Curse of Strahd

Ogg Journal, Witches and Wagers:
Tel-Tale Heart

“Brandy, you’ve a fine girl,
What a good wife you would be
But my life, my love and my lady is the sea.”

Arkansas Sloth, Ark and a Loft, Arcanaloth! Fresh from our vict’ry o’er the cheap-shottin’ arcanaloth and it’s statue bird’s nest, we nursed our wounds and counted our blessin’s. I bandaged Jillian’s wounds, and she bared her teeth in a strange way. I wasn’t sure if she was tryin’ to smile or gettin’ ready to bite me. There were two images I can’t get out of my head. The first is Tel divin’ head first into the statue and to the danger. The second is of Lei and Lissie almost dyin’ from a fire trap. We can be brave, but we can also be daft. This is why I’m so protective of Lei. She has a steadfast bow, but a weak stern.

Our rest was cut short. We heard voices in the distance, echoin’ down the hall. 3 voices. 3 female voices. 3 old female voices… fightin’ over somethin’. Lissie went to get a listen. She noticed the old women with their brooms, tryin’ to get into a door. One of the magic doors we haven’t been able to open, cuz magic. Jillian made one of her clones and went and chin-wagged with the old hags. Lei actually caught on and kept in her own loud chat to sell the distraction. Tel jumped into the hallway, ready to seduce them with his dwarvish wiles, usin’ his pelvic sorcery. I thought they looked like witches, so I told the group to attack quickly, not lettin’ the old hags speak or get to their brooms. Lissie made me proud with a new water blast she formed from her hands. I wonder if Lei’s wild magic can spread.

After we bested the witches, the crew checked out the magic door. I was more concerned about the witches, dead they may be. I noticed some weird witch tattoos on them. I thought they might open somethin’, or fetch some coin from any monster hunters. I carved out the tattoos and prepped the skin for dryin’ and storin’ in my bag.

Tel had a necklace that seemed to beat to a rhythm. He was lead by it to a metallic creature! Jillian calls it a Shield Guardian. It seems to respond to Tel. It even has a name. Jakarion. Well I suppose it will follow and guard Tel as long as he wears the necklace. The stone guard was taller than even me! It pointed out magic words we needed to speak to access these magic doors. Though, inside these doors were only the dealin’s of our death.

Each sealed room was filled with coffins, each with a deal to alter fate. Jillian went up and spoke to each one, but declined them, one by one. She said that deals are never free, but she still sought out the next offer. I took that time to teach Lissie to play pirate dice. She won every time. She just knew when I was bluffin’ and when she had bested me! It was truly a marvel to witness. I will have to practice my Thjree-Dragon Ante face if I want to best her.

We explored more of the lower rooms, and one room was filled with treasure! But avast! It beheld a Dark Father of evil! We fought with the force of a cannonball. We bested this evil, and discovered a magical talkin’ sword. This must be the sword of legend we sought! Those gypsy cards were right!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! —tear up the planks! here, here! —It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

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lissie's limerick

my head was pounding; i went to take a rest.
i woke, joined the group, but found i was sixth best.
five heroes there be -
that name’s not for me.
i did tame a wolf, but kord’s still unimpressed.

(his name is augustine).

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Ogg Journal, Best Pies in Barovia:
The Windmill Wickedry

“At last, my arm is complete again.”

Between necrotic bruises, mummy rot, and curses, I should learn to be less reckless. Booze and Bravery could be the death o’ me. Thank Tymora for good fortune! This new golden scale mail is wonderful! I feel like a true water warrior of Eadro. Tel found a cool magical trident for me as well, mmmcomplete with the strength of Shiva herself. Well… I know I’m blabbin’ about my new treasure, but… pirate. I’ll have to check what booty Lei scored as well. Perhaps we will have a hero’s welcome when we return to Amn, for we now have the look to match.

Speakin’ of booty, I haven’t been able to keep Tel from my thoughts. His image splashes into my mind like a cool, ocean mist. I’m not sure what will become of this, but I mustn’t forget my voyage.

I joined the others as Jillian and Lissie were speakin’ of a “Henry.” I’m startin’ to think Henry is another boy they saved from the pie woman. Or they are plannin’ some sort of heist. They sure do love to plan heists, whatever those are. They are much too clever for me. Today we plan a trip to this windmill that Jeffrey speaks of. I keep his picture with me to remember my next voyage, just as I keep my treasure map close to remind me of my ultimate voyage. Flowerpot told the group she feels she knows lightnin’ bolt! A true force of nature! Tel went to go buy a horse and a wagon for his new treasure. Can’t very well keep it under his bed! That’s where monsters are!

