The Young Republicans do Barovia

Dael Late night
solo mission

You sense magic heavy on the air, leaving your room you see a mass of fitfully sleeping survivors in the room next to yours. You sense that they are affected by an unnatural sleep. Leaving the inn, you can’t see your fingertips for the fog and the charge in the air feels like ants marching up your arms.

You amble down the street alone, in a fashion eerily reminiscint of the shambling undead currently plaguing the village. As you approach a largeish sized house looming in the darkness, the biting sting of magic comes in a last wave nearly taking your breath away. Entering the building a horrendous, overwhelming stench wafts from the room before you. Small cages containing small animals and large insects line the walls. Some of the creatures look sickly and alive but most are clearly dead. Their rotting corpses and the unclean cages no doubt result in the zoo’s foul odor. A cat mews weakly from its cage, but the other creatures just silently shrink back into their filthy prisons. Light draws you further into the building; The walls bear scratch marks and lines of soot that form crude pictures and what looks like words in some language, several white marble busts that rest on white pillars lining them. Most appear to be male or female humans of middle age, but one clearly bears small horns projecting from its forehead and another is spread across the floor in a thousand pieces, leaving one pillar empty. The hall ends in a door to the basements, listening closely you can hear a loud scuffle.

When you reach the bottom of the stairs: Rats inside the room shriek when they hear the door open, then they run in all directions from a putrid corpse lying in a white powdery circle in the center of the floor. As these creatures crowd around the edges of the room, seeking to crawl through a hole in one corner, they fight one another. The stinking corpse in the middle of the room looks human, but the damage both time and the rats have wrought are enough to make determining its race by appearance an extremely difficult task at best. This small room contains several pieces of well-polished wood furniture. Eight ornate, high-backed chairs surround a long oval table, and a side table stands next to the far exit. All bear delicate carvings of various shapes. One bears carvings of skulls and bones, another is carved with shields and magic circles, and a third is carved with shapes like flames and lightning strokes.
In another circle made of blood and putrifying ooze fight a tired dwarven paladin and a dwarven fighter, a pile of zombies around their feet, you can tell they are swiftly about to fall from the remaining two zombies pressing in on them now.
You can feel the magic from the circle humming in the air, the ground hungering for fresh blood. Somehow you can taste the fear, the electricity of the dwarves’ dying moments although the blow has not yet fallen. The circle calls to you begging you to finish the deed.
The dwarves are currently occupied with the zombies and haven’t noticed you enter:
Dael toys with the dwarves, first drawing upon the wealth of rats in the room to overwhelm the warrior and taking shaky command of his first stolen minion.
The dwarven paladin calls out a pained cry to his diety and wards off an attack from the zombie in front of him as Thendrick glances over at his friend and takes a blow from another zombie in his distraction. Bringing the warrior to her knees, he then releaved himself just in range of Mathilda, evoking an aura of terror but remaining outside of the circle.
Both dwarves are aware of you and by the yellow pools growing around their ankles, you can tell they are incredibly afraid of you.
“Wh-what be this?! By faith and begorrah, I di-nay think being a hero would be this hard…” stammers the dying dwarf at your feet.
Thendrick grapples with the zombie in front of him, trying to throw him off to protect his comrade but he is much weakened and barely holding it back. Dael then assisted the Paladin in releasing himself from the zombie’s deathlock.
A glimmer of hope enters Thendrick’s eyes, and Mathilda attemps to scoot himself back away from your zombie with her one working leg.
Continuing in his rescue, and after several amusing attempts, he summoned an enormous fireball that exploded the uncontrolled zombie into hundreds of goey, scorched chunks.
He then turned, lifting the dwarf off of his feet by the throat and savagely punched his dagger through the dwarf’s abdomen and deep into his chest cavity with such force that a small amount of blood exploded through with his dying breath.

-Parts are missing-

You find they’ve been stripped of most of their weapons and armor already, supposedly left in this locked basement to die unarmed and overwhelmed by the very evil they came to fight. Searching the shelves you find information about an unbelievebly powerful and priceless artifact, “The Dayheart”.

