Fear of the Dark

12th Night

The group sat with Kasimir Velikov, who looking suspiciously for a moment at Karlotta, asked her to give a seance. This is far more powerful than was ever intended.

The Seance
Karlotta was sitting on a blanket on rolling green hills in a beautiful valley. With her was a stranger, a young man, who looked nothing like Baz, but in the dreamlike logic of the vision, she knew was Baz.

They spoke a little bit how odd this all was, but did see a castle being built atop a mountain. Long before the mountain, they saw a mansion. While attempting to figure out what had happened, a handsome young man came up on a horse, with another fine horse in his hand.

He hopped off when he saw Karlotta and Baz, his dark look lightening with delight at seeing Karlotta. He handed her the reigns.

“This is our best horse Lady Tatyana,” He said. He affectionately touched the horse, who was clearly well loved and trained, “She’s the best I’ve ever trained. On behalf of my brother, Count Strahd, I’d love to give you this horse as a small token of his affections for you.”

Seeing Baz, Sergei made very clear that the intentions of his brother were good and that the von Zarovich family had nothing but respect and admiration for the Remmingtons.

Baz pushed further and found out that this brother’s name was Sergei. The Remmingtons were a new house, elevated because of their loyal service to the von Zaroviches in the recent war to take Barovia.

Sergei made his exit, giving a lingering look at Karlotta, whom he called Tatyana.

Baz and Karlotta decided to make their way back to the mansion.

The back of the mansion had a deck over the door, and upon that balcony sat Uther—utterly confused at his lavish surroundings. But, in the same dreamlike logic, he knew that the two people walking toward the mansion—Who looked like Ireena and her brother—were Karlotta and Baz.

He then dissipated and Karlotta found herself back in the mansion with the others. They surmized that Uther was in the body of the father of the two and tried to get their bearings, understanding eventually that they were in Barovia, north of the village of Barovia. They also figured that Uther was disappointed in his son as being something of a fop as opposed to the old-school soldier that the father was. But the sun was shining and things seemed happy and bright.

At about this point, Karlotta found herself in a black room across a table from Mr. Wilcox, who said: “Madam Szardos, I’m warning you that you are dealing with powers you don’t understand. You never should have been able to do this.”

It’s many years later. It’s a sunny day. Karlotta had a wing in a great castle. There’s a bright balcony window and a large wooden door. Servants are around you gushing about how lucky you are to be marrying Sergei (and how you two even look a bit alike and will have beautiful children running around). When she looks into the mirror, she sees Ireena in a wedding dress looking back at her. This is the mirror reflection for part of a vision she had in Vallaki.

Baz-as-Remington, and Uther-as-the-father were in another wing at a pre-wedding party.

Uther got to know some of the other soldiers he had fought with in the war, though still didn’t remember much. Still, as a father himself, he was able to fall into the role of complaining about how spoiled the next generation was going to be. He started to get drunk.

Baz noted that Von Richten, his old teacher, was there as in a dream— But as a wizard speaking to two other wizards. Baz went up and talked to his old teacher and learned that the other wizards were Exethanter and Khazahn, who leads the group to Strahd in his workshop. They explain some very exciting magic that they’ve been learning about. The Von Richten wizard seemed less interested in magic and said that mechanical and chemical sciences would be the future.

Back with Karlotta-as-Tatyana, there was a knock at the door where she was getting prepared for the wedding. A servant opened it. In walked Strahd. There’s something handsome about him, but he’s stonefaced. And Karlotta’s realized that in seeing him that she’s not Karlotta, because the darkness in him frightens you about something in yourself.

And for a moment she feared Sergei for the same reasons.

She look into the mirror to check and see something too horrible to imagine, for just a split second. She’s left not sure that you see it before it’s gone.

Strahd opened a small box and handed it to Karlotta. It was a beautiful ring. “I wanted you to have it,” He said sadly, almost stammering, “I got it from my mother…She would have wanted…She always wanted me to give it to the woman I loved most in the world. But it’s for you and…Sergei. My only brother. I’m happy for him…Happy for you both.”

One of the servants, who looks like Miss Mason, takes Tatyana to the wedding.

Baz-as-Remmington, Uther-as-drunk-father, Von Richten, Exethanter, and Khasahn file to the place of where the marriage is to take place. In the same castle they’re in, on a huge balcony overlooking Barovia. Uther finds a piece of metal and jams it behind a flagstone.

Karlotta comes out and stands next to Uther to be given away to Sergei. But Sergei does not come.

Karlotta looked absently out at the field and can just see the horses below, that Sergei and her were going to ride off on. She also looks into the crowd and sees herself, Karlotta, young and dressed as a maid, in attendance of the wedding.

The priest looked patient, but the crowd was getting antsy waiting for Sergei. There is an electric feel to the air. This was taking too long.

The crowd murmured and everyone looked up to a balcony high above in a tower. Sergei is standing there. Looking concerned. He mouths something, but it’s unclear what. Things become tense.

