The Bardic Chef

Broiled Beholder and Other Dungeon Delicacies

Adventurers: Bom [Amanda], Tynnathier [Jeremy], Nicholas [Greg], Rose [Kiel], Euphemia [Deborah] EXP from this session: 4,825 total // 9...

Session Recap - CoS - #06: The Book Club

By 8:10 AM

Adventurers: Bom [Amanda], Tynnathier [Jeremy], Nicholas [Greg], Rose [Kiel], Euphemia [Deborah]

EXP from this session: 4,825 total // 965 each
Attended service for the Raven Queen - 375 XP
Delivered Victor's contract on time - 375 XP
Discovered the sabertooth tiger - 375 XP
Joined Lady Wachter's "book club"  and discovered it's secrets - 700 XP

Treasure Found: 50 EP, 6 Gems (100GP each), Small Prayer Book to the Morning Lord (50GP), Healer's Kit, 3 Holy Symbols of Morning Lord (50GP each), Hand Crossbow, 20 Crossbow Bolts, Silvered Sword, Worn Leather Case with Gold Buckles (100GP), 3 Sharpened Wooden Stakes, Sack of Garlic, Jar of Salt, 3 Bottles of Holy Water, Box of Holy Wafers, Polished Steel Mirror, Bone Scroll Tube (25GP), Scroll of Protection from Fiends, Scroll of Protection from Undead, 6 pieces of tarnished silverware (2 GP), assorted trinkets and goods stolen from Wachterhaus (120GP).

Fresh off their stunned reactions to signing a wizard's contract to ruin the upcoming festival, AND having Strahd himself taunt them in a note, our adventurers sat around the inn table eating their breakfast, contemplating how difficult their life had just become. It became very apparent to them as more and more people came into the inn that morning that something was up, as all of these people had the same blueish-black hair color, that matched the wereravens they had met previously. All of these people looked at them suspiciously, but continued upstairs into the upper floors of the inn - thirty in total. They asked the innkeeper what was up, and he explained that they held private religious services up in the attic. "Emeric", a name they hadn't heard before, had evidently vouched for them and said it was fine for them to attend if they liked - the party agreed, and were led up the stairs by the innkeeper and his wife, all the way to the large vaulted attic. Ravens of all ages perched around the beams of the attic, staring down at a man in white robes who stood in front of a simple stone altar. Atop the altar, a stone statue of a woman that Tynnathier recognized as the Raven Queen, patron of winter, death, and fate. Each of the wereravens marched forward, surrounded on all sides by beautiful white fabric draped over every seated surface. They presented offerings to the statue, some of great wealth, and others of shiny metallic material, followed by the white-robed priest sprinkling a white powder over their heads. Euphemia went forward and offered a gift of her own, and quickly found out that the white powder, simulating snow, was actually powdered chalk. She also recognized the priest as the sassy wereraven that got them into Vallaki in the first place. They exchanged greetings, and the party settled into the back seats of the "church" to listen to the sermon. 

Emeric, the priest, told of the Raven Queen's presence on this plane, and how despite so many other gods being lost, and their relics dissolved to dust, she still remained, speaking loudly to him about her mission to be kind to all the lost souls, and eventually overthrow Strahd himself to "set death in it's proper place".  He told his congregation that the Raven Queen's relic would soon be returned to them, and then the Raven Queen herself could be reunited and brought into her true form.

After the service, the party inquired about all they'd heard. Emeric was all too happy to express his distate of the Morning Lord and those that follow the god, claiming that he and his people have been driven into hiding, as only one religion is really accepted in this town. He also relayed that Lady Wachter had blantantly lied about the death of her husband - her husband actually having died ten years ago instead of the six months she'd quoted the party. It was impossible for "emotional distress" to be the reason for young Stella's mental state. They asked if Victor, the baron's son, had any kind of relationship to Stella. Emeric explained that the two sixteen year olds had been forced together their entire life, given that they were the same age, growing up in the two most powerful households in town. Neither liked each other, and only shared a dislike of their arranged marriage, and also both wanted out of town, as far as they could go. He didn't think that Victor would have any way to curse Stella like that, and he didn't seem too convinced that the boy would've done it in the first place - thinking instead that Stella's mother had everything to do with it.
Rose inquired on a quick way to get out of town if the party needed it, everyone explaining that they were going to ruin the festival "for a client", and Emeric agreed, telling them to meet him behind the inn, in the stables, should they ever need a quick way out.

