Curse of Strahd: A Struggle of Minds and Fire

Before the party fell asleep, one of the maids of the house brought in dinner and laid it out for the group. Dollie immediately began flirting with the maid and easily won her over, however, they also learned that the maid did not have a tongue and was unable to write. This forced them to have to question her and rely on head nods and shakes to get the information they wanted. They asked about Lady Fiona and whether she was loyal to Strahd. They asked this because of when she said she preferred the devil over a madman. The maid confirmed this and continued to answer questions vaguely through her head movements. They questioned her for a bit before Dollie told the maid to come find her when it was bedtime so that she could hold true to his flirtatious promises. Unfortunately, the party fell asleep and the maid never returned.

The party woke the next morning after having a few dreams the night before and wondering what the day would bring. They all woke and began discussing what they wanted to do about Lady Fiona’s proposal. They discussed the problems that might arise if they agreed to fight against the Burgomaster and Izek and what would happen if Lady Fiona was put in charge of Vallaki. After some much needed breakfast and discussion, they decided that they would be vague in their agreement with Fiona. The party agreed that they would help Fiona only until they got Ireena back and/or defeated Izek, but after that, they didn’t promise to do anything more.

Lady Fiona entered the room and bid them a good morning before telling the group they would be waiting for Ernst to return with information about Ireena’s whereabouts. In the meantime, the party asked her if she was loyal to Strahd and Lady Fiona confirmed it without issue. She told the group that she wanted nothing more than serve Strahd as the Burgomaster of Vallaki.

After a few moments, Ernst returned to the house with a large man cloaked all in black with a hood and mask to match. He was decked out in ornate jewels and seemed imposing to all of those around him. The group gathered around and Ernst gave his report to Lady Fiona.

His report contained the following information:

  1. The Burgomaster was on high alert because of something Izek told him. All of the guards in town had been recalled to the mansion.
  2. Lake Zarovich was still too dangerous to traverse but that Bluto Krogarov was still out fishing in his boat.
  3. There was still no sight of the Mad Mage of Baratok.
  4. Still no entries or attempts to enter the mansion to the southwest of Vallaki. The Order seemed still and quiet for the moment.
  5. Rictavio seemed content on remaining at the tavern. He was consistently making random conversation with the two bearded patrons that sat there almost every day. Ernst tried to listen in, but there was some kind of magical barrier preventing him from listening. The name of the man with the really long beard was Szoldar.
  6. The wine shortage has finally reached its peak at the tavern. The owners were becoming more and more estranged and are currently asking for personal entourages to the Wizard of Wines to see why they haven’t received a shipment. Nobody has accepted their offer yet due to the fear of leaving the city.
  7. Their lord’s personal guest has arrived to help with the Van Richten issue.

Lady Fiona thanked Ernst for his report and introduced the man in black to the group. His name was Manshoon, and he was recruited by Strahd to help deal with the Van Richten problem. Apparently, Van Richten had appeared in Barovia and Strahd knew of him but couldn’t find him. The group asked whether Ernst found out any information about the whereabouts of Ireena, but he said he didn’t know or see her. He did, however, inform the group that Blinsky, at Blinsky Toys, had shelves lined with toy dolls that looked exactly like Ireena, so maybe they could eventually visit him and ask.

Manshoon

The group spoke with Fiona for a while about the proposal before Manshoon weaved his fingers in the air and cast Detect Thoughts on Cabel. Cabel wasn’t prepared for it so Manshoon was able to delve deeper and deeper into Cabel’s mind. Cabel was aware of the mind read and immediately became enraged. Lady Fiona asked Manshoon if the group was good to go and he nodded his head in confirmation.

Cabel verbally jumped on them and the tensions began to rise. Insults were heaved back and forth between the group and Fiona. The argument was poised right on a precipice, Manshoon and Fiona on the verge of readying for a fight. After a moment, emotions finally calmed, and everybody composed themselves. Lady Fiona gave no apology but said it was necessary to find out whether the group really was okay to move forward with her plans and whether they would backstab her. She told them she had been backstabbed before and wasn’t about to leave anything to chance. The party told Fiona of their agreement to only help so far as to get Ireena back, but they wouldn’t actually help overthrow the Burgomaster. Getting Ireena back would mean that Izek had to be toppled, which was Fiona’s original goal to begin her uprising anyway.

