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  #736  
Old 06-17-2020, 10:13 AM
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Sylvi
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Sylvi laughed alongside the rest, knowing how much their cleric hated slime and gunk of any kind. She was truly a brave soul, to venture with them into the depths of filth. That was exactly the kind of loyalty she most admired! Zilgim’s philosophical question was the deepest thing she had ever heard. He posed a good question. Had they died so sudden that their souls had not yet realized it; or, were they perhaps trapped in some kind of spiritual limbo? The natural law no longer governed this place, wherever they were…indeed, the answer may rest with Barovia and the secrets buried within it.

“Hmm. Vestiges of Death may surround us, but strangely I do not think we are truly dead…Kelemvor would have brought me to the Crystal Spire, to be judged by word and deed. He gathers all souls that have no deity of their own, surely Selune would have claimed our pious cleric...” Looking to Liiare, Sylvi thoughtfully weighed the territory of her Lady’s domain. “Why would the Raven Queen command us to kill someone, let alone a man already dead? Judgement belongs to Kelemvor…while, The Queen collects and preserves cherished memories of both the living and the dead…is there some obstacle in her way?”

“Also, I’m not yet certain we are finished here…there’s the matter of the Dark Lady. After everything, I would hate to leave without seeing justice done.” What fate had befallen Lady Durst—the instigator of so many woes?


 
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  #737  
Old 06-17-2020, 10:34 AM
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Arquiztex begins sifting through the floating flesh and debris of what had been Walter Monster's lair, hoping to find something of use for the party (in addition to her flask of oil).

As she works, she listens to Sylvi and nods in agreement. With her theological training, Arquiztex could follow most of Sylvi's statements about Kelemvor and the Crystal Spire, but that didn't convince her. After all, every race and every creature had a god to explain things as they saw fit. Her shaman had once said that if you stopped and asked a swamp rat about God, she, too, would be able to sermonize about heaven and a God who watched over rat litters and burrows. No, a stranger's theology was interesting, but proved nothing. Fortunately though, during the resting hours the previous night, Arquiztex had already gathered all the proof she required.

"I think you right. We not dead," and then she adds, "I'm not dead, I know because my poo is not dead poo. You not dead, I know because I checked your poo. He not dead," she points at Rolen. "None of us dead." Then, she points at the area where Zilgim had been standing before he left the room, "Now his poo, it strange ... but I have not studied gnome poo much. And I think he constipated. Explains a lot," Arquiztex concludes before returning to her sifting of the floating remains. She was elated that the party had survived and bonded together over the hunt. And she was even more pleased that from now on, surely nobody would question her interest in scatology.



 


 

Last edited by bananabadger; 06-17-2020 at 10:56 AM.
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  #738  
Old 06-17-2020, 10:50 AM
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On philosophy
"I don't believe we're dead either, back on the spikes I had a vision of the raven woman who visited our camp. I doubt visions are wasted on the dead." Rolen offered his opinion on their existence as ripples danced across the surface of the dark waters. "Now whether or not this plane exists among that of the living is something else entirely." The ranger stared off for a moment, alone with his thoughts. "It does seem that we've broken the curse but, our task may not be complete just yet."
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Old 06-17-2020, 12:12 PM
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Arquiztex and Mercy congratulate Rolen The cleric, as is her wont, tries in vain to clean the elf and the lizard woman before proferring a shroud for the dead child.

It's Wens that points out that their quest has by no means come to an end. Zilgim agrees, after a fashion, and heads back to the refectory to retrieve the grick's treasure. Arquiztex reassures the party in a scatological sort of way.

What would you like to do next?

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Old 06-17-2020, 01:21 PM
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Mercy Petreva, Human Light Cleric
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"I'm not dead," Mercy snapped at Zilgim. She wiped her face on her sleeve, hopped down off the ledge and slogged back to the ramp and up it. Way to kill the mood, gnome.

She stomped up and through the room that housed the "curiosities" and went on up the stairs. Bury the baby, and out we go. Perfectly living. Back to the land. Never pooping again. Not dead. How dare that little squirt insinuate? "He can speak as clearly as anyone else when he wants to," she fumed. "We're all... dead... we... are... all... do... you... not... know... whatever... ho."