The contract that had disappeared in a spark of magic was back on the table, no worse for wear, and the party quickly picked it up and dashed off with it, determined to get it back to Victor before noon time. Outside they immediately saw many locals heading to the main church, dressed to the nines for their morning service. They also witnessed a very over the top, colorful man bargaining back and forth with Blinksy in front of the toy store. 

They booked it to the burgomaster's mansion, Rose using her skills to scale up to the tower, knocking on the window to get Victor's attention. He threw the curtains back dramatically, and invited her in, putting on his best "important" voice and demeanor but failing miserably. He stumbled his way through agreement over the contract, and seemed a bit downtrodden when Rose made a very quick exit right back out the window she'd came in through.

Deciding that their less-noble party members needed commoner disguises for sneaking into Lady Wachter's dinner party later, they stopped in at the stockyard/general store to pick up some supplies. In the stockyard itself, they spotted a red, yellow, and orange carnival wagon they hadn't seen before. Inside they inquired about various goods for sale, purchased them, and asked about the fancy wagon outside. The owner of the stockyard explained that a colorful guy, who said he was from a traveling circus of some sort, paid the money required for them to keep his wagon safe there, no questions asked. He was probably staying at the inn now, and could be found there now.

The curious party went out to investigate the wagon, being startled when a loud growl echoed out of it, along with a large creature inside slamming itself against the side of the inside, rocking it violently. A search around the wagon revealed bloodstains, and lettering and symbolism that echoed things they had seen in the church of the Morning Lord. Tynnathier climbed on top of the wagon, discovering a small human-sized hatch on the top. Rose picked the lock and glanced in, startled to find a sabertooth tiger pacing around inside. It seemed to calm down seeing her, and sat near it's tattered doll of a Vistani woman. She also caught sight of a hidden panel against the front of the cabin, accessible only from the inside, and opted to risk becoming tiger chow, and dropped down to fish all the loot from the cubby hole. The tiger watched quietly as Rose retrieved all the goods, kind of confused about why the tiger wasn't lashing out already, but it seemed to be completely tame. Among all the things discovered, a lead box was pulled out of the far back corner of the cubby, containing the Tome of Strahd, one of the three relics that Madame Eva told them about during her tarokka readings. They stashed all the goods, locked up the top of the wagon again, and ran off before they were caught. A quick glance over the pages of the book would show Strahd's personal story of his handsome, young brother Sergei, and how he used his blood to finish the pact to become a vampire. He wanted to be young again to win the love of a girl named Tatyana, who opted to throw herself off a cliff near Ravenloft Castle instead of marrying him.
They had just enough time to get prepared for their big dinner event (and their sneaking, depending on who you were focusing on). Nick, Rose, and Euphemia went through the front door, eagerly greeted by other members of this rich people book club, and given seats at a large, beautiful dining table. The Baroness herself showed up, much to everyone's surprise, and joined the festivities. Bom and Tynnathier, dressed in commoner clothes, searched around the perimeter of the house to find another way in. A servant's door in the back was regularly locked each time someone entered in and out, making it a more difficult route in - but they quickly found a cellar door with a poor quality locking mechanism on the front. Using nothing but a crowbar, the two got the place unlocked and headed into the darkness of the cellar. Creeping across the dirt floor awoke eight separate skeletons, who crawled out of the ground to attack, easily overwhelming the two adventurers and causing them to flee for their lives.

