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  #196  
Old 12-16-2019, 07:12 AM
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Renata Tyrfille
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Renata fumes for several seconds as Gauth patiently lectures Ireena. Then she can take no more. "'Does it matter?!'" she repeats, glaring at the young woman. "Does it matter whose choices condemned these children? Does it matter who sent them to their death? Is that what their parents said to themselves, as they handed their crying children over? Is that what you all ask yourselves in this land, as you buy your lives with each terrible choice?" Renata stomps over to Ireena and narrows her eyes. "What bargains have you cut, girl?"

The paladin holds the silence for a moment, then stalks away. "We have all yet to pay the full price of our contracts," she says. "My lord will balance all accounts before we are through." Renata takes a deep breath, then packs away the shovel and looks for a spot a safe distance from the flames. Softer, she says, "Now I must pray."

OOCSomeone mentioned a short rest?

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Last edited by secretID; 12-16-2019 at 07:13 AM.
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  #197  
Old 12-16-2019, 11:43 AM
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Aubron Wranlana
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While the others went about their respective tasks - Gareth and Maja inside and Renata and Gauth outside, Aubron circled the windmill. He was puzzled about the situation at hand, especially concerning the most basic needs - food. These vile creatures were offering to the unsuspecting meat pies of the most despicable ingredients, and down they ate hungrily and greedily.

Aubron was a ranger of the forest and looked around at the outskirts of the windmill to ascertain the life that was within. The trees, roots, underbrush, and even the dead leaves all appeared to be normal. He listened for the sounds of birds - a whistle here or a flutter of wings there. He also kept watch for a snapping branch or rustle of leaves indicating an animal moving within the safety of the canopy. If there were such things in this forest, they would have food. Not from some evil means, but from nature itself.

As he was pondering these things, Maja invaded his mind with a long diatribe about other planes, ethereal hags, and the need for revenge. While Aubron agreed that what they did was awful, he felt no need for revenge. That clouds one's mind, and you cannot undo the past anymore than they could leave Strahd's domain willingly.

"You want to stop this? You want revenge? Then show yourself you murderous hags!" the voice of the goliath could be heard from the windmill. It was full of rage and horror. Aubron pitied Gauth and his loss. They had all lost something. But, more importantly, they have lost their freedom. It was time to reclaim it.

He moved back towards the windmill as the flames started to take hold. The structure burned with such a ferocity that the elf felt that it was fueled not just by the earthly winds, but of the rage within Gauth and the pain that he had experienced. "Good. Get it all out," Aubron thought to himself. "You will need a clear mind if you want to defeat the devil."

Aubron then approached Renata and stood next to the paladin. They watched in silence as the structure burned brightly. After a few quiet minutes, Aubron said. "We should leave this place." Though the fire, in of itself, was beautiful beyond reckoning.
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Last edited by Shaede; 12-16-2019 at 11:43 AM.
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  #198  
Old 12-16-2019, 05:46 PM
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Renata Tyrfille
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Renata hears Aubron's urging and remembers Maja's warning. She nods her assent to the ranger, slings her pack on, and begins to move away from the windmill and back toward the village, waiting for the others to collect themselves.

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  #199  
Old 12-17-2019, 08:55 AM
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Vallaki, 3:35 PM, rain
The Old Svalich Road meanders into a valley watched over by dark, brooding mountains to the north and south. The woods recede, revealing a sullen mountain burg surrounded by a wooden palisade. Thick fog presses up against this wall, as though looking for a way inside, hoping to catch the town aslumber. The muddy dirt road ends at a set of sturdy iron gates with a pair of shadowy figures standing behind them. Planted in the ground and flanking the road outside the gates are a half-dozen pikes with rotting wolves' heads impaled on them.

As the guards see your soaked figures emerge from the thick fog, they snap to attention and level their pikes toward the gate. The weapons are easily long enough to stab through the wrought metal gates and the guards call out aggressively in unison, “Identify yourselves!”

One of the guards, a stern looking woman with a pronounced hook nose steps closer to the gates. “Name and place of origin for each of you!” she orders brusquely. The other guard, an equally stern man steps forward as well, pike extended. “State your business in Vallaki as well… step forward one at a time!”

Looking behind you, the smoke from the burning windmill... an inferno when you left it two hours ago, is not visible. Also not visible from the gates of Vallaki... Strahd's castle.

