.

The party managed to sever the vampyr’s ties to the Fanes, reassemble the Sundsword, and partially empower the Symbol before taking on Castle Ravenloft in earnest. Interestingly, they ran into an old ‘friend’…none other than Mallard! Deception let him escape from the party’s wrath again, but not without his promised aid, quite literally blowing the bridge and doors to the castle itself!

From there, they found the castle was steeped with tainted power, old wounds, and a long-storied, tragic history, right from the start. Strahd himself greeted them with a feast, food and drinks the like of so rich and resplendent a few of the hungry party couldn’t help themselves…till the count left, revealing he had slaughtered Ashlyn the paladin and fed her to them!

They made ‘friends’ with the crazed man-servant still tending to the castle (including finding and helping themselves to the private wine stock), and explored the hostile castle with ever increasing trepidation and corruption as they sought to fulfill their quest as well as complete the reading of the fortune cards.

Among their encounters, a truly bizarre moment that still has the party confounded was the paladin Fandromar, who in truth was puppeted and possessed by the shadow demon Lucian. In the vicious battle, one of the party was slain, and only moments later, the demon shrieked and simply…vanished. Splitting headaches rent the party, as conflicting memories sprang into place. They had fought someone, but at the same time…they hadn’t!

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Not sure what this even might mean to them, they had no choice but to focus on their task at hand.

They explored wide and deep in the castle, discovering the hidden treasure vault the count possessed, the catacombs far below, containing a mix of traps, undead, entombed remains of renown people, a mysterious portal, and a secret tunnel out. Even darker perhaps, was the accidental discovery of an ancient, buried secret that even the master of the castle himself didn’t know about, a worn, primal stone slab in a natural cavern, over which was the desiccated body of an ancient primordial, a varvolfgar.

The party came and went from the castle several times, forced out of necessity to heal, eat and recover before plunging back in. During this time, the village suffered attacks from more undead, werewolves, and a swarm of bats from an angered Strahd, the lord personally visiting the village in broad daylight none-the-less to drive his point home!

But hard work, power, luck and perhaps, fate, were on the party’s side. Prepared and armed for a battle that still seemed foolhardy, they met Strahd and faced him headon, armed with weapons of light and power once held by the vampyr.

It was a bloody struggle, but it finally came to an end with the Sundsword plunging into his chest, leaving him slumped against wreckage of his castle’s finery. His wound opening and edges crumbling into dust, a veil seemed to lift from his eyes, looking at the party as if for the first time.

‘…deception…’ he croaked out to them. ‘My gaze…has been turned…held to look…elsewhere…’ he told them, body failing him. ‘The true enemy…lies…above…,’ he pointed, finger outstretched towards the window, pointed as if to the moon above.
‘But…I am still lord of this castle…I am Count…Strahd…VONZAROVICH….AND I…WILL NOT GO…QUIETLY!’ he roared with the last of his strength. Before the party had time to react, he brought his hands together, and the windows shattered, mist pouring out of everywhere and nowhere, sweeping the party up as everything vanished from view in the thick fog.

They felt as if they were flying and falling, tumbling for a great time, before suddenly landing with a painful thud on grassy ground. Gaining their bearings, they found they had been deposited none too gently on the edge of the forest, Mith Taure! Even stranger, though it had been many months since they had been inside the realm, just over a week had passed since they left their captain and ship on the river bank.

Left to mull over the details, they returned to Five Port, and to the Citadel of Soldral. They had succeeded in their venture; recovering a translated copy of the book taken from the elven outpost, which was turned over the the High Incantator to investigate, as it contained dark and disturbing references to an ancient, evil artifact, the Book of Vile Darkness.

Since their return, the brave adventurers have started to build a keep with their newfound wealth and writ of deed from Five Port. Taking time to recover as well, many of them went off for a time, taking personal journeys and quests to pursue their own ends and means.

Months followed, but finally all have reconvened in Five Port, and news is to be had! The High Incantator has sent word that he has information to share with them, though to their displeasure, the party has also discovered the construction on their keep has come to a screeching halt. What will the party do next?

Only time will tell…


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The one where we actually use tactics!
In the hallway where the bad guys can hear us...

