The Curse of Strahd

Day 7

How violence can be used as a means to further anthropological goals

There is a common saying found within my many texts on Goliath society, and it roughly translates to: “There is no problem that cannot be solved with brute force.” After today I’m starting to understand where those vertically gifted warriors are coming from.

As previously mentioned, we visited the local death cult temple to seek shelter after Aloan attempted to murder our gracious host. Upon arrival, we were informed that the local cult leader was having a hard time keeping the bones of what his cult called a “Saint” safe from a rogue member of his “flock”

Research Note: The practices of this death cult still confused me; read over HOLY BIBLE and search for the ritual for transforming humans into sheep and if possible, attempt ritual on Aloan.
Addendum 1. No sign of ritual within the book, though a shepherd is mentioned ad nauseam. Further research needed.
Addendum 2. Aloan will not consent to the ritual. I have assured him that though the lack of guidelines given to me forced me to make some leaps of reason as to the ritual procedure, my knowledge of ritual magic and years of study would more than make up for any lack of guidance given; but still he refuses…for now
Addendum 3. After promising to attempt an altered version of the ritual involving dragons instead of sheep, Aloan agreed.
Addendum 4. The ritual was a failure, and I imagine I now owe the owner of the dilapidated home we nearly burned down an apology

We took up his plight and searched for the bone thief, when he refused to cooperate, Valk suggested we beat the answers out of him, unfortunately for her, Thorne managed to charm the madman before we could apply physical harm.

The information the shovel loving maniac gave us lead to the funeral home, where we more than made up for earlier in regards to violence. We first broke through the door, then with our first obstacle dealt with we proceeded to threaten the undertaker into telling us where he hid the bones. Much to our surprise, the bones were being kept in the same place as a group of vampires. Once again choosing to use violence, we managed to kill all of them and retrieve the bones, along with some curious clothes, some of which I recognize from Nightvale, although the lack of Illithid markings on them tell me they are from a great many years ago…

Regardless, we won. I never imagined something as simple as victory would feel so good, but after our encounter with the hags, it is a welcomed feeling.

Day 6
Genasi: How Ethereal Recklessness Leads to Inelegant Diplomacy

A thesis by Eliv Thane

Genasi ( Homo Aetherium ) are the result of the crossbreeding of humans ( Homo Sapien ) and genies ( Genius Aetherium ). This ethereal lineage gives them a familiarity with the elements unlike any known sentient race in the Forgotten Realms. This connection to the elements however, is inversely proportional to their ability to understand social contracts and etiquette. This thesis stands to posit that Genasi should not be involved in diplomatic matters and will use a purely hypothetical scenario in which an Air Genasi has a verbal altercation with a wereraven and must find a reasonable solution to the problem.

Aloan, the hypothetical Genasi is insulted by a wereraven tavern owner giving him lodging, the wereraven is displeased with Aloan’s treatment of his fellow corvids and warns Aloan not to cause any more trouble for them in exchange for Aloan being left alone. Aloan’s actions could be explained to the wereraven as simple Genasi ignorance. Aloan however, lacking any understanding of law or proper escalation of conflict decides to instead lie in wait nearby the wereraven and attempts to freeze the air in its throat in an attempt to kill the wereraven.

From Aloan’s point of view, having been insulted and threatened is grounds for lethal retaliation, as the air may tear apart the stone if it is in the way. From the wereraven’s point of view however, being able to understand how members of a civilized society handle altercations this is a unwarranted act of attempted murder.

In conclusion, as evidence shows, Genasi lack the capacity for social nuance and must be kept away from diplomatic relations.

As my earlier entry implies, Aloan has cost us our lodgings in Vallaki, so I write this under a candlelit streetlamp in the cold streets outside the inn and will be sure to scold him appropriately later; for now however, there is information to record.

