On The Edge Recaps episodes 36-41

The team gives their final words to Rig. They agree that they did what needed to be done. “Well, should we get rid of…” Arguile gestures to her body. “I’ll handle it.” Out of the shadows, Shanks walks towards Rig’s body. The tiefling pats him on the back on his way out of the room. As everyone clears out, Attros questions if Shanks should destroy the body. Shanks believes once something has changed there’s no going back. The Kenku agrees but adds that everything is always changing and eventually they can have use even after death. Shanks thanks him for his wisdom. Attros nods then exits the room leaving Shanks to get rid of the body. While the party rest, We’aqua looks up the two phases he keeps hearing, Duke of Swords and Lord of Chaos. Finding a book in JMs library, he goes to her hoping she can translate Abyssal. The Druid is told that she can not but someone and their party does. He goes straight to Arguile thinking that surely the tiefling would know the demonic language. To the Druids surprise, he doesn’t. Arguile makes a joke about how racist it is to assume that he would know the language. We’aqua jokes back and agrees that it was, they laugh a bit about it then Arguile promptly kicks him out of his room. We’aqua barges into Kyvers room with a book in hand; oblivious to the destroyed state of the Tabaxi’s space, he asks if the cat knows Abyssal. Kyver in fact does know. Together they learn about the Arch Fiend called Arioch*, an intelligent, charming, and manipulative godlike arch-fiend from the abyss. He takes an interest in mortals who get involved with the ailments of lawfulness and chaos. He urges them towards chaos. At times he would appear as a golden skin, silver-haired elf but the text goes on to say, if one is to stare long enough you would see his demonic true form. We’aqua thanks him, then gestures to Kyver’s disheveled room. The Tabaxi claims he’s redecorating. We’aqua doesn’t pry and leaves Kyver to himself. Meanwhile, in a dream, a mysterious stranger approaches Arguile asking, “You wish to find her?” Pictures of his life flash before his eyes and the Tieflingg ask, “Who are you?” He learns the stranger is the man from the emblem he wears. The stranger continues asking what he is willing to do to find her? Arguile replies whatever it takes. The man leaves him saying he will be in touch. Arguile wakes in cold sweats. After a few deep breaths and looking around he claims himself enough to fall back asleep. In Kyvers dreams, an evil red-eyed mist approaches Kyver. In a chilling tone, he says, “Liar. Betrayer.” Kyver jokingly asks how he lied and betrayed him. It goes on and introduces himself as Tenebrous. The Tabaxi compliments him on his name, saying nice to meet you. He asks why he wants the party dead. Tenebrous says to prove he is worthy of his gift. He goes on to say if he doesn’t succeed he will use his corpse to do his bidding as he demonstrates his necromancy conjuring a Lich-like creature. It storms up to him staring. Once it gets in Kyvers face it disappears, waking him. In the morning, Attros and Shanks are already hard at work in the workshop. Shanks approaches the Kenku and hands him a broken wooden wolf mask. Attros notices a green bracelet on the archer that he hadn’t noticed before. Shanks just says that it’s a token to remind him of a mistake in his past. The artificer gestures to Gilead, insinuating the same thing. Shanks explains about the mask, as it was his father’s. He wants to start the mending process of the mistakes of his father that he’s internalized. The mask is his symbolic way of starting that. Attros nods in agreement and mends the mask for him, using the bark from the tree blight they defeated earlier. Attros begins to look over the few items that Rig had on her. Casting identify, he finds that her bracers are heavily imbued with Chronurgy, time magic. They seem like they’re part of some kind of Pact magic and the magic is slowly fading. Attros makes notes for JM, as he continues his work on other things. The rest of the party makes their way down to the bar for food and drink, while Kyver goes to find the Journeyman, and We’ahqa heads to the library to try and find more information on Arioch. Kyver finds JM in her office. They start with a little bit of small talk, how many groups has she had before his party, what the plans are for them after Strahd, and how protected the tavern is. The last question piques her interest. Probing a bit further Kyver begins to tell her of the dreams he’s been having. He mentions Tenebrous and there is a slight familiarity with the name like she’s heard it before. Going to her bookshelves, she scans and finds an old tome. Opening it and reading a bit, she asks why Kyver mentions that name. He admits that while he was off his rocker, he made a deal with this entity for power. His mission was to kill Strahd and the rest of the party for control over Barovia. But the party has grown on him and he doesn’t want to be part of the deal anymore. Continuing to read while Kyver explains the situation, something clicks in JM’s head. “You made a deal with ORCUS?!” Kyver has no idea who this is and answers her question with a question, “who?” “Ocrus, Lord of the Undead. Prince of Undeath. Blood Lord. Prince of Spectres. Master of Vampires and Liches. The Shadow that Was,” she says in a harsh tone, turning the book toward Kyver. She questions him more and just grows more and more upset with the whole situation. She agrees to help but is absolutely bullshit about it. So she sends him out of the office while she tries to wrap her head around all of it. Meanwhile, Galahad and Zechs head to the workshop to grab Attros and Shanks to finish their meeting with the Journeyman. After a brief discussion, Arguile joins the conversation after stealthily making his way into the room. He informs them that Rig had made a deal with the Constable. “Shanks was not the primary target, just the icing on this fucked up cake,” the Tiefling explains. The conversation turns to Strahd and the potential of heading to the Mad Mage. Zechs wants to get to the end game of the whole thing. The group agrees with the Tabaxi but they want to make sure that they have a plan to end this, once and for all. Decide to hedge their bets and go after one more Tarot card. Attros is pretty much fed up with the decision-making within the group. The group exits the workshop and Arguile peels off immediately, heading to the bar. Shanks, Attros, Zechs, and Galahad make their way into JM’s office. The Journeyman looks somewhat exasperated and they notice this right off the bat. They inquire about her mood and JM simply refers them to Kyver, as he is the reason for her mood. The conversation pushes forward into the realm of the tarot cards. She confirms that the 1 of Stars is a reference to Castle Ravenloft. They move to the 4 of Stars and she tells them it is a reference to the Order of the Silver Dragon and a place called Argynvostholt. It’s in an area south of Vallaki. They speak about the Amber Temple and Kasimir. She mentions that the power within him won’t “spill out” but he will continue to look worse and worse as they go. She assumes he made a deal with a dark power and that they should also ask Kyver about making deals. She switches back to Argynvostholt and explains that it was an ancient order of knights that followed a Silver Dragon. The leader was a man by the name of Vladimir Horngaard. Things didn’t end well for the order. The conversation turns back to Kyver and she urges them to speak to the Tabaxi. As they leave the office, Attros hands over Rigs bracers, and he notices a look of recognition in her eyes. Galahad, Attros, Zechs, and Shanks head toward Kyver with a bunch of pints in hand. Galahad takes the lead with Attros as the other two keep a slight distance. Placing the ale down in front of Kyver, Galahad asks why JM was so upset by him. Kyver, after a lot of explanation, spills the beans about his deal with Orcus. Galahad is absolutely livid and the rest of the party is not a fan of the information the Paladin disseminates to them. Attros questions Kyver about the consequences of breaking his deal with the Demon Lord. The Tabaxi is resigned to his fate but the party doesn’t really want to let the subject go. Zechs lays into Kyver especially hard. At this point We’ahqa walks out of the library, in just their loincloth, announcing that their armor was made in the Infernal Plane. This sets Zechs off and he asks if anyone else has some extraplanar being talking to them or trying to kill them. Arguile, half-jokingly, tells Zechs that he’ll keep him updated on the conversations he has in his dreams with a mysterious being. Zechs loses it, but before anything drastic can happen, Attros breaks the tension with his Thaumaturgy. He tells the Tabaxi to get himself together and We’ahqa is confused. Galahad explains the situation and We’ahqa starts giving ideas on how to get out of the pact. The party begins to discuss how they might help Kyver. Unable to come to a conclusion, they table the discussion. We’ahqa decides that they don’t want the Armor of Dis anymore and Shanks offers to take it. JM settles things on the armor, telling the party that it was made in the Infernal Plane but not actually imbued with devilish magic. A question is brought up about the stone floating above Arguiles head and Attros explains that it’s a gift from his parton Elrin. She doesn’t recognize the name but trusts Attros at his word. Meanwhile, searching through the remains of Rig’s equipment, We’ahqa asks Shanks if he’s alright with them using Rig’s old armor. Shanks tells them that they’re an adult and can make their own decisions. While equipping it, We’ahqa finds a sewn-in hidden pouch on the interior of the armor. Not caring for money, they take the pouch and toss it to Arguile. In the pouch is a leather and twine necklace with what looks like a gilded flower. The flower is known as a “Snap Dragon” and has the appearance of a skull. As the Tiefling examines it, there is an illusory effect that changes the skull to the visage of a young Water Genasi. Arguile shows We’ahqa the necklace and they recognize it from their childhood. “That’s me. Why did she have that? That’s Dona’s,” the Druid says, perplexed. Shanks is caught off-guard, “did you say, Dona?” We’ahqa explains that they had a Wood Elf friend named Dona when they were young. She was their only friend that wasn’t an animal or plant. They made the necklace together. We’ahqa using their nature magic and Dona using her illusion magic. Dona was able to magically change her appearance. This puts Shanks into a tailspin and leaves We’ahqa confused. Shanks starts putting things together: Rigs could shapeshift. Her favorite flower was the same as the flower on the necklace. And she does know what Dona looks like…[36] The revelation hits Shanks like a ton of bricks: Rig, masquerading as Dona, was friendly with We’ahqa as a child. The Druid isn’t exactly sure what is happening. Shanks inquires if she was kind to We’ahqa and the Druid explains that she was one of the only people that they knew, growing up, that was kind to them. She was one of their favorite people. Shanks acknowledges this and begins to walk away from a very confused We’ahqa, looking down at their necklace. Shanks makes his way toward the training room, with Attros not far behind him. Zechs grabs some food and makes his way up to his room. The rest of the party stays in the bar area drinking and dealing with the aftermath of We’ahqa’s revelation. They are incredibly distraught, and Kyver pulls them over to the bar for a drink. Before leaving the bar to head down to the training area, Cereius tells We’ahqa, “sometimes you can feel you know a person, and you know everything that they’ll do. That you know that they’ve got good in them, and it isn’t until