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The sorrow fate of the Beast - report to the Parliament of Strangers

Esteemed Strangers

My heart fills with joy to greet the coming of six strangers, lest darker thoughts prevail when we remember the homes we left behind. These six are newly arrivals from a land called 'Toril', more specifically a place called the Quivering Forest, in Phan. Their leader is the wizard Aya Glenmiir, and all of them are skilled hunters. For now they have taken residence in the Orasnou Village, where weird events took place.

This Village is ruled by Burgomaster Ivan Radovich, but the heart and soul is the owner of the Hare & Hair, Gregori Wurlbach. He was most worried that his two senior hunters, Alina and Laszlo Vaduva, were late on returning, with winter storms fast approaching and her pregnant the risk of tragedy was high, so he greeted us with open arms, foremost when we noted our intentions to find the missing hunters. 

We followed one of the hunting tracks, and came upon the strangest thing.  Their wagon was immobilized in a most unusual manner, a tree grew around it. I know there are followers of the Old Ways that have impressive command of the animals and trees, but never did I witness anyone, or anything, that could manipulated them in such a spectacular, and permanent way.

We expanded our area of search and found another campsite. There we found a corpse, Laszlo's, brutalized by a beast.  Of his wife there was no sign. We found only wolf tracks leaving the campsite, twice the size of a regular wolf. And a silver dagger. Oh, we had the same reaction as each of you, we all heard some version of  Van Ritchen's tales. Werewolf. If only it was that simple.

It was then that we met Aya and hers. They could have been hungry and ill prepared for the incoming cold, but they never abandoned the nobility that so marks their kind. They were tracking the 'Massive' silver wolf, and where others would see terror, they only saw dinner. We shared what we could, in food and vestment, knowing fate would see that we meet again.

The storm came, and we were forced inside the Wolves Den. Empty, but not for long. We could hear the baying wolves, before they arrived. A Immense Wolf, and a gorgeous silver haired woman. Yes, she became the giant Silver Wolf, I suppose Magus Aya will never be happier of missing a prey. It is a shame her curse made her so powerful, we had no option but end her life.

Of special note, the very elements seemed to answer her call. When she became a wolf an unnatural cold came blizzarding inside the Den, only the grace of the Morning Lord saved us from freezing before her threat was done. Was it under her command?  we will never know, but I can tell you this: the woods around Orasnou Village are a strange place indeed.

Regardless, let us meet Aya and her compatriots, and make sure she has everything she needs.

Your friend in all times,

 Aurora

 

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To the Order of the Dragon

Slayer Tavish mac Intyre, 

I am happy to report that the beast that had been plaguing road to Orasnou Village has been put to rest. Your clients and other merchants can rest assured that the beast will not trouble you once more. 

As you know, several mercenaries were recruited to help resolve the issue. There was Nihil, an uncivilized outlander with a bloodthirsty streak. Opposite of his personality, there was Hannelore von Richten, who despite her surname, is more of a pacifist intellectual, then a beast hunter – though occasionally she fights. Three of the morning cultists headed the call: Aleksei Barthos, a warrior; Aurora Dunkelheit, an outlander cleric; and Lavinia Garvinski, an undefined creature. Sometimes a meek shell, other times a stubborn winged beast, Lavinia was perhaps the strangest of them all.

The group of us made our way to the town. On the way, we were ambushed by a group of bandits, but we made quick work of them. Unfortunately none of them survived for questioning. 

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a man named Grigori, who was owner of the local tavern. He told us that two of his hunters, Laslo and Alina had been sent down to collect furs. Unfortunately, neither of them returned according to him. We rested that night and then set out our search party the next day.

We made our way through the forests where we came upon the corpse of Laslo. It had been mangled and clawed by some beast. Some elvish outlanders arrived shortly thereafter, begging for food. We gave them some and then told them to seek shelter back in town. Before leaving, they were able to tell us that Alina had killed Lazlo. Their story, which was corroborated by our own findings later, was that Alina was able to transform into a silver wolf. 

Alina was cursed. Alina was a werewolf.