Behind him, Strahd stands. He takes Sergei’s neck and pulls it back. Looking at Karlotta, he bites into Sergei’s neck like an animal, and blood gushes as Sergei falls limp.

Sergei, being the only person that really loved Strahd doesn’t resist. You know that he’d have done anything for his brother. Now he is falling to his knees, involuntarily holding the gushing wound. Strahd looks down at the panicking crowd and, blood dripping from his mouth, orders his guards to force the crowd to stay seated.

He leaps from the balcony and lands on the ground, too easily to be natural. Strahd begins coming toward Karlotta, Sergei’s blood around his mouth. He is angry. Violent. Hateful.
“I hate Sergei for making me do that,” He said, “And I will force you to love me instead. In time you will have no choice.”

Here Uther rushed at Strahd, but before he got two steps, guards, panicking, shot him full of arrows. The crowd erupted into screams.

Karlotta ran to the back, where railings protected a long drop to the ground. Sergei and her horse were panicking, far below and away, sensing the commotion. Servants tried to hold them there.

“Kill them!” Strahd said, matching Karlotta’s gaze.

Guards with crossbows shoot the horses down.

“Hold her down,” Strahd commanded other guards.
.
One hesitantly held her arm. Another other rearmed his crossbow…And then shoots Strahd. This set the tone, and the other guards began shooting Strahd.

There was a glimpse of something horrible, something unexplainable, like that in the mirror.

Strahd fell to his knees and back. The sky clapped. Clouds rolled over the blue sky and turned the bright world first to silver and then to black. Strahd stood in the darkness. He looked different now.

He extended his hands and mist began rolling out from the castle.

“There is no escape for you,” He said violently, but added somewhat lovingly, “I know you’ll love me as much as I love you.”

Karlotta jumped from the railing to escape him, far below, to her death. In that moment, she knew that she would do anything not to be his.

karlotta faintly heard Mr. Wilcox.

The ground came up at her, she felt the impact, but she kept falling.

Mr. Wilcox announced as darkness consumed her, “I will reveal the demon evocations; the very same that drove the other away. But you, you will lean into their unwholesome relief. You will revel in their forming.”

Darkness consumes her as she continued to fall

“Byakhee
“Azagoths
“Shoggoths
“Parasites of Yigolonac
“Ammutseba, devourer”

The black seas of infinity touch where she had just left, grazing her for the shortest of instants before she felt the eye close.

And all three were back at the seance table across from Kasimir.

Kasimir’s Story
Kasimir gave them the following information:

““I am one of the last of the dying race of Dusk Elves. I am about a thousand years old, and will die far sooner than see that many days again.

“Long ago, long before me, long before anyone I ever knew, long before the race of man, the Fey Wilds had an elf that lived amongst the stone. Built with stone. And then they emerged from the Fey Wilds to other worlds and found them empty hell scapes with only the dying aberrant races upon them.

“These elves, used to working with stone, immediately poured into the world and built great cities and developed magic that could not be imagined and travelled to many worlds. They became known as the Dawn Elves, for they opened up the conception of civilization to many on various planes as life as we know it awakened.”

Kasimir continued to explain that when his ancestors came from the Fey many thousands of years ago, they came across an already ancient structure that had been sealed. It was sealed and temples built around it to keep what dread horrors existed at bay. Long before Kasimir was born, these too were abandoned.

It’s unclear why, but the Dawn Elves receded into the night and became a lost civilization, thenceforth known as Dusk Elves. He is almost a thousand years old, and has always lived not far from the Amber Temple.

He explained that it was Rahadin, one of our own, that first left to make his name upon the humans.

Upon his advice, three humans, powerful in magic, came here about six hundred years ago to find the temple. These were Baron Von Strahd, then a young general; his teachers of the mystic arts Exethanter, and Khazan.

These three humans entered the terrible ancient structure.

When asked, it was revealed that Khazan went on to build a tower in Barovia, Strahd became the creature he was, and nobody knows what happened to Exethanter.

Things were fine for a while, but Kasimir and the other Dusk Elves felt the realm shift. The mist came rolling in.

Kasimir said that the group needs to go to the Amber Temple to try and fight off Strahd’s source of power.

This triggered a memory for Uther. He remembered standing there, looking at an amber wall. There was a saintly dwarf called Donovan that everybody called the Incorruptible next to him, and a wicked human everybody called the incorruptible. A halfling with a thick Cockney accent was in the reflection too. Uther remembers the scene well, but nothing else—aside from a feeling of panic and shame, like everything went terribly wrong. He told this to Kasimir.

Kasimir explained that he was vaguely aware of Mordenkainen’s plan a year ago, but advised Mordenkainen against it. Kasimir and Uther put together that this was about a year ago—and whatever happened on the mission Uther can’t remember—that’s when the dreams started for Kasimir.

At about this time, Arrigal came in to join the group. He mentions that he just heard back from Madam Eva, who told him to go along with the group.

