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Expedition to Castle Ravenloft


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The Human looked around the group, this is turning out to be an interesting day indeed, he thought.

 

He turns his attention to Drall, "my name is Arfo Llethre," he said. "A humble locksmith looking to find a new opportunity to ply my trade."

 

He turns his gaze to each of the people at the table nodding a greeting to each, then he looks at the newcomer and asks, "What help do you require?"

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Notal nods. "Ah, a locksmith. Quite an honorable profession, seeing as locks are one of those mechanical marvels that have an uncanny tendency to be stubbornly uncooperative irrespective of whether you're trying to get them to close properly or to open smoothly. I always try to keep one at hand, though there's little left of my last one beyond his tools I'm afraid. Occupational hazards,as it were, though he was a fine Gnomish Space marine while it lasted." He raises his mug in a toast. "To you, good cousin thrice removed on my mother's side Boltcutter. Semper Pi."

 

He then glances over at the most recent arrival. "Hmm, help, you say? Well, perhaps I could start by suggesting you offer a better handle, or as we'd call it a name, than 'This One', given that along with your decidedly inhuman complexion the use of that is statistically quite likely to elicit superstition-based and quite possibly violent reactions from more primitive groundling human cultures, such as the quite traditional mob with torches and pitchforks, or the ever-popular tarring and feathering, particularly if something weird happens and they can't find a red-haired female to blame it on. Actually, maybe I should call them primitive primes instead for clarity, given what I figure [Knowledge(Planes) - 28] you're looking for. Which of course would suggest more educated folks might not be overly inclined to take much of a liking to you, either, come to think about it, but education is frankly not something I'd worry too much about in this particular neck of the backwoods, so to say."

 

Notal then turns to Drall again. "Which reminds me, did you say pocket dimension? That is abundantly weird, given I'm absolutely positive the Nuts and Bolts was in quite normal, if possibly a bit backwater, space, and therefore I would've assumed I must have crashed on an ordinary, if possibly backwater, prime. One with pretty lousy weather, admittedly, fluctuating mostly between misty and rainy, but a pocket dimension? That's quite a disturbing thought. I mean, that reduces my chances of finding a local supplier of powder from slim at best to none flat-out, I'll wager."

 

"But anyways, enough with the mostly dreary thoughts. This here is without a doubt - and more's the pity! - the finest drinking establishment for miles around, so it really is time for a song that pays proper tribute to the significance of such establishments."

 

He then offers a decent enough [Perform (Singing) - 18] rendition of what is, presumably, a gnomish drinking song. It's hard to tell even for anyone who might understand the language, though, given it is full of words like 'hydrodynamics' that would seem to fit better with exploding gnomish inventions than liberal consumption of alcohol... at least until one considers the latter in high enough concentrations does happen to be quite flammable.

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"This one was given the Nomenclature of Ifrith Zuriith-movya, and if Necessary you may use it," the robed figure continues as it lowers its hood to eat, revealing its sharply pointed ears, softly glowing, deep-set orange eyes, yellowed-parchment skin, androgynous features, and hair that's been shaved to a mohawk, then dyed with who-knows-what to a near-flourescent pink color.

 

When the uncomfortable silence has gone on just a split second too long, it looks at everyone in the group and states flatly, in that same disturbingly harsh, monotone whisper, "Yes, this one is one of the People. This one is a Gith. This one and its Raiding Party were seeking a Lost Silver Sword. This one became Wounded, and was Separated. There were Mists, and then this one found itself Here, in this Place. This Place is not on the Star Charts, it is Unnatural, but this one Feels the pull of the Silver Sword strongly Here. This one is not a Nomad, and cannot leave this Place of its own Will."

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"It sounds like we were all seeking something and were drawn to this place to find it. I think it may be best if we seek what is missing, together." Drall looks around at the little group, "I am a battlefield servitor of the goddess Wee - jus, may her judgements be eternal, I an reasonably practiced in acts of her mercy as well as some amount of eldritch devices and their uses. Our friend Arfo has skills in mechanical devices, and Notal I very gifted at talking...A lot."

 

"Ifrith, your race is only a distant legend in my land, although from what I have read most of my world would like to keep it that way. I look forward to having you with us if we must face eh a rever is out there. I will help you in your quest, since my mistress has not seen fit to give her lowly servant specific instructions, in helping you I may help myself."

 

"Will the rest of you join in for a romp in the gloom?"

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"If the Shortening of this one's Nomenclature is the accepted social Convention among the Lesser races of the Non-People, then this one finds 'Ifrith'," here Ifrith Zuriith-movya pauses, "Acceptable."

 

Ifrith Zuriith-movya turns to Drall, "Your 'goddess' is not unKnown to the People. However, the People deny the Power of any 'gods' save that of The Lich Queen. This one is not so Certain. This one would Hear more about your 'goddess'."

