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Exploring the Crow
After dealing with the prisoners, we explored the adjacent rooms, noting that they were thoroughly ransacked. There was a small fire upon which two rats were spitted. It looked like we came across an outpost, and there would be more Tower Girls as we delved deeper into The Crow.

We found a secret exit that lead outside to a platform overlooking the cove we landed our boat in. It appeared that we had ascended several hundred feet, nearly to the top of the piling. The Tower Girls had left behind several ropes and some scaffolding that lead to a recently discovered chamber. We could see several murals depicting Thassilonian priests interring the dead. Directly after these murals we came upon some crypts that contained the skeletal forms of some long dead heroes. Unfortunately, the long dead heroes were actually undead heroes – skeletal champions to be exact.

Soraka moved into the room to confront them, which was perhaps ill-advised, as the champions proved quite skilled at arms. The enemies slashed away at Soraka, Kaz and Milah, putting them on the defensive. Ne-los managed to distract one with his illusion – he conjured an image of a grand paladin of Sarenrae. I rallied the Spiders with a song:

I still don't know what I was waiting for,
And my time was running wild,
A million dead-end streets,
And every time I thought I'd got it made,
It seemed the taste was not so sweet...

Even with my song, the battle proved quite challenging. Eventually, one of the skeletal champions fell. Our advantage grew, and we won the battle! Fortunately, Soraka's ability to heal kept her from succumbing to the onslaught. We looted what relics seemed worthwhile, and continued past the crypts into and unusually shaped room.

Kaz detected a tripwire, and disarmed it. We advanced cautiously, and approached a room with a demon-shaped fountain. There were two Tower Girls there, one appeared to be guarding while the other slept. Soraka advanced, and challenged them. The Tower Girl on guard took off, abandoning her sleeping comrade. We surrounded the Tower Girl that was trying to get up from the bedroll, and she surrendered.

Soraka and Milah asked the Tower Girl some questions, but the Tower Girl did not know very much. She claimed she was not allowed to go down to the lower levels. Soraka mentioned that it might be unwise to leave this prisoner behind. On cue, Pig stepped forward and executed the hapless Tower Girl.

We continued onward, finding a partially collapsed room. Inside were some treasures the Tower Girls had looted – a black amphora with some old Thassilonian coins, and a bronze statuette of a rune giant. These were exactly the types of objects the Pathfinder Society was looking for. We gladly took those, then made our way down a stair case. How far down we went I am not sure, perhaps one floor.

When we got to the bottom of the stairs, it appeared that the Tower Girls had set up another ambush for us. They commanded us to leave, and threatened to attack if we set foot in the room. Milah stepped forward to talk to them, perhaps deliberately to set them off, and the battle ensued.

Though the Tower Girls and their pet rats were positioned well to block us from leaving the stairs, Kaz and Milah were able to push into the room. Kaz cleared a hole in the enemy line, and Pig charged through. I began my song:

When I look at my Tower Girl,
I could pretend that nothing really meant too much,
When I look at my Tower Girl

I stumble into town just like a sacred cow,
Visions of swastikas in my head,
Plans for everyone,
It's in the white of my eyes...

(Whoa-ho-ho-ho! Little Tower Girl!)

The leader of that group of Tower Girls, who would later reveal herself to be called Jalena, appeared to be a wizard. She would cast Burning Hands on several of our group twice before Ne-los could subdue her with a Color Spray. Eventually, when the (literal) smoke cleared, we were victorious. We bound Jalena and the only only other surviving Tower Girl, and I interrogated her.

Of course, I had to bring my codpiece to bear. It isn't fair that I have such a powerful asset at my disposal, but this was a life and death situation. I asked Jalena how many Tower Girls there were. She told us there were about two dozen, half of which were in Magnimar on various missions. She also told us her leader was called Alaya, and she was apparently a wererat. Some of the lieutenants and officer types were also wererats.

At this point, after two intense battles, the Spiders were wanting to head back to Magnimar. I figured that we should at least take a look around the level we were on, since we cleared the majority of the opposition.

We discovered the rooms they were using as a dorm and a mess hall, and looked through those, not finding much of importance. We then stumbled upon what seemed to be an empty storeroom. While searching through, I discovered a fresco covered with grime, and an illusionary wall.

The fresco, once uncovered, was of a red-headed woman wielding a ranseur – I surmised it was Alaznist, the Runelord of Wrath. She was stabbing a man, whose eyes and mouth were emitting smoke. We were not sure who the man was, or if the fresco was significant in anyway, but just in case I tried to sketch the fresco as best a could, and noted several of the details carefully. Ne-los also studied the image, so he could reproduce it with his illusion magic.

