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...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Log Entry 30 - Interlude

Nikola looked at himself. Everything was normal this time. The door was locked, his clothes were folded. No, he had not gone out this night, he was sure. He went to the pub that day and met Finn there, as ever listening to gossip and counting it back to everyone else. But he wasn't as cheerful as usual.
"People are scared. Another man was found dead this morning. Again, on the outskirsts of the city with his insides out."
"The werewolf again?"
"Yes... I heard him, and made sure I stayed well locked inside."
"And what about the police? Aren't they investigating? Isn't there a band of adventurers to give it chase?"
Finn looked up, with an incredulous look.
"Give it chase? Would you come with me, Nikola?" he asked, doubtful and challenging. He wouldn't go, but he was testing Nikola. This didn't answer so Finn continued, shrugging.
"And what about the police? It's been no one important, has it? If it were, people might budge. But we're just hoping it away. It came suddenly, it may go suddenly.... or just be around in the full moon. If that's the case, there's only one more night to go. I know I'll stay locked."

Nikola went back home only in the evening. He went to his room and left his door unlocked. In a way, he was relieved
"So I'm not a monster, after all. But then, what was all that blood? I can't piece it."

21th October 751, 2nd Night After the Full Moon

In the morning, Nikola heard the news from Finn. Still no signs of Nancy, the howls had been heard but this time no one had been caught. Besides that, the day passed uneventfully and so did the following ones. On the night of the 24th, though, when it was around eleven o'clock and Nikola was already in bed, he heard a knock on his door.
"Who is it?"
"It's me, Eberhardt. I need to show you something. Come with me."
Nikola found it a bit strange, but donned a nightrobe and followed Eberhardt. He led the way to a chamber besides his room and opened a closed which covered a door etched in the wall. It led to a musty dark staircase that led down. The air was stale.
"Come, we have to go down."

25th October 751, 3rd Night of the Waning Moon

Nikola hesitated. He sensed not everything was right and he doutbed strongly of Eberhardt's attitude. But then, just as he was going to contest, he watched as Eberhardt's lips were moving and completing an incantation that caught Nikola by surprise. Suddenly, he felt there was nothing strange in going down those stairs, and that something good could be down there. He eagerly accompanied his master down.
Eberhardt followed behing with a lantern clearing the way. It was very moisty and there were no lights of any kind in the staircase. At their base, a small tunnel led into a closed door. Nikola opened it and stepped through, and heard the door close behind him. Everything was dark.
Moments later, candles lit, one by one without anyone lighting them... apparently. Nikola was in an arena, the same he had seen in his dreams. There was a tall iron fence around them and an open trapdoor in the middle. There were two people there, kneeling on the ground and with their heads and hands fastened to wood blocks. They had been clearly beaten, savaged, brutalized. There was a boy who seemed to have passed out and a girl who moaned softly. She looked up and Nikola recognized Nancy Buttler with horror in his face. A voice to his left startled him. "I want you to be yourself again. This you must do consciously."
It was Eberhardt, releasing Nikola from his spell. He was dressed with a red tunic down to his feet and holding a whip in his hand. In a cold, harsh voice, he said
"She has been caught fornicating with that boy there. I can't abide that. Take this whip. Undress her and beat her. Whip her!"
He was angry and violent. Nikola didn't know what to do. He was shocked with the absolute turn the events had taken. He looked at Nancy and he couldn't stand seeing her there, let alone spank her. She recognized him too and cried to him
"Oh save me, save me from that pig. He's been torturing me, he wants to kill me. Free me, Nikola, free me!!!"
She pleaded, she cried, she asked for mercy and tried to convince Nikola by all means she could to let her go.
Nikola turned to Eberhardt and asked, amazed
"Are you responsible for their disappearance?"
"They did not disappear! They're here, where they belong."
Nancy outbursted
"Liar, liar. He took me by force, he dragged me into here against my will!"
Nikola continued.
"But why me? Why do I have to do this?"
"You must, Nikola. You have to! You are to be my friend, I need you to do this. This is a ritual, and it must be you! You must punish her, you must learn how to punish people. I need you to do this, I want you to do this."
"You are demented", Nikola continued unbelievingly, "You are sick. I can't let you do this."
Nikola was afraid that Eberhardt might enchant him again. But he was quicker than the old man, and stronger too. He could easily overpower him. Meanwhile, Eberhardt's anger grew and at Nikola's refusal, he rose the whip and stroke Nikola. But this was faster and avoiding the blow through Eberhardt to the ground, wrestled the whip from his hand, immobilized him and tied him fast. He then freed Nancy and went to look for the boy. He was dead. He turned to Nancy who cried frantically of relief. He tried to calm and soothe her and at length he could talk to her. She told him she had been abducted by a pack of big dogs, or wolves, that had attacked her in the street and dragged her away. When she awoke, she was these dungeons, in a cell. Another boy was there, already, and two other girls. She didn't know how many days had passed, but it seemed like an eternity. Over those days, Eberhardt came frequently and took the other two girls. She watched once, as the two of them and a man that looked like Nikola himself were forced to practice despicable acts. She never saw more of it, but the other girls told her that Eberhardt came more times to force them to do... things. She too was forced quite a few times, and beaten, but she never did anything with the boy except what Eberhardt made them to. She saw one of the girls come dead to the cell. She then never saw anything of the other one. These last few days, she and the boy were the only ones in the cell. And today, they had been taken to the arena and tortured with cruel knives and exquisite minute blades and razors.
Nikola was appaled, and didn't know what to say. He questioned Eberhardt over his motives. The man was tormented, his eyes reflected remorse and internal anguish, but at the same time, he stubbornly refused to speak. All he said, at length, was
"Read my diary."
Nikola locked in a cell. He told Nancy to go to his room and try to sleep, while he would look for Eberhardt's diary.
He took her up by the same stairs he had descended and let her rest in his bed. Then, he went into Eberhardt's room. There was a huge bed there, with a wooden canopy above it. Opposite it, an ornamented chair stood before a support where an open book lay. Beside it, an inktray and a pen. The book still had a number of white pages. This was clearly Eberhardt's diary. Nikola wondered why he needed a scribe if he could write, but then he understood Eberhardt wrote just a scant few lines a day. He scanned the diary and read the events of the last month.