We tracked Alina down even as a winter storm came down upon us. We found the cave she was residing in. Her journal corroborated the story the elves told us. Based on her writings, Alina was completely twisted into madness. We moved deeper into the cave and found Alina. She transformed into a beast right before our very eyes. Aleksei smashed the beast's skull with his hammer and then I drove my silvered sword into her heart.

Never again will she trouble the townspeople again.

When we returned to town, the Morningcult took custody of a silver wolf pup that had showed up at Grigori's home. Upon reason and suspicion, it is possible the pup might be the child of Alina, who had been pregnant before the night she killed Lazlo, and had clearly given birth when we ended her. I studied the wolf pup and do not believe it is afflicted. However, it is safer for it to be in the hands of clergy then the townspeople. 

One more thing to add. According to Grigori, Alina had family up in the mountains. It is possible that they too may be afflicted. I would avoid the mountain trails unless you are well armed with silver, and well paid in gold.

Respectfully,

"V" 

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The sorrow fate of the Beast - report to the Cult of the Morning Lord
Scene report for The Beast

Holy father, we wait for the incoming Dawn.

It was with humility that three of your flock gathered to attend the Red Vargo's cry for help. They might be people of great wealth, but this particular case involved their dealings with the Orasnou Village, a poor settlement North West of the City that lives mostly out of pelts trade with the Company. Your faithful that attended to the call was Friar Aleksei Barthos, Sister Lavinia Garvinski and Novitiate Aurora Dunkelheit. Also attend to the Red Vargo's call were a mysterious destitute noble that goes only by the moniker 'V', a madman that goes by the name 'Nihil', and Hannelore van Ritchen,r elated to the famous monster hunter, a studious woman of great talent and dedication.

On our way to the Orasnou Village we did set upon a small handful of bandits, who tried to ambush our larger numbers. Their con was abusing our willingness to help to put us at disadvantage, but thankfully their ploy wasn't enough to seriously hurt our number advantage. They were four, but none of them survived.  It is very likely they were part of a larger group, future travelers to Orasnou Village should be wary.

In the village we met Gregori Wurlbach, owner of the Hare & Hair, and usually the point contact with the Red Vargo Company. I was most impressed by this man, he was warm and welcoming. His Nephew, Callum Falinescu, was usually the one who collected the furs, but he suffered a grave injury and was unable to make the rounds. Instead they appealed to Laszlo and Alina Vaduva, two experienced outdoorsman and hunters, even if Alina was heavy with child. As she was expected to deliver soon, it was only natural to fear for the worse. The Morning Lord healed Callum's wounds overnight.

We set in the morning to find the Vaduva, but we were too late. We found many wyrd signs on the way, most of which I cant explain. But Alina was cursed by lycanthropy, that much is clear, and killed her husband after he struck her with silver. This was witnessed by Nim'il, an elf, part of a group I will describe below. We were forced to take shelter on their Den once the weather drew too dire, and when we met her and a Dire Wolf companion, there was no room for talk. Despite the efforts of Hannelore to simply subdue our lupine opponents, Alina died in the combat. Sister Lavinia prayed for her departed soul.

We found her diary, and it made clear she had delivered. She left her child, a pup, to be raised by the Wurlbach, and intended to never return. It grieves my heart still the fate she suffered. Even if strange, the two of them could still enjoy a fruitful life. 

I mentioned Nim'il. he was part of a group of six elves we met in the woods, outworlders recently arrived, but able hunters as is often the case with surface elves. They were awfully unprepared for the weather to come, but kindness prevailed in the group and the furs we recovered were lent to the elves, as well as directions given to the trail that lead to Orasnou Village. They reached an agreement with Gregori, and there is Hope the settlement will continue to survive in days to come.

My heart grieves the loss of life, but in retrospect I cant help but nourish the idea of visiting the Orasnou time and again. Even if distant and few in number, it is my belief they live in a manner true to the Morning Lord's teachings. Perhaps wiser minds than my own would find it good to visit it regularly, from now on.

I would be remiss if I finished this letter without noting the Nobleman, V, is unreasonably wary of our  motives, and often try to portrait the actions of your faithful in less than favorable light. He does have a rivalry of sorts with Friar Aleksei, even if there is no real comparison between the swordsmanship of the two of them.


