The Task at Hand Recaps episodes 22-29

We’ahqa sobers up, “What, you can’t handle talking to me? Now that we’re both sober, face me.” Galahad is confused and slightly amused. He doesn’t take We’ahqa seriously. “Really without my stuff on me?” Galahad asked. “What, you need a Javelin?” We’ahqa forms an Ice Javelin using the Shape of Water and tosses it to Galahad. The rest of the party riots like high schoolers witnessing a fight in the playground. Arguile cups his hands and shouts, “He’s calling you out!” We’ahqa spreads his arms out wide, taunting, “Go for it!” JM abruptly chimes in, “Hey, hey, hey! The arena is downstairs if you wanna fight.” We’ahqa walks downstairs. Zechs goes from being amused to concern. JM walks by Zech, Arguile, and Kyver and says, “10 Gold on the Druid.” Then walks downstairs. Arguile rushes downstairs to take a seat. While everyone rushes down to see the fight Kyver looks at the paper JM gave to him and goes to his room. Galahad and We’ahqa step into the arena. There are potions lining shelves all over the room. Zechs looks over to JM, “What are the rules?” JM replies, “1st to fall.” Noticing the stack of potions Cereius comments, “Good I don’t gotta heal nobody.” Then sips his coffee. “I have to cure wounds if anything gets too far,” Zech mentions. “I wouldn’t let it get that far,” JM reassures Zechs. Serious says disappointed, “aw, that’s no fun.” “Goddammit, Cereius!” Zechs replies. “I’m betting 15 on We’Aqua.” Arguile makes a bet. “Ooo, 15 on We’Aqua.” JM notes. The “fight” starts with Galahad using his Conquering Presence but We’ahqa is unaffected. They retaliate with a push, trying to goad Galahad into action. “Fight me,” the Druid demands. Galahad tries to trip them but is unsuccessful. We’ahqa summons their Flaming Scimitar (the “c” is silent) and attacks the Paladin. “Hit me,” the Druid demands again. Again, Galahad tries to trip We’ahqa and again it is unsuccessful. The friendly Druid begins to tense and quiet as they go into a rage. Slashing across the Paladin with their Flaming Scimitar. Galahad begins to try, slashing at We’ahqa with Kanna’s Fury. As the fight continues, Zechs makes his way up to the workshop to inform Shanks and Attros of what is going on. Shanks is working on analyzing the Halfling coffee, he’s able to distill it down to a pure form but is not satisfied. He then looks to Attros and confesses that he read the letter that the Kenku had written. “Are you going to try and stop me?” Attros asks. On the contrary, Shanks is willing to help him. He speaks vaguely about a group that he was once part of that he wishes he could destroy. The fight ends with We’ahqa casting Hold Person, telling the Paladin “I forgive you,” hugging him, and holding the spell until it ends. At this point, everyone feels the floor shake slightly, as if the tavern is touching down somewhere. No one wins and the group decides to give Welby the money from the wagers as an apology. Eventually, the party makes its way upstairs. There is a knock at the front door of the tavern. Zechs answers the door, opening it to find a small, pale man dressed in formal wear. “Are you the people that helped my lord?” the man says. “I’m sorry,” the Tabaxi replies. “You helped my lord find his bride,” the man clarifies, handing him a rectangular card. Zechs grabs it and blindly hands it back to whoever is behind him. “Who’s your lord,” Zechs asks the mysterious man. With a smile, the man replies, “why Lord Strahd Von Zarovich.” And with this, he vanishes. Zechs immediately activates his primeval awareness. Though there are pings of undead in the area, nothing as powerful as Strahd is present. There is a larger presence of undead a bit further out, presuming it’s the giant tree from before. Duo goes and scouts it out, and when he comes back it’s confirmed that it is the tree. The party reads the card and sees that it is an invitation to the wedding of Strahd and Ireena, taking place in two weeks. Chaos ensues but eventually, the party makes its way out into the fields of the winery. As they emerge, Attros summons his Eldritch Cannon onto his mechanical owl. Several blights and druids are making their way toward them and the party makes quick work of them. They make their way to the wagon with wine barrels on it and make a break for the exit. Zechs and Shanks jump into the front of the cart, We’ahqa summons horses for the party, and they’re off to the races. Exiting the building, they feel and hear a rumble coming from the south. Kyver notices a massive tree that is animated and heading for the party. We’ahqa tries to slow its advance by summoning fire but a massive root emerges from the ground and grapples the Druid. Galahad, seeing this, turns his horse to rescue his compatriot, swinging Kanna’s Fury and severing the roots grasp. The Goliath pulls the Druid out of mid-air and seats them on his horse, racing back toward the party. The party begins to take potshots at the tree but it doesn’t relent. Arguile has an idea and as Kyver shoots his short bow, he cast Darkness on it. The shot is a direct hit and disorients the tree long enough for the party to escape. The party rides through the forest and continues into the night. There are some conversations among the party. They’re still working through the ordeal with the Constable and the information that they received after. Arguile talks about the dream he had the night before. He mentions the crest in the letter. A thirteen-pointed star made from swords. Attros recognizes the symbol. It reminds him of the Telltale Guild and the deal he made to fulfill his promise of revenge. He tells Arguile that they may be dealing with the same entity, a greater demon by the name of Arioch. “Arioch is an Archduke of the Abyss. If she is where he is, alone right now with our strength and capacity, we won’t be able to simply get her back. But I may have a way of reaching out to him.” Arguile thanks him for his offer and tells the Kenku that he will take him up on it if they make it through to the end of this current mission. Kyver, still distraught about the information he received in the tavern, carves the number 565 into the side of the wagon. As they continue into the night, Attros asks Cereius for his shield. He takes his tinkers tools and infuses magic into it, making it a Repulsion Shield. Glad breaks into a small speech about what her original goals were. She talks about how it was really about finding her place and her family again. She tells them that she sees them as her family. Arguile tells her, jokingly, that he will have her back as long as she has the bag of money that JM gave to them. Some shenanigans entail a wrestling match between Kyver and Cereius that has Kyver getting thrown off of his horse. It ends, though, with the rogue kneeing the cleric in the groin as payback. We’ahqa apologizes to Galahad for how they reacted to the whole situation in the tavern. Galahad assures them that it’s ok, that their feelings are valid but wonders why the Druid was so angry. We’ahqa confesses that some in the party are just comrades to them but others are more than that. They reconcile their differences and the conversation changes to Galahad’s cipher. After lots of frustration and setbacks, he was able to decode it. It reads: “Chaos abounds. My sister plots. Collateral Damage. Daughters of Creation.” We’ahqa is shocked by the last line and they explain what they learned from the research in the tavern. Galahad wonders if the Daughters could be connected to Tiamat, the “sister” mentioned in the code. The Druid is pretty sure that they are separate things entirely. The party finally makes it to the city gate of Krezk. Zechs informs them that they’re there with the village’s wine delivery. The Burgomaster greets them again and gives them passage into the village. [22] They inform him of the moving tree threat outside the walls. He doesn’t seem distraught by the possible threat. “That is why we never go outside the walls.” Zechs shrugs it off and asks him if the party can have a place to stay and if the town has a marketplace where they can get goods. He directs them to an empty house in the village; as for a marketplace there isn’t one in town, however, Vallaki does. The party inquires about the land but the Burgermeister doesn’t know much. “We don’t leave the walls. There are wolves and werewolves… I’m sorry I don’t have much information. Many of us have lived here for generations and don’t know much about the outside of the walls. I’ve been here all my life like my forefathers who founded this village.