 
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  #200  
Old 12-17-2019, 09:17 AM
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Maja
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Due to the heavy rain, Maja hadn't been able to continue drawing her map of Strahd's realm, so she had to memorize all important landmarks and the various distances she estimated between the different points of interest. She didn't have difficulty doing so, though. The capacity of her brain had always been quite amazing. What she forgot from time to time, however, was that not everyone was blessed with the same intellectual grasp or had the same interest in abstract knowledge.

As they reached the city of Vallaki, they were greeted by a number of guards with pikes behind their gates. Their greeting was everything but friendly. Likewise, the wolf's heads didn't look particularly inviting.

Maja would have been disappointed if she had come to a similar town near Waterdeep on the Sword Coast. Here, where Strahd reigned supreme, she could not only understand the suspiciousness of the guards, she also hoped that their strictness would help to keep the evil outside the walls of Vallaki. The mist that seemed to stop short of the walls made her optimistic.

Bravely, the girl stepped forward and dropped a curtsy. "My name is Maja Tallstag, Milady," she said friendly. "I am from Amphail near Waterdeep on the Sword Coast of the continent Faerûn. Recently, we have stayed in Barovia. Ireena Kolyana travels with us."

Maja nodded at the former burgomaster's daughter. "She asked us to escort her here. The roads are not the safest."
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Last edited by Disaster Master; 12-17-2019 at 09:18 AM.
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  #201  
Old 12-17-2019, 09:22 AM
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Renata Tyrfille
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Renata spends the first several minutes of the trip learning what she can from Maja about the witches, and finding little reassuring in that information. The first impression of the guards, then, provides some comfort. While the palisade may provide little defense against the hags, the troop's vigilance should.

"Renata Tyrfille," the paladin announces as she steps forward. "Come from Barovia to escort this woman to refuge here."

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  #202  
Old 12-17-2019, 12:29 PM
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Aubron Wranlana
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"Aubron Wranlana. Ranger of the High Forest and cleanser of the woodlands."
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  #203  
Old 12-17-2019, 04:21 PM
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Gauth-Touri - Exile
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Gauth walked in silence as the group trudged through the rain towards the stockaded town. Typically lowlander place, hemming themselves in from the threats around them. Purposefully imprisoning themselves. I wonder what these walls keep out


The guards called out as they approached, demanding to know who they were and what they were about. Maja, Renata and Aubron stepped forward compliantly … but Gauth paused for a while.


Lowlanders do not make such demands of the Auranthanati he thought, tensing and his muscles and clasping this staff.

But then his head dropped and the pride fell from his face. But I am no Auranthanati … I am just Gauth-Touri, excile, tribeless.


So he too complied ”Gauth-Touri, from the Great Glacier. I have no business here, nor anywhere, these kind people have just been kind enough to let me accompany them.” he said, head bowed and somehow looking small for such a giant of a man.


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  #204  
Old 12-18-2019, 01:00 AM
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Tarton Wetfeet
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Tarton spent much of the walk holding Renata's hand, scouting and observing through Kiki's senses. His mind raced as he flew over the bleak landscape, wondering what they were going to do about these hags. He thought of the old hedge wizard, what seemed like a life time ago in Faerun. Tarton could recall an evening when he got especailly drunk as he prepared dinner in their camp and the wizard had told him some old story about a hag. He couldn't remember much of anything from that night though, and he wished that he could.

At the gate, Tarton stepped forward after Gauth, "Tarton Wetfeet, traveling troubadour and diviner extraordinaire! I'm here with all these folks, trying to help the lady as well find my way back from whence I came."

OOCAction:
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  #205  
Old 12-18-2019, 08:31 AM
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Gareth Blackcroft
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For the rest of the journey to Vallaki Gareth walks a little apart from the group and in silence, clearly brooding over Ireena's admission, but when the settlement comes into view there is a subtle change in the young man. His pace quickens and he drops the tiresome pouting act, and when the group is hailed by the gate guards the scarred man smirks.

One by one the group step forward and state their names and business, and then it is Gareth's turn. The man shuffles forward, slightly hunched and addresses the guards in a quavering voice.

"Pleased to meet you, sir and ma'am. My name is Darrell Swillwater and these fine folks rescued me upon the road from Barovia. My father and I are waterskin salesmen, and I had with me some o' the finest skins you ever saw, but a pack of goblins jumped me!"

Gareth wrings his hands and starts talking about double-stitching and leak prevention before trailing off, sensing a complete lack of interest on the part of the guards.

Still got it, "Darrell"....

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Last edited by OldSchool; 12-18-2019 at 01:06 PM.
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  #206  
Old 12-20-2019, 10:42 AM
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Vallaki, 4:45 PM, rain
The female guard carefully writes down each party member’s name on a scroll, her script is precise and she grips the tattered quill feather as if holding on for dear life. When Maja mentions the name of Ireena Kolyana, both guards pause for a moment, stealing glances at one another before continuing their duty.