they’re standing in front of you doing the evilest things that you realize you don’t know a person as well as you think you do.” Everyone left in the bar, besides Glad, joins the pair in taking shots of hard alcohol. Shanks makes his way down and starts doing some strength and agility training. Attros, not far behind, approaches the archer saying, “funny, I’m the bird here. Yet, you’re more of a chicken than I am. Why are you running?” The two go back and forth, talking about the interaction that just occurred between Shanks and We’ahqa. Shanks speaks about Rig using the visage of Dona to ease the feelings Shanks had about their situation. He didn’t feel it was right and wanted to show her that he loved her for who she was. At this point, Cereius enters the room. Shanks questions why Attros is judging him, because in his mind, what happened is essentially the same as Attros’s situation. The Artificer responds that they aren’t the same and lists several reasons why mirroring his arguments from the Journeyman’s office the prior day. Shanks wants nothing to do with the conversation stating “I don’t tell you how to live your life, don’t tell me how to live mine.” Cereius joins the discussion and adds some context to the whole situation. Telling the two that they’re almost the same person, just with different points of view. He implores them to find a balance and work things out. After a bit more conversation, the two come to an agreement. They’ll hash it out in the sparring pit. Cereius announces this up the stairway to the bar and the rest of the party runs down to watch and wager on the contest. It’s a unique battle in which Attros pulls Shanks out of his comfort zone. The Kenku uses the archer’s disinterest in close-quarters combat to his advantage, pushing what normally would be a mismatch into a fight down to the last blow. It ends with Shanks delivering the knockout blow with his spear and just narrowly avoiding a knockout from Attros. The two end their conflict with each other and turn to see that the rest of the party is down in the training room watching it take place. Meanwhile, Zechs is still up in his room, he registers movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning to look, he spots what looks like a wooded archway, with a small thatch of white birch trees in place of his room’s door. He’s able to see a thick and lush wilderness behind the stand of trees. An overgrown path leads deeper into the mysterious forest. He grabs his stuff, leaves a note for his party members, and makes his way into the wilderness. Strange sounds fill the air as he walks the path, sending Duo up into the sky to get a lay of the land. Flying high over the area, Duo sees a very lush canopy spreading for miles around him. The sky seems to be in constant twilight. Dusk to the west, dawn to the east. After about 10 minutes of walking, the two come up to an opening in the path. Seeing flits of light zooming through this tree-covered clearing. In front of him, he sees a beautiful palace carved in stone with trees and vines seemingly acting as columns. It seems as though it’s a natural formation but also built. He can hear words being spoken in a strange language that he can understand. The voices are coming from the flits of light streaking by him, speaking of a king and a court. He interjects into a conversation, asking ‘the Seelie Court?” After a bit of conversation, he figures out that he’s speaking to Pixies and Sprites. They agree to take him to see the king. It dawns on him then, he’s in the Feywild. Zechs follows the Fey folk into the palace, eventually walking into a massive hall that appears to be an enclosed forest. Guards halt his progress and ask who he is and what his business is with the king. He explains the important bits of his backstory and posits that the king may have been involved. After conferring with the king, the guards tell Zechs that he can have an audience for a very limited time. Making his way toward the king, presumably King Oberon, he gets a better look at his features. Tall and muscular for a sprite, the king has jet-black eyes, and skin the color and texture of oak. His hair is thatched and braided with brambles and runs down his shoulders. Wearing a leather cloak over his right shoulder, stitched with green, brown, and orange leaves. “You wish to speak with me,” the king inquires in an even tone. Zechs explains the circumstances of his being there and reiterates his memory loss. Leaning forward, the king asks “What is it exactly that you’d like me to do for you? Would you like your memories back? Do you feel that you are ready to handle these? For I do not have time to explain.” “Are you responsible for taking them in the first place,” Zechs asks. “I gave aid when needed,” Oberon responds. Zechs inquires if he’ll be able to do it later if he doesn’t want to retrieve them right then. Oberon concedes that it’s possible but something about his hesitation makes Zechs feel uneasy. If the king is on the fence about the situation, it could be dangerous for him to regain what he’s lost. Ultimately, the choice is left to him. “Would it be possible to give me the part of my memories that feel relevant, or is this an all-or-nothing thing,” Zechs asks? “Seeing as your time is running out, I leave that to you to decide what is relevant. And, as for clarification, your time is running out because the doorway is closing in several minutes from now,” Oberon replies. Zechs agrees to take all of them and the king leans forward. Touching his fingers to Zechs’s forehead a bright green light emanates from them as years worth of memories flood back into Zechs. The Tabaxi sees images of many different things that don’t quite make sense to him, and the dissonance of this recall becomes increasingly painful. Oberon pulls away and beckons him to escape before his portal closes. Zechs bolts from the palace and luckily finds the path that he originally took. Racing