We left our heroes once again bruised and battled, but doing the greater good. They saved the vineyard but this time, and now they are about to be asked yet again, to help another Barovian; however will this task set them back on track?
Our heroes gather themselves after the fight with the unknown animated stick beings and the head of the vineyard thanks them for warding off these needleblights; because the group demonstrated such prowess he asks them if they would be willing to take on another task. The vineyard needs help finding some seeds that are missing, it seems they have been taken by the creatures they just fought; three special seeds in total. They are larger in size, about the size of a child’s ball and glow green; they believe they are in the area atop a small clove and nearby cemetery; they are the key to the vineyards future growth and prosperity, key to their survival. The heroes discusses briefly and decide to help their new friends and also believe that this may be key to another piece of the gypsy’s riddles if they are recalling it correctly. Off they go making their way to the hill where they believe the evil druids come from in hopes they will find the missing seeds. Before leaving Lythander and Melrick arrive at the vineyard sent by Irwin to help them with the shipment of wine. The group explains to their newly arrived companions what has occurred and where they are going.
On the way Lythander sees a glow coming from off the road in the woods, a sort of green floating orb. The group stops and takes stock of the situation around them. Hugo sends in his owl to see a bit closer and there appears to be nothing in the way that needs to be concerning, so they move in closer. Shamesh heads directly, but cautiously, towards the glow and the green light moves away from the him… then stops. Hugo decides to send his owl in to see if the light moves again, as it approaches, the light does not move but the owl combusts as soon as it approaches the light and it’s incinerated inexplicably; Hugo is furious, and the heroes are in a bit of shock. The heroes not sure what to do decide the light is not worth pursuing; Andrameda contemplates shape shifting to move closer, however Shamesh concerned for her well being, immediately discourages her as he sees she’s considering the notion. They move on towards the hill and eventually arrive without further incident. The trail they are on leads up the hill and forks to encircle the top. They don’t see a tree on the hill (as the riddle from the gypsy suggested they would), which perplexes Bent in particular, as he notes aloud he was thinking this is where one of the particular riddles would lead.
On top of the hill, they see an encirclement of rock formations in an alcove with a statue made of dark burnt wood tree branches formed into the shape of a man clad in armor snarling with fangs at the very center. A wicker man of sorts that Lythander proclaims immediately as “Strahd!”. Not that it was the abomination himself, however it was clearly erected in his likeness. The group then notices as they search the area, a dozen covered graves around the hill, inside below the wicker statue they see what appears to be one seed. They review the riddles again, and believe this may well be gypsy’s riddle related the druid card:
This is a card of power and strength and tells of a weapon of vengeance, a sword of sunlight. An evil tree grows atop a hill of graves, where the ancient dead sleep
They further recite to themselves the advice they had received: “The ravens can help you find it, look for the treasure here”. The group discusses the whole thing and decides that this cemetery is not something to trifle with and they shouldn’t be standing here any longer, decide to light the statue ablaze. Andrameda steps forward muttering a low growl and slings a flame from her palm at the wicker man, and up in flames it goes. As soon as it lights, the graves around the hill erupt with earth covered figures emerging from the graves.
It is scary site to see them so quick to action; Lythander looses an arrow and downs one. Hugo unleashes lightning into another one and starts to damage the oncoming undead creatures. The undead charge in and start tearing and ripping at the heroes; Bent takes damage and tries to recover as he stumbles back. Lythander rolls to avoid but still takes a glancing blow, as he glides away Melrik rushes in and lands multiple blows and takes stock of all the enemies threatening Andromeda. The dwarf crushes one abomination and wounds two others; following that incoming barrage of attacks as the undead are clearly trying to get to little druid girl clearly angry she lit their statue ablaze. Andromeda takes the opportunity to disengage her nearby foes and as she frees herself she heals Shamesh who was wounded throwing himself in front of her. The paladin responds in kind to these evil undead giving them the honor of his blade and delivers holy contrition on his undead enemies as he closes ranks with Melrik. Lythander now freed up having dove away sends another arrow into a nearby foe, sticking right into the shoulder blade of the target, it turns toward him glaring, angry and ready to reciprocate against him. The monsters continue to attack and claw and fight to destroy the party. Shamash and Melrik are being battered, but the dwarf is not dismayed, he tears into another skeletal warrior and rips his axe through it and into another; Lythander still firing but can’t bring any of them down, but remains steadfast. Hugo is unable to dodge the incoming barrage and he falls to the ground unconscious. Andrameda rips through a wreath of vines growing from the ground around her feat, reacting quickly to revive Hugo, and then in a surge of anger she unleashes a massive bolt of lighting into two of the undead, badly charred they both fight on, with Hugo now on his feet, he heals himself further and then unleashes a wave of thunder emanating out from him. The far off creature with a staff closes on Andrameda and wraps her in vines again from the ground around her. Meanwhile Melrick continues to fight back, continuing to flay wildly around him taking another undead soldier down. Bent finally after a whirlwind of spells takes another down, as does Lythander; the undead are starting to fall. Andromeda unleashes another single explosion of lightning from her fingertips; this time into the oncoming undead spell caster. It was clearly controlling these risen dead and it was destroyed where it stood leaving a track of charred ground right through the middle of where it once was; the vines holding Andrameda in place wither and fall to the ground as the necromancer fell. She turns quickly and moves towards Shamesh firing a flame at the last whirling undead maniac near the paladin but misses; however it was enough to distract him so Shamesh can beat it into the ground until it stopped moving. They have seemingly held of the undead.
The engage the only undead that was not destroyed to try to get answers but realize quickly it will be no help and Lythander put his dagger through its head. The heroes gather themselves and walk to the edge of the hill to look over the other side; looking down they see a tree that appears to almost be bleeding, with a half dozen undead mulling around what seems to be a dead creature laying against a shimmering axe that is buried into the base of the tree. They decide they need to gather themselves and rest before engaging what’s there. Shamesh and Lythander stand watch while the group ponders its next move.
Our heroes once again live to tell the tale and may have found the first real piece to this puzzle, but stranded atop a hill in a blighted cemetery their options are low and all they have left is their resolve, until next time…