[DnD] Curse of Strahd 05 – Wizard of Wines and Yester Hill

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I’m currently DM’ing a Curse of Strahd campaign for some friends. These posts will act as a journal of their progression, challenges, and victories.

Read the whole series of posts here.

After being turned away from Krezk, the party travelled south towards the Wizard of Wines – excited at the prospects of an entire vinery of alcohol!

On the road they were attacked by animate scarecrows, which they fended off with ease. However, one wounded Ireena – this was noticeably the first time since leaving the village of Barovia that a creature had attacked and hurt Ireena.

They approached the Vineyard, shrouded in fog between the rows of grapevines. At the north was forest, with a cloaked figure beckoning to the party. He introduced himself as Davian Martikov (father of Urwin Martikov, proprietor of the Blue Water Inn back in Vallaki). He warned that druids and blights had overrun the Vineyard, and that he and his family had taken refuge in the woods. They had been attacked for days and held their own, now there was little hope of reclaiming the vineyard. 

The party offered their assistance, and a plan was hatched. Ezmerelda would cast an invisibility spell and sneak into the main building, hoping to locate the druid wielding the Gulthias staff that granted them control over the blights. The party followed a few moments later, with Davian promising that the ravens in the rafters of the building would assist them when needed. As they approached the building a multitude of blights appeared from the grapevines, hastening the party into the building.

Inside was no sign of Ezmerelda. The vat room was overran with blights, so the party explored down into the cellar. They were taken by surprise by a Druid hiding behind a shelf of bottles. They cast a thunderwave spell, smashing a large volume of bottles. The druid was killed, as were their blights. The party found an alternate entrance to the vat room, and spied a Druid pouring an unknown chemical into one of the vats. Rend cast invisibility onto himself, and approached the Druid from behind. Battle ensued, with the party wiping the blight infestation from the vat room – through Rolen casting a new spell unseen before, in which skeletal warriors surrounded him and attacked all evil creatures trying to move within his range, and the ravens in the rafters attacking them. They found on the second story a druid wielding a gnarly staff sitting on top of a crane hoist. As he turned to face the party, Ezmerelda appeared behind him; snatching his staff and shattering it on the ground. The druid was killed in ensuing combat.

The Martikov’s once again owned the vineyard, and Rolen cast spells to purify the tainted vats. Wine production could continue immediately, and Davian set his family to task of shipping some barrels back to Vallaki and other locations – the party wanted to be the ones to deliver the shipment to Krezk however.

Davian, trusting the party more, talked to them of the secret of the vineyard’s prosperity. There were three gems buried which made the ground fertile. One was lost years ago, and Davian blamed his son who was on watch that night. A second was taken by an old evil creature named Baba Lysaga, who dwelled near Berez and sent scarecrows to attack them. The third was taken just before the vineyard was lost, and taken south by the druids towards Yester Hill. Without the gems, the vineyard will whither and die. Davian begged the party to try retrieve the gem from Yester Hill before it was lost forever, and promised to watch over Ireena for a day to keep her safe.

Yester Hill was a very large burial mound. The party creeped up the side of it, seeing on top was a large gathering of druids and mountain folk performing a great ritual before a wicker statue. Flying above it all was Strahd upon a Nightmare. Ezmerelda, seeing her nemesis, stood up and cast two lightning strikes killing his Nightmare. Strahd plummeted to the earth, turning into a cloud of mist just before impact. Ezmerelda squared off with him in combat, whilst the party attacked the druids and mountainfolk  – the druids did not cease their chanting and dancing for the ritual, and the mountain folk gave their lives trying to protect them. In combat, the wicker statue was ignited, and as it burned down a great gem fell from it’s burining chest.

Ezmerelda fought valiantly with Strahd, but she was not strong enough to overcome the vampire. As she fell exhausted from combat, Diesa unsheathed the sunsword. It burst into brilliant sunlight, visibly shocking Strahd – it was the first sunlight he had seen in centuries. Diesa fought him, obviously inflicting great wounds on the fiend. He retreated from battle, yelling that the party should meet him at Castle Ravenloft, and fled faster than any could follow.

The gem was returned to the vineyard. Davian told the party that he had sent a note for his son to Vallaki, saying it was time to mend old wounds.

The party took ownership of two barrels of wine, and with Ireena began travelling back to Krezk.