The Bardic Chef

Broiled Beholder and Other Dungeon Delicacies

Adventurers: Tynnathier [Jeremy], Bom [Amanda], Rose [Kiel], Euphemia [Deborah] EXP from this session: 3,600 total // 900 each Made prep...

Session Recap - CoS - #10: The Tiger

By 8:22 AM


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

EXP from this session: 3,600 total // 900 each

Made preparations with Victor for his mother's burial - 300XP
Discovered the coffinmaker was an Orcus follower - 300XP
Saved four Vistani from certain tiger death - 300XP
Got a pet tiger! - 600XP
Started a riot that ended in Father Lucien's demise - 300XP
Attended dinner with Strahd - 300XP
Impressed Strahd enough that he answered many of your questions - 300XP
Charmed Strahd enough that he actually caroused with you - 900XP
Attended a festival of Melora - 300XP
 
Treasure Found: The Mask of Melora (again!), a jewelry box of six gawdy jewelry pieces (worth 50G each).

Vallaki was in quite a state. Their baron and baroness were dead, the highest nobles in town were dead, Wachterhaus burned to the ground, wild Vistani were attacking, and Strahd was evidently able to come and go as he pleased. The people of the town gathered in the only places that felt safe - the inn, the church, and their own homes boarded up tight. Breakfast was pretty busy this morning, many Vallakians drunk off their asses from their friends and family having been murdered in that awful fire the night before. Esteemed shopkeepers and members of the town, people who had been at the backbone of this place surviving as long as it had, now taken from their numbers. Children were left parentless. Wives and husbands lost their dearest loves. Tears, whimpers, and anger filled the air.

Sitting at the team's usual breakfast table as the Blue Water Inn were Stella and Victor. Stella, still raven-struck, happily played with her silver hand mirror, and greeted them all kindly. She seemed to have had an instant transformation, going from a dirty, pathetic, crazy young woman, to a clean, happy, lovely, but still pretty crazy young woman. She insisted that "little birdy" wanted them to sit and have breakfast with her. Victor waved sheepishly, many wereravens still keeping an extremely close, and sometimes outright mean watch on him for whatever reason. He explained to the party that he had to go arrange funeral rights with the coffinmaker and priest in the town, so that his mother - now decaying in her own dining room in the mansion - could have a proper burial. He felt Emeric probably wouldn't let him go alone, and he asked the party to join him, after all, Emeric liked them enough. They agreed easily, and after some delicious toast, eggs, and sausage, they headed out for the day.

The coffin maker's shop was first on the list. Entering they found a man hard at work, gray in his hair, looking absolutely beaten down - even more than Victor usually did. He had order after order from wealthy townspeople, trying to put their now-deceased family members to rest. It was probably the most business this man had ever seen. He introduced himself as Henrik, and explained to Victor that on the morning of his mother's death, Lady Wachter herself had come in to arrange a beautiful coffin to be made and painted, and the entire cost had been paid for in full. All he had to know was when to come get the body, and where to take it after that. Victor told him to take it to the Church of the Morning Lord, the religion that he believed his mother followed, and the arrangements were made. While speaking with Victor, the party took noticed of a tattoo on the inside of Henrik's wrist - the same skull symbol that many followers of Orcus displayed. Euphemia stepped forward, the new Skull Maiden of Orcus in this realm, and showed him her own scarred marking - the same skull, but with an eye over it, displaying her status. He instantly hit his knees in reverence before her, staring at her like she was the second coming of a messiah. Victor, freaked out by this, hid behind his wife Rose, and the party did what they could to ease his fears. Evidently having a cult all to yourself was pretty cool! Euphemia wasn't a danger to any of them anyway. What could a bit of Orcus worship really do anyway? Euphemia eased Henrik's fears, letting him know that he should gather the other remaining followers, wherever they were, and lay low for awhile - she'd let him know when she needed him. He agreed, a lot more joy on his face, and went back to his grim task.

