Journal Posts

Tag: finale

Chapter 26: The Final Confrontation
Come the grey dawn, the heroes set out down the trail from Argynvostholt. They returned to Krezk and the abbey, letting the guards know that their business was there alone. Going up the trail and to the gates, they were escorted once again by the monstrous Otto Belview to the main building and there to meet with the Abbot. His creation, Vasilika, had come very far indeed and was playing the harp when they entered. They confided with the Abbot that the time had come for them to confront Strahd von Zarovich, and that they would be taking the simulacrum of Mordenkainen with them. While the Abbot disapproved, stating that such action would only result in their deaths, he did not stand in their way. Without his blessing, they left the Abbey of St. Markovia for the last time.

As the morning gave way to afternoon, the heroes made their way past the two river crossroads and bypassed Vallaki, heading over the pass, and reaching Barovia at last. They met with Ismark, told him of their plans, and went to Father Donavich, letting him know the hour had come. The old priest gathered up his staff and a jack of leather and metal plates, and set out with them come the following morning.

As the clouds rolled overhead, the heroes found themselves finally heading up the ill-used road to Castle Ravenloft. No black coach awaited them past the upper gates, though they spotted wolves shadowing them along the moors. Finally they reached the castle. The drawbridge was down and the front doors stood open. Verity entered first, past the statues of the dragons in the foyer and the gargoyles in the entry hall. They did not react to her presence, but seemed to leer down in silence. The heroes opted to head up the great flight of stairs to the left of the entry.

Twin staircases led up from a landing at the top of the great stair. Suits of plate armor stood there, silent sentries that clutched dragon-headed maces. They led up to a reception hall, where a throne-like chair sat on a dais, its back to the dual entries. A stained glass window on one side had the image of a knight with a dragon crest. As the heroes entered, Verity moved over and sat in the chair, contemplating what she would do when they found Strahd.


The stained glass window was more than mere decoration. It held a deadly opponent.

That was a mistake. The stained glass knight in the window came to life, stepped off it, and attacked! The two suits of armor trod up the landing as well, swinging their maces. The fight that followed was brief but fierce. Caxius and Evan blasted away with bolts of fire and force, and Zahar rained arrows on all, as Cira and Donavich engaged the stained glass golem. Lupin and Volta charged the suits of armor, one to a stair, as Shokk moved in on the creature of glass. It slashed away with a sword of razor-sharp leaded glass and unleashed a burst of blinding light as Cira hit it with her shining sword. It focused the light into a brilliant spray of colors, that burned, froze, and dazed the heroes. But they shook off the effect. In short order, the golem had been shattered and the suits of armor blasted apart by mighty blows from axe, sword, and fist.

Taking a moment to catch their breath, the heroes made their way back around to the spiral stairs next to the dining hall on the lower level. They ascended them, up two levels, to the small banquet hall where they had found the wedding cake of Tatyana and Strahd's brother Sergei. What they had not counted on were two monstrous creatures, much like spiders with men's torsos, heads, and arms, crafted out of spare body parts stripped of skin and with blades grafted into their limbs. They pounced and slashed with their horrible blades, but the heroes felled them quickly. They recalled the chambers ahead to the west, but had never gone to the door to the north. If their map of the castle was correct, this would likely be where they study was. And where Strahd waited for them.


Strahd awaited them.

The heroes were not wrong. The door opened on a lavish study, lined with shelves of leather-bound books. It was carpeted, and a heavy table stood in its center. Couches sat near the bookcases, and large, overstuffed chairs upholstered in burgundy leather sat before a massive fireplace hearth on the east wall. A figure rose from one chair. It was Strahd von Zarovich. He downed a crystal goblet of some red substance and smiled. "So, you have come at last. Have you reconsidered my offer, as your friend did?" He gestured to the other chair, where Kyne Darkblade sat.

"Our answer is the same as last time." Shokk replied. "Never."

"Then you will die!" Strahd growled, and the fight was on. He moved with unearthly quickness, striking with his blade and withdrawing before they could react. He blasted the heroes with a ball of eldritch flame but their defenses let them withstand the inferno. Cira moved in, sunlight spilling from the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, but Rahadin slipped from beneath the table and slashed at her, driving her back with his poison blade. Even as that happened, papers and scrolls flew from shelves and tables, forming a large man-shaped figure like a mummy, though arcane symbols flared on its tightly-wrapped pages. It clawed at Shokk, Volta, and Verity as they moved in. Evan, Zahar, and Caxius fired from the other room, peppering the count and his servants with arcane spells, as did the faux Mordenkainen and Donavich the priest.

