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...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Log Entry 0-2

14th September, 4th Night of the Waxing Moon

Yuri turned on his bed, trying to ignore the knocking on his door. His sleep persisted for a few moments, but one more loud knock definitely awoke the priest. Yuri's eyes opened just into a slit, and he mumbled.

"So dark. Who can be waking me at this hour?"

It must be still two hours before dawn. He refused to acknowledge the call for just a few moments, but the insistence was too great to ignore anymore. Yuri finally accepted he had to know what was plucking him from bed at so early an hour.

He opened the door, and the disheveled figure of Tersis Hauptmarsh confronted him.

"Yuri, you must come quickly! Kirien is dead!"

Dead! At least, Tersis had been direct: Yuri startled into full awareness with his bluntness.

"Come, come, I need your help in this."

"But, dead..." Yuri was still numbed with the sudden news. "How ? Who?"

Tersis didn't answer at once. He led Yuri to Kirien's cell and, opening it, said

"That's what I'd like to find out. Here, I found him just a few minutes ago. I didn't even inspect anything."

Tersis opened the door wide, and Yuri looked inside. Everything looked normal, with Josep Kirien lying on the bed, apparently sleeping. The clothes were not even disturbed, suggesting a peaceful sleep. Yuri asked, instinctively

"He is dead?"

"Aye, he is. I was awaiting him to prepare the morning blessing but he was taking to long, that I came to see what was delaying him. The door was locked, as usual, but I have a master key. I frowned as I saw him on the bed, but when I approached to wake him, I noticed he wasn't breathing."

"And how do you think he died?"

"I haven't still inspected anything. I went to call you at once. But Josep was young and this does not seem natural to me".

"You said the door was locked, Tersis. From the inside?"

"I think so, his key is still on that table".

"And the window too is still closed, I can see".

The window Yuri referred to was a small opening on the wall, barely thirty centimetres wide, and fifty tall. It was the only opening into the cell, which was barely two meters deep per one metre seventy wide, and two meters high. The only furniture was Kirien's bed, a small bedside table and a chest for Kirien's personals. On the windowsill rested a small vase with a single flower, white with small red lines dividing the petals. On the table, a small note in fine feminine calligraphy read

"Kirien, meet me at the Ball. The Lady has a message to send you, but she fears writing you a letter. Bring the flower that has been delivered unto you. I'll carry a similar one and thus we'll recognise each other."

Yuri read the note and looked at the flower.

"Did you know about this, Tersis?"

"Yes, yes. A boy came to give them both to him, two days ago. Only that..." he hesitated, staring quizzically at the flower "it was distinctly red, by then."

Yuri looked at Kirien and inspected his body. He must have been dead for two hours, already, but there were absolutely no signs of violence, and Kirien bore a peaceful face, betraying neither distress nor a traumatic death.

Yuri and Tersis looked at each other. It was a complete mystery, but Yuri said

"Let me try to use Ezra's boons, perhaps there's some information She can give us."

"You're right, my son. Go ahead."

Yuri retired for a corner and knelt. He chanted a short prayer in a soft voice and rose. He approached Yuri and touched him, stretching his palm over his lips. His eyes illuminated with sudden understanding, then he turned, looked around the room, and concentrated on the flower. His looks abated and a feel of confusion spread on his face.

"So?" asked Tersis, eagerly.

"Poison! He's breathed poison."

"So I suspected, but where did that poison come from?"

"That's what confounds me. At first, I thought it could have come from the flower, but I detected no poison in it. We need more information."

"You're right. Let's go downstairs and have breakfast. There's much to discuss."

Yuri and Tersis closed Kirien's cell, and descended to the refectory. The sun was dawning.

"Yuri, I need to investigate this. Kirien has been murdered! This is serious, and I need to report to the Hierarchy why and by whom. Now, I'm too old for an investigation and moreover I can not leave the Church, for now I'm the only priest. I ask you, since you're of the Order and are free of regular duties, to take on this investigation. Find who murdered Kirien and why! I need a quick answer, Yuri."

"I can not refuse, since you ask me with the Church's authority, but I'll need some help. I don't know Keshgel. And what is this Ball the note spoke of?"

"The Ball then, first. It is the Opening of the Season, a party and ball at the mansion of Lord Francis Ratcliffe, Member of the Council. As for your ignorance of Keshgel, I have currently a youngling under my care, and he knows the city well. I've been tending him and trying to recover his health after he was savagely mauled by a wolf. I trust he'll be willing to help you, if not for anything else, at least for me."

"Well, then, I hope you can convince him. He's help is much needed."

"We'll know soon enough. Here is the man."

Nikola entered the room then. He was a slim man, with a suspicious look in his eyes. He didn't seem at ease anywhere, and walked in a furtive manner, occasionally looking behind his back.

Tersis had a brief conversation with him and expounded the situation. Nikola received the news almost nonchalantly, without apparent shock. Yuri estranged his reaction, but Tersis later assured him it was normal in him. Nikola was quite cold since he knew him, and he assumed that trait came back from before the wolf's attack.