“ We’aqua naively chimes in asking “You have four fathers?” The Burgermeister gives him a questioning look and whispers to Zechs “The blue one.. he is strange…” Zechs asks if there is a sage or historian who might know, attempting to gather more information on Strahd. The Burgomaster tells them about the Abbot who lives in the Abbey on the hill. However, he doesn’t fully trust him because he hasn’t aged for over 100 years. In addition, they learn that The Abbey was named after the Abbey of Saint Markova. The Markovians stood against Strahd and stormed Castle Ravenloft to fight, however, there were no survivors. The Abbey was also once a hospital before the mist came. It’s late and the party retires to their lodging to rest and prepare. Shanks and Attros make arrows while We’aqua and Galahad chop wood for a fire. Zechs and Glad talk about the Archfey, King Oberon. Zechs believes he might be linked to his forgotten past. Glad has to appear before the Seelie court on the night of the receding moon and is debating leaving the party to do her quest. She feels that it is imperative and wishes that the team would accompany her but understands if she might have to go on alone. Glad believes that if Zechs joins her the team will follow. Zechs still feels that he doesn’t have much control over the team. He also feels that they should deal with Strahd first. He tries his best to validate Glad and assure her that he will help her but it is clear that he is determined to defeat Strahd. Glad reluctantly agrees, “Yeah, let’s find out what those tarot cards mean.” Gathering with the rest of the party they go over the tarot cards again to decide their next move. While they’re planning, Attros looks at Shanks, takes out all his ball bearings, and asks if he can put acid in The hollow center. We’aqua also gives his ball bearings. Shanks’s eyes light up; he immediately runs over to his tools and starts making acid. Zechs asked if Attros could do anything with his caltrops. He starts to draw plans using them. The rest of the party is amazed by the creativity he’s come up with. Curious about The Abbey, We’aqua, and Zechs sent out Franchise and Duo to scope out the location. We’aqua uses magic to see through Franchise’s eyes. There are guards but not much else. The party continues to plan but a bored We’aqua asks Kyver to do training drills outside. We’aqua puts on a blindfold and asks for Kyver to sneak up on him successfully. Kyver does so with ease but after a while, he grows bored and sneaks off into the woods. “Marco… Marco” We’aqua peeks under his blindfold. On the floor is a note with the word Polo on it. We’aqua turns into a panther and tracks his scent. Kyver hides his tracks but We’Aqua can pick up on details that he missed. Running through the woods Kyver finds a house and sneaks in. Although the modest home doesn’t look like it would contain valuables he continues to look around stealthy. We’aqua follows him. While looking around Kyver gets the sense that there is someone behind him, returns to his senses, and leaves the house. We’aqua remains hidden while watching Kyver leave. Before he leaves the home he looks around to ensure Kyver didn’t disturb the people who live there, once satisfied he continues to follow Kyver. He finds Kyver sitting in front of the lodge they’re staying in, looking up at the sky. We’aqua rubs his head on Kyvers shoulder then transforms back to normal. “Wanna talk about it?” We’aqua ask. “Tonight was a goodnight,” Kyver replies nonchalantly. “Tonight was supposed to be a trust exercise, just so you know,” We’aqua says, then walks inside the lodge. Before he goes in Kyver says “Polo” We’aqua replies “Marco” and shuts the door. Shanks notices We’aqua coming in without Kyver. He sees that We’aqua is unnerved sitting in a corner of the lodge. Shanks offers his flask, We’aqua takes it saying thanks but places it on the floor next to him. They tell the archer what happened and consider their reckless actions. Outside, Kyver starts to carve out a poem on the exterior of the lodge. Once satisfied he heads to sleep along with the rest of the party. In the morning, Galahad wakes before everyone and starts to head to The Pool of the Morning Lord. Shanks notices him and asks to join. Galahad agrees and they go to the pool. There he prays to the Morning Lord. Shanks watches and once the Goliath has finished his prayers he asks him about his faith. Shanks wonders how he could still have faith after his god left him in prison for 50 years. Galahad feels that he had to go through that trial to become a better paladin. Shanks is jaded from his religious upbringing, feeling that his religious leaders were only out for themselves. Despite that, he admires Galahad’s faith and commitment to Bahamut. The Goliath tells him religion and faith are not the same and acknowledges that there are some people out there using God as an excuse to justify wrongful actions or personal agendas. People might even judge him as one of those people but his relationship with his god is personal and helps him on his journey. Galahad also apologizes to Shanks on behalf of his former religious leaders. Turning back to the pool Galahad takes his sword, cuts his hand, and places the holy pool water in his wound. Once everyone wakes, the party, except Glad, heads to the Abbey to speak to The Abbot. When they arrive the party gets the attention of 2 wayward guards. The team notes them as mongrelfolk; humanoid creatures with different animal body parts. Arguile asks Kyver sarcastically, “is this what happens when you crossbreed?” Kyver replies “I don’t know. Maybe ask your mom.” After an awkward interrogation by the mongrelfolk, the guards reluctantly allow them in. As the party gets escorted into The Abbey, Galahad leans over and whispers to Zechs telling him this place is giving him a bad feeling. Shanks is also unsettled by the whole situation. They’re led into a courtyard and they see a mongrel bat woman chained and screaming. The party tries to aid in helping the woman but fails. She screams and scurries away from them. He sneaks away from the group to peer into the windows of the Abbey from the courtyard. He sees several different rooms including what looks like a summoning circle. Shanks believes there might be a spell being cast but without Glad they have no idea of knowing. The party is led into the main hall of the Abbey. Gentle-sounding music trickles down from above, played on a single-stringed instrument by some unseen master. The ground floor is one large, fifty-foot-square room with arched, leaded glass windows. A cauldron sits on an iron rack above a fire in a hearth, while above the fireplace mantel hangs a golden disk engraved with the symbol of the sun. In one corner, a wooden staircase climbs to the upper level, while in another corner a stone staircase descends into darkness. Several chairs surround a wooden table that stretches nearly the room’s length. Wooden dishware and gold candelabras are neatly arranged on the table, standing behind this is a young woman with alabaster skin dressed in a torn and soiled red gown. Her auburn hair is neatly bundled so as not to touch her soft shoulders. She seems lost in her thoughts. The party begins to realize that this woman is a flesh golem when they hear footsteps on the stairs behind them.