The Ravenloft Files

The Ravenloft Files, Vol.19, Chapter 6

Tales of the Mistborne: Dark of the Moon
Chapter One

The wolf drifted in and out of vision, darting and disappearing in the mists and the shadows. The air around it was amazingly colder, and every breath drawn burned in the nostrils and lungs with its frostiness. Suddenly, the wolf turned to attack!
In a lightning-swift leap, the wolf attacked, silently snapping and lunging as the mists closed in. The wolf seemed almost spectral, taking form from the mist, then disappearing again in a swirl of fog, only to reappear and attack from another direction. The surrounding shouts and sounds of struggle seemed strangely distant and weak. Its first target was Garret, and when the wolf clamped down on Garret’s forearm, a swirl of cold mist passed over him and suddenly Garret was gone…

Excerpts from

The Journal of Brother Quinn
Of the Order of Guardians

Monday, February 17th, 742 B.C.:

Though it gives me great pain to do so, I find myself in the agonizing position of having to disclose a most terrible admission. At first, I thought I could justify my actions and did not want to admit, even to myself, that I had done anything grievously wrong. Naively, I tried to convince myself that the extraordinary circumstances of our most recent encounter warranted the temporary cessation of my self-imposed ban on the use of materialistic contrivances and that, when all was said and done and our deeds had all been recorded in the annals of history, the ends would indeed justify the means. But sadly, I must declare that this is simply not the case.

The truth of the matter is that I have, once again, fallen to the temptations of the very artifact of malevolence that I have sworn to protect all others from and in its insidious employment I have broken my vow of poverty. Curses upon that instrument of evil, for in its use I too have been cursed!

To be more precise, I awakened this morning to discover that my hands are now covered with hideous lesions and open sores which no amount of curative magic seems capable of healing. The skin on the rest of my body likewise has changed, though it has taken on a decidedly tough and leathery quality, which, oddly enough, might prove to be of some benefit to my protection. As to the reasoning for my sudden and otherwise inexplicable overnight transformation, I can only surmise that, by the breaking of my vow, I have attracted the attention of the Dark Powers of this world, which think to tempt me down the path of corruption by offering me a meager reward in exchange for an easily concealed physical ailment. I have read and heard many a story about others who have followed this path, only to become trapped by the lure of power. Some of these have even become Darklords – powerful beings in their own right, but ultimately tormented souls that are prisoners of the lands in which they would rule.

I, however, am determined not to be such a one, though my difficulties go far beyond the mere alterations in my skin. In fact, it is mentally and spiritually that I find myself to be most crippled, for in the breaking of my vow I have become unclean, and as such I have lost the divine benefits granted to me by the Morninglord for the taking of my vow of poverty. Because of this I have, starting this day, taken measures to correct my weaknesses and return to the path of righteousness and enlightenment. My first step was to visit the Crimson Citadel Fane and pay the high priest Pave Lod Ragnaar a great deal of money to have him cast an atonement spell on me, though regrettably he is a follower of the Lawgiver rather than the Morninglord. Unfortunately, it is the best that I can do at this time.

Having done this, I will venture into the woods tomorrow for a week of fasting, prayer, meditation and communion with nature in the harshness of winter as a form of penance and to help cleanse my soul. Upon my return, I will begin my search for some means of redemption. And though I know it will not come easily or quickly, and that I can never again return to a state of innocence, I am determined to once again be clean and righteous.

I have spoken with my companions and have told them my intentions, and they have, in turn, assured me that they will tend to all other matters and any pending business while I am away.

Monday, February 24th:

I have, at last, returned from the wilderness, though I am feeling weak and in ill health. I must rest for a few days before I can resume writing in my journal. I am sure there is much I need to be caught up on.

Thursday, February 27th:

Today finally, I am feeling well enough to return to my studies and pursuits and will begin again to record for posterity the events connected to my life’s work and that of my companions.

