Curse of Strahd

Chapter 4: Come Out and Play

In the morning, the group decides to depart Vallaki, having made good on their deal with Ismark. Arriving at his room in the inn, the group encounters a very sunken eyed Ismark. He greets them with what energy he can muster and explains that it had been a bad night, Ireena was tortured by nightmares of Strahd, calling to her from his keep. He is understanding of the group’s want to go, and pays them with a satchel of gold. He tells them that he will take Ireena to St. Andrals Cathedral.

Leaving the tavern, Danika bids them farewell and asks them to keep an eye out for Bluto the fisherman: he is their best customer, but nobody has seen him for days.

On their way out of Vallaki, they come across a crowd looking to the center of their circle, some with smiling faces, most with stoic ones. In the center, is a dancing monkey in a tutu. Greybeard calls to the monkey in friendship and the monkey happily climbs the large man…and hands him a business card reading Is No Fun, Is No Blinksy! Blinksy Toys. The monkey retreats and the group leaves Vallaki.

They venture forth towards Krezk, where their fortune had bade them go. The morning begins uneventful enough, but when the crew comes across a crossroads, they hear the voice of Strahd from the shadows of the forest. He thanks them for leaving him his bride, as four large wolves descend upon the group from the trees.

Three of the wolves turn into hairy human forms, while the fourth remains as a wolf. The three attack. Eventually the forth attacks as well, but it takes a bite of its own kind. Visibly confused by this betrayal, and bloodied by the adventurers, the wolves race away in retreat.

The group decides to return to Vallaki.

Arriving back in Vallaki, they head towards the baron’s house, as to not be the objects of his ire. At his mansion, they are shown in by a large, hairless man with dangerous features and a monstrous arm hidden in his cloak. The Baron’s right hand man, Izek Strazni. The group is then greeted by Baroness Lydia Petrovna, who invites them for tea and sandwiches. In the tea room, are nine women sitting around gossiping as they sew costumes for the upcoming festival.

After a few minutes, Izek leads the group to the Baron’s study where Baron Vargas Vallakovich awaits, gaunt, bearded, clad in a breastplate and featuring long hair combed forward to cover his balding. Declaring that all will be well, the Baron explains that the festivals he holds keep the devil Strahd out of Vallaki. The conversation moves to questions of the group’s motives, and when he discovers the existence of Ismark and Ireena in his walls, he demands that they lead Izek to them.

With few options, the group agrees, and allow Izek to lead them to St. Andral’s Cathedral. On their way, they pass through the town square where humans in plaster horseheads stand locked in the stocks. Izek explains that they are guilty of malicious unhappiness.

They arrive at St. Andral’s and Izek agrees to wait outside while they retrieve Ismark and Ireena. Inside, they meet a very dower Ismark, who laments that this place is not the safety he had hoped. They warn Ismark and Ireena, and make a plan for them to sneak out the back and meet them at the Blue Water Inn.

Meanwhile, Hadriel speaks to the priest, Father Lucian Petrovich, who informs him that this place is no longer hallowed – the bones of the saint have been stolen.

With a plan in place, the group exits the building, and Talitha tries to convince Izek that they siblings are not there. He seems to assent.

On their way back to the Blue Water Inn, the group comes across Blinksy Toys and decide to venture in. As they open the door, they hear the voice of an out of breath Ismark say, “Toys, really?” He tells them that as soon as they left, Izek had come barreling into the cathedral and chased them out. Ismark told Ireena to head to the Blue Water Inn, as planned, while he lead Izek away. He thinks the plan worked and he got away.

The group decides that it is best to head to the Inn right away, but just as they do, they hear a voice from inside the toy shop bellow “Customers!”

“Oh shit!” Ismark says, seeing Izek and pushing the party inside the narrow, dusty, and dark confines of the only toy store in Barovia. Hadriel smeared a clear circle into the dusty window, looking out to the street. Talitha grabbed a crate of toys and shoved it in front of the door. The owner, Blinsky, looked on curiously….”Wyelcome? Cyan I hyelp you?”

Blinksy explains that Rictavio gave the Piccolo (the monkey) to him because Blinksy was lonely.  And explains that he sold a Vistana doll to Rictavio.

Amaterasu, examining the toy store, finds many peculiar items, particularly a doll that resembles Ireena Kolyana. When questioned, Blinksy admits that Izek has commissioned him (over threats of ruin) to create these likenesses (over years). Greybeard buys a puppet of Strahd. And Amaterasu throws a few gold coins back to Blinksy as they leave.

The group travels to the Blue Water Inn with Talitha leading in stealth, and Greybeard calling loudly for Izek with the remaining party in the back,

Talitha makes it to the Blue Water Inn first, and after hearing of Ireena’s presence with Rictavio, charges upstairs to investigate rooms…eventually finding Ireena and Rictavio conversing.

Ismark and Amaterasu comfort Ireena, while the rest of the team has a conversation with Rictavio. And the end of the conversation, Rictavio informed them of the wizards tower on Baratok.

Suddenly, the voice of Izek erupts from outside the taver, “I heard you calling! Well, here I am!”

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