On their way out of the shop, they noticed the stockyard across the street had a distinct lack of carnival wagon in it.
The church was their next stop, and as soon as the doors were opened, they were all too aware that some bad shit was going down. The place was packed, standing room only, and the tension in the air was so thick it made it hard to breathe. The crowd was angry, repeating back to the cruel words that Father Lucien was chanting to them. He preached of the Vistani, how they hated the Morning Lord and his people, and all these recent deaths could be blamed on them. The Vistani were working with Strahd, could come and go as they pleased, and all of those dirty individuals needed to be wiped out entirely before they came back to kill the Vallakians' families and children. A soldier of the Sun had told him of these atrocities, and the Vistani themselves had attacked the church two days prior, after the festival. As they spoke, that very soldier was out taking care of the Vistani just outside of town, wiping them from this plane - and all could trust the Morning Lord to protect them. He blessed each member of the church, one after the other, letting them go about their days again. Tynnathier had to be removed from the church, her outrage at this kind of racist language bubbling over. Bom and Euphemia stepped forward - with Euphemia outright rejecting the offer of a Morning Lord blessing.  Bom inquired about what was going on, and the priest simply repeated everything he'd been telling his flock. It was obvious he truly believed every word he said. They thanked him, and left the church, deeply concerned. When Tynnathier was brought up to speed on the "holy soldier", she decided she needed to go warn the Vistani about the potential attack. Tynnathier and Bom quickly rented some horses from the local blacksmith, grabbed Rose and Euphemia, wished Victor luck in funeral arrangements from here on out, and off they rode. They didn't even make it outside the gates before an awful, terrible tiger roar filled the air, echoing out from the forest. Their blood ran cold.

Approaching the camp, they witnessed a bloodbath. Vistani, torn to shreds, scattered the grounds around the camp. Inside the largest tent in the middle, a tiger covered in blood, currently in the process of ripping apart one of the Vistani brothers they had met the other day. A quick look around told the party that the young girl Arabelle's father was nowhere to be seen, but all of the rest of the Vistani were either trying to fight this tiger off, or had already been slaughtered. Rose asked Bom to throw her in, and made an attempt to tame the beast with her animal handling. The tiger, obviously the same creature that had been inside the carnival wagon, was very warm and kind to her, rolling over, showing it's tummy and all. The second a group of Vistani showed up to shoot at it, all things changed again. After many rounds of attacking the tiger, or making attempts to distract it, things became a little more clear - either this tiger was under magical influence, or it had been carefully trained to attack only the Vistani. It's mouth and claws never took one attack toward the non-Vistani party members. Euphemia cast a spell, making the tiger infatuated with her, giving the remaining four Vistani in the camp time to run in the direction of Madame Eva's encampment some ways away. The tiger, now docile and tame, was easily handled by the party. They all swore they would find that strange, tall carnival man, and get revenge for what had happened here this day.
This did, of course, leave the Vistani treasure wagon. Rose fished out the mask of leaves she'd been hesitant to part with the first time around, and seeing that mask made Tynnathier instantly drawn to it, determined to keep it in her own possession. It's aura reminded her of that amazing dream she'd had, with the strange woman who spoke to her in a forest clearing. Rose picked up the jewelry box again, but they left the rest of the treasures behind for someone else to come collect.

As they came back into town, exhausted, bloody, and with a new pet tiger on a chain leash, they stumbled across the church again. The funeral was underway for Victor's mother, and the place was even more packed - if that was possible - with loving townspeople who adored her and wanted to see her off to her final resting place. It was at this point that Tynnathier announced she had all the confidence in the world [provided by a blessing of Melora from her dream] to go right in there and punch the lights out of that racist preacher. Rose quickly went in, did her best to hand-signal a message to Victor to get the hell out of the service before something went wrong, but ultimately had to run up to him and try and discuss this in person. The couple went back and forth - Rose determined to get Victor to understand how bad Tyn's rage was, and Victor accusing her of keeping herself in bad company. All eyes were now on them, having what everyone assumed was a lover's spat in the midst of his mother's funeral - and he excused himself, taking Rose by the arm and leading her out of the chapel to it's front steps. Tynnathier, on the other hand, had made her way down the aisle, right for Father Lucien himself. No-one in the team attempted to physically restrain her, they just watched as the chaos began. It only took the first swing for the congregation to become enraged. Father Lucien was their only beacon of hope in this land, their only source of comfort, and his being brutally attacked meant they had to get their revenge on the woman at the center of this. The people became a mob, and they began to dive over pews and into the center aisle to get to Tyn all at once. Many attempts were made to try and get to Tynnathier in time, but none succeeded well enough to push through the thick crowd of people. Rose and Victor, having overheard the commotion from outside, tore around the side of the church to break one of the stained glass windows near where Tynnathier was now standing. The two spat back and forth as Victor ultimately fire bolted the window, shattering the visage of the Morning Lord blessing his people. Tynnathier was grabbed by an enraged, but battered Father Lucien, and was attacked by not only him, but also a portion of the mob themselves. Rose thought quickly, and in a very convincing, deep, booming voice, called out to the crowd as their Morning Lord, telling them to stop their attack immediately. It was so completely convincing that the mob froze, allowing Tynnathier to bolt out the window and hide in some bushes. The peoples' eyes fell onto their priest, and the party were suddenly very aware of how deadly this situation could get. Father Lucien's flock, already riled up and angered over so many things, demanded to know why the Morning Lord had just spoken where they all could hear it - hadn't he told them, time and time again, that only HE could hear their Lord? Was he lying to them too? So many people had lied to them - and hadn't HE told them to go and murder the Baron for his lying ways? ... Shouldn't that also apply to Father Lucien?

