The Dark Gloom that is Barovia

Despite all the terrors and danger that befell the group in this house, I was still shocked to see that even as we attempt to leave the house had other ideas. It was clear that his place had taken on the evil that had been conducted in this place and was now as vile as it’s former inhabitants. Managing to thankfully escape swinging scythes in the door frames, we thankfully busted out the wall and out of the house.

Taking a moment to compose ourselves was interrupted by the overwhelming feeling of disappointment that seemed to be thrown at us by the house. There was no denying that the House, would have liked for us to die in there and was nothing but disappointed. Putting in some distance between us and the house we found ourselves at the local Tavern, Blood of the Vine. It’s light shining out from the door, the first indication of any welcome in this strange town.

Inside the Inn was quiet yet strangely lacking the characteristic gloom of outside. A welcome retreat and some warmth was what all of us needed. Paying our way, and with food in our bellies we settled down for a nights rest. Sleep did not come easy that night. My dreams were filled with terror and nightmares. The horror and ghoulish nature of what we had just went through had rocked me to my core and closing my eyes did nothing but bring those memories back. Waking in the morning, was far more challenging then I would have liked.

Inside the Tavern in the morning was a welcome pot of stew waiting for the group. It was hardly the best thing I’d tasted, but at that point I didn’t care. The thoughts of the night haunted me still, and as my companions spoke with patrons I kept to myself. Gathering my thoughts after some time, it was clear we needed a direction and a way to get out of this town and back on our journey. While I thought that was possible, it was incredibly naïve of me to think we were leaving here anytime soon.

As we discussed where to from here, it was suggested by Valen that he would go sell the cart we had been carrying. Sylven, strangely suggested that he didn’t trust Valen to do that honestly on his own. Putting it down to Sylven just not trusting anyone, I suggested we could just all go. My companions and I left the Tavern and went to check out the local shop keeper to exchange wares and potentially get some insight into the area. Our attention was caught by the domineering castle that was situation far off into the distance but nonetheless imposing it’s presence on the Barovian Village. A castle, we can only assume is occupied by this Strahd we’ve heard about.

Bildrath was hardly the friendliest he’d ever met, but in terms of the rest of the town he was probably out of the ordinary. A few items we found in the vile house were exchanged for gold. Valen attempted to barter for a price increase but was unsuccessful. Valen had numerous gems and other items that he sold and the doubt about him that was introduced by Sylven clouded my thoughts. If he found those items in the house surely the right thing would be to share it with everyone else? Aferall, didn’t we all go through exactly the same experience. Valen denied that they were from the house and I had no reason to accuse him of lying. But that thought would remain in the back of my head for some time. Did Sylven have more insight and that is his reason for the comment? In any case we moved on towards the Burgomasters house.

On the journey there, Sylven spotted someone I didn’t see and screamed out. He ran off from us leaving Valen and I confused. We both decided to pursue Sylven to see what was happening. We arrived on scene to an Old Lady pushing along a cart filled with Pies. In the back of the cart, I could see Sylven and her arguing about a sack.

Sylven grabbed the sack which was moving and freed a small child from it. My anger rose dramatically at the sight and even more so as it became clear that she had kidnapped the child for payment for pies. Realising that we can’t be personal vigilantes for everything poor that is happening in town, I sent the old lady on the way. I suggested Sylven should perhaps follow her and make sure nothing strange happens or perhaps to find out where she lives. I returned the young child home. Who was quite distressed to be returned, but the mother seemed fairly unaware of her being missing nor did he she seem too concerned about her return. It was starting to appear as though this town was filled with such sorrow and lack of life. Would we fall prey to that too?

Reaching the Mansion, we moved inside the ajar Iron Gates we headed towards the Mansion situation on a slightly elevated block of land. Nothing about the house made me feel invited or that I particularly wanted to be here. There were unusual markings and tracks all around the Mansion and along the Mansion walls. Upon closer inspection it seemed that the Mansion had been attacked, or perhaps under siege from all manner of creatures. Wonder if the occupants were still alive the group approached.

A women inside, highly skeptical of our involvement and clearly frightened half out of her wits spoke through a slit in the door. We attempted to reason with her to speak with the Burgomaster but she refused all entry into the house. Instead, she instructed us to find her son, Ismark and speak with him first. If we could convince him and return with him we could have a meeting with her.

Realising this wasn’t going to be as straightforward as they would have liked, the group left again to head to the Tavern. Inside they found Ismark as his mother suggested.

There was an immediate draw too and engagement with Ismark. He had a brightness about him and life that others in the town seemed very clearly to lack. He was able to explain the current events and give some context to the town. It was clear that the town was accustomed to many adventurers arriving but not many ever appearing again. Least of all appearing from the inside of what they would call the Death House. Which, I had just recently discovered cannot be burnt down. It appeared it’s evil was more reaching than I imagined.