[23] A handsome young man ascends the stairs in a brown monk’s garb with a wooden holy symbol that resembles the sun. He introduces himself as the Abbot and asks what the party wanted to talk to him about. The group seeks information about the lands of Barovia. The rumor of his aging, or lack thereof, is brought up as well. The Abbot speaks on the small town of Valaki and of Castle Ravenloft. He also denies the rumors of his youth. The party continues to question him about his intentions. He points out that the woman that is sitting before them was made to be Strahd’s bride. This catches the party off-guard. They delicately break the news that Strahd is already betrothed to be married. He refutes this and asks for proof. Shanks offers up the invitation and Abbot snatches it from his hand. The party can see that, as he’s reading it, his happy demeanor is quickly fracturing. They continue to question him and push him for information. As this all occurs, Shanks begins to piece things together. The Abbot is neither friend nor foe, he is genuinely trying to help the situation, however misguided his attempts are. Probing further, the party asks him about his creations that are in the other areas of the Abbey. He tells them that they are the unfortunate early experiments that eventually led to the woman sitting in front of them. They continue to question and pry. Attros asks about Tatiana and if he has seen her before, though, Abbot has only heard a description. The Artificer shows him an image of Ireena and the priest is taken aback. The two look nearly identical, based on the descriptions. We’ahqa begins to push boundaries and tries to touch the woman. The Abbot becomes incredibly defensive, shouting that she is not to be touched. Shanks asks about his creations. The Abbot tells him that they’re a family that is native to Krezk, the Bellviews. They sought these augmentations because of a need to be perfect. Though, Abbot admits that the family’s idea of perfect is fucked up. A man, known at the time as Von Holt, came to the abbey to help with the Bellview’s “improvements”. This man turned out to be Strahd and it was at that point that the Abbot knew that he couldn’t destroy the Vampire. His solution became giving him something else to focus on, a bride, and hopefully trying to persuade the Dark Powers to leave Strahd be. Zechs brings up the Vistani and some descriptions of the tarot cards. One description is confirmed to be Castle Ravenloft. Another is considered the home of the Order of the Silver Dragon, Argonvostholt. The Abbot goes on to posit that the Vistani seem to be able to journey in and out of Barovia as they, please. He offers the party a tour of the Abbey, but the party is unsure. After some discussion, they decide to decline the offer. However, before the party leaves the abbey, they are asked if they could get the Abbot into the wedding. The group says that they’re not sure but will look into it for him. He even offers to grant them a favor. He gives them a sending stone to keep in touch. And with that, the party leaves the abbey. The party meets back up with Glad on their way down from the Abbey and immediately wants to get out of Krezk. They make their way out, stopping at the Burgomaster’s home. The party asks if there is any other work that they can do for him and the village. He mentions that helping the Martikovs get the winery running again would be beneficial to all. And then he comments on the party having just come from the Abbey. He asks what the Abbot is doing up there and Shanks replies coldly that he’s been “making mongrels” with “spare parts”. The Burgomaster nods his head and laments that this must be why the village’s dead go missing. “If you are looking for something to do for me, I would very much like to not have the dead in my town taken from their loved ones.” The group exchanges looks, and Arguile pipes up with “It’s not our problem.” The party ends up deciding to clear the vineyard before they take on anything else. The Burgomaster gifts them the cart they delivered the wine on and they begin to make their way back to the vineyard. In transit, the party talks about potentially setting the Abbot and Strahd against each other. This could be a situation they could manipulate in their favor. We’ahqa has the brilliant idea of forging a copy of the invitation to facilitate this plan. As the group continues further the sun begins to set and eventually they stop close to the vineyard to rest for the night. The party breaks into two groups for the watch: Galahad and We’ahqa on the first shift, and Shanks and Zechs on the second shift. We’ahqa and Galahad have a humorous exchange that turns serious during their shift. Galahad gives We’ahqa a bit of a rundown of his past. Leaves his clan, meets his mentor, Antonius, training with him, and finally runs into the party. Dedicating a year to each tenant of his oath, the Oath of Conquest, three in total. He pulls up his sleeve to reveal a branding of them on his forearm. He laments that he hasn’t truly accomplished anything. We’ahqa assures him that the things that he has already accomplished are good and admirable. Just because his culture is based heavily on deeds, he doesn’t discount the things to which he has pledged his life. The Druid and Paladin take their rest and the two archers take over the watch. Shanks and Zechs have a conversation that gets philosophical. The elf admits that he’s starting to care about the other party members, which scares him. With Zechs probing for a bit more information, Shanks reveals that he was once part of a “very devastating group of people” that he has been trying to get away from. He feels a bit of a kinship with Attros because of the disillusionment from being with this group. The lines have become blurry and he’s had to draw his own on occasion. Zechs probes deeper and asks about his moral compass. This pushes things in a more personal direction. He talks about being “mixed blood”, Eladrin, and Wild-elf. He was looked down upon and called an abomination. A mixture of two things that should never have been. Seeing the things that he saw at the Abbey, the things that he was likened to, was beyond startling. He makes no qualms about what he would like to do to the Abbot but doesn’t think the group would agree with his methods. The subject changes to religion. Shanks is a man of logic and reason. Faith without basis is something he can’t get behind. Kyver has another dark vision from the entity that offered him power. Power in exchange for Strahd and the party’s demise. With the resurfacing of his early life, the idea of power over humans is more appetizing than ever. The entity reminds him of vaults made of amber. Kyver takes the dagger Bloodlust and carves the words “The Vaults” into his forearm. The wounds healed almost instantly into barely noticeable scars. “It must be before the wedding. He cannot have a bride,” the entity whispers. With these words, the vision fades and Kyver awakens to rain. [24]Returning to the Vineyard, Damian is upset with the party for leaving for several weeks without completing the job. They get into a heated disagreement about the logistics of the mission and Damian goes as far as to call Arguile a racial slur; a demon while addressing him. We’aqua is not one for sitting back and letting people disrespect his friends, threatens him with his dagger, and asks him to be careful. The conflict subsides and We’aqua offers food and water as an apology. While leaving, Arguile shoulder checks Damian. Kyver, who is dazed from his vision, glares at the man but sees him turn into a raven and flies away. The party races toward the Tree Blight and Druids surrounding the winery. We’aqua summons four bears to attack the tree. It crushes one of them while the other three claw and bites at the bark and branches. The rain continues to pour and Glad calls a bolt