As I joined the others after breakfast, Lissie was starin’ at the horse. She’s done this enough that I hope she was tryin’ to speak to it. Helm protect us if she turns out to be a crazy killer. She has been speaking in weird tongues and killin’ fish. I went back to give Jeffrey some drawin’ papers before we set horse sail. Jillian and Lissie kept talkin’ about how bad parents they are, i guess cuz they didn’t give that Henry kid some drawin’ papers. I kept my mouth shut, but it must be hard to try to raise a kid that’s taller than you. I know my pops had a tough time when I could out wrestle him at age 14. To be fair, he does have a peg leg. Gruumsh damned pirates.

I had a chat with Teldorthan about the new trident. When he handed it to me, he said the common word “barnacles.” The trident has an orcish script that translates “Barnacles are best dealt with through rough waters.” How… How could he know? Does his rune magic give him special insight? If I had such a gift, I would finish my final voyage as if Umberlee, the Bitch Queen herself, pushed my ship. In the end, Teldorthan didn’t even know what a barnacle was, which is a shame, because Goose Barnacles are delicious!

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Anyway, we arrived to the windmill and were greeted by a woman making pies. They were the best pies I have ever smelled! I had to be strong. Lissie and Jillian said that Jeffrey was sold for a pie. I assume Henry was as well. I must not eat any of these pies, even if my stomach churns harder than a whirlpool. I tried to complain about the cost. Eventually, I had to turn away to resist, actin’ like I had somethin’ in my bad. I whispered to Jillian not to eat the pies, but she seemed frozen. She loves food, so this must have been the worst for her. But after I saw a second Jillian jump out a window screamin’ “Save me, Lei!”, I realized I was speakin’ to a blasted mirage. Lei tried to catapult a pie to the woman’s face, but the woman turned into an old hag and evaded it.

The hags let loose a green monster dog on us, which let loose a monster of a fart. It lingered for quite a while. The hags were no match for our crew. We bested them and looked for captive children upstairs. We found a little girl named Sarah, but we had also found what we assumed to be children’s bones.

We thought we were done here, but Easy D Strahd showed up. I blacked out for a bit and woke up at the bottom of the stairs, with the small angry one slappin’ my face over and over. Jillian said Strahd was now downstairs. She and I went out the window she busted out earlier. Strahd was already flyin’ away though. This marks twice that he flew away without an actual fight. I wonder if he’s like those dolphins that follow a ship, just for curiosity sake.

Jillian claimed to cleanse a ritual stone by the windmill. I hope this means Jeffrey, Henry, and Sarah are safe now.

“Quick, sir! Run and tell!
Warn ‘em all of the witch’s spell!
There it is, there it is, the unholy smell!
Tell it to the Beadle and the police as well!
Tell ’em! Tell ’em! Help! Fiend!
City on fire!

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Heads Will Roll!
The Mummy's Lair

Yeah, we turned those mummies into mummy-dust!
So, after coming down a bit from the fight-high, I noticed Teldorthan messing around with some levers on an alter-looking thing. Then Lissie went over and messed with them – did she say something about trees? – and it seems like it worked because there was a rumbly noise from the direction we came in. Naturally we ran toward the noise, and Teldorthan was still running super-fast from my spell (I kinda like that one). He was so fast that by the time we got back to the main room, he’d run and grabbed a chest with a coin in it and met us back there! Then he started muttering about cursed floors and I worried about the coin, but then he seemed fine and un-cursed, so I guess the treasure wasn’t cursed this time.
We went to the cursed-floor room – which apparently means a sinking-sand floor! How cool! – and Jillian did this epic vault off the floating chest to grab the torch on the wall, push off the wall, and jump back. Well, she didn’t quite make it out of the room, but Teldorthan pulled her out before anything bad happened, so the awesome jump was totally worth it.
Then we found the loot! There was this whole room full of gold and jewels and stuff. I found this nifty shell-shaped ring with a pearl inside. I think Mama will really like it when we finally get home so I can send it to her.
Coming off the treasure room, there was a hallway with giant swinging blades. I could tell Ogg was as excited about it as me, because he dashed off through the hallway, darting and dodging the blades of doom, just like one of those swashbuckling heroes from the tavern stories. I started melting the blades down with some acid, but I only got one before Ogg yelled that the fight was starting without us! Then Teldorthan was charging down the hall through the blades, and Ogg was making swirly patterns in the air, and there were two Jillians, and I threw some fire, and there was a sand storm, and things were really getting fun. Ogg tied the biggest mummy up with his shiny new rope, and tossed a glass ball in my direction – the signal for the Cannonball Crush! The ball flew across the room, slammed into the big mummy’s head, and knocked it clean off as the ball shattered! His head rolled halfway across the room before it stopped! The other four weren’t so bad to deal with either. Ogg threw their leader at them, Lissie got in a really impressive thwack or two with a mace, Jillian double-teamed them, and Teldorthan stabbed them with a weird fancy trident he found.
Then, all of a sudden, I was in a big empty desert with a square hole pressed into the ground. It looked about the right size for the pyramid Jillian threw up, but before I could think more about it, I was back in the fight and Jillian was throwing shadows and Ogg got some good hits but looked kinda shaky, and Lissie seemed to stop a hit in mid-air, and so I burned the ones who were left, and then Lissie finished them off with a ker-thunk!
TREASURE!
I found a great gong to put on the top of the pyramid. If the sun ever comes out around here, it’ll shine off that gong brilliantly, and attract all kinds of attention. Teldorthan also found a sparkly shield, and gave the trident to Ogg, which was really nice of him, especially with it being a sailor-y symbol and all.
Jillian brought the big mummy’s head out with us to show off to the guards, and she tried to sell it to them, but they’d only pay 100 gold, and they also wanted any treasure left in the pyramid (since it’s in their city and all I guess).
We had to go get Ogg’s arm healed by a guy named Nilus, ‘cause it seemed really bad and Erwin said Nilus was good at that kind of thing. And he must be, because it worked!
The others did some business-y stuff around town, but eventually they came back for the important part, where we celebrated our victory over the pyramid and that we’re still alive! A band called Semil & The Rapscallions played some epic music for us, and the night was filled with drinking, dancing, and stories.
Next…The Windmill!

