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  #166  
Old 12-03-2019, 11:35 PM
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Gareth Blackcroft
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Gareth frowns as he surveys the interior of the windmill. Blood and ichor drip steadily onto the floor, and now the place truly looks like the charnel house that it is. How had he not seen it before? The bones, the meat, the rancid stench of evil. The pies that were too good to be true.

Renata is going to be doing her best pork impersonation if we don't get her out of there...

In a flurry of motion Gareth whirls around and begins to shout and motion at empty air, his eyes looking past Aubron and Gauth.

"Bolivar! Get in there and help her!"

The rogue flicks his wrist and his face twists into a grimace as dark tendrils creep up his neck, just beneath the skin. For a brief instant there is a shimmer of sickly green energy around the scarred man's hands and then a hulking half-orc rushes past the ranger and monk to slip into the windmill.

The imposing man glances at Renata and nods to her, brandishing a hunk of metal that is half sword, half cleaver. All the better to separate hag limbs from hag bodies. The half-familiar half-orc grins his warty grin and beckons for the sisters to do their worst.

"They're just your type, Bolivar! Ugly and mean! And there's a third one!"

Gareth cackles like a maniac and cheers on the new arrival as though the cavalry has arrived.

OOC
Action: Silent Image
Bonus Action: Sell the hell out of it so the sisters attack 'Bolivar' and not Renata

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Last edited by OldSchool; 12-03-2019 at 11:38 PM.
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  #167  
Old 12-04-2019, 12:37 AM
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Tarton Wetfeet
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Tarton looked up and saw Kiki, quickly, help them! he communicated before his eyes flicked back into the hut. He called forth another four darts and sent them into the door after the hag that he had hit before. "Maja, either run or fight!" He closed his eyes briefly, urging fate to swing in their favour.
DivinationSecretID - if Renata wants to attack (and smite) this is the perfect spot to use that 20 that Tarton rolled for divination.

OOCAction: Cast bane on the hag - DC12 Charisma save
Movement: Poke into the mill, cast the spell, and then back out to safety.
Reaction: Tarton will cast shield if he is hit
Bonus Action:
OOC: .
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Dice Magic Missile Damage @ 2nd Level:
4d4+4 (2, 1, 1, 1)+4 Total = 9
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  #168  
Old 12-05-2019, 08:59 AM
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Windmill, 12:45 PM, rain
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Gauth does what he can… he needs to know what is upstairs… something is drawing him there. He dodges, rolls… does everything he can to draw blood from the wretched woman in front of him, but she will not fall. No. Instead, Bella continues her insane cackling even as arrows fly through the air, barely missing her.

The goliath realizes that he may be outmatched and decides to follow his companions outside the ancient windmill. As the giant rolls out of the door, an enraged orc rushes into the room brandishing a wicked cleaver. Insults are issued, "They're just your type, Bolivar! Ugly and mean! And there's a third one!"

Bella screeches in fury, “Ugly! Mean! I will suck the marrow from your feminine bones you bastard! I offered you pie!”

In the middle of her indignant response, Bella was again peppered by magical darts of hateful energy that sizzled as they bored into her thin wrinkled skin.

Offelia tears into the orc illusion and then pauses as she sees her sister's more haggard than usual appearance. "Bella... you look like ****!" she says laughing heartedly, "more like mum everyday!" She rushes over to Bella and grabs her hands, turning a baleful eye on Renata. "We will see you soon my juicy blackberry... soon enough... and Mama's coming with us!"

With that, the two horrible hags begin to shimmer as they slowly fade into the background until they disappear completely.

OocAnd they are gone


 
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  #169  
Old 12-06-2019, 10:40 AM
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Gareth Blackcroft
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As the hags shimmer and disappear the silent Bolivar turns to face Renata and flexes his arms in a time-honored pose. Gareth strolls casually into the house applauding the half-orc before he turns to examine the battlefield.

"That was.... unexpected. You are all welcome, though."

As the rogue makes a casual investigation of the kitchen area Bolivar walks behind him, bowing from the waist with his arms outstretched before him. The rogue pretends not to notice, but everyone knows that the illusion is simply doing what Gareth wishes it to do.

The scarred man circles back to Renata and glances at her wounds.

"Looks like you could use a rest and I'm sick of walking in the rain. Why don't we take a break here and Gauth can search the place for his apprentice. I don't think he'll find anything he likes, though."

At this point the illusory Bolivar has, quite improbably, found a massive palm frond and a bunch of grapes. The hulking half-orc alternates between fanning Gareth and plucking grapes...which he then surreptitiously throws at the rogue's back. Gareth whirls around, catching him in mid-throw, and the scarred man finally dispels the illusion with a sharp wave of his hand.