his way through the thick forest, Duo leaps off of his shoulder to chase after a creature in the trees. He calls out to his companion but is unsuccessful at persuading him to return. He can see the portal beginning to close not thirty feet from where he is. After a bit more coaxing, Duo comes back to him. Zechs cradles him in his arms and uses his Tabaxi speed to sprint toward the closing doorway. Putting his head down, he makes it partially through the closing archway before being tangled in the vines. Out of instinct, he releases his claws and is able to cut himself free just as the vines close in and the portal disappears. We’ahqa becomes distraught down in the training room, ripping off Rigs armor. Shanks and Attros pull them off toward the stairway back to the bar. Shanks explains that Rig wasn’t all bad and that the Dona that he knew may have been Rig but it doesn’t take away the friendship they had. Sometimes good people make bad decisions that lead them to do terrible things. They converse about the nature of feelings and each of their viewpoints. We’ahqa wants Shanks to detach from his feelings and the world around him. They speak of the past and the validity of feelings they know to be true or false. Eventually, We’ahqa retrieves Rigs armor and the trio makes their way up into the tavern. Soon after, the rest of the party follows suit. Galahad grabs two beers and heads up to Zechs’s room. Galahad makes his way in to see a sobbing Zechs. The Paladin isn’t overly enthused about the situation. Zechs begins to mumble, “I remember,” over and over again. Zechs explains everything that just happened. He’s not sure that this is what he wanted. Galahad is confused by the entire situation for a moment. He assures the Tabaxi that things will make sense in time. Retrieving his memories is a good thing. Galahad begins to ask questions about what he sees in his head. Zechs speaks of potentially his parents, a Drow woman, and of the possibility of him being a sacrifice. The talk of the sacrifice catches Galahad off guard, but Zechs goes on to explain that it matches with what the Constable had told him in his illusion. The Paladin does his best to comfort his companion. Zechs asks for Galahad to grab the Journeyman, Glad, and Cereius. Back in the bar, Kyver approaches Cereius to try and get a bit more background on him. The rest of the party sits in silence, listening to the awkward conversation happening at the bar. It’s at this point that Galahad comes back down to the bar. He explains the situation to Glad and Cereius and they both make their way up to their friend. Galahad makes his way to the Journeyman’s office. She is sitting contemplatively looking at Rigs bracers. He explains the situation and she seems very curious about everything. Up in Zechs’ room, the Tabaxi explains the situation, and to help, Glad casts Calm Emotions on Zechs. With the whole story unfolding, Cereius is somewhat taken aback. Speaking of the sacrifice, Zechs references the Constable again. He reads from his letter from Argo, citing a cult to a god known as the “Cat Lord”. At this point, the Journeyman enters the room. She asks if Oberon seemed to be the one that called him. Zechs explains how the doorway appeared in his room. How he made his way to Oberon’s court and spoke with him. It didn’t seem like he was expecting Zechs and this is very peculiar to JM. She suggests to Zechs that he keeps a second journal to try and impose order on the chaos of his newfound memories. JM goes to leave and Zechs asks if she can get a letter to Argo before they finish with Strahd. She agrees and pulls Galahad out of the room for a more private conversation. She reveals that there was a surge of arcane energy from Rigs bracers when the doorway to the Feywild opened. She believes it was the Constable that opened that portal for Zechs and she’s unsure why. She tells Galahad to keep it close to the vest until Zechs can come to terms with everything that’s happened. She makes her way back to her office. Shanks and Attros have a private conversation in the bar. Attros tells him that there will be no more secrets between them. He explains his deal with his patron, forfeiting his soul to gain his vengeance. In his eyes, he died the day his wife was slain. He has lost everything that mattered to him, nothing matters anymore. He confides that he didn’t want to tell We’ahqa about this, they are too young to understand. He is dedicated to his journey, “fate is a cruel mistress.” The two make their way to the workshop until a location is agreed upon for the group to go to next. Kyver and We’ahqa walk into the workshop not too long after Shanks and Attros. Attros seems to be working on some type of rapid-fire crossbow. Shanks is working on his first attempt at Alchemist’s Fire. Kyver signals to We’ahqa to be quiet as he sneaks up on Shanks. He gives Shanks a scare that almost ruins the mixture that he’s working on. Shanks isn’t too pleased with this and laughingly Kyver asks if they have any extra crossbow bolts. Attros reaches his hand into his bag of holding and pulls out a massive pile of bolts. Kyver asks the two of them for a favor in case he doesn’t make it out of Barovia. Attros tells him he won’t do any favors for him because he will make it out alive. Kyver reluctantly accepts this and leaves the workshop with We’ahqa in tow. Meanwhile, Galahad is down in the training area soaking in the hot springs to try and relax after everything that’s happened. Zechs is up in his room, finishing writing all he can about the images he sees in his head. He then crafts a letter to Argo before heading down to the tavern’s library to research the Cat Lord and Paka. At first, he has trouble figuring out how to navigate the library as it is a large open tower of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Asking JM, he finds out that there are instructions on navigation within the library. She also informs him that