|"Buy one of me pastries, ducks?"|
Picking up from last month's session, the Tuesday Knights were gathered in Madam Eva's caravan for her interpretation of what future her tarokka cards were predicting for us.
You can see the spread below (click to embiggen), but the main clues were: a cask; a fallen house and stone dragon; a missing child; a wandering Vistana; and a haunted tomb.
|click to embiggen|
The fortune teller also advised Ragar, our dwarf cleric, that clues to the location of his errant cousin (last seen seemingly enslaved as Strahd's coach-driver) would be found in a "lonely mill on a precipice".
Syr Edvard (my character), as de facto leader of the group, cross referenced the card readings with the map of the region we had (thanks, Kelvin!) and drew up plans for a road trip.
Our final destination was Krezk, the location of St Markovia's abbey (where we would find the "wandering Vistana, connected to The Queen of Spades/The Mist card).
However, along the way we would be stopping off at the windmill (both because we had the deeds for it - from The Death House - and because we presumed this was where we would find a lead on Ragar's cousin), and then Vallaki - where we had already agreed to escort our Barovian friends Ireena and Ismark.
With everyone loaded up in the wagon, we set off and made it to a pair of giant ruined gates that straddled the road.
We camped overnight, during which time K'ao - still a little bit feral and wolfish - sensed something flying overhead, then found a mummified bird's claw, which Dolly took possession of.
The next day we made it to the rundown windmill, ominously named The Bonegrinder.
A raven on the door lintel seemed to be trying to warn us off, but - of course - we barged in, with Ragar calling out for his cousin, Gundren Rockseeker.
The place was clearly in use, even if rather decrepit outside, with pies cooking in the oven and cackling clearly audible from upstairs.
Rufus and Dolly rummaged through the cupboards while we braced for the appearance of the occupants.
Before anyone could come the stairs, Rufus then decided to nip outside and try scaling the wall - to see what he could see.
An elderly woman (pictured at top) eventually hobbled down the stairs , trying to convince us to buy one of her pastries.
However, by this time, we'd stopped small, human, bones among the clutter on the floor... and were ready for trouble.
Unfortunately, we didn't bargain on (a) Dolly insisting she try one of the pastries (and promptly getting stoned - in the narcotics sense, rather than petrification); and (b) K'Ao getting bored when the woman evaded my questions about Gundren and barging her way past to the stairs.
Then everything kicked off.
K'Ao and Ragar ran up the stairs, as I tried to pin the old woman to the wall with Foulbane, my mighty axe, while keeping an eye on Dolly.
The woman though wasn't just an old woman, but actually some kind of supernatural hag creature who transformed in front of me
Although, to Dolly, totally off her face and already gleefully calling K'Ao a 'welf' (wolf-elf, geddit?), the hag became the "King Of The Pixies", and the monster and I were dancing rather than now locked in mortal combat.
|Hag: "If I comes round your house, you wouldn't let me wanders upstairs without a by your leave, |
would you, you filthy welf?"
Upstairs, while Rufus was in one place finding crates with a couple of caged children, being fattened up for consumption, K'Ao and Ragar were set upon by a pair of younger hags.
The main hag and I were trading powerful blows, but she was getting the edge on me (especially once she crippled me with some kind of bone ache magic that seemed to give Syr Edvard arthritis in his hands).
Eventually Dolly shook off the full effects of the "dream pastry" and realised I wasn't dancing with The King Of The Pixies!
Dolly swung as best she could, still slightly discombobulated by the drugs in her system, but her help was desperately needed as, by this stage, the hag had me in a bone-crunching bear hug and was squeezing the life out of me.
Luckily I managed to shout for Ragar - knowing I needed his healing hoodoo - just before I collapsed into oblivion and was once more teetering on the brink of death.
Ragar disengaged from his combat on the next floor, and raced downstairs to stabilise me, as Dolly was setting about the alpha hag.
Unfortunately, Ragar leaving the other fight meant, almost immediately, K'Ao was struck a mortal blow and collapsed as well, bleeding all over the windmill's wooden floor.
Seeing I was recovered, and hearing Rufus's cries (he was alone with two hags at that point!), Ragar then returned to his previous combat.
It was all a bit of blur for Syr Edvard after that, but all I know is that the three hags were all eventually killed and we owed our survival, regardless of who landed the final blows, to the dwarf, Ragar.
His magic, both healing and offensive, turned the tide of the battle and kept both K'Ao and I alive.
If we hadn't split the party, we might have stood a better chance against the hags. But luckily we had our increasingly gifted cleric, running back and forth, to save the day.
While some of us rested, Rufus explored the very top of the windmill, and saw, through the dirty windows, a quartet of standing stones in the near distance.
Discovering the children, Myrtle and Freek, had been sold to the hags by their parents in Barovia, we pledged to take them, as well as Ireena and Ismark, to Vallaki.
However, first, we would investigate the standing stones - as they turned out to be on our route anyway.
The stones were carved to represent cities, each, in turn, representing a season.
Ravens were congregating on The City Of Autumn, so I boosted Rufus up to take a peek.
In a crow's nest he found a black, crystal sphere.
As Rufus brought it down, Ragar was drawn to it, and as he took the glass ball in his hands, the ghostly image of his cousin appeared, seemingly trapped inside.
I theorised that this was actually Gundren's soul - which would explain why he appeared so 'zombi-like' when acting as Strahd's coach-man - and that we needed to reunite body and soul to save him.
|Our route, sticking to the road, so far: (1) Barovia; (2) The Gates; (3) The Windmill; (4) The Standing Stones|
Map by Kelvin Green
To be continued...
The Tuesday Knights:
- DUNGEON MASTER - Simon
- Rufus Longhole - Pete
- K'ao the Welf - Erica
- Dolly Spartan - Clare
- Ragar - Kevin
- Syr Edvard of House Dobbin - Me
Don't forget you can now find all the group's past escapades here.