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Descent

“He just asked me to knock on the door.” Shadow bless Lissie – she doesn’t even know when she is being used as bait. I got the message and ran to her and tried to explain the situation, but she didn’t understand until the Rune/Green show was coming back and wanted her to briefly distract the mummy again. They brought treasure back, but I was seeing red. How can I make it more clear to Teldorthan that I will not hesitate to kill him if he gets Lissie into real trouble?

Then things got worse. He was telling the group the story of searching the pyramid – still can’t believe that came out of me; you got any ideas? Like how this “giant” (Idiot) who had bandages was really tall and undead. I knew immediately what you would require. Can’t let undead run through town killing everything. Then Teldorthan said the craziest shit I’d ever heard from him. He didn’t want to fight. I wasn’t seeing straight, and I let loose on him. Think I even called him a coward, Shadow forgive me; I know fear is natural for us all. Then he started giving as good as he got about how I didn’t seem to care about normal people dying. Fact is, he is right and we all know it. I don’t give a shit about most people; we all run out of luck someday. This was different though, and if I had kept my cool I might have been able to explain how You care more about change on a political and financial scale. It’s very different than walking away from an undead creature that could murder and turn entire cities, which, based on how scared he was, was a very real possibility.

The anger wasn’t all bad though. When I was trying to cool down at the bar after the argument (and the rest of the group was digging through treasure) I recalled that Teldorthan said something he shouldn’t. I bet he is hoping that no one remembered, and it feels like a big juicy secret. Apparently, he is a member of the Talhund, and has a book no one but he can read. He is afraid to die because the knowledge would be lost. I took him for a Moradin follower who would be fine with secrets being lost, but I’m no dwarf, so maybe I just don’t get it. Regardless, I have a contract with the bearded one right now which makes things… complicated… but if Mask wills it I can get creative.

The next morning, Lissie and I found out that our dear ward Henry found the pleasure of the cup without regard for the pain to come the next morning, and damn if we didn’t drive that hangover home. Thankfully, he was the only one that was hung over so we could all discuss the plan clear-headed over breakfast. Henry sobered up quickly after I shoved his head in a wine-soaked bucket and he puked more than a child should have a right to. Cooler heads prevailed and, after a discussion, Ogg convinced Teldorthan that it was in everyone’s best interest to explore the pyramid more thoroughly, at least so we could kill the things residing within. Seems like in the future, I should just convince Ogg of something, and he will take care of Lei and Teldorthan. That or convince Lei and let her take care of Ogg et cetera. I also was pleasantly surprised to find they had some magical loot and were willing to give me some of it. Specifically, they found some weird stones that flit and fly over a person’s head that makes you better at different things based on the type of stone. Hell if I know how it works, but I’m not going to argue, especially because the one I got made me feel like I could cut someone three times with my dagger and somersault away before they knew they’d been injured.

We got to the pyramid, and I collected my ‘hero fee’ from the guard for creating the pyramid and destroying all the vampires (all technically true) in the house below. I also convinced them to stay out of the pyramid while we went in and checked things out. We started into the dusty crypt, and didn’t find the big mummy. However, we did find a small group of normal bandage-wrapped beef jerky mummies. Now that I’ve updated You, it’s time for you to hold up your end of the bargain, Mask. Let’s turn these mummies to dust by showing them the fear they have forgotten.

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Into Darkness
Teldorthan and Ogg face a Mummy

Incredible! Fairy Tales do come true!

I heard what I learned was a “Children’s Tale” in Baldur’s Gate. It told of a boy who planted a bean, and it grew a massive “beanstalk” that he climbed. He bed a Giant, slew its mate, and stole a golden goose, a magic harp, and a bag of treasure. His folly was in returning to do this three times.

