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, November 14, 2005

Log Entry 2

After leaving Mitrescu's shop, the hour for lunch drew nearer and so, tired and with empty stomachs, they entered a tavern and set to replenish their strengths. While they ate, Yuri tried to know Gregor better and, on understanding that he too was a man of the cloth, and therefore, to his view, trustworthy, he decided that perhaps Gregor would be a good companion for the task Milhouse had set him. Gregor accepted, in exchange for Yuri's help in solving any eventual problem he had. Thus, after lunch, they decided to go to William Milhouse's home, but they soon found out that the people they met in the street ignored its address as much as they did. They finally returned to the temple, reasoning that Milhouse would probably not be that a well known person for the common folk, but that surely Tersis would know him.
When they returned to the temple, they found that Evangelina had returned there too. She was feeling rather curious at what else the others had found meanwhile and, saying farewell to her cousin's wife, Thérèze, departed for the church. Seeing the rest of the group arrive, Tersis sent for Nikola, who was in his room and organized a meeting of the investigative team.
"What news from yester night's Ball?"
Nikola looked aside, Evangelina coughed and Gregor stammered.
"What bad signs are those? You discourage me."
"Well, not much, in fact, Tersis" began Gregor. "We saw no one with a flower like this one, but we found some things about it proper... "
"What things?" asked Tersis, intrigued.
"Well, it is Borcan, and very rare besides. Mitrescu has not sold one and none of the other sellers even appears to know that these flowers exist... That was it, I guess" summed Gregor.
"There's one more thing I'd like to report", intervened Yuri. "I met a gentle man at the Ball, by the name of William Milhouse, who wants the Church to undertake a task. He talked of an apparently haunted house in Keshgel, and wants me, or the Church, to try to discover if it really is so, why and to terminate the haunting if it indeed exists."
"I know of him. Hmmm, I didn't know specifically of that anxiety of his, but he's got a point in what he says. Lend him a hand if you wish, Yuri, but remember that your first task is this investigation."
"Sure, but where does he live?"
"Here, let me show you."
As Tersis drew a map for Yuri, Evangelina interrupted timidly
"If I may?"
"Yes, Evangelina?"
"Erm... There was a couple we met, they were called Kenstone, or Kernstone, I'm not quite sure. They were rather strange..."
"Yes, I saw them too", said Yuri, while Gregor nodded in agreement with Evangelina. He added
"I was with Evangelina there when they approached us. They told us the family was old in Keshgel but that it had moved out for a few years and was returning now. The oddest thing about them is that they seemed complete strangers for everyone else."
"And they're strangers for me too", said Tersis. "I can't place them from their names alone."
Evangelina described them, with occasional prompts from Gregor, but Tersis shook his head in a negative manner. "I still can't remember them."
"They said they were living outside Keshgel proper, more near the woods, but they maintain a house in the city where they've been for a week. If we could locate it, perhaps we could investigate them."
"Then I'll try to find it for you" concluded Tersis. "And after all, there were a couple of interesting points in the Ball."
Tersis rose
"I have to go now, keep me informed of what else you find"
and left.

Yuri and Gregor announced they would be going to visit Milhouse's, and the other two accepted the invitation to go with them.

