Darkness in the Mists

Session 6 Recap
Part 3: Verbrek

GM note: Awfully embarrassing that I didn’t bother to get this up until almost a week later. I’m sitting here, two hours prep maybe from running Thursday, and I still don’t have Session 6 up.

Having arrived outside a new town, the party began performing their usual tasks quite diligently. After a few days, though, Jandar Abzan spied someone talking to Hermos; though he couldn’t hear what the giant was saying, he did distinctly see him pointing to each of the heroes in turn.

Jandar began to notice his scales receding somewhat — his already comely features, previously marred only slightly by the shimmering dragon scales, seemed to look even more incredible. Kallisti, for her part, began to grow short tentacles from her wings, which she seemed to think was a sign of good fortune and a blessing of her eldritch patron.

The four of them were approached separately by the man, who claimed that he had “some information” which he would divulge if they could speak privately. When Kallisti and Serenity pressed him on it, he confessed to them that it related to a way that one might escape the mists, to return to wherever they had come from.

With the four of them gathered, he pulled out a map of Verbrek and pointed at a town in the North.

“We are currently here,” he said. He traced a line down to a large field in the middle of a forest. “There are the ruins of a castle here,” he said, making a mark on the map. “According to research done by my employer, if you can get there, you should find a sword. That sword is your key to getting out of the mists.”

As the heroes questioned him, he answered one by one. How did it work? According to his research, if a Darklord is defeated using the blade, then it will tear a momentary rift, and they should be able to step through it and out of the mists. Why couldn’t his employer come and take it himself? He was infirm, and couldn’t leave the country.

Kallisti, nervous about the talk of werewolves around, pressed him on whether or not his employer was a werewolf, which he denied. When she asked about bloodsuckers, he denied that, as well.

After some debate, they all agreed. Isolde was more than happy to allow them to leave; she wasn’t their master, after all, though she couldn’t say where she would be heading in the days to come. They bid the carnival farewell and caught a boat down the river to a town not far from the forest clearing where they would be adventuring.

They prepared to settle in for the night, tired from a long day on the ferry, but found that they couldn’t find anyone to give them a room at any of the inns they had gone to — Kallisti recalled having seen some of the villagers heading west. Toward the forest.

They decided to follow, and as night fell, they managed to follow the path with only a little difficulty.

As they moved, it became increasingly clear that the path they were following was leading them to the very place that the man, who had claimed to be a solicitor, had directed them in the first place. As they headed into the ruins, though, they heard a noise behind them, and turned to see a large wolf, leading a pack of smaller wolves.

They dispatched them with relatively little difficulty, except for one which turned tail and ran once it took a wound, with the rest of its pack all dead. The group, realizing that they couldn’t keep up with a wolf in full flight, turned to head back into the ruined walls and stones.

Atop a hill sat a large throne, and before the throne a sword, inset into the ground. It came up easily, and as soon as Jurgen Jurgenson touched it, it was clear that this was the sword they had come to take. As he pulled it free, though, one of the statues around the great stone chair began to move, swooping over and hitting Kallisti before skittering back away, as another pair of wolves came in out of the darkness to harass Jurgen and Serenity from defending their more-vulnerable companions.

As they struck down one of the wolves, a third came to join, limping but still alive, to revenge its fallen family. Fortunately, the heroes were able to prevail. Their job done, they started to walk down the hill. At this point, things went horribly, horribly wrong.

Out of the forests surrounding the ruin, dozens, perhaps hundreds of people walked out, flanked by dogs or wolves. One of them stood out as familiar, a thin bespectacled man that Jandar Abzan recognized as the same man who had spoken to Isolde on their second day in Verbrek. Alfred Timothy.

They tried to run, but were blocked. The Darklord had an offer for them, a sport of sorts. He would give them an hour, and then he and his pack would follow. If they could escape Verbrek, he announced, he would let them go. The heroes ran as if their lives depended on it, and they very likely did.