Jillian ate a bean, and felt strange. Though she protested, I knew that a beanstalk would sprout. I tried to see if something was growing in her mouth, and felt her stomach. She got upset, and swatted me away, denying that such a thing could happen. She started to feel strange, and indeed, a massive structure of stone, shaped like a pyramid appeared – in her mouth – and she spat it out. It grew massively, just as the story tells.

Excited, I was very eager to enter and find my own Giant to bed (and magic items, too).

The others did not want to go in. They began bickering; they are quite good at it. At times, I wish I could understand the things Lissie and Jillian say to one another. They decide they don’t want to go in. Crestfallen, I consider the options. We have spent days in this place, even though I don’t like it. I’ve been tricked into participating in the foolish human celebrations, even though that toy-maker made it clear that I am not welcome in this town.

I dug my heels in. Jillian got her way even coming to this home. I’ve worked with them to loot and spoil a dozen times over. We’ve entered every home of treasure we’ve found, but we were not going to go up the beanstalk?

I told them that I still wanted to go. Ogg, my heart of stone, spoke up, and agreed to go with me. He grabbed my hand, and the stone grew warm. He spoke a bit of magic, and we vanished from view. I could feel the pulse in his hand. We moved forward, and descended into darkness.

Inside, we only found a single Giant. Dodging, we jumped left. I pulled Ogg with me, careful not to lose his grip. I worried that my hands would sweat, and he would let go. The steps of the monster far outstripped my own, and it caught up with us fairly quickly.

We pulled against the wall, desperately hoping it could not see us. Though it did not seem to see us, magic prickled across my skin, and I felt pressure in every tissue. I could feel the magic of my cloak push against it. Large amounts of power wafted off of it. We stopped moving. I held my breath.

It walked fully into the room, searching from side to side. I felt the magic seep into my bones, trying to grab me. Ogg’s grip stopped, paralyzed in my hand. I pulled, determined to squeeze behind the giant and scout the rest of the structure.

As I pulled, Ogg resisted. I tested, and found his grip limp. He’s frozen. Unmoving. He’s afraid of being cursed.

A new feeling pushed through my body. Not magic, but a strange sensation, much stronger than before. Fear. I wasn’t simply afraid. I was afraid of Ogg getting hurt. I was afraid of losing Ogg. I said a silent prayer.

Forgive me Ogg.

I turned, stepping in front of Ogg, placing myself between Ogg and the Giant. I could smell Ogg as I pressed my body against him. He was still warm, but he didn’t resist as I forced him to move. I drew a rune on his skin and on the wall as I pressed my chest against him, and we both sunk into the wall. Suspended, I couldn’t feel the warmth of his body, but I knew that we were here, together.

Guilt immediately set in. I did not ask permission before casting a spell on Ogg. I’m no better than that monster.

We stayed suspended until I felt the pulsing of the Giant’s magic fade as it left the room. I stayed, knowing that if I rested, I could rest my body and regain use of the orb’s magics. But I couldn’t communicate with Ogg; I couldn’t make a plan.

One Hour Later

Teldorthan? Is are you okay? Lissie’s voice appeared in my mind.

_Bless her and her witchcraft. _

Is Ogg okay? I asked.

Yeah, he doesn’t know what’s happening. You’re in a wall?

Yes, I used my power to pull us to safety in the stone. I relaxed, knowing that Ogg was fine. I have a plan! Can you make a distracting noise, long enough for use to finish exploring?

She assented, and relayed the plan to Ogg. I regained my arms, and began pulling myself from the stone as I pulled and reformed Ogg behind me. I stepped out, and helped him down. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.

“It’s fine,” he replied; relief washed through me.

I took his hand and pulled him forward, moving silently. I saw the monster before me, wrapped head to toe in strange strips of cloth. His guttural voice echoed through the chambers of the building.

I remembered the poem bits. Fee Fie Foe Fum, I smell the blood of a baker’s son. Be he living, be he dead, I’ll grind his bones and make my bread. Fresh fear gripped me.

We snuck behind him, and headed for the area behind the monster. We found a large bier, and I investigated. There was a strange circlet there, embedded with a single jewel on its front. I put it on my head, and suddenly the voice of the beast was there also.

“Show yourself, stop being a coward! I will destroy you and whoever is here with you.” The monster’s voice suddenly was understandable in my head. I could hear the guttural utterances and their meaning simultaneously.

Remembering the harp that could speak, I accepted the first of three treasures and we moved on. I saw a long hall, and ignored it in favor of the shorter one before us.

Careful not to run into any potential Giantess, we entered a room to our right, where we found wonderful things. Piles of treasure, loot, weapons, and art lay in small mountains around the room. Ogg grabbed a bright blue rope that was obviously magical. His own Goose with golden eggs obtained, a smile split his face, vibrant as the sun.

“Keep the ability to go invisible, yeah?” Ogg nodded to me happily in response.

