Carnival of the Apocalypse - Mists of Ravenloft

The Nameless Knight

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The ever present Mist filled the empty sockets where his eyes had once been, filled his nasal cavity and seeped through the bones of his rib cage. He should not have been able to feel the cold, clinging dampness of the Mist as his nerve endings had rotted along with his flesh centuries ago, and yet the sensation was there as always, a reminder of his unending quest.

He must find a way out of the damnable Mist if he was to warn the others. He would not, could not, fail in his purpose else all was lost. There had been an attack, that much he clearly remembered. Brigands had beset him as he traveled over the nameless pass. Attacked with such ferocity, unhorsing him and shattering bone… and yet the Nameless Knight rose once more, as he had so many times in the past. He would know no rest until his quest was done, of this he was sure.

Through dark sockets that somehow perceived the world around him, the Knight spied his warhorse standing soundlessly nearby. Like himself, the beast was a fleshless skeleton somehow animated, bound to the Mists and the quest as surely as the Knight himself was. The brigands had stripped the steed of its chainmail barding, and for the first time in many years, the Knight had a new purpose. He could not let the insult stand.

The skeletal figure paused in sudden contemplation, as this new purpose filled his consciousness. The Mists would have to wait. Vengeance must first be served. It was somehow invigorating, these unbidden thoughts. The Knight had forgotten his previous life, his name, his homeland, everything… had thought of nothing but escaping the Mist these many years past, but now he suddenly had a new purpose.

Suddenly, the revenant could sense his quarry. The had traveled west, out of the mountain pass and to the valley beyond. Retrieving his broken sword from the cold ground, the Nameless Knight soundlessly mounted his skeletal steed and set off at a brisk trot, the Mist forgotten for the moment.

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Lost

Rath Feldspar pulled the hood of his threadbare cloak lower over his brow in an effort to mitigate the effects of the stinging wind and the sub-zero temperatures of the forsaken mountain pass he found himself in. At least the wolves no longer trailed him as he ascended higher and higher into the nameless mountains.

Feldspar was no longer a young or even middle-aged dwarf however, and this was beginning to have a telling effect on his progress along the trail. His memory hadn’t been as sharp as it once was either, and he cursed himself for a fool for allowing himself to become so hopelessly lost. He had to get back to the carnival. He had matters to attend to and a show to put on for the villagers of Red March… no, that wasn’t it. What was the name of that pleasant little town again?

His legs creaked and ached with every step now, and he could feel the first signs of frostbite numbing his fingers and toes as icicles formed on his bushy beard. Feldspar was not dressed for the winter, but it had been spring, he could have sworn… when he left the encampment. Why had he left and to what purpose? Feldspar could not remember no matter how hard he concentrated, a feat which was becoming increasingly difficult as he trudged forward and the snow began to fall in earnest.

The old dwarf knew he had to find shelter, and soon, or succumb to the elements. Just as things seemed hopeless in that regard, he spied what looked like carvings in the face of the mountainside ahead, fifty feet tall at least and set into alcoves. Hooded figures, cloaked and cowled, hands clasped before them in prayer, and carved of solid amber if Feldspar’s old eyes did not deceive him.

More importantly however was the yawning archway between the two innermost statues… a doorway into the mountain and out of the fearsome storm. Thoughts of what might wait within bothered Feldspar briefly, and he longed for the days when he could wield a battle axe like an extension of his hands. Feldspar was unarmed though save for a dagger, and if he stayed outside he would surely perish. With grim determination, his mind made up, he entered the amber archway and descended into darkness…

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A Hag's Vengeance

Morgantha the Night Hag stood on the precipice overlooking the valley and the flickering lights of distant Vallaki. If the steady drizzle bothered her, the ancient crone showed no sign of discomfort as her burning gaze surveyed the valley below, fixed on the walled village.

“Doubtless they think themselves safe” she muttered to herself. “Soon they will learn that Strahd is not the only power worthy of fear in this cursed land.” She hocked a gobbet of phlegm on the ground as she spoke the vampire’s name, as if daring him to hear and respond.

Morgantha was an ancient being, a denizen of the Shadowfell, and one of the few creatures in the land of Barovia who did not fear “The Devil” Strahd von Zarovich. She respected him and his power certainly, but the night hag feared no being living or dead.

Turning away from the overlook, she hobbled back towards the decrepit windmill the locals aptly referred to as “Old Bonegrinder” and made her way inside where her two younger sisters were grudgingly cleaning up the mess that the rude interlopers had left behind. She took it particularly personally that they had upended the barrel which held the viscous and vile fluid needed in what was to be her latest summoning ritual. How dare they! The audacity… well soon they would pay the price for their interference. Morgantha swore it on The Raven Queen and Mother Night. By the dark gods they would pay…

“Sisters” she cackled, “Put your backs into it… we’ve a ritual to prepare!”

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Bird Thoughts
Breeze journal entry

I awoke this morning craving a flight. My knees and shoulders have been sore every morning since that damnable haunted house, and I can’t seem to stretch them out. This land has restricted my flight freedom for a time, and I find that has entered my dreams as thoughts of home and mountain flights.

