Ravenloft Campaign: Woven Fates

Tonight, I relate the story of a group of strangers that met here in the Land of Mists and, forced by destiny, wandered its roads in formidable adventure. Join us as I lead you from their first meeting along through their travels, their misfortunes and their shining moments. Grace them with your compassion in their losses; bless them with your support when the sky is dark and bleak. Do not forget to bestow your praise upon them as they vanquish terror and hold back the minions of darkness. Raise your arm to cheer for their victories!
And above all, share your glass with us for them, both in sorrow and elation, as you accompany them in the thorny road from lost adventurers to heroes of the mists.

Come, huddle with us by the fire here in the dark. The night is cold, but within the ring of Vardos, its evils cannot touch us. Tonight, you are a guest of the Vistani and nothing will harm you. Come, the Prastonata is over and now is time for the Doroq. Let the tales now unfold, let the revelations begin...

Monday, November 15, 2004

Log Entry 16

Yuri and Eva looked around, stupefied. The fight had been swift and disastrous. Five of their companions were fallen on the ground, one of them dead, while of the bandits only one had been downed. They had been severely overwhelmed and taught a cruel lesson about fighting to die and yielding to survive.

But time grew short for reflexions and musings. The outlaws had escaped, but it was already night and none of them was thrilled with the idea of learning the truth behind the many folk stories about Irvanikan nocturnal wildlife.

They hurriedly put the wounded on the cart and Eva spurred the horses forward. It was little more than an hour and a half of travel to The Walking Knight, but it seemed much, much longer than that. As they moved, the shadow of the night seemed to become darker and thicker, like something unnatural, and they began hearing muffled giggling around them. They looked around, nervously, without stopping but couldn't find the source of the voices. The sounds continued, and they seemed distinctly human, but also sadistic. Unease filled their hearts. Trying to perceive what hid beneath the shadowy bushes and trees, they began to see small pinpoints of blue light, hovering about one meter from the floor. They moved constantly, blinking, with an eerie glow. Yuri startled and Eva did too, at first. But then she released a pure laugh of relief and said

"It's only glow-worms."

Yuri relaxed, but like an echo to Eva's, the phantom giggles turned to phantom laughs and the dust on the road began to swirl in front of them in an hypnotic dance. Yuri's nerves cracked, as all his alarms sounded. Fighting with himself not to show his discomfort, he stood upright, held forth his holy symbol and shouted with more conviction than usual, perhaps to soothe his own disquiet

"Get back, fiends of the night! In the name of the Goddess!, get back and hold us no more!"

The night quietened at once. Even the wind broke off, for a minute and the glow-worms vanished. Yuri and Eva alone seemed alive on the road. They were thus for perhaps half a minute, then Eva prompted the horses and they proceeded to the inn as fast as road and night allowed. Not long after, the road turned and a massive silhouette, outlined as a darker dark against the nightly sky, emerged before them.

Eva whispered

"It's the Dark Cathedral. Let's hurry" and jolted the horses with all her strength.

It always had this effect on people. By night or by day, the Cathedral was an ominous spectacle best avoided by anyone with sense. It was not a welcoming sight. Those brief instants before the looming shadow seemed irreal. There was no wind, no birdsongs, no wind rustling in the leaves. Even the horses shuddered and became silent for a moment. Nothing in the whole nature could remain oblivious to the ominous outline: a tall building, with towers

challenging the skies. It was nothing more than a dark and overpowering form but an inexplicable chill irradiated from it, and its body resembled more a giant centipede than a building. The buttresses were topped by ornate turrets and the towers of the facade by sharp pinnacles. The many gargoyles decorating the roof and the enormous entrance gate, that looked more like a gaping demonic mouth added to the gruesome feel, that only became more evident as they noticed that the whole structure is darkened, as if it had been burnt. It was a daunting ruin.

They sped through the night and finally reached the inn, sweating from the effort and, probably, the commotion of the day's events. A burly cheering man came to greet them, and his eyes filled with joy and surprise as he cried

"Eva! You're back"

"Father, I'm so glad I'm here."

Yuri, not expecting this turn of events, stood unknowing of what to do. But the couple embraced and turned back to reality in an instant.

"I need your help, father. Drulovic is wounded, and a couple of friend of mine are also. Can you lodge us tonight?"

"Sure, sure. Come, bring the cart to the stable, we'll take care of them in a moment. Warn your mother, she'll find you rooms and whatever help you need. I'll take Drulovic upstairs."

Antonín, Eva's father, took Drulovic to his old room upstairs. Then he came and helped Yuri lead the cart to the shelter, barn and stable at the same time, where Yuri laid the wounded on improvised beds of straw. Antonín offered help to tend to the wounded, but Yuri dismissed him to his many other duties, saying that he didn't want to disturb him and that probably what he could do would be enough.

Working alone, but methodically, he invoked the powers of Ezra and successively restored to health Gregor, Nikola and Gheata. Conscient once more, they rested for a while, although with divine healing recovery is almost immediate. Gregor was the first to get up, though his head still pounded a bit. He measured the situation and reasoning with fully practical sense, he examined Dinech's body. He took from him his money pouch, a pistol and his rations. Yuri flinched a bit at his actions

"Don't you feel any qualms?"

