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...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Log Entry 19-1

27th September 751, 3rd Night of the Waning Moon

The day dawned with a sense of urgency. The band was anxious to be on the move for weather wouldn't wait for them. The rain on the eve had been a warning of their lack of time: one week more, and Barovia might well be impassable. They didn't even know if it wasn't already too late!

But not all of them shared the same worries. Eva came down to the common room with a mixture of apprehension for her parents' reaction and a sense of wonder and fulfillment for finally feeling a woman. Of course Gheata was not a model companion, she knew that. She understood this had been an extraordinary night, rare in all circumstances, and that he had not sought her out of love. Lust was the right word: cold and plain, and Eva knew Gheata was not the man of her dreams. Looking at him now, sprawling at a table covered with breakfast, she could once again ascertain that he wanted nothing more than her body. Physical pleasure was all he cared for: emotionally, Gheata looked as cold as ice. But still, it had not been a mistake. Finally, Eva understood she was no longer a little playful child and that something was lacking in her life. Something she could not find at The Walking Knight. She had to carve her own destiny, to set on her way into the world. She felt a certain wanderlust, something that prevented her from staying and... in fact, she didn't quite feel capable of looking her father in the eye. She felt embarrassed and slightly ashamed. She would go, she would depart with the band. And perhaps find what could fill her desires.

They broke their fasts almost silently and in a hurry, when AntonĂ­n came to them with a curious remark

"Hello sirs, I know you be leavin' an' all, but I canna fail my customers, especially the good ol' ones. And that ol' man you can see o'er there asked me the simple favour o' tellin' you he "has words to partake with your ears"... Aye, that's what he said, really! Hahaha. I tell you, he's good gent, he'll make you no harm. Oh, he looks sheepish, aye, but I can tell he's keen as a hawk. Go there and hear his words, I say."

So they did. The man was in his early seventies and the first impression he gave off was that of a miserable old fellow. Early in the morning, he kept a wine bottle by his side, and looked like he had passed the whole night at the table. "Part of the furniture", was the image that sprang to mind. Nearly bald, the little hair left disheveled and dirty, sad mien, tired smile. He looked downtrodden and vanquished by life.

Come, fellows. I may be more than I look, and I'm sure this old face of mine puts you off as it did to many others, but be not afraid. I'm Hrinek.", he said. He sensed their suspicion. "I'm old, yes, but I've travelled the roads when I was younger. And even if today I'm too old to do it, I owe it to me to help those I see ready to enter the same predicaments I suffered. Come closer by, sit here with me, I don't bite!

There, there you go. You haven't noticed me, perhaps, but I have little else to do than looking around. I see all, I hear all, and I think I know more of you than you yourselves do. I have seen you yesterday. You're not the usual band one sees around here. You don't behave as an old group of friends, but you show more companionship than a congregation of business colleagues. I've known many like you through my life. I've been one of them! But those times are past now. I watch... and help.

You intrigued me last night. A group such as yours travels this land very rarely, and survives for long even less often. So I set to watch you. And the foremost sensations I feel in you are .... inadequacy, unease, lack of belonging, to a place, a group or a fraternity.

You, Nikola, for instance"

"How do you know my name?!", said Nikola, alarmed.

"It's not hard, when one listens attentively. You were here last night. So was I..."

"As I was saying, you Nikola, will never belong anywhere unless you acknowledge what the others do for you. Twice have you been dearly helped in the last month, twice by two men, and yet your gratitude was none. If not for them, you wouldn't be alive now, but your thanks are dearly bought indeed. Besides, Nikola, there's a curse upon you. It will always keep you apart from the others, until you lift it. Just be wary of the savage lands, where instinct can overcome reason, and be afraid of the full moon."

"In you, Eva, I feel a longing, a yearning for something that not even you can know. You need something, an objective, that fills the void within you. And this void you have will set you constantly astray, wishing to belong but cast away by your own desires. And these may be dangerous! Be wary of them, take care with what you wish for you shall be cruelly tested."

"Gheata, you're the wild card out. You do not belong because you do not want to. You are the dark soul and your life will be ridden by problems, but all of your own invention. It's not the fate that is against you, it is you yourself. I cannot tell you more except that you are the master of your own ways".

"Gregor and Yuri, I have left you for last because you are the most impenetrable for me. I sense a kind of spirituality within you that shields your thoughts from me. Your paths, I cannot see, but I understand the role you play: you are the glue that will hold the loose rocks. You are the force that will keep the group together. And it is as a group that you will have to function if you want to survive."

"You were cast into a great plan you don't understand. The wheels were set in motion and the Plan is fulfilling. It is slow and will not constrict you for a long time, but it is in motion and you were caught in the net. It holds the fates of Irvanika and its consequences may be grand for this land and those around it, perhaps even the whole Core. And your actions may prevent it. You do not belong anywhere, the few ties you had have been cut. Eva has said even now goodbye to her childhood, her house, her family. You are ready to be thrown in the world and be like sand in the cogs. Your actions may yet bring great good to this troubled land. Just remember not to be over anxious. Evil will never be absolutely vanquished, but if you can hold it once here, push it back over there, now, and then, and then again, then your actions will be like shining fires in the darkest night. And for that, they will be most valuable than a large bonfire under sunlight. Value your deeds, have faith in you, and in the joy and consolation you can yet bring to many. But remember, you can only do it as a group. And, in truth, you have no one else but each other, no other place to belong".

It was time to leave. His last words had been no more than a sign to depart. They took their wares and set to deal with Drulovic about the horses. Without too much haggling, they soon came to an agreement: Drulovic was to keep the cart and the two heavy horses and in exchange he would give them four of his light horses. He had no need for them now, and the cart was far more useful. They set on the road, all five, towards Ingelberg. In the summer, fast riders could cover the distance in one day, but with the current weather and with all the appearances of getting worse, they were counting themselves lucky if they could do it in three days. The first hour rode by quickly, but after that it began to rain. The conditions worsened steadily and the rain became a downpour accompanied by a cold wind. With the afternoon, cold became colder and rain turned to snow: the first flakes of the winter that was doubtless arriving. Their spirits decreased as the day grew older and the snow heavier. The road disappeared beneath the white blanket and before long the horses were almost fighting to move forward. The group looked preoccupied for a place to stop and wait the night out when a man, seemingly despaired emerged from a path to the left of the road. They heard his cries in the wind:

"Is there a doctor among you?! Can any of you help my wife? She's gone into labour and I need help, desperately".

He was panting, nearly breathless. The track he had followed diverted from the main road. It was bordered by thick forest but fifty meters way at its closest point. It led to a small group of scattered houses, small farms that could be considered neighbours only in this isolation that tended to make an acquaintance of anything in one's horizon, no matter how far. All lay white before them, white and silent as winter. Eva and Yuri offered their assistance, and the group followed the man.

"I'm Alistair, and my wife's Anita. I have sent for a midwife hours ago but she hasn't come. I don't know what happened, maybe she was caught by the snow, or she had an accident herself, but with the night falling, I don't expect her to come and I really need help".

They entered Alistair's house. They could notice that the nearest one was some hundreds of meters away, but that, and the ones after that, looked normally inhabited: there was fire in the chimneys and they had signs of normal life.


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