To start off with I will mention that the Faraway Estate is now owned by the fictitious

personage known as Lord Jotto and is essentially ours to do with as we please. For over the course of the previous week, Waylan, with the assistance of Mr. Gregorovich, has convinced the local authorities that Dimitry Velikovna has had a sudden change of plans and has unexpectedly returned to his homeland of Barovia. As such, he has apparently made the necessary arrangements, through his agent Mr. Gregorovich, and has sold the estate to our Lord Jotto for an undisclosed amount of wealth. All the required documents have been attended to and to any interested outside parties who would take the time to investigate the matter, it would appear that Mr. Velikovna, as a part of the transactions, has acquired a certain artifact of which he had been searching for and which had been, until recently, in the possession of Lord Jotto.

Also during this time, the body of Sorin has been given a proper burial, while the remains of Velikovna, Magda and Sophie have been sealed away in one of the hidden underground chambers. As for any easily transported wealth found in the estate, it has been divided up between the members of our group, with the exception of those items which could be identified as having been stolen from the bank in Bergovitsa. These have been returned to the bank on the condition that no questions would be asked and a reward for their return has been accepted.

As for Tor and Ulf, the two henchmen of Duke Rivtoff, they have also made one more appearance at which time they were shown the forged document supposedly from Prince Othmar, which states that Lord Jotto and company are currently employed by the prince for an unspecified matter of great importance. They have not since returned, nor do we expect them to.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gregorovich, Vasile and Ionache have gradually shown signs of returning to the people they once were before becoming the dominated slaves of Velikovna and we are hopeful that they will once again be able to resume lives of normalcy, though it seems clear that they will forever remain somewhat disturbed by the horrible things they have witnessed and been subjected to over the past several years. Whatever the case, they have stated that they do not wish to return to Barovia. So we have decided that when we leave this place, we will leave them behind to take care of it for us.

Finally, I will add on a personal note, that after a week spent in the wilderness, I feel that I am ready to seek my redemption, though in what form it will come only time can tell. However, I have begun experiencing nightmares again, and I feel it is also time that I resume my research into the recovery of the final pieces of Nerull’s Will. In this latest nightmare, I dreamed that we lost the wagon and the staff that was in it. I do not know if there is any real significance to this dream, but I cannot shake the feeling that I should keep the staff on my person when we do decide to leave this place. For this reason I have made an agreement with Waylan concerning the staff’s protection and am having fashioned a container with a strap in which I can carry the staff at all times.

Sunday, March 22nd:

It has now been more than a month since our defeat of Dimitry Velikovna, and during that month little has changed. During this time I have read all that there is to read in this house concerning anything that may have to do with Nerull’s Will and have poured over my notes again and again. I feel there is nothing more to be learned here and it is time we take our searches into the land of Barovia. I am also still in search of some means to redeem myself for having broken my vow of poverty. Waylan and Peg, meanwhile, have spent the past month learning new spells, while my other companions have occupied their time with various other pursuits.

But tomorrow, we will say our goodbyes to Horatiu, Vasile and Ionache, who have become good friends of ours, and be on our way. Who knows when we shall return to this place – if ever. For now, it appears that our path may take us a great distance from this place.

Monday, March 23rd:

We set out this morning, passing through the city of Bergovitsa one last time, and headed southeast along the Vaere Bange Road as it passes through the Howling Hills. As always we are traveling with our merchant wagon, in which we have brought along some merchandise in order to complete our appearance, as well as our horses and traveling gear. So far the weather has been pleasant, though I am certain the night will be quite chilly. Our first day of travel was uneventful and we have made camp just north of the intersection of the Old Svalich Road.

Tuesday, March 24th:

As I am writing this entry, we are currently lost in a land we are entirely unfamiliar with and, in fact, we have yet to see any sign of civilization. As one might be able to discern by the shaky scrawl of my penmanship, it is bitterly cold in this place and our survival here is most assuredly not a certainty.

But let me begin by saying that we resumed our journey this morning as expected, and soon found the turnoff on to the Old Svalich Road. From there we headed west into the Balinok Mountains and sometime later passed over the border into the land of Barovia. Here we were quite amazed at the beauty of the towering mountains and the surrounding countryside, though the looming shadows added to the chill of the breeze that blew through the pass and the road began a gradual incline that slowed our travel somewhat. Still, our journey was uneventful and eventually it became time for us to look for a place to camp. A short while later, having set up our camp and built a good fire to help get us through the night, we sat down to have our evening meal when we were visited by a very strange encounter that would then lead to a very drastic alteration in out intended path.

