Having escaped the house of death, the group decided to further investigate their surroundings. The fog had not dispersed and a foreboding gloom settled in over the companions. They went to a house across the cobbled street and found it all boarded up. There was a small shed next to the house, and no back door so they went around front.
The front door had some type of barrier behind it, and wouldn’t open so the group muscle (Nithtish put a shoulder to it, and with a little help from Dante) was able to pry it open just enough to see in. Inside there were 3 children ranging in age from 6 to 12, two girls and a boy. After a bit of persuasion, the children allowed the party in. After such a harrowing experience in the haunted house they were looking for a place to take a much-earned rest.
The children explained that they hadn’t seen their father in years, and their mom had gone to get more food for several days. They felt safer about allowing the group to stay after some reassurance from Ora to reassure them after Nithtish’s not-so-reassuring assurance. During the night, the middle girl ( Inger) bolted awake screaming during a nightmare. Daine asked her what her dream was about (being suffocated and pain in her neck) and found 2 bite marks on her neck.
More and more of the strangeness of Barovia came to light as they spoke to the children. There is a March of the Dead every night at midnight (or Zombie Parade as the kids put it). Nithtish and Daine went investigating the shed near the house and to their shock and horror discovered the kids’ mother, dead with vampire bites in her neck. The devilish looking fighter took it upon herself to break the news to the children gently, but once again “Words HARD!” so Ora and Daine brought them down gently with the sobering news.
Next, Dante wanted to do a little shopping so the party found themselves in Bildrath’s Mercantile. His prices seemed on the high side, so they moved on to the village inn and tavern, the Blood of the Vine. Here they met three Vistani ladies named Alenka, Mirabel, and Sorvia who seemed to greatly dislike outsiders, especially Nithtish and Ora. There was a lone man at the bar, drinking named Ismark. Nithtish started up a conversation with him and he referred to himself as Ismark the Lesser. He also pleaded with the group to help Ireena Kolyana, the adopted daughter of the leader of the town who recently perished.
They agree to go and assist her with whatever she needed, and travelled to the burgomeister’s mansion only to find it burned and scratched by various claw marks. It was barred and locked up tight, so they shouted and got Ireena to let them in after some convincing. She related her father Kolyan Indirovich had recently fallen ill and died, and no one is willing to help her take his body to the ceremony for a proper burial. Dante, smitten by the beautiful young woman, pipes up and eagerly agrees to take her and her father to the cemetary where the priest can perform the ritual to keep his body from rising again.
While taking the body to the church in a horse drawn cart, our heros are attacked by several strange zombies. Hoping to try out his newly aquired assassination abilities, Dante gets caught flat footed and is frustrated by going last in the initiative order. Lark, relatively quiet for a change, shoots one with a crossbow bolt. But it is Adriana and Nithtish who shine in this encounter, punching, kicking, and slashing their way through decapitated and de-limbed zombies.
Once at the church, Ireena seeks out the priest Donavich — he was in the process of hanging himself using the bell tower chain. As the companions approached the holy man, a loud scream emanated from under the wood floor, saying “Father! I am so hungry!” The priest performed basic last rites on the deceased burgomeister, only going through the motions. Dante, trying to impress “his lady” told the priest he would put down the vampire spawn that was his son if he correctly performed the last rites to keep the bodies from rising as undead. He reluctantly agreed.
Opinions on killing a 12 year old boy (vampire spawn or no) were decided split: half of the party deciding to end the evil creature, and the other half stepping back and taking no action against him. Dante redeemed himself from his low order in initiative against the zombies, and scored a dramatic critical against Doru, the young vampire. In the end, the boy monster was slain, and his body delivered to the Morning Lord priest. Sobbing, the Father properly performed last rites on both unfortunate souls, granting them their eternal rest.
Donavich emplored the party to take Ireena and leave Barovia for Vallaki as soon as possible. They agreed, but wanted to go back and grab Elsa, Inger, and Viktor first. Ireena went back to the mansion to quickly pack and prepare for the trip.
And that is where we will pick up…. NEXT TIME!