She stopped on the landing. Still. STILL. There was something romantic and fragile and amazing about being somewhat partially dead! And trapped in a cursed land shrouded by mist, unable to return or pass on. Return? RETURN? What did she have to return to except a few mild flirtations, disgrace by association on several vectors, and an unfinished artwork that dimmed in her memory to something entirely forgettable. Of course anyone could finish it. It was, essentially, a landscape, pleasantly rendered. But here, here reminded her of those books she liked to sneak into where the heroine was always a governess and there were towers and hedge mazes and the true threat was never the dark, troubled master of the house but always the fair, blue-eyed brother who seemed such a trustworthy ally.

She marched the rest of the way up, and reaching the top of the passage her body shuddered with a sharp visceral memory of the fall onto the spikes, just down that way. But, was it really so sharp? Pain is so hard to remember when you're not currently in it. And hadn't they all survived? Maybe because... they were dead in the first place? Ugh, hairy gnome.

She waited there for the party. This way, back down the passage to the spikes: not tolerable. That way, possibly around them. She
Dice Perception Check:
d20+3 (1)+3 Total = 4
tried to listen and weigh the odds.


Mercy’s ActionsMove: Through the museum, up the stairs.
Action:Perception check: 1+3=4.
Reaction: Use Warding Flare to impose disadvantage on attacks within 30 feet.


 

 

Last edited by lostcheerio; 06-17-2020 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 06-17-2020, 03:40 PM
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Ahead, Mercy sees the corridor and the pit with the impromptu bridge. To her right, there's a short flight of steps, with a glow of some sort at the top.
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Old 06-17-2020, 03:48 PM
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"And then Salty goes like this ... whooop, tsssk, rattle shmattle ... and the door opens up! And then he does it again, with a whooop, tssssk, rattle skreeeek ... and a poison dart pops out! And then we go into this room where there is a bat and bat poo that Lancelot eats! And then Grick Blaster over here goes all Barbarian on us and uses his leg muscles to open up this wheel of doom! And so we're in this area with toilet water and cackling wisps and then Walter Monster attacks and I flllliiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnng a flask of oil ... and if you were there, Rose, you could have sparked it up and kabooom! It all would have been over before Rolen got slimy chewed! But since you weren't there ..."

Arquiztex was having such a grand time regaling Thorn and Rose with everything that they had missed that it took the young Rak'ta a few seconds to realize that Mercy was confused about the direction to go.

"Oh!" she says to the cleric, "That glow is my lamp. Shortcut! " and she bounces up the stairs to the glow. "Come on, wispy, snotty friends, I'll show you the snake skins I have waiting! Maybe you will see a skinned grick in the after life!"


 


 

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  #743  
Old 06-17-2020, 04:12 PM
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Herr Doktor Johanne Peoter Wens
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Zilgim moved ahead to plunder the rest of the grick nest as the rest meandered back the way they came.

Herr Doktor Wens was pondering "the dead man" and what might come next when Sylvi wondered aloud what might have happened to Lady Durst. "Lady Durst, and the rest of the cult? That is an interesting question. Most likely her flesh was subsumed into that monstrous mound and her soul transformed into the necrotic energy that fueled the house's curse. But that is the merest hypothesis pending further evidence."

Herr Doktor Wens said little else, putting one foot in front of the other as they moved down the hallways. One other thought niggled at him, though he said nothing about it: How did Osybusian cultists effect such a powerful curse? Though loosely based in valid necrotic methodology, the cult's practices were degraded to the point of being ineffective. Their pathetic attempt to control the Durst's hereditary lycanthropy curse showed they didn't have true Knowledge. This pointed to the involvement of an unknown person or power. Perhaps that was the menace implied in Count Strahd's letter to Lord Durst...? Perhaps it was "the dead man" himself? He would have to think and look for more evidence.

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  #744  
Old 06-17-2020, 05:03 PM
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Sylvi
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“Though I’m happy that you agree, Tex…I feel deeply uncomfortable with the idea of someone sniffing and feasting on my…” Shaking it off, Sylvi would have to deal with that startling fact later. As for her thoughts on Lady Durst, apparently that was a lost cause. Everyone was ready to go; and, though she couldn’t blame them, the thought of leaving such a glaring loose end without closure of some kind would haunt her every waking hour. Walter and the children deserved justice!