Time goes on, and everything alike. I'm still in this empty life where almost nothing fulfils me. I feel buried in a deep melancholy whence I can not come out.

I feel bordering on despair. Yesterday I was in the office all the afternoon watching people go by. These afternoons rekindle thoughts within me forgotten and repressed. I want to be with people, I want to be among them again, but I almost can no longer leave this chair. If I stand up and make two steps towards the door, I feel a shadow gnawing at my spirit. I can't imagine what it would be if I were outside, on the street. My legs shake.... Oh, but certain desires are so difficult to contain!!!

I was in the shop today again. I had the secret hope to see again that woman of the other day. At least I could admire her while she was there. She hasn't come today.

She came today, she's called Anna. But she left too quickly. A light in my night.

Josken left us today. This house is emptier again.

It pains me so much to write, but it's my only outlet... well, almost only. But I'd rather write, despite the pains... I'd like to write my memories, but I can't. If I could find someone...

I saw some interesting people. There was a new girl there. What a difference to Anna. Anna is elegant, mature, a lady. She could be a company. This girl... she's something else. But I can't go that way. No, THAT way, I can't go. I must stop thinking on that.

I hired a new guy. Nikola.

I fired Helsmaar. He was robbing me. I watched Nikola the whole afternoon.

Still with my eye on Nikola. He's strict and correct. Reminds of me when I was younger. Even the same sad distrusting regard.

I've been thinking about Nikola. I find him too similar to me, and I even sympathize with him. I don't want him to go down the same spiral that caught me. I don't want him to acquire my vices and iniquities. I talked to him. I'll see if it made an effect.
Oh, true. I heard Finn commenting, looks like Josken has come up. Rats, they said... again.

Nikola is a good worker, but I can see he's getting slimmer each day that passes. He also seems to be having sleepless nights. He could be ideal to write my memories. But I feel slipping. This could be a bad time... for him mainly.

I made him a proposal and he accepted. I went down there, yesterday. I'm losing myself again. This new presence, the lack of Josken, the life I feel outside... all together, they're taking me again.

I went to see them again. Miserable they are, there locked. They're becoming so thin! I did nothing to them, but in a way I felt better.

I've been working with Nikola. He writes well and fast, but I lose myself a lot in my thoughts. I go back innumerous times. But how to explain things well? How should I tell my life in a way that people understand me and what I am, what I am like, why I am like this?

I relieved myself with them. I beat them, I licked them, I forced them. Ah.... how I need this. I've repressed myself for too long.

It must be the moon that is coming. I feel desires under my skin. I've been with them once again. So docile they are, so friendly. I must initiate Nikola. They know how to do it.
He is good at work. But I need more, I need him for other things.

Today, Kirina almost succumbed. But I wasn't too severe this time. I want to stop, but I can't. I need this as I need bread for the mouth, at least while this tension does not go away. I miss Pauline... Years ago, it was. I miss Marien, Olga, Yvette... They were the best, the ones that held longer. They've all gone, they all go. These will go also, but I must spare them meanwhile. After I bring them Nikola and they teach him, they will be allowed to go.

Ah... my dear friends brought me new flesh... Nancy, they told me she's called... him, I don't know, I'll call him Tom. I'll keep them for a few days. I have everything planned. In the full moon I'll take Nikola down there. Kirina and Else are waiting for him.

I went down to the arena, but only to watch. Here, I am myself, I fulfil me, I lose my fears. But this hurts, and it hurts me too. I know I only do this because I couldn't have sex in any other way. Sometimes it aches me for them, but there is no remedy. The fault is theirs also.