Far stairs to loot room: This hall stinks with the wet, pungent scent of mildew. Black mold grows in tangled veins across the walls and parts of the floor. Despite the smell, it looks like it might be safe to travel through. A path of stone clean of mold wends its way through the hallway. The hall opens 20 feet in front of you into a small room. Burning torches in iron sconces line the walls, lighting it brilliantly. At the room’s center lies a squat stone altar, its top covered in recently spilled blood. A channel in the altar funnels the blood down its side to the floor where it fills grooves in the floor that trace some kind of pattern or symbol around the altar. Unfortunately, you can’t tell what it is from your vantage point. A white icy glow eminates from the runes, and faint tortured screams can be heard as though masses of men were throwing themselves to their deaths. Upon reaching the altar, you feel emboldened and more powerful, the room feels smaller— the walls closer— though you know it is just in your mind. Or is it? Your skin crawls with the thought and your instinct wants you to leave and inspect elsewhere. (Able to prepare 4 extra spells of any level, but can still only cast max allowed spells per day)

Down stairs closest to the entrance: You open the door to confront a room of odd pillars. Water rushes down from several holes in the ceiling, and each hole is roughly a foot wide. The water pours in columns that fall through similar holes in the floor, flowing down to some unknown depth. Each of the eight pillars of water drops as much liquid as a stream in winter thaw, a glowing light shining through the torrents. The floor is damp and looks slippery, but a dry steaming path leads down to an arched entrance, AND THEN FURTHER into a small chamber divided into three parts. The first has several hooks on the walls from which hang dusty robes. An open curtain separates that space from the next, which has a dry basin set in the floor. Beyond that lies another parted curtain behind which you can see several straw mats in a semicircle pointing toward a statue of a gigantic seated dog-headed man.
Here you find huge stone double doors concealed within the statue itself extending further into the bowels of the earth.

The shadowed depths of a shallow alcove half conceal the titanic likeness of a leering face with demonic features and an obscenely long tongue. The image covers a pair of great bronze valves, each nearly as wide as a human is tall and twice as high. The metal’s surface has become pitted and green with age, making the face seem diseased and ghastly. The seam between the two valves runs down the middle of the bas relief face like some horrible scar.

The frame around the massive doorway has been carved to resemble a writhing mass of biting vipers. Humanoid limbs and torsos are visible here and there in the mass of serpent bodies, as though struggling, futilely, to win free of the snakes’ rapacious coils. The area has a parched and sour odor, like a kettle left to boil dry. Countless tiny bones and bone fragments crackle underfoot like dry autumn leaves.

-Parts are missing-

After gaining access to the altar, an Erinyes(Mm54) appears from another plane. A fierce and beautiful woman, with a statuesque build and flawless skin, stands nearby. She has large, feathery wings and red, glowing eyes. She stands about 6’ tall, wields a longsword, and a shining red bow is strapped across her back.
Rumor in the underworld tells that the first erinyes were angels who fell from their lofty heights because of some temptation or misdeed. Now the skies of the Nine Hells are littered with their descendants. Erinyes serve as scouts, servants, and even concubines for powerful devils. Unlike other devils, erinyes appear attractive to humans, resembling very comely women or men.

After a couple of rounds of ‘assesing’ in combat, she uses entangle to hurl an animated stout rope of 50ft length at you. The rope fully entangles you, and lifts you into the air, fully incapacitating you. “Your reward…” She hisses with a reptilian air to her voice. She reappears below you where you have full view of her taut body and strips off what few pieces of armor she once wore. As your eyes fill with her figure and you feel the blood rising in your veins, you attempt to fight her off.

“Of no use to one
Yet absolute bliss to two.
The small boy gets it for nothing.
The young man has to lie for it.
The old man has to buy it.

Answer: A Kiss"

When failed, you lose complete control of your mind, bursts of pleasure wash over you in waves of color and you pass out completely. When you regain consciousness, you are stripped completely and restrained on the altar. Chalices and other treasures shimmer faintly through your torso as they refuse to give up their space on it in the Celestial plane. The nude Erinyes emerges from the shadows and commits unspeakably lewd acts on you for an hour. Fading into the Celestial plane, she pulls you through, dumping you on the floor and leaving an open portal back to the material plane.

Before you have a chance to move, her bonds have been released and she is gone, leaving the 50ft length of rope and the portal that you can see is closing at a fairly slow pace. You don’t think it will last more than an hour or two at best, but more than enough time to get your clothing and gear from it’s pile and loot the altar.

