When the adventurers awoke, it was dark. Keesiya and Karlotta looked to Maddox, who was living, but still a pile of torn skin with breathing and jumbled bloody organs. The only piece that looked right was a single eye, looking around in panic within the shattered portion of a skull piled on top of the pile of pieces.
In the pitch darkness, Karlotta found herself standing in the tower of a great office. A brother she had never seen before was in front of her. Then she was in an orphanage, walking around with the boys. Then walking in a quaint park with her husband, pregnant. Again, again, again, the images of lives she never lived flashed in front of her. Faster and faster, until her own life was not only lost in the shuffle, but the lives themselves became a blur. Karlotta tried to scream, but whether anything was heard in the constantly shifting lives, nobody can say.
Keesiya stood in the dark, sensing the presence of many more in the room, hearing them whisper and talk. Consumed by the fear of Rose who possessed her, there was nothing she could do.
Then, into the darkness, a light shined through the door.
Keesiya got up and nervously followed it to the source. Through the dirt tunnels she went, coming into a chamber where a statue stood. Across the statue was a woman, chained upside down, badly beaten, naked, head shaved, and a symbol of Palor glowing through the burnt flesh somebody had used to try and scour the symbol off.
Keesiya unchained the woman, who called herself Fu Hao. Taking a potion, a table leg, and a banner to make into a crude cloak, Fu Hao followed Keesiya back to the chamber where the others were.
Fu Hao explained that she was a member of the Swords of Eight, a group of adventurers that had come to the realm in order to defeat Strahd. She led a militia against him and failed. She does not know who brought her to the Death House.
Fu Hao blessed the soil, releasing Karlotta. She made a spell that took the loosened spirits and put them into a blank book that Keesiya had found.
She then built a hole in the blessed dirt in the shape of a boy. Mixing her own blood into it, she poured what was remained of Maddox into the dirt and added a healing potion. She covered the mess and prayed for one night.
At the end, through the dirt, Maddox emerged intact. He grabbed the book that had the power of the souls he had consumed.
The group, with Fu Hao, continued to press on. They came to the room that Fu Hao had been chained in.
The room was festooned with madly skeletons that hung from rusty shakes against the walls. A wide alcove in the south wall contained a painted wooden statue carved in the likeness of a gaunt, pale-faced man wearing voluminous black cloak, his pale left hand resting on the head of a wolf that stood next to him. In his right hand, he held a smoky-gray crystal orb.
The chanting that they had crown used to, grew louder and louder.
Maddox attempted to take the orb, releasing five shadows that the party had to face. They defeated them.
While exploring the room they found a trapdoor that would lead them back to the rest of the house, but that would have been pointless.
The party went into a smaller room and found, what appeared to be, the leader’s den.
Keesyia took silverware, and Maddox attempted to open a door:
It was actually a mimic. They fought and beat it.
They continued into the Cult Leaders’ quarters. They went to the foot locker, releasing two casts from the earthen walls. They fight them, and get a few spells and a few other items.
The group continued on to a large room that had a series of petty treasures on each side, just weird stuff. Nervous after the last few rooms, they moved slowly to the end.
The chanting stopped and a huge room opened with pillars on each side, full of water with an alter in the middle. Rusty chains hung above the alter. The group moved in and a portcullis fell, trapping them inside.
Walking to the alter, the chants began again as ghostly figures appeared along the walls, each holding a torch that seemed to absorb light more than present it.
“One Must Die. One Must Die.”
The party halted. Karlotta and Maddox debated sacrificing Fu Hao, but never acted. Growing weary of no sacrifice, the cult grew angry and the chant changed, “Lorghoth the Decayer, we awaken thee!”
A shambling mound came to life and the chant changed again, “The end comes! Death be praised!”
The party had to fight the shambling mound and won. Maddox found the controls to the portcullis and raised it. Fu Hao stood in front of it and fought off cultists, and the party waited for her before shutting it.
