Fate Comes to Call

Ascension Part 2
The Storm Breaks

A twisted and defiled form stands before Max, his bestial features a dark mirror of his own. Black Ichor drips from his clawed hands, pustulant black scales cover his skin, oozing a greasy pus from their seams. His eyes are reptilian and full of violent malice. He carries himself arrogantly with an air of pride and conceit. His mouth full of razor sharp teeth dripping with saliva.

He speaks in a low growl with a cruel edge. His words in Draconic.

“At long last you have returned, I have waited so very long to torture you once more. You gave up your life so willingly, and for nothing. You will not leave this place this time. I hope you enjoyed the entertainment I provided you before. The look on your face as your very own father broke your neck…He inhales sharply absolutely delicious.” I have so much more planned for you.

Max desperately strains against the chains but they do not give. Shadows circle him, dark creatures savoring the anticipation of fresh suffering. Fear and Panic begins to set in. He can see the light, but just as before he can’t reach it.

“I’m so close…damn it! Not now…not this time! I have to get out, I have to get to the Tablet!”

The monster speaks,

“Go ahead and pull with all your might, the more you do the more you’ll truly understand how futile it is.”

Max continues to strain, the chains rattle violently but do not break or even bend. Tears and frustration begin to well up within him as despair begins to take hold.

“I won’t let it end like this…they’ll all die…no light escapes the darkness that paladin wields.”

The monster smiles and laughs callously, his voice becomes more and more grandiose as he rants.

“Worry not Max, they are no longer your concern. No, I will return in your stead and savor every moment killing them. The look of betrayal will be so sweet, and after I destroy Strahd for his insolence, you will finally be what you were meant to be. A god of death and wrath unrivaled across the heavens! Every kill a meal, every soul rent a testament to my power!

Max again pulls against the chains his despair becoming swallowed up by rage. Lightning flares up around him for brief moment.

“I’LL KILL YOU BEFORE I LET THAT HAPPEN! YOU ARE NOTHING! A PHANTOM OF MY FAILURES!”

The Monster scoffs

“No Max, I am your true self, uninhibited by your humanity, a true beast of destruction reaping the meals entitled. Look within and you will know that this is the truth. Your power is so much greater than you are currently worthy of. Give in and let me take you to new heights free of the shackles of mercy or compassion. You NEED me, without me you have nothing.”

The strength of Max’s Rage passes, unable to free him, as he slumps the chains grow tighter, the light in the distance begins to fade. For a moment his heart breaks and he sobs angrily.

“I have failed…there is nothing I have left.”

The Monster grins maliciously

“Yes…THAT is what I want to see. Your suffering, I can taste it, I want to savor it for eternity. This is your true Fate”

The shadows close in on Max, beginning to overtake and devour him.

He mutters something to himself…first a whisper…then again louder.

“I still have Hope…Hope is the Heart’s Rebellion Against Fate, there is no Fate but what I choose.”

Max clenches his teeth and balls his fists.

“Mother…Father, everything, you gave me everything, every sacrifice, I won’t throw that away.” “I won’t lose this fight, not this one, not when the fate of so many hang in the balance, My family, my friends, my homeland, they are all counting on me.” “This power within me, I’ve feared it for so long…I must accept who I am…what I am. Please, I need your strength now.”

The Monster grows irritated and snarls

“You are nothing but a helpless child, a broken boat tossed in the unforgiving sea, an endless hurricane of fickle emotions! You are not worthy of this power! You know nothing! You have nothing!”

The Monster snarls, staring blades through Max, and screams in his face.

YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY WEATHER THIS STORM!”

Max stares back at him defiantly before speaking calmly and with renewed confidence.

“No, I AM the Storm.”