of lightning from the sky and strikes the tree. Exploding, it smolders and falls to the ground. Shanks uses Mind Eye and his acid arrows to take a long-distance shot at the fallen tree. His shot hits its mark, burning the tree from the inside out. The party makes quick work out of the rest of the druids. Kyver, however, seems to be off of his game and is unnerved by the whole situation. Checking the smoldering Tree Blight, they notice that arcane runes have been carved on it. They make their way into the winery to clear out any remaining druids. They spit up and search the building cautiously. On the search through the winery, Kyver is startled by Galahad and almost attacks him. The paladin doesn’t mention anything but makes a note that something is up with Kyver. Elsewhere, Shanks comes across a magical staff in the winch room over the carriage bay. He suggests to Arugile that a caster should examine it before anyone touches it. The snarky Tiefling agrees, walking up to the nearest window and breaking it, calling the casters to come and examine what they found. We’ahqa, Attros, and Glad come to check it out and they learn it’s powerful and possibly helpful for later. The building is now completely clear of Druids or blights. Walking out of the building We’aqua goes to Kyver who is craving on the side of the winey. He asks Kyver if he stole anything. He takes out his Medusa’s token and says to give it to Glad. We’aqua declines and says to do it himself. Kyver walks away from him wordlessly and goes back into his dazed state. The normally peaceful Water Genasi pushes the Tabaxi but Kyver doesn’t react. We’aqua then trips Kyver and the two start to get into a tussle on the floor. We’auqa shouts, “What is going on with you?” Finally, Kyver opens up about his past. He tells the Druid that his father was betrayed by Humans. He, unfortunately, witnessed his father’s head on a spike. The nobleman of his homeland sent out an order to raid his village, slaughtering his people, and capturing him and other Tabaxi children. He spent 565 days in slave pits before he was free. “I know you must think less of me,” Kyver says. We’aqua tries to assure him that they don’t feel that way, they just want to understand him. “Understand this, I am an evil son of a bitch.” Kyver states. We’aqua disagrees and says if Kyver was evil he would’ve killed them. Kyver says nothing and walks to the cart. They travel back to Damian. Once they inform him that his winey is cleared he apologizes for his behavior and asks what is the nature of their visit. After noticing how Damian reacts to the topic of Strahd, they feel it’s safe to tell him they were here to rid the land of Strahd. Martikov offers his help. He and his people are willing to aid in ridding this land of him. Zech then asks him if he knows of Baba Lysaga. Damian is visibly unnerved by the name. We’aqua seeing Glad once cast Calm Emotions goes to him, places his hand on his chest, and says, “Calm”. Although We’aqua doesn’t have the spell, it somehow works and Martikov relaxes. He tells the party what he knows and the location of The Baba Lysaga. Meanwhile, Glad noticing how off Kyver is follows him to the back of the Vineyard. He’s staring up into the sky kind of babbling about being an innocent child, then he whips out his dagger in a daze. Glad asks him if he’s okay and then Kyver drops to his knees, shivering; the dagger falls out of his hand. He cries “Help me!” Glad looks around to see if anyone saw. Shanks and We’ run over to aid her. Glad goes to him and she checks to see if her magic would work to help but it cannot aid in healing his emotional trauma. She tells him “we cannot help you if you don’t open up to us.” Kyver, still dazed, asks her “What makes a person evil?” She says, “I think we all make mistakes and we all have trauma but people who refuse to do better are the truly evil people.” He tells them the name of the man that killed his father Abraxis Vitalis. The party assures him that they’re there for him. He walks away and starts to crave Vitalis’s name on a tree. Glad turns to Zechs and states “ever since he’s gotten that Dagger he’s been acting strange.” Zechs then turns to Shanks saying “you gave him that dagger, you have to deal with him.” Shanks says nothing but walks to Kyver accepting his duty to his comrade, followed by We’ahqa.[25] Shanks and We’ahqa come in to de-escalate the tense situation. The archer speaks about having things in his past that he wishes could be different. That the whole group has terrible things that they regret. He specifically points to Attros as a prime example. Kyver gets in really close asking what he is supposed to do about these human nobles from his past. What is anyone supposed to do? Shanks leans in, speaking quietly and evenly “we bleed ‘em out real slow.” “I’m ready to bleed out all these motherfuckers,” Kyver says in response. They agree that they’ll do it together, but not before they finish the job in Barovia. All that Shanks asks for is the dagger. Though it’s not said aloud, it’s plain to Kyver that the rest of the group thinks it’s affecting him. “If you think this is fucking making me crazy, do what you must,” the Tabaxi proclaims, handing the dagger to Shanks. “But I’m telling you right now,” he continues, “the Journeyman should’ve never given me that map.” The two walk away from each other in opposite directions. Shanks back toward Zechs and Kyver off to go outside. Attros follows Kyver. Shanks wordlessly hands off the dagger to Zechs. Who walks over to Glad and places it inside the group’s bag of holding. We’ahqa, curious and wanting to help Kyver, ask if they can examine the dagger. After a little convincing, Glad relents and gives them the dagger to look at, under supervision. With a thorough check, We’ahqa finds that this rare dagger is heavily imbued with necromancy. And while the magic that it emanates is dark, it doesn’t seem to have any curse or evil surrounding it. There appears to be no corrupting force. The Druid tries to nick the dagger but Glad catches them, politely but firmly telling them to put the dagger back where they got it. As We’ahqa walks away, Glad continues to sip on her newly purified wine. Zechs heads back over to Shanks and the two discuss what they should do with the dagger. They both agree that the dagger may not be the source of the behavioral change but it doesn’t seem to be helping. They point out that if the Journeyman didn’t seem to have an issue with it, it must be safe enough. We’ahqa, who has been eavesdropping on the conversation, causally walks by and agrees. Zechs delegates the task of keeping an eye on Kyver to Shanks, who just chuckles at the idea. “You know how this group does with ‘charges’, so I’m just gonna leave that alone,” Shanks says. “Fine, you take the dagger” Zechs replies. Shanks tells him that he knows he favors his bow and that he already has a dagger. From there, the two discuss who should take it if Shanks won’t. In the middle of this back and forth, Arguile appears from the shadows offering to temporarily exchange weapons. This pushes the debate further on who should take it. Zechs decides he’s done with the debate and tells Shanks that it’s his problem. None too pleased, Shanks walks outside to cool off. And Zechs heads back to Damian, who is still outside and slightly stunned by all of this. They pick up the conversation about the crystals that are required to grow their wines. Attros confronts Kyver. He tells the assassin that he thinks he’s justified. That the two of them agree on a lot of things. Kyver maniacally speaks about the blood on his hands and the idea of being saved. The Kenku asks what it even means to be saved. When the same horrible things happened to him and he had the choice of being saved or becoming a monster. He chose to become a monster. Because he wanted his peace, not to wait to be saved. He speaks of not killing those to save his