Strahd vs. The Gentlemen Bastards
The Tome of Strahd
I am the ancient, I am the land. My beginnings are lost in the darkness of the past. I was the warrior, I was good and just. I thundered across the land like the wrath of a just god, but the war years and the killing years wore down my soul as the wind wears stone into sand.
All goodness slipped from my life; I found my youth and strength gone and all I had left was death. My army settled in the valley of Barovia and took power over the people in the name of a just god, but with none of a god’s grace or justice. I called for my family, long unseated from their ancient thrones, and brought them here to settle in the castle Ravenloft. They came with a younger brother of mine, Sergei. He was handsome and youthful. I hated him for both.
From the families of the valley, one spirit shone above all others. A rare beauty, who was called “perfection,” “joy,” and “treasure.” Her name was Tatyana and I longed for her to be mine. I loved her with all my heart. I loved her for her youth. I loved her for her joy. But she spurned me! “Old One” was my name to her – “elder” and “brother” also. Her heart went to Sergei. They were betrothed. The date was set.
With words she called me “brother,” but when I looked into her eyes they reflected another name – “death.” It was the death of the aged that she saw in me. She loved her youth and enjoyed it. But I had squandered mine. The death she saw in me turned her from me. And so I came to hate death, my death. My hate is very strong: I would not be called “death” so soon. I made a pact with Death, a pact of blood. On the day of the wedding, I killed Sergei, my brother. My pact was sealed with his blood.
I found Tatyana weeping in the garden east of the Chapel. She fled from me. She would not let me explain, and a great anger swelled within me. She had to understand the pact I made for her! I pursued her. Finally, in despair, she flung herself from the walls of Ravenloft and I watched everything I ever wanted fall from my grasp forever.
It was a thousand feet through the mists. No trace of her was ever found. Not even I know her final fate.
Arrows from the castle guards pierced me to my soul, but I did not die. Nor did I live. I became undead, forever.
I have studied much since then. “Vampyr” is my new name. I still lust for life and youth, and I curse the living that took them from me. Even the sun is against me. It is the sun and light I fear the most. But little else can harm me now. Even a stake through my heart does not kill me, though it holds me from movement. But the sword, that cursed sword that Sergei brought! I must dispose of that awful tool! I fear and hate it as much as the sun.
I have often hunted for Tatyana. I have even felt her within my grasp, but she escapes me! She taunts me! She taunts me! What will it take to bend her love to me? I now take rest far below Ravenloft. I live among the dead and sleep beneath the very stones of this hollow castle of despair. I shall seal shut the walls of the stairs that none may disturb me.