He piled a bag full of loot, and I grabbed a large chest. Now all three pieces of the beanstalk story had come true. He touched me, and I felt flushed. He had cast a spell that made me stronger.

How are you doing? Lissie’s voice asked as the banging stopped.

Keep going please. Stop in a moment – I’ll tell you when okay? She assented, and the banging started again.

We traveled close, and Ogg ran right as I melded into the stone behind the monster.

It’s okay to stop now, I told Lissie, and I heard the banging stop, the sounds of the retreating Giant, and then silence.

Lissie told me that Ogg was about to leave, invisible. As he passed, I squeezed out, and followed him out into the sun, so very grateful that we did not have to face the same problems that Jack did.

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what's that doing here?

Oh man I have a headache. I’ve never had one this bad! Maybe I should be more careful with how many things I think hard about.

After we killed the vampire Burgermeister, Ogg held my head so it wouldn’t hurt so much. It really helped. Jillian eventually came back, sporting a new robe, which looked like the night sky itself! Lei discovered a trap door in the ceiling, which she promptly opened. We climbed into the ceiling and found a huge room full of dust and junk. At the end of the room, there was a door with a weird skull on it. Jillian opened the door, then sprang back, causing Lei to take a huge blast of lightning, which knocked her out! I panicked a little and hid behind a huge box.

Looks like I still need to work on my courage. SIGH.

A young man’s voice rang out from the center of the room – I couldn’t see what he was doing, but shortly, bits of white light streaked towards Teldorthan, who growled and dismissed them. I knew we were in trouble when Jillian yelled, “Oh shit,” and knelt to heal Lei. Jillian then asked Teldorthan if he could take care of the guy. Teldorthan began to growl and foam at the mouth, and he leaped forward, hacking at the man with lightning. I shot a bolt at him from behind my box, and Ogg followed suit. Lei managed to stand up and create a fire under the man, who caught on fire and died. Teldorthan dove on the guy’s book to try to save it from the flames, but awkwardly flopped on it, bruising his face and his dignity at the same time.

We investigated this strange place – Teldorthan found three weird painted dolls in the corner, and I found papers on a desk, one of which turned out to be instructions to create the lightning blast that dropped Lei.

I’m not sure how that works, but I want to find out!

Lei found a weird blue circle on the floor that she smudged with her foot – she later explained that it could take people places, but I didn’t understand what she was talking about. By this point, we were all tired, and Jillian tried to make a plan where we could rest a bit, but none of her suggestions worked. This stressed her out, so she pulled out some food and ate it. She immediately felt terrible – she turned a weird beige color and got all dry-throated. Sand started pouring out of her mouth, and to my great horror, the sand got thicker and drier until stones began coming out of her mouth! They got larger and larger until a giant pyramid appeared in the middle of the house! The floor lurched and buckled under our feet. I slid towards the pyramid and was caught on its side. Thankfully, I only rose several feet above where I was standing before it stopped growing. As we tried to understand what just happened, we saw curious townspeople gathering; one of them called for the guards to come.

I wonder what happened to the remaining vampires?

Teldorthan scrambled to the top of the pyramid, saying something about a giant. We followed him, and we saw a large stone door at the top of the pyramid. We argued about what to do, but froze when Teldorthan opened the door. I felt evil coming from the pyramid, and I tried to close the door, but he is stronger than I am.

He could probably win Kord’s favor.

Teldorthan seemed to think this pyramid is some sort of beanstalk. I don’t know what stories he’s heard, but this one was a little nuts if you ask me; something to do with beanstalks and giants, and treasure. I don’t know. I tried to explain pyramids to him, but I don’t think he got it. He and Ogg devised a plan to investigate the pyramid together, and Lei and Jillian went back to the Boar’s Belch to drink some of the special ale before the festival day ended (after convincing the guards that showed up that the pyramid did them and their town a favor). Since I wasn’t sure what to do (and I don’t really like ale all that much), I just sat on the top of the pyramid, torn between Jillian and Lei and Ogg and Teldorthan. Jillian came back and draped that cloak she found earlier over me to keep me warm. It shimmered in the setting sun. At least from my seat, I could still talk to everyone, which made me feel better.

To entertain myself while everyone was gone, I examined the cloak Jillian gave me. It’s beautiful. It’s a deep midnight blue color that fades in and out of a purple-pink. It’s got a thousand tiny twinkling stars on it, and I recognize some of the star shapes on it. It comforts me – it reminds me of home. At its neckline, it has 3 bigger stars, and they hover slightly above the cloak’s surface. They look like I could touch them and hold them in my hand, but I don’t know if that’s possible or not. I also got the sense that something else is going on with it, like it’s somehow connected with me and with somewhere else, but I could also just be a little hungry. Or worried.