Gentle reader I find myself puzzled as to just how in the nine hells my companions and I have survived our trip to this plane of dread and death. Our undertaker friend came back through the portal with news that was troubling to say the least. Our native plane has not paused to rest while we have been away. Indeed, I write this journal now not knowing if it will ever make it back to the old world for you to read it.

But that is a tale for another time.

The fight with the master of the castle was a test of endurance, strategy, and as always with us blind freaking luck. I have made it a point to let my traveling companions know that when they want to prepare for a fight in the future, we may want to avoid doing so directly outside of the villains lair. The fiend had brought some friends in a last ditch attempt to drive us off. It took almost everything we had to bring him down after several minutes of heart stopping combat. He retreated to what we hoped was his coffin after his defeat and as we pried open the lid to give him his final death it should have been a triumphant moment.

In the end it was very bittersweet.

The master of the castle cursed us with his dying breath and expelled us from his realm. We know not now who the Baron of the lands of Barovia is. I find myself troubled as to who (or whom) that may be. I hope that we have left that land better than when we entered, but I fear that may not be the case. My companions seem to be happy to have returned to our native plane, but I fear what enemies may rise against us in the lands we have left behind.

As it stands we await the return of our boat hoping that it will be here to pick us up. We have little word of how much time has passed since we left and I dread to hear what has passed in our time away.

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Victory

We have done it, we have defeated Strand and surpased Ravenloft. The fight did not go as planned but it was close enough and we pulled through the unexpected. Originally we planned on using spells to prepare halfway through the crypts and then confront Strand in his brothers tomb, instead we were ambushed after we stopped.

Luckily for us the ambush waited until after we got all of our spells up so we had magical defences. The most useful was the ones which defend against ability drain and death effects. With these in place the fight was almost comical. The enemies still out up a fight but aside from the opening surprise attack there was little actual risk.

I was almost disappointed with the ease of the fight but I still prefer an easy fight to a difficult one. I suppose I just expected more from the powerful vampyr that has been such a threat thus far. The final disappointment was after being defeated Strahd banished us from the realm preventing us from gathering the remaining loot, including the tapestry I wished to get as decoration.

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The Master's Just Deserts
Creative Cruelty

A Dark and Stormy night in Raveloft, several years have passed since the climatic battle Strahd had with the Adventurers from Siendart. The battle was pitched and the might of Sword and Spell brought to bear has yet to be seen again in Ravenloft. No one, has ever been so close. This auspicious night marks the 10 year anniversary and in celebration of his Victory, Strahd has invited several of his fellow Vampyrs and Vampires from the other realms for a grand party. The guest list includes the likes of Dracula, Alucard (Hellsing), and Nosferatu. As he tours them around the castle he shows and tells of his cruelty and the poetic ends he has given to adventures that have challenged him in the past. He recounts a story of how he trapped one party member in a coffin and assumed his form only to have the party stake their friend to death before killing them all wearing his skin. The next story he recounts is more recent, he tells of a Paladin, a lightbringer, that he had brazened over a fire with a honey glaze and fed to another adventuring party. Strahd muses for a moment, seemingly quite satisfied with himself. He speaks up in a boistrous tone as he flings open the doors to a grand chamber, recently repurposed. "And gentlemen, that brings us to the grand finale of the night! In the room stands several pedestals, upon which sit several Crystal Balls, within in them a scrying spell is active. Above them are great placards detailing their names and manner of death. Along with a 1 to 10 Rating on how satisfying it was. Even despite this being a gallery of his conquest, it is odd that they have recieved this “Honor”. He explains that these are the final effects of the troublesome adventurers from Siendart. Let us begin… He leads his guests around, showing different crystals.

First we come to the Paladin of the Gray Lady, Lady Julianah. As you can see, her corpse has been turned to the Grayest stone and her visage now watches over my brother’s Coffin. Just as in life her body is adorned in the holy raiments she wore in life but it is not the true relics, but rather an assortment of cursed items. The real relics are long gone and are of no threat to me anymore. What’s more, the fool that tries to take them shall face an animated stone simulacrum of the Paladin as she animates and Smites their pure hearts with very fervor she fought me with. She is now my Gray Lady.

