Ashlyn grieves her comrades in the basement of the church. She tells the PCS they are welcome to Thendrick and Mathilda’s gear to be used for the greater good, but she requires help first in burying her friends. When the PCs help carry the bodies into the cemetary behind the church they find a 6’ diameter hole amongst a plot of graves that have been freshly dug up. A fetid stench comes from the hole.
Ashlyn and the PCs find a tunnel that has obviously been clawed that opens up into an underground chamber. Three coffins lie in the middle of the chamber. Ashlyn opens one and is set upon by an enhanced ghoul that springs from the coffin. Several other ghouls burst from the brittle walls and attack. Laanyk is bewitched by the song of an undead harpy that shares the chamber. The PCs quickly put and end to the undead threat, and find a wand of magic missile and a stash of gold pieces.
After a a good night’s sleep and some healing the PCs awaken having spent their first night in Barovia. Over their breakfast they write down a list of goals:
Gevyen Tallmer tells the PCs that he is going to try to gather more information about the Sunsword and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind in Barvoia. He is also going to attempt to repair the church and restore some faith to Barovia now that Danovich is dead. He pays the PCs the gold he promised and wishes them luck outside of town.
Before departing the PCs to sell some equipment at Bildrath’s Mercantile. The store owner tells them he has nowhere near the amount of gold on hand he would need to purchase the armor and weapons the PCs want to sell. The only things of value Bildrath has to offer are maps of the village and of the surrounding area. The PCs buy the maps and head north toward the Tser Pool encampment, home of Madam Eva.
Halfway to the encampment the PCs come to a crossroads where a battle cry draws their attention. They find a dark-haired man in black armor fighting back several ghost-like shadow figures that seem to be arising from the small graveyard around the gallows of the crossroads. The PCs rush in to aid the man. After destroying the undead the man introduces himself as Sir Urik, a Knight of the Raven. He thanks the PCs for their help and heals them of their ability damage, saying perhaps they will meet again.
The PCs arrive at the Tser Pool, a gypsy encampment filled with human and halfling wanderers, tents, and a roaring fire. They enter the largest tent to find Madam Eva, who says she has been expecting them. The old woman offers to read their fortune, which the PCs accept. She chooses a focus card for the four subjects they select: the “Devil Strahd,” the Sunsword, the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, and the Tome of Strahd.
Madam Eva tells the PCs, “He who dwells in Castle Ravenloft is a powerful man whos enemy is light and whose powers are beyond mortality. You will seek him in the castle, and though he might find you many times, you will find him only once.” The PCs draw a card. “You will find him in the very heart of darkness,” she says, “his home, his source. This place is his center and his life, the one place to which he must return. You should seek the crypts in the deepest recesses of the castle.”
The PCs then draw a covering card for the Sunsword focus card. “What you seek is a blade of light, a weapon for vengeance. Seek it where the wilds reach close to the town, where chaos threatens order.”
Lannyk shows the party that the cemetary comes closest to the forest on the map. The PCs draw another card and Madam Eva continues.
“The sword’s light sleeps. To wake it, you must place the sword on the throne of an ancient king. Castle Ravenloft was once the seat of a kingdom.”
Madam Eva then requests they draw a covering card for the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.
“This card tells me to seek it where the river flows into the land, but the holiness in this item waits for hands of holiness to touch it once more, but that is not enough to bring its power
back to life."
They draw the crossing card.
“You must bring the symbol to the place where the officers of the king upheld his word. Look beneath the main floor of rhe castle, in a place of shadow and despair.”
“The tome you seek holds knowledge of the ancient and knowledge of the land.”
Lastly Madam Eva tells the PCs to draw the cards for the Tome of Strahd. She tells them to seek the tome where the river flies.
“You must find the three defiled places described in the tome. At each fane, you must unearth the relic it contains. When you have all three relics, you must destroy what you have created.”