kind but those he grew up with. The ones he had pledged oaths with. Kyver confesses that he is no better, killing innocents in his past. Attros lets loose a torrent of information. Growing up in the slums and swearing to form a guild with his Kenku brothers and sisters. Being treated as scum and filth and then embracing it. Taking any job, doing anything they needed to do to survive. They became the worst of the worst. Kyver asks Attros to do him a favor, “from one fiend to another.” Attros interjects, “it’s funny that you say, fiend.” Kyver wants to become the boogeyman. The Artificer says that he’s aiming too small. Why not irradicate filth from everyone, not just humans? Purge evil with evil. Wash away the stains of old blood with more. “What they don’t realize is, once you have blood on your hands you can’t get rid of it. It’s about releasing darkness, but controlling it.” Kyver admits that he doesn’t want to control it. Attros tells him that there is a time and place to burn everything down and start again. Instead of taking the hope in others away, why not find that hope and happiness again? Has he sinned so much that he can only sin now? Attros believes that Kyver can still be redeemed. At one point, Kyver thought so too. But since he was given the map to the nobleman’s manor and his actions after, he doesn’t anymore. Attros counters that the Journeyman gave him a chance to truly be redeemed. To end things once and for all. And that the only thing that Kyver was doing, was running away. Doesn’t he want to end everything for all of the other Tabaxi that had to go through what happened to him? The two vow to help each other. Galahad and Cereius stand in the corner watching most of this unfold. They both speak of their faith. Cereius speaks candidly, for the first time, about his goddess The Moonweaver. He fears that she will ask more of him than he can give. Galahad commiserates with that feeling. Cereius remembers his early years in his small town. As chaotic as the adventurers that passed through there were, this party is at a whole new level. Galahad gives the Grave Cleric the lowdown on some of the earlier days with the group and Kyver’s exploits. Though he is new and barely knows him, he is worried about Kyver. Galahad is concerned for Kyver as well. What irks him, is it’s something about humans that seems to set the Tabaxi off. It feels like he is dead set on doing something terrible. He hopes nothing comes of it, as he doesn’t like the thought of having to intervene with Kyver. They both agree that even though they can understand the assassin’s feelings, they’re against the shedding of innocent blood. Shanks returns from the exterior of the winery, having sufficiently cooled off, and asks Glad for the dagger. Glad acquiesces on the condition that Kyver doesn’t get it back. Shanks assures her that it is not going back to him. With Bloodlust in his possession, the archer heads over to Arguile. They have a short back-and-forth that results in a switch. Arguile takes Bloodlust, to test whether or not it is affecting its wielder, and Kyver will hold onto the Guardian’s Rapier. Once it’s settled that the dagger isn’t a danger, they’ll switch back. He then makes the exchange with Kyver, who accepts it. As the party comes back together, Galahad notices that the wine has gone to Glad’s head. He goes to relieve her of this burden when Arguile asks for ten minutes of fun before he sober’s her up. “We need an inside joke, just ten minutes.” Shenanigans ensue involving Glad and Kyver singing and dancing around the winery until Galahad ends it. Eventually, they decide to head down to the Druids on Yester Hill instead of looking for Baba Lysaga. On their way down, Zechs and We’ahqa send their familiars up into the air to scout. The trail through the thick woods leads to a hill covered with dead grass and cairns of black rock. Dark, ominous clouds gather high above, and a single bolt of lightning strikes the hilltop. West of the hill, the land, the woods, and the sky vanish behind a towering wall of fog. Dirt trails run along two concentric rings of cairns that encircle the hillside. Each cairn is a ten-foot-high mound of slimy black rocks. Atop the hill is a wide ring of black boulders and smaller rocks that collectively form a makeshift wall enclosing a field of dead grass. Lightning strikes the edge of the ring from time to time, illuminating a ghastly, fifty-foot-tall statue made of tightly woven twigs and packed with black earth. The statue resembles a towering, cloaked man with fangs. We’ahqa pulls out the staff that was found within the winery. They tell Zechs that this staff will allow them to appear as a friend to the Druids and Blights. They have the idea of setting up an ambush and luring all of the people they can find on the hill into it. Make it quick and efficient. The party loves the idea and the Druid makes their way down the path to the bottom of the hill, Attros in tow. Walking up in a jovial manner, the Druid successfully convinces one of the hidden foes to come out and speak to them. A spacey human man curiously walks over to the pair. We’ahqa performs a couple of different smaller feats of magic and pulls two more from their hiding spots. The Genasi walks closer and asks why they were hiding. The one who emerged first, a man by the name of Chico, tells We’ahqa that it was what they were told to do. To ambush the party that was up at the winery. We’ahqa and Chico have an interesting conversation, about when they joined the borough of Druids. Chico introduces the rest of the Druids that begin to come out of hiding. He seems jovial and upbeat. He talks about joining this group to eat and have people protect him. We’ahqa informs him that the Tree Blight has been defeated but the pair of them, We’ahqa and Attros, were sent to resurrect it. We’ahqa has Chico gather the rest of the druids in hiding to guide them to the ritual. We’ahqa and Attros lead the druids into the kill box, having them form a circle for a “great ritual”. The pair slowly back away from the circle and begin to chant. This is the signal to the rest of the party. In a matter of seconds, the Druids are decimated, including Chico. But We’ahqa saw something in Chico and tries to convince the group to resurrect him. [26] The party is very much convinced by We’ahqa and Cereius steps forward to revivify the fallen Druid. It’s a tense moment for the cleric as he hasn’t had the best of luck with this particular spell. We’ahqa lets the party know that they want to talk to Chico before anyone else. The ritual is successful, despite Cereius’s fears and Chico comes back to life. We’ahqa explains to the Druid that this was all an elaborate test put forth by the Wild Mother. The rest of the party, except for Kyver, reinforces this notion as Chico looks around him at the carnage that just transpired. Chico informs the group that the tree that they just fought has one of the crystals that the party is looking for. We’ahqa immediately sends Franchise to retrieve the crystal. He also tells them that there is a cursed tree on the opposite side of the mound. Telling them that they need to uproot it to destroy it. It has protection, so they should be ready. The party decides the best course of action is to take out the tree first and go from there. As they weave their way up the path and through the cairns, a voice on the wind catches Shanks’s ear. “Long have I waited,” it says, “for one who is worthy. My spear hungers for blood. Retrieve it, and rule these mountains in my stead, just like the mighty warriors from the early days of the Whispering Wall.” Shanks relays what he heard to the rest of the group. He is drawn to one of the cairns. With some help from the party, he is able to uncover a long-decayed body clutching a spear. Attros casts the identify spell on it. He finds that it is the Blood Spear of Kavan. Shanks decides to keep it with him. The