After ninety minutes, they turned back to see Alfred Timothy standing in the middle of a field, scarcely two hundred yards behind. He screamed his frustration at the sky, but turned back. He would not follow.

The Party had been given instructions to make their way to a town just southeast of the border. There, they would meet with the lawyer’s employer, and go over the next stage of their plan. The town was easy enough to find, though it was only the early hours of the morning when they arrived.

There, standing just outside the light of a torch, was a single man standing beside a carriage. His clothes looked fine, and from what little light flickered on his face, they could tell that he was a man in his middle 40s, with a touch of grey at the temples. This, they presumed, was their mysterious benefactor.

“Good evening,” the man said. “My name is Strahd von Zarovic. At your service.”

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Session 4 & 5 Recap
Part 3: Verbrek

OOC: Session 4 was very short, as Jurgen’s player couldn’t make it until more than an hour later than normal, and then Jurgen and Jandar Abzan both had to go to work after about an hour after that. That’s why I didn’t post a recap last week.

The party woke up to find themselves abandoned outside of the ruins of Greenest; they went into the town, but a huge group of undead and Kobolds scared them off, so they went back into the mists. They found the bodies again, and this time the Monk got up and attacked them. After a long and difficult fight, the party managed to defeat him.

Then things started to get a little weird, though Content Not Found: jurge-jurgenson couldn’t place it right away; an Ogre came out of the mists and Jurgen attacked it alone. He was taking a beating when he woke up in a carnival vardo the next morning. None of the rest of the group had any recollection of the dream; it was his dream alone.

They mentioned strange dreams to Tindal, who sheepishly admitted that they suspected the Illuminated Man to have tattooed one of the men who they’d killed. He suspected that it was one of the magical tattoos that the Man was known for, and not one of the good ones. The group checked themselves, and sure enough, Jurgen had a tattoo on his leg.

It moved, but he caught it with a blade and started cutting, and it seemed to explode on his skin and disappear. After a thorough check of the party, they realized, it was gone. The group spent the rest of the day hanging around the carnival, seeing the other acts, and then [[:isolde | Isolde] stepped out of her vardo and signalled for them to move on.

Tindal gave the heroes a choice: To stay with Madame Fortuna, or to stay with the Man and the Imp.

The girls stayed with Madame Fortuna; the men with the Man and the Imp. They got their fortunes read, but in the end nothing of particular significance happened until they rolled to a stop outside of a small town on a river.

There, they began living in earnest among the carnival workers by performing their own acts; Serenity performed benedictions, while Jandar Abzan played his violin. Jurgen fought in the pits, and Kallisti did something as well — OOC, nobody can remember what she did.

Then a funny thing happened. Somebody took a shine to the Snake Mistress. When he got a little handsy, Tindal stepped in and got a knuckle sandwich for his efforts. Before things could get any uglier, the face-painted workers stepped in, swarmed the guy, and grabbed him. The rest of the day passed without comment until the evening.

Tindal sought the heroes out and told them they ought to see what was to come — under the big top, tied to the pole, was the same man. Unceremoniously, one of the carnies came up and hit him. Then another, and another, a long string of folks; Jurgen joined in, as well.

The next day, they saw a frail, studious-looking man in spectacles. Over the sound of the crowd, Jandar Abzan managed to hear the man, speaking to Isolde, ask if she knew what she was doing keeping company with a Paladin.

Jurgen decided to go talk to Wood’n Head and tried to buy the recipe for his rejuvination formula; naturally, he refused, but ever-helpful Kallisti offered to copy it down from memory, and Jandar Abzan, Jurgen, and Kallisti each made up a batch before the night.

That night, though, they heard screams coming from town, and when they investigated, they found wolves dragging people from their homes and into the streets. It was a close thing to keep them from disappearing out into the wheat-grass and into the night, but the four of them managed to stop them.

Kallisti, for her part, decided to try to break into Isolde’s vardo. She had the good sense to get out before she was caught when she heard Isolde stirring.

The next day, they went back into town, where they found a church of the Wolf God. That led them next to the Burgomeister’s house, who expressed a profound fear of the wolves that filled the forests.

Of course, our heroes had no reason to believe there was anything to fear. They went out and found themselves a wolf, and with Kallisti’s Warlock skills she spoke to him. His name was Peter Timothy, and she brought him back to town, and introduced him to the mayor. When it transformed and started attacking people, things got out of hand, but through some ingenuity and an aggressive approach, the heroes managed to pull through.

They returned to the carnival, and Kallisti took another gander into Isolde’s tent, though this time she had the presence of mind to put on a magical disguise—imitating Doctor Pacali. At the same time, Jurgen went off to meet with Wood’n Head again, and decided to make his play by revealing that he’d made a batch of the elixir.

He didn’t like that one bit, and he went off to tell Isolde. The next morning, Isolde confronted the both of them. The days passed, after that, fairly quickly and easily, and it wasn’t long until they moved on to another town. But they’re not done with Verbrek and the Timothy clan just yet…

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Session 3 Recap
Part 2: The Carnival

Into the Carnival

Whatever caused the Kobolds to attack, it seemed to have flipped a switch. Our heroes tried to rest, but out of the darkness and mist came a pair of shambling, undead horrors. They latched onto Jurgen Jurgenson, attacking relentlessly, but the combined strength of the party managed to destroy them. The next day, as the sun started to set on another day of nothing, they saw shapes in the mist: Wagons. A great circle of them. A cheery, large-bellied man came out to meet them. Entry to the Carnival would only be a copper a piece.

Kallisti generously paid the entry for the lot of them, further handing out several silver pieces’ worth of coppers to pay for other shows and events. The party was wary of any place that would appear in such a mist, so they stuck together and waited with Jurgen as they prepared for the Brute, prophesied by what he saw on the poster. When the fight was about to begin, Tindal explained the rules: When the fight is over, it’s over. Don’t kill anyone.

He immediately asked about some kind of reward. The only truly acceptable reward, he decided, would be the hood. After handily crushing the masked man, he demanded it; the fighter pulled him away and explained that though he respected strength, he could not relinquish the hood. When pressed, he removed the hood, away from the wagons; he was an orc! He commented that he disliked the way that people looked at him, here; he preferred the anonymity of the mask. Of course, he said, it was perfectly dashing back home, but he wouldn’t go back. Jandar accepted his reasoning, and asked to trade then his axe for the javelins Jandar carried, which he eventually accepted.

The party went, next, to the House of Horrors. Kallisti fit in quite well here, enjoying herself immensely as she picked up conversations with the workers, in particular a wretched-looking man who ate all sorts of disgusting things and a fire-eating woman. she even went so far as to explain to the fire-eater about her cult—of course, no requirements on her part, just faith. Her bargaining was convincing enough that even over Serenity’s protestations, the young fire-eater was convinced. Assuming it didn’t require anything of her, of course.

But Kallisti, even still, was not impressed. ‘Where were the real horrors,’ she asked, and the bespectacled Doctor Pacali, who ran the House of Horrors, whispered that for another negligible fee, they could see the real scares. They paid, of course, and he took them into a dark tent near the back of the House. When he lit the torch sconce, they were treated to horrible, misshapen forms — some with three legs, some with horrible, bony hands, and others with misshapen mouths. They languished in cages sized just large enough for them to stand.

These truly caught everyone’s horror and interest. They spent what felt like hours trying to get the doctor to reveal the source of these abominations, but on that he was silent. They asked for passage, and he offered it… at a price, of course.

They decided that the only answers to their questions could be had from the mysterious owner of the entire establishment, Isolde. However, they could not entice a response from her wagon, no matter what they did.

As they did that, though, they were approached by three men — Tindal, a giant 10-foot-tall man with plain-looking features, and a thin, mostly-nude man covered in tattoos.

Joining the Carnival

They explained that they had had a few guests several hours before that had been a bit rude, but when they left all was fine. They’d gotten their reward. But then they’d realized that a certain alchemical recipe had been stolen, and it absolutely could not get out. The Carnival has no fighters, save for the Brute, and though Isolde could deal with it, she could not leave the Carnival behind. So the adventurers seemed the only option. Of course, if they could find the recipe and return it, then they might be offered safe passage with the Carnival through the mist…

They rested through the night and set off in the morning. The group was not hard to find, nor were they far ahead, and by the end of the first day, the party found themselves less than an hour behind, but they were too tired to force another hour of marching, so they broke for camp. Which is when another group of undead shambled in out of the mist; they were dispatched readily, but no one got to sleep that night but for a few hours.

The next morning, they caught the group up, and battle was joined. The heroes came out readily ahead, slaughtering them easily. They found the recipe and headed off back to whence they had come. Once again, though, ill fate befell them, and they fought a group of orcs that stumbled onto their encampment. Two of the orcs, fell, but in the course of the fight, Kallisti and Serenity both accidentally struck Jurgen, and he was nearly brought low, saved by some quick healing by Serenity.

On the next morning, though, they made it out safely, and returned to camp. Jurgen offered to trade a set of three massive axes they’d taken from the bodies of the orcs for the mask; when Kallisti offered to fashion something to replace it temporarily until someone could make a new one properly, he finally relented.

The party found some cots in one of the wagons and settled down for another night in the carnival…

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Session 2 Recap
Episode 2: The Carnival

In Greenest

The party took a long rest through the better part of the morning, and awoke to find Governor Nighthill nervously awaiting them. He begged them to go out and rescue an artillery engineer who had been taken by the raiders; at the sound of being offered 125 gp cash in advance, with more on the way when the job was completed, the heroes were (mostly) sold. Jandar Abzan worried about the party’s odds if they had to fight a dragon again, but Nighthill assured them that they wouldn’t be expected to put themselves in such grave danger — merely gather information and retrieve a hostage.

They took the rest of the evening to buy supplies; all but Kallisti bought a pair of Health Potions, and Jurgen Jurgenson picked up new armor. However, twilight had fallen and it was only getting darker, so they decided to rest through the night and pick up the trail the following morning.

On the Trail

The trail wasn’t hard to find; it was the tracks of an army of hundreds, and cut a wide swath through the rolling hills of Greenfields. After a full day’s march, the party broke camp. When they awoke, fresh eyes realized that the heading was almost dead-on for a route to Elturel. At the pace they were going, it was a little less than three more days’ march to the River Chionthar, and then the city across that.

On the fourth day, however, they ran into a worrying scene. A half-dozen Kobolds killed, along with the body of an Elven monk. They checked the bodies, finding only a few things of interest: An empty journal with three missing pages; a ring, with the inscription ‘Love, Katerina,’ and on the Monk’s person, a Holy symbol. Kallisti took the things from the Kobolds’ bodies, while Jandar Abzan took the Holy symbol.

The majority of the rest of the day was spent burying the Elf’s body; his grave was marked with a hammer from Jurgen’s pack, and a dead bird Kallisti found. The party marched a few miles away before they made camp.

In The Mist

The next morning, the morning mist that had greeted them each morning since leaving Greenest was much thicker; one could hardly see a hundred feet in any direction. The party lost the trail, but continued in much the same direction they had gone. They did find their trail again, the next day. The third day of thick mist, they decided to depart from their trail slightly, heading slightly diagonal to the path. And that was when they found the town.

Greenest, Revisited

The town was abandoned; that much was clear, at least. They couldn’t find anyone, and the locks were smashed on the doors nearby. Jurgen split off, trying to find any sort of landmark that he could; he found the Castle on the hill. Then he immediately went to find the rest of the party and bring them there, as well.

When they climbed the parapets, looking out over the town, they saw three other major landmarks: the Church, the Mill, and a town square.

At the Church, they found bodies—dozens of them, massed into one corner of the Church as if it would protect them from the spears that had cut them down. At the mill, they found it burned down. Suddenly, the entire place seemed awfully familiar, though nobody could place it. And then they went to the town square, and it became all too clear where they were.

A pair of crosses stood in the middle of the square, and from them hung two tortured-looking bodies: those of Governor Nighthill and his Castellan. Serenity panicked and cast Detect Magic, believing that it must be some sort of illusion, but it seemed to be all too real. While the spell affected her sight, Kallisti had her look at the ring and the journal. While the ring had no magic, the journal was subtly magical, but Serenity couldn’t identify what sort of magic it was.

They left the town behind and spent the second half of the day marching ever onward. The next day, they spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out ways out of the mist—Kallisti wrote “Let us out of the Mist” in the magical journal; Jurgen breathed his fire, Jandar Abzan lit a flame in the grass. But even still, the day passed uneventfully, following the trail that had been exactly where they’d found it in Greenest the first time.

The next day, Kallisti found in her journal a slip of paper that had not been there before: a flyer. Each of the heroes saw something different: Kallisti, a promise of abberant horrors; Jurgen, a challenge to his bravery; Jandar saw a man who saw himself as beautiful in a mirror; and Serenity saw a promise of safe haven in the mist. All of them, though, had one word at the bottom:

CARNIVAL.

There was no explanation for it. And there was nothing for the party to do but march onward. Where they made their second unsettling discovery for the day.

Six Kobolds and an Elven monk, dead from sword wounds. Their things were still there, as if they’d never been taken, so naturally Kallisti took a second ring, and Jandar offered her a trade: she could take the second Holy symbol if he could take the second journal. She accepted.

Only, as they tried to leave, the Kobolds got up. The fight with the undead Kobolds was fierce, but in the end the party was triumphant. They made camp for the night, wondering what horrors would face them in the morning.

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Session 1 Recap
Episode 1: Greenest

Entering Town

The party saw Greenest being attacked by a dragon from a distance. As they approached, it became clear that more than just a dragon attacked, as humans, kobolds, and drakes ran around the city as well, terrorizing the populace.

The party helped a commoner, Linan Swift, defending her family from kobolds and eventually escorted them through some back channels to the castle. Once there, they were begged by the Governor, Tarbaw Nighthill, to help defend the keep. They agreed, ushered by Princess Serenity, and he directed them to his Dwarven Castellan, Escobar the Red.

Escobar informed them of a group of a number of problems: The mill was going to be burned down, and the guards heard reports of citizens attempting to hide in the Church.

After looking around, the party realized that the mill was a trap — it wasn’t really being burned down at all, but rather being made to look like it as a facade! The Church took priority, then. They killed some enemies setting a fire outside the walls and snuck in through a back door.

Jandar convinced the people to follow everyone out as Jurgen went outside to pick a fight with some more Kobolds and Drakes. When they were dead, he scared off another group with a particularly fierce roar.

The people taken back to the Keep, the party turned their attention to the Dragon attacking the keep. Kallisti convinced him to back down with an incredibly moving argument that he would be better served guarding his own hoard than helping some humans to steal a pittance of treasure, and he flew away.

The party was exhausted at this point, but as the sun was just coming up, a giant of a man, half-draconic, strode out of the morning mist and shouted a challenge. He would return four of the prisoners taken in the raid, if someone would come to meet him in single combat. Unbidden, Jurgen Jurgenson stepped forward to take the challenge.

Cyanwrath proved too much of a challenge for the adventurer, and Jurgen was struck low, but he managed to pull through with the aid of local Clerics, as the raiders marched off into the misty morning.

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