The Shambling mound engulfed Robert and the rest of the group started showering the monster with arrows, many of them missing and one, shot by Fiercenanda, accidentally hitting Robert inside of the Mound. After struggling for a while, Robert managed to escape and roll out of stinking pile of vines, branches and flesh, he was holding a baby in his hands. Seemingly the baby once used to be human, but normal life had left him long ago and now tiny branches and thorns were piercing his skin, he was rotting and screeching in an undead voice.
Continuing to attack the Monster, the party watched Sean bravely attempt striking it with a flail, only to be swallowed by it. Roscoe managed to snatch the rotting baby from the ground, where Robert left it before jumping to slash the enemy. Struggling, Sean also managed to escape the Mound, but he fell to the floor very seriously bleeding. Roscoe meanwhile slashed the undead baby’s throat on the altar and everything stopped for a brief second. Mound started slowly disintegrating, vines dropping and branches breaking, flesh just sliding into a pile of goop.
Roscoe and Medea hurried to Sean trying to help him, still bleeding profusely, while Fiercenanda stood in awe and Deshawn rummaged through the goop pile for loot. Not knowing too much about medicine, halfling managed to stabilize Sean and stop the bleeding, but Medea, horrified by his injuries and the possibility of losing him, tried to patch a huge wound on Sean’s shoulder. However, not having any medical knowledge, she ripped the wound even worse and Sean was lost. Even Robert’s holy healing could not help the fighter.
Holding Sean in her arms and shedding a tear for gone hope of love, Medea, for a single second saw Sean disappear from her embrace just to see him come back in a blink of an eye and wake up. He seemed very confused and scared. He seemed fully healed somehow.
Eventually the party managed to collect themselves and leave the house, setting a prepared fire in the dining room on. Outside, they saw the mists had gone and a village appeared just a few hundred meters away. In front of the firsts houses, they saw a wooden arch with a sign ‘Village of Barovia’. Under this arch stood a tall figure in black coat.
As you approached and greeted it, the figure – a tall elf male – answered, saying ‘I am Rahadin, Chamberlain to Count Strahd von Zarovich. On behalf of my gracious master, I bid you welcome in this beautiful land of Barovia. Count Zarovich extends his welcome and gratitude for your efforts in cleansing the Death House. He proposes to grant you the guest right – you shall be safe and honored in the vale of Barovia as long as you follow Lord’s laws and do not interfere with people’s lives here. Count Zarovich appologizes he could not welcome you personally, but he expects to see you very soon’.
While Rahadin was speaking, the party tried to mock him and talk back and in other ways try his patience. They noticed the elf was not very happy to talk to them and several times glanced with disdain at them, especially at Deshawn and Fiercenanda. After answering several questions Rahadin turned his back and walked away to disappear in thin air.
The party entered Barovia village, which at some point in time must have been a fine and thriving settlement, but now many buildings were abandoned and decaying. As they walked down a street, local people were peaking at them from behind curtains and if noticed, would quickly hide. The party came to the main square, where they saw Bildrath’s Mercantile, apparently the only shop in town. Not sure if they wanted to shop now, the group turned to Blood o’ Wine tavern, which stood on the other corner with inviting light behind its windows.
At the Blood o’ Wine our adventurers met three Vistani ladies – Alenka, Mirabel and Sorvia. After the ladies ordered Arik, the silent and absent minded barkeep, to pour some ale and prepare some rooms for the group, a conversation started. The group listened to information about the town, the Vistani also talked Medea, Robert and Roscoe into having a card reading. After Alenka gave each of them two cards and read them, Sorvia admitted that Alenka was not a very good seer and invited the group to visit Madam Eva at the Tser Pool camp.
Noticing a young man being scolded in the opposite corner of the tavern, Medea approached him and met Ismark Indirovich. The latter was just told by a local villager that ‘We will not help you or HER’. Ismark appeared to be son of Kolyan Indirovich, whose letters the party had. It turned out that the letter, signed by Kolyan and delivered to them by Lady Lydia in Sunpines, was a forgery with von Zarovich crest. The other letter, found on a dead body in the woods of Barovia, was the original, written by Kolyan and given to a peasant to put it on Barovia’s gates to ward off adventurers.
Ismark told that his father, Burgomaster Kolyan, died two days ago by a heart attack. He could no longer suffer attacks against their mansion and the horrible fate of his daughter. Ismark told about his sister, more precisely adopted sister, Ireena, and that he wanted to take her as far away from Barovia and castle Ravenloft as possible, maybe to Valakki’s Shrine of St. Andral’s. But first the family needed to bury Kolyan. Medea agreed to help.
Meanwhile Deshawn, Fiercenanda and Sean found things to do in the tavern and Robert decided to visit a local shrine. He was also asked to talk to local priest, Father Donavich about helping bury Ismark’s father.
Ismark took Medea and Roscoe to his mansion, which was damaged by attacks of some big and strong beast, claw marks and burnt signs on the walls of the house. Inside, they met Ireena Indirovich, Ismark’s adopted sister. She was quite tall and had auburn hair, she was beautiful. However our adventurers also noticed bite marks on her neck. Worried, Medea asked for food and garlic to eat, and tried if Ireena would eat. She did eat.
