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...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Log Entry 5

Evangelina woke up early. Her mind was too full of subjects dancing back and forth and she couldn't get to sleep again. She was aching to know if they would find any new information concerning the ghost. She gave a quick thought over the two girls and then dismissed it confidently, as she thought that by now they should be healed. She dressed quickly and headed back to the temple. When she arrived, she learnt the rest of the group still wasn't there, which upset her curiosity. She wandered aimlessly for a while and by then decided to visit the old man at the City Records.
Edgard Lescaut, the old man she had seen on the eve, was still there, with the same comforting but distracted look. The Records looked pretty much as if they were his own home, for he was wearing slippers and brewing tea in a corner of the room he seemed to have adapted to a small kitchen. A nice looking cake was started on a small table, and his chewing mouth betrayed his indulgence. He swallowed quickly and greeted her:
"Good morning, Miss, are you served?"
"No, thank you. I just dropped by to know if you had time to do that favour to me".
His face was alarmed
"Favour? Hmmm... did I promise something?"
Evangelina nodded affirmatively. The man moved the teapot to the table and thinking for a while, with a funny look, scratched his front and said at last
"Oh I see! You were here yesterday looking for some records... I'm sorry, but I forgot about it completely. What was it wanted me to check? Oh, right... burial records."
Evangelina agreed, disappointed.
"Look", the man continued, "come back this afternoon. I'm sure I won't forget. I'll even write this note here."


There was nothing else to do. Evangelina returned to the temple. Yuri and Gregor had arrived from their nightly errand, but they looked extremely tired. Tersis gathered the whole group, but the meeting was brief. No one had anything new to report, except Nikola, who said he had found something about Dalia. Tersis raised an eyebrow, and looked worried and suspiciously at Nikola, but didn't say anything.
After the meeting, Yuri and Gregor went to sleep, agreeing to get back for lunch. Nikola and Evangelina departed the temple and tried to hear the voice of the people regarding Professor Baku. Tersis, instead, waited for everyone to leave and went to confirm his suspicion.
He had the nagging doubt that somehow Nikola had been in his private secret room, and that didn't make him tranquil, far from it. He took just a minute to find that his suspicions were confirmed: someone had been there. He couldn't tell for sure it had been Nikola, but the coincidence was telling.
"I can't believe that brat betrayed me after I tended him for so long. How ungrateful he is!"

Evangelina and Nikola returned two hours later. They had received mixed feelings about the medium, since many people preferred not to talk on the subject of spirits and ghosts. Still, the overall impression of Prof. Baku was good but also, as Nikola noted, they were dealing with mostly ignorant people and not true scholars who might be able to tell the difference between a liar and an honest practitioner.
When they arrived to the temple, Tersis was performing the mass celebration, and they decided to join the audience. They were not particularly religious, but they were intrigued by the attitude of the people. It looked like they were not as focused on the rite as they should be, for there was a lot of murmuring in the back ranks. They listened carefully, and perceived the people were concerned that Kirien had been missing for three days already. Ordinarily, when he was ill, Tersis would inform the believers of the fact, but this time he had kept silent. In the middle of the rumours, they picked another one that roused their interest, for some people made references to a married woman who had been seeing Kirien regularly, and that perhaps Kirien had eloped with her. After the celebration, Drulovic asked to speak with his cousin in particular. Evangelina had brought Mikhail and Feofar together with her to Keshgel, but now Drulovic thought they would be better at The Walking Knight. At any rate, this was not a good time to have young children living in his house, and they decided to take them home on the following day.

At lunch, the group reunited again, this time without Tersis, and planned their afternoons. Evangelina said she had a lead to follow and which she wanted to investigate. None of the men offered to accompany her, instead choosing to go see Professor Baku, so she returned alone to the City Records. There she met Edgard again who, this time, with a smile of recognition, told her:
"I did not forget you, Miss Evangelina. Unfortunately, all my inquiries were fruitless. There are no burial records I can track, but I remember an old saleswoman that still peddles the streets and roamed a lot around those parts. Perhaps she knows something. I'm sorry I can't help you more, but if you wish, I can offer you a cup of tea and bit of this cake I've baked this morning."
Evangelina smiled but refused. She was anxious to see if the woman could tell her something new, and went quickly in search of her.
She found her near the street of the haunted house, as Edgard had said. She was an elderly woman, almost in her nineties, but still selling fruit as in all her life. Evangelina introduced herself and asked if she could talk to her for a while. The old woman was only too willing to while her time away talking with someone young and gladly answered Evangelina's questions.
"Oh, that poor girl, I remember her well."
"Do you know her name?"
"Her name? Dalia, my sweet. It's the name of a flower. A very beautiful one. She was beautiful too when she was young... and happy. But that must have been only in her childhood, I'm afraid."
"Why in her childhood?"
"Because then she was free, and then she had friends and I saw her play with them, running around here. But one day her father departed with a caravan and never came back. Her mother fell ill and after that, I only saw her now and then, when she came to buy me something for them. I think I went to help her two or three times, but no more. If you saw her face... and the tears she wept! She made me weep too for her, for her suffering... I was so sad for her."
"And then what? What happened?"
"What happened? Well, her mother died, it seems... No one knows for sure, but I haven't seen her in years now... They say there was a witch there, but I don't believe that. They say she's a ghost and passes her time at the window, but I never go there either, so I can't tell you... They say lots of things, actually, but no one really knows... But one thing is certain: that street is always cold. That's a sure sign it is haunted and no one of good sense steps there anymore."
"Thank you, grandma, you seem to have a good memory..."
"I do, my child, memories bring happiness too. Here, take two oranges. They're sweet and fresh, you won't regret them."
Evangelina accepted and went away.