Next, the foolhardy Woodsman, Axe. He is now a reanimated zombie clad in an armor of Bark and wood harvested from the remains of his precious Elm. What’s more, his un-life has but one simple undeniable command: Chop down every single tree in the Svalich woods. That will teach those accursed dogs to fail me. Ah gentleman the coup de grace as were, the haft of his Axe now is forged from the Right Arm, Heart, and Eyes of his Precious Elm and the Axe Blade, of the Very Cold Iron I slew her with. I have given him the gift of remembering every detail, but not the power to even weep for her. He takes a long sip of his Blood Wine, quite pleased with himself. “So Delicious.”

The other Vampires ooh and ahh at his creativity. Alucard speaks up and asks him what vintage he’s drinking.

Strahd smiles maliciously, oh this? It is a 10 Year vintage, let me show you.

Ah Jolias, one of my sweetest conquests. The Drunken priest, he died as he lived, “Drunken”. Strahd chuckles, please forgive the bad grammar, you see the pun doesn’t quite work otherwise. But to the point. The Crystal show and image of the Master’s Wine Cellar filled with several barrels. One of which is a barrel of contorted and horrifying flesh. Jolias has been turned into a Cask of Wine, his horrified face stares blankly forward and the tap to the keg is shoved in his mouth giving the appearance of him vomitting blood whenever a drink is drafted from it. Strahd stumbles for a moment, forgive me my fellows, but I must be cautious when I partake of this vintage, it is quite potent.

A peal of thunder crashes overhead. The Vampires look to each other, Nosferatu speaks. "It would appear that the storms in this area have worsened.

Strahd nods, yes it all courtesy of my next victim. Maximillian McCloud. In our fight his mortal coil was burned away to nothing, a combination of his self inflicted backlash and the Ironic Dark Lightning bolt I finished him off with. As such, I was troubled with what to do with him, until I had a stroke of genius. I bound his soul to the weather vane of the highest tower and now he haunts the skies of my castle as a dark and violent Thunderstorm with all the might he possessed in life. I would not advise traversing the grounds without Energy immunity active. It has done quite a bit to liven up the ambiance and has been quite the deterrent to anything not outright immune to electricity.

Dracula looks upon yet another crystal, “And what of this one?” “He’s giving charity?!”

Strahd calms him, worry not, their is a trick to this. That is Antonio, the Vistani. I have dominated his mind. He has been geas to walk the lands of Barovia giving every token of wealth he has ever had little by little to those who appear to need it. I have cursed his coins and jewels to bring the greatest misfortune to any who hold them. Think of it as a heighten Gypsy’s curse powered by his very Vastani blood. It provides quite a bit of entertainment with the misfortune he brings. In the crystal you can see a traveler in a wagon die of dysentary after being bitten by 13 Rattlesnakes as his 12 Grandfather clocks explode into shards of glass, gears, and splinters as his horse drowns in the river they were trying to cross. Strahd lets out a hearty belly laugh, “I love this show!”

Strahd sighs, quite content. And last but not least the Necromancer Dakras and his Scythe Thanifex. Three guests look upon the Crystal in horror and disgust. In unison" “How could you do that to him, that’s evil even by our standards!” Strahd just shrugs. “What? He asked for it.” In the crystal ball an image of Dakras stirring the pot of Cyrus’s “concoction” with a long shafted item can be seen. Moments later cyruss kicks in the door, giggling and angry somehow at the same time. “Stir that pot well intern! If you don’t old cyruss will catch hell and when cyruss catches hell that means you catch hell!” Dakras grumbles under his breath. “Cyruss doesn’t see you stirring!” Strahd explains that in the final moments of the fight Dakras pleaded with him explaining that he only came here for a Job and that his idiot companions decided to go on a crusade against him. “I am a merciful Lord, so I granted his request and made him an Intern under Cyruss.” "You never quite understand the cruelty capable of the oppressed until they have someone underneath them to take it out on. In the crystal Cyruss is seen taking over the pot. “You go sweep the halls now! hoo hoo hoo!” Dakras pulls a disgusted and seemingly heaving Thanifex out from the pot. “Can I have a broom?” Cyruss snaps “NO that is Cyruss’s broom! You use him!” Dakras lets out an exasperated sigh, “fine.” He begins using Thanifex to sweep the corridors. Thanifex speaks rather crossly to Dakras. “I would say we should look for another job but you are the fool who signed a life time contract” “Dakras fires back, I didn’t really have a choice, besides I thought it would it be null and void once I became a lich, I didn’t expect to be stuck as an intern forever!!” Thanifex coldly replys, “You should have thought of that. You were just as rash as…” Dakras snaps and cuts him off. “Don’t. Say. That Name.” Thanifex seems to enjoy it as he torments Dakras and spits the name out coldly and clearly. “Max” Dakras’s scream of frustration can be heard throuhout the halls of the castle.