continue to the top of the hill, seeing a splintered base of what was once a carved wooden statue. Chico explains that it was a statue of Strahd before the ritual to make the Tree Blight. Further down the path, they see a small grove with a gnarly-looking tree. Chico says that this is the tree they need to take out. He also asks to stay behind at the top of the mound because he doesn’t want to be near it. After a short bit of planning and punning, Kyver and We’ahqa make their way down toward the tree. Kyver loses his footing and falls. Getting up, he begins to sprint at the tree and the blights surrounding it. There is a fierce battle between the majority of the party and the blights. Attros sits back, out of the radius of the conflict sips on some tea with Chico. But he doesn’t like the direction the fight is taking so he sends Gilead into the fray with his Eldritch Cannon attached to her. There are some back and forths but the tide eventually shifts in the party’s favor. At this turn, Attros walks back to Chico and sits back down for some tea. Near the end of the battle, a figure appears at the top of the mound. Strahd stands amused watching the battle take place. With a rapid pace, the fight ends, and tension grips the air as the rest of the party makes their way back up toward Strahd. Attros tries to calm the situation down and starts a dialogue with the Vampire. He doesn’t seem too pleased that the party is in league with the Martikovs/the Were-Ravens. He questions the party’s motives. He reveals that he is actively trying to remove the Were-Ravens from Barovia. He was part of the ritual to make the tree blight and he is in league with the Druids. Galahad speaks up and tells the vampire that they were merely trying to help the folks in the villages. Giving them small pleasures to help keep them going. Attros sees an opportunity to keep on Strahd’s good side and tries to make it seem like the party is there to help. Strahd is resistant at first, telling the party that he has eyes on them at all times. That he saw that they were able to leave the land but decided to come back. The party asks outright what Strahd wants. He replies that he wants to stay in control. Attros ingratiates himself toward the vampire, speaking about losing a loved one. Kyver decides to make a move on Strahd but is shut down very quickly. Eventually, they come to an agreement: as a wedding gift, the party will bring the head of a Were-Raven to him on a platter and he will leave them be. He lets the party know that Ireena is very excited about her wedding day and thanks them for bringing them together. Shanks asks about Strahd’s thoughts on the Abbot. He confesses that he has kept him around for the sheer enjoyment of corrupting him. The vampire eludes to the group that they are not what they seem. And with this, he vanishes into the mist surrounding the mound. Cereius, who has only just met Strahd for the first time, asks what that was all about. Attros gives him the rundown of their relationship with Strahd. The party heads back down to the tree uproot it, and lights it on fire. Underneath they find a decayed body clutching a battle axe. Attros identifies this as a magical battle axe, named Treebane, that deals extra damage to plant life. The tavern then appears at the top of the mound and the party heads in. On their way inside, We’ahqa asks Chico where they can find the Were-Ravens. Chico remembers that they’re mainly split between two places: the winery and the town of Vallaki. The party invites Chico into the tavern. Kyver, obviously distraught from the happenings of the last few hours, makes his way straight to the bar and begins demanding food and drink from Welby. The Halfling isn’t overly pleased by this and neither is the rest of the party. The party ignores Kyver and tells Welby about their situation with Chico. Welby responds: “If he can cook, I don’t give a fuck if he’s bad.” He pulls the Druid into the back to show him the kitchen. At this point, the Journeyman enters the conversation. The party informs JM about the trouble that they’ve been having with Kyver. Their theories about it potentially being the dagger that is causing everything. They tell her about Chico and how they convinced him to join them. Eventually leading to a conversation about the deal that they struck with Strahd to keep a brawl from breaking out. After a bit more conversation, she heads up to Kyver. Making her way in, she sees Kyver with a far-off stare and a crooked smile. They have a hard conversation about everything that has been transpiring recently. JM pushes for information, wanting to help him. Kyver breaks and asks why she gave him that map. She matches his energy and tells him that she did it so he could get revenge. She gave him the thing that he coveted the most in the world so that he could avenge his family. But he’s just going to throw it all away? He’s going to alienate her and the people who would be the ones to help him. A deep sadness overtakes Kyver, he feels like he’s a danger to everyone. He recounts the vision of his death at the beginning of their time in Barovia. He speaks about voices constantly hounding him. He believes that his soul is black and damned. She tells him that he needs to focus on his feelings and find balance again in his life. He needs to make amends with the people around him.[27] As the Journeyman heads upstairs to speak with Kyver, the rest of the party sits in the tavern area. A new section has been added to the interior with a second fireplace and lounge-type chairs. Attros, frustrated with the party, silently makes his way up to his room. The party asks for drinks and Welby delivers. Shanks slips away and follows the Journeyman to eavesdrop on the conversation with Kyver. As the party drinks their ales, coffee, and water, the party discusses the situation with Kyver and the new development with Strahd. We’ahqa brings up the forged wedding invitation for the Abbot. Galahad mentions that they’re now expected to deliver heads to the “Vampire Lord” of Barovia. The Druid suggests faking their deaths. As they are discussing this, they realize that Shanks is not in the room. We’ahqa runs to find the archer and they meet on the stairs to the second floor. Shanks narrowly dodges the Genasi as they speed toward him. Eventually, the party all make it back down to the tavern, except for Attros and Kyver. Chico presents everyone with their new creation: Chicken and Waffles. It’s an instant hit. Shanks is distraught about some of the things going on. He doesn’t think that Kyver’s problems are related to the dagger and that they’re most assuredly emotional. The party wants to help but they also want to see some kind of effort of change from Kyver, at least from their perspective. Shanks agrees and asks what the party thinks about their new deal with Strahd. Zechs brings up the idea of asking the Abbot to make them a ravens head in exchange for an invitation to the wedding. Shanks is immediately apprehensive. He’s not so sure that the party can trust any of the other parties that they’re actively making deals with. The Journeyman joins in the conversation. The party questions some things they’ve recently seen from Strahd. His ability to disappear from where he is. JM speaks about different vampire abilities and their shape-shifting properties. Zechs, thinking on his knowledge of the undead, tells the group about some of the inherent weaknesses of Vampires. Their aversion to sunlight and running water. Their ability to climb and walk on walls. How they must be killed where they rest, otherwise they will just regenerate and return. That radiant damage and holy water or oil inhibit their regeneration. All of a sudden, things begin to take shape. Plans begin to form. With some tentative plans in place, the party decides to try and help Kyver. Glad makes her way up to the Tabaxi and Shanks tags along as support. Glad starts