While Evangelina was away, Nikola, Gregor and Yuri went to consult Professor Baku. He was extremely happy to see them and welcomed the group into the room that served as his study. He assumed a distant and lofty air as they spoke with some unease. Baku heard them to the end, once more telling what they knew of the ghost, and then Baku rose and said it was time to see the house. Nikola led the group once more to the haunted building. Baku studied the house from the outside, approached the door merely to sense its energies, but didn't go in. Briefly, he said he knew everything he needed and that now he was going to study the facts he had acquired. But they should go see him the following day, for then he'd have the plan of necessary steps to finish the existence of the ghost.

The three turned away, discussing Baku:
"What did you think of him?", asked Gregor. He had a somewhat mixed feeling, but he wanted to know what the others thought. Nikola was blunt
"I don't believe him. I think he's only a charlatan."
Yuri, on the other hand, was more decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. When they reached the church, Evangelina was not there, probably still on her errands, they thought.
"I guess we should go check on the girls, Gregor" suggested Yuri. The other accepted immediately.
They went first to Enira's house, and there, Yuri asked her mother to inspect the body of the daughter specifically in the groin, to look for some puncture marks. Her reaction was much more violent that he'd expected. Enira's mother was scandalized by the suggestion and cast them both out of the house. Yuri assured her he meant no harm, but in the woman's poor mind, he was a pervert that mocked her and her daughter.
Yuri and Gregor, cast to the street, reacted with pragmatism.
"Well, we've done our job here, let's see Miayla."
Miayla was looking the same as before. She had not worsened, but neither had she improved. Her parents were still concerned, but Yuri and Gregor were at a loss to explain the disease, and worse even, to provide effective care against it. They suggested warming the girl up and feeding her steadily to combat the feebleness and the loss of energy, but these were merely good sense measures that even her mother could guess. They left, feeling powerless.

Returning to the temple, they found Evangelina and Nikola waiting there for them.
"Any news?", asked the latter.
"None, they're in the same condition."
"Then that's good!", said Evangelina.
"Or bad. They haven't improved either, after all. This waiting anguishes me", mused Yuri, "and I really feel impotent to offer any good help. I'll go back in the morning and see what progresses the night will bring."
"Well, I'm going to the Red Boar. I've got the room paid, after all", said Gregor.
"Wait! I feel like going out too, tonight, but I suggest you another one. Let me take you to a place where they serve really good grogs", said Nikola.
And so they went both to an inn with the double-meaning name of "The Spirit Drink". There, they made friends with the innkeeper and Gregor even proposed to cook that night's meal for him and his family. Amused by the prospect, the man accepted, and Gregor did so well that he offered him stay for a week. Nikola and Gregor slept that night over there.
Yuri, on the other hand, escorted Evangelina home and then returned to the church. He saw a number of deep black crows perched in the building in front of it watching intently the comes and goes of the street, but he didn't pay them much notion. He went to sleep and rested peacefully, for that was a calm night, without howls or strange noises.

18th September 751, 3rd Night Before the Full Moon

In the morning of the 18th September, Evangelina, Drulovic and Thérèze departed to The Walking Knight, taking the two children with them. They would take almost a day to reach the inn, but the weather was good and they arrived safely and without problems.

In another side of town, Yuri and Gregor returned to check on Miayla and Enira, and what Yuri feared had happened: Miayla had grown weaker and paler, and her delirium proved stronger. When they knocked at Enira's, her mother wanted to beat them with a broom, but Yuri managed to calm her. She didn't let them go in, though, merely ascertaining that her child was "still the same."
Nikola profited to question Tersis on Professor Baku, but this incensed the priest. Ruddy with anger at the mere mention of a medium, he said
"The spiritual is the realm of the church, and not of amateurs who pretended to be gifted dealers with the Grey World. And that Professor Baku is no better than all the others, just a fake master of shadows and spirits. Do not let me catch you speaking of mediums again, they're charlatans, one and all."
He was turning away after his outburst when he remembered suddenly:
"Nikola, someone's been reading my private records."
Nikola's expression became icy.
"And what's that to me?"
"I think it was you. Without my consent or authorization. That's a severe breach of confidence."
"You have no proof of what you say."
"Perhaps I do, Nikola, and you're wrong in that. But this is inadmissible. One more of that, and I throw you out. I expected a little more gratitude from you, after all I have done for your health and, indeed, your life."
He turned his back on Nikola and went away.