Lady Fiona laid out the plan for them. Because of the Burgomaster’s distaste for anybody that speaks ill of the festivals or shows no happiness when in public, Fiona wanted to put on a show. She said that herself, Manshoon, her two sons, and the group had two options. Option one was to storm the Burgomaster’s mansion. She told the group that Manshoon could handle any and all guards that might be a problem, but they would storm the house with herself and her sons. Option two was to go outside and put on a loud and boisterous performance where they spoke as ill as possible of the festival and how the Burgomaster was too stupid to live. They hoped this performance would draw out Izek because the Burgomaster always sent him out to deal with the worst offenders of speaking ill of the festivals.

The group pondered for a moment and decided the second option was their best course of action. Lady Fiona agreed to the plan and decided to leave the room to gather her sons and prepare for the event. She left Manshoon in the room as a guard and deterrent to any decisions the group might try to make in her absence.

As soon as Lady Fiona left the room, Manshoon walked up to Dollie and began speaking with her. It turned out that Dollie and Manshoon had a past together. They had known each other for at least 80 years and this was brought up during their conversation. They spoke lovingly to each other. She wanted to know what he was doing there and he responded by telling her that he was recruited by Strahd to deal with a vampire hunter problem. He asked what she was doing there and she told him that she had no idea and that she was here by some greater force beyond her control. They spoke for a few more moments before he told her that the reason he agreed to Strahd’s invitation was because he wanted to know what gave Strahd his power. Why was he able to be the only one that could come and go as he pleased? How did Strahd make it so that other people could leave or come into Barovia? Where did that power come from? How did he achieve it? Manshoon was here to find the answer and try to obtain that power. Dollie said she wasn’t sure about anything and all she wanted to do was get back to her girls.

The conversation ended and eventually they all gathered in the adjoining den to go over battle plans and what to do about the entire situation. Varis remembered that his armor had been dropped off at the armorer to be studded and he needed to go get it before they went to battle against Izek and the guards. They broke off some wooden shutters that locked the windows. With a little help from Cabel, he was able to sneak out without Manshoon hearing, retrieve his armor from the armorer, and make it back to the window with no problem. They surveyed the yard outside to see how much room they would have and what the battle might contain.

After the allotted time of an hour, Lady Fiona showed up with her two sons and everybody made their way outside. Varis had summoned Koda the previous night for the first time since his death in the Death House and sent him to the Burgomaster’s mansion with a letter that insulted the Burgomaster and everything for which he stood. Unfortunately, upon delivery of the letter, the guards were able to kill Koda before he could return to Varis. They all began screaming, dancing, chanting, and singing about how the festivals were stupid and how the Burgomaster was a useless man. Eventually, six guards and three elite guards showed up. They walked into a tight formation and demanded that everybody put their hands up and come quietly with them to the Burgomaster’s mansion.

Blue Circle: Where the party slept in Fiona’s House. Red Circle: Location of the showdown between the party and the guards

I don’t remember who fired the first shot (it’s not in my notes, unfortunately) but a fight broke out between the guards and the group. The guards tried to spread out, but before too many of them could get into position, Manshoon called upon a large fireball from the sky and immediately dispatched five of them with ease. Lady Fiona put up a Sanctuary around herself and one of her sons, the other son holding his action for the right time to attack. The rest of the fight was over quickly. Nedda and Varis both took a small amount of damage, but the group was able to dispatch the guards without an incident.

Ernst showed back up at the end of the fight and informed everybody that Izek had been seen leaving town out of the west gate of Vallaki with Ireena in tow. She was unconscious but alive. The group told Lady Fiona that they had fulfilled her wishes of getting rid of Izek, and even though they didn’t get their friend back, Izek was gone, so their deal with Lady Fiona was over. She did ask if they wanted to storm the Burgomaster’s mansion with her, but the party declined. She agreed their deal was done and told them they were free to leave. Fiona, her two sons, Ernst, and Manshoon went back into the house, and the party was free to roam Vallaki as they saw fit.

They had the entire city to visit at their leisure with Izek out of town and the Burgomaster holed up in his mansion. What was next on the agenda for the group? A visit to the coffin maker to find out about the bones of St. Andral? A visit to Blinsky Toys to find out more about the dolls of Ireena? How about the tavern? More shopping? Maybe they should search for Ireena? How about all of the above?

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.

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