“Doctor Wens, the creature I attacked upstairs truly looked afflicted by a curse…it wasn’t an echo of Margaret, a lycan, or an empty apparition of these cultists. I’m convinced it was Lady Durst.”

The fury within her had not been sated, for the monster that they had been hunting all along had been poor little Walter. She would leave it in the hands of her all-knowing deity, the Lord of the Dead.

“Kelemvor! If there is any vestige of undeath left in this house, lead me on the righteous path!”


ActionAction: Divine Sense vs Evil Dead
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Old 06-17-2020, 09:51 PM
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Rolen was eager to get out of the dirty water and death chamber. He reached down into the muck to retrieve his swords, after shaking them off as best he could he sheathed them and followed the others back up. The ranger carried the tiny bundle that was once Walter back through the grick room and on into the family crypts, they told Rose and Thorne they would help the baby and they did. Just not the way any of them had expected.

Rolen turned to the fiery paladin "Sylvi, would you lay this child to rest? I feel we owe him some kind of ceremony. After that, I would help you to clean the undeath from this house if any should remain." He held out the small shroud wrapped remains of the youngest Durst.


 

 
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Old 06-17-2020, 10:33 PM
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Zilgim Gummen, Forest Gnome Monk
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Zilgim sees the funeral procession pass him by as he places the last of the silver bars into a bag from his pack.

"Here ... can you ... please use ... your strong ... peasant stock ... arms ... to carry?" he asks Wens as he hands the doktor the bag. "Is that ... the baby ... you have?" he asks Sylvi as he joins at the end of the file. "Have you ... counted the ... bones? ... Mind that ... nothing is ... missing. ... It is ... hard ... to be ... a baby ... in the ... afterlife. ... Let alone ... a one-legged ... and ... one-armed ... bastard tot! ... Ho!Ho!"


 

 

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Old 06-18-2020, 09:36 AM
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Mercy Petreva, Human Light Cleric
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"Don't worry," Mercy says to the children as they walk along. "You won't have to spend eternity with a skinned Grick. There are special, special dark lonely places for Gricks to live in the Far Realms, but once they die, they die. They're beasts." She stopped, aware she was possibly making it worse. "We eat them. We wear them. That's how you know you won't see them in the afterlife."

She tries to ignore the squelching in her boots and keep up with the lizard.

"Did your mother and father ever teach you about the gods? I mean, besides the unholy monstrosity they sacrificed your brother to in the basement? My god is Sune. She's beautiful, loving, and she gives me power to light up this mirror--" She lights up the mirror. "--and heal people and sing. If you want to worship her you just have to believe in your heart that love and beauty are the most important things in the world."

She motions to Sylvi. "Sylvi's god is Kelemvor and he's -- uhh -- super nice, he lives in a beautiful tower and he's probably going to send someone really cool to come get you and take you on. Maybe you'll go to Brightwater or the Gates of the Moon and I'll come see you there someday after I die. Maybe tomorrow or later on today, if I try jumping over any more spikes."

She smiles at Arquiztex and her enthusiasm for the children, and she wonders about the sweet, earnest lizard's beliefs. Maybe she should feel a little bit bad for correcting her. Maybe Gricks do inhabit whatever reptilian plane Arquztex anticipates as the beyond, and an afterlife inhabited by skinned aberrations wouldn't seem horrifying to her.

"Arquiztex, where does your god send you if you die?"



Mercy’s ActionsMove: I'm having a hard time grasping where we are in space, but Mercy wants to move up to the crypts with everyone else, using the route least likely to contain a pit.
Action:
Reaction: Use Warding Flare to impose disadvantage on attacks within 30 feet.


 

 
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  #748  
Old 06-18-2020, 10:37 AM
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The Final TaskPrickling still with gusto and zeal, Sylvi tried to calm her mind for direction. She was fairly certain a devil disguised as a celestial tried to fool her…though it was probably the hallucinatory-effects of the monster’s slime. Kelemvor, Death, spoke through images. Sigfried had received such messages before, so she too would wait for a reply. Yet, the only image she saw was of the children, lovingly holding Walter as they were united at last.