"That was probably the most useful thing Bolivar ever did. At least this version didn't smell."

Gareth reclaims the rusted sword and then waves at the stairs.

"Should we rest or check upstairs first?"

OOC


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  #170  
Old 12-06-2019, 11:13 AM
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Maja
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Maja Tallstag (click to enlarge)
"I...," Maja replied distraughtly to Tarton, not really knowing what to answer. "What do you want me to do, Tarton? I can't do anything against the witches! We can't run away without Renata and Gauth-Touri either."

Seldom she had felt so powerless. Whenever she had stretched out her telepathic antennae against the hags, her psionic energies were thrown back by something; as if Bella and Offalia were only half of this world.

Suddenly the events overturned. Bella was further wounded by Tarton's magical projectiles, Gareth created a true-to-life illusion of a fearsome half-orc, and finally, the two cruel sisters disappeared, as their contours gradually dissolved.

"Where are they?" Maja asked as she rushed towards the windmill again. If only she hadn't been so scared, she could have laughed at Gareth's Bolivar.

But then, the young rogue suggested taking a break in the mill. "Isn't that insane? What if they just made themselves invisible? Do you think they voluntarily leave their bakery to us? Probably they are just waiting for an opportunity to attack us behind our backs, for example when we rest here!"
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  #171  
Old 12-07-2019, 06:52 AM
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Gauth-Touri of the Auranthanati
Huh?
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Gauth had rolled through the door and leapt back to his feet. In his hand he’d drawn a heavy barbed dart. His eyes burned into the darkness of the room, waiting for the old hags to come bursting through the door, ready to wreak their thirsty revenge on the bad manners of their guests.


He stood, knees slightly bent, breathing heavily to restore his energy …

… and he waited.


But the old women simply melted into the air. One moment they were fighting for their lives, the next they were gone. Just gone.

”That was … unexpected” Gareth’s understatement stood for them all. And the cloaked man followed his illusory orc into the windmill again.


”Looks like you could use a rest … why don’t we take a break … and Gauth can search the place …” the man continued.

But Maja counselled caution ”What if they just made themselves invisible?” she said.

”There is one way to find out.” said Gauth, rotating his shoulders and stretching his back. And the Goliath followed Gareth into the room.


He paused for a moment, staff ready to strike anything that shimmered in the air …

”Aran-Tho!” he shouted ”Trouble? … Are you here?” the Goliath waiting a moment, then turned to his companions.

”I’m going to check upstairs… who knows what those creatures are doing here” and he began to climb the stairs up the mill.


OOC
Gauth still a little single minded at the moment!

 


 

Last edited by Jon; 12-07-2019 at 06:53 AM.
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  #172  
Old 12-08-2019, 09:23 AM
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Renata Tyrfille
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Renata's head spins - to some degree literally - as she processes the rapid changes to the battlefield wrought by magic. Just as she decides that the half-orc is some phantasm generated by Tarton or Gareth, the witches disappear...or seem to do so. She waits to relax herself even as the others reenter the room, searching past the distraction of Gareth's antics for any evidence of the enemy. She has found nearly ubiquitous deception and illusion out in the larger world. The paladins had warned her.

Renata ignores Gareth's suggestion of rest for now, though she knows she could use it soon. She has persevered through much worse, only days ago. When Gauth ascends the stairs, she follows close.

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  #173  
Old 12-08-2019, 09:43 AM
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Maja
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"Wait! I'm coming with you," Maja said to Gauth-Touri and Renata as they were turning to the stairs leading onto the second floor to look out for Aran-Tho. She felt obliged to help them as good as she could, especially after she hadn't been able to do anything against the two hags.

Before she followed Lady Renata and the goliath upstairs, Maja looked around once more in the bakery, which occupied the whole first floor. She had the feeling they might be missing a clue.

If the hags have turned invisible, Maja said silently to the paladin and the monk using her telepathy, they will attack us when we will expect them least. The more we split up, the easier prey we will be.

As she took the creaking steps of the warped staircase, Maja had to think about her juvenile book with the bone mill once more.
OOCPerception: +3.
Knowledge Arcana: +7.
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Last edited by Disaster Master; 12-08-2019 at 10:29 AM.
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  #174  
Old 12-10-2019, 10:49 AM
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Aubron Wranlana
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Aubron had knocked another arrow from the safety of the outside forest, but the sounds of battle had died down. He witnessed the others seem to casually walk back inside, and the elf was confused. He harnessed his bow and drew his twin blades being ready for anything.