They found Milhouse's address and knocked at his door. A butler came to open it, and ceremoniously introduced them to Milhouse's study, where the lord of the house chose to receive them. He explained the situation again, this time for the whole group, and said he could finance the venture to discover the truth of the haunting and if it existed, to eradicate the ghost. They were not easy to persuade, and agreed to the task only after Milhouse accepted to investigate the Cairnstone family, and whether it was old in Keshgel. They sealed the deal and Milhouse advanced them a purse containing 200 gold coins and they left to gather their first impressions about the mysterious house. But as they walked the streets in direction to the house, they saw a wooded barrel slip off a wagon and fall over a boy that was playing nearby. The boy contorted with pain, gesturing at his leg vehemently, and Yuri approached quickly. He turned everybody else aside and holding his holy symbol, and making his priesthood evident, he addressed the boy
"Calm and relax. Let me see how bad it is. What's your name?"
"Thomas", softly replied the boy.
"Well, Thomas, your leg is broken, but fear not, Ezra will help you." And with a short prayer and a move of his hands, Yuri made Thomas' leg wholesome again. Thomas couldn't believe his eyes! He got up, jumped around in disbelief, and then embraced Yuri and left in a run, laughing and singing down the street. Yuri, not wanting to attract attention, covered his head with his hood, joined the group and disappeared from the scene. In just a few moments, they arrived to the street that Milhouse had indicated: it was the street whence departed the shunned one, and indeed they could witness that effect by themselves now: the right side was an unbroken line of houses, all different and of disproportionate sizes, but on the left one there was a junction with a smaller lane. It seemed to cast a darkened light on the street, instead of the bright radiance one can see when there's an open space among buildings. There was something strange there, that was for sure.
The people, they noted, always avoided the left side of the street, walking by the middle or by the right. More so, they avoided any look towards the lane, and simply ignored it, pretending it was not there. Many people looked at the group while they simply stood there, watching the others, but they noted that as soon as they began walking with the clear purpose of entering the lane, everybody else turned to look away and simply feigned they were not there... neither them nor the mysterious dark street.
Shaking off the unease that this attitude brought them, they crossed and entered the abandoned lane. It was now an old decaying path, and the air there felt colder. Not only that, the sounds seemed slightly muffled, as if the city had remained behind, in a different world that receded more and more with each step they took. The house was unmistakeable: it stood some fifty metres ahead of them, on the left side, and it looked charred, as if blackened by some fire. It stood practically in ruins, but the door and a window on the lower left corner of the house, looking on the street, seemed to be in perfect conditions. On the other side of the street, all the houses had crumbled completely. There were some trees but they too looked old and decrepit. They stood there, looking at the house. The silence was now absolute.
They felt no fear, but rather a feeling of wrongness, of discomfort which made that none of them wished to take a decision or take a first step.
They stood there, looking at each other hoping that someone else would say something, decide something, but the silence continued to press heavily on them. The situation was becoming unbearable when Gregor and Yuri took the first steps to the house. The others followed.
They entered, all four, and what they saw puzzled them completely. The inside of the house did simply not correspond to the outside: the house was functional and whole, not the ruin they had seen, and it had as much dirt or cobwebs as if it had been abandoned only a few months ago... not years.
They were standing in an ample hall at the end of which a large staircase climbed to the left, leading to a balcony that overlooked the whole entrance. This was in fact the second floor of the house, but it covered only the left half. The hall was an ample space up to the roof. On the right wall of the hall, there was a single door, and on the left side, between the stairs and the front wall, another door was cloaked in darkness.
Nothing moved, everything inside the house seemed stopped in time. There weren't even signs of rats or the usual fauna that crawls in such places. Everything was dark and murky, but a pale grey iridescence seemed to illuminate the objects just enough for them to be perceived. They felt uneasy as they tentatively walked around the hall, it seemed they were cloaked in a kind of miasma that softened the floor, the touch, that bathed objects in an eerie cloud of vapour, making them seem smaller, farther than they really were, strange, colourless and distorted. Lines seemed bent and out of place, shadows could be perceived that swayed and stretched longer than they should. Only by the stairs there seemed to be a faint blue light that grew stronger as it climbed up. Even the house seemed to be more defined, as it were, upstairs than down below, where they felt lost within a dream.
They began to experiment a feeling of dizziness and, stronger than before, disquiet, discomfort, the desire to be somewhere else, back in the sun. An unnatural sadness fell upon them. A strong melancholy pervaded the house and depression entered their spirits. They walked slower and their arms felt heavier, as if something inside the house battled actively against their will and determination. They opened the right door: it led to the kitchen and deposit, but the scene was more blurred, more undefined than the hall. They retreated, and opened the other door. This led to a small room full of broken furniture, and worn objects strewn around the floor. There were scratches on the walls, and everything seemed to tell a tale of frustration, of anger vented on the many scattered objects on the floor - withered flowers, torn books, ragged curtains, broken toys, smashed dishes, a toppled cupboard. There was a window looking to the street and a small chair by it that was strangely preserved. The next room was much the same, with a window giving over to lateral lane to the left of the house. As it stood just in front of the door, they were in shock to see the night starry sky through it! They opened the window and peered outside, and day it was! Confounded, they returned to the hall.
There were no sounds. Even though their steps seemed to be muffled they sounded too loud for them. And then, they heard it: a sobbing, a gentle, low sound that looked like a woman crying coming from the second floor, from atop the stairs, reached their ears and echoed throughout the house. This was too much for Nikola, who before all others recovered his will and left to the street. He sat on a stone on the other side and began taking deep breaths of air as if to cleanse himself from a polluted atmosphere.
Inside, though, a feminine figure dressed with a skirt reaching her ankles and a flowing blouse had come to the top of the stairs and mute, only with gestures, called and made signals for them to climb to her. Her long black, dishevelled hair fell to just above her shoulders. Her swollen eyes, reddened from weeping, sunk in an unusually pale face. Still, she was a beautiful woman. But her sorrow was evident. She was weeping, her eyes turned into fountains that had almost dressed her in tears. Hers were the hapless sighs they had been hearing.
Gregor and Yuri felt enticed by her, and an irresistible desire to climb the stairs filled them. The woman seemed to slide by, her legs hidden by the banister. For moments, it seemed she herself would come down, but she stopped just at the top of the stairs. They went all three to its base and Evangelina let go a cry of surprise and fear: she was barefooted, but the reason she noted this was because the figure was floating in midair. But Yuri and Gregor seemed oblivious to this detail and Evangelina looked dumbfounded as they walked as if pulled by strings to the banister, then the first step of the stairs and then up, slowly, surely compelled by some will other than their own.
Suddenly, Yuri snapped out of that trance, and understanding they were being manipulated, grabbed Gregor and tried to hold him. Gregor was still going up, unaware of Yuri's touch. Yuri then reacted with determination, held him firmly, and crying to him to stay in control of himself, pushed him back down the stairs. Evangelina was alarmed and fled the house, as the other two came running down the stairs, then to the door and then to the street in sudden fear.


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