The night was cold and damp, and frigid mists blanketed the valley. A rim of clear ice had settled over the branches of the trees, and the ground was covered with white frost. The warmth of the fire was a comfort against the chill of the evening. In the distance, the ghostly howl of a wolf arose. Its forlorn cry seemed to sap the warmth from the fire as an icy chill permeated the camp. Even with weapons close at hand, there was unease in the misty darkness away from the fire – something did not feel right.

Then the mists swirled and eddied, and a dark shaped emerged and stumbled forward. It was a strangely dressed man, and he tottered forward and collapsed.

He was wearing thick furs and a hooded cape, and his boots were made from buckskin. Broken snowshoes were strapped to his back, and clutched in his hand was a blood-stained hatchet. His face was a ghostly white, and a pattern of deep blue wounds surrounded by patches of white frost marked his throat and his arms. A long, flowing beard and mustache framed his swarthy face.

Garret quickly moved to inspect the man and found that his skin literally burned with cold to the touch. He cast a healing spell on the man and checked for any vital signs. But it was to no avail. Despite Garret’s prompt attention, the man was already dead – stiff and frozen through. Witnessing the unnatural death of this stranger we gazed at his corpse in stunned silence.

But the silence was suddenly pierced by the haunting howl of a wolf, much nearer than the previous one. A great white wolf with red eyes then emerged from the mists a few yards away. The mists clung to it, and with a quick twist it was gone, padding off again into the fog and the cold. It turned and glanced back once, and then the mists rolled in to conceal it once more.

We took a moment then to inspect the dead man and see if there was anything on him which could identify him or his place of origin. In addition to the broken snowshoes, the hatchet, the parka and other clothes that he wore, we found a composite short bow , an empty quiver and a hunting knife. In his backpack he had a few scraps of dried meet, but nothing more.

As we puzzled over the appearance of this stranger, we were visited once again by the white wolf…

…With the sudden disappearance of Garret, some of us moved forward to attack the wolf, while I stayed back and fought it from a distance, using whatever I could find to throw at it. For those of us who moved up to attack it, they met the same fate as Garret and mysteriously vanished in a swirl of mist whenever the wolf would bite them. Seeing this, Peg cast an invisibility spell on herself and moved away while Waylan cast a fly spell and flew up out of harm’s way. But in the end, it made little difference. Eventually, I too was bitten by the wolf and vanished from the campsite, leaving only Waylan and Peg behind. Waylan then, as I was later told, cast a lightning bolt spell which almost certainly destroyed the white wolf. But as the wolf exploded a wave of white frost was thrown up, striking both Peg and even Waylan who was flying high above, and like the rest of us, they too vanished into the mist, leaving behind our horses and our wagon and everything in it.. For each of us, what happened next we experienced individually, though we later learned that our experiences were all the same.

Waves of cold numbed our whole bodies, whether we were bitten by the wolf or were struck by a blast of cold mist. Then pain and darkness overcame us, and we felt ourselves falling and racked by horrible chills. As we collapsed, the mists rushed in to cover our bodies, and one by one we disappeared.

Suddenly, darkness and cold swirled about, and all sense of direction was completely obscured by the mists. Our heartbeats slowed and stopped in the numbing emptiness. Time seemed to hang suspended, though the darkness lasted but a moment – or perhaps for an eternity – before white, blinding light erupted from everywhere. In the next instant, reality returned in the form of cold, dry snow. There was a bitter, biting cold that, unlike the frigid night mists from before, was obviously not supernatural. It was, however, more numbingly icy, more absolutely arctic, than seemed possible. Exposed hands and faces were already becoming clumsy and painful, with needles of searing cold piercing the skin in a maddening assault.

All around us, several varieties of evergreens – mostly pine, spruce, and fir – stretched on as far as the eye could see. Powdery snow lay over the branches and in deep drifts beneath the boles of the trees, creating an eldritch realm of sparkling ice and delicate white sculptures. It would have been quite beautiful if it were not so bitterly cold. The sky, at the time, was deepening toward twilight, and the approaching night was certain to bring unendurable cold. It was evident that coats and furs, adequate for the winter of the realm left behind, would not be enough protection in this frozen place.