As I theorized earlier, the ravens we have encountered on our way here are not simple corvids but members of The Keepers of the Feather, guardians of Borovia and the surrounding towns. The Keepers are opposed to Strahd, and have been trying to kill him for a long time in the hopes of lifting the seemingly endless curse that holds the people of Borovia prisoners to an endless cycle in which they may die many times and live many lives, but never release their souls, rejoining the twisting, chaotic ether that serves as the food to satiate the quasi organic construct slowly approaching our reality, hewn from dark metals and hot gemstones, with the singular purpose to consume all that is, was or ever will be in its massive pseudo-metallic maw, using it as fuel to power its never ending crusade against creation itself.

While this may explain the distant echoing screeching and grinding of gears made from nothingness we all hear in our deepest slumbers, it hardly explains why we were brought here in the first place. Unfortunately, we were unable to get a straight answer from Irwin, instead we were told to find the whine and prove ourselves strong enough for what he plans for us in the future.

I must lay my head to rest now, Aloan’s altercation cost me my sleep last night and we have plans to visit the death cult church later this evening and I must be at full alertness if I am to learn all I can from the visit.

Day 5

A dissertation on the importance of corvids and good branding

Common ravens, or Corvus Corax, are a large species of bird in the Corvidae family, commonly seen in cold climates and cities large and small. These birds are usually seen among common folk as pests and disease carriers.

I rarely came into contact with people who live outside of Nightvale before this adventure, but the people whom I have met that were not Corvian mutants themselves would often express a disdain for the creatures at best and a wish to kill them on sight at worst; siting their cawing and scavenging nature as the source of their bad reputation. Personally I have always been fond of these ominous blackbirds, and were I the type to keep a pet, I’d likely choose a raven above the usual owl or Faceless Screecher my fellow scholars kept.

I mention this only because since our arrival in this overcast land, I have yet to look up at the sky without seeing a raven flying above us or perched on a tree or building. Perhaps the people here are too depressed to keep them away, or maybe they have some significance to the people of Borovia, after all, was it not a raven feather that brought us all together? I will have to inquire further when we reach Vallaki, perhaps they can shed some light on our true purpose here.

Research Note: investigate meaning of impaled wolf heads and whether there is any relation to the Nightvale Hellhound Clean-up Day. If a connection is found, acquire hellhound and slaughter it to keep away The Black Dog of the Woods with a Thousand Young.
We have arrived at The Blue Water Inn, a tavern run by a married couple who go by the name of Dannika, the wife and Irwin the husband. The Blue Water inn was apparently named after the waterfall where Dannika and Irwin met; upon confronting the owners about the absurdity of the name of their tavern, I was reassured most patrons did not mind the name, in fact, many think it quite charming. Personally I see the name as redundant at the most optimistic and scientifically incorrect at the most pessimistic.

Ridiculous naming aside, the tavern is quite homely. Several severed wolf heads adorn the walls, remnants of a festival they have just wrapped up. After talking to Dannika about lodging, we have decided to have a drink before heading off to bed. Though i won’t partake in the drinking, it is always amusing to see people’s behavior change as they get drunk. Still no signs of speaking in tongues or sprouting tentacles from their eye sockets but I’m sure that will come in due time.

There is a special place in Baator reserved for minstrels and bards who throw their lives away pursuing a path of fictional story telling and singing. Rictavio is one such man. Rictavio and his pet monkey Piccollo are in Vallaki for some kind of festival, apparently the burgermeister here is fond of keeping the people in a constant state of celebration; I hope we can have a few words with him before we head out of town, this seems like a horrible waste of resources, especially when their closest neighboring cities are so lacking in supplies. Regardless, I must get some rest, Dannika forced us to keep Ireena in her own room, and my turn to watch over her door begins soon.

Research note: Ravens are seen as friends and protectors in Borovian culture, find out more about their significance and ask about raven feathers,Arrigal, Sigil and teleportation.

Day 4
The taste of defeat

I awoke today to find my dream had been correct. The very same book that the flying fanged creatures in my dream were crawling out of was beside my bedroll, and in it I found some interesting writing regarding some cantrips I had never tried before. I’ll be sure to give these a try next time we run into those pesky wolves.

