Fate Comes to Call

A Prayer to Ashlynn
An Apology and an Vision of the Future

“To you, the deceased Paladin Ashlynn
Your memory has not been forgotten

But some have forgotten your name, as they all call you the Paladin.
But to a few, we all knew you as Ashlynn.

We are heading into what seems to be a final assault in the castle.
So that we may save Barovia, at least that’s why I hope for.

The way my companions spoke of their true goal to get out of this twisted domain may be harsh. It seems they lost their human sense of doing good.

That’s what I hope to do. To impart my teachings, my ramblings to probably most of the villagers, to the denizens of the village so that they must not forget their path and stray from the Light.

We will kill Strahd. I feel it is our duty that we owe to these people. They look up to us. To take revenge against Count Strahd for the many lives he reaped, treating this land as his own personal kitchen.

I suppose one good Prayer and a apology for you and I is fit. For I do not know if I shall slay Strahd and finally embrace Death."

“Oh Paladin of the Sun, the death you yearned for was finally granted to you. I wish for Death more now than ever. But once this is all over, may Soldral and Io see your soul, as well as the souls of your companions, to be finally at peace. Maybe this time, my cup of ale won’t plunge me into the depths of despair, but into the gateways of Hope.

There are not many chess pieces on the board left. There are almost no moves to make. Which ever side makes the best turn will win this drawn out game. But with newfound determination, I shall win the game in your memory. Paladin of the Sun, I shall join you soon so that I may tell you tales of my heroism and recklessness."

Once I return home, I shall dedicate a passage of a book to your bravery. I haven’t wrote anything about the book in a long time. Maybe I shall write the book so that people may know the tragic extent of my failings.

“Ashlynn, I’m sorry about what happened to your body in real life. My companion and I were under the dark influence of Strahd. I know that I am late but I am sorry. Deeply sorry. I am tortured every night by that twisted dinner that was thrown together by the Count. I don’t admit this to anyone but I am an idiot. Still am. But I cannot gather enough courage, even that which takes the form of ale, to admit this to anyone.

I pray for the future of everyone, of Barovia, and mankind. For evil has no bounds. Once I get home, I shall do more than worship the Austere Lady. I wish to become a Herald of War, to worship both the tactics and the destructive nature of conflict itself and to wield that power between my fingertips. So that no one must experience the same fate and endure the same despair I felt. For the battles shall end swiftly."

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Charge of the noble adventurers!
The castle awaits...

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the castle of Death
strode the six companions:
‘Forward, the Noble Adventurers!
Charge for the master of the castle’ he said:
Into the castle of Death
Strode the six companions.

‘Forward, the Noble Adventurers!’
Was there a companion dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the confederates knew
Some one (Max) had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the castle of Death
Strode the six companions.

Wights to right of them,
Ghouls to left of them,
Vampires in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with bolt and spell,
Boldly they strode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Strode the six companions.

Flash’d all their weapons bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Stabbing at the vampires there,
Charging an undead horde while
All Barovia wonder’d:
Plunged in the obscuring mist
Right thro’ the line they twist;
Vampire, Wight & Ghoul
Reel’d from the sun sword-stroke,
Shatter’d & sunder’d.
Then they strode back, but not
Not the six companions.

Wights to left of them,
Ghouls to right of them,
Vampires behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with bolt and spell,
While Sassy & other heroes fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six companions.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All of Barovia wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Noble Adventures,
Noble six companions!

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But at what cost?
Walking the knifes edge

“All great sacrifices demand a price to be paid.-Anon

Gentle reader I have walked a thin line between life and death today and I somehow have returned to tell the tale. In a moment of great need I have paid a terrible price to bring the power of shadow into the world, and its full cost has not yet been decided. I did this not for my companions or for personal power but to allow my people, my brothers and sisters to live another day. As I feared Madam Eva knew that I would be needed to make this sacrifice and now I find myself instead of lauded for my actions indebted to both my people and the gods I serve. One wonders where all the tales of noble heroes making great sacrifices for others and being richly rewarded for it come from. I most certainly wont be writing anything of the sort I assure you.

As it stands my people did need me. A large pack of werewolves ferociously mauled the caravans retreat to the bridge. We allowed my people to pass and attempted to slow down pursuit

That did not go well at all.

The werewolves jumped over the wide river we thought would funnel them onto the bridge and quickly surrounded the majority of my companions. Only the undertaker and I could fly or levitate above the fray and even then we were targeted by enemy spellcasters and giant rock throwing beasts. It was there at my lowest ebb with my left hand smashed into a useless pulp that I saw what else was coming to kill us.

Given more time I might have properly learned what I did next. Given careful thought and observations, I might know just what in the hells I did back there…the events are somewhat hazy. But unlike the drunken priest who prays to his gods for power or the godchild who seemingly rips it from the skies overhead by the force of his own will, I called upon the luck I have earned as a Fatebender to nudge the great wheel of time into an outcome where I was successful in my actions. The enemy host was defeated before me. Brought low before the powers bestowed upon me by the gods I serve. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective and in the end it almost killed me.

Almost. But not today.

Evidently I shouted a warning to flee before I fell senseless into the river after my display of power was completed. I was saved from drowning by our fighter friend who jumped in to save me. I suppose that I should try to be nicer to him after all that in the future.

At any rate the die has been cast. The coin has been flipped and all the world waits to see which side it shall land on. There is a price to be paid for what I have done today and soon I shall find out just what that is.

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Report 17th of the Harvester

Went back to town. Unclear if any townspeople died.

Strahd blamed the werebear’s people for stripping the fane’s powers. On one hand, I was relieved: we have the element of surprise and managed to pass unnoticed. On the other, the town lost a powerful ally.

We strategized with Ulric and Ismark, although I dont know what good it will do. The town can’t support us too much with what little supplies they have.

We agreed to let the Gyspsies come to town. Communal protection and trade would do both factions good, if they can get along. I saw Antonio’s annoyance at Ismark’s pointed words.

We must meet the caravan at the bridge at noon tomorrow. I think this was a wise decision, and hopefully we can make more of them and avoid any direct fights as long as we possibly can

12 Hours Later

Hey guys, there’s like, 45 freaking werewolves to our party of 6, we should maybe tactically retreat? No? Ok on average everyone has to have a K/D ratio of AT LEAST 8/1. Still no retreat? Fine, I guess

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For the Horde!!
Wolfs Rain

The horde of canine pursuers charges across the bridge after the vastani, through a combination of magic and tactics we prepare ourselves to weather this storm of fangs. We used the bridge as a choke point but that proved fruitless as the beasts jump clear over the river. Some enemy spells later and we are literally up the river. We need to do something big…maybe we should actually work together…

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Aftermath

After digging our way out of our self-made tomb we found the results of our meddling. On our way to town we heard the booming voice of Strahd, bouncing off every wall it met, coming to show his superiority. He announced that the town is to meet in the center of town to witness what is to happen to their “heroes” that were opposing him. At this point I, only half jokingly, asked if any of the other companions with me would prefer to flee at that. While none went with that idea something more surprising did happen, we stayed where we were and hid…

It appears the were-creatures were to take the blame for us, Strahd ripped the head of the tiger me recently met cleanly from his spine, yet still none charged forward at this. This response of course is to be expected from Antonio, Julianah was unexpected but I believe this was the tactical choice, but the largest surprise was from Axe. He too remained still and quite while another died for our crimes, because of this we escaped a fight with the lord. If a conflict had broken out I had a plan I hoped would work, but hope and the honor of Strahd is all it relied on. We have yet to use our letter of Leniance which should allow the forgiveness of any crime we commit, whether it would cover taking the feins of power is now something we will likely never know.

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A bridge too far

Gentle reader it would appear that we had finally encountered a stroke of luck here in this evil place. Not only are all of my companions alive at this time, but it would appear that the master of the castle is convinced that we are not the ones who severed his connections to the land. Instead that “honor” was bestowed upon the smallest of the local werecreature tribes. As a result the foul villain chose to publicly execute one of the commanders of those werecreatures in the center of town in Barovia the day after the bat swarms ravaged the place. While it is tragic that they paid the price for our success, their sacrifice would have given us a golden opportunity to sneak back into the castle and attempt to “air our grievances” with the lord of the land on terms of our own time and choosing.

But that was not to be.

The Burgermeister wanted to speak with us about our conduct at the Fanes and how we have endangered his village. During this far ranging discussion he voiced his concerns about the declining strength of the people of the town of Barovia. As I was speaking about our parties inability to speak with or locate my own people, I was stunned when he offered an unlikely solution to our problem. The Burgermeister actually offered to allow my people to come to town to live for a time and aid in its defense.

Of course he then shat all over his solution by offering to have some of his more skilled carpenters craft us all some wooden tableware “to insure that the good silver doesn’t go missing”

Ingrate. That silver should have been turned into arrowheads long ago.

In the end I was more than happy to take him up on his “wonderful” offer. It has turned out that my people need the help the Burgermeister has offered because their own situation has turned desperate. The message we received from the traveling people was just a few lines finely scrawled on a scrap of parchment attached to a crows leg. Small. insignificant even. But the words carried to us on dark wings had the weight if not the penmanship of Madam Eva’s hand behind it. With her words we are gearing up to meet my people at a local river crossing to “escort them into town.” With her words we travel out again to face the unknown. I can only hope my people make it to us in time.

After a night of troubled rest I fear that we speed towards a crossroads of prophecy and destiny. A confluence of fate and dark fortunes that not all of us may survive. I see the great wheel in my dreams clearly once more crushing, maiming, and killing all who stand in the way of it. But go to this uncertain future I must. For this slim and small message also stated that I must be there. That I must be present to show my people the path to Barovia. It weighs heavily upon my soul. By all rights we should be even now deep inside the bottom levels of the castle searching for items to help us drive a steak through the heart of the master of these lands. Instead I head off into the morning sun to honor my words to my brothers and sisters.

I cannot help but wonder if they would do the same for me.

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Report 16th of the Harvester

Today I’ve witnessed miracles and curses. The Austere Lady’ herald healed me on death’s door from a pierced lung. We defeated the hag, and the unholy amalgam of bones.

Yet we are currently sitting inside a grave. Bats are surrounding us scratching at our hiding place, looking for the people that robbed the master’s power.

Which is us, but still. We should have expected some sort of retribution but I didnt think every creature would be tormented like this.

We were tasked to save the town, but I dread going there again. What would Ismark say? Irina? Ulrich? I almost fear facing their scorn and seeing the possible damage more than Strahd’s wrath. I can understand why he would hate us. But seeing a town we tried so hard to help being in shambles, torn against us…

Taking and claiming the fanes were necessary. Tactically, we needed to wrest power from the master to face him and even have a chance. But somehow every choice we make, no matter how tactical, always ends in collateral damage.

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The Tipsy Skeleton
Jolias's and Dakras's bar in Fiveport

After the voyage into Ravenloft, Jolias and Dakras decided to build a base of operations for the group. However, instead of a church, they decided to create a bar despite protests from other group members.
The top floor was a generic bar that is ran by Jolias. However, beneath the bar are the Catacombs. This is where Dakras stores some of his undead. It is also the home of the bar that primarily caters to undead. Therefore, the name of the bar is the Tipsy Skeleton.
A recent interview with the bar owners.
Interviewer: So Jolias, do you ever adventure anymore?
Jolias: Umm, I only go adventuring in hopes of finding and trying out new drinks. While the majority of the party fights for justice, I fight for booze.
I: What about your friend Dakras?
J: Dakras fights to just get new undead for the Catacombs bar below.
I: What is the bar used for? The one below? I heard many rumors about it.
J: Dakras first told me about the idea. At first, I was skeptical. However, he’s been a bro in the past so we went through it. Plus, Dakras said he “liked the ambiance of the place.” We mainly use the Catacombs under us to please the undead. However, its become a bar and a storing space. Dakras also disposes of unwelcome patrons by killing them and reanimating them.
I: How…strict…
J: Our place of business can tolerate a few mishaps in the name of fun. However, we do not tolerate acts of violence or mischief in our bar.
I: How do you guys deal with thieves and evil bad guys?!
J: Well, if you haven’t noticed, crime in Fiveport has decreased by 33 percent. The theives are actually too drunk to go rob people. However, some of the town watch are drunk as well. The hilarious thing is that they get along. As for the BBGs, they like the bar too much to scheme. Another fun fact is that the BBGs are looking for the Book of Vile Darkness. In my bar, we use it as a coaster for drinks. So it is right under their nose.
I: Well, thank you for your time, Jolias. Be sure to visit the Tipsy Skeleton at Fiveport.

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The wrath of the master...
is upon us all

Gentle reader, I pen this missive to you all while trapped underground in a former ghoul lair. The stench is foul and the lone exit from this place is blocked to protect us from the great swarm of bats circling outside. We do not know how long we will be trapped here. However, I fear that if this plague of winged nightmares doesn’t fly back to the castle soon we will all die from the lack of fresh air we are no longer receiving from outside.

Our quest to wrest control of the fanes away from the master of these lands has met with success at last. We defeated his guardians and then proceeded to put down the undead abomination that was foretold by Madam Eva’s prophecy. This was not done without cost. The godling lost his sight only to have it returned to him by divine intervention. The fact that it was not returned fully I believe to be a repayment on his insistence in taunting the gods themselves. I am not a follower of The Austere Lady by any means but I respect her divinity and thank her in my own way for the healing she bestows upon us through her agents. We have found during this journey that our respective gods have taken a very healthy interest in our lives and only a fool like Shango would continue to refuse to acknowledge their existence.

Not that it matters now.

When the master of these lands felt his connection to the fanes severed he reacted with swift and brutal rage. That anger took the form of a swarm of bats, more than I have ever seen in one place and one time that blackened the skies in every direction from the castle with their multitudes. Our only option was to run and hide from the endless swarms and so we did to save our own skins. We barely made it to our noxious hideaway and became separated in the process. The godchild went into Barovia with the drunken priest in pursuit attempting to get him to come back to us.

I know not as of this writing if they are alive or dead.

In any event the master of these lands is most displeased. He has issued an edict heard to all in the land that we are to present ourselves to his castle to be disciplined most harshly. I doubt that even my brothers and sisters will be willing to be hide us from his judgement now. If we could find them. It would seem that we have at last run out of time and our confrontation with the evil master of this place draws near.

My lone regret in this nightmarish mess is that I have not seen Madam Eva again since she told us of our fortunes. It is my reasoned opinion that she could make use of a powerful mystic related artifact we found underneath the castle in its crypts to break free of the dread lords influence on her and by extension to my people. There is a chance in fact that it might leave her perfectly positioned to come to rule these lands herself when and if we are fortunate enough to defeat him. I doubt that the people of Barovia would be pleased if this turn of events came to pass but even though I have pretended not to hear the insults, slander, and outright lies hurled at my people every day here, I have remembered each and every one of them.

But enough foolish dreaming. We are in a great deal of danger and will willingly be marching or be herded into a great deal more peril very very soon. By the powers of the gods I serve I hope that they are able to influence the fates in our favor and that we are ready to face the trials ahead of us. .

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