Strahd smiles and bids his guests farewell. He sits down for a time and then there is a knock on the door. Cyruss is there, your dinner Master, just as you have requested it. He grins as he pulls the silver platter cover off to reveal Strahd’s dinner. The Roast Duck formerly known as Mallard. Screen goes black.

Roll Credits (The song “Victorious” by Panic at the disco Plays)

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Preparations
WE ARE NOT PREPARED!

We have finally gotten some good news, while across the portal I discovered that time has barely passed since we left. This means the attacks and armies we feared will not be immediately present… Hopefully.

It has been decided that we will wait In safety for a few days to prepare, this will give us time to finish any spells or techniques we have been working on and for Thanifex to regrow. Hopefully whatever his new upgrades it will be a boon in this fight.

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What's Behind Portal #1

As Dakras steps through the portal, energy twist and turns around him as he leaves his companions around him. All around him is pure darkness. Within a moment’s glimpse, he is in a different room. No mist, no undead, no evil influences. Just Dakras.

Dakras looks around him in his new location. It’s dark and dank in this chamber.

“Surely, this cannot be the Church of Soldral. A church that is usually revolves around the sun probably does not have a room that is dark ad dank. Although, I do like ambiance. Dark, dank, no annoying lighting mages. I can get used to this.”

He walks around the room trying to stay in range of the portal. However, he hears movement. Dakras turns to the direction to where the movement occurred.

“State your business.”

Nothing was said. Just more shuffling noises.

“Let me clarify. State your business or I shall free your skeleton from its fleshy prison.”

Nothing yet. Dakras was trying to intimidate a human, hopefully one that wasn’t a cleric of Soldral.

He moves towards the movement with what’s left of Thanifex in one hand. Just imagine Dakras as an modern middle-aged woman with curls in her hair approaching danger with a flat iron in one hand. It’s essentially what he’s doing.

He finally approaches the source of shuffling movement. His face turns from curious to horror as he sees a person he’s familiar with. The one person that can cause him emotional distress in the world. The one person that leaves his blood pressure high in the mere sight of him. The one person that causes him to sigh every time the person does something. The one person to cause Dakras to dread his next interactions with him. The one person Dakras did not want to see. It was Maximilian McCloud.

Dakras is now panicking. “Am I in Siendart or am I still in Ravenloft,” he thought to himself.

“Or did this idiot follow me through the portal?! I thought Antonio said it was an individual trip!” Dakras contemplates the possibility of this occurrence happening. But then Max said something.

“When is Dakras coming back? He’s taking his time. Or he probably left us. That jackass.”

Dakras then hears a familiar voice.

“He’ll be back. I don’t think he’s going to leave us… yet.”

It was Antonio. But they seem to be continuing a conversation as if Dakras was not there. He then heard Juliana’s voice. Then Jolias’s voice. Dakras paced around the room to see that all his companions, including Femur were there… except the Undead creations.

Dakras tried to wrap his head around the dilemma that he’s in.

Then, something also stirred out of nowhere. A glittering skull with some dust came from nowhere. A familiar sight. One that Dakras did not want to see. The demilich.

“Well done, young Necromancer! You passed another trial! I see your friends have not! Hahahahaha!”

“What do you mean another trial?!”