Ismark mentioned that his father had died some days ago and that all fighting outside his house had stopped in response. His Sister Ireena had been marked by Strahd as someone he was infatuated with. Presumably that was part of why they were being attacked by why then would it stop with the Burgomaster’s death? In any case, Ismark indicated his need to get his sister away, somewhere where Strahd couldn’t find here. A notion that with all we have heard about this Strahd, sounded hard to believe.

Inside the Burgomaster’s home was in a worse condition than what I was expecting. The interior furnishings were of excellent quality, only their beauty was lost through neglect. Books and items were strewn around the house as though maintenance and care was no longer considered necessary. A side effect, of the relentless onslaught and passing of ones father no doubt. It was agreed that we would move Ireena to safer location, but only after we had agreed to bury her father. A father whose body was still sitting in the room and gave off the decided smell of death and decay. Eagre to do something good for this bleak community we agreed.

Taking the coffin with the Burgomaster in it, we arrived at the church to begin preparations to have a ceremony. Inside we could hear a man praying at the end of the dilapidated church mixed in with some screens of despair from down below. While the church exterior also looks to have come under attack, it seems it has taken a far greater toll on the it’s occupants.

Inside we found Father Dovonovich the holy man of the town. The Church was adorned with a Symbol of divinity and a god I was not familiar with. Nonetheless, the peace that I expected to feel in here was anything but. We arranged with the Father to hold a ceremony for the Burgomaster the following day at Dawn. Seeing how tired the Father was, I offered to prepare the body for the funeral with him, as Sylven and Valen attended to other matters. Sharing in some conversations with the Father, he let me in on what was making the noises down below. It appeared as though his son, left some time ago with a wizard to take down Strahd. They however failed, and his Son, Doru, returned something, different. It was clear that his son was casting a shroud over the church and over his Father. I offered to help with him, but the Father was quite apprehensive. Leaving things be for the moment, I returned to my companions Jared and Sylven. We shared what we knew and I convinced them we should investigate waht is ailing the Father’s son.

Through the night, Sylven woke me up mentioning wolves howling. I had barely slept the night before, and sleep this evening was no better. I met his interruption rudely, and with confusion. I was unsure why he was concerned about a howl in the middle of the night when ghoulish creatures seem to be common place here. Nonetheless, his anxieties were realised.

As we left the Tavern and reached the Church we were set upon by what Sylven tells me were Dire Wolves. They were certainly larger than any wolf I had ever seen and was indicated by their relative ease at which they toppled me. A fight ensued and the Wolves were dispatched, but not without taking some injuries.

Arriving at the church, I noticed that the Father had not yet rested and was up again praying. At his grace, we went below to see what was left of his son. Cowering in the corner was a shape, but it was so dark down there it was hard to make out. As we moved in a little closer, albeit cautiously, Doru came a little closer. It was clear to me then, that we were no longer dealing with anyone that the Father could consider his son any longer. Speaking of blood and being hungry it was no doubt that he was inflicted with a similar curse as all the other undead in these parts. I knew he had to be put down, but that needed to be gentle and when it was appropriate. Realising this, we backed out, and it was then that Doru displayed his true colours. Launching at us, we barely made it out of the hatch before he attacked. Father Dovonovich was disturbed and I felt more uncertain of how things would unfold.

Knowing that we were early, and had some time, I encouraged Father Dovonovich to rest and to get some sleep and he obliged. My companions and I rested and prepared for the funeral.

The Burgomaster’s family arrived and the ceremony began. My companions and I, feeling as though we are relative outsiders waited off a distance from the ceremony. Before it’s completion we were set upon by more ghoulish abominations. Now, armed with a bit more knowledge and a bit stronger they were no match for us and were put down easily. Frightened and exhausted by their continual presence, the family departed home. The Burgomaster was left to sit in an open grave so Valen and I agreed to complete the burial.

I chose to spend some time with Father Dovonovich on my own to plead the case that was building in my mind. We had to kill whatever it was below us, before it escaped and killed others. And equally importantly, so Father Dovonovich could get on with his life and restore some brightness to this town. After an impassioned speech with some hard truths, Father Dovonovich agreed it was necessary. I left him with the knowledge that we would be back in the morning.

With everything now lined up, we decided to visit the Vistani and this Mistress Eva that everyone had been speaking about. It was said she would read our fortune. I had been resiting it, as coupled with these reports, it was said that the Vistani are loyal and spies to Strahd. However, it appeared by companions were much keener than I, so I obliged.

But what would Madam Eva want, and what would she provide? Are he words of wisdom indeed that, or are they a curse destined to come true. If everyone in this camp has supposedly seen her, then why are they all stuck in a never ending miasma. I’m sceptical to say the least, and the fact that she appears to know me, does nothing but amplify that.