Madam Eva wishs the PCs as they depart the Tser Pool, heading north toward Tser Falls, “where the river flies.” As they approach the path to the falls becomes more and more narrow. With a 200’ cliff on their left the PCs come upon a handful of worgs. The PCs dispatch the beasts without serious injury and Laanyk finds several bear traps set up meant to block intruders.
They press on stealthily under the waterfall and into a very dark cave. Before the resident of the cave can react Darmian bull rushes his wolf companion, which falls to its death at the bottom of the cave’s chasm. The wicked dwarf says nothing as he attacks with his crossbow. It is in vain as the dwarf is cut down by Lannyk’s arrows and the spells of Feralass.
The PCs take the fine gear the dwarf was wearing and find the Tome of Strahd as well. They also find several stuffed humans. Apparently this dwarf’s hobby was taxidermy in the most twisted sense. A special segment of the Tome of Strahd stands out more than any other.
I have learned much, too, about this land of Barovia. Ancient are its ways, ancient beyond the knowledge of the simple folk of the valley. I have walked the ancient ways, secret roads linking three fanes of might, and thus I have become the Land.
Three ancient saints dwelt in this valley long before my coming, and three hidden fanes still give tribute to their memories. I visited the Swamp Fane, the Forest Fane, and the Mountain Fane, and claimed their power for my own. Thus I solidified my grasp on this grim shadow of life.
I made the fanes my own, and I have become the land. Also I made the fane-servants my own, and they now serve me as they once served the saints of the fanes.
The PCs begin traveling south back toward the village, taking a shortcut through a narrow section of the Svalich Woods. Laanyk finds a corpse in the undergrowth that had obviously been mauled over a week ago. The body has a letter the messenger was once carrying:
Hail to thee of might and valor:
I, the Burgomaster of Barovia, send you honor-with despair.
My adopted daugbter, the fair Ireena, has been these past nights bitten by a creature calling its race “vampyr.” Over four centuries and more, he has drained this land of the life-blood of its people. Now, my dear Ireena suffers from an unholy wound causedby this vile beast. Yet I fear, too, that the creature has some more cunning plan in mind. He has become too powerful to be fought any longer. So I say to you, give us up for dead and encircle this land with the warding symbols of holiness. Let the holy ones call up on their power that the Devil in our land may be contained within the wails of weeping Barovia. Leave our sorrows to our graves, and save the world from this evil fate of ours.
There is much wealth entrapped in tbis community. Return for your reward after we are all
departed for a better life.
Burgomaster of Barovia
When the PCs arrive in Barovia they search through the open graves of the cemetery to find the Sunsword, its blade separated from its hilt. They then seek out Ismark the Lesser, who confirms that this new note is indeed the work of his father, written before his murder. Ismark asks if the PCs have yet spoken to Ireena. When they tell him they have not, he escorts the PCs to the burgomaster’s home.
In a brief conversation with Ireena she explains that the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind was stolen. She claims a minion of Strahd snatched it in the middle of the night. She also tells the PCs of a dream she had been having where Strahd chases her down and embraces her. Ireena shows them two puncture wounds, fang marks, in her neck.
With new information in hand the party continues south toward Ivlis Marsh, “where the river flows into the land.” Upon arriving they see ruins in the distance of the swamp, but the water is deep and murky. Eventually they find a spot where the crossing is narrow and shallow. A cloud of foul insects, a swarm of undead vermin waits there to suck them dry. As they move in to engage it a shambling mound erupts from the swamp water, dragging Tippy from his feet. Darmian turns the undead swarm quickly as Feralass and Lannyk help Tippy escape the mound’s grasp.
The PCs press on through the swamp to the ruins. As they try to get to solid ground they are attacked by the Drowned Lady and her eel minions. The battle is hard-fought and bloody, but the PCs overcome the eels and slay the hag. Upon doing so they find the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind in the hag’s possession. After digging under the runic circle they disable the Swamp Fane empowering Strahd by recovering the relic underneath, the tooth of Saint Bogdan. A piece of the runestone snaps off the top off as well, leaving the PCs with an ioun stone of Wisdom +2.