Thursday, 18 October 2012

Ashlyn's Missive

Could it be? Is it possible... 

Hail to you, noble members of the Lightbringers:

I pray this message has arrived unto your hands swiftly and unmolested. I, Ashlyn, paladin of Ayailla and member of the Lightbringers, send this missive to report on my fellowships' status and on behalf of Ismark Indrovich, the burgomaster of the village of Barovia, to entreat further aid from our organization.

My companions and myself ventured to the land of Barovia seeking a legendary weapon of undead-bane, the Sunsword. It fell out histories long ago but is rumoured to lay within these lands. After a long journey we arrived at the settlement, to discover it under siege by undead! Fighting through the hoard to the town centre, we took shelter with remaining townsfolk in the tavern. I regret to inform my superiors that my companions; Thendrick, faithful servant of Pelor, and Mathilda, fighter of great renown, ventured out to investigate the local church that was rumoured to be the cause of the undead pestis. They failed to return.

A few days following, whilst the undead seemed to multiply in number, another group of adventures fought their way through the town to the tavern. A motley but brave bunch; Tim, faithful scribe and archivist of Ehlonna; Sir Draven, steadfast member of the local Knights of the Raven; and Thoreck, mighty orc-blooded barbarian. After taking rest and speaking with Ismark on the matter of a dispatch supposedly sent by his late father, (one Kolyan Indrovich), their number was soon joined by a peculiar and unsavoury elven mage by the name of Reial.

The group set forth for the church to discover the source of the plague of undeath and the fates of my companions. After a fierce battle with the horrors that lay within the once-hallowed grounds, they succeeded where my companions failed in ridding the font of necromantic blight.

These adventurers, nay heroes, stayed in the village for several weeks assisting with the disposal of the fallen, the rebuilding of the town, and the welfare of the folk. Ismark rose to take up his father's title as head boyar of the village at the heroes' insist.
Fall grew late and the snows began, and despite trepidation, the group took it upon themselves to journey to a nearby encampment of nomads called Vistani, seeking wisdom of their seer Madame Eva. They also made mention their intention to visit the castle that looms from upon high and meet with the lord of Barovia, one Count Strahd von Zarovich XI. Ismark's sister, Ireena, joined them, claiming she had business with the Count on her brother's behalf.

They met with Madame Eva at the Vistani camp who provided them with the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, a relic of much power and sacred meaning to Draven's order, and knowledge of the location of the Sunsword, which they promptly retrieved from the church's spire. I bade them to take the blade to reforge and unlock it's power for their protection. I again bid them farewell and godspeed upon their journey.

It is now six months since then, and I have received no word on their state, beyond what I have been told by Sir Urik, a fellow member of Draven's order: They returned to the encampment and met with a wandering swordsman named Crixus Stark. Taking him into their fold, they made for Castle Ravenloft.

From what Sir Urik later gathered from the dour Vistani, was that apparently some sort of ill tragedy befell the group at the Tser Falls crossing, for scribe Tim was soon discovered washed up downstream near the encampment by the half-folk ranger Sygnus Stillwater, half-drowned and near death. His comrades returned soon afterwards, both overjoyed to find Tim alive, but dispirited over Crixus' noble death in trying to save Tim from drowning in the frigid waters of the Ivlis River.

After much rest in the camp, this resolute and perhaps foolhardy group, guided by Sygnus, again made for the summit and the castle. Since then no one claims to have seen nor heard anything from these brave adventurers, even with the spring thaw and the passes becoming less treacherous. Sir Urik searches for the widths and breadths of the land still for any sign, but to no avail so far.

But the loss of such great heroes is not our only concern here in Barovia: the villages' livestock, already small in number from the undead siege, are being torn asunder and mutilated. Several of the villagers have also gone missing, and the folk whisper tales of werewolves in the Svalich Woods. These folk are a highly superstitious lot, but I am inclined to believe them on account of what I've seen and heard during my time spent in this forsaken land.

There is also strife amongst the villagers, many of them accuse others of witchcraft and being responsible for the queer light that can be seen on Lysaga Hill on nights of the new moon. It dismays me that I've been forced more than once to cease the townsfolk from burning one of the accused at the stake that has been erected in the town square. I believe such superstition and vigilantism stems from the lack of strong faith and reason these people have been robbed of ever since their priest because tainted and their church fell to ruin. They seem to defer to my judgement, although I am unsure if it's out of respect or fear. At least Ismark and the militia the heroes assembled before they left have my ear and are trust-worthy and honest.

And there is still the matter of the lord in his castle. The villagers hate both of them almost as much as they fear them. I'm not saying I'm supporting treason or overthrowing one's sovereign, after all I am just a stranger in a strange land, and I have no right to say such things. Yet it gnaws at my very soul to see these people suffer through such hardships and live in fear of the one person that could make their lives better. I can only imagine what this place must have been like before myself and those courageous adventurers arrived.

What I request on my own and Ismark's behalf, is stout members of our order to help rebuild Barovia and rid it of the evils of this land. People to meet with the Count, and change things for the better. To shine light over this dark land.

For the good of all these people, I swear this must be done.

Praying for aid...

Paladin of Ayailla and Lightbringer

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