Humbly in the service of the Lord,
Aurora Dunkelheit.

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A letter marked with a flame
By Amber and Autumn

Dear Mr. Sala (or are we supposed to call you the Last Oracle?) To whom which it may most concern,

I overheard a thing about a missing caravan, so I said to Autumn that we should go check it out. They wanted people to go find it. That’s what you want us to do, right? Check into problems.

She heard two men talking about a missing Red Vargo caravan and that there was a group forming to investigate. We chose to accept the contract along with a group of adventurers.

Right. But we were smart about it. Listened to them and stuff. Wore our cloaks. And don’t listen to anything you hear about a broken market stall, okay?

Disguised, we accompanied the group and investigated the caravan’s disappearance. We followed its trail north by east, towards Traiglen.

Right. Autumn kept getting distracted by found my watch to be most curious though. Maybe you should give her one of her own. This one’s mine.

Indeed, I could find much… use, in such a device. However -

(The paper looks a little crumpled here, with a hole in it from something that looks suspiciously like a claw.)

 

She’s just jealous that I have one and she doesn’t most curious of my swinging, shining wonder timepiece. But anyway, we followed the people and the trail until we found where the caravan had gone off the road. Everyone seemed very worried by this.

There was charring created by unknown magical origins. Nearby, beneath brush, a body I FOUND IT was also found in similar condition – burned beyond recognition.

It smelled really bad and I didn’t like it. But the others seemed pleased it had been found. It was in a four-day state of decomposition. They said something about it having been burned after death which is weird, because why would you do -———-

(The page appears to be torn and carefully glued back together here with alchemical solvent)

 

We found a trail from the body that led further into the woods, and so precariously did the naked-skinned two-walkers follow. Therein was a group ready to ambush the fuzzy-topped creatures. As they were forced to disarm themselves, Amber and I crept back into the woodline and disappeared as shadows do within evening’s dark.

Actually I climbed a tree. And it’s Autumn’s fault that the letter smells like glue now. I snuck through the trees all careful-like and got over one of the pinkskins with a crossbow and then when the other people refused to surrender I POUNCED! we struck our prey, who were as blind as antelope gorging themselves at the watering hole during a drought.

(I miss antelope steak… do you know anywhere we can get antelope?)

Why are you writing to me, Sare-Khen? I am right here beside you.

I wasn’t I was asking Mr. Sala because he’s old and has been here a really long time and knows everything.

(Also, one of those whispering pendulums of wonder?)

So we fought really fiercely and I killed one of them and one of them had a big horse and his teeth were all pointy like a vampire but the paladin said he wasn’t a vampire. I killed three in the time you felled one. YOU DID NOT THAT’S A LIE. I killed two then. In the time you killed one. LIAR I split one in two.

They claimed to be part of some sort of cult called DEVIL’S SONS. They wore fake points on their teeth. They follow a mistress that claims they will be “reborn.” Two were detained, including the leader.

We brought them back and turned them over to the Night Watch and they strung them up right then and there almost.

I am We are not certain of those exact details, however they were brought back to the Night Watch for interrogation.

They did hang them I watched. Their legs twitched funny.

Did they wear those odd leather mittens on them?

They’re called boots and yeah but then when they took them down they gave them to some poor people who didn’t have any. I guess your paws get cold if you don’t have fur.

They are very kind, giving their leftover furs for the naked paws of their fellow pinkskinned tribesmen.

Well the dead ones didn’t need them. And they were bad people anyway.

(The note begins to look hastily scribbled, scrawling off against the margins, skewed a bit sideways)

 

That isn’t the point, Sare-Khen – dead or no, they could have just given them to the rich pinkskins in a means to accumulate wealth rather than redistribute them to that are more likely to die. Wait, what did they do with the dead men’s bodies?

Put them in a cart and took them away. I didn’t follow. Besides, they weren’t very nice boots. Are we done yet? I’m tired of writing.

