Fate Comes to Call

The Hunt
Everybody's doing it

It’s been a week since… the incident. Dakras wasn’t quite sure what happened as he was unconscious at the time, but when he awoke he found the remnants of his group. Some had giant holes punched through both their armor and bodies, most mostly they were crushed inside giant footprints that littered the ground, it was unclear if they were trampled as they attempted to flee or as they stood paralyzed by shock. What was clear though, was the snap that twisted his mind. While he may not have counted most of the group as as friends they were companions and had spent much of the last year together. An obsession of vengeance consumed him, if he was to kill the monster that stuck down his group he would need more power, and more combatants.

Set in his path there was a new battle of wills between Dakras and the ancient scythe Thanifex. With the madness that was slowly devouring him fueling his attack Dakras forced the scythe into complete servitude, or perhaps the scythe was simply amused with the turn of events and allowed itself to lose? Time was lost for a short while, was it two weeks, a month, or more that was spent in that swamp? What was clear is that Dakras rarely roamed farther than 100 ft of where the party fell. In this time creatures pursued what they viewed as an easy meal, until they too were converted into unresting guardians of the area, eventually even the most mindless of creatures stayed away. When the time finally came the new group ventured out to find the cause of their deaths.

The tracks were ancient by this point but that was no concern for the new Axe. He appeared to be an odd mix of zombie and plant, small balls of moss now sat in the sockets his eyes once rested and a small sapling was pocking out of one of the many holes in his chest. One of the more drastic deliberate alterations to his form was the fusing of his axe to his otherwise destroyed forearm. He once said the Axe felt like it was a part of him, now it truly was.

During the travel whisperers of what they hunted filled the ears of Dakras. Little of Antonios body was recoverable so there had to be special circumstances to bring him back. The end result was a semi-solid shadow, what he lacked in substance he made up for in a substantial retention of mental prowess. His knowledge would be a supplement to his masters along with his new ability to slip through tiny cracks and manipulate what lay beyond.

Eventually the trail led them through and open area of land near Borovia leading to some peasants coming to investigate the oddly different traveling group. When they approached the group and looked upon their bodies the peasants panicked and fled. Shortly after the encounter a horde of them approached the group seeking their destruction. Dakras was unable to convince them they meant no harm and still intended to free the town but it fell upon death ears. The town attacked and began to damage the new group, Dakras commanded Jolias to heal the group. Jolias was little more than a skeleton, he had been devoured by the beast and his bones were found not too far away from the initial battle site. Aside from the lack of flesh the real difference to Jolias was that he retained much of the divine powers but it was now fueled by the powers of undeath. Obeying the orders he was given Jolias sent out a wave of dark energy that poured into the rest of the group repairing what little damage the peasants did. Screams filled the air as the same energy pulled the life from the mob as an unintentional side-effect and a long figure stood amongst their ranks. Sir Orrick shouted that he knew the group couldn’t be trusted and the undead must be destroyed.

Orrick charged the most normal looking member of the group, Dakras. A suit of plate moved between them which stood as a substitute for Julianahs body. Yellow orbs of light burnt in the slit of the helmets visor and on the inside an unseen rune layed on the back of the helmet. Little of her body was recoverable as well, most of it was ground to dust after being stepped on by the giant creature. In exchange for a body of bone or flesh she instead had her soul bound to a set of magical plate, some of the remaining blood used to create the rune used to bind her soul. To counter the rush Julianah reached down to retrieve the Sun Sword which still laid at her hip. The blade hissed at being pulled forth and wielded by an undead but it remained in her grip. Black smoke and ooze began to pour from the sizzling hand, the ooze poured downwards and eventually covered the crystal blade fully. When Orrick grew close enough Julianah whipped the sword forward, slinging any loose drips of black off the blade before it found itself deep within the mortals chest. When pulled out the clear crystal blade was gone, replaced by a dark smoky blade made of gem.

When the beast was finally found a lone zombie was shoved forward. The zombie has glowing yellow arcane runes running across its body. Gone was any emotion or impulse from the body of Max, it was replaced by an empty stare. Max was returned with by far the least amount of intelligence and personality, if any at all. There was just enough to cast spells on command and restore the stores of magical energy that the body stored, which was sometimes tapped to restore his new masters pools. Once the attention of the beast was gathered a command came forth and the zombie obliged. The fog that constant there began to rise and condense until it formed a giant storm cloud from which a lightning bolt that the gods would be proud of struck forth. The amount of light that was generated would have blinded them all if they had needed eyes to see.

Dakras strode forth from the group to get a closer look at what remained of the body. The time spent in one area doing nothing but altering the corpses of his companions had done a number on him. The lack of food or drink had left his skin pale and shallow, there was little evidence that separated him from one of the undead around him except occasional shallow breaths and a heartbeat that decided to thump in his chest every now and then. He would have died long ago from exposure and hunger if it weren’t for the dark energies that seeped into him during the intricate and powerful casting that left him somewhere in between alive and undead.

Now that the beast was dead the group turned their heads to the castle, they still had a mission to do.

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Passed away
Parody

Gentle reader, I write this missive to you hoping that someone is left alive to read it. It seems like just a short time ago we were doing so well! Killing vampires, putting down Demons, drinking fine wine, saving kittens from trees. Where did it go so wrong? I’ll tell you! It was the drunken priest, again.

This time he decided to use a magical wand of absolute chaos to summon the most gigantic dinosaur that any of us have ever seen. They were, as far as I know anyway, extinct for several generations. I could write flowing words about how courageously we battled this horrible beast and won but let’s not sugarcoat this.

We all got eaten. It wasn’t pretty.

Due to some kind of dark luck of the traveling people I alone survived the experience. I believe that AO himself was so exasperated with us appearing before him so many times in succession that he delayed my final return from the great beyond. Did I reappear in Ravenloft in a glorious flash of light? Did I come back in a great cloud of godly magic that ordinary mortals would die from if they saw it?

Not so much. I awoke some time after the gigantic dinosaur “loosened his bowels” many days later.

I was surrounded by the bones and gear of my fully dissolved comrades. Picking through what was left, the undertakers scythe teleported itself away from my grasp with an audible rebuke in the tongue of my people. It seems he stuck around just to let me know how much our deaths amused him. I collected the rest of the gear from the remains of the others and proceeded back to Barovia.

There wasn’t much left.

It seems the dinosaur has…evolved. Somehow by eating all of us it absorbed our life force, our ability to cheat fate, our abilities. In short, it has become sentient and the master of the castle…well I can freely call him Strahd now, has been consumed by the dinosaur as well.

The last sighting of the beast that the few survivors I have come across could tell me was that it had ripped open a portal through time and space to some futuristic world named Flor-eda to consume a man named An-drew and absorb his power.

I wish him luck. He will need it.

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A Week In the Tyrant's Stomach
If Jolias survives being eaten by a T-rex

Day 1: I have been eaten by what I have dubbed “The Tyrant.” Hopefully my companions will save me before I am digested.
Day 2: None of my companions have entered the belly of the beast and I am still here. The incoming food signifies that I have not been saved and that either the creature killed all my allies or they let the creature escape. Hopefully, they will come for me.
Day 3: I have lost hope of my companions finding me. I’m now thinking that they possibly left me to rot in the belly. That’s fine. I didn’t need them anyway. I have these sticks of wood that are better companions anyway.
Day 4: My alcohol supply is diminished. At least my new companions, Tammy and Bill, have not found themselves in some sort of trouble. Unlike my old companions.
Day 5: I am lucky to be eaten by the beast while I have Merlin’s spoon. I have been using it non-stop to fulfill me. Every so often, the Tyrant swallows a whole animal, still alive. I Searing Light the beast so I can get my fulfillment of food that doesn’t taste like cardboard.
Day 6: I have been grateful to my companions and the Tyrant for being there with me. I have started a new religion called the Tyrant’s Maw. I have a prophecy that the Tyrant will keep growing, slowing consuming the entire world. For there is no better utopia than being in its stomach, free from the confines of the gods. Because my old Goddess hasn’t heeded my prayer. I predicted that the Tyrant will soon enter the Realm of the Gods and eat them too. This I wish for because it is most certainly peaceful, especially right now, where I see no undead and Strahd in sight.
Day 7: With what the Tyrant has eaten, I have created some sort of hut structure to make both a home and a cathedral for the Tyrant’s Maw. Tammy and Bill have become great acolytes of the All Consuming Maw. One who does not obey the Tyrant shall be eaten in great haste and be sent to the Acidic Pool of Torment to where they will drown in their sorrow and soon become a part of the Tyrant.

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Spellbook

The spellbook that I had so anticipated turned out to be a disapointment. Considering the source I hoped for a few spells that would aid me in raising stronger undead or causing others to falter in combat. The spells that it contained are still useful but not directly in my field. One spell that may prove invaluable in this area was mages private sanctum which I set to learning immediately.

Another useful spell contained within was permanancy, this would be quite useful when applied to death watch but may take getting used to after. Never again would I see the world the same way, from that point on I would be seeing the life force of every being.

I should ask thanifex to teach me a spell to raise more powerful undead as it still owes me one, and I feel I am powerful enough to cast such spells now.

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Report 1st Week of the Harvester

Living in the light of day made me realize how off-track my calendar has gotten during our visit to lovely Castle Ravenloft. Its hard to mark the days when there’s no sun, moon or stars to tell you what time it is. I’ll have to go back and update my journals.

