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Darth Paul
Posted by the GM
Curse of Strahd
Chapter 19: A Light in the Darkness
The heroes rested again, trying to digest what they had learned in Castle Ravenloft. Again, Shokk was tormented by nightmares and unable to rest. They realized this was the work of Morgantha, the night hage, who had escaped justice at the Bonegrinder. They cast a spell of protection on Shokk, who was able to rest during the day as the others made preparations. They went to the trading post, but found its owner Bildrath as canny and greedy as ever he was. They still managed to purchase a few vials and began preparing holy water for their war against Strahd. Ismark had mentioned some strange lights that had been seen south of Barovia village, and wondered if the hag was responsible. Seeing no other immediate alternative to finding her, the heroes decided to investigate.

They crossed the Ivlis River near dusk, and quickly saw the woods had taken on a strange aspect. The trees and undergrowth were lush and appeared overripe, and there was the smell of ash and rot in the air. A strange, phosphorescent glow was just visible in the dark of the woods. The area was quiet, as if all animal life had vanished. The heroes latched on to a weedy trail and found a small farmhouse. It belonged to Andrej and Lavinia Moldovar and their farmhands. A couple of mangy looking mastiffs were tied up outside, and the farmhands and Andrej had an unhealthy look. He nevertheless invited the heroes inside and offered them a meal and a place to stay, as it was growing dark.

The heroes asked Andrej about the strange lights and what had happened to the plants and animals. He told them a strange light had fallen from the sky many days ago, and ever since his plants had begun to grow. It had fallen near an old well on his property. He also warned the heroes they should not go there, and to ware the woods for there were wolves. The heroes talked of retiring to his barn for the evening, but Verity let slip they would go to check the well first thing. This was apparently the wrong thing to say, as one of the farmhands flew into a berserk fury and charged her with an axe! The dogs went wild, and Andrej came out, two axes in hand. "Leave the well alone!" It turned out Lavinia was one of the Barovian witches, and she turned her spells on them from the back door of their hovel. The fight was brief but bloody, and the farmhands, the dogs, Andrej, and his wife all crumbled to ash with a spark of strangely-colored flame as they died. Something had happened to them.

And it happened to Shokk and Volta. They had become listless, and unwilling to leave the area. Fortunately the well was close by, and the heroes made their way to it through the overgrown woods. A strange color, one they could not identify, glowed like witchfire around the trees and from the boarded-up well. As they drew closer to it, Shokk, Volta, Cira, and Caxius approached the well and knocked the boards off. A strange illumination washed up the shaft, and Verity and Caxius felt drained and weak afterwards. It turned out they were not alone. Cira saw a form moving through the woods, and a massive, malformed wolf charged out and attacked!

[I]The strange color rose from the well in a cloud of unearthly radiance.[/I]

As the heroes turned to battle it, the color rose from the well in an unearthly cloud. It was alive. A diabolical intelligence, non-corporeal, and with a touch that was deadly. It crept up behind Cira, and its touch disintegrated her cloak. She would have died herself had she not side-stepped at the right moment. Caught between the two foes, Volta and Shokk concentrated on the wolf as Cira and Caxius tore at the cloud of color with magic, using radiance and force to disperse its essence. In a matter of moments, both were destroyed, and the threat had passed. The heroes made their way back to the village to rest.

Shokk slept fine. Cira had terrible nightmares that night, and felt as if she hadn't rested at all. The night hag was back. With little recourse, they chose to set out for Vallaki and speak with Father Lucian at St. Andal's Church. Perhaps they could get some help there. They had a strange encounter on the road - a swarm of red-winged butterflies flew up around them at the bridge crossing the Tser Falls. Butterflies with stinging, poisonous bites as it turned out. They were joined by a dark figure swooping down out of the clouds, a monstrosity of skulls, bones, and flesh shaped to look like a monstrous, winged insect. No doubt a creation of Stahd! This deadly, flying wing tore at the heroes with razor-edged bones as its gaze withered their souls. but once again Cira's heaven-sent radiance proved the undead fiend's undoing.

Licking their wounds, the heroes pressed on to Vallaki. They met with Father Lucian, who had no spells or miracles to take them to the ethereal realm where the night hag could haunt their dreams. But he could offer them sanctuary in the blessed walls of St. Andral's church. The heroes opted to rest there overnight, planning their next move...
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Tags: Boss Battle , Recap