Our trip to Vallaki was slightly delayed by a chance encounter with an old woman carrying a cart. Valk insists she is a fiend though I am not entirely convinced; She tells me as a paladin she can sense these things so I am willing to follow her advice and investigate this further. However, that will have to wait as Thorne has just informed me of some monolithic stones she and Aloan have found and that is not an opportunity I will be passing up…not after what happened last Nightvale Community Temple Monolith Swap Meet…no more missed visions for me!

I have made a great but terrible discovery! the stones were monuments to the seasons, each season being represented by a direction in a compass rose, and a city carved on its surface. The monuments were as follows:

West: A city with leaves, presumably representing the fall
North: A city with a sunburst, representing the summer( While I’ve never experienced summer or real sunlight myself, my companions tell me it is a pleasant experience)
East: A city with flowers representing spring
South: a Snowy city representing winter

Curiously, the autumn monument was desecrated by an offering to Ceithlin Of Crooked Teeth in the form of the pastries the old woman was selling back in Borovia… that and what appeared to be children’s teeth in the center of the monolith circle. Seeing this made Valk very upset, and she has decided to confront the old woman directly. I can’t say I agree with a violent altercation while we still have a passenger to take care of, I highly doubt she will listen to me or reason were I to interject.

Research Note: While I lack first hand experience with Ceithlin, and therefore can’t make any judgments as to the merit of using child sacrifices as a means of worship, I feel that the practice is unrefined and impractical to say the least. Perhaps this old woman can be reasoned with if we present her with a more practical and efficient sacrifice.


Defeat… a hollow and meaningless notion I thought I wouldn’t experience when devoting my existence to the pursuit of knowledge… I was wrong.

Our rushed assault on the hag in the windmill ended in us leaving wounded and battered… I should have known there would be more of them…An old woman, sacrifices, a fiendish essence… these were all clues that SHOULD have led me to believe we would be confronting a coven of witches, but these past few days of wide eyed discovery have dulled my memory, what purpose does a life of study have if one does not call upon that knowledge when it is most needed? I must tend to my wounds as best as I can and look to my notes in search of some way to get revenge on those disgusting old women… after all, knowledge is power! And I know a lot.

Day 3
On the road again

Today has been another exciting day, though for far more dangerous reasons than the past two days.

We began our travels today by crossing a very large bridge. Luckily, this bridge while old, seemed to be built of rock far sturdier than any that I have ever seen back home though in retrospect, all rocks found in and brought to Nightvale are or become obsidian…dark like the night that things unknown call their home….primordial, formless,yet skittering horrors from which our pitiful flesh was born…..Ul’ulu if is’a la’g! gae’rgrog fsh!…. (unreadable chicken scratch)

Note to self: buy new ink bottle, wash writing utensils and dispose of dead animals.

As I was saying…we were crossing the bridge when suddenly we were ambushed by undead and wolves, an encounter that almost proved lethal to us. Luckily, none of us perished and we were able to incinerate or decapitate all of our foes in the end. Erena was dragged away during the fight by one of the wolves and it looked to be dragging her towards some figure i could barely make out through all the fog and trees. We must be careful, if the figure was Strahd we have little time before he decides to take matters into his own hands.

Research note: upon examining the charred corpses of the wolves and the wounds inflicted by them, I found why they proved to be so dangerous. The fangs on these (unintelligible angry Abyssal) secrete some kind of venom, making every bite have a lasting effect. As for the undead, as far as I could discern, aside from the wealth we found on them, they were no different from any other undead.

After our grueling fight we continued on our way to our destination, making a quick stop at a camp near a lake…A lake that I would like to point out, did not turn blood red or emit a mocking cackle at us upon approaching which is a rare, but pleasant change from the norm; after all of the fighting, I really don’t need the nightmares.
Upon approaching, we found the camp to be inhabited by Vistani, a group of merry folk (not to be confused with Merfolk and all the Harbingers of the Pelagic Times drama that surrounds them) that really enjoy drinking, singing and telling stories. I decided to remain with the cart and watch over Erena while I take down these notes.

