Ravenloft Campaign: Woven Fates

Greetings!
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...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Log Entry 21

They left Allistair in the afternoon, expecting still a full two-day journey. Much to their surprise, they travelled much faster and when they stopped for the night, Ingelberg was much nearer than anticipated. Yuri profited the calm of the night to brew a healing potion, before going to rest. On the morning, they set out again towards Ingelberg. The voyage was completely uneventful which, after the many events of the previous day, came as balmy bless. It even looked suspicious, as if the land had a will of its own and, after wanting to delay them, were now speeding them forward. Surprisingly, they arrived to Ingelberg on that selfsame afternoon, still with plenty of sunlight. The time for decisions, then, had come. Where would the group go next?

Yuri had no problems making his first choice. He knew Ingelberg well, and headed to one of the two Ezran temples in the city. He pointed the others to an inn nearby and told them he'd meet them there in the morning. He then walked in without delay and asked to see Monseigneur Jezermain. Ingelberg's clerics were more aware of status considerations than Hauptmarsh or Kirien had been. Ingelberg was a larger city, the key piece for Irvanikan trade and, while Keshgel was more foppish and artificial, Ingelberg had real political intrigue. In such an environment, upholding one's status was crucial, and demanding proper title acknowledgement, essential. Yuri shrugged as he mused on this. He had never been one to like those who flaunted about their titles. He respected the hierarchy and esteemed its ideals, but Ingelberg was a place where the title counted more than the man that bore it. Many used it simply as a social tool, and this displeased Yuri highly, but he knew full well that even other people who felt like him were constrained by circumstances to play the hypocrisy. And in this society, the elder clerics of Ezra were Monseigneurs and so that was the way to call them. Jezermain, though, from what Yuri remembered, was a nice person, caring and responsible at heart, more adept at teaching and looking after his community than getting involved in complicated affairs. Intriguing, warring and confrontation disgusted him, and for a moment, Yuri pondered if he had done well to come see Jezermain. But then, he was the highest ranked cleric in Ingelberg, and the eldest too, and the High Temple was now too far behind to go there tell his news, so he quickly dismissed his clouded thoughts. As an added afterthought, Jezermain was actually quite deserving of his title.

Monseigneur Jezermain arrived quickly, affable as ever, but he feigned a circumspect look as he always did when he met a stranger. It was only after Yuri prompted his memory that he remember that this was actually no stranger at all.

"A bit strange to be so forgotten of me when I've left barely three weeks ago", thought Yuri, "but then again, I didn't come here that much and... yes, he's always been a lot on the forgetful side".

After a quick exchange of greetings and reacquaintance, for neither of them had much time to spare, Jezermain led Yuri to a private room and asked what had brought him back so suddenly and with such a troubled face. Yuri recounted the events in Keshgel, from the death of Josep Kirien to the more worrying death of Tersis Hauptmarsh, due to the fact that this had almost been witnessed by the populace. That in and of itself would not be a problem, but the scene of the death was bizarre, and in Yuri's opinion, very much prepared by a killer. It looked like black magic scenery, and although Yuri believes it was fabricated, the fact is that the population was led to believe that Tersis himself was a dabbler in the forbidden arcane and died as a result of his own misdoings. Fickle as crowds are, this led to a sudden surge of hatred directed towards the church. Yuri had to leave Keshgel in covertly leaving behind a strong resentment against all Ezran priests. Jezermain listened with growing apprehension, and reached the conclusion that now would be a bad time to send someone into Keshgel to try and rework the populace towards their side. For both men, it was impossible to tell who would be pulling the strings to stage such a blow onto Ezra's hierarchy, but the fact was that they had succeeded in removing the Church's influence from the city. Jezermain decided to warn the High Temple and asked Yuri of his plans. He told the Monseigneur that he had some friends in need of his help who afterwards might help him track another lead about Kirien's death and since they both suspected these two deaths were closely connected and part of some master plan, uncovering each little clue became a detail of vital importance. He then told Yuri to go, that someone else would be more suited to take the message to the High Temple. Yuri was a capable piece that should be left to wander on the chessboard and disappear for a while.

