On the eve of the party leaving the village of Barovia, they all dreamed the same dream while sleeping soundly within Ireena and Ismark’s house. During this dream, the adventurers found themselves standing at the River Ivlis crossroads and a lone raven beckoned them forward toward a place called the Tser Pool encampment. As they approach the Tser Pool, they find a Vistani camp completely empty. They are then drawn inside a tent where a seer sits and waits for them shrouded in darkness. The seer draws a card from a deck and lays it on the table in front of them. It resembles a tarot card and says, “Mists!” on it. The seer tells the adventurers that the distance between them renders her Sight blurred and obscured, so she invites them to visit her at Tser Pool to learn why they are in Barovia and what the future holds for them.
Fast forward to the end of my last post and the party has arrived at Tser Pool where they are greeted by a man dressed very similarly to Stanimir at the beginning of our story. He beckons them closer saying that Madam Eva has been expecting them. They join him near a large bonfire and he says that he would like to regale the party with a story before they go see Madam Eva. They all consent to hearing a story and sit around the fire for a moment. Here is the telling of the story verbatim:
A mighty wizard came to this land over a year ago. I remember him like it was yesterday. He stood exactly where you’re standing. A very charismatic man, he was. He thought he could rally the people of Barovia against the devil Strahd. He stirred them with thoughts of revolt and bore them to the castle en masse. When the vampire appeared, the wizard’s peasant army fled in terror. A few stood their ground and were never seen again.
The wizard and the vampire cast spells at each other. Their battle flew from the courtyards of Ravenloft to a precipice overlooking the falls. I saw the battle with my own eyes. Thunder shook the mountainside, and great rocks tumbled down upon the wizard, yet by his magic he survived. Lightning from the heavens struck the wizard, and again he stood his ground. But when the devil Strahd fell upon him, the wizard’s magic couldn’t save him. I saw him thrown a thousand feet to his death. I climbed down to the river to search for the wizard’s body, to see if, you know, he had anything of value, but the River Ivlis had already spirited him away.Directly quoted from the Curse of Strahd Source Book
The party discussed the story for a moment, pondering the meaning and origin of the story. After a few moments, they were told that Madam Eva was ready for them, so they made their way toward her tent at the back of the camp.
When they walked inside, they found a hunched figure leaning over a table with a large crystal ball on it. The figure looked up at them, and in a cackling voice said, “At last you have arrived!”
Madam Eva looked at Nedda and said:
“Oh, little one, you became separated from your group, did you? You poor thing! You may not have been able to find them yet, but hold on to hope. Your new family here is just the answer, or at least that’s what you think. It’d be a shame if you were wrong. It would be glorious if you were right.”
Madam Eva looked at Dollie and said:
“A delicious treat you are, my dear Dorothea. Thirty years of service to him and not a wasted moment. Sold, given, traded. Tell me, darling, do you smell the lead? The iron? Or has that smell long left your senses? There will be no crying in the sheets in these lands.”
Madam Eva looked at Varis and said:
“Always wax, yet always wane. I melt, succumbed to flame. Lighting darkness, with fate unblessed, I soon devolve to shapeless mess. Oh, the words of Arthur ring strong in your heart, unlike Vlod whose words you so often disdain. But your sister? Hold on to that hope, young Varis, your training will surely win the day.”
Madam Eva looked at Cabel and said:
“A disbanded worship group? A cult, it seems. You all fled like ants from a flame, yet still you remain loyal and hopeful. The eye is always watching. The mouth is always speaking. The hand is always reaching. You must have drawn great interest from our terrible host, Cabel. How interesting.”
The party, taken aback by the fact that Madam Eva knew some of their darkest secrets, walked toward the small table with hesitation. They took a seat around the table and Madam Eva performed a Tarokka Card reading for them. As she flips over each card, she describes what the card entails.
As a sidenote: each description of what the card entails comes straight from the source book. It is not my own written words. All rights reserved to Wizards of the Coast.