We decided to take a few days and rest in Barovia before tackling the Fanes. It was a sorely needed rest – I repaird my helmet, helped Max with his forge and met with the burgomeister. The helmet patch job should do until I can afford a better set of armor.

We completed the second step for the Sunsword. Now only one more remaining – defeating a powerful undead. I wonder who that could be.

It breaks my heart seeing Ismark stressing so much. Its vital to tell him about Irina, but I still don’t want to stress the poor man out any more than he already is. As much as I want to tell him that his boarding up is most likely useless, if poorly nailing Irina’s windows shut gives him peace of mind I’ll gladly do it.

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The interregnum
The pause that refreshes

Gentle reader my companions and I having successfully evaded the clutches of the master of the castle once more decided to retreat to the town of Barovia. We arrived to actually find it in a better state then when we left. Fortifications were being built, new guardsmen were being recruited, and the burgermeister had actually convinced Sir Urick to act as the towns constable. Sir Urik blames me for this predicament and I cannot find fault with his accusation.

We requested a meeting with both of them to get a sense of what has been happening in town in the weeks we were away. News issued forth of werewolf attacks and ambushes by a dwarven vampire. The last one we were all to familiar with having stumbled blindly into one of his “surprises” on the way into town. We in turn relayed to them news from the castle and the dire portents spotted within. One of those involved the burgermeister himself which caused a small amount of trouble when it was revealed.

After this we have had something that has been in lacking in our travels of late.
Time.
Time to take a bath. Time to resupply. Time to repair and purchase new equipment. Time to write (mostly just by yours truly). Time to meditate and plan to figure out where we go from here. We are as of this writing still at loggerheads over what direction to take now.

But every day we delay gives the master of the castle time to grow stronger. His plots and plans, his foul schemes seem closer to fruition with each passing day. How much time do we have left to stop his sinister intentions from succeeding?

I fear we may have given him too much time already.

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The Blade that pierces the Black Heart

Max is Standing in the Bilgerath’s shop

“Bilgerath! My friend! Have I got a deal for you!”

Max drops a pile of shovels onto his front counter, knocking several things off and not caring in the slightest.

“For you today I have the greatest of deals! 4, count them 4 exotic shovels, handcrafted by skilled craftsmen of distant lands using distant techniques never seen before! The wood is harvested from far forgotten forests in locales you can only dream of! The Steel is tempered in the fiery passions of all the craftsmen knows and loves! A single shovel takes near a decade to create and a team of no less than 12 Master Smiths who must swear off crafting for the rest of their lives after the shovel blade is complete! The blade can effortless hew Adamantine ore from the ground like melted butter, the blade is so sharp that a peasant can decapitate an ogre at 10 yards with nothing more than the strength of his throwing arm and the ludicrous sharpness of this blade! The wooden handle of this magnificent tool has been blessed by a circle of druids making the wood as durable as iron and completely resistant to fire! This blessing did not come cheap my friend, the craftsmen had to swear off all further wood work and lumbering for him and his entire village! What’s that you say? You thought the craftsman had to swear off metal working too and that they would be too busy with the blade for this to be possible? Ha ha ha, I see that you still do not yet understand the grandeur of this fine instrument of manifest destiny! The Blade and the and handle are created separately, each taking near a decade of dedicated work by a team of no less than 24 Master wood workers and metal workers. That’s 12 Master crafters for each component of this wonderful tool! After the decade has passed and the two components have been masterfully created the 24 gather atop a volcanic mountain and toss to two pieces in, here they wait for 3 years with no sleep, water, or food, sustained only by their prayers to gods of forging, the gods of nature, and their own steely will and determination to fulfill their final masterpiece! Once the 3 years have passed, a great and powerful Ifrit rises from out of the volcanic mountain and rewards their collective group with a single all powerful wish! They of course wish for the completion of the greatest shovel this plane of existence has ever seen! While the Ifrit is truly powerful their wishes do not come without a cost, The Ifrit is cruel, he tells them that he will complete the shovel, but only if they all agree to irrevocably surrender their sight and sense of touch forever, so that they may never see nor touch the fruits of their labor, that only those who do not understand the gravity of what has happened here this day and the 13 years leading up to this moment. They of course agree and the shovel is completed in all of its grandeur! This is what must be done to forge merely one of these blades and I have come to you today, my friend, at great cost to myself to offer you the greatest offer you have ever received in your life! Not merely one of these miraculous works of craftsmenship but a complete set of 4! The only 4 EVER made! Their secrets have been lost to all but myth and legend! Also if you look right here on the bottom, it even has a makers mark.

Let’s make a deal my friend!