I have just seen a blue humanoid fall from the sky and walk away… My scholar’s heart tells me I must investigate, and you know what they say: “Always follow your heart! It’s easy to track, because it crawls slowly and leaves a noticeable trail.” If I do not return alive, let it be known that my life’s work can be found at my home, in a wooden chest beneath my ceremonial dagger mantle.

We have a new traveling companion… a Genasi Dragon Monk by the name of Aloan Serell. He has a fascination with dragons, presumably because he wants to either kill one or become one. Perhaps I should inform him of the dangers of metamorphosis, I think I still have that pamphlet the priestesses were handing out before i started this whole adventure.

Research Note: Acquire hair, nail and skin samples for testing. Test for ratio of solid and gas make up, magical signatures and source of blue hue.

With introductions being made, the party continued the festivities.singing songs and telling stories. I tried singing “If you’re happy and you know it, you’re wanted for questioning” but nobody was sober enough to join in on the chorus.

Part way through the night, an old woman came out of one of the larger tents and used some kind of magic on Erena, supposedly releasing her from whatever affliction she had contracted from the river water she drank back in Borovia.

The old woman then asked us to join her in her tent… While I personally try not to make a habit of going into stranger’s tents, she seems trustworthy and our lively hosts vouch for her. Two possibly dangerous decisions in one day…. My new friends’ courage is rubbing off on me.

The old woman gave us some good advice and read our fortune using cards, and we have decided to take her advice and head out tomorrow first thing in the morning.

Before I lay down my head to sleep however, I feel an itching at the back of my skull, like a thousand small bugs chiseling a message into my brain… Ghaunadar calls.

Eliv's Journal Day 2
Of Vampires and Death Cults

So much for sleep… I could barely sleep with all the screaming and screeching. I was surprised to see however that it was not a swarm of Mandrake bugs but instead a long line of armour wearing ghosts marching through the streets of Borovia…this town grows more interesting by the minute.

I also noticed Borovian mornings aren’t much different from mornings in Nightvale. Both towns seem to be stuck in a sunless haze. Though while Nightvale is stuck in a never ending night, Borovia does have some change from its twilight like day to its late evening like nights.

My companions await me for breakfast, and I’m quite curious as to what a cursed town might consider good breakfast.
As it turns out, wine and slop is all you can get for breakfast here….I think I’ll take famine over food poisoning.
After eating what can only by the smallest margins be called “breakfast.” We were off to meet Erena. Unfortunately she refused to leave without proper burial services being given to her late father. After some negotiations, we were off to the church, leaving Skal behind to look after the sister.

As a side note, the people of Borovia follow a religion by the name of “Christianity.” From what little I know from my studies and what I could gleam from a quick skim through the HOLY BIBLE (a bit excessive with the capital letters but I assume there is religious significance to shouting) I was given, the religion revolves around the life and times of an exceedingly good man and amateur mage that managed to cast revivify on himself upon being crucified(I say amateur because it took a whole 3 days for the spell to work properly). Judging by the symbology they focus on though, they care more about his death than his life. I’ll have to do some more research, but I’m fairly certain they are a death cult of some kind.
The burial ceremony went fairly smoothly, though we did notice a few graves had multiple dates on them and had been recently disturbed. When we asked the head priest, he mentioned a curse that hangs over this town. Upon a person’s death their soul is reborn in another body, this cycle repeats ad infinitum until the curse is broken. This may explain the ghosts from last night.

Well, that did not go incredibly well. While we were off burying the burgomeister, Skal failed in his duties and allowed Erena to sip that suspicious water he got from the river. She went ballistic; screaming at everyone and everything, she only calmed down after she got herself drunk. In the middle of this chaos, Skal disappeared after being enveloped by a white light…I suppose it could be worse however, at least none of our heads have been transformed into parasitic mushroom beings like what happened to priestess Dana that one time.

We have decided we should continue on our journey to get Erena safety, hopefully we can fix this curse on the way there.

This is not at all what I expected when I received that black feather but one thing is for certain, this adventure has definitely been eventful.