The three others inside continued their dinner and started on dessert, just as Lady Wachter began to explain the concept of her "club" to them. They were a group of people who appreciated the finer things in life, especially finances and power, and wanted to do all they could to achieve that. There was an inquiry into what kind of books this club read exactly, and Lady Wachter pulled a book out of a silver box, with lead lining, and Euphemia instantly recognized it's vibes of that of Orcus. People with these books were few and far between, but she knew immediately that Lady Wachter herself was a "Skull Maiden", a high-ranking cult member that worshiped Orcus. Nick was far too indecisive about the matter to impress Lady Wachter, and she kicked him out, choosing to only allow Euphemia and Rose into the ranks of her club. There was an initiation they had to go through, and she urged everyone to head into the basement with her for that to happen.
Bom and Tynnathier hung back and tried to thing up a plan to get into the house through the back instead, but decided the best way to do it would be to let the skeletons out of the basement, and beg the servants in the back to help them with Bom's skeleton-related injury. They pulled the door open, just as Lady Wachter descended the staircase and locked eyes with them. Euphemia and Rose sprung into action, trying to make excuses for their companions behavior, while their two startled friends went from babbling about this being a mistake, to brutally insulting everything Lady Wachter and her guest the Baroness stood for.With a string of words, Lady Wachter put the skeletons back into slumber, their bodies crumpling back down to the floor, and Bom and Tynnathier ran off as fast as their legs could carry them. The door to the basement was shut again, locked from the inside to prevent those two from reappearing, and the lady continued through a secret door, urging Euphemia and Rose to come inside. Once there, three robe-clad figures stood around a blood-drawn summoning circle, with a chair set at each of the points of the star. The Baroness took one chair, Euphemia and Rose took two others, and some of the higher members of this Orcus cult took their seats too. A robed figure gladly offered his life, allowing Lady Wachter to butcher him in cold blood, right in the center of the star, and she began to chant in a language that Euphemia knew all too well to be that of the Orcus cult. A ritual, an exchange of power and might for servitude, was being made here for the new members. Euphemia sat quietly, familiar with how this all worked given her already-existing pact with Orcus. Rose, on the other hand, sealed her fate to Orcus with a pact of her own. There were no actual agreements made out loud, but it was safe to assume that money and power would probably be coming Rose's way, in exchange for her allegiance to Orcus himself. That wasn't too bad, right? Probably worth it! Lady Wachter then revealed her plot, wanting to find a "sword of light, now tainted by Orcus himself", a religious relic. There was a person she wanted to give the sword to, who would become a human form vessel for the god himself. He would then take Barovia from Strahd, and begin to run it the RIGHT way, now that Strahd had started to become too weak to rule.  She urged the party to find this sword and bring it back to her, so the right hands could get hold of it. This seemed really eerie, given similar words were spoken by the Raven Queen Priest earlier about wanting to bring her about too. Lots of Gods fighting for one plane? What could go wrong?

Lady Wachter handed over the key to Stella's room temporarily while she stayed downstairs to speak with the Baroness in private. Rose hung around to listen, gathering that Lady Wachter was all too aware that some kind of meeting had occurred between Victor and the party, and that the Baroness had to keep a closer eye on him. Words like "he's a blessing", and "he's special, protect him with your life" were uttered, bringing sadness and shame to the Baroness' face. Rose ran back upstairs to Euphemia's side (stealing things as she went), and both entered Stella's room to check on her and say goodnight. Stella was all too happy to head-tilt and squawk at them in her raven-y ways, and Euphemia sprinkled some leftover chalk dust over top of her, something that delighted this girl to no end. She rolled back and forth, as ravens do in the snow, and the two party members devised a plan to sneak in and get her out of here, handing her over to the innkeeper and his family instead. Nobody trusted Wachterhaus any longer, and it was clear where Stella needed to go for safe keeping. They left, bidding Lady Wachter and the Baroness a good night, before heading back to the inn to meet up with their friends.
Prince Nick decided to stay back a little longer, perhaps dejected from his being thrown out of a noble house for the first time in his life. He did not come back to the inn until morning.
In the inn, everyone exchanged stories of their insane nights, quickly realizing that half of the party was now tied in some way to the evil Orcus. What were the odds, right? Drinking soon occurred, along with more drinking, then more drinking. Then... more drinking.

