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.
The party returned to Krezk, presenting the hard-earned barrels of wine from the vineyard. Burgomaster Dmitri Krezkov, honourbond and noble and lord, made true on his promise. Unfortunately Krezk is an enclosed and self-sufficient community, so there was no local inn. The party were offered a night of lodging at the Burgomaster’s own house. Rolen recognised in the Baron’s face that he was concealing something, something was on his mind, but could not determine what.
The party asked after the Abbot and the Abbey (mentioned by Father Donavich back in Barovia). The Burgomaster related that he was a mysterious figure, ageless, that some fear he may even be Strahd himself. As they talked, a commoner saw Rolen as a holy man, and said a birth was taking place and that he should attend to bless it. The party separated.
Rolen attended to the birth, but noticed the child did not cry when born. It was alive, it appeared healthy, but no tears. The midwife remarked that this was “very sad”. When pressed, she said some Barovians have souls, others do not, and if a child does not cry when born it is without soul. He said his prayer.
Meanwhile, Ireena looked up suddenly and asked if anyone else in the remaining party had heard a noise. None had. She suddenly took off at a sprint to the north. The party called after her and followed.
She halted at a pool of water next to crumbling gazebo. As she looked into the water, the visage of a young handsome man appeared. He spoke, “Tatyana! It has been so long! Come my love. Les us be together at last”. Ireena was ataken back, and replied “My beloved Sergei! In life, you were a prince and a man of faith. We were to be married long ago. Has this blessed pool called your spirt to me?”. She began to reach towards the water, as a watery hand appeared and reached towards her. Rend grabbed her and tried to drag her away, as she struggled and fought back viciously trying to free herself and reach the pool. Diesa stood between them and yelled at her that she was Ireena, not Tatyana. The hand vanished, causing Ireena to scream in anguish, and pass out. Rend shouldered her as they continued investigating the pool.
A loud crack of thunder broke the silence, and dark clouds formed. A voice from beyond the mountains bellowed “She is mine!”, and a bolt of lightning struck the pool. All were injured, but Ireena was killed outright by the bolt. A crowd gathered, and Rolen rejoined the party. The Burgomaster was terrified, and suggested to the party that they were still welcome to spend the night, but after tomorrow it would be best if they did not return to Krezk.
The party climbed the hill to the Abbey, carrying Ireena’s body (at the worst, there was a graveyard to bury her in). The abbot was intimidating, the gate guarded by two strange mongrelfolk. After brief conversation, it was apparent that they were poor guards and quite mad. In exchange for alcohol, they were allowed in and told the Abbot was inside.
Inside the abbey, they saw the Abbot attending to a young woman. A handsome young man in a brown monk’s robe, he was explaining to the woman dinner table etiquette. They showed him the corpse of Ireena, with him casting a spell to prevent further decay. Rolen noticed the woman he was instructing was covered in stitches – she was a flesh golem. And she bore more than a passing resemblance to Ireena. The Abbot cast a spell to prevent her body decaying. He talked of the flesh golem, Vasilka, and how giving Strahd a bride and making him happy was the secret to freeing this land from it’s torment. All that was missing before he could present her was a wedding dress, a fine one which could not be sourced in Krezk. If the party were to return to Vallaki and find such a dress within 10 days, he promised he would return Ireena to life with magic. The party hesitated – was this eccentric man going to make her a flesh golem? Was he going to use parts of Ireena for the bride he had built? Seeing the party hesitate, he sweetened the deal further – he would cast for them when required a further two castings of Raise Dead, and would also return to life the Burgomaster’s son to ease his pain.
The party agreed, but decided not to leave Ireena’s corpse with him. The Abbot followed them down to the Burgomaster’s cabin, where he dug their son from the graven earth and (without material) raised him from the dead. Rolen believed that in the invocation for the spell, Celestial had been spoken. The Abbot told the party they had ten days to return, otherwise they would face divine retribution.
They travelled back to Vallaki, pausing at Van Richten’s tower to hide Ireena’s corpse in Ezmerelda’s wagon. Vistani were not welcomed in Vallaki, so Ezmerelda remained outside. The party talked to the guards at the gate, and learned what had happened since they had left. The Baron was deposed, and whilst imprisoned in the stockades someone had slit his throat. Lady Wachter was now the Baronness of Vallaki.
They returned to the stockyard, seeing Rictavio’s wagon in pieces. Enquiring, they were told that it had contained a saber toothed tiger which had escaped. The Baronness organised the guards and commoners to herd it out of the city, ensuring her title. They asked after a wedding dress; there were local seamstresses but none could deliver a product within ten days. That they’d do better to find an existing dress.
The party took the opportunity to visit Blinsky’s toys (after seeing his toys far and wide). He was an odd little man with a monkey. Among his strange toys, they saw a doll that looked nearly identical to Ireena. He said he had made it for Izek (the ex-baron’s right hand man, who had died in battle with the party while trying to sieze Ireena). That he had made hundreds of them for him, for fear of his life. Rolen commisioned a toy to be made for the newborn in Krezk.
Outside the shop, a man approached the party and said that Lady Wachter would like to see them now. He lead them to her mansion, and inside she spoke to them for the first time. She said that she knew they had killed Izek, and thanked them. That with the Baron gone (not by her hand, though she wish she’d thought of that one) the party was welcome to anything they find in his old mansion. After that, they should leave Vallaki and not return again.
The party entered the mansion, finding the ex-Baronness hanging from a rafter, dead. She had a note reading “I killed him. I’m sorry”, and a bloodied knife. The party lowered her to the floor, and Rolen cast a spell to speak with the dead. They asked her who had killed her, “Suicide. I took my own”. They asked her what they would like done with her remains, “take me to Milivoj” (the gravedigger). Exploring the mansion they found her old wedding dress, exquisite and suiting the Abbot’s needs. They also found in the attic bloodied remains around a poorly performed teleportation circle. They deduced that her son had tried a teleportation spell, and in his failure perished.
They visited the church once more. Milivoj, seeing the party, fled. They spoke the priest, appraising him of what had happened, and the deceased’s wishes.
With night approaching, they decided to sleep a night at the Inn. Ezmerelda had successfully sneaked into the town, and wearing a dark hood reuinited with the party. She told them that she had spied upon the Vistani camp, and that it was in ruins – that there were dead Vistani torn apart by some nature of beast. She saw Arrigal’s corpse among them, his skull crushed.
Danika Martikov welcomed them, drinks on the house. She said that her husband was travelling to the vineyard to reunite with his father. When asked, she said that their guest (the half elf Rictavio) had disappeared after the incident with the tiger. The party paid for a room, and slept for the night.