The collection of altar items includes two jeweled chalices, two golden salvers, and a censer. Chalices, 1,200 gp each; salvers, 400 gp each; censer, 4,300 gp.

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The road less traveled...

Not the least glimmer of light escaped the castle’s tall black windows. It’s broken battlements sketched a jagged line across the darkened sky. Castle Ravenloft brooded over a bleak, mist-shrouded valley. Constructed on the sheer side of a thousand-foot cliff, the terrible fortress was occupied by something ancient and evil.
A blot of night detached from the shadowed walls of the castle and moved out onto a narrow balcony. Lightning revealed the sneering countenance of Count Strahd von Zarovich.
His eyes, burning with a never-satisfied hunger, took in the drizzling twilight, the looming peaks, and the few sad lights of the village below. He clutched one hand to his chest and muttered, as if making a promise, or perhaps delivering a curse, a single name: “Ireena…”
Strahd grimaced, and his sharp canine teeth promised mayhem. A bitter wind spun dead leaves about him, billowing his velvet-lined cape.
Another fit of lighting burst from the storm’s underbelly, casting stark across Strahd’s face, The angular muscles of his visage and the taut lines in his hands revealed a man accustomed to exercising complete authority. In that face, no pity lived—-but, perhaps, hints of growing madness?
His eyes narrowed as he spied the newcomers. A group traveled down Old Svalich Road toward the village. His grimace transformed into a hideous smile. He knew they were coming, knew why they came, and relished what would be their ultimate fate. No plan could be called good unless blood was spilled during its execution.
All the pawns were finally assembled; all the pieces, prepared for so long were in place and waiting to play their parts. Even from where he stood on the balcony, Strahd heard the unceasing pulse of the Dayheart; its beat throbbed up through the castle stone into his rigid flesh. Its horrid semblance of life sustained Strahd with a vigor even more potent than the unholy existence he had enjoyed these many centuries. Precious few weapons could permanently harm him anymore.
Soon enough, Strahd would personally attend the newcomers.

Welcome to Barovia, a mist-shrouded forest valley in the southeastern foothills of a brooding mountain range. This minor realm is little visited, being far off the major trade routes and having a poor reputation in surrounding lands. Ancient curses, gloomy weather, and vicious werewolves plague the long-suffering peasants who bend beneath the yoke of a cruel nobleman.

Hundreds of years ago, Count Strahd von Zarovich conquered Barovia and moved his family, “long unseated from their ancient thrones,” to the valley, fortifying the castle and raising it to new grandeur. Strahd is the architect of his own cursed existence, having made a blood pact with an unnamed evil entity. Since that time he has lingered on while his family perished one by one. Now he rules the lands of Barovia alone.
After centuries of dreary inertia, and perhaps growing a bit mad in his endless existence, the small group of adventurers have arrived; each with their own reasons for venturing into Barovia.
Their investigation has led into a misty valley with a town of the same name just on the horizon.

Roughly a day’s travel from the village, party Kickass comes upon a roadside hostel, ‘The Weary Horse Inn’, whose common room hosts dirty patrons from the sparsely populated countryside. Weary from travel and deciding a night’s rest in a bed far outweighed the prospect of another night under the stars, it was a mutual agreement to take a room for the evening.
With the dying of daylight, a fog creeps across the land, clutching everything in its clammy grasp. Inside the Weary Horse Inn, through, the fire is warm enough, and if the few patrons are sullen and stare a little boldly, at least the food and drink are good.
For an inn’s common room, it’s quiet. They keep their voices low, and even the clink of their mugs seems subdued as the fog gathers outside. When the door swings open, every head turns to see who has arrived.
This new arrival loudly stamps the mud off his boots in the doorway, then strides confidently over, throwing a letter down on the table in front of party Kickass.
“The village of Barovia is in need of heroes,” he says in a thick accent. “You’ll do as well as any.” Without another word, he turns to leave.
In spite of numerous attempts to pump the stranger, appearing as a thug, armed with a wickedly curved sword and wearing a chain shirt under his colorful garb, for more information, the best either man could get were directions in to town and a warning that the woods are dangerous at night. Allowing the Vistani to leave, they read the letter silently to themselves.
Settling in and contemplating the contents of the letter the two set about ordering for the evening.
After an evening of drink and a full belly of mutton, sticking to the path they made their way down the Old Svalich Road:
Black pools of water stand like dark mirrors about the muddy roadway. A pall of thick, cold mist spreads over the ground. Giant tree trunks stand guard on both sides of the road, their branches clawing at the mists. In every direction the fog grows thicker and the forest seems more oppressive.