Tynnathier awoke in her bed, one arm handcuffed to the bedpost, with a man in leather armor unlocking her and inviting her down to breakfast with him. He paid, and sat across from her, absolutely enraptured by her stories of how she lost her arm - head over heels for her from the start.

Bom woke up to all of his money gone yet again, but 20 really nice hats sitting all around his room.

Euphemia awoke in the middle of an alleyway in town, rolling over to discover a body with a blanket over it laying right beside her, with blood slowly curling it's way in between the stones of the pavement. Pulling back the blanket made a grizzly discovery - the Baroness herself, stabbed through the middle, was underneath the blanket, cold and dead. Euphemia was mortified, quickly covered the woman back up, and rushed as fast as her legs could carry her to the inn where hse asked for the Raven Priest himself. He came down to greet her, half dressed and dishelved, asking what the fuss was about. He was fully awake as soon as he heard the news about the Baroness being discovered, and after some brief questions, decided it was best for Euphemia to let the woman be discovered there, so long as Euphemia was nowhere near the body when it happened. He told her to go back to her room, and keep her mouth shut about this until they figured out a plan. She agreed, and disappeared back into her inn room.

Rose, on the other hand, woke up in a bed of luxurious satin and the best cushioning that money could buy. The room around her was well-furnished, but not often touched, like this was just a place to crash for slumber and nothing else. A body was next to her - this one very much living - but gangly and taller than she was. She was possibly more mortified than Euphemia was at that moment to discover none of ther than Victor himself in bed next to her, just as naked as she was, with their clothing scattered all across the ground. On her left hand, a glittery, beautiful golden ring with set gems glistened, but wouldn't be discovered until much later. She snuck her way out, going right out the window ,face planting on the pavement, and breaking her nose in the process. Well, Orcus did promise wealth and fame, not so much a lack of injuries.

Nick stumbled back into the inn not long after that, bags under his eyes, obviously having been out all night doing whatever Vistani princes do. He hobbled his way back up the stairs to go change his clothes for this upcoming day (and maybe crash for awhile too), without saying much of anything to his party members. 


This was the worst day of Victor's life.
He woke up in bed, his new bride, the best thing that had happened to him in this goddamn stupid town, having abandoned him and probably went out that open window in his room. No note, no word, no nothing. He had pouted and moped for most of the morning over that, trying to figure out how he was going to tell his father that his mother's ring was now on some runaway bride's finger.
But that was no longer the greatest of his concerns.
He sat, slumped in his chair, eyes glassy and staring off into nothing as his father spoke in panicked, but hushed tones with a variety of advisors. Guards surrounded the entire room, both inside and out, triple the amount there usually were watching over them. The impenetratble fortress that was this hellhole just got a whole lot more secure, and Victor knew his chances of being free were slim to none now.
But even THAT wasn't the worst of it.
His mother, the baroness, was dead. The woman who had loved him no matter how "weird" or "awkward" he got. The woman who kissed his forehead and called him her "perfect miracle" after his father had gone off of all his bad traits. The only person in this town that he actually trusted... she was gone, stolen from him in the night, and her body disposed of like it was common trash.
He gave a start out of his trance as he felt ten bony fingers begin to press into his shoulders from behind, the looming figure of Lady Wachter herself - the Baroness' dearest friend - hovering above him.
"She expected great things of you, Victor," the older woman murmured in what he thought was supposed to be a sympathetic voice, but it only came out cold and harsh to his ears. "... it is up to you to see how great you can truly become. For her."

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