Immediately, we set about gathering firewood and tender to start a fire, while some of us began building a snow cave to help keep out the bitterly cold wind during the night. Looking about we saw that the immediate surroundings held nothing but dark, brooding forest and deep drifts of snow. No landmarks of any kind could be seen in the frozen wilderness. The cold, dry air left our throats and noses burning. The wind carried on it from far away the howl of a wolf. The sun was soon dipping below the horizon and although it was barely imaginable, it was growing colder. Fortunately, the time of day was different from the realm we had just left behind and there was still daylight in which to prepare.

As we searched about the hauntingly quiet area for firewood we discovered a set of tracks in the snow, leading to a small clearing nearby. They were the footprints of a single man, with numerous animal tracks overrunning the man’s prints. The human footsteps appeared to abruptly end in the middle of the clearing. We decided to wait and investigate these tracks further tomorrow. For now we were more concerned about the coming night, and from the looks of it we got the sense that the night will be a long one.

Wednesday, March 25th:

The night last night seemed to last forever. When the sun finally rose, it was dim and weak, and from the way that it barely cleared the southern horizon, it was obvious that there would be less than five hours of sunlight. Perhaps with the twilight that lasts for a few hours before dawn and after sunset, we hoped there might be about eight hours of usable light during the day. To add to our troubles, we have discovered that all the food and water that we brought with us into this realm has been spoiled. Fortunately, Vadolus has his magical plate of plenty and Garret is able to create food and water with a spell. Garret is also able to cast a spell on us that will protect us from the bitter cold for a large portion of the day.

Our first objective for the day was to follow the tracks we had found yesterday and see where they led to. As it turned out they came to an end at a clearing only about two hundred yards from where we made camp last night. Here, the air was unnaturally still and clear in the frozen woods. The only sounds were the crackle and rustle of boots in the snow and ragged, steaming breaths. Near the tracks in the clearing lay scattered packs and gear, apparently an abandoned campsite. A heap of cold ashes and half-burned logs was surrounded by packs, a crude set of sleeping furs, and a pair of skis. It was obvious that someone left in a hurry, without bothering to take any of the supplies or equipment. From the condition of the packs, it would seem that wild animals had discovered the camp.

Upon close examination we discovered 10 days’ worth of rations, two frozen waterskins, enough furs to manufacture one parka, a tinder kit and kindling, and a tattered journal, written in vaasi, partially burned and lying in the cold ashes. We took a closer look at this journal and learned several things including the name of its previous owner, Igor Rikorsky, whom we presume to be the man we encountered on the previous night. Inside this journal we also found a map, inked on caribou hide, which apparently represents a portion of this land which goes by the unfamiliar name of Vorostokov. According to the journal and the map, it appears that the nearest village is called Torgov and lies to the northeast of us. So it is there that we have decided to head.

But also according to the journal, there appears to be another reason for making the journey to Torgov, if we so chose, and that is to warn the villagers there about the coming of the boyar’s men. The boyar, a man by the name of Gregor, has apparently decided to destroy the village of Torgov as the villagers there have rebelled against him. Whatever the case, it bears investigating.

Towards the end of our first day of traveling through the woods, the wind changed and began to moan with a low, chilling tone. We found it difficult to keep our thoughts from returning again and again to the mesmerizing sound. Exhaustion soon began to really set in and it became hard to keep moving. Our limbs seemed heavy and our bodies ached with pain and weariness. It was almost as if the moaning of the wind was draining away the strength and the will to go on. But gradually Waylan began to realize that the moaning of the wind was not natural. It seemed to him that the sound was coming from a certain mound of snow off to one side of us and he pointed this out to us. But by then it was almost too late, as a cold lethargy slowly descended over some of us and the sinister moaning filled all our thoughts like a gelid ice, numbing away all other sensations.

Suddenly a ghoulish white shadow drifted into view from beneath the pine boughs and enshrouded Clint in a horrible embrace! At this point, a few of us managed to shake off the lethargy and move to defend us. Waylan was among these and he cast a spell that appeared to captivate the creature. Whether or