We confronted the priest, who was vigorously praying at the altar, and could make out the wailing of a human voice issuing up through the floor, screaming “Father! I am starving!” The priest, Donavich, declared himself as a holy man of the Lord of the Morning and after some questioning revealed that his son, Doru, had been turned by the devil Strahd into a vampyr and the priest had imprisoned his son in the cellars below.
This event happened a year or so ago, the last time adventurers came to Barovia. The adventurers managed to convince some of the Barovians to stand up to the evil Strahd Von Zarovich and attack his castle to destroy him. Doru was one such Barovian. The attack failed miserably and Doru was bitten, turned, and returned to the priest. Donavich had no choice but to lock his son in the cellars below and hope that the Morninglord would pierce his light through the gloom and storm of this place and cure his son. This has not happened, but after all this time – listening to his wailing son below – he still prays.
We offered what kindness we could to this poor wretched man and learned some more about Strahd and this dark place. The history of Barovia is the story of the prince, Strahd Von Zarovich. He was born to King Barov and Queen Ravenovia, in Barovia’s calendar, in the year 306. His parents were slain by invaders and in 347 Strahd had victory over his enemies and conquered the valley. By 350 Strahd completed construction of the castle Ravenloft (Named after his mother) and sometime in 351 Strahd became a Vampyr and has ruled Barovia in darkness ever since. The current year is 735.
Of Strahd and Vampyrs, we have learned – Strahd had cursed the land because of a long forgotten sin of the Barovians’ ancestors. He sleeps during the day, some believe in his own coffin. He can take on the form of a bat, wolf, human or gaseous form. He cannot enter a building unless he has been first invited in. Running water, such as a river or stream, burns him and he fears such. Sunlight will burn and ultimately destroy him. In his human state he has not only sorcerous powers, but a very powerful controlling gaze which will compel and charm his victims.
It was decided by Donavich and Janlynn that we would spend the night at the church so that the Burgomeister could be buried properly during dawn ceremonies as prescribed by the Morninglord. It was a fitful night of sleep because of the continuing wails of Doru, the same recurring night terrors affecting our companions and the frightening knowledge that many, many zombies gathered throughout the night to stare mindlessly, mournfully, at the church.
At midnight we saw the most awesome event – Hundreds of dead souls could be seem coming out of the center of the cemetery to start an eerie procession down the street through town. Donavich said that every night at this time the souls of the departed march towards the castle. They were mere apparitions and though they had no way of exacting their revenge on Strahd, they made the same march every night.
– I must say that I am becoming concerned about my friend Janlynn and her reaction to the darkness of this place. It brings tears to my eyes when I see such a beautiful person and bright soul begin to wilt from the infernal damnation of this strange land. What instantly drew me to this remarkable young woman when we first met, beyond her beauty, was the very tangible light of goodness that could be detected from her mere presence. She had a ready smile and vigorous exuberance for life that drew me like a moth to a flame.
– Young, perhaps a bit naïve about some things, but with an optimism that would make one smile and feel proud and happy just to be alive and on the road to adventure. Since we have been in this blasted land of Barovia, I have seen this light and optimism dim before my eyes. Beyond sadness, this makes me angry! I will not allow this place to suck the light from my friend! I will help her to remember that beyond the power of the Morninglord, she herself holds within her the light to cast aside this evil darkness! Together we will overcome this life draining place! I need her light….
Entry #11 – Day 6
In the morning, the burgomeister was buried with all of the proper rituals and when we had all rested properly, we swore we would do anything we could to help Donavich and his son, and headed west, towards Vallaki. After an hour or so of travelling as fast as we could, we came to a great bridge spanning a river. As if purposely guarding it, several zombies were positioned on the opposite side of the bridge. My brave and stalwart friends prepared themselves and used their experience to expertly dispose of the zombies with ranged attacks and head shots before they could reach our position. I am so proud to be a part of this heroic troupe!
Soon we came to a place that Donavich and the other Barovians had spoken of – the track that lead to Tser Pool. This place was an established Vistani camp and, more importantly, the home of Madam Eva – the Seer. With our late start to the day and long road ahead, we had to decide whether we could spare time to visit the Seer or not. I had hoped we would decide to visit as I was fascinated to learn more about these people and this land. Uphir was less impressed, as she felt that the lessons learned of Silvo should be heeded and that no Vistani could be trusted.
After some deliberation we decided that we should not overlook the vistani camp. Important information and clues were there to be learned. We had no idea the strange turn this visit would take. After presenting ourselves to the camp we were greeted warmly by the Vistani and were offered food, drink and comfort among them. Uphir abstained from any offered hospitality. After inquiring about the Seer, we were directed to her large tent. Then things got really queer.
She greeted each of us upon entering the tent by name and inferred that she had been waiting for us. Tetsuo stepped forward to meet her first and she asked him to sit and she would read the Tarokka cards for him. This was her peculiar way of seeing into the future and I will describe it to the best of my ability below. She first shuffled a deck of cards, then dealt out five cards face down in the pattern of a cross before her on a table. I will label the cards in the order in which she placed them and write what was revealed for each (To my best recollection).
1. “This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you understand your enemy.” She turned the Elementalist card, which was the Five of Stars. “The treasure is hidden in a small castle beneath a mountain, guarded by amber giants.”
2. “This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope.” She turned the Shepherd, which is the Four of Glyphs. “Find the mother – she who gave birth to evil.”
3. “This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of Sunlight.” She turned the Charlatan, the Seven of Glyphs. “I see a lonely mill on a precipice. The treasure lies within.”
4. “This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness.” She turned the Seer. “Look for a dusk elf living among the Vistani. He has suffered a great loss and is haunted by dark dreams. Help him, and he will help you in return.”
5. “Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him!” She turned the Marionette. “Look to great heights. Find the beating heart of the castle. He waits nearby.