"You can't really change personalities, Yuri, you just have to learn to cope with them."

"I will try. I just want his help, but I'm not expecting a friend."

"It's a shame. Nikola could well use one, but he's a tough nut to crack. It will take long before he really trusts anyone. Well, I guess you have things to do."

The three men rose and set to go about their lives, each of them, but the surprises of the day were not over. When the three entered the main hall of the church, a large burly man, apparently barely twenty years of age, if at all, paced impatiently back and forth. Upon seeing them, he stood upright and with glowing eyes looked at Tersis, the oldest and most venerable of the group, he bowed and humbly said

"Eldest Father, I ask your blessing."

"Rise, my son. What troubles bring you here? I don't seem to know you, but something in your vests looks familiar."

"Father, indeed you're right... on both accounts, but a matter troubles me that I'd rather discuss with you in private."

"Hmmm... Today is not a good day, but so be it. If Ezra sends you on this fateful morning, perhaps it is for a purpose. Yuri and Nikola, do talk for a while and try to know each other. Please, wait for me here."

Yuri and Nikola stayed alone in the hall, but neither said much apart from some cold plain remarks about the weather. Yuri tried to break the ice, but Nikola evaded every question.

Meanwhile, Tersis led Gregor to a private study. Half an hour later, he returned and announced that Gregor would be joining the group.

"Gregor seems a reliable and resourceful man. He will be an asset to you. I would bade you go and study your facts, even check at Kirien's cell again, but I suppose Ezra still has one more surprise up her sleeve this morning. Here comes Drulovic, I can see..."

Tersis would have smiled if the situation weren't so dire. He was beginning to think Ezra really was caring for his investigation and sending him just the tools he was be needing.

Tersis went to receive Drulovic. He was accompanied by a girl Tersis had never seen before, but he hadn't to wait for Drulovic's introduction

"Good morning, father. This here is my cousin, Evangelina."

His tone was dull and subdued as always. Drulovic wasn't a merry man. His life in Keshgel had never been particularly successful but lately things had gone for the worst. Drulovic ended up indebted, disliked by his neighbours and his only succour and comfort were the two priests at the temple, especially Kirien, who had befriended him. Drulovic was eager to find him

"Please, father, where is Josep? I need to talk to him."

Tersis swallowed hard. He looked upon Drulovic almost as a son, one of the poor lost sheep that he felt the most for. But Josep and Drulovic were real friends, more so than Tersis could ever be. He hesitated for a moment, but eventually disclosed the truth

"I'm afraid a few things have changed here, Drulovic." And added in a soft tone, addressing Evangelina "You might like to brace him, young girl."

"Drulovic, I'm sorry to tell you that Josep has been called to Ezra's higher duties within the mists."

The news overwhelmed Drulovic. A sudden feeling of solitude in the world overfilled him and melted his legs. All his strength faltered and, quivering, he sat on the nearest stool. Babbling only incoherent words, weeping and hiding his face within his hands, Drulovic remained there, nearly absent for a long time.

Evangelina backed away, uncomfortable in the strange surroundings compounded with so extreme a situation. Tersis came to her.

"I don't know the relation you had with your cousin, but he is really lonely here in the city. Besides his wife, Thérèse, and Kirien, and I don't see him associate with anyone around. Josep was his only friend in Keshgel and he will feel his loss bitterly. But I'm sure his place is with the family. He will need you."

Drulovic rose, at last. With a stern face, he addressed Tersis

"How did he.... ?"

"I don't know yet, son. But I'm starting an investigation."

"Would you care to join it? The fastest we reach the bottom of this matter the best and I think no one is spareable."

Drulovic shrugged and mumbled. With a dejected look, he said

"I don't think so. There are too many strange thoughts in my mind. I have to think. I'll go back to my wife. In normal circumstances, I'd do it without thinking, but this touched me strongly and I don't have the nerve to... to... you know."

"I understand", sympathised Tersis.

Drulovic turned and looking at his cousin, joined his hands in plea and asked her

"You'd do it, wouldn't you, Eva? You're adventurous and full of energy. Can't you take my place in this, please?"

Evangelina was surely taken by surprise, but she had always been very impulsive. She never really thought about it, just looked at his cousin and said

"You know I like you a lot, Drulo. Never mind, I'll do it for you."

Tersis blessed them both and then introduced them to the improbable group that had formed there on that morning. Then, addressed them with these words

"There is more than chance at work here. I'm sure you have been joined by Ezra Herself. As you already know, I found the poor Josep Kirien dead on his bed this dawn. He was a young, healthy lad, and such an event can't help but feeling strange. I need to present a report to the Church's Hierarchy in time, but I'd like to tell them more than just what I know. Therefore, I ask you to try to uncover the cause of this death that has taken our loyal servant to Ezra's will, Josep Kirien, so soon. I wish you good luck and Godspeed."


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