  • Followed the group, which consisted of a cultist of the sun god, a woman-man that smoked brown wood with leaves, a shaggy-haired female pinkskin with a rose-shield, and an affectionate noblewoman and a flamboyantly-mannered, well-dressed pinkskinned male
  • Found a trail outside of the city that included the missing caravans and a body, all charred (body post-mortem) by some source of powerful magic
  • Found a group of bandits that were also part of a strange cult that appreciates costumed teeth and speaks of following a mistress that will make them “reborn”
  • Burned all of the bodies Did not find the rest of the caravan and cannot confirm the death of any missing members

WE JUST SAID ALL THAT. BYE NOW.

(There’s an inky pawprint on the page here)

 

AMBER

Ten Thousand Autumn Nights

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To the Bearers of the Standard

Honored Dame Morthause Corrigan, Strategos,

I am writing to report that Old Slavich Road has been made safer. The Red Vargos had approached myself and a team of elite mercenaries to investigate the whereabouts of a missing caravan. I led the team down the road and I discovered a path into the woods, where the caravan had apparently gone. We followed the path to the remains of the caravan. In short time, we were surrounded a by a group of brigands, calling themselves the Devil's Sons.

My own understanding of history and lore and has led me to believe their name may connected to Count Strahd and/or a hamlet in the nearby location.  For a bit of time, I attempted to parlay with them to obtain as much information from them. Their sanity was at best questionable, but my observations and others in my team have led us to suspect that they may have a cultish obsession with the vampiric.  There may be some connection here with the events at Traiglen, but at this point we have very little information to go off of. 

The parlay was broken by our own ambush – as hidden members of our group led the counter-attack. In the chaos that followed, our group did not falter in resolve or discipline. Cunning tactics were used and absolute professionalism was maintained. In the end, we managed to capture their leader and one more henchman, with barely any injuries to our own team. The captured prisoners were brought back to Ravenloft for justice. The dead were cremated, just in case they were indeed cursed to rise from the dead. 

Today was a victory for law and order. But if there is a broader conspiracy at work that connects these events with Traiglen, our work remains unfinished. I hope that the authorities were able to glean more details in the interrogations that followed. Please, keep me apprised if you find out they do. I would very much like to follow up on this in the future if possible. 

The team that I led to victory consisted of: Aneeta Stefna, Aleksei Barthos, Nimira Iorga, Varena Moller, Amber, and Autumn.  I would recommend them for any future work the Bearers of the Standard need. 

Bonded in blood,

- "V"

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To the Standard Bearers.
Following the events of "The Tragedies of Traiglen pt 2"

Dear Abbess Helena:

It pleases me to inform that the trading caravans may feel slightly safer as they traverse the shadowed paths of the Old Slavitch road. I have kept a vigilant eye for notices concerning the surrounding region of Traiglen in order to offer the region the aid I've promised. A group comprised of myself and a few sell-swords caught wind of such a notice, as a Red Vardos caravan went missing in your neck of the woods. We followed the missing caravan's path, until it deviated and came before the scene of a bloody struggle. We would later learn that none of the traders survived, from the mouth of another maddened marauder, leading a band of ruffians likening themselves as the "Sons of the Devil". They had surrounded us at the cover of night and demanded one of us to remain for ransom, as the wheat they pillaged wasn't to their liking. After a few moments in which we appeared to submit to their demands, a melee erupted, their leader was catapulted from his mount by well placed bolts from Varena, and we used the men who tried to gather our weaponry and armors as shields from their ranged fellows, whom I promptly blessed with our Lord's radiance. We made short work of most of them and by the Grace of the Dawn-Master, managed to subjugate their leader and another henchman. They've been promptly delivered to the proper authorities in order to attain their confession and, Morninglord willing, the location of Dasha and the rest of her minions. I'll remain so vigilant to further developments.

Yours in the faith of our Glorious Lord, Friar Aleksei Barthos.

To the Standard Bearers of the County of Ravenloft:

Forwarded with this letter is one from a fellow friar of our Cult that you should consider keeping in high regard.

Abbess Helena Myrwood, Parrish of Traiglen.