The party turned their backs on the church as the Father's awful cries filled the air, the mob swarming in on him, doing unspeakable things in their blind, fearful hatred. The church of the Morning Lord was now without a leader.
The team, now even more shaken, arrived back at the inn, just in time to see a very lovely pure black carriage with horses awaiting them outside. Their ride to the castle had arrived. Euphemia found a quieter place, and prayed to her god Orcus, asking him what they needed to bring with them to the castle - she was told, in a very dark, luxurious, but powerful voice - Victor. Ducking inside, they all cleaned themselves up, got dressed up (the best they could), and prepared to leave. Victor looked incredible, but was stopped on the staircase by a disapproving Emeric, demanding to know where he was going. The party stepped forward, and Emeric seemed to be honestly surprised they still planned on joining Strahd for his dinner invitation. Well, most of them he wasn't shocked by, but he was particularly worried about Euphemia going, and asked her more pointedly if she truly intended to go. She said yes, and explained that they also needed Victor to go along with them if they were going to succeed. Emeric instantly rejected the idea - Victor was very important to Lady Wachter, a skull maiden for Orcus, and they didn't yet know what that meant for the boy. He didn't want Victor in the hands of the devil Strahd. Euphemia eased his worries, enough that he finally relented and agreed to let the boy go with them, but only if they kept a really close eye on him the entire time. He told them all to take care of themselves, and that they were expected back - WITH Victor- by tomorrow night. He paused, hand on Euphemia's shoulder, then exhaled a frustrated breath and went back upstairs.
Victor was all too pleased to get out of this place, and was the first one into their carriage. Everyone else piled in, and they were off.

It became increasingly obvious during the ride that maybe Victor had never once been outside the walls of his own town. The idea of leaving struck more fear in him the further away they got, and he glued himself to Rose's side. Luckily, he saw the tiger - and being a cat person, was totally cool after all.

The castle of Ravenloft opened it's gates for them. It towered over them, forboding, gray, dark, and twisted. It was a magnificent sight, all things considered, but very dark inside as they stepped into entry way afer entryway, navigating hall after hall. No-one came to greet them. No-one seemed to be running around. Most the rooms hadn't even been lit, aside from what seemed to be a precise path to a room that sung out with organ music. Opening the doors to the large dining room, they saw a brilliant image. The place had been thoroughly cleaned, so different from the rest of this dusty, mildew-ridden castle. A fine tablecloth was on the table, with a feast fit for a king on top of that. There were an exact amount of place settings for them, with a lovely bowl of meat on the floor for the tiger, like he had been expecting this exact amount of individuals the entire time. A figure sat, huddled over the organ keys on the opposite side of the room, a black cape flowing down his back. The music stopped, he turned, he smiled at them with a vampire fang-filled grin, and beckoned them inside. The dinner with Strahd was about to begin.

Strahd was all too happy to sit and feed them amazing food, and listen to their stories of their time in the valley. Tynnathier recounted the entire thing, taking nearly an hour and a half of time, and Strahd seemed to be enraptured by this. When asking why they had been brought into this valley, he simply explained that the place was falling apart, people were being taken advantage of, harmed by these god-like forces trying to take control of the valley, and he needed people to put it to a stop. They had done remarkably well so far, removing multiple sources of power that had long since been corrupted (or driven to insanity). This was really the first time the party had someone tell them they'd done a good job like that, and they were very happy about it. 

Strahd let them know that they had a common enemy today - Van Richten, the vampire hunter, had stolen a precious book from Strahd, something he needed desperately. Van Richten was also the man responsible for the carnival wagon, and the deaths of all those innocent Vistani today. He needed to be destroyed, and the party heartily agreed. Strahd seemed to press forward, pointedly asking if they had seen a book in Richten's possession. They all denied knowing about it... but Strahd seemed angered by this. He did not push forward, but he would remember that decision for some time to come.