(This is about where we left off)
Session: Game Session 6 - Friday, Mar 10 2017 from 9:30 PM to 2:00 AM
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The First Card

It screamed of a sinister magical trap: a musty deck of cards lying on a moldering pillow on a pedestal in the middle of an empty room. In this dungeon, where death came from every direction, how could it not be? But with great risk came great reward. Boudica had wagered coin on card games many nights in Yroc’s Harbor, and she had always found the risk even more intoxicating than the reward. She could not resist. As Boudica picked up the deck and shuffled, she watched expressions of fear and surprise wash across the faces of her companions. Mirilda opened her mouth to speak, but Boudica drew a card before she was able to find her voice.

The card felt heavy and limp with damp. On it was an iron gray throne on a yellowed background.

Even as her mind apprehended the image, Boudica felt a sudden pulse of energy surge from her feet upward through her body. Her body stiffened, and her flesh rippled and swelled. Bad decision, Boudica thought, but she could feel no fear, only the welling of the magical energy. Then it was gone and her arms fell limply to her sides and her legs buckled beneath her and she fell to her knees. She was alive, thank the gods, and her companions were still there, standing around her with expressions of blank surprise on their faces.

But she could not breathe. She tried to draw in a breath but her chest would not expand. Oh no, she thought, and this time she did feel fear. Waves of panic from the base of her spine. She exhaled, tried to inhale again, but it was no different. She could feel her breastplate pressing against her chest, pressing the air from her lungs. She reached beneath her arm, uncinched the leather straps of her armor. As her breastplate fell open, her lungs filled with air. Thank the gods, she thought. The dank, putrid air of this tomb felt like a gust of the purest mountain air.

Boudica finally stood, studied the puzzled expressions on her companions’ faces. “I think I’m okay,” she said. Her voice sounded different. Softer, more mellifluous.

Leon was the first to speak. “You look different,” he said, his mouth slightly agape. “Your face is prettier. Not that it wasn’t pretty before,” he added quickly.

Boudica traced her fingers over her face. Her cheeks felt smoother and her eyes felt larger. Then she fully unloosed her breastplate and reached beneath with both hands. Things felt different there as well. Very different. When her attention shifted back to Leon, Meena, Mirilda and Aimorel, their expressions were even more bewildered than before.

“It appears that I am going to have less trouble attracting men’s attention and more trouble fitting into my armor,” Boudica said. A pause, and then everyone laughed. This surprised Boudica almost as much as her sudden change in appearance. She had never been clever like that.

The others began to debate whether someone else should draw a card as Boudica reached down and began to re-buckle her breastplate. It had fit perfectly, but not anymore. Until she got back to the armorer in town, she would have an inch-wide gap beneath each arm, and because the breastplate no longer followed the curve of her torso, she would look like a barrel-chested, pot-bellied blacksmith while she wore it. “Now I understand why Delara took up dancing instead of adventuring,” she muttered. Meena and Aimorel overheard her and laughed quietly.

Leon stepped forward to draw a card. Boudica almost joked that maybe it would make him taller, but she thought better of it.
He shuffled far more nimbly than she had, set the deck back on the pillow and drew the top card. Boudica held her breath as he turned it over and looked at it.
Session: Game Session 15 - Saturday, Mar 04 2017 from 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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Next time on S.H.E.E.L.A. Case-files Nov 25 2015 (April 15th 2017)
The S.H.E.E.L.A. Investigators will try to but the recent tragedy and madness behind them, and delves into a new horror story and realm of insanity, as they press on, and attempt to return to Carcosa.

What will happen? Tune in next time on SHEELA Case-files!
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Last time on S.H.E.E.L.A. Case-files
As our team makes their way from Minot to Dunseith horror and terror strikes! The teach search for some supplies and equipment, and desecrate a church.

Following a search of the old church to look for supplies SHEELA drive on into a mysterious fog bank,

...and the car dies. While pushing it out of the fog, they attacked... 2 "wraiths"

... one scooped up Liam and dropped him from a great height...

The team found help at the Heart of America Medical Center, in Rugby, ND... where in exchange for supplies they helped and kept Liam alive.

After a month, they were back on the road. As the night dragged on they found another old church to spend the night...

Then it happened. While An & Sven again exchanged blows, Erin had enough and snapped. Erin jumped in and tried to sucker-punch Sven... but failed. Sven then swung at her... this when on for a bit when Sven drew his machete and Erin readied her assault rifle...
Sven swung,

...Erin open fire...

Sven lost. Nearing death, Liam worked for 3 hours trying to save Sven's life, and manages to stabilize him...

...and used up 1/2 of the party's medical supplies...

Liam - "He should be mobile in a few weeks"

An - "No". An shoots Sven in the head.

After a night plagued by knocking on the door, the next morning the team moved on… and just made it to Dunseith and hid in an old hardware store… where the met Ole Gustavsen a traveler.

After a touch & go run though the town, our team ended up at the VanPelt farm once again…

Session: Game Session - Saturday, Mar 11 2017 from 5:00 PM to 11:30 PM
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Darth Paul
Posted by the GM
Curse of Strahd
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...
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