Strahd vs. The Gentlemen Bastards
Chapter 2; Omens and Portents
<The following is an excerpt from the journal of Winston, gunslinger and member of The Gentlemen Bastards.>
We make our way back into the church, I convince Donavich to let us experiment on his vampire son. The hatch is thrown open, down the hole is a rickety, wooden staircase. The beast dashed across the ceiling and up the stairs and is stopped by Kylar. Unfortunately, he was bitten, I fear for the fate of the paladin.
All the attacks we used against him did not seem to phase him, until the paladin used a holy attack that turned the monster into dust. Donavich lost his shit, and began attacking Kylar, but failed. Elyadra shoved the priest away, the old fool fell down the stairs. Then Sauron cast a nasty spell on the old man, which killed him instantly. I tried pleading with my group, I fear there's nothing I can do to persuade them into making what I think is the right decision. The old priest should have lived, I feel at fault for wanting to experiment with his son to try to find a weakness of the monsters.
We rest in the church. I make some silver bombs and bullets, we are going to need as much help as we can get.
The next day we journey to the southwest, following Ismark. We cross a stone bridge, there is an old wooden gallows which reminds me of home – wherever the hell that is from here. Across the road is a graveyard. The road forks here, Ismark claims to know the way. Soon as I turn away from the gallows, in the corner of my eye, I see a figure hangin' there. It looks just like Kylar! Elyadra lets an arrow rip and strikes the gray body and the illusion vanishes. Ismark claims it is a bad omen. I agree, ever since the the foggy night, all I've witnessed are bad omens.
We arrive at Tser Pool, the strangers were expecting us. I can see that our thief is eyeballing everything of value. Never mind that, I tell myself. I take out my harmonica and begin playing, maybe its time we can relax a bit. I have a feeling Elyadra is robbing these people blind. I hold my tongue because if they found out – this would get messy, and I'm trying to enjoy myself. Elyadra gets called out, and is escorted to their leader Madam Eva. Eva then requests to see us all. As I enter the tent, I look around and I've seen fortune tellers like this where I come from. But, this one is different, Madam Eva actually knows who I am. She confirms my suspicion – we are stuck in this nightmare until we destroy Strahd. Any other fortune teller I would dismiss in a heartbeat, as much as I don't want to believe her… I do. She performs a tarroka card reading:
1. "This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy." She reveals the Transmuter card. "Go to a place of dizzying heights, where the stone itself is alive!"
2. "This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope." She reveals the Bishop card. "What you seek lies in a pile of treasure, beyond a set of amber doors."
3. "This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight." She reveals the Rogue card. "I see a nest of ravens. There you will find the prize."
4. "This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness." She reveals the Beast card. "A werewolf holds a secret hatred for your enemy. Use her hatred to your advantage."
5. "Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him!" She reveals the Seer card. "He waits for you in a place of wisdom, warmth and despair."
We make our journey up the mountain and come across a bridge flanked by gargoyles. In the distance is a tower, the Pillarstone of Ravenloft. We take the road to Vallaki, we reach a gate like the one we saw upon first entering Barovia – except the statues on guard still have their heads. As soon as we all pass through, the gates close behind us.
We find the windmill we were told to avoid and approach it, ignoring the Vistana's warnings. An old woman pushing a cart is coming from the windmill, she offers us meat pies that smell sweet. Smells like a trap to me. Sauron shoots her with a ray of sickness, she's wounded and apologizes and starts to go on her way. Elyadra steals her pouch, she tries again and is caught. The woman turns to her and bears fangs, before walking off.
The raven on the windmill seems to be warning us to steer clear of the windmill. The raven tells the wood elf, "Old Bonegrinder is death." Inside the mill are more pastries, a chicken coop, a flowered cupboard, a wooden chest and a barrel of black ichor. From upstairs we can hear the cackling of mad laughter.