Max begins to pull against the chains again, digging deeper than he ever has before, his muscles tear and his bones pop. The pain is excruciating but he pushes forward. The Shadows swarm around him like a dark cyclone obscuring him from sight. The chains begin to screech as Max pulls harder and harder. Lightning crackles all around him and into the chains. He feels his ribs crack and his shoulders begin to dislocate. As he reaches his limit he roars out a wordless cry in defiance, as he does his voice rises into what sounds like the rumbling thunder of a creature far larger than himself. Lightning crackles, enveloping him and vaporizes the shadows swirling around him An overflowing wellspring of power rises up from within the deepest parts of Max and with one final decisive motion he shatters the chains. Not a single piece of them reach the ground as Max’s lightning vaporizes the shards like a super heated Tesla Coil.

The Monster lunges for Max, blackened claws extended, he swipes at Max’s throat. Max manages to just barely escape, still taking a shallow cut to his neck. Max strikes back with claws of his own at his Dark Doppleganger, but he is just as quick and only takes a thin cut on the arm, the wound oozes black ichor. As his anger swells the blackened scales spread. As Max’s wrath begins to swell he too see his scales begin to turn black and spread. After several exchanges of claws both are breathing heavily. Max readies himself to charge again when a memory floods into his mind.

__"This isn’t who you are Max! Stay your hand and let that boy go!" Androse stands behind Max. In a young Max’s hands he has a young boy who has been badly beaten and bloody. Max growls and snarls like an animal his bloody knuckled fist raised to deliver a fatal blow.

Androse continues to speak.

“Max…if you give in to this…if you kill this boy…you will do something you can never take back.”

Max snarls back at Androse

“He called me a motherless monster, a curse upon my family and this town. That I should have died there in the mud with my failure of a mother.” “He has to pay…He has to suffer, I will MAKE him suffer!” Max raises his fist higher

Androse interjects

“No Max, you are better than this, you are a kind heart just like your mother, she never wished suffering on others nor was she one for conflict. It is because she preferred this life of peace that she never mastered her magic, focusing more on the pursuit of love and happiness. She would want the same for you Max, but that cannot be, you have a dangerous power within, one that relishes in violence, it must be controlled and you must learn to live with it. You must calm the storm within your heart so that you do not destroy everything around you and yourself in wrath.

Max begins shaking as his grip tightens on the boy

“I want to hurt him, I want him to suffer, for what he did, how can I stop this, the feelings are so strong, the desire to maim him is almost overwhelming. I really am a monster…

Tears well up in Max’s eyes but his anger does not recede.

Androse speaks softly to Max

“Be the eye of the storm Max, have the will to control it, to shape and form it and protect others from it.

Androse ponders for a moment.

“Here, use this mantra to focus yourself, it is the first two lines of an Incantation I use to control some of my more powerful spells.”

“I am the Eye of the Storm, My will gives it Form”

Max takes a deep breath and repeats it several times, each time his rage grows smaller until it subsides and he drops the boy. Androse quickly heals the boy before casting a spell to modify his memory of this to protect Max.

Androse looks sternly upon Max

“Speak of this to no one, lest you wish to be seen as the monster you think you are.”__

The memory fades away

Max looks down upon his blackened claw and takes a deep breath.

He begins casting a spell…“I am the Eye of the Storm.” “My Will gives it Form.”

The Monster roars out enraged and begins casting a spell of his own in Draconic. Lightning arcs wildly across the landscape as the sheer power of the two spells prepare to collide. Once again Max feels that power swell within him and a moment later with a deafening thunderclap he looses the biggest bolt of lightning he has ever mustered. The monster does the same and with a cataclysmic crash as they collide the landscape is bathed in a blinding light.

Max opens his eyes standing before the great Tablet. His hand still shaking from the power of the last bolt he threw.

View
Report 27th of the Goodmonth
Just another lazy afternoon

Set off with Nicoramus as guide. Brought upstairs and found almost like a banquet hall – moldering cake and some sort of ghost. Neutralized with a daylight spell from the holy symbol.

Entered a study where we encountered Strahd. Traded blows before Dakras brought out a writ. Surprisingly, Strahd seemed to accept it and hastily retreated. Nicoramus also put out a fire and left.

