|Syr Edvard's latest brush with death saw him zapped by a massive lightning bolt!|
Following on from our battle with wolves, our heroes indulged in a fruitless conversation with the recovered severed head, managing to find out only that it belonged to a Vistana named Jan and that the Abbey of St Markovia - where we were headed - contained something we needed to worry about.
As suspected the statue of the ox, left us by our benefactor, was magical and transformed into a flesh-and-blood ox when I spoke the magical word written on its base.
On our way to Krezk (where the abbey is to be found), we got jumped by a troupe of acrobats from the creepy carnival, who wanted us "freaks" to join their circus. Quite menacingly, they gave us three days to make up our mind and told us they would be back.
Finally making it to the small - but well-protected - village of Krezk, we could see the abbey (which Madam Eva's cards had told us about) on the mountain behind.
We hoped we would be able to find a home for our travelling companions, the refugee children Myrtle and Freek, and Ireena and Ismark, who have been with us since we left the town of Barovia.
|Burgomaster Dmitri Krezkov|
Thankfully, Ismark's late father and he were friends, and we were eventually allowed in, and given an old cottage to stay in for the night.
The cost? We were charged with fetching the village's wine supply from The Wizard Of Wine, as it hadn't turned up on time.
Over a meal with the Burgomaster and his wife, we learned that abbey had fallen into disrepair and was now a place of strange screams and mysterious beings, since the arrival of the enigmatic - and seemingly immortal - Abbot a century ago.
The Abbot, we were told, often came to the village's shrine - a kind of gazebo by a pool - to pray.
We also discovered that although the "wandering Vistana" hadn't been seen for about three months, her name was Esmeralda and we suddenly realised she had been our mysterious saviour at the tower.
That night, around 4am, we were woken by the sound of the cottage door opening and quickly discovered that Ireena had left the building.
I grabbed Foulbane, my trusty battle axe, and chased after her, with a couple of the others.
We could see she was talking to a strange figure in the pool, by the gazebo. Then she was grabbed by a ghostly hand and pulled into the water.
I dove in, trying to rescue her...
Just as a booming voice (Strahd?) shook the mountains proclaiming: "NO, SHE IS MINE!" and then the site got blasted with an enormous bolt of lightning.
|The Abbey guards|
Rufus the halfling (Pete's character) dragged my body to the bank, while K'Ao (Erica's character) fetched Ragar (Kevin's character), who arrived in time to stabilise Syr Edvard (again), bringing him back from the brink of death for a third time.
Ireena had disappeared and Ismark was beside himself with grief. The villagers were very pissed off that we had - seemingly - been responsible for the destruction of their shrine.
And, as feared, had brought the wrath of Strahd down upon them.
Later that morning, Syr Edvard still not up to full strength, the party made its way to the gates of the abbey, only to be greeted by a couple of twisted, mutant, humanoid guards who, eventually, guided us into the abbey, for an audience with The Abbot.
The Abbot looked like a young man (impressive for someone over 100 years old) and was accompanied by a pale woman, Vasilka, who we realised was stitched together from various pieces of other women, or as, Dolly (Clare's character) put it: "A patchwork of lady bits".
Dolly has a way with words!
The Abbot suggested, although he claimed not to know, that Ireena was in a "better place" being outside the mists of Ravenloft and away from Strahd.
After evading and dismissing most of our questions - we were particularly concerned by the practice of "remaking" people by sewing parts together that seemed to be a "thing" here - the Abbot assured us he wasn't that bothered about the shrine, as its "magic would return in time" although he implied that he could be more help if we did him a favour.
He wants us to find a wedding gown for Vasilka, who is soon to be wed... apparently!
We headed back to the village, where it had been agreed (despite everything) that Ismark and the children could remain (so that's one thing off our 'to do' list).
Burgomaster Krezkov told us the best (only?) place to get a wedding dress was Vallaki.
Now that could be a problem after our last stay there.
To be continued...
The Tuesday Knights:
- DUNGEON MASTER - Simon
- Rufus Longhole - Pete
- K'ao the Welf - Erica (absent)
- Dolly Spartan - Clare
- Ragar - Kevin
- Syr Edvard of House Dobbin - Me