their destination, Argonvostholt, is close and they will be arriving shortly. He heads back to the library and figures out how to move around the tower. His search is fairly fruitful and gives him a good base of information upon which to build. He gathers the others to prepare for Argonvostholt. [37] Before the party leaves, they exchange the loose items that were found in the Amber Temple for gold and platinum pieces. Arguile mentions that he’s been dabbling a bit more into magic and asks if JM has anything that may help with that. She is noticeably giddy about this, runs back into her office, and returns with a spellbook for Arguile to start recording spells in. She suggests talking to Glad and We’ahqa about ritual spells. JM looks at the group and gives them a bit of background on the place they’re going. It was a former stronghold for an order of knights and it seems that the knights don’t stay dead. She asks if anyone has any experience with revenants. Zechs and We’ahqa both begin reciting facts about the undead creatures. They are souls of the fallen that are trapped on the plane of existence they’re on. When they’re defeated, they find another corpse to inhabit and continue with their task. Once the task is complete, they’re supposed to move on but since they’re in Barovia the souls seem to be trapped there. She wishes them luck as they make their way out of the tavern. As they walk out, a grim scene unfolds before them. High above the river valley juts a quiet promontory upon which looms a sepulchral mansion, its turrets capped with fairytale cones, its towers lined with sculpted battlements. A third of the structure has collapsed, as has part of the roof, but the rest appears intact. A dark, octagonal tower rises above the surrounding architecture. Out of the fog comes a distant peal of thunder, quickly accompanied by the howling of wolves in the woods below, but the house stands silent, seeming like the fossilized remains of some long-dead thing smote upon the mountainside. Perched atop a ten-foot-wide, a ten-foot-high cube of granite is a moss-covered statue of a dragon, its wings tucked close to its body. The statue looks east, toward the mansion. Cereius notes how peculiar it is for a “guardian” to be facing the building instead of away. Duo does his normal overhead pass and doesn’t see anything moving around in the area. Using his Primeval Awareness, Zechs detects a heavy presence of the undead. We’ahqa, staring at the statue, zones out and falls into a memory of their childhood. In a serene scene in a dense forest, they see a beautiful, almost radiant, stag move into view from the foliage. They lock eyes with it and a serene calm comes over them. The Druid remembers this day vividly, as it was very close to the time that their father fell ill. The moment passes and their vision refocuses on the statue. The rest of the party sees We’ahqa zone out for a moment. Kyver asks what happened and We’ahqa explains what they saw. It’s a bit disconcerting to the rest of the group. Kyver leads the way up into the manor, flagstone steps flanked by stone railings climb to a landing in front of a pair of tall, wooden doors with rusted iron bands and knockers shaped like small dragons. Carved into the lintel above the entrance is the word Argynvostholt. Stealthily, Kyver slips into the main hall. This room feels like a king’s tomb. A grand staircase leads up to stone balconies held aloft by stone pillars and arches. A tall, faded tapestry depicting a nobleman in silver armor hangs from an iron rod above the staircase landing. Six sets of double doors lead from this foyer. Along the walls, displayed on marble pedestals, are three alabaster busts of handsome men. A fourth bust and its pedestal have been knocked over, and their shattered remains lie strewn across the mosaic floor. Two chandeliers of wrought iron hang from the ceiling like monstrous black spiders. A great shadow with wings moves across the walls and disappears. He hears the soft bestial hiss in the darkness. He ignores the shadow and gives the all-clear to the rest of the group. The party begins to spread out a bit, searching the manor clues to where they need to go. Kyver finds an old dining hall with a chapel attached to it. Galahad finds that the collapsed area is full of webs and giant spiders. He seems to be spotted by some of them, but he’s able to leave without incident. Galahad tells the group and We’ahqa wants to go talk to them. As the rest of the party bickers about what they should do with the spiders, Cereius is pulled into memory. He’s transported into the chapel he was married in. As the memory progresses, he realizes that this is his wedding day. The feelings and emotions from that day wash over him, and as he reaches out to hold his wife’s hand the vision fades. We’ahqa and Arguile start arguing more and Cereius tries to end the squabble. We’ahqa turns from the Tiefling and walks into the collapsed room. The Druid casts Animal Friendship on the closest spider and begins to talk to it. They talk about how long the spiders have been there and what it will take for them to leave the party alone. We’ahqa offers them food, and while the spiders request “the big one” (Galahad), We’ahqa summons a creature for them to devour instead. While this is happening, Arguile makes it known that he wants nothing to do with the spiders. So much so, that when We’ahqa comes back out telling them the deal he made and stopping his spider friend from following him, Arguile storms out of the manor. Galahad tells them that this isn’t something the party needs to deal with right now, so hold up their end of the deal and leave the spiders where they are. Reluctantly, We’ahqa agrees. Speaking to their friend, they confirm that the knights that are in the manor are not welcoming and “not very nice”. As the cold air hits Arguile stepping outside, he’s pulled into a vision of a memory of his past. He relives his