by saying “look, you reached out to me for help and I didn’t know how to help you, but I’m willing. I see that you’re in deep pain and trying to get through it. We have a lot of battles to fight still, and I think I speak for all of us that we want you by our side. We don’t want you to be consumed by this rage. So please, help us help you.” Kyver quickly makes his way to Glad and stares her down, only to break eye contact and put his head down on her shoulder, letting out a small sob. Behind him, Shanks gestures to Glad, who doesn’t know how to react, that he might want to be pet. She awkwardly pets Kyver on the head, unsure of what is going to happen next. In a quiet and even tone, Kyver says “If you expect me to purr…” Glad interjects his statement with “Listen Kyver, we just want to comfort you, help you, heal you. We want to figure this out so we can fight shit together again.” Shanks chimes in that he identifies with a lot of what Kyver is feeling and that he doesn’t necessarily know what to do to help him. They both express that they want to help and have him open up about what they can do. The conversation seems to end with a hug and a “thank you” from the Tabaxi. But Kyver then opens up about his past to the two elves. The slavery, the fighting tournaments, and everything in between. While this conversation is taking place upstairs, We’ahqa has a chat with JM downstairs. They bring up the staff being wielded by her, asking what it is. They identify it as the Staff of Dunamancy. JM confirms that is indeed what it is and that she is a Chronurgy Wizard. We’ahqa then shows JM the staff that they found at the winery. She tells the Druid that this staff is bad news and that they should probably not have it in play. We’ahqa senses that she’s worried about getting into the wrong hands and gives it to her. JM lets them know that their scimitar is ready for them, along with Arguile’s shortsword and Galahad’s greatsword. The conversation turns to what has been happening with the Journeyman. She talks about having just dropped off another group on a different plane. The world that this other group is in is a living, sentient being. She tells them that it’s currently known as Sloane and that members of the party are from that place. This is fascinating to We’ahqa and they eventually hug and end the conversation. We’ahqa takes a seat at another table and the Journeyman heads to her office. The focus shifts to Galahad as he peers into the new lounge section of the tavern. He sees a familiar, older man sitting in one of the chairs. Galahad heads toward him. The two sit by the fire and discuss the happenings from the past week. Galahad comments on the cipher, to which Bothok replies that his sword is not the only weapon he needs to keep sharp. “A sharp blade will win you battles, but a sharp mind will win you wars,” the old man says to the Paladin. They speak about his sister, Tiamat, and how Bothok is unsure what her plans are but he knows that something nefarious is happening. The conversation flows, inevitably, to Galahad’s oath and tenets. Bothok speaks of these tenets as things that shouldn’t be taken in a literal sense. Though it is within the culture of Goliath to follow them as physical things to do, it is very possible that doing so would lead down a path of destruction. He suggests a more metaphorical approach. Galahad agrees, citing his time in the vaults as an awakening of his outlook and understanding of the Oath of Conquest. “I believe that you can follow the tenets that you’ve chosen, but it must be the intent behind them. Much like words spoken, you can say one thing and mean another. Just as your tenets can purport one thing but may intend another” Bothok explains. He goes on to tell the Paladin that spreading out his attention too much will make things harder to accomplish. He must focus on the task at hand before worrying about his sister and the other problems that face the planes. “Make sure that the annoying blue one survives,” Bothok orders. The two discuss this for a moment and Galahad agrees to keep We’ahqa safe but refuses to tell them of his charge. Bothok then opens up to questions from Galahad. “Is there any insight or wisdom on the defeat of Strahd,” the Goliath asks. Bothok leans in and says “It seems to me you have the answers right in front of you. It’s a matter of arranging them in the correct order. You know how to take out Strahd, what can hurt him. You that he wants to stay in power. What are the tenets of your oath?” Galahad replies with his tenets and Bothok queries how these would apply to the task of defeating Strahd. He encourages Galahad to discuss it with his party and to finish this task in front of him. His mentor Antonius needs the Goliath’s help. With that, Bothok disappears from the tavern and Galahad contemplates this new information by the fire. As Galahad is off in the lounge, Shanks makes his way over to the Journeyman’s office for the chat he had been looking for earlier. He immediately notices that the interior of the office has changed since the last time he was there. More bookshelves and cases line the walls, and where the large desk was before, sits a lowered table and two long cushions on the floor flanking either side. She is sitting on the opposite side of the table from the door and beckons him to sit. Shanks, however, decides to stay standing. He pulls out his bow and begins to talk about his difficulties in utilizing its different properties of it. He’s hoping that maybe the Journeyman can augment the bow to work with his current abilities. JM explains that the bow does work with his abilities. Because he is Eladrin, regardless of if he’s “only half”, the bow feeds off of his innate magic. The evocation of elements is directly linked to his lineage. She continues “what was it that you said to me when we first met? You hate how I talk in circles?” “Yes,” Shanks replies inquisitively. “If I always talk in circles, would it then make sense that I would give you a magical item that requires you to think how to use it instead of just point and shoot? A bow called Mind’s Eye?” Shanks realizes that this answer what staring him in the face the entire time. He apologizes for “wasting her time” and makes for the door. The Journeyman isn’t done, however, and uses her mage hand to close it before he leaves. She explains that if he wants more control over the bow, he has to have more control over himself and his mind. That what he needs more than anything is clarity. She questions if he feels like he’s only good for doing damage and killing things. If that is somehow his only skill or purpose. How he decides to go about this is totally on him, but the bow will never reach its full potential until he finds the clarity he needs. Some sort of insight seems to reveal itself to Shanks as he gives her a nod and thanks her for the help. Meanwhile, Kyver invites Glad for a drink. She accepts, very hesitantly, and on her way over to the bar she notices a familiar tall figure. Breaking away from Kyver, she makes her way over to the Protector. She asks about Kyver and if they’re somehow linked. He says that their futures are linked in some way but not their past. The conversation turns to all of the different things that the group is trying to accomplish. He comments that she keeps odd company but that she’s also an odd duck herself. A traveling, adventuring Wood-elf that is a cleric in a non-nature-based religion. It’s what he likes about her. He encourages her to begin to wear her vestments again. Glad talks about the painful memories attached to them: leaving her home behind and losing her husband. Eventually, the conversation ends on the topic of Glad looking for her father and her fulfilling the need of finding out “where she comes from.” Getting up from his seat in the lounge, Galahad makes his way to the Journeyman’s office. Speaking in the office, Galahad asks about Kanna’s