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Letter to Claritta Moller
Correspondence of Varena Moller

To my dear little Sister,
I hope my letter finds you well, Smudge. Please give my love to Mother and Father. And Camil, Linard and and Guilia as well when you next you see them. I was very happy to read in your last letter that your painting was starting to really come together. I always knew you were gifted with the brush and am glad you stuck with it. Mind that interested gentleman you mentioned though, it sounds like his interest may be more about your attributes instead of your work's. Although if you are interested in his attributes also then that may go quite well for you.

I have had an interesting time in Ravenloft so far. The city is like a big, crass version of Ludendorf which is also warmer, damper and louder. The Pale Rose Company provided me some contacts to get work from here, things like guarding merchants and property but enough to live well. They also got me an introduction to the Bearers of the Standard who are very influential in the city and we will see how that goes. I am renting the top floor of a rowhouse within view of the Lightning Rail station. It's less than half as large as our home but I do not have to share it with half a dozen others so it feels much larger. Somewhat lonely even, so I am considering advertising for a lodger so that I have some company.

On that note I have seen so many outlandish outworlder faces here that the furtive barovian natives are actually relieved to see simple foreigners like me. In fact while searching for a missing trade caravan I found myself working with not one but two people who looked half-human and half-cat, I think they were sisters. Yes that sounds like fancy but I tell you it is the honest truth. Six feet tall, long powerful claws and bodies covered entirely with the softest looking orange and black fur. At least I believe it covers their entire body, they wore thick cloaks and lots of cloths to keep themselves hidden most of the time. I got to talking with one of them when we made camp, she called herself Ten Thousand Autumn Nights, and I asked if the fur preserved their modesty underneath. She declined to answer.

That is all for now. I will write some more when I have new things to say and I look forward to your reply.
Your loving older sister, Boots

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A cryptic missive

Yt xgpn oy lbx dpodasm,

Ukosbq Inqwdq, sid pdsmicpbqfdt tmdpa fcr cffo mntz zp mxdclsitmoz. Sib Phtyd Itmt sidq elukbqae dq sia kptocdqoto pg iht cuqdud ublbhot nuko, mabiomh yt xgdq H dcl poov oicpyoiv cq f qdvbu li sia bdwyy. Fcttapmta zcl Tghnudo lreofxnae kcs uinrkist no skc bsabuqub zb pbz zkcub, bddntbhoi rn ibu, sic pmdpa cpudubi yfcs iapnqdbuk clc tlcsdkcc tpnduikmh bvdv gqpn sia dubdqqsb. Pkhis fcza cacp b dfcsha kmt b labm, nkhis fcza cacp cl bduqfq, tykcwbmtoaov ubofb. Xkcm xf fpbwmae bfdfm xoyi sfcq oaba itmo rkc Lfx Xabmn zb zaosqsae yt, zb zbub pbr yoyi nqs leyybfk znuqdgtr cdkmh amndpke, bl ckbos li sib zdqhn lblckbi yl ipmmpx ght usdfm abdi ut ykc uczbst. G'o tufom qcuabsbikmh sic urekdds ery O tqunadz zkc lbs xpnckmy mulioyae gqpn f lblhod, pt boi opsihoi rp lubzaos pob zikpa fcyfmh sib pabsx yt. Li unadfdn apotheaqbyopo vbt ukc czuksuhta ehtlmdvae dw sia Cbqb yin'u nreofxnae ymug G'o ucochof bmpmh ygsi siht ogyyfyb. Uadsqoypbos lpudosfdn, qinqpi ykc yocu yt kcq gblfox obla dsqrgpa, ofpkov fqov, xnptoa sidz ops.Y

G'o qckkcpae yt ublpsu ow hobcfooyd yp lbudafyd ukc thhmt ng Imtafu't fllqhdyopo, mt mteas ggo bqubtuae ils ght qfeh li dnplbudqoto – skc muntukds vbt ckggkesoq etd un iht mpiqx tqdyopo, azcp dq sif fznubyyae ubkqqco qp nx iabofmh ytsef, cyyrphoi rkc httqb zcq pod pg lbub uapkhotqt dnosbpou. Ow dqudnlut dq ucestgmh sif ftudqa bnql idfpae, br nnty ti qkc oybpt nl afqzk fcza cacp ungtoyae bvdv. Xgdq elukbqae yt ca pbub nppbost ho sfcs iapnqdbuk, ucbp yt fcza cacp inqst ho skc ymqmb. Ya'pn ffad um dqbza sic ubzbut ho ptbbu yt spdnzaw bfcz zkc opamc uytpa, cle twmd ukc Yfxhptoscut un dpotheaq b esqgbz, patu zb lfda f qxdclsitmoki itgthq.

Czzcpyozaov, Gqfdq Bdgqsbu Fqkpucg Dbqsint.

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Letter to Boss
This is about the damned vampires

Boss,

Red Vardos caravan disappeared. Took your advice, took job to find it. Only Guild Member there, that should show some moxie. Question: if Red Vardos so important, why is a thug like me the only one that did this?

Followed trail out of the city, found tracks leading off the road, down hunting paths. That’s when shit went wrong- was suspecting inside job after Employer Greis didn’t want to give up caravan contents. Found out from bandit (The Devil’s Sons) it was papers and grain. Useless to them. Wonder what those papers said? Could not find. 

Devil’s Sons were mad when faced. All like animals and cult-y. Talked about dying and rising again and consuming. Rude. Seen better brawls on the street. They like to sneak up, the rats. Probably under influence of vampire. Fake sharp teeth, cultish devotion to mistress, wanting to take us alive for her, the whole bit. Figure they lost their minds to this girl. Was unable to find her- group returned with boss of the party we found- probably with Guard or Vardos. He’s not important— he’s small fry. The real prize is out there- his mistress, and the papers the Red Vardos didn’t want us to know about. 

Another Question: Red Vardos powerful enough that only crazy vampire people dare cross them I guess? Makes me wonder if vampire girl knows more than we know. If we can get in contact, might lead to something big. Wonder how old she is. 

Suggest mounting search. Find this lair— perhaps be stealthy? Allow capture, be led to lair, attack, profit? Find papers, find what is left of caravan if possible. Probably blackmail material. Warning: Caravan guards might be crazy vampire thralls now. Proceed with caution. 

All I could find. At least I got paid. 

Aneeta

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Rat Kings
An Excerpt from the Tome of Hannelore van Richten

New Considerations on Rat Kings

There is much already known about Rat Kings, of course.  We know that they are carriers for lycanthropy, specifically that they produce wererats.  Their bodies are indeed made up of multiple rats, and they are known to use their amorphous forms to entangle their victims, restraining them so that they may attack them further.  They are undead of some form, though it seems to me that their origins are perhaps more nebulous than common superstition would indicate.

Common superstition suggests that rat kings are made by the souls of the hungry after famine, combined with rats that died from starvation.  However, further inquiries seem to suggest that this may well be an oversimplification of the creatures.  Though they do seem to carry common traits of the undead, they seem to carry a certain level of sentience and intelligence that is not ascribed to a common rat even.  In meeting one, it showed emotions that are not commonly ascribed to creatures: most specifically rage, desire, and loss.  The creatures can communicate, albeit strictly in abyssal, which is certainly possible in some undead, but not common among undead that is formed of non-sentient creatures.  While certainly the argument can be made (and I would expect it to be) that the souls of the dead that inhabit it provide that spark of sentience, I am unsure that it is so simple.

My most recent meeting with a rat king brought me through one of these doors that have appeared throughout the land in recent months.  The Creature seemed to be native to the place within this door, and it seemed to draw some form of power in the place it stood.  This provides evidence of an origin beyond that of normal superstition, and perhaps even one that goes beyond the nature of the realm itself.  

What is more interesting is that the creature may well be the origin of the Door itself.  With so much focus on closing the gates, others who follow on adventuring paths seem to forgo a far more interesting and far reaching question: Do creatures from these other planes (or dimensions) unconsciously create the doors through some sort of need?  Is the realm itself responding to the wants and desires of the creatures and opening the doors because of them?  It seems too likely to just be coincidence.

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