Fate Comes to Call

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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The Final Countdown

The final encounter draws near and I cannot help but feel a twinge of fear at the thought of facing him, but if we set aside our differences I believe we can win, divided we will be nothing more than his playthings. I must remember that I am not alone. Strahd will fall. May the gods that I only recently have begun to believe in help us.

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Report 21st of the Goodmonth

Ventured through backdoor of castle. In crypts faced monsters that assumed our shapes and identities, although they didnt outright kill us… Their mistake. I overcame their paralysis and was able to warn Jolias and Max. Ive been nervous of other such imposters since, to be honest. Whenever someone wanders away I make them show an ability unique to them. Better safe than sorry especially here.

Met up with Cyrus. I felt a little bad that Dakras and Max used him to get some magical items but honestly it worked out great for us. We found the other half of the portal key. We have an escape just in case things go south. I still remember Antonio’s words, and as much as I hate it he’s right. If something bad should happen, Five Port needs some sort of warning. We know there is trouble already happening. They don’t know what exactly. And I have at least some pages of that book.

No matter now. After meeting Cyrus we went to find the necromatic power. We instead found an imprisoned lycanthrope. He wasnt evil, and personally I wish we were able to help him.

After a few more fights we found an alter down giant ant tunnels. Fought what Antonio calls an Eidelon. It turned Max against us.

Once the fight was over, Dakras began his ritual. He ended up killing himself retrieving a black arrow from a giant werewolf skeleton. He didn’t come back. Everyone stood around waiting like he was going to come back at any second. I walked over and waited at first. But he didn’t come back. Antonio was nonchalantly speaking with his scythe about it like they were talking about a spilled drink and not a human body. It scared me. Max also didn’t come back right away when he died. Antonio warned us about death and Max spoke to me about a dark monster under a table. I placed his body on the alter and thank the Lady he came back.

We decided to wait here the rest of the night. Perhaps its for the best, despite the werewolf corpse and ant husks.

Monsters Fought:
Eidelon
Giant ants
Zombies
Doppelgangers
Bone claws

Rooms Uncovered:
Nicoramus den
Ant cavern
Flooded hall
Flooded prison
Flooded necromancy lab

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Growth through loss

The ritual is finally complete. It required sacrificing a strong magical item of death that we found. When the ritual was complete Thanifex sat there silent, the handle completely burnt away and a spectral Smokey outline left in its place. As of now he remains silent but hopefully that ends soon so I can work on figuring out the new powers it gained.

As the universe knows, power cannot be gained without sacrifice. It appears that this was continued by the loss of my new champion. It saddens be greatly as it requires a huge amount of resources and effort to create, but the work was rewarded by raising my most powerful minion to date, and he was taken so soon.

Hopefully the power gained through the ritual is worth it.

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Fear no evil

Gentle reader, this missive comes to you from the bottom of a dark pit somewhere in Barovia. We quested here on behalf of our undertaker friend who needed to complete a ritual of power that has left me concerned for the generations that follow ours. Apparently it is no longer enough to endanger our present, now we must become the catalyst of future doom as well.

The ritual required freeing an elder being. Not completely mind you, but the largest of avalanches begin with the smallest of footfalls. We obtained what we wanted, but I believe that the long term cost will be higher than we can imagine.

Of course we still have not dealt with the master of the castle yet, I fear the godchild is growing completely overconfident in regards to facing him. We did get a taste of what it will be like to face off against Raiden recently and it wasn’t pleasant. Fortunately my “alternative plans” for dealing with him are still on the table and unknown to the others.

Lying here staring up at the elder power we have begun to free, I can’t help but wonder what the future price will be in our quest for power.

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