Fury. She talks about tailoring the sword to his oath with Bahamut. It will grow and become more powerful the further he gets into his journey. He realizes that the scrollwork on his blade is incomplete and there are more abilities to appear later on. [28] The party takes this downtime as an opportunity to figure a few things out about their motives on this mission. Zechs makes his way down to the workout area. Working with Duo on their link and timing. Examining his bow, his internal motivations, and his perspective on the situation at large. While this introspection occurs, he remembers feeling a seem somewhere on the bow. With this in mind, he starts going through maneuvers and movements with Jack of All Trades. Again, he feels a seem on the handle area and finds that one of the decorative symbols has risen slightly from the rest of the bow. Putting pressure on this risen symbol, it clicks down and begins to bend the bow back in on itself. The string loosens and the center of the bow folds, disconnecting into two short swords. He heads up to JMs office and inquires about what he’s just figured out. She concedes that she had a part in this design and remembers that Zechs had wanted a bow that acted like a shortsword. So, why not a bow that acted like two short swords? They converse a bit more and almost everyone decides to make their way to bed. Sitting in their room, We’ahqa listens intently to his armor. They begin to hear whispering in a language that they don’t understand. Eventually, they fall asleep, repeating the phrases they heard in their mind, over and over again. While the rest of the party sleeps, Cereius receives another vision from the Moonweaver. In a very similar situation to his last meeting, a bright and massive moon sits on the horizon. A silhouette of a woman darkens the light emanating in front of him. As he walks closer, he’s able to see familiar features of the figure. This is his wife, Valencia. It can’t be, he thinks, she’s been lost. She seems out of sorts, she’s unaware of the things that have transpired. Cereius explains, in detail, that she has been cursed and that he is trying to find a way to get her back. He promises that he’ll never give up because he knows that she will never give up either. They embrace and cry together as the vision fades to black. Meanwhile, Attros has an entirely different encounter with someone unexpected. A small, albino child suddenly appears inside his room, unmoving like a statue. He questions the child, who responds that they are a messenger for Elrin. Attros questions further, “why are you here?” The child tells the Artificer that their mutual friend wishes to bestow power upon him. That of a devotee, a cleric. Attros, clever as always, asks if there is a catch. The child confirms that there is and that he must deliver a gift to a member of the party. Upon the delivery, he will be granted his new abilities. Powers from the Domain of Death. A small, smooth, red stone that is meant to help his friend Arguile. Attros takes the stone and casts Identify on it. At the end of the ritual, he finds that it is called the Light of Elrin. It is meant to be used as an added protection for the bearer. He thanks the child, telling them that their friend would be very appreciative of this gift. They discuss their master a bit and Attros asks if they need to be escorted out. They thank the Kenku but decline the offer. As soon as Attros turns away from the child, they are gone. Attros contemplate what just occurred for a moment and then makes his way to sleep. While the rest of the party sleeps, Shanks comes out of his trance and makes his way to the workshop. Working diligently through the early morning, he is successful in distilling the halfling coffee down to its purest form. However, to make it easier to transport and consume, he needs to find a natural binder to add to the mix. Kyver, taking the talk that he had with JM to heart, tries to make friends with Zechs. Wanting to bond with the other Tabaxi, he shares different tidbits about his life. Zechs is understandably hesitant about the whole situation. As awkward as it is, it seems incredibly genuine. He talks about his life in his village, on his parent’s farm. Zechs opens up a bit more too and explains a bit more to Kyver about what he remembers from his early life. The tension remains but things seem to soften a bit. Meanwhile, Arguile is in his room working on the forgery of the invitation to Strahd’s wedding. He manages to pull off a near-perfect copy. As he’s admiring his work, he gets a knock at the door. Attros is at the door and is permitted entry. He asks about the forgery and when he looks, he’s unable to tell the two apart. Attros slides Arguile the stone he received the night before. He explains the benefits of the stone and Arguile accepts the gift. The rest of the party, including the Tiefling and Kenku, make their way down into the tavern. As they decide on what to eat, Galahad makes his way off to the training area. He spends time training different maneuvers, does some strength exercises, and soaks in a hot spring. As the party eats, Kyver heads over to the Journeyman’s office. They get into a conversation about the direction that Kyver would like to go in his development. Kyver questions her about magic and wizards. She encourages him to try and work toward this new goal of learning magic. She goes as far as offering him a beginner’s level book of magic. “Read that, and when you’re done read it again. And when you’re done, read it again. And when you’re done, read it again. Memorize it,” she tells Kyver. Kyver thanks her and heads over to Arguile. He offers him a swing for his mother’s comments. Arguile isn’t interested so Kyver hugs him. That changes the Tiefling’s mind and he headbutts Kyver. The Tabaxi apologizes for his earlier comments. Arguile accepts and leaves it at that. While the rest of the party continues their meals, Shanks heads to Chico, hoping to find a natural binder for his “Elven Enhancement Pills”. Chico informs him that he can indeed help him with his problem. What he’s missing is a substance called Acerbic Gum. Once he adds it to the mixture, he should be able to press tablets out of the refined powder of Halfling coffee. Shanks takes the gum back to the shop and is successful in making his pills. While the archer makes his pills, Attros comes into the workshop and makes a final batch of vial arrows. Once this is complete, he distributes these arrows amongst the rest of the group. JM comes out to the group as they prepare to head back to their mission. She asks Arguile for the vampiric dagger, explaining that he will get his rapier back and that she has something for Kyver to replace the dagger. She heads to the vault with the dagger and comes back with what appears to be an onyx sword handle with a ruby set in the center of it. She explains that this handle will manifest a blade for Kyver, as long as he is proficient in wielding it. The conversation turns to where they should go next. There are several plans thrown out there but the one that is settled upon is to try and set up the Abbot against Baba Lysaga. How they’ll do it exactly, it’s not quite clear but that is the goal in mind. In the meantime, they’re going to head to Vallaki and search for the Were-Ravens and the Dusk Elf that was part of the tarot card reading. With that, they make their way out of the tavern and back toward the vineyard. There is where they find Damian and let him know their plan. Damian informs them that there are other members of his family up in the town of Vallaki and to look at the Blue Water Inn. He explains that Baba Lysaga isn’t someone who should be taken lightly. She is a staunch supporter of Strahd and will come if called. The party thanks him, hands over the crystal they recovered from the Tree Blight, and makes their way north.

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