first steps into the port city of Gamsby on the island of Mechfall. The harbor and large population of gnomes and dwarves are, at first, overwhelming but it settles into comfort. He realizes that this is only days before meeting his mentor at the Masterful Gains Thieves Guild. The closing door behind him snaps him back to the present. Kyver begins to search through the other rooms, as Cereius explains that something seems to be happening here. He explains that he just experienced a vivid memory of his marriage. We’ahqa tells him that they also had something along those lines, saying it was positive but bittersweet. The party continues to search through the manor, finding several different rooms, one where there is a stranded Dusk Elf. He tells the party that his carriage was stranded nearby and he’s been hiding in the manor ever since. The legend is that this place was once the keep of a Silver Dragon named Argyn and his knights. The head of the order, Vladimir Horngaard, wielded a greatsword made of sunlight. Their mission was to defeat Strahd but they failed. When Argyn was killed, Strahd’s minions butchered him and took his skull as a trophy. It is supposedly displayed in Castle Ravenloft. The only way to stop the revenant and set them free is to return the skull to the manor and place it on the beacon that is located in the tower atop the manor. The party considers the information and asks that the Dusk Elf stay put until everything is over. They agree and the party continues with their search for the manor. We’ahqa splits off quickly to bring Arguile back to the group. Whole again, the party eventually makes its way back into the dining hall. As Galahad inspects the armored statues, he drifts into memory. He sees a campfire with his mentor Antonius, the night they met. They were drinking together, talking about the nuances of being a Paladin. Antonius talks about his oath of vengeance and Galahad hears things that were said in inebriation that he didn’t recall. How his wife, a Wood-Elf, had been slain in raids by Goliath tribes. Tribes he went to war with, and worse, he was describing the Tribes of Tarren Ridge, including his own. He speaks of his friend, a Wood-Elf and Paladin of the Protector, Thiadikus. And the last thing he hears before the vision fades is “you know, you’re alright for a Goliath.” We’ahqa notices first that Galahad zoned out and asks if he had a vision too. Galahad confirms it was a vision and describes it to the party. As he’s describing it, Glad becomes tenser and interrupts when Thiadikus is brought up. “That was my husband,” the cleric says evenly. “That’s the reason why I no longer trust Humans.” Galahad apologizes for everything, explaining that he wasn’t part of any wars and that his mission was to stop things like that from happening. She can’t blame him for the actions of his mentor but this only strengthens her resolve to accomplish her goals. She believes he doesn’t need to apologize for Antonius, he has proven himself over and over again. She expands a bit more on the situation, speaking on revenge, betrayal, and loss. She asks for a moment to gather herself and leaves the room. Peeking into the chapel, Kyver spots three armored figures kneeling before the altar. Relaying this to the group, they assume the figures are revenant and they should avoid this room. Attros, not wanting to take chances, casts the Arcane Lock spell on the door. They turn around and make their way up the main staircase. As they search the second floor, Zechs is pulled into a flashback from his childhood. He’s five or six years old, being led toward a bonfire in the woods by a Drow woman. They come to the fire and it’s surrounded by cloaked figures. The woman crouches in front of Zechs and asks, “Ok Quil, are you ready for your big day?” He nods and she leads him to a large stone altar. Lying on the cold stone, Zechs notices a large and ornate ceremonial dagger. The woman reassures Zechs that everything will be ok. The next thing he sees is the dagger swinging down at him and then he’s back in the manor. Zechs is gobsmacked as he makes his way toward the north wing. Cereius notices this and goes to speak with him. He describes the vision to the cleric and Cereius pales slightly. Zechs focuses on the positive that he potentially knows his actual name. The two have a short conversation about Zechs’s history with names and how he got his current name. Meanwhile, Kyver forges ahead into the north wing with Attros at a distance, being the second set of eyes. Unfortunately, as Kyver enters the wing, he inadvertently sets off a trap. A wall of stone appears between Kyver and the rest of the party. The rest of the party rushes to their friends’ aid, unsure of what they can do. [38] Zechs sends Duo outside to watch from the outside as the party begins to assess the situation. Arguile figures that the wall is magically conjured and dispelling it is the best route to go. A fight erupts on the other side of the wall, with Kyver and Attros’s familiar Gilead deftly avoids his adversaries and fights back. We’ahqa rushes into action and uses Dispel Magic to open the hallway up again. The battle comes to a close quickly after that, as the party comes to Kyvers aid, either destroying the Spectral Warriors he’s fighting or turning them with Turn Undead. The party comes to the conclusion that what they just fought is not the revenant and they need to keep their eyes peeled. They continue to search the second floor, finding the balcony of the Chapel with the three revenants from the first floor. During the search, Shanks falls into memory. He’s reliving a part of the Exandria job, in a city called Rexentrum. This is the point in the mission where he decides to let go of waiting for Dona. It fades as he’s releasing an arrow from his bow. Cereius notices this and asks if he’s ok. Shanks hesitates but admits that he thinks he saw something. Kyver informs the group that he