It will be today. I will initiate Nikola. He will be my intimate friend, but I must do the ritual on him for that. I have to initiate him. I have instructed Elsie and Kirina. They will be gentle and tender with him, for him. I want them to do him everything and to give him everything. That he learns what there is to learn. Ah, Nikola. I hope you last for more than Josken and that it doesn't hurt you much. I like you very much, like a father I only want what is best for you. But I have to do this. I know you wouldn't understand it, but it can't be any other way. I need to use special measures so that he doesn't wake up. My old spellbook will come in handy.

I'm at peace with myself. Nikola did well. He didn't wake up and yesterday he said nothing. Probably he doesn't even remember. He must have found it odd, when he woke up. Curious presage: a wolf howled the whole night, Finn says it is a werewolf. There hadn't been any so near for years. I'll read the stars, this does not seem a good augury.

Weakness, weakness, weakness! I didn't resist once again. Kirina went away. Time to bring Nancy and Tom.

I must complete the task. Nikola, my friend, I'll take you down still today. I'll explain what you have to do.

What do I do, what do I think? Is it me who writes this, who thinks this? I've harboured Nikola to protect him, to prevent his following my steps and now I'm dragging him with me to perdition. Stop, stop Eberhardt! Oh, curse these desires! Who are you who dominate me in this way? Who clutches my heart like a claw and makes me lose reason in these nights of black enchantments? Stop! Leave me! I want to be a person, I want to be Good, I want to leave these demonic vices.

I read yesterday's lines and they defeat me. I want to, but every time I come here, to this room, the old memories come to haunt me.... and I give in once again. I couldn't resist, my flesh is weaker and weaker, but the spirit is being carried by it even faster. I'm old, I feel old and time slipping away, and each day that passes I feel more and more that I miss something... that all my life I've missed something and that in the time that I still have I need to find it, by force if need be. Nikola, I wanted you to be my friend, I wanted to be your friend protector, but I think I'm not up to the task. I can't resist my basest instincts. You will be my friend, yes, but in a rather different way...

After he read it, Nikola meditated, shaking his head. There were still many doubts, but he felt sorry for him.
"I can't kill him", he tought, "though he will go on killing people like he's always done if I don't do anything about him. But he's tormented, he's ill, not just in body but in spirit too. What must I do?"
He decided to talk to him once more. He took him food and water. Eberhardt was lying on the floor, miserable like a rejected dog. As he saw the food, he devoured it almost like an animal, without concerns for any decency at all. Nikola shook his head and asked, in as warm and assuring a tone as possible
"Eberhardt, talk to me. What is it that you crave in your life? What is it that makes you suffer so much?"
Eberhardt looked up at him and an air of deep sadness and regret came over him.
"I have wasted my life, I lost it."
"You lost what? What did you want to have?"
"People, Nikola! Don't you see? People! A woman.... I've never really had a woman in my arms, I never pressed my body against hers, never felt or gave caresses. I missed love."
"And was it that made you look for it in this way? For sex, instead, and violently?"
Eberhardt didn't know what to answer. His replies didn't come coherently. In fact, not even he was aware of what had happened to him. But as he grew older, his strengths gave way and his needs pressed heavier. He understood the choice he had made when he was young, of forgetting people and finding compensation in money, was too unbearable. Money was no substitute for people and no lenient for solitude. He needed to vent his frustrations. He began to kidnap people. Girls at first, but then also boys. But he was not able himself to touch them, to engage with them sexually, so he made them enact his own fantasies, the things he would like to have done. But as he himself had suffered, he was only happy if he could see the others suffer and so he inflicted pain on them. Years and years had passed. Each time he grew more and more insensitive and he had to craft more and more newer fantasies, with more people even. But he also lacked a twin soul, and so he began to choose young men who could be his executioners, his incarnations inside the arena while he watched. These were his "friends", as he called them, but he had to torture them first. They had to be cleansed, initiated. And after that, they could inflict that same torture on Eberhardt's victims. Nikola was just going to be the next on the line.
"Just to make things clear: how did you kidnap people?"
"With my familiar. It's a wolf, and with its pack, they drag them here."
"And what do you do with the bodies then?!"
"I throw them into the trapdoor in the arena. They leed to the sewers"
"Ah, so that's where the bodies come from, that they see in the river. And all this time, people thought it was just rats.... Instead, they were torture marks."

Nikola left Eberhardt and joined Nancy. It was dawning outside. Nikola decided to keep the shop closed that day and he asked Nancy what she was going to do now.
"Escape" she spoke in a resigned voice. It was she could think of doing. She had fled her home and village to come to the big city. But now, without family here and after all this, she didn't know what else to do.
"Even so", said Nikola, "I think you should not be seen. People will ask what happened to you, but I doubt anyone will believe. Perhaps the populace would like to burn his house and steal his money, but the powerful ones more likely need his talent to raise funds for them and will protect him. I think no one can help you here. I'll take you to the edge of the city. But it will have to be at dawn, before people come out and see us."


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