My adventures have been exciting – but I fear I am failing my people. I have not met the kings of this world, nor the influencers of the future. Am I actually failing, or are these adventures the stepping stones to leadership attention? Is all of this a reflection of this land and the incessant mist and attitudes of its inhabitants? And dammit, why are my knees creaking?

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Supplemental: Fortunes of Ravenloft
Madame Eva's Tarokka reading

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Madam Eva lays the worn Tarokka cards out on the silk covered table before her in a cruciform pattern, her motions trance-like, her piercing eyes closed. Those eyes suddenly flicker open, revealing glazed, milky orbs suddenly devoid of pupils. She draws the first card and holds it aloft so that all can see…

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“This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient evil will help you better understand your enemy. Look for a den of wolves in the hills overlooking a mountain lake. The treasure belongs to Mother Night.”

The old seer draws a second card and continues…

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“This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope. Find the mother – she who gave birth to evil.”

Setting The Shepherd aside, Madame Eva reveals a third card…

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“This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight. Look for a wizard’s tower on a lake. Let the wizard’s name and servant guide you to that which you seek.”

Flipping over the fourth card reveals…

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“This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness. I hear a wedding bell, or perhaps a death knell. It calls thee to a mountainside abbey, wherein you will find a woman who is more than the sum of her parts.”

Pausing for effect, the Vistana reveals the final card…

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“Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him! He waits for you in a place of wisdom, warmth, and despair. Great secrets are there.”

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March 2016 through September 2016 Recap Part 3
Death House - Part 3

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As the party ascended to the upper levels of the house, the atmosphere took a turn for the worse. Now the manse showed signs of neglect; Dust and cobwebs covered the floor and walls and the rooms and hallways were unlit.

Without warning, a decorative suit of armor animated and attacked the party… a taste of things to come. Reaching the top floor, the group discovered the boarded up bedroom of the children, and once again encountered their apparitions.

At the direction of the spirits, the party discovered a secret door leading to a spiral staircase which descended into the basement and dungeon level that lay below the house. Here the party found themselves in ancient catacombs which stretched out seemingly in no discernible pattern in all directions.

To add to the growing sense of dread, a mysterious, eerie chanting filled the dungeon corridors. The undead occupants of the house began to attack the party in earnest as they made their way through the haunted hallways, eventually discovering a partially submerged chamber and the source of the chanting….

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March 2016 through September 2016 Recap Part 2
Death House - Part 2

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The “children” turned out to be apparitions, long-dead echoes unable to pass over into whatever afterlife awaited them. They pleaded with the party, begging them to enter the house and defeat the monster apparently lurked in the basement and to find their baby brother.

When questioned about their parents, the children would only say that they had been locked in their upstairs bedroom for their own protection, where they had been denied food or care of any kind, eventually leading to their untimely deaths centuries ago.

Seeing little choice, as the ever present mists hemmed them in on all sides save one, the group entered the house. The first couple of floors turned out to be immaculately appointed and clean, filled with tasteful though somehow unsettling paintings and portraiture.

-TBC

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March 2016 through September 2016 Recap Part 1
Death House

The erstwhile members of Feldspar’s Fables now found themselves trapped in a strange land. No one in the party had any inkling as to how or why they suddenly found themselves in the domain they now thought of as Barovia (so named for the only inhabited village they had thus far come across).

The Mists which permeated this grim land seemed to be an almost sentient presence, guiding and controlling their progress, and acting as a seemingly impassible barrier in some cases. Travel through this sparsely inhabited realm revealed few signs of life. Wolves howling in the distance and ravens perched on the treetops were the only living things encountered by the party until they reached the damned village of Barovia itself, nestled in the shadow of Castle Ravenloft, which crouched on a precipice hundreds of feet above.

Upon entering the village, the group found themselves hemmed in on all sides by the Mist and herded against their will down somber, rutted streets lined with decrepit houses which looked long uninhabited. Eventually, they found themselves in front of a well kept yet derelict manse which stood in proud contrast to its neighbors.

It was in front of this house that the party met the children Rosavaldt & Thornbolt Durst. death-house-exterior-217x300.png

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March - June 2016 recap - Into the Mist part 2
We're not in Kansas anymore...

The party was quick to notice that the landscape had changed in some not so subtle ways. The mixed deciduous and coniferous forest near Red Larch had inexplicably given way to towering evergreens that moaned and creaked in the breeze. Also notable was the lack of birdsong save for the distant cawing of a raven.

Unsure of how to proceed, the party set off in the direction that should have led to Red Larch. Breeze took to the air to scout ahead, but barely had he cleared the treetops when the mist began to swirl around him like a living thing, muffling sound and obscuring his vision. His wings began to feel as if they bore a leaden weight and Breeze soon had difficulty breathing as the mist got thicker still.

Frustrated, he landed back amongst the group and noted that the mist receded the closer he got to the ground. Clearly this was no natural phenomena….

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