They asked the vampire about the Vistani, and he explained that he enjoyed them quite a bit - they danced, they celebrated, they lived life to the fullest. It was Madam Eva that he was worried about. The woman, in her old age, was losing her mind, believing herself to be some kind of god of these people, and that maybe she was planning something. The Vistani, while not a threat themselves, could be if they were gathered together and turned into some sort of mob - after all, the party had seen themselves just today how dangerous a large group of blind followers could be. He also urged them to never let the book he sought get into the hands of Madam Eva - it could be very dangerous.
Rose inquired about her personal card reading from Madam Eva, claiming that the darkness itself, that death would be interested in her in some romantic, even sexual way. Strahd suggested that maybe this darkness was a person, connected to one of these gods, there were some pretty dark ones out there. Rose asked if he was cute or attractive, and Strahd was unamused by her blindness to her own situation. Looking to Victor sitting beside her, he pointed, then looked at Rose, and asked if she thought he was. It was then that it clicked. Madam Eva's prophecy had already come true, and perhaps Victor had a dark destiny about him that went deeper than they had previously thought. Maybe Emeric had been right to keep a close eye on the guy.

They asked one final major question - how did he want the valley of Barovia to turn out, if everything went his way? He explained, calm and collected, that he wanted to be on the top of the power pyramid. The towns could have leadership however they wanted, but he desired that the people would look to him at their leader, instead of fearing them. A lot of the religious-minded had turned their flocks against him, to benefit their own purposes, and it had to be put to an end. He would take care of his people, if they would only stop fearing him so much.
Completely convinced that Strahd was mostly on their side, they asked if he wanted to break open another bottle of wine with them and continue to talk.

This led to what the DM can only describe as "getting a 1 on a reaction roll, then getting a 1 again when she tried a different d20", aka Strahd accepting their invitation to carouse with them. Euphemia abstained, instead taking the tiger up to a guest room in the castle and staying there for the night. The others, Victor included, all drank until they lost track of the evening.

Strahd left his castle, taking the party with him to the same spring-like green clearing that Tynnathier had seen in her dream. It was full of people celebrating, all very hairy, all very wild-looking wearing leathers and greens, and earth tone colors. A fire was being built in the middle of a dancing circle - but everyone froze when Strahd made his appearance. A woman emerged, not much older than Victor, with short cropped hair and the same general look at the rest of the people here had, and said that it would be fine. Strahd could stay, as well as his companions, and the Festival of the Moon would continue. Looking up, the party was surprised to see a moon and stars, and not a single instance of dense fog, or overcast skies. They partied all night long, with the strange young woman pulling Tynnathier aside at one point to tell her she was happy Tyn had made it, and that she needed to come and find her again.
The party awoke in their beds. They had no vampire markings. No sign of attack from Strahd. Just some pretty heavy hangovers from what they assumed to be a crazy night of moonlit dancing with a vampire, and possibly an Earth goddess.

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The brightly colored, very tall man stalked back into town, night having long since settled over all of Vallaki. His clothes were well-kept, not a drop of blood on them despite the carnage of the day. His wagon pulled into town, many eyes following it as he parked it right back in it's usual spot. Hopping down, he opened the back doors, revealing it's cavity to be completely filled with Vistani treasure instead of his usual tiger, all taken from the treasure cart that had been left full, and completely unguarded. Satisfied with the haul, he shut the doors up tight, locking them with two heavy duty iron padlocks to prevent any prying eyes, or wandering hands.
Turning, he paused, eyes set on the figure looming in the darkness, right in his path to getting back to the inn. The fog had rolled in, giving them both moderately concealment under dark, cloudy skies, but he didn't need to see him clearly to know who he was. Van Richten grinned, the scars across his face tightening with the muscle contractions.

"Vistani."

A commotion was heard throughout town that night, but the events of the week caused everyone to lock their doors up tight, rather than go out and explore to see what the problem was. Even the guards, the few that remained, stood warily by their gate posts, staring into the foggy mists where they heard the fight taking place.
Word got back to Emeric Rilsky the next morning, a message brought by one of his scout ravens. The Holy Knight of the Raven Queen was dead, and the carnival man, along with his wagon, were nowhere to be found.

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