Eliv's Journal Day 1
The Adventure Begins

Eliv Thane’s Travel Journal

Day 1:

Today has certainly been an eventful day…upon touching that obsidian idol I had found at the Nightvale Community Temple, I was transported to a strange looking town. I tried to discern where I was or where I’d need to go but the streets seemed literally endless, as though i could walk through them for all eternity and never reach an exit. Before taking on that journey, I decided to look around, after all, I was summoned here by that man that gave me the black feather, and I assumed he would be meeting me here. Luckily, I was quickly able to find a fellow feather holder by the name of Thorne.

Thorne is a halfling, she has a nervous air to her, though whether or not that comes from the strangeness of our situation or from her personality is still a mystery to me.

After short conversation and proper introductions, we decided to gather information at the bar. Once there, Thorne disappeared from my side and we only reunited after a lot of directionless wandering on my part. When I finally found her, she was sitting at a table with a group of similarly confused looking individuals.

Talon is a paradoxical man, supposedly he is a cleric, though he lacks the air of self righteousness and nobility most texts attribute to men of the cloth. He says his deity calls for his kind of behaviour, though I am still not certain as to whether that is an accurate description of a god or a convenient excuse from a lax cleric. Regardless, he seems like someone good to have around if we are to ever find ourselves in medical troubles.

Valk, a towering monolith of strength seems to be much more charismatic than one would think by looking at her. She explained to me that she is a “paladin;” something akin to Nightvale’s own Pelagic Deep Knights, though from what she’s explained, paladins focus more on the pursuit of good and destruction of evil than the kidnapping of fishermen’s first sons to train them to fight for some unknowable cause.

Skal is the most curious of them all however… the angelic looking winged man is fond of flirting with any woman he sees, regardless of their willingness to flirt back. He says he is a druid, a fact even I was able to gather from his naturally healthy appearance and choice of clothing. How flirtation with women relates to druidism however, I have yet to find out.

The more I learn about my traveling companions the more questions I have… But, it’s like my father used to say: “The more you learn, the less you know” before going into fits of unintelligible screaming and arm flailing.

Once we were all gathered at the table, our feathers merged together and we were introduced to a grim looking, but familiar man; The very man that had given us our feathers…Arrigal.

Arrigal then handed us a letter that to my surprise, was not magically trapped Note to self: always let Talon handle the possibly trapped objects. The letter was an invitation from a man by the name of Strahd, he explained that he was the one responsible for our arrival and that he alone could return us to where we came. Now I may be old fashioned, but when someone goes through all the trouble of sending invitations via feather wielding proxies over multiple dimensions, I am inclined to follow common courtesy and take them up on their offer, though I have yet to hear from the rest of the group, and for that I must stop writing, lest they think I am ignoring them….
Thankfully the rest of our group agreed, and the next thing we knew we found ourselves face down in a swamp. After surveying our surroundings, and finding out we had only one option of travel; We decided to make our way down the trail and to hopefully less wet surroundings. I can barely get the ink on the parchment as it is.
So… an interesting bit of information has been made apparent to me…when being followed by wolves, do not attempt to feed them as they may become hostile and take the rest of the food by force. In other news, we came across a large, seemingly dilapidated gate, and on the other side were the remains of a presumably local man; He was clutching a letter calling for anyone headed this way to turn back and seal the place for fear of a vampire causing misery and curses( I personally found the letter to be a little melodramatic, after all there are much worse things than vampires…It could always be demons. )
We’ve finally arrived at our destination! And what a destination Borovia is!

The people here seem dreary but kind, not an hour passed since our arrival at the tavern, that we were invited for drinks at Ishmar’s table, which the group took very much to heart…

It amazes me how much alcohol these people consume without showing even a little bit of signs of the madness that comes from whispers of elder beings forever slumbering beneath. Perhaps alcohol wasn’t what caused uncle Cecil’s awkward display at family reunion day. I’ll refrain from drinking until I’m sure though.

Ishvar has graciously paid for our accommodation with a simple caveat of being extorted into accepting it as payment for helping his sister escape Borovia. And with that in mind, I finish my daily notes and will get some well deserved sleep.


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