We left our heroes in a perilous position last time, with an animated hut that was now a monstrous creature rumbling the ground as it headed directly for the heroes controlled by a legendary evil hag who they could not bring down; the situation is dire, and would this be the end???
The heroes stand awe struck with the monstrosity that was previously just a wooden hut heading toward them; Bent, desperately makes directly for the cage to free the remaining ravens who release and immediately rush the polymorphed hag forcing her to rush off; at the same time Melrick steadies his dwarven courage rushing the monster, dive bombing his axe into its’ leg. In a large SWOOOOSSHHH he lands face first onto the ground and realizes that the enormous moving hut was just a figment of their imagination. The last two animated scarecrows fall lifelessly on the ground seemingly being sapped of power as the hag has flown off chased by the wareravens; our heroes had survived, yet again. Just a trick? The heroes don’t feel like they have won this battle as much as the hag was likely done toying with them and they were somehow spared.
They now take in the scene around them; they see that the animated house had never moved and was still sitting there where they originally saw it. The party moved into the hut to see what happened to the child that was being rocked in the cradle by the old hag. Lythander approached first, reaching in to try and take the baby out of it’s bed; the flesh of the child turned to a moist smoke as he reach his hands in, it was another figment. It seems all of the hag’s incarnations will not stand now that she is gone, but they had all equally left the heroes perplexed not knowing if anything that they have seen was truly real. Underneath the crib, where there was a green glow emanating from the area that they had seen during the battle. Melrick took his axe to the floor and ripped up the floorboard finding the acorn they were seeking; seems all was not lost here. They find a trunk in the same room and Lythander cannot help himself, as he hastily looks over the box seeing nothing unusual and picks the lock successfully….
He had set off a massive explosion. The whole party, save for Andromeda, took collateral damage while Lythander, and his lightning reflexes, were able to avoid the repercussions of his own handy work. As the smoke cleared four dismembered hands crawled out of the box and jumped onto the closest hero to them. Lythander, caught completely caught off guard, unleashes a point blank arrow at the first hand diving for him which missed completely splintering the the nearby wall; the rogue fell back screaming, tripped over his own feet running toward the nearest door and landed falling into the wall. Shameesh, hacking wildy at the floating hands like swatting flies, split three of them in half. Bent reached out with a calm deathly handshake giving the final hand an electrified grasp. With the creepy tiny abominations now dismissed, they search the rest of the box and find a number of items that might be handy as their journey continues, both magical and mundane.
The heroes searched the remainder of the little village, then went back to the original grave, found nothing new and finally headed up to the mansion. At the mansion they encountered a spirit, a man, ghostly, wispy in shape, with a bluish green hue and a dank smell of death but not one of fear or of anything the party felt they should fear. The spirit man nonetheless threatened the heroes, demanding they stand down, wanting to know why they were all there. Lythander stepped forward and told the ghost that they are enemies of Strahd and seek to destroy him. The spirit tells them that Strahd has put him here and his soul cannot rest until Strahd is destroyed. The ghost tells him the story of what happened to the village, and to him. He says that to save his daughter from Strahd he had to kill her, a tragic sad end to his daughters life. He laments how Strahd sought to claim his daughter as his bride and how he had bit her, taking her blood; killing her was the only thing he could do to save her from damnation. Once she was dead Strahd became enraged, losing control and destroyed the village killing both this man and his brother who had taken the young girl’s life. He said that his daughter reminded Strahd of his first lost love and Strahd felt like they had taken her from him again. The vampire lord cursed this man, the former Burglemeister of the town, to be bound as a ghost to the village for all eternity. After the spirit ghost told his story he shriveled back toward the basement which was sealed by a pile of rocks. Bent steps forward and willed the stone away to clear a path toward the basement, where the party quickly followed to see where the ghost had gone. Unfortunately they didn’t find the spirit, or besides some rotted champagne bottles; however there was a small crate in one corner. They opened it to find a half dozen healing potions, which the heroes knew would be useful at some point; they divided them up and moved on.
They exited the mansion and looked across the fjord that old stone house was built adjacent to and see some lights coming from a small stone collection on the far side. They overlook the water’s surface; it was pitch black, and almost entirely still across its’ expanse. They seem to all be pondering if they wanted to cross; Andromeda stepped forward and put her staff in to gauge the depth of the water and it’s about 4 feet or so. Besides Melricks natural apprehension to be up to his eyes in murky water, the rest of the group decided to brave the fjord and cross to the other side. They approach the area and see a person as the come closer to land; there was a woman who comes from a hiding position to confront the group, she did not seem to have ill intent. She identified herself as a scout and spy for their wareraven friends. She advises that the old crone was Strahd’s wet nurse and he was as near and dear to her as her own child might be; she hated anything that opposes Strahd. The group made camp deciding to stay for the night resting their weary heads. In the morning they offer the scout an opportunity to join them however she declined; she felt this was not her adventure and reminding the group that she was not the hero that they are. As such they headed out and bid their new acquaintance farewell.
On their way to Argonyvast they see the rising sun dry the dew on the grass as the heat warmed the earth; what they didn’t expect was the the sounds of battle rising around them; louder it grew but they did not see anything. Lythander motioned that he would scout ahead to see if he could figure out what was going on. Once there the rouge finds nothing, he returns to tell them he sees no sign of battle; no sooner does he finish speaking when the familiar dense fog they can’t seem to escape anywhere in Barovia settles onto them yet again; all of a sudden they see cavalry heading at them from one side and on the other a regiment of pikemen bracing themselves for impact. As they draw their weapons to defend themselves they are too late the cavalry crashes into them….
Wincing at the impact, the heroes look at each other and notice the mist is gone, there was no battle around them and the whole thing was not real, yet again another figment. The group is beginning to question the reality of everything they see. Gathering their wits as best they can they head the rest of the way toward Castle Argonyvast.
When they finally arrive at the castle they see a giant statue of a dragon, they slow their approach as they hear the thunderous noise from above descending on them and a gargantuan silver dragon flies low over their heads forcing all the heroes to duck instinctively covering themselves in weak hope of surviving any impending attack! Once again the heroes realize it is yet another figment as the dragon turns into a mist as the form of the dragon “crashed” upon them. Growing more annoyed the group is growing tired of these illusions frustrated with the world around them. They approach the front door and knock to enter and the large statue of the dragon nearby turns to open its mouth and blows a 60 foot cone of cold worthless air at the group as they all scatter out of the way, diving to avoid whatever was about to happen. They pick themselves off the ground, dusting off the dirt, realizing nothing at all happened other than them diving on the ground to avoid some funky smelling air being blown from an old dragon statue. They realise the protective nature of that statue has long since been gone, it no longer breathes whatever it had in the past. Once upon a time they may have been incinerated, now they are just dirty from pointlessly diving out of the way; this castle is decrepit or so it would seem.
As the group returns to the door they realize they were told that the dragon they just had the vision of has long since been dead as well and so has probably everything in this castle. Upon second approach the door was open and they enter, skeptically; once inside they see a big open hall and a number of stone busts of what appear to be fallen knights that had protected the once proud castle. The huge hall had a shadow cast across it from overhead as they look up they realize the shadow is again a reminder of the once great dragon that roamed these lands, it’s ghostly form must continually haunt the halls and lands around the castle. They advance farther into the castle and into the next room adjacent to the great hall it appears to be the entrance to a chapel with three kneeling figures farther ahead into the main chapel area on the stairs to the alter. The stained glass windows in the chapel are destroyed as is most of the chapel. To the heroes surprise the figures rise as the group enters chapel area; they were approaching the adventurers, and did not appear to be friendly. Instinctively Shamash stepped forward to intercept the undead beings, not wasting any time to even entertain discussion; he knew whatever must be moving in this castle cannot be good. From behind the paladin, Ben fired on the skeletal warriors but seems to do little damage to them; then Lythander fired a dead shot into the nearest undead knight, shattering a piece of skeletal bone off in an otherwise grotesque fashion. Melrick then engaged, slashing away at the nearest foe he was able to disarm one of the knights. Hugo also fired into the skeletons to try and bring down one of these animated abominations; as they closed ranks Andrameda ran around her friends to find a clear lane of fire to the three enemies and unleashed a lightning bolt from her fingertips igniting all three of the foes, yet still they stood; this was not good!
The undead warriors began to fight back and the heroes could see their skeletal bodies mend and repair as they inflict damage on them; the fear starts to set in that these undead warriors were regenerating. Shamesh, the holy paladin ever steady and unwilling to waiver, won’t be denied as he smites one warrior watching it finally crumble leaving two remaining skeletons. Emboldened now that they have seen one fall, Melrick continues to fight and tear at the enemies and again disarms his nearest foe. With renewed concentration, the little druid girl unleashes another bolt of lightening into the enemies, and this time a skeletal warrior is shattered falling to a pile of dust leaving just one remaining undead warrior. Seeing an opportunity to end this scrum, Merick rushes to land the final blows hacking the foe to pieces. Our heroes look at each other consider where to go next…
With uncertainty at every turn, surrounded by figments of their imagination as well as undead terrors trying to end them, their sanity hangs by a thread, as does their courage and vigor. We leave them in the castle to see if they can survive long enough to find their next clue!