There gray in the fog, high stone pillars loom up from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the road. Huge iron gates hang from the stonework, dew clinging to their rusting bars. Standing before the pillars are two stone statues of armed guardians with wicked polearms. Their carved heads lie among the weeds at their feet, neatly broken from the stone shoulders.

As the Funky, Chunky Monkey party approach from the east and pass through the gates they screech open slowly of their own accord and then slam shut with a loud clang. Unperturbed they continue down the path, their goal in sight.

Late midday mist thickly blanketed the village, smothering the streets and marooning the buildings, forming an archipelago of crumbling masonry in a gray, hopeless sea.
At the village’s lonely edge, most structures were abandoned, burnt-out hulks. Charcoal was thick on the air, but the choking odor couldn’t overpower the underlying, sickly sweet smell of carrion and spoilage. Claw marks raked some of the vacant homes, ominous not merely because of their presence but because of the five-fingered, handlike shape they suggested.
Farther inward, most building survived. Doors were barricaded with tables, broken carts, and smashed furnishings, Windows were shuttered and planked. But had anyone been saved? Silence was thick in the fog-bound streets, as though from cotton stuffed into the ears. Nothing living stirred, nothing breathing walked the streets.
But where the living were absent, the newly dead shambled.
And hunger, too, raw and unstoppable, stalked the village, multiplying with each new corpse that kicked and shuddered its way back toward animation.
A hunger that could never be slaked.
An infection that could never be stemmed.

Tall shapes loom in the dense fog, and the muddy ground underfoot gives way to slick, wet cobblestones. A dilapidated wooden sign reads “Welcome to the Village of Barovia.” As one grows closer, the shapes resolve into tenements whose windows are boarded, broken, and lightless. Nothing moves near-by, though the fog limits visibility. Faint sounds, as of something groaning, echo hollowly from somewhere deeper in the settlement.
Approaching the sign, there is a small wooden map carved into the back with annotations that are no longer legible due to wear and recent damage.

The streets are choked with mist, limiting vision to only a few dozen feet. The buildings here at the edge of town look abandoned, burned out, or barricaded. Garbage litters the ground, and a carrion stench assaults one’s nose. An overturned haycart blocks the street…
Shambling from behind the cart and out of buildings came six infected zombies and a skeletally thin corpse with cadaverous eyes that sizzle with cursed power, deadly spells dancing on it’s fingertips. Two gore-streaked, four-footed carcass eaters lounge near the overturned cart feeding on some lumpy mass at their feet, looking like a cross between an overlarge rat and a wolf, jaws of an extraordinary size and eyes glittering with rabid fury.

After dispatching the small wave of undead in the area, the Chunky, Funky Monkey party decided to continue on down the path:

The everpresent mists clear slightly, revealing a human body lying face down in the street amid the garbage. One of the buildings facing the street has its door smashed in.
Approaching the body, two 4ft dead-white segmented worms appearing to be maggots grown orders of magnitude too large… eyeless, drooling stinking ichor from their clacking mandibles, squirm from beneath the now obvious corpse they had been feeding on. Additionally 4 infected zombies make their way out of the surrounding buildings, sensing fresh blood and movement in the road, thereby alerting two hideous, distorted human heads suspended from leathery wings. In place of hair, these Vargouilles are crowned with writhing tendrils, and their eyes burn with a menacing green flame.

Making quick work of the undead foe, the Young Republican’s Club party cleared a nearby building to hold up in for the night just as dusk fell, finding a small group of villagers huddled in a room barricaded against a lone zombie still attempting to get in. The terrified survivors informed them that the zombie attack began only a few days ago but quickly got worse and that when killed by a zombie the victims rise as one but moments later. They beg our Young Republicans Club to escort them to the village square, which they’ve heard is still holding out against the horde.

Holding for the night, we leave them until next time.

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