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, August 22, 2005

Log Entry 28

With this last statement, Bran Martikova broke off, leaving Gregor worried. It had looked vaguely as a threat of some uncertain kind. Yes, perhaps leaving truly was the best thing to do.

5th October 751, Night of the New Moon

In the morn, they were ready. They left early determined to reach Vallaki as soon as possible, though Donosty's ominous words about Svalich Pass marked didn't leave their minds. The morning was filled with a hazy dense fog of a milky white, and as they slowly paced the square, the sound of the horses' steps echoed eerily within the mist, distant and distorted. They sounded like the footsteps of ghosts and horses of distant times.
But it was only an impression. The fog soon cleared enough to let see the whole square, and in the corner with the exit way of the village, there they saw a woman waiting. As they approached, they noticed it was more a girl than a woman, and they recognized Irina. She almost spoke no word. She held a mare by the reins and held a sack in her hand. At her side, she had a short sword. She said
"I've come to go with you. I've taken some things from my father's, what I could find most useful, though I'm not sure about it... I've brought a sword and a silver dagger, if that's useful..." she added doubtfully.
They welcomed her and let her ride in her midst, but no one spoke much. The day was cold and depressing. Uncertain that they would notice the mysterious fog that had surrounded the village at all times for the last four hundred years, they drank their potions then and there and trotted on until the village disappeared and gave way to the forest's ground. They continued without a word until they passed the gates they had seen before, on the road to Vallaki. Ominously, they heard them close shut with a loud languorous clang, following a long, dolorous screech. That sound sent shivers up their spines, but they felt more or less relieved that Barovia, and Castle Ravenloft, were now behind them. But, what would the road bring?

It didn't bring much. The day passed absolutely uneventfully, safe for a band of birds that high up in the sky seemed to accompany them. Try as they might, they could not find what kind of birds they were, so they went on until at mid afternoon, the forest on their left side disappeared completely, gave turn to hard rock which a short while after became a veritable wall: the road now cut right in the middle of two tall cliffs which greeted them with distorted, dark and menacing shapes: this had to be Svalich Pass!
"Donosty told me it would take about four hours to cross the pass", said Gregor discouragingly. "Perhaps we should camp here".
"Not so soon", countered Yuri. "Eva, Gheata, do you think we have any chance of getting through this at double pace so that we reach the other side before night? Do you think the horses will hold?"
Eva looked at the priest in a rather negative tone. "I doubt Yuri, and we can't risk killing the horses. Heavy as we are, we'd have to leave everything behind and still it would take us a long walk until Vallaki".
Gheata was of the same opinion.
"Well, then we camp", Yuri said, shrugging his shoulders.
They looked for a place to stay and, a fair distance before the pass, found a cave that was large enough to hold all of them. They lit a large fire at the entrance and mounted watches. Mercifully, nothing disturbed them that night.

6th October 751, First Night After the New Moon

The next day, they went through the pass. The rock was tall on both sides, and the passage narrow to give room only to a cart and one or two more people abreast. There were loud sounds of birds occasionally and their echoes bouncing on the walls scared them more than once. There were many small caves up above them, and Gheata even noticed some nests even higher, but nothing else disturbed them that morning. By noon or a bit after, they finally left the Pass and could see Vallaki in the distance, no more than an hour away. Still farther, a large blue expanse of water glimmered under the sun's rays. That was Barovia's renowned Lake Zarovich. For long times, this had been the favourite spot for Barovian nobles to pass their holidays. A favourite vacation spot for the high classes that came here to delight in the pleasures offered by the lake, the mountains and who could even find good game in the small forests nestled on the other side of the lake. These wealthy families had dotted the landscape with large mansions and summer houses. And within all this prosperity, Vallaki was born and grew fair.
Alas, Barovian nobility had been almost extinct for a hundred years, now, and all these houses were left in abandon, decaying, silent testimonies of grander days, grander but long gone. Vallaki, though, persisted. Its population dedicated itself to fishing and the Lake continued to reward its workers as always it had, with steady catches all year long. To some extent, Vallaki's now decaying past gave it a charm that even attracted more people, and so it was one of the important cities of Barovia.

As the group entered the city, they came to know its geography quite rapidly. There was a lake front street that was the centre of the city, where the oldest houses crowded. After that, came a long row of bars and taverns and then a beach that however was deserted of people, due to the cold and the wind. Instead, it was filled with fishing boats and drying nets. Behind this street, some low hills rose and there stood the high town, where richer and more recent houses stood. On the western side of the hills, there was an old Citadel of the prehistoric times of Barovia that had been converted into the ruling centre of Vallaki, the residence of the Burgomaster Nicolai Ionelus.

They had almost the whole of the afternoon ahead of them, and Gregor and Yuri chose to look for bookshops, where they could find interesting things. They found them in the rear streets behind the lake front, nestled in the foothills of the high town. They watched the books in exhibition at the window, but not finding anything that stirred their attention, they decided to enter and study the shelves more carefully. Gregor was looking for mediunic and spiritual matters, books about the supernatural, but was less than disappointed: the only thing he could find, were treatises on religions.
Yuri, on the other hand, looked for arcane writs, but of that, there was veritably nothing. He found, though, an Atlas that he thought might be useful. He turned to the book seller and bought it for one gold piece, and then asked if he had something more... suited to magicians. The bookseller inspected him closely and made him a few questions about the Art, as he called it. Yuri responded almost evasively, and tried to sprinkle his answers with things he had gleamed from Kir's book. At last, the seller was satisfied that he knew at least something of the Arcane and so that his interest might be genuine enough to buy him a book. So, he led him and Gregor to a small room whose door was hidden behind a shelf and there they saw new stacks of precious carefully arranged books. They were not many, but they all looked special. There was a small table, and a man was already sitting there, piling a few books and looking for some more. Yuri read their spines: all the books in the room were dedicated to the Magic Arts.
The man greeted them warmingly and Yuri and Gregor responded and studied him. He was tall, with a long white beard and bald in the top of his head. The hair, though, grew on the rest of it, and fell down the back in disarrayed curls. He wore a simple black tunic, with a cord around the waist, and simple leather sandals.


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