is going to start checking out the third floor ahead of them. The party follows soon after, coming upon five of the remaining revenant sitting around a long dining table. Attros, once again, uses Arcane Lock to make their exit more difficult. Further, into the floor, they find a massive audience hall with a wooden throne facing three large windows. On the throne is a slumped, skeletal figure in plate armor clutching the hilt of a great sword. They devise a plan to have Kyver sneak up, try to knock the sword hilt out of the creature’s hand, and have Attros use Thorn Whip to pull it away from it. If that fails, Galahad volunteers to try and persuade/intimidate the figure to hand the sword over without a fight. They agree on the plan and Kyver sneaks into the room with the party hiding on the outskirts. The Tabaxi makes his way quietly to the throne and lands a blow on the creature’s hand. However, the revenant has an iron grip on the hilt and startles to life. A beam of sunlight bursts from the great sword as the revenant glares down at the Tabaxi. Before it can attack, Attros Thorn Whip distracts it and it looks back toward where the rest of the party is hidden. The creature’s grip on the greatsword tightens. *insert Horngaard/Galahad speeches* Taken aback by this speech, the Revenant pauses and then releases a guttural battle cry that reverberates through the manor as the battle for the Sun Sword begins. A flurry of action begins as the revenant begin to break free from the rooms they’ve been locked into. A magical aura of cold and wind begins to emanate from Horngaard as some of the party goes after him. Galahad ultimately gets to Horngaard and takes him down. The arcane storm that was raging dissipates but the battle isn’t over yet as the remainder of the revenant and spectral warriors flood into the room and begin to overwhelm Galahad and the rest of the party.[39] The battle rages on as the party is separated from the support of each other. Several members of the party go down, including Arguile, Cereius, and Attros. Galahad, however, is the one that takes the brunt of the force from the remaining Revenant, falling and being picked up multiple times. Shanks and Kyver are successful in taking out two of the undead knights but things look bleaker and bleaker by the minute. In a final bid to end the eventual death of his party, Galahad is able to persuade the second in command of the order. The fighting ceases and the party uses this chance to escape the manor with the Sun Sword in hand. Once outside, they decide whether or not they can camp out close by or head back to Vallaki. Kyver brings up calling the Journeyman and they conclude that calling is the best option. While this is happening they begin to hear the howls of wolves in the distance and they seem to be getting closer. There is a break in the cloud cover and they see that there is a full moon. Unfortunately, the Journeyman is indisposed and can’t pick them up at their current location. So We’ahqa quickly summons horses and wild shapes into a larger horse for Galahad. They decide it’s best to ride in the dark to the nearby village of Vallaki. The party races off into the woods, making a mad dash to civilization. They hear howls behind them but at a distance that there is nothing in their field of vision. The horses are beginning to get spooked and Shanks notices disturbances in the trees around them. They continue to race through the forest, passing the crossroads that lead to Vallaki and Kerzyk. Looking back again, Shanks spots seven to eight large Werewolves with an even bigger one leading the charge. He enthusiastically tells the party about the company. Zechs drops his caltrops to hopefully slow them down. Shanks watches as a handful of their pursuers are tripped up by the caltrops laid by his Tabaxi friend. However, he also sees them begin to flank out around the trees. They eventually make it to the front gates, but they are closed. Zechs tries desperately to get the guard’s attention. He succeeds but the guards are too afraid to open the gates. Shanks screams to let them in and the guards race down the towers. Meanwhile, Attros rides toward the Werewolves and the pack parts for the largest one. The leader shapeshifts into a tall human man in chainmail and walks calmly toward the Kenku. Attros asks why they were pursuing them. He tells him that his name is Kiril and that they were tasked with it, he insinuates that Strahd is the one behind it. Attros questions why they would follow orders from Strahd. Kiril tells him that it is the only way that they can leave the cursed valley. He asks if the party would seek his pack’s aid and Attros agrees. The party is weary of this offer and Galahad dismounts from We’ahqa, walking over to Kiril. The Paladin probes for more context and by the end of their conversation he has enough to make a deal. Kiril will defect to the party’s side and will bring them information about Castle Ravenloft. With this, the party and pack part ways, making a show of “fighting them off”. The gates slowly open behind the party and they enter the village of Vallaki, completely exhausted.