The guards show no other reaction until Gareth steps forward spinning a fantastical tale about goblin’s… a creature not native to Barovia and one unknown to the guards. The woman forces a slight smile as she pauses in her writing.

She looks up at Gareth, a questioning look in her eye as the man continues to prattle on… and then she shakes her head slowly. “Well… from the scar on your face, it looks like the creatures got the best of the encounter.”

Ireena uses the moment to step forward herself, her bearing dignified, again the Burgomaster’s daughter… or sister as the case may be. “They speak truly,” she says even as she looks askew at Gareth. “I am Ireena Kolyana, the Burgomaster of Barovia’s sister, and I come to Vallaki seeking refuge from the scourge that plagues this land. Please… open the gates.”

The guards both nod their heads in agreement and slowly the gates of Vallaki are opened. As the party steps inside, they are stopped and their weapons are registered, the type and how many of each, are written down next to your names and a brief description of your physical appearance. When all is said and done, the male guard herds everyone over to the side of the main gate. His face is deadly serious.

“Welcome to Vallaki. We have certain rules here… they will be followed… without question. Once inside, the mention of the name "Strahd" is strictly illegal, even in written form. Know that even now as I say the name, it is the last time you will hear it within the gates. Instead, if you must refer to the aforementioned individual, you will refer to him simply as, The Devil. The scourge, as you named him… will remain outside our gates.”

The female guard steps closer and continues, “This noble town holds a festival each week in honor of the resident's general merriment and continued support of the Burgomaster, Baron Vargas Vallakovich. As guests of Vallaki, you will not be required to aid in the preparation for our festivals. However, your attendance and participation in each and every festival is absolutely mandatory for the length of your stay. Failure to attend will be in strict opposition to Vallakian law. The next great Vallakian festival, the Festival of the Blazing Sun, will be held in three days time in the town square.”

“Failure to comply with any Vallakian law will mark you as criminals to our city and you will be punished as such in accordance with our justice system. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask them."

OocIf there are any weapons you wish to keep secret please let me know and roll a sleight of hand check.

 
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Last edited by Begon Ugo; 12-20-2019 at 10:44 AM.
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  #207  
Old 12-21-2019, 08:54 AM
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Maja
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Maja listened carefully to the rules the male guard was explaining to them. The law of Vallaki might be rather strict, but the daughter of two cartographers in Amphail understood the necessity if Vallaki wanted to hold its ground against Strahd, err, the devil who rattled at the gates of the walled town. Besides, the parenting of her mom and dad had been rather staunchly, so she felt somewhat at home.

What an absurd idea!

The distance between this place and home couldn't be measured in miles, not even lightyears. A full interplanar chasm was between.

She readily showed the two weapons she was carrying, her spear and the light crossbow. Maja couldn't help but glance at Gareth. Hopefully, he would be honest from now on. The Vallakians had already gotten his fictional name. She didn't want him to clash with the law. The girl had a vivid imagination of typical sentences in Vallaki.

As the guards registered her weapons, Maja felt a bit ashamed of herself. The two weapons were mostly useless to her as she had never learned to use them effectively. In contrast, she kept the knowledge about her psionic powers from the guards although it was these abilities of her that were potentially deadly.

If she were lucky, she wouldn't have to make use of them in Vallaki.

"Indeed, I have a couple of questions if you don't mind," Maja said friendly after they had been prompted ask any questions. "What is the Festival of the Blazing Sun all about?" she looked up at the cloudy sky. "Since we have come to these lands a few days ago, the sun hasn't shown itself," she said.

"Of course, we would like to join the festivities and I would like to thank you for the invitation. You said that we don't have to aid you in the preparations for the festival, but is there something where we could make ourselves useful?"

The girl glanced around the buildings. "Is there an inn you would recommend for us? I am also looking for a book shop or a library. I would like to learn about the history of Vallaki and its traditions."
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  #208  
Old 12-22-2019, 07:27 AM
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Renata Tyrfille
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As she displays her weapons for registration, Renata notes with some satisfaction the order and efficiency with which Vallaki is run, if the guard is representative. The very specific laws - in particular that regarding the frequent festivals - are a little odd, but better published, predictable rules than the caprices of authority that "govern" many settlements.

"Yes," Renata adds to Maja's questions, with a tone that conveys her willingness. "In what way do you require our participation? And where may we house and provision ourselves during our stay?"

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