As Strahd slashed with his blade and tore at Volta and Verity with claw and fang, he animated the furniture in the room and sent it crashing into the heroes. Kyne danced around them, summoning darkness and vanishing from sight as he stabbed and retreated time and again. Rahadin was a blur with his poison blade.

But the heroes were far from helpless. Cira and Volta cut away at the scroll golem as Verity paralyzed Rahadin with a spell and a song. Zahar filled him with arrows, ending his life. Shokk finally came face to face with Strahd, and struck him with three mighty blows, his sword flaring with radiant fire each time. Strahd snarled, his blade flicking away, piercing the paladin's defenses time and again. Shokk was barely on his feet and everyone else wounded. Volta had fallen twice and was barely on her feet. Strahd moved as a blur across the room, snatched Verity, and drug her through the far doors into the bedchamber where he'd kept Gertruda. He tore at her throat with his fangs, lapping up her lifeblood.

But Cira stepped in, using a prayer to the Morninglord to revitalize the warrior-bard. As Shokk moved in, Verity stood up with the thighbone of St. Markovia in hand. She swung the holy mace with all her might. "I've had enough of you!" Her blow shattered the mace, driving the bony shard into Strahd's heart. He screamed and dissolved into a mist, which swirled past their feet with the swiftness of the wind and back through the vent in fireplace. A blast of cold from Evan finished off the treacherous Kyne, and Volta had cut the paper golem to shreds.

With their foes defeated, the heroes extinguished the flames and stepped into the massive hearth. Cira found a loose brick, pulled on it, and opened a secret door into a hidden treasury. But there was no sign of the mist there. She found a crack in the far wall, near the floor. Grabbing an iron torch cresset there, she pulled open another secret door. It led into a web-choked hall that ended in bronze-sheathed double doors. Making their way carefully down the hall, tearing the webs away, they opened the far doors and found themselves in the castle's belfry. Nearly at a loss, Cira and Lupin carefully searched until they found a crack in the floor on the north side of the room. Another loose brick was pushed in, and a latch released, opening into a larger secret treasury. Inside was a tower of iron, fully 20 feet across and 30 feet high.

Volta remembered the iron key that the ravens had dropped for her weeks ago, and tried it on the door. Sure enough, it opened. Inside they found heaps of gold coins and treasure...and a single, black coffin. A blow from Volta's axe revealed Strahd, lying in state. With an oath, Cira stepped ahead, drawing a flask of holy water as Zahar put a shaft of ash wood straight through the vampire's heart. Shokk took his head with a blow, and Cira sprinkled the water on his remains. The vampire crumbled to ash. It was over.


Strangely enough, Strahd had a look of peace in his eyes just before Shokk's blade fell.

Outside, the clouds broke and the sun came out, the dark skies lit up as the sun neared the horizon. Night was coming, but for the first time, it was a night without terror. The heroes rang the bell, and it pealed gloriously through the valley beyond. They looted the treasury, finding an enchanted helm, shield, and rod, and managed to shrink the iron tower back into the cube from which it sprang. Their sacks overflowing with gems, jewels, and gold, they made their way down the mountain and back to Barovia.

Come the dawn, they saw the wagons of the Vistani rolling through town. They had others with them as well - Rudolph van Richten and Ezmerelda! The two said their good-byes. Van Richten was leaving, seeking evil elsewhere, while Ezmerelda said she would remain to protect this place, lest Strahd someday return. Madame Eva told them their time here was done. The Vistani were departing and would show them the way. Would Strahd return? She did not know. Did evil ever truly die? If he did, she and her kin would return. But the heroes had brought hope to this land, and that was something sorely needed.

They followed as the mists cleared, and they found themselves on the forest road back to the river and Daggerford. They had returned to the Realms, and to what fate they knew not. But adventure beckoned, and they would answer it's call once more.


The sun had finally risen, and the road beckoned them once more...
Viewable by: Public
0 comments