"No." Gregor replied surprised. "Should I?"

"Well, I guess so, yes. He may be dead but that's still stealing."

"If that's all it is, then I can live with it. Besides, I need it much more than he does."

He raised, visibly unshaken by Yuri's comments and retired for a corner. He mumbled a prayer to his god, unsure he'd be heard this time. He didn't think he's taking Dinech's things would anger the Morninglord, always the compassionate and hopeful god. He prayed, and with joy he felt new strength refilling him. He had been heard. This intermittency of his spiritual powers was a mystery, but each time the God heard him he felt a new warmth within, and a

greater hope in the future. He approached Gheata and, grateful to his god, asked for his blessing again to heal some of his companion's wounds. With exhilarating joy, he saw them close before his touch. Still, to his dismay, Gheata was still in a serious condition. He could walk and perform strenuous actions without problem, but he was still considerably in less than full health.

Yuri looked askance at his actions, and in his head tried to accept the fact that Gregor had the favours of some god, a good healing god, despite some of his actions violating his own moral code.

"Well, there is not only Ezra in the world, and perhaps I shouldn't question others actions unless they're openly evil. After all, Ezra does not condone but neither does she condemn thieves that come to her teachings."

Nikola sat. He looked at the others and with a grim voice

"So, we're alive after all. Who'd say so! I mean, what a wonderful day we had today! Where will we go tomorrow? Throw us off a cliff? 'Cause if we keep acting recklessly like we did today and without trusting each other, I really think we're better off dead."

"Throw yourself. We're alive." cut Gheata.

"No need for harsh remarks, Nikola.", said Yuri "We were lucky they left before we were all dead, but I'm rather happy that I'm still alive and can try again. And you bet I won't be caught so easily next time."

"Yeah, yeah, Yuri. That's what you say. And I guess I should trust you, since you brought us here and didn't leave us to die in the road, but somehow I feel that we should have been more of a team back there in the road."

"And perhaps you should have kept your word and let the man take your pouch. All you did was get us another beating. We were all standing until then, weren't we?"

"Cut that crap off, Gregor. You know full well what it is like to be robbed. I remember you didn't like it either."

"Better that than to be dead, anyway!"

"Now, stop all of you", echoed Yuri's strong voice. "You are acting like grown children! Of course we're all mad at getting that much in risk, but we're now all safe. We have lived to fight another day. So, let's get the tempers down, learn the lesson and have dinner, right? If our problem was not being a team, then we can begin right now. I have three rooms and a full table set waiting for us at the inn. Come and forget what's past."

They followed Eva's advice. While dining, Yuri asked Antonín about the cathedral. The man was silent for a few moments, then pulled a chair and with them. In a conspirational tone, he whispered its story.

"Way back, some thirty years before this day, there was a church known here as The Order.

I remember it. I used to go to the church meself. As far as I can remember, and my father tol' me so, this was always the religion of Irvanika. An' it was rich an' powerful. Anyway, you can imagin'' that from the size of that huge Cathedral. It was there all me life, an' they it was built centuries ago.

Well, let me go back to hist'ry. The Order even had a military faction of Knights. I never understood too well what the Knights were for. Apparently, they travelled abroad and brought riches, but there were rumours that sometimes they threatened people to be of the faith. Me, I was always a faithful, they never had to scare me or my father, so I canna tell if these stories are true!

But The Order was becoming too rich and too powerful. An' you don't need me to tell you that Lord Heimoltz was becoming... uh, displeased with that. He wanted their money, I tell you.

He outlawed them! Of course the monks and Knights didn't like it, but he came with his army and sieged the Cathedral. Oh, but he didn't want a military victory. He simply had the doors sealed and burnt the whole thing down. It was in the night, actually. We heard their cries for hours and I know I had nightmares for a week. I saw Knights burning inside, with their roasted flesh coming at me and ordering me to open the door. As if I had anything to do with it! Lords, I still shudder to remember it."

He got up and served himself a drink.

"It's getting late. We'll talk tomorrow, is that alright?"

They took their leave and retired to their rooms.

26th September 751, 2nd night of the Waning Moon

The following morning, they took breakfast in the common room. Yuri's main concern was the burying of the dead coach driver, Dinech. But his plans were suddenly altered. It was obvious that three men in a table nearby were ostensibly looking at them, mainly at Gheata. They were dressed in some kind of uniform, with a black cape with a yellow trim and a silvered hound in the middle.

He sunk in his chair trying to seem oblivious and disguising his presence but he had been seen and identified by those men.

"Gheata, who are they?" asked Gregor.

"Some men. They're after me."

"Do you think we'll have troubles with them?" prompted Nikola.

"Probably yes."

"Oh no, just when we needed to rest..."

Eva got up and went to her father, murmuring something at his ear. Some five minutes later, he addressed the importunate men and stated clearly that he wanted no troubles within the inn. If they had any score to settle with any one else, then they should do it outside.

The men looked gruff but remained silent and in their seats. Meanwhile, through the room's windows, Gregor noticed that another one with equal uniform was outside harnessing their horses.


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