About an hour later, I hadn’t heard from either Ogg or Teldorthan and I started to get concerned. I talked to Ogg in his head and heard a strange melody. It is hauntingly beautiful – full of emotion. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but it seemed happy. Content, maybe? Those are not the right words, but that’s all I have. Ogg eventually told me that he was in stone with Teldorthan. The evil creature came after them and froze Ogg, so Teldorthan picked him up and disappeared into stone. I then talked to Teldorthan, who also had the same music in his mind. Between the three of us, we worked out a plan. I distracted the mummy creature while Ogg and Teldorthan retrieved any treasure and moved into a better position to escape. I told Jillian what the plan was, and she panicked a little, afraid for my safety. I moved forward with the plan, banging on the door and making noise until Jillian appeared by my side and convinced me that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to attract the mummy towards the door (and the entire town). Just then, Teldorthan relayed an escape plan to me: I would bang on the door a bit more until Teldorthan and Ogg could silently get into place behind the mummy, then they would climb the stairs, open the door and slip out. Luckily, it worked. Shortly, Ogg and Teldorthan emerged from the pyramid holding a sack and a chest, respectively, and Jillian and I closed the door behind them.

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Ogg Journal, A Festivus for the Rest of us!
The Festival Morning

I have a permanent tattoo
But it’s not visible on flesh
It’s a scar on my heart
The place you cut best

Does Jillian not understand how evil works?! We are already dealin’ with this Dark Lord Strahd, and Jillian goes and invites this evil Imp thing into our crew. I had to go cancel out this evil with some good, so I went and gave myself a tattoo of Helm for protection. I’m not gettin’ cursed cuz of the angry small one.

Teldorthan and I missed a bit of the festival this mornin’. I was workin’ on the tattoo while Teldorthan drank and spoke to the bartender. He had to deal with the Lady Feona thing yesterday, so he was likely keepin’ his cover. We heard Lissie’s voice in our heads screamin’ for help. Teldorthan and I raced to the festival. We saw games that I’ve seen in Mintarn. I ran passed a ring toss game, a blade toss game, and a bean bag toss game to join the crew standin’ by the dunk tank. When we arrived, I saw a snake thing in the pool, and went straight to attackin’ it. Jillian and Lissie just yelled and me and Teldorthan for helpin’, I was super confused. Lissie acted like she wasn’t in danger, but then why did she scream in my head from half the town away? Well it seemed the ruckus attracted the town guards, but Jillian talked her way out of trouble. She even got one of the guards to sit on the dunk tank, so you can guess what we had to do.

After calmin’ down a bit, I had Lei show me some of the games. Teldorthan tried to hide from someone, not sure why. But he went next to a stone wall and actually stepped into it! I’m not sure if it’s a dwarven thing or a rune magic thing. When lookin’ to see who he was hidin’ from, I saw the famous toymaster Blinski. I went to get an his handscript while the others started gettin’ some food. Turns out, some of the games gave meal tickets. Jillian ended up with a lot of meal tickets. To celebrate the festival, I think the Festival of Sunshine or Festival of the Rising sun, some vendors were out with special goods. Even the Boar’s Belch was s’pposed to have some fancy swill later today. But here, to celebrate the Morning Lord, we had wolfkabobs, corn, and sparklin’ juice.

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We then were called to the center of town for an announcement from the Burgermaster of the town. I wonder if he has any news of Irena. He was s’pposed to keep her safe once we arrived, but we never got to actually meet him. I want to make sure she is safe. I know what you’re thinkin’, that she can take care of herself, and I know that she can. But this Strahd chap was, dare I say, hell-bent, on datin’ her. The last town tried to protect Irena and the Burgermaster was killed. What will change this time? I may be paranoid, which I usually am, but I seem to be the only one in the group that is worried about this. I think Teldorthan thinks I’m in love with Irena or somethin’, but I’m not. Yes I am attracted to strong women, but it’s mostly that fightin’ spirit that I like. This is why I tend to like women AND men for such a spirit. It’s why I fell for Patch. And I admired Lei from the start because she was fearless. Far braver than I could ever be.

“Roses are red,
I’m going to bed.”

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Aftermath of The Naked Serenade
(or whichever title you favor)

