When last we left them, our adventurers, who I like to call the "Fairydust Rainbow Glitterfun Bunch," had just defeated an entire witches coven along with thier various summoned beasties in mid-ritual on the top of the haunted Lysaga Hill, and were about to head down through a hidden trap door to the ruins below. Worried about more witchery to contend with, they quickly healed up and descended the dark ladder before their protective spells wore off.
Down below they found an ancient cave tunnel network. Following the main tunnel, Garsome was able to determine that the floor sloped constantly downward thanks to his Dwarven stonecunning ability. Using his darkvision to spot any dangerous lurking beasties, Garsome led the way while Cedric called upon Kelemvor to provide some light for the non-dwarves, and the rest of the troupe followed the subterranean demihuman.
Sure enough, along the path they were set upon by a duo of ancient acid deamons, who were hiding amongst the stalagtites and quickly dispelled Garsome's magical circle of protection. Their skin constantly secreted an otherworldly bloody acid substance that would eat through metal weapons and armor as quickly as a hot jar of HCl through your favorite T-shirt you shouldn't have worn to the lab. Garsome quickly closed with the monsters swinging his axe and sword at the beasts, hoping to kill them before his weapons turned into so much corroded sludge. Milo, for his part, stabbed the beasties with his alchemical flare stakes, normally only effective on undead, but still allowed him to get that juicy sneak attack damage without risking his silver dagger. Cedric stood back and thought about how much damage he could do to them in one round if only they actually were undead.
The adventurers eventually downed the deamons before they had a chance to gate in more of their kind. Cedric finally justified his memorization of the mending spell and repaired the damage to Garsome's axe. The team made their way further into the tunnels where they came across a stone obelisk covered in runes, surrounded by a magic circle, with a treasure chest at its base. Knowing better than to mess with runic circles Cedric did the full assortment of priestly info-gathering including casting comprehend languages, detect magic, making some knowledge (religion) and spellcraft checks, and generally being a human search engine. Meanwhile the rest of the party waited around the corner for him and the inevitable trap he'd set off. Cedric then tentatively walked over to the treasure chest from the side, clearly explaining his wish to avoid any poison needles shooting out from the locking mechanism, and abruptly set off a huge magical fireball explosion, nearly killing him. Everybody then agreed that rogues should search all treasure chests for traps from now on.
Milo then picked the lock on the chest and discovered a large hoard of gold, some magical bracers, a fancy jeweled mirror, and the personal journal of Strahd Von Zarovich! They decided to make camp in the runic circle, as Cedric had determined that it was a circle of protection and would keep them safe from harm (fireball trap notwithstanding), while he read the journal aloud to the rest of the party. They discovered that there were three shrines to the old gods in Barovia that Strahd had succeeded in defiling and absorbing their power. And the only way to break his ties to these shrines was to reconsecrate them with the sacred relics that the shrines originally were charged to protect. It quickly dawned upon the group with a ubiquitous groan that the sacred relics were no doubt deep in the dungeons of Castle Ravenloft, based on some of previously nonsense esoteric murmurings they overheard from the gypsy Seer Madam Eva during their visit to the gypsy camp.
Deciding their best course of action was to return to the town and sell their stuff, the party ascended the ladder the next morning and followed Old Svalich Road back toward Barovia. Along the way they came upon a dead body they discovered was trapped with some Dust of Choking and Sneezing that Milo set off during the thief-required loot-search, which was immediately followed by a penta-pronged werewolf attack from the woods. Even though the trap was quite good in my opinion, Cedric used Gust of Wind to remove the dust and Garsome and Ulrik made very short work of all five werewolves without taking a scratch, much to their narrator's (my) dismay.
Returning to the village, the troupe were accosted by some villagers screaming about danger to the south end of town before they could properly unload their treasure. With an annoyed sigh the adventurers sauntered down the road to see what all the hubbub was about. They saw a huge feral-looking man dragging an unconscious woman out of the Burgomeister's mansion, in broad daylight! They realized that she was probably the person they were supposed to protect this whole time, and approached the man. Getting close, the man threw open the door of a nearby home and raced inside, girl in tow. Based on his speed and ferocity, the team figured he must be a vampire, but knew he shouldn't be out in the daylight! Shrugging their shoulders in the calm realization that comes with knowing the Dungeon Master will eventually reveal the answer to this conundrum (because he clearly thinks its so cool), the adventurers raced in after the daywalker.They cornered the vampire in the house and quickly called on the power of goodness and metalsmithing to smite their foe. While the vampire cut the Dwarf pretty deep with his evil sword, he was unable to level drain anybody, and was forced to go into gaseous form and seep out the windows, swearing future vengeance on the party. Cedric finally got some use out of his Extra Turning feat, and Garsome got to get some swings in with the magical silver greatsword he found a while back.
That's where we ended for the night. But many questions remain unanswered! How could that vampire run around in the daylight? Why was he trying to kidnap that lady? And do they really have to go into that deathtrap, Castle Ravenloft, to procure those relics?
We'll find out next time on...
Shadows of the Black Feather: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft!