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Tag: npc_death

Chapter 5: The Festival of the Blazing Sun
The heroes left the Wizard of Wines early the next morning, shortly after a dim sun rose behind dark clouds. They made the journey back as far as the Raven River Crossroads without incident. As they neared the river, they discovered part of the trail had been washed out by the rain. As they prepared to ford the stream, feral eyes gleamed in the half-light of the dark woods. A half dozen dire wolves charged out silently, savagely, and attacked from surprise. The heroes were caught off guard, but fought back and slew most of the beasts. It seemed as if Strahd would have his beasts harry them at every turn.


The Devil Strahd's wolves. It seemed as if they would harry the heroes at every turn.

Apart from a group of Barovian scouts, out hunting for a missing young woman, there were no other incidents of note on the road back to Vallaki. The guards at the gate gladly let them in, and the heroes returned to the Blue Water Inn. Urwin Martikov and his wife Danika were glad to see their safe return, and thanked them for the wine. So did Karl and Nikolai Wachter, who had feared the wine casks would run dry. With two hours to kill before the festival started, Volta, Verity, Evan, and Cira decided to visit St. Andral's Church. The Wachter brothers informed them that the next festival would be the Feast of St. Andral. Cira was interested to learn more about this saint, unknown to her in the Realms. In the meantime, Shokk, Lupin, Kyne, and Caxius headed to the town square to see the preparations for the festival.

The group at the church met a boy named Yeska, who invited them in and introduced them to the priest, Father Lucian Petrovich. Seeing the holy symbol of the Realms' own morninglord, Lathander, on Cira's shield, the priest confided that the church had been robbed three days ago. The only thing taken was its greatest treasure - the hallowed bones of St. Andral himself! The only one he had told was the boy, Yeska, who was afraid after hearing rumors that the "devil" Strahd was riding the night once again. The boy's older brother, Milivoj, who acted as groundskeeper and gravedigger for the church, came in the back, scowling. He told Yeska to help the good Father Lucian, and then went out and back to work.


St. Andral's Church was a refuge, but a dreary one.

Volta tried talking with the young man as she chopped wood for the church, and Cira talked with Yeska. She got the boy to reveal that he had told only one person - his brother - about the bones of St. Andral and that they had been hidden in a crypt below the church's altar. The cleric went to confront Milivoj, and under the ire of her gaze, he revealed he'd been paid to steal them by Henrik van der Voort, the local coffin maker. He'd only done so for enough money to feed his brothers and sisters, as their parents had died years ago. Sympathetic to his plight, Cira did not punish him save to make him promise to apologize to Father Lucian. She rounded up the rest of her companions, and they made their way back to the inn.

The rest had found little, apart from sad decorations and miserable looking villagers. Meeting with their companions at the inn, they all opted to head to the coffin maker's shop to speak with the man. With an hour or so to spare, they figured they would have plenty of time to make the Festival of the Blazing Sun. The shop appeared closed when they arrived, and knocking on the door only produced shouts. "Go away! We are closed! Leave me alone!" When attempts at subterfuge failed, Shokk simply kicked the door down, breaking the bar holding it fast!

Henrik, the coffin maker, collapsed and sobbed, "They made me do it! He came one day. Vasili von Holtz. He made me keep them here. They are upstairs, in the attic..." Shokk and Volta made their way upstairs, while the rest took up position below. The attic storeroom was full of piles of wood and crates. As Shokk approached one, it splintered apart as a hand burst free of it, scattering wood and loose earth. Four more followed, and the barbarian and the paladin found themselves facing five vampire spawn!

The rest rushed upstairs, and a fierce battle raged in the cramped confines of the coffin maker's attic. The undead shrugged off blows that would have split a normal man in twain, almost instantly healing wounds that would have been lethal. Blood was drained, but flashes of radiant light and the hew of axes put an end to the vampires. In the aftermath, they found Saint Andral's bones and Caxius remembered where he'd heard Holtz's name before...the Abbey of St. Markovia! It was no less than Strahd himself in disguise. Henrik revealed the vampire's spawn had terrorized him, and planned to attack the church during the Festival of St. Andral a week from the day.


The vampire spawn were almost feral, and were hungry for blood. It was a close, close thing, but the heroes prevailed.

They quickly returned the bones to a grateful Father Lucian, and the church was once again hallowed ground. They rushed back to the festival, only to be greeted by a procession of sad looking children in drooping flower costumes escorting the mounted Baron Vallakovich, his Lydia, and the Baron's soldiers to the town square. An enormous wicker sun had been raised on a crane, and the Baron rode forth with all solemnity to light it with a fiery brand. But a sudden downpour extinguished his torch, and one of his own guards began to laugh. A gasp ran through the crowd, and the sputtering, red-faced baron immediately demanded the guard be bound and tied behind his horse so that he could drag him through the town, as penalty for his disrespect and mockery.

The heroes intervened. Verity's words did not sway the baron, and though Cira had cast a spell to calm his hostile emotions, the baron's henchmen Izek Strazni took umbrage. "Sorcery! She seeks to charm the baron!" He charged her with his axe, slashing away, and only Cira's mail and shield saved her from death. Evan cast a spell to freeze the devil-armed henchman in place, and he was paralyzed! Kyne, Volta, and Verity made quick work of him, and Lupin charged Baron Vallakovich himself after the stout, angry man had slashed at the cleric, Cira. He tore the nobleman's throat out, and Shokk finished him. "The Baron is dead," he roared. Caxius caused the earth to tremble with a spell, while Verity created an illusory wall of flames. It was too much. The guards broke, the crowd fled, and the square was deserted.


[I]The Baron was dead. Long live the Baroness...?[/I]

In the aftermath, the heroes made their way back to the Blue Water Inn. Change had come to Vallaki, and only the morrow would tell if the change would bode ill for them...
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