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A night of relief
Party Party Party

After arriving into the town we split into different directions to do what we wished. I tagged along with Antonio and Max to see which way Max planned on harassing Bildraft. It was amusing at first when Max attempted to sell the newly acquired shovels at near the same price as we were asked to pay nearly 3 weeks ago. While it was humorous watching the merchant squirm and attempt to get Max to leave it grew old after a few minutes of it and I took my leave.

I went to the tavern to wait for Antonio to decide it was time to visit the burgermeister. After seeing the gloom mood of the place I decided to play my lute to liven people up. It was slow to work but before long I had the bar acting as if it was in a land that is not Ravenloft. All at once drinks after drinks began to pour in from grateful patrons. Unable to drink them all myself I recruited Jolias to aid me in the endeavor. Once Max arrived he asked for a sea shanty, I panicked slightly as I could not think of any in that field but as I began to play it came as second nature, the six month boat trip served some good it appears. At some point Antonio appeared to collect us but we were so far into our cups we refused, partially because if we stopped there may have been a riot.

I do not recall much after this but hopefully it helped to raise the spirit of not just us three but the town as a whole.

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Report 1st of the Harvester
Long post, a lot happened

Decided to rest after raiding treasury. Rested for an extra half day and went to crypt to uncover Strahd’s brother’s tomb and to help Dakras with his scythe.

Tombs of Note:
- Empty tomb with burgomaster’s sister’s name on it.
- Tomb of Inventor King (contained a contraption and trapped with prismatic spray)
- Tomb of Adventurer (contained map, watch and few other treasures)
- Sasha’s (original?) tomb (did not verify)
- Tomb of Merchant Queen (did not go in)
- Tomb of Saint (locked and trapped)
- (possibly) Strahd’s Crypt (did not go in)
- Crypt of Strahd’s brother (contained enchanted armor [left behind] and pages of diary)
- Crypt of Strahd’s parents (contained blessed shroud and ring of righteous)
- Tomb of Janus the illusionist
- Tomb of Traveler = possibly a portal out of Barovia
- Architect’s Tomb = shortcut out of Ravenloft
- Tomb of Raven Knight (prayer beads and cloak)
- Tomb of Vittner (contained wine)
- Tomb with tortured party

We traveled hugging the wall in an attempt to get perimeter of area. Overall crypt was very dark so size of room was uncertain until we walked the area.

We decided we would avoid opening every tomb, but instead focus on finding the Brother’s tomb and opening tombs that may contain items useful in our quest against Strahd.

Some tombs were at one point marked, but any identifying marks were clawed or chiseled off. This might be important but we did not open those.

Many more were either worn with time or unmarked. Others also did not seem as important, such as a champion dogsledder so we did not pry in.

Near what we assumed was Strahd’s tomb, there was a trap that transported luckless adventurers (like myself) to another tomb without gear or clothes. When we first fell prey to this trap, I was first, and a wight took my place and attacked the party. Just as I tried to make a run for it away from the horde of wights that I teleported to, Axe popped up next to me, then Dakras. We scrambled up the tunnel and emerged out of a tomb before finding our way back to the party.

Then a similar trap triggered, getting Antonio, Max and Jolias, but with different undead.

Also fought wraiths and a specter, nearly defeating them all before he retreated. In his tomb was some coins.

Finally found Brother’s tomb, but hid since Strahd was there in mourning. Once he left, Antonio used his gifts and teleported in and out once he discovered what was in the tomb – scraps of paper with the locations of the Fanes.

I also went in to the parents’ tomb. Light similar to the sunsword was throughout the area, so no one else was able to follow. Stained glass windows, statues, and words on the walls were in the tomb, along with an emerald ring of the righteous and a shroud that eliminated all the unclean feelings and beastial thoughts I’ve had since getting bitten by the vampire back at the burgomaster’s house. The sight of it made even Antonio shed tears.

We needed to move on, we saw a dark shadow stalking us.

We luckily uncovered a path out of Castle Ravenloft, and instead of going back for our treasure we wisely decided to retreat to Barovia to rest and recover, but not before fighting with an archer in the Svalitch woods. My helmet was destroyed, but Max seemed to get the killing blow but amazingly, he got backbup amd retreated.

Perhaps we are not the only ones blessed or cursed by fate

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Prayer of the Raven

The night has shown its wings.
With it, the the stars move. Light has invaded the dark sky.
At the end of the world, it flies. Carrying the hope of others to the end.
There was a girl who slain her entire kind to gain power. The raven followed.
A boy who was swallowed by Dark, the raven shown him the way.
The raven follows whoever can change the world.
When the raven lands on thine shoulders, can you feel the burden that rests on thee?
Your burden will decide the fate of the world. Your purpose, unchanging.
If malign, let the feast begin.
If lawful, let the rebirth begin.
No matter what, birds will fly because they want to fly.
Make your cause manifest
Into the will of the people.

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