Man, last night was definitely a story to tell! And while Teldorthan’s song was amazingly swoon-worthy (I mean, I knew Ogg can make anyone sound good – heaven knows some of our shipmates sounded like drowning cats without his help – but WOW!), and sneaking around the house for secrets and busting the “book club” cult was all sorts of fun (even Magic got excited), the real entertainment came after we left the house.
As Ogg and I came out the back of the house – ooh, and he showed me this fancy new invisibility thing he can do! – and peek around the corner, we see Teldorthan, naked as a newborn, tearing up and down the street like the Kraken is after him, shouting a bunch of crazy stuff in dwarvish with random understandable words like “dead husband” and “thrower”, trying to wake the whole town! I mean, I know he told us he was gonna do something like this, but actually seeing it happen was still absolutely mind-blowing hilarity. Seriously, he is normally so straight-laced, I still wonder if I dreamed the whole night.
Anyway, so some guards stop him for some nonsense like indecency, and try pretty unsuccessfully to get a clear story, since he’s still babbling in two languages at once and seemed hysterical. I think they finally got the gist of it, but then he flipped when they wanted him to go back in the house to show them. Then Jillian and Lissie got involved, and Lissie helped translate, and Jillian flashed some sort of badge that the guards didn’t seem impressed with (honestly, can you imagine Jillian as a lawman?), and then Teldorthan got dressed again after Lissie looked really uncomfortable (and, oh man, her face when his butt touched her while pulling up his pants!). One of the guards went in, and the other one kept trying to get Teldorthan to come in, and then Jillian yelled a bit about lack of respect and started to storm off, but came back and insisted on following. Guess she didn’t want to miss out.
I didn’t want to miss out either, and since conveniently no one could see me (thanks, Ogg!), I followed them in. For some reason, Jillian started yelling at the guard again, and she actually had to leave after that, since she didn’t actually want to be arrested.
The guards seemed surprised to find what they did upstairs, which I think is a little odd since Teldorthan told them, and really there’s been all sorts of stuff happening with dead people since we got to Barovia. The puzzled looks hearing about “sexy dinner” and “dwarvish wooing” were kind of priceless, and their faces turned an interesting combination of grey and green.
I still kind of wish we could have really ruined that soul-crushing harpy instead of killing her, but really the fabulous adventure almost makes up for it.

Note to self: Ordering drinks while invisible and pretending nothing is strange is amazing, and I should definitely try it again in the next inn

Ooh, another fun thing: right now, I can drink as much as I can hold, and not pass out! I can finally beat Ogg in a drinking contest! Seriously, the man is impossible to beat; it took 6 glasses and half a bucket to get there! VICTORY!
But I guess this is only gonna be fun once – without the challenge it starts to lose its shine. I’ll have to try again in…oh, feels like…maybe a few weeks?
In other news, the drinking and celebration did lead to some great debate on what to call this legendary evening. I like “The Naked Serenade” – and I’m going to call it that! – but for some reason Teldorthan thought it mattered that he wasn’t naked until after the serenading bit, and said it should be named “The Dwarven Thrower”, which is apparently some really silly name for his man bits, and it was even better because Lissie didn’t get it and started making statements like “You have an armory in your pants? They must be very small weapons!”, which I am SO going to have to tuck away for when I’m on a ship surrounded by a bunch of men and need to take them down a peg! We also got some good names like “Romancing the Corpse” or “Romancing the Stiff” (heeheehee)

In morning news: FESTIVAL TIME!!
Over breakfast beforehand though, things got a little tense. I guess some argument happened upstairs, because when Lissie came down she was really upset about a “demon” that I guess Jillian picked up in the harpy’s house somewhere? I don’t know if it’s a demon or a devil, or if it matters, but whatever. After he said he’s cool with going against “Devil” Strahd if we want, I said it didn’t matter unless it disrupted the rest of the crew, but some of them seemed really concerned about it being evil. At some point Jillian left to use the ladies’ room, and I guess the demon-devil-thing didn’t make it back with her. I thought the problem would be solved, but things still seemed tense, and then Eric (the bartender) had to make it work by talking about some conspiracy where people get arrested for not being happy. Honestly, if that were true there’d be no one out at all around here!

This place really needs a good festival. I hope this one lives up to its name!

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The Lover the Bitch and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind

Jillian watched as Teldorthan started to remove his armor. Pieces fell away as Jillian looked on in wonder. She had longed to see him naked, and now her fantasies were coming true. She never thought it would also take place with so many people in the bedroom at the same time… or with two corpses on the bed. He leaned in close and said, “You should go before I run out of here naked.” [ugh – I can’t believe I’m trying to write a trashy romance novel, but ever since that Erika chick made herself a mountain of gold lying, I figure I should try my hand at it too. Below is the real story so I don’t forget it].

We were about to present ourselves to Lady Fiona to discuss “taking care” of the Burgermeister for her. I wanted to look a little more “presentable,” so I changed myself into an old favorite (I really should just buy that painting from the old pub; I’ve used its likeness enough). The doorman was hesitant to let me in since he dealt with my usual face back at the Boar’s Belch, so I made him think I showed back up and we went inside.