To get to the temple, Kasimir explains that the group needs rings of warmth and heavy furs.

He suggested Barovia, but the group has been exiled from there.

Then he suggested Vallaki, but the group has been exiled from there too.

So…The hamlet of Krezk it is.

Arrigal informs them that if they’re going to get into Krezk, they need something. And since the winery stopped shipping alcohol, booze is the most important thing for all Barovians right now.

Kasimir tells suggests options, while Arrigal gives the danger to each:

1.The ruins of mansion Argynvostholt, where ancient stores of brandy still populate liquor cabinets all over the realm

Arrigal- “It’s picked pretty clean, and there are some nasty people there.”

2. The ruins of the city of Berez. It’s where the Martikov dynasty originally came from. After the city’s destruction the family distributed wine, but some still remain there to make absinthe that the wealthiest amongst Barovians drink.

Arrigal- “The place his haunted and the Martikovs are cursed.”

3. The Wizard of the Wines. This is where all the wine in the region was grown and, until recently, where it came from. There will still be wine there.

Arrigal: The Martikovs run it, and they’re cursed. But they’re nothing to be jeered at. If something took them down, you can bet it’s not something you want to deal with.

After some discussion, the group decided to depart to Berez.

The Venture
Arrigal has a small cart with a horse. He could ride the horse while the other three sat in back.

As they travelled to Berez, they came across a skeletal rider. Arrigal told them that if they didn’t bother the rider, they would be fine. However, Uther was committed to destroying the undead. Much to Arrigal’s annoyance, they fought the skeletal rider. And won.

Everything became even more foggy and humid. The road moved down, but Arrigal informed the group that they needed to leave the cart and proceed on foot. As they scaled down a ledge from the road into the soupy fog, they heard a chain-gang. They then heard a work song. And as they came closer, they saw the ghosts of bearded slaves, chained together. They were singing the following song:

Lead: Good God,
Chorus: It’s a dead world.
Lead: Good God:
Chorus: He’s the one that brought the fire
Lead: Good God
Chorus: It’s a dead world.
Lead: Good God
Chorus: He’s the one that brought the fire
Lead: Good Lord!
Chorus: It’s a dark world
Lead: Good Lord!
Chorus: It’s the world that brings the fire
Lead: The riverbed will run red with the blood of the saints and the blood of the holy
Chorus: He’s the one that brings the fire
Lead: The riverbed will run red with the blood of the saints and the blood of the holy

When seeing the adventurers approach, the leader introduced himself as the Kavan, Son of Bratt. Kavan explained that he was the chief of native Barovians that opposed Strahd. After Strahd took control of Barovia, they were forced into slavery, building roads and whatnot.

One day, because a girl was killed in Berez, Strahd sought to destroy the city. The slaves were ordered to divert the river. The conditions were terrible, and probably inflicted for the sole reason of making sure none of the slaves survived the project. When it was completed, the river poured into Berez, washing it out and making it uninhabitable. The Martikov dynasty poured into the rest of Barovia, though retained power in the winery.

The reason that the ghost of Kavan explained this was because in Baz, he saw something. Not the outside, but inside was finally a form he could trust to take revenge. He said that buried in Yesser Hill was a blood spear that would put the slaves to rest finally, if used to fight Strahd. The ghosts then vanished.

Arragal led the rest of the group into the ruins of Berez. The adventurers set off a screaming scarecrow and fled into the river. There they saw a steady light blinking.

Following it, they came to Muriel, a huntress that seemed to know a great deal about them. She mentioned that she was in Berez to keep an eye on the Baba Yaga—and that she had friends that were divided on to whether to help the group or not. She was very much on the side of helping, but reluctant to go too far without checking in with her friends.

The adventurers continued into the city, getting lost, running into scarecrows that had to be quickly dispatched, and not able to rest as flies kept landing on them and biting them when they stopped.

At one point they came across the Baba Yaga’s lair. Crows were caged on each side of it. It seemed to be empty. Arragal went stealth about this time..

They pressed on, Arrigal eventually coming back into the fog. Choosing a random direction, they came across a fence covered in human skulls containing goats. Karlotta wanted to release the goats, but Uther talked her out of it.

They continued, eventually coming across the ruins of a mansion.

In the mansion, they found the mutilated ghost of the last Martikov Burgomaster. He explained that he was cursed by Strahd to stay there in that condition. A long time ago a woman was born in Berez that was beautiful. Strahd took special attention to her and, to save her from being damned, he ordered her executed. This caused his curse and the destruction of the town. He told the adventurers that what they were looking for would be under her grave.

The adventurers continued to the graveyard, eventually finding an elaborate grave to the girl—who looked identical to Tatyana and Ireena.

A trick door led under the grave where they found an old couple arguing and making cases and cases of absinthe.

The adventurers grabbed as much as they could carry and proceeded up the stairs. Arrigal, who was last in line, saw something and acted.

The adventurers do not know what it was.

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