Opening her eyes, Sylvi flipped her visor open, taking one last glance at the accursed altar. “Setting the dead to rest, it seems, is the final task left for us here. I hope, for their sake, that this savage cult no longer exists.”

While Mercy was talking, trying to ease the children, Sylvi was lost in thought. Where exactly were they? As proposed before, had they somehow stumbled upon one of the planes of Death? Could that explain how they could see the ghosts of these children? Moving one leg in front of the other, by the time Sylvi snapped awake she found herself before the family crypt. Even in this moment, she couldn’t forget the fanged teeth and harrowing eyes of the Dark Lady. Was she truly faded with the Evil? Upon entering the crypt, the two paladins worked together to push open the lid of Thorn’s tomb.

Reaching into her pack, Sylvi pulled out Margaret’s bones and gently placed them underneath Thorn, where there was plenty of room. “Yes, Rolan, I thank you. Let us begin the ceremony.” Zilgim was being a little booger, but he had a point. Inspecting the babe, it appeared that he hadn’t decomposed—but looked as though he were merely asleep. “Walter is whole, the power of the curse must have preserved him. Reunited with his family, may he find peace now in the arms of his mother.” Setting him down beside Margaret, Sylvi bid them farewell.

“Death is not the end, nor is there cause to fear. The toils and woes of this life are now far behind. Together, may you find eternal rest in Kelemvor’s embrace. Under his wing, surely you will have the means to explore your wildest dreams, to see lands and peoples across countless scapes, and understand the meaning of it all. Other worlds await you, for it is the birthright of us all.”
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:58 AM
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The party lays the rescued bone to rest with appropriate ritual, then climbs all the way back to the attic and then all the way back down to the ground floor (Arquiztex? You wanna pick up that rope in passing?) and then out the front door.

Here you discover that two of your companions will be leaving the party. Liiare and Thane are staying here to put the manor in order and guard the tombs from further desecration. They wish you well, but their minds are set.

As you reach the narrow, rutted road at the edge of the wood, you look back to see Liiare and Thane, and beside them Rose, Thorn and Margaret holding baby Walter. They're all waving goodbye.


FYI there was an easier way out, but you didn't find it
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Old 06-18-2020, 12:19 PM
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Zilgim Gummen, Forest Gnome Monk
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Zilgim looks back at the children, wipes a tear from his eye and then, as his sadness yields to hope, he gives a smile wide enough that even his bushy beard can't hide it.

"Ho!Ho! ... They died so ... sweet ... so innocent," he says. "We should ... give them ... a treat ... as a ... dear, dear ... parting."

And pulling out some of his last bits of wool from his pocket, Zilgim rotates his hands in the shape of triangles, rainbows and, then, perhaps clouds? His hands are busy, and they become busier and busier as they spin at a preternatural speed, a rapidity almost more magical than anything his magic might soon produce.

"Ho!Ho!" he cheers into the sky as he flings his hands upward and the illusion—for all know that it is, but knowing so doesn't reduce its effect—of a mountain rises up from the ground and into the air. A few more flicks of his fingers, and Zilgim creates the image of a castle at the top, and winding road leading to it. A dainty carriage exits the structure ... and it grows louder as it makes its way down the road. You can hear horses clopping and the retort of a persistently, yet gently, applied whip as the carriage grows larger and larger until it seems to jump from the image of the mountain and onto the road before you.

Zilgim walks to the carriage, adroitly hops up on the runner, opens the door, acrobatically leaps back on the ground and lands in a sweeping bowing gesture as he removes his hat with a flourish.

"My lady ... you are ... welcome!" he says as a figure begins to exit ... a wondrous figure, an apparition of grace, a figure whose face is not unlike Mercy's, but who has a more natural, regal bearing, as if her grace for living had been imbued with her since birth rather than earned through hard study and application of the arts. She ... acknowledges the ladies in the party, with a cursory greeting. For Doktor Wens, she produces what is certainly a flirtatious flitting of her fan. For Thane, a small wink that would delight any sailor. And for Arquiztex, a grimace. But for the children ... oh for the children she is positively radiant.

"Thorn ... Rose ... my dears" and while the voice must be from Zilgim it is certainly a richness that never came from his forest-born throat.

The lady holds her hands out to them, inviting an embrace ... at the very moment she begins to shift. Within seconds, she has become the monster that was once Walter, a horrid slapdash of flesh and pustules screeching to burst.

"Wa ... wa ... wa ... Walter!" it screams in a high, painful tones that literally shatter the carriage that carried it down. And then it does burst, spewing fluids and scraps outward to reveal a small, frail creature at its core ... a wolf cub which begins growing at an accelerated rate and soon becomes a snarling, menacing alpha which races towards the kids with its tongue lopping at its side and a trail of frothy drool marking its course.

"Ho! Ho!" laughs Zilgim as the image of the wolf seems to collide into the wisps of the children and disperse them as it takes ravenous yips at the air and the fleeting substance of the children.

"Annoying, persistent will-o-wisps," says Zilgim. "I never understood how they maintained all that mourning and that cheerfulness years and years after their bodies had rotted away. Oh, but children are our future, right?" he asks striding up to Mercy, invading her space as his own space seems to expand. His height increases and his body lengthens. His smell ... sweetens and his skin takes on a wan, but flawless complexion.

"So, you call yourself "Mercy" this time. Cute. Do grow into yourself though. You rather embarrass me for now. And not the least by this company that you surround yourself with. A paladin who couldn't even save her brother. A sailor who can't find his ship. A shepherd boy who wants to pass for a scholar. A mentally challenged iguana rejected by her own kind. A ranger who fights one broom, but impales himself on many. Oh, yes, and your gnome monk. So easy to kill that first night. I told him I had a rare book for him and he followed me away from the camp and into my bite. Sour little nut. You would think all that healthy living would have given his blood a better taste. Oh ... and how can I forget ... your dog! He was the one you could have sacrificed and avoided having to attack Walter. But, like I said, your ranger seems to not be able to find a hole that he doesn't want to fling himself into. And so now you're stuck with Lancelot. Cute dog. Randy little feral bastard though. I'm sorry to say, he spends most of his time asking me if he can hump one of you. Good luck with him now that nobody can talk with him. You're better off feeding Lancelot to the lizard ... oh, you know she's thought about it."

Zilgim ... or whoever he is. Seems to be more amused than ever the real (or pretend?) Zilgim ever seemed to.

"Strahd. But, off course you suspected, right?"

He pauses and looks around at the party.

" Strahd ... von .. Zarovich? ... The ... Strahd? ... Oh, ... don't ... pretend ... you ... don't ... know ... me!"

He pauses again. His confusion gives to fury that his name doesn't seem to elicit the fear and reverence he anticipated.

"Of course. But what should I expect from this bumbling bunch of amateurs. I've measured you. I know you. I've found you so wanting that I don't even need to kill you. Mercy ... if you do, by chance, blossom into your potential, then come to me. Otherwise, I'll wait until the next reincarnation. Wine improves with age as well. And some years are simply nothing more than dredge and vinegar. We'll see what you become, sweets. Go then ... what are you waiting for. Leave! Do your adventuring thing. Find a tavern. A dwarf with a contract. A villager to save. You know, some stupid plot hook to fulfill your delusion of grandeur of becoming a hero in your time. Go, grow up. Try not to die ... or fall into anything."

And with that, Zilgim Strahd or Lord Whatever, begins to fling his cape around himself in a dramatic motion that, you suspect, he has practiced once or twice in front of a mirror over the course of the last few centuries.

"Really, this type of exit is lost on your lot, but I—at least—have my standards,"he says with a sigh that reminds you of Zilgim, not the jolly gnome but the jerk gnome that he became toward the end.

"Oh, and I almost forgot, you know, the usual taunts and seeds of doubt to sow among you. For I will be watching you. And, yes, one of you still serves me. And one of you will come when I call. How disturbing not to be able to trust one another, right? " and with that he swirls and rotates into a blur of motion until his form compresses and then bursts out as a camp of bats, hundreds, perhaps thousands, enough at least to darken the sky and spare a few dozen who dive at the eyes and vulnerable parts of the party members.

"I actually prefer ravens, you know!" a voice cries in the sky. "But for some reason, people expect bats."

Eventually, the bats disperse over the horizon, except for one little bat who flits just out of arrow shot and calls out, in what could only be described as a batlike taunt ... "ho!ho! ho!ho! ho!ho! ho!ho!"



 

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