The first card: The Wizard
“This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy. Look for a wizard’s tower on a lake. Let the wizard’s name and servant guide you to that which you seek.”
The second card: The Trader
“This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope. Look to the Wizard of Wines! In wood and sand the treasure hides.”
The third card: The Missionary
“This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight. I see a garden dusted with snow, watched over by a scarecrow with a sackcloth grin. Look not to the garden but to the guardian.”
The fourth card: The Beast
“This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness. A werewolf holds a secret hatred for your enemy. Use her hatred to your advantage.”
The fifth card: The Tempter
“Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him! I see a secret place – a vault of temptation hidden behind a woman of great beauty. The evil waits for you atop his tower of treasure.
As soon as the last word leaves Madam Eva’s mouth, the reality around the tent becomes twisted and warped. When everything returns to normal, the party realizes that Madam Eva is gone, her tent is gone, and they are standing in the middle of an abandoned camp, void of any presence. They decide to search some of the wagons that were left behind and Dollie finds several sacks of gems worth quite a bit of money.
After a few moments, the party says goodbye to Ismark as he and his sister Ireena share a moment together. Finally, the parting of ways takes place as Ismark heads back to the village, and the party, accompanied by Ireena, heads toward the windmill and the town of Vallaki.
Before they get very far, Ireena points out a tree in the distance that stands far above the rest. She says these exact words to the party:
“I want you all to look. Do you see that tree? Legends tells of a peculiar yet grand tree, thick and thorny. It grows no leaves, bears no fruit, dead, yet alive. If the stories we heard as children are true, a great sword sticks out from the trunk, impaled deep. Father used to tell us how a viscous red liquid oozes out from the wound where the sword struck the tree. My father used to say, “The tree gives life to those who drink from her pain yet gives death to those who greedily take from her.” I always wanted to see if the legend was true of that tree. We would travel this way when we were younger and he never let me look. Would you mind greatly if we looked? It’s along our path anyway.”
The party agrees to go check out the tree. As they get closer to the tree, they start to feel a sense of cold, an aura of something uneasy. As they reach 60 feet away from the tree, they are all forced to steel their mind. Unfortunately, a few of them fail the task and gain points of exhaustion. They continue forward, but once they reach 30 feet from the tree, they are again asked to find the heart and constitution to move forward. Several of them fall forward, paralyzed, felled by the aura of the tree. Varis is able to fight through the pain and makes it to the tree.
Upon arriving at the tree, Varis frantically searches around it. He sees a giant sword sticking in the tree and yanks on it. As he does, massive amounts of red liquid ooze from the opening made by the sword. He reaches down and tastes a small amount of the liquid. His point of exhaustion instantly leaves him, a feeling of refreshed and renewed washing over him. He takes another taste of the liquid and immediately falls down to the ground, completely unconscious.
Nedda was able to fight her way to the tree and immediately tastes the liquid as well. The minute it touches her lips, her point of exhaustion leaves her. For a reason that still goes beyond explanation, she tastes the liquid a second time as well and immediately falls unconscious. Ireena has now made her way to the tree and provides a small taste of the liquid to both Varis and Nedda. They are instantly healed to full life and wake up.
Ireena goes on to explain that the saying her father told her must mean that those that are fully healthy will perish when consuming the liquid but those that suffer some kind of wound or health problem will be healed of their ailment. Varis tries to pull on the sword again but it only causes more liquid to ooze out of the tree. They contemplate bottling up some of the liquid before deciding that taking it away from the tree might cause the liquid to stop working or cause some further problem.
Taking a moment to gather themselves, the party eventually walks away from the tree, noting its location for possible future use. They begin heading toward Vallaki and the windmill, unsure of what the future holds after that harrowing experience.
The stats/levels depicted above represent the current stats/levels of the party. They are not reflective of where the party was when this session took place.