That afternoon, they went to see Baku again, and learned what the medium had found. With his arrogant look, in an ornate and infatuated speech, he declared he had identified the ghost as that of Dalia, daughter of Minesta, and that to banish her, a complicated ritual was necessary:
"This is no ordinary ghost, dear sirs. Dalia is a malevolent creature, begotten from the basest evils of this world. She herself", he cried, "is an abomination and an affront to the order of our world. We by force must cleanse that house, that sinkhole of evil, and banish the apparition to the nether worlds." He looked piercingly into their eyes, as if hypnotizing them
"Indeed, she is a strong spirit, as I have ascertained from what we have seen yesterday and" (another inflection in his voice) "today! For I went there again, and examined the house completely on the inside".
"Let's get to the proceedings, now. As I said, she is very strong, so I'll need to tap into your own mystical energies. For that, you'll have to be purified by a bath with special herbs and essences that I have. That will cleanse you. Then, you'll dress a white tunic each and all together deliver yourselves to a Charging of the Water. I'll explain: you'll all go into another room where a basin of water will be placed in the middle of you. I will burn special essences and their fumes will release your own spiritual fluids which the water will absorb. It is imperative that there are as few barriers between the water and your body as possible, hence the tunics. This Charging takes only an hour. You should be all present at the Charging. If anyone fails, the charge of the water will be weaker and it will be more difficult for us to banish the ghost.
Then, after the water is charged, I'll have to make the exorcism. We'll go to the terrain and sprinkle this mercury salt all around the house, creating an unbreakable barrier the spirit will not cross later. I'll pray, and you'll assist me, for three nights in a row, from sunset to sunrise, in front of the house. She will want to escape, doubt me not, but the salt will prevent her. And each hour that passes will weaken her. On the third day, I'll move inside and confront her, sprinkling her sinful apparition with the Charged Water. You'll see that after a few days she will be gone."
They nodded, unsure of what to say. It seemed an awfully lengthy and complex process, but all they had as proof it would work was Baku's word. Nikola asked
"How much will that cost us?"
With the agility of a true merchant, Baku said
"Exorcism, 500; nights praying, 10 each; material, other 10. That gives 540 gold pieces. And you owe me 30 for this consultation, already."
A whistle of surprise was all that came out of their lips.
"We'll think about the exorcism and then tell you", said Yuri. "Here's your 30, but we have to go now."

Yuri practically dragged them outside and they returned to the church. Once there, Gregor asked
"Why did you want to leave so quickly, Yuri?"
"The man is a charlatan, I can guarantee you that!"
"You can? Why?" asked Gregor
"Well, guarantee, guarantee, I can't, but I feel it.... I've been reading the Richten's book. He never speaks of such a difficult process. Plus, we know from what Evangelina told us that her father went away and never came back, right?"
"Right, so?"
"So, Nikola, it happens that I have seen her father! Or at least, I think I have..."
The others looked amazed, their pressing him to continue.
"I haven't told you this, but I have seen a ghostly knight... twice, and on the second one, it saved my life and Gregor's... It was when the wolves attacked us, and a knight riding in full light came and killed the wolf. It disappeared just after, but now I believe that is Dalia's father that is still trying to find his house. If we manage to lead him there, I'm sure the haunting will end."
"Well, that would spare us a good deal of money", consider Gregor, "but why do you say he's a charlatan?"
"Because of the complex ritual made just to take money from us; because he didn't even enter the house, and I do doubt he has gone there this morning; because we've never seen him actually DO anything, only talk, talk, talk. Because I know things about her that he ignores. For instance, according to Van Richten, she must be anchored to the top floor. She never descended the stairs and in the first day she did want to. She just couldn't. As such, the circle around the house would be completely unnecessary. I say that Baku is just a mount of gibberish talk, merely trying to swindle us."
"So, let me see if I have this clear" interrupted Nikola, "you want us to go chase a ghost and lead him, is that it?"
"Yes, and I say we do it tonight."
"I think I'm going to regret his, but let's go."


They had a quick dinner, packed a few things that might be useful, and ventured the streets at night. For two hours they walked looking for the bright white figure, but there was no sign of the Knight. Exhausted and crestfallen, they returned to their houses to sleep.


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