Walking in, the two hags had disappeared and were replaced by a hulking half orc fanning Gareth. Aubron did not have time to ponder what had transpired, but instead followed the goliath and Renata upstairs. "Let the jokester have his fun," he thought to himself.
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  #175  
Old 12-10-2019, 02:18 PM
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Windmill, 12:40 PM, rain
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As quickly as the hags disappear, Gauth reenters the rundown mill and makes for the stairs to the second floor. Gareth does his best to amuse himself, anything to ease the terror of the last few minutes. His orc illusion, a parody of Bolivar, the lost half-orc from the Soul Keeper, is ignored by the rest of the party and that says more than anything else.

The orc had died saving the group at the massive gates guarded by the beheaded stone statutes. Using all of his brute strength, the sailor had held the gates just long enough for everyone else to squeeze through… and then they had slammed shut. The orc had his skin ripped from his body by the malevolent mist as they claimed the far side of the gate. Such a noble sacrifice… but in Barovia… quickly forgotten.

The group climbs the narrow weathered stairs, their heavy footsteps releasing a cascades of groans from the warped wood. The dirt-caked windows allow very little light to enter the second floor room, an eight-foot-high chamber, most of which is taken up by a large millstone connected to a wooden gear shaft that rises through the ceiling in the center of the room. A stone staircase continues up entering a cramped, circular room with a thick wooden gear shaft in the center.

In a rotting wooden closet are three crates, stacked one atop another, with small doors set into them. Next to the closet is a heap of discarded clothing and a tattered bag with the top cinched closed. A ladder climbs to a wooden trapdoor in the nine-foot-high ceiling. A moldy bed with a tattered canopy stands nearby.

Guath is the first one into the filthy room and so he is the first to find Aran-Tho… or what is left of his charge. The large child has been strung up in the cramped closet, his arms and legs extended by rope bound tightly upon his thin wrists and ankles. Wooden buckets with rust covered handles sit underneath each arm and leg. The buckets are now empty but a thin reddish residue still stains the insides and the floor around each bucket. The boy had been incapacitated… how is unclear… but then his wrists… his ankles… his throat had been slit… Aron-Tho’s blood flowing into the hungry buckets below. The child has been completely drained.

The rusted cages next to the goliath’s body are empty, but there are numerous piles of crumbs scattered inside. Looking at the cages, maja notices that they are only three square feet each… much too small to hold a person.




 
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  #176  
Old 12-10-2019, 04:28 PM
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Gauth-Touri of the Auranthanati
Grief and loss
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”Aran-Tho!” called Gauth as he climbed the stairs …

”Aran-Tho!” he called as he entered the room …

”Aran-Th … oh” the giant man’s voice fell as he saw the closet. The closet and its grizzly inhabitant.


The goliath stood still for a moment, staring into the empty eyes, the pallid flesh, the tattoos lost in bloodless flesh.

”Aran-Tho, what have they done to you …” tenderness flowed into the mans voice as he propped his staff against the wall and reached to the cadaver strung up before him. ”What have they done?” his voice cracked as tears began to fall from his eyes. ”Trouble, what did they do?” and his great arms embraced the young corpse, gathering it to his chest, the body straining at the ropes that held him spread-eagle in the closet. ”What have they done …”. Gauth-Touri of the Auranthanati sobbed at the loss of the boy whose care had placed in his charge; the boy he’d apprenticed as his own; the boy he’d grown to love.


The goliath stood back from the boy. He took the knife from his belt and cut the constraining ropes, taking the boy once more in his arms, and hugging him like a toddler asleep in a father’s arms. He walked carefully, lest he disturb his charge’s rest and began to sing a baritone lament in the tribe-tongue of the Auranthanati.

Down the stairs he passed… down the stairs and out of that accursed mill. Out of that accursed mill and into the blighted plain. Into the rain.


Gauth-Touri let the water cleanse them. Cleanse them of the evil of that place. He took Arun-Tho fifty, one hundred yards from the mill and lay the body down. He took a clean cloth from his pack and began to clean the corpse, washing the stain of blood from his flesh, washing the look a pain from his face, closing his eyes. All the time singing that low tune.


Then Gauth-Tori knelt and bowed his head.

”Arun-Tho, I have failed you.” he lifted his head letting the rain mingle with his tears ”Auranthanati, I have failed you.” his head fell again ” I have no further worth to you. Worry not, I shall not return.”


And there he remained, kneeling, rain washing over and through him.


OOC

 


 

Last edited by Jon; 12-10-2019 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 12-11-2019, 08:37 AM
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Gareth Blackcroft
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Tired from the exertions of battle, Gareth finds a seat on the main floor and props his feet up, examining the rusted sword and moldy umbrella. The hags had treasure hidden somewhere, maybe it was in plain sight?