[40] Shanks approaches Attros and asks how he knew that the Werewolves wouldn’t attack the party. He tells the archer that if they had wanted to attack, they would have. Nothing was in their way. The artificer emphasizes the ability to read intent. Wearily the party makes its way back to the Blue Water Inn. They acquire the same rooms as before and after a long night’s sleep, the party makes its way back down to the bar. Galahad begins to examine the Sun Sword and attunes to the magical blade. During this attunement process, Galahad hears a voice within his head, “who wields me? To whom do I speak?” The sword and Galahad converse telepathically. It questions his intentions and ultimately agrees to be wielded by him. Frustratingly though, the sword is very limited in answers. Duo, while asking for food, reveals to the rest of the party that he can talk. And not just random words, but in complete sentences. Everyone is surprised but also impressed by the development. Galahad relays to the party that the Sun Sword has spoken to him and it seems its only purpose is to destroy Strahd. Hesitant at first, the party decides to roll with it and start planning out their tasks for the day. Unsure of when the Journeyman will arrive, they decide to look for a shop as well as see what else the village has to offer. They also discuss the pros and cons of continuing the pursuit of the Mad Mage to aid in their fight against Strahd. They also try to figure out exactly when they will see the revenant from the night before. Ultimately deciding to stay for at least a day to think about the Mad Mage more and wait on the information promised to them by the Werewolf Kiril. They ask Danika where the best place to shop is and she points at an older Half-Elven gentleman at the bar. He’s a traveling merchant that just came in not too long ago. Otherwise, the items available are extremely limited. We’ahqa makes their way over to the older man. They inquire about possible wares to be sold. He says he does but asks what these wares are going to be for. We’ahqa blurts out “Strahd”, without any hesitation. The gentleman’s eyebrow arches up in an amused manner and tells the Druid to meet him in a few hours in the Arasek Stockyard. As We’ahqa thanks the man and walks back over to the party, Galahad inquires about the festival that is happening outside. Supposedly, according to Danika, it’s supposed to boost morale. She sees it as a vanity project more than anything else. Zechs pursues this line of question further and asks if there is anything else strange happening in town. She casually mentions the church and that most anywhere in town probably has something strange happening. Meanwhile, Arguile asks We’ahqa if he can borrow their ritual spellbook and begins working on copying Find Familiar. Leaving Arguile at the inn, the party heads out into the village. They decide to check out the church first, searching for Father Petrovich. Back near the western gates, the come upon a slouching, centuries-old stone church that has a bulging steeple in the back and walls lined with cracked, stained glass windows depicting pious saints. A fence of wrought iron encloses a garden of gravestones next to the church. A thin mist creeps among the graves. Galahad immediately recognizes the iconography of the Morning Lord. The Paladin approaches the front doors and knocks. Eventually, a wizened old Human priest answers the call and greets the party. Galahad asks if the party can take a look around the church and the priest enthusiastically invites them in. “Ask and you shall receive! You’re just the people I need!” Walking in cautiously, Galahad uses his Divine Sense, and luckily there is no sign of the undead. Father Petrovich leads them to the pulpit, turns, and explains to the group the sacred bones that protect the church, insinuating from Strahd, have gone missing. He asks the party to find the bones and return them. The person he suspects is the gravedigger Milo. According to the father, only his acolyte and Milo knew where the bones were. He believes that Milo is most likely at the festival and will likely be carrying a shovel. The party accepts the charge and sets off to find Milo. Duo is sent off ahead to scout for Milo and Arguile rejoins the party. The blood hawk spots three separate individuals with shovels. Using Duo’s newfound speech, he calls out Milo’s name and through the process of elimination they find the man they’re looking for. The party decides to send Cereius, as he’s in his priest garb, to talk to the gravedigger, while the rest of them disperse through the crowd to prevent any possible escape. “Milo! Oh, there you are! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you,” the cleric exclaims. Puzzled, the man looks back at Cereius, “do I know you?” “Come now,” Cereius answers, “look at that shovel! I remember that from when I was a child! Are you still digging ditches?” A smirk spreads across Milo’s face, “no, I’m digging graves.” “Wonderful,” Cereius replies, “I’ve heard you moved up in the world.” He goes on to ask Milo about the church and the priest. He persuades the man to accompany him toward the group and on the way he inquires about the bones. With a little bit of probing, Cereius finds out that Milo moved the bones for the coffin maker. Thanking him, he asks where he can find the coffin maker. Milo points him in the right direction and heads back off into the festival. The party makes their way to the uninviting shop that is two stories tall and has a sign shaped like a coffin above the front door. All of the window shutters are closed up tight, and a deathly silence surrounds the establishment. Glad, over the situation, begins loudly banging on the front door. Unfortunately, no one answers. Arguile suggests that they pick the lock on the front door and break in. The lock is no match for the Tiefling, stepping back from the door he hands We’ahqa his spellbook back. Glad immediately walks in with the party on her heels. They walk in on an older man with woodworking tools. He doesn’t put up much of a fight and spills the beans about the bones. He reveals a well-dressed man came to him for his help in return for business. The man’s name is the same one told to them by the Abbot: Von Holtz. They deduce that this man was actually Strahd. What confirms it, though, is the admission that Von Holtz, or Strahd, is keeping vampire spawn upstairs along with the bones. Galahad questions the coffin maker’s intentions and he concludes he was likely charmed into this situation. The Paladin decides that they need to exterminate the spawn and retrieve the bones, only then does Glad notice that Kyver has already left the room. [41]

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