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Notal looks at Ifrith. "What, you prefer using full names? Marvelous! I shall have to relate mine when we have an hour or three between ourselves. You might actually appreciate the gnomish penchant for precision and family history, unlike most human and demihuman philistines." He grins. "Not that abbreviated names don't have their uses. Turns out that mid-combat, yelling out somebody's full name is a wee bit impractical, precision be damned. Of course, if you happen to be in a unit with three different gnomes insisting on using Loosenut for a short name, it turns out abbreviations do have their drawbacks, but that's an entirely different story."

 

He glances over at Drall. "I beg to differ on the all looking for something part, by the way. I'm pretty sure all I am looking for is proper, non-groundling civilization, which I'm fairly positive I won't actually find here, wherever in Hells that is. And I'm sure Arfo can find plenty of locks that are in dire need of some technological upgrades by visiting mostly any random human settlement on any random world in any random sphere. Of course, given the unpredictable nature of forces like divine intervention, plus their tendency to try at least and look mysterious, that doesn't mean that our meeting up does not indicate providence of some sort. On the contrary, given the purely mathematical odds of a group consisting of, apparently, natives of Oerth, a questing outsider, a dwarf sensible enough not to comment much on all this, and myself 'chancing' to meet wherever this place actually is are - no pun intended - astronomically slim, some kind of outside influence seems rather likely."

 

He scratches his burgundy beard thoughtfully, then continues. "I'm reasonably certain Reorx wouldn't be to blame for any of this, so as far as I'm concerned you can sort it out between whatever powers you prefer to fault for things like this, and once you've reached a consensus for whose providence actually brought us here, I'll be happy join in the cussing in their or cursing of their names, whichever you folks consider more appropriate."

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"Ifrith Zuriith-movya, the power of my mistress eventually takes all of us, she is a very patient keeper.  I think we will have many opportunities for that discussion.  For now, shall we find more about where we are and how we move forward?  I assume its through that door over there but maybe someone here has more information that we seek"

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As though cued by your conversation, the door to the Weary Horse Inn swings open with a loud thud.  A bundled figure steps heavily through the door and stamps mud from his boots.  He surveys the room as he peels a sopping hood from his head, then confidently moves to your table, tossing a damp letter on its wooden surface.

 

"The village of Barovia is in need of heroes," he says in a thick accent.  "You'll do as well as any."  A look of mild disdain hangs upon his features as he turns to leave without another word.

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Notal quirks a brow as he gazes from the letter the leaving figure. "Well, that certainly is one  way to dampen an already dreary mood. I mean, surely I can't be the only one that feels that particular peculiar wording basically spells suicide mission? People who expect their heroes to actually return do tend to be a bit more selective in whether or not those heroes are what would be considered a presentable group when the mayor, baron, acting lord admiral or whatever else happens to be on hand rewards and praises them for a job well done."

 

He scratches his beard. "Of course, another explanation might be the locals struggle with using long, complex words like mercenaries, which most places tend to be a lot less selective in hiring. And, come to think about it, a lot more inclined to actually pay, given that mercenaries unlike properly presentable heroes expect actually money, not just the baron's eternal gratitude and a kiss from the mayor's second daughter, or possibly goat."

 

He points at the letter. "Anyone care to read which it is, then? And I'm suggesting somebody else because that might make it easier to followw for the rest of you. I sometimes get excited when I read something interesting, and it turns out most non-gnomish ears can't keep up with excited gnomish reading speeds."

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Ifrith Zuriith-movya picks up the soggy parchment, gingerly (for a Gith) breaks the seal, and unfolds it. "The water has made this Message nearly illegible, but this one will Learn what this Message Means," Ifrith Zuriith-movya says, scanning the letter.

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Scrawled across the page in untidy penmanship, the letter begins to smear with the damp.  Nonetheless, you are able to make out the words.

 

Barovia.  The worms creep beneath our floors and our streets, they feast on the flesh of our dead.  High in the castle, the once lord is no longer, the new lord is not yet, without form, void.  All is void and vanity.

 

I am the Burgomaster.  The Master!  Kolyan am I!  Soon the worms will feast on me.  There is much wealth in this community.  I offer all that might be had to thee and thy followers if thou shalt but answer my desparate plea

 

Come!  Do not tarry!

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"that would depend greatly on if the dead are still moving.  That kind of pest control problem requires a bit more physical and mental effort than anyone round here can seem to muster.  We have been looking for a direction, it seems fates have provided one.  I am bored out of my mind here and if i have to stay much longer, I am going to forcibly take over our dear inkeeper's brewery just to get something that tastes like a dwarf made it rather than a dwarf was dragged through it." 

 

Drall looks around at the rest

 

"Will you join me or continue to stay here as the dreary days leach the joy from your souls?"

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Ifrith Zuriith-movya levels its orange gaze at the priest, "If the Dead are still moving, would not that make them not-Dead? This one would assume that this state of Being is not Advisable, and must be Remedied. This one is capable of Assisting in this Function."

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