Before long Gauth reappears on the stairs carrying a large.... something, and as Gareth glances up at the Goliath, cocksure smile on his face, the young rogue realizes what he's seeing. The grin instantly fades and Gareth takes a step towards Gauth before stopping himself. There is only sadness and perhaps a small measure of empathy in Gareth's eyes as he looks on. The scarred man doesn't say a word, he simply nods and stands, leaving the Goliath to his mourning.

When the pair pass from the mill Gareth slumps back into the chair, the sword clattering to the ground as he covers his scarred face, all thoughts of treasure driven from his mind.

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  #178  
Old 12-11-2019, 09:49 AM
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Renata Tyrfille
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Renata follows Gauth downstairs and outside at a respectful distance. The paladin observes silence as the goliath openly mourns, but her hand worries the handle of her axe and the muscles of her jaw flex.

After only a few moments her body's demand for action overcomes her. Renata takes the party's shovel and paces away from the cabin to find some spot where Aran-Tho's body might be left to rest undisturbed by the hags when they return. As she starts to dig, Renata feels the blisters on her hand; they have yet to heal since she last dug a grave for a child. The lord of this land lives forever while forbidding the young to mature. The worst of this place falls on the youngest. In this regard at least, this place is familiar.

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  #179  
Old 12-11-2019, 09:50 AM
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Maja
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Upstairs on the second floor, Maja didn't find the gruesome bone mill from her book as she had feared, but what she was now forced to look at was at least as terrible. Until the very end, she had hoped that Gauth-Touri's hunch that he would find his charge here was just an idée fixe, but her own eyes were teaching her better.

"Oh, Gauth-Touri," she said with a shaky voice. She wanted to say more, wanted to comfort the goliath, wanted to divert herself from this horrible scene, but she was missing the words. "Oh, Gauth!"

Maja froze in place and looked after Gauth-Touri carrying Aron-Tho's body downstairs. She had learned to utilize her psychic energies to heal minor wounds, but revivifying the boy was far beyond her reach.

Her inability to help the goliath monk in his grief was paralyzing her. Poor Aron-Tho! Strahd's realm should have never become the boy's eternal resting place. Aron-Tho didn't belong here. If he had to die at all, he should have died amongst the members of his tribe.

Will we all have to die here, far from our families? Bolivar, Iados, now Aron-Tho!

Renata, Gareth, Tarton, Aubron, Gauth-Touri, Maja. They would all be the next.

If we don't do anything! Maja suddenly broke out of her lethargy. No! She knew what she had to do. She would tempt fate. Whatever the Tarokka cards said, nothing was predetermined. Aron-Tho might have died on this alien demi-plane, but that didn't mean that his body had to rest here forever. No, she would do everything in her power to bring him back to his tribe.

Aubron and Tarton had been right. She should stop abhorring her powers. They had been given to her and she had to accept them as what they were, a gift that hopefully would someday enable her to defeat the almighty vampire Count Strahd!

With renewed energy, she awoke from her rigor. Maja moved over to the three rusty cages. At first, she would wrench their secret from them. And then she would learn what the hags had done to Aron-Tho. One part of the girl feared what horrors she would get to see, but the other part of her knew that she mustn't overlook any detail should they ever want to get the chance to find the key to unlock their prison on this plane.

Maja squatted down and took the crumbs in her hands, investigating the substance. She then touched the most central cage and closed her eyes, concentrating on the object. Through her mystic abilities, she began to feel the rusty cage's individual atoms and the forces between them. There was a psionic imprint left on it and Maja began to read it...
OOCInvestigation: +7.
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  #180  
Old 12-13-2019, 09:12 AM
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Windmill, 12:55 PM, rain
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The pallor that falls upon the wretched mill as Guath bids his young charge farewell in the cold rain is that of a pale wasting disease. Whatever optimism… hope... that remained in the party is slowly being leached away, being fed upon by a parasitic evil that devours hope like a famished abomination. Hope is gone but life remains.

Gauth and Renata do what they can for Aran-Tho. Maja remains upstairs, the eerie silence enveloping her like a rotten funeral shroud. Her hand reaches out to grasp one of the rusted cages and as her trembling fingers touch the cold metal, Maja is terrified to hear the cackling of Offila.

The wretched hag bends low, poking a gnarled bony finger towards the mystic. “Aren’t you just a plumb little boy? Eating all your food like you’re told.” Maja hears the gate of the cage creak open and the whimpering of a child.

“Shhhh… it’s time to harvest the grain… your parents need their pies and we would hate to disappoint them.”

Maja sees movement… blurred off to the side… thankfully... as a quick gasp followed by a gurgling sound can be heard.



 
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