“Well as soon as you entered this room, a puff of gas enveloped you all. Your gypsy companion failed to track that trap. It’s hilarious. You guys think you’re dying from whatever encounter brewed up in that fleshy brain of yours. You guys have been just walking around in this chamber for a while. Every time I see you guys ‘die’ it’s just you guys running into a wall and knocking yourself out. It’s the most hilarious thing I’ve seen.”

Dakras looked perplexed. All that time in Rvenloft, just an illusion. A mere trap of the mind.

“Oh don’t worry about your friends. They’ll soon die off. But you, my friend, I’ve got a deal for you. How about you would like to live eternally.”

Dakras looked confused but then realized what the demilich was saying. “No, please no! I don’t deserve this. I was meant for greatness. To surpass my master and to control legions of undead that beckon to my COMMAND! YOU WILL NOT SWAY ME FROM MY PATH! I WAS MEANT TO BE IMMORTAL!”

But it was too late. Dakras saw his body collapse as he’s looking from inside his crystalline prison. The demilich trapped Dakras’s soul into one of the gems on the skull.

“You now have what you always desired, necromancer. Immortality. Hehehehehehehehe. It’s a win-win situation in my eyes! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!”

A maddening laugh echoes through the lair of the demilich.

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Portal

It appears that the portal that I expected from the key was indeed true. After a short fight with a demon (and then deal with another) we discovered that the locked away portal was indeed a way back to Seindart. We had a short debate amongst ourselves about what to do with it. I was on the side of using it to return home with Axe being the most outspoken for staying. I should have expected no less from the one who is the most likely to throw himself in front of an enemy blade. While I argued that we are needed back home and can simply take the book and leave he argued that we owed it to the people to push on.

There are certainly reason for us to stay and push on but that is likely one that I disagree with the most. We owe nothing to these people. The most that they have done is house us and provide food, in return we have defeated their enemies and loosened the masters grasp upon the land. It could be argued that by leaving we are dooming them to the masters wrath, the issue with that is there is no reason to believe it will be any worse than when we arrived and the way it has been for as long as this plane has existed. This land seems to have a history of hard times that eventually ceases allowing the town to recover before the next disaster lands. The idea that All of them would be slain is preposterous for a simple reason, they are needed. Even if Strahd were the most sadistic and cruel man in all history he still has a survival instinct, and to survive he needs blood, human blood.

The most logical way to continue living for him is to allow the town to survive. To him the people may be no more than meals but they will have their lives, not easy lives but lives.

In the end it was decided to stay as no others were willing to abandon the land without killing Strahd. In a cruel twist of irony it was then decided that somebody needed to traverse the portal in order to get information and resources. The group decided to choose me as the person to go since my connections and spells were the most useful. The lone voice for leaving and not returning was chosen to be the one to go. This is likely the most that has been trusted to me since Antonio first outed me as a Necromancer, whether I shall betray this trust or not… I do not yet know

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Message from beyond
WWDD (What will Dakras do?)

Gentle reader, I pen this writing wondering if we have just made a colossal mistake once more. If it seems that I say this a lot, well good! You’ve been paying attention all this time.

Our latest self inflicted calamity concerns our resident undertaker and whether or not we have just sent him to his death. It also touches upon the fact that he may just walk away from us all if he gets to the location we have sent him.

In short, we have found a portal back to Siendart. Unfortunately not only is it highly risky to use, not everyone wanted to use it to get us the hell out of here. It seems the more noble and kind hearted of my companions wish to settle our differences with the master of castle post haste. I cannot blame them as we have suffered greatly at the hands of this black hearted fiend, but I also have grave reservations about whether or not all or any of us will survive this quest for vengeance.

The undertaker himself was the lone companion to vote for leaving (I myself abstained), but circumstances dictated that he be the one to go through the portal to send messages to our employers and find out what manner of peril threatens both the old world the new.

If ever he has been tempted to leave us all behind, now would be the time. True, he did leave his creations and his familiar behind but I well know that one can always get more of those.

In truth, I have thought of taking my chances with the portal myself, but there is still powerful abilities to be found here, if the gods I follow allow it.

So for now I have chosen to stay here and join this battle against the master of the castle. I hope that we all don’t end up regretting this decision.

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