First off, we sat down at a table and weren’t presented with any food, and I’ll be damned if I had to ask for wine! Lady Bitch started with pleasantries and then got straight to business. She wanted the Burgermeister dead, and didn’t care how it happened so long as it didn’t get back to her. The group got really upset about the whole situation even though I talked to them about Fiona (and how she seemed like a real piece of work that we were going to double cross). Lei starts shooting off her mouth about how great the Burgermeister is like she knows him personally, and when Fiona brought up Strahd, Teldorthan decided he was going to leave! The only one there that wasn’t losing his shit was Ogg, and I think that was just because he was the only one who didn’t wear his fancy clothes. He sat there like a kicked puppy, which would normally be hilarious, but I was too stressed trying to hold it together to fully enjoy his awkwardness. It would have been a big help for Lissie to be there, but she was playing house with the kid that we rescued from the pie woman (enchanted or not, those pies looked delicious). I learned later that Teldorthan went upstairs to snoop around the house while I was doing the talking. I wish it had been the other way around, but then again, when I saw him walk out, I knew he was going to be up to something. I did everything I could to keep Fiona and her errand boy in the room, mostly by giving them Ogg’s wine (reminder: buy Ogg 2 bottles and 1 bucket of wine later). Ernst finally did tear away from the dining room, but somehow didn’t find Teldorthan (need to figure out that wall walk thing he is doing; we may never have to pick another lock!).

After the shit show, we went back to the Boar’s Belch and I tried to get everyone into our room to discuss the plan. Lissie and I found that someone had given her a present: a mask of my face. My real face. I found out later that it was the hairy bastard Teldorthan’s doing (reminder: humiliate Teldorthan). Things went hazy for a little while and we all ended up in Teldorthan’s room, minus the kid who was coloring. We all agreed that we wouldn’t help Fiona. About half of the group wanted to straight up murder her, and while I wasn’t opposed, it didn’t seem really necessary. We did agree to break into her house that night, and sack the place like the Cobbler Job. For some godawful reason, Teldorthan gets it in his head that he is going to create a diversion by attempting to seduce Fiona. I don’t know what the hell he was thinking, and was frankly hurt that he wanted a human over me. Lissie giggled about this which would have hurt more if she wasn’t the most oblivious person when it came to sex. About that time, Teldorthan pulled out an amulet that looked pretty remarkable as well as a box full of bones. We figured out the amulet was a magic item, and – wouldn’t you know it – it was the ‘holy symbol of Ravenkind.’ I don’t know anything about Ravenkind, but it works for me, and I’ve always enjoyed a good conspiracy.

So a short break later, Teldorthan has cleaned himself up nicely, and Ogg is in his full bard regalia, including a dopey grin. Apparently they decided to woo the woman with a song. Meanwhile Lei, Lissie, and I went around back like sensible people. I gave the blessing of the Mask to us to make sure we wouldn’t be heard, and we proceeded into the house. We had just made it to the kitchen and were working out how we would get around the cook when we heard it.

I can’t remember the lyrics, I can’t remember how the song went, hell, I can’t remember the last time I cried, but Teldorthan, accompanied by Ogg, played an incredible song that rocked everyone in the house and apparently in the streets to their very core. It gave us ample opportunity to pass through the kitchen and head up the stairs. We snooped around, and found a feral child called Kitty locked in one of the rooms. Hell if I know why Fiona had the brat up here, but we sacked the room and picked up a couple of valuables. In the meantime (according to Ogg), Fiona and Teldorthan sat discussing flowery subjects like love while Ogg beat out a rhythm on his drum. A glass of wine later, Teldorthan came walking up the stairs with Fiona. We waited to ambush her until they got into the bedroom and we were joined by Ogg. We burst through the door and saw Fiona lying on the bed next to a dead body with Teldorthan near her. Two quick attacks later, and Fiona was dead. I was surprised that one of the attacks came from Lissie. Maybe the presence of the feral child convinced her Fiona was evil? Regardless, after a quick pause Fiona gasped out a last breath and said Teldorthan broke her heart. Teldorthan replied by saying he was gay (which was a great relief to me to have it confirmed, but surprised the others). Sexuality reveal aside, the plan went off without a hitch. We were all ready to get the hell out when Teldorthan started taking off his clothes. For real this time – he said he needed to get naked and run out of the house screaming about how a zombie killed Fiona and attacked him. Not a bad play, but seemed incredibly over complicated (and didn’t require him to be naked). Teldorthan was firm (not down there though) in his convictions that he wanted to do it this way, so Lei, Lissie, and I snuck down the back staircase and were about to leave/ Then we heard the commotion of Teldorthan jumping down the stairs and (according to him) landing on Ernst with his lower beard. During the chaos, I noticed a secret panel in the closet and decided our group should check it out. We ran into a group of zombies that got bitey, but thankfully the holy symbol of Ravenkind proved its worth by turning them into ash. We checked another room and found a pentagram in the center with 4 robed people around it. They attacked and didn’t fare much better than the zombies, although Ogg did come around that time to assist us and Lei started fritzing out or something. Crazy Sparkler starting shooting off random things all over the place and we gave her a minute to get back under control. When I checked the room with the pentagram, the center was spewing gold pieces, but when I dispelled the magic all that was left was an imp holding a bag of coins. I figure I’ll take him with me and decide what to do with him later. Thus ends the tale of the Lover, the Bitch, and the holy symbol of Ravenkind.
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