At the mansion they talked about Indirovich family, show Strahd atatcked and bit Ireena twice already. But Ireena had only vague memories of that and even struggled to remember how she came to this family. Ismark told how their father, a good and honorable Burgomaster, suffered from torments by beasts, which appeared each time after Ireena was bitten. He died as he could not resist the horror. His son now did not know what to do, as Burgomaster’s duties fell upon him.
Taking a look around the house, the adventurers found the living room with Indirovich family portrait. Inspecting it, Roscoe noticed that Kolyan’s wife in the picture was holding a blue crystal pendant. Medea found it very familiar, as she had almost exactly the same pendant. Ismark told his mother, Perse, was given the pendant by her sister and cousin. However after Perse died, the pendant disappeared. He said that when they reach Valakki, Medea should talk to Lady Wachter.
Meanwhile Robert went to church and found it to be named Church of Redeemer’s Sun. It had familiar sign of God Torm, only the gauntlet was also wielding a golden disc. Inside the shrine was alsmot fully destroyed, with pews and decorations broken and shattered around. He heard someone sobbing behind the altar and found it to be Father Donavich. The holy man said he could not deal with his son, Doru. The young boy was locked in the undercroft to protect him and others from being hurt. Donavich also revealed that about a year ago, a mage came to town and rallied some of the villagers to go against the castle, but all of them perished. Doru too. To father’s surprise, some months later Doru came back home, but he was changed and terrifying. Donavich lured his son under the church and since them has been feeding him squirells, but the monster’s hunger could not be satisfied and Donavich himself understood his son was long gone, but could not destroy the shell. So he asked Sir Robert to do it.
Robert bravely took a torch and went into the undercroft, where in the shadows he saw a crouching figure, the torch revealing it to be a 15 y.o. boy, with alebaster white face and bloodthirsty eyes. As the spawn was trying to break the chain holding him, Robert splashed some holy water on the boy and saw his skin sizzling like breakfast bacon in the pan. Robert struck Doru with an axe, but saw the wound simply closing and healing. Eventually Doru broke the chains and fled outside. Robert let a vampire spawn on the loose. Robert left still sobbing Father Donavich at the shrine and made it back to the inn.
Meanwhile Medea and Roscoe continued talking to Ismark, who revealed that there have been many who had come to Barovia and perished here. He told that they were brought here by the Devil Strahd as his playthings and everyone here is just a toy. Medea went paper pale hearing this. They also got worried about Robert not having come back yet and went to the church. There they found Donavich, but Robert had already left. They agreed to bury the Burgomaster at dawn. On their way to the inn, Medea and Roscoe found a peasant’s body on the street, with his throat ripped out. They returned to church and talked Donavich into burying this one at the same time as Burgomaster.
At the inn Robert asked some questions about vampires to the Vistani, raising suspicion he was to try to take Strahd by himself. He also made a bet with Sorvia and won three arrows from her, one of them golden, elwish looking one. He also got to lay with Sorvia, but she returned to the main room quite quickly.
Medea and Roscoe also arrived to the Blood o’ Wine, and tried to convince the group to hunt the vampire spawn, but it was the middle of the night and no one agreed to it.
At dawn, the group delivered Burgomaster’s body to the shrine, and dug the graves. Father Donavich started the ritual, but he was either too stressed out or simply did not know the prayers properly, and Robert had to help him. With bodies already in the graves but not yet covered with earth, the group noticed mists gathering around the cemetery. They could not believe their eyes, when among many wolves they saw a horse figure, with its hooves and mane seemingly on fire. The black horse stepped out of the fog and indeed its hooves and mane were ablaze, and its rider was wearing dark as night. The rider got off the horse and started approaching them. Ireena started shivering and went even paler.
The Rider, Strahd von Zarovich, was a very handsome man in about his fifties. He extended his hand and called ‘Come to me’. He approached Ireena and reached to caress her cheek. The girl stopped shivering and was too trying to extend her hand to meet his. But Medea valiantly stood between them and wanted to slap Ireena to wake her up from charms. As Medea was raising her hand, Strahd grabbed it and said ‘Don’t. You. Dare’.
In a short verbal exchange the group learned Strahd claimes Ireena to be his, destined to be with him as reincarnation of Tatyana. Still talking and holding Medea’s hand, Strahd drew her close to him, face to face, and gently caressed Medea’s hair. She responded by too caressing his dark hair, but in a much more menacing manner. Ravens, previously perched on the shrine’s roof, started flying over their heads.
Meanwhile, scareed by the appearance of the COuntr, someone shot the Horse and Strahd strangely moved his left arm, after which Burgomaster and the victim stood up in their graves. Paladin used his spell to scare them off and Roscoe shot at them. Strahd let go of Medea and slowly went away to the horse, again repeating ‘She is Mine’. He mounted the horse and stepped with it into the sky and disappeared…
(The party decided their group name would be ‘The Land Slaviors’. Because they slay and save. O.o)