The party ran upstairs to find the house with bulging moving walls, in full decay. When they pulled open the door that came off the rotting wall, a tornado of items moving quickly blocked their way. Fu Hao, again, defended Karlotta and Kessyia as they dove out, taking damage.
Maddox could not take any more damage, so Fu Hao lifted him up and dove out of the door, taking the damage to herself.
The spirits of Rose and Thorne were left on the porch of the house, now decayed and awful looking. The group was badly injured as they looked around them.
Tall shapes loomed out of the night. The muddy cobblestones at their feet were wet. The windows of each house around them had only pools of blackness. No sound could be heard aside from a distant sobbing and a horse trotting. In front of them, atop a mountain, a great castle could be seen silhouetting the moon.
Fu Hao explained that she had to get to the church in order to see what happened to The Incorruptible and that the rest of the party could meet her there. She was off.
While debating about where to stay, it became apparent that the horse and cart was drawing closer. Hoping to avoid battle, Keesiya, Karlotta, and Maddox hid in an alleyway and hoped the cart would keep going.
But it stopped. A strange silvery elf sat as the driver, looking only ahead.
The door opened and a tall man in dress military garb from long ago stepped into the torchlight. Handsome, in his way, he was also terrifying. The light from the torches projected his shadow into a hideous version of himself, attempting to clutch the adventurers.
“I am ”/characters/strahd-von-zarovich" class=“wiki-content-link”>Strahd," He said, “You may come into the light.”
Maddox, a child from Bavaria, pissed himself in fear. They poked their head into the light just a little bit. Being a little closer, they could see a young woman in the carriage, with her face painted as a skull.
“I must admit that I am unimpressed with you,” Strahd scolded as his shadow attempted to attack them. Strahd pressed the party, warning them that Ireena Kolyana was his, like everyone else, and that they are now his too—even if they didn’t know it. At seeing the name of Ireena mentioned, the woman in the carriage winced a little bit.
Strahd then took his leave.
The party, tired and badly injured, went to look for a place to stay. As they walked the wailing got louder. Deciding to investigate, they came upon a house.
Upon entering, it was clear that it had not been well cared for. They followed the wailing upstairs and found Mad Mary there, wailing into the darkness.
The group asked her what was wrong; she answered that her daughter had left. She spoke of how Barovia, the entire region, was a kind of hell and she had tried to protect her daughter from it. Now her daughter had left out to the world…
The adventurers found the daughter’s room, which locked from the outside and had the window boarded up. Leather restrains were on the bed, and toys were strewn about. One doll said, “Is No Fun, is No Blinsky!”
Maddox decided to kill Mad Mary. Keesya was against the idea, but did not attempt to stop Maddox and Karlotta.
Keesya heard something in the room she was in. Then, following that, Mad Mary came crawling into the room on her hands and knees, begging for help. She came to Keesyia, bloodying her dress, and begging to have her friends stop. Keesyia looked down absently at Mad Mary while Maddox came up behind her and murdered her, absorbing her soul.
Then the group took anything of value, again hearing something once while doing so.
The group left the house and then found the Blood of the Vine Tavern.
Arik the bartender was a little obsessive compulsive with the glasses, and there were Vistani sitting in the corner. But it was a particularly friendly Barovian named Ismark the Lesser greeted them.
Explaining that his sister, Ireena, was hunted by Strahd and that he wanted their help in getting her to safety, the party informed him that his sister was already in Strahd’s cart.
Ismark, in a panic, took the group with him and ran to the old Burgomaster’s house. The burgomaster looked as if it were under siege, and in the woods around it, the party saw countless wolves moving about, keeping eyes on them.
Opening the door was Ireena, safe and sound. The mysterious girl in the car was someone else.
Inside the house was the dead Burgomaster. They had not been able to bury him because of the frequent attacks on the house.
Ireena revealed that she had been bitten twice, and after the third time she would become a vampire spawn, Strahd’s slave, damned for eternity.
Ismark and Ireena agreed to let the party sleep at their place and launder their clothes. They would speak in the morning.