After leaving Yuri at the church, the band continued to the inn, where they bought rooms for the night.They had dinner and prepared to spend the night. Nikolaremaine awake for a long time, thinking and pondering. His motives to come to Ingelberg were simply start a new life. He didn't yet think of himself as suited for adventurous pursuits. All the others were more bent to it: Gregor had a purpose in Barovia, Gheata was probably better off outside Irvanika and, to tell the truth, the farthest he would be from any one, including themselves, from any city or even the littlest barely civilized hamlet, the better for everybody else. As for Eva, she was bound to be always a mystery. She would probably want to be with Gheata, after all, or was she as light-minded as him? Anyway, she said she would go on to Barovia too. At last, sleep caught up with him, but he still dreamt about what he should do in the morning.

30th September 751, 6th Night of the Waning Moon

The day came early for them, weary as they were of the journey. After leaving the church, Yuri had gone to the School of High Studies, where he still had his room and belongings. He hadn't expected to come back so quickly, but neither did he think his stay in Keshgel would last until the end of the semester. His sleep was tranquil and the following day he went to expect his companions at the inn. They took the breakfast together, but when they were setting on to move, Nikola broke the consensus

"You go, I'll be staying behind."

Not one of them had expected that decision, so they stared at him questioningly. He continued

"I want to try to settle down. The road is not for me, at least, not while I believe I can live a serious life like anybody else."

It was clear Nikola was determined. The bonds between them were not that strong, after all. Yuri tried to reason with him and offer motives to continue journey, but Nikola was pragmatic and simply answered

"At least, I know what I can expect here in Irvanika, even if I've never been to Ingelberg. But, what about Barovia? What is it like, what do you know of it? Aren't you just going blindly into some unknown land you know nothing of and may very well be a lot more dangerous than you are willing to face?"

They tried to argue with Nikola, but as each tried to tell him what they thought Barovia was, and how much better it should be than Irvanika, each one of them reached the conclusion that Nikola was right: they didn't know the slightest fact about Barovia, all they knew was some very bland rumours about the land, and it didn't seem any more attractive than what they knew. All they thought they knew was that it was a backward country, and possibly people wouldn't be warm to foreigners. Yuri, ever the active problem solver, decided to lead them to the library of his School.

"I'm sure we can find more about Barovia there, Nikola. You'll see"

These were his words, but after one or two hours of effort, they found nothing worthwhile and were back to facing their true ignorance. It was then they took their most daring decision this far: they would go on to Barovia, tempt the destiny and dare their fate. They had come this far with that idea in mind, they would go... all, but Nikola, who stubbornly still refused to give in. They parted, not knowing if they would be seeing each other ever again, but deep inside, each felt they would.

Nikola spent that day and the next looking for work. He wanted an honest life, for a change, but soon found out why some people turned out for the road. Work was hard and badly paid, especially for an unskilled labourer as himself. He was offered work at the docks as a carrier, at 6 copper pieces per day, plus the possibility to sleep in log houses cramped with forty other people, sweating and smelling. He was disgusted at the prospect. He could also have chosen to be a cook's aid by some 12 copper pieces, logger by 8 and even a scout to commercial caravans, but that entailed leaving the city and Nikola did not, by any means, want to try that. In the end, he found work as a clerk earning 15 copper pieces per day. It was the best he had found, and it was safe and definitely not overtaxing. It suited his physique. The problem was that by earning one and a half silver pieces per day he was very very far away from meeting his current daily requirements of seven silver pieces for dry, stale trail rations and a reasonable bed in an inn. This was no way of life, and he had to strive for a better way to survive financially.

The others set on the road with the very last commercial caravan of the year heading to Barovia, the very last before the winter.

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