Found several important items, also found items in a table that will greatly help in the fight against Strahd. These include his Journal, vampire hide armor, various wands and enchanted items.

Inside fire place was small stone room with body in corner. Unsure if this body was random nobility or maybe even the brother of Strahd that he wrote of in his journal. Torches in back of room turn revealing long passage way that ends with a bell tower.

Rang bell. Fought a couple of vermin. Uncovered true treasure room and Sunsword became whole.

Retired for the rest of day to recover energy.

Enemies Fought
Spider Vermin, hallway, x3
Strahd, study
Ghost, 1, room before study

Julianah has some doodles on the bottom of the page and has drawn some cool flames around a sword, obviously thinking about how freaking awesome the Sunsword is

View
An unexpected ally
Making friends and influencing people

Gentle reader even since we have come to this gods forsaken place, it has seemed that the entire demi plane is against us. While some like the residents of Barovia welcomed our arrival, by and large the creatures and hired goons of the master of these lands have tried to slay us at every opportunity. Ever so slowly, we have come to find some weaknesses in this fortress of aggression that has been raised against us.

Why the very steward of this Vampyr was kind enough to aid us in his own troubled way when shown some basic human dignity! The trouble with keeping men and creatures bound in endless servitude is that given the choice these poor creatures will then abandon you at the first opportunity. Such was the case with a fascinating creature who called himself a troll slayer. A being straight out of the mists of time and legend. Created to serve in a war long forgotten and very nearly the cause of my own death several days ago. Simply by breaking his oath stone that kept him bound in slavery to the master of this castle did he consent to aid our cause. Without his help we would most likely still be wandering this castle aimlessly looking for the treasury still.

Instead we have found it and the sword which the Paladin wields is now ever more powerful than before!

All is not well here though. The child god has done something once more and I fear that the shockwaves from this event are only now being felt by myself and my companions. It remains to be seen what kind of hell he has dragged to us kicking and screaming this time.

For now we rest to gather our strength and resources for our next stop on our tour of misery. The crypts that lie beneath this castle. May that light we think we see be not the tiny flame of the oncoming fireball.

View
Lute
and Loot

While sifting through the fortune of the treasury I found something that was a sight for sore eyes, a lute. After looking and strumming it I found that it is functional, if a little out of tune and built as a show piece. Ever since we found the Danse Macabre A small part of me has yearned for the enjoyment of music. Sadly there were no instruments to be found in the Manor or the Gypsie camp, despite my efforts to find one.

My enjoyment of the art started when I was young, likely around 12 or so and got my first real taste of refined music. I had spent a little time with my mentor at this point learning the basics of magic and necromancy, and it wore upon me. The dreary and morbid lifestyle occasionally left me in fits of depression, leaving me shambling through my work with no more life than the zombies I was in training to raise.

Sensing this perhaps, I was gifted with a ticket to the orchestra during a trip into a city to resupply our current lab. The building was showing signs of neglect, peeling paint, cracks in the benches, and an empty space where a chandelier once hung. None of this mattered once I heard the intricate rhythm and flow of the music though. It re-sparked a sense of life in me, giving me a needed hobby outside my studies. I was eventually able to store away enough money to buy my very own second hand lute, and eventually a few other instruments as well. I was never able to obtain great skill due to self teaching slowing my rare times to practice but the time I spent playing helped to keep me me.

I hope that my companions will get a similar effect from my playing, a boost in morale would likely be useful in a place like this.

View
A Prayer
To the Austere Lady

Hey.

I don’t know what to call this. I’m in a really stressful situation right now, and things are getting really confusing, and I’m not entirely sure what to believe anymore. I’ve always at least prayed occasionally to Vitaelyus, but really she only covers a small portion of what it is I do.

The way I see it, you’ve helped me out a lot. Back in the Wolves Lady Gray saved me more times than I could possibly remember, and now Julianah and Jolias have my back. Not to mention that moment in the Burgomaster’s house…

Wow, I am really bad at this whole prayer thing.

Anyways, I figure thinking tactically is a pretty good idea. I can’t afford to just listen to a commander anymore— in this group, we each make our own decisions, and I need to start thinking about mine. If you can help me do that, I’ll gladly respond with thanks.

Just… I don’t know. I’m not sure how this works. I’m not really all that religious, and I certainly don’t have a relationship with Vitaelyus like Jolias and Julianah have with you. Just, I guess… if you ever need anything, ask?

Man, that sounds stupid. I don’t even know. Thanks for all the help, I guess.

View
The Talk Of Treasure
And About Homesickness

It’s been long since I posted or had anything on my mind as of late. There have been some events to note. However, I decreed them unnecessary for I did not find these events to be have much of an impact.

But for a recap, we faced a Celestial Paladin and Strah tried to attack us but he didn’t. All because of a document that the Celestial Paladin had. Dakras presented it to him and I found it hilarious that the Count obeyed the rules of the parchment.

After that, we spent a whole lot of time looking around in Strahd’s personal study. We did eventually find the treasury. The Sun Sword shined brighter than the Sun in Barovia. It’s like I haven’t seen this brightness in quite a while. However, the group got but in the matters of the contents of the Treasury. Axe and I stood outside. We had no particular motive to be in there. I tried to make conversation with Axe but it seemed his mind was on something else.

My motive for not being in there is simple… there was no alcohol.

Yeah, there was stuff in there to help out the party. But my greed and their greed are different.

“All I want is just some booze. Or to go home. Maybe some booze from Fiveport would not be so bad if we get out of this alive. Nothing to cry or worry or grieve about back in our own world.”

The dangers of our previous home were slightly less worse than here. At least, Fiveport has some variance. Bandits, wendigos, the Three Sisters, elementals… all of that seemed fine to me.

But here in Ravenloft, the same theme is everywhere. Undead here, undead there, undead in the house, the toilet, the caravan, the trees, in my ale. No wait, that’s me. Anyways, Ravenloft lacks that excitement that I’ve been looking for, Sure Strahd gives a few spooks here and there, but he hasn’t presented any of his true power yet. The Three Sisters from the old world were terrifying. That damned Devil Eagle provided me with the excitement and adventure. But in Ravenloft, all I can look forward too is my drink and sleep.

All I think about now is what’s the next Undead thing we have come across and how stupider it looks compared to all the other things. Two heads, and two arms. Now introducing three heads, two legs, and a peg leg that acts as a wand for casting spells.

View
A Treasure Trove
Holy lootgasms batman

I finally feel like we’re having success here. Between Nicoramus’s aid and Dakkras’s quick thinking in driving of Strahd, we’ve been having nothing but good luck lately. We found a treasure trove of equipment and knowledge with Dakkras’s suggestion to check under the table and my knowledge of carpentry, and Antonio found what looks to be Strahd’s journal.

I can’t help but feel like things are finally going our way. Between all the magical items we’ve gathered— my new armor and the torc I’m now wearing being some of he best of it— and the information we’ve gathered, we have much more of a chance of taking Strahd down now. I feel hope for the first time in a long while.

I do find it funny that we continue to find items that appearance-wise seem to suit one member of the party, but actually suit another. The bone ring does not work best for Dakkras or I, but Jolias. This torc with its images of lightning is best suited for Julianah or myself. It’s an odd coincidence, but one that brings some humor in these dark times.

More to be written later. I find myself distracted with the good fortune we’ve had. Maybe we’ll find more through the doors in this study.

View
Ascension Part 1
Gathering Black Clouds

Max sees the Celestial Paladin’s eyes grow dark and black. He brandishes his blade and darkness envelops all, a moment later pain and then nothing. Max awakens before the tablet once again. “What have I done? What was he? I have killed us all.” Max looks to the grand tablet before him, his promise to destroy it fresh in his mind. “I won’t let things end like this, I have to do something to change this…anything.” Max reaches out to the tablet.

Max opens his eyes, his body pinned between the bars down the hallway. “This isn’t where I died…” Max calls out to Cyrus. The old man makes his way and frees Max from the bars after laughing for a moment at his misfortune. Max is lost in thought for a moment, down the hall he can hear the sounds of battle, it doesn’t sound like it’s going well. “If this is possible…then maybe more…I have to go back.” Max goes cold as he realizes what this means. “I have to die again, I might not come back this time.” Max is consumed with fear and indecision for a moment, but resolve soon takes hold. “I have to make this right…this is my fault…the fate of Ravenloft…the fate of my home…it could all be decided in this fight that should have never happened.” Max grips his spear tightly. “I have to try…no matter what happens, even if I don’t come back, even if I am erased from existence itself…I won’t let it end like this, if I must die, I will die on my own terms and with purpose.” Max levels the spear on his heart, his breath quickens as adrenaline pumps. He closes his eyes and falls. His rapidly beating heart shreds itself on the weapon and Max dies. Darkness

Max awakens to a dark featureless landscape that seems to stretch for eternity. In the distance he can see a speck of light, within it he can see the Tablet and the realm in which it resides. He tries to move towards it but he is chained by blackest steel. Shadows swirl around him and a figure takes form before him. The beast that killed jolias in his nightmare…the creature that tasted Ducks blood…the dark rage that burns within…

Maximillian Mccloud

View
Close encounter of the Strahd kind

Every encounter with Strahd reveals more reasons why he is so feared. This latest encounter was in his personal study, or what we believe it is at least, and he was able to thwart us without making a move. Nathromis charged and barely scored a glazing blow, Antonio had his magic missle blocked, and Juliana had her strike rewarded by his blood striking her reflexively stricking back severely.

In retrospect I am not sure if it is the correct move but I presented the script allowing us to roam the castle. It, very surprisingly, had the intended effect and Strahd made no retaliatory strike, he instead scowled, destroyed the paper, and left.

With this knowledge I am unsure if it would be more beneficial to save the paper for a situation where we do not have a powerful ally to fight beside. It may have been better to once again fight Stahd and hope he retreats, betting that our elemental friend would be enough to stay alive.

View
Praying for Insight
Get out your tin foil hats y'all

Austere Lady,

Please guide us safely through this puzzle of a castle. Through your intervention and Nicoramus’ guidance, we raided what I suppose is the treasury… but nothing is happening with the Sunsword. There is something we are missing, and I believe all this digging and snooping we are getting closer but I feel like we’re missing something huge.

Even the fortune telling seems to have us in the right direction… “Strahd will be guarding the treasury in some way.” All my wits seem to disappear when I square off with him. At least we know he has some sort of defense I suppose, although being stabbed with the blood of an undead as ancient and evil as him makes me feel sick.

One thing has been weighing on my mind – Max. All we’ve ever seen from him since we left Five Port was his steady descent from ego-centric to anger to depression. But whether from your guidance or his own, he’s suddenly seemed uncharacteristically calm and almost, dare I say, pleasant.

But is this truly Max?

I’ve seen magic do all sorts of things. I’ve seen it make someone grow 10 feet larger. I’ve seen magic make a wall no different than any other. Is it not a stretch to think that magic can help disguise someone? Perhaps its just paranoia, I know my thinking and my judgement has been clouded from just stepping foot in here. But this seems exactly like something a bunch of conniving vampyrs would do and this makes me angry that I can’t figure it out. I saw him fall right before my eyes – once the darkness was lifted he came running from another part of the castle alone. From everything we’ve seen if we die we just get back up… which in itself is weird, but still. We’ve never revived any more than a few feet away from where we fall.

Please Austere Lady I pray for insight into these matters. I’m not sure if I should keep this silly theory to myself or if I should reach out to Dakras or Antonio. If this is truly our Maximillion McCloud, please continue to shine through his wisdom and calm and touch each and every one.

In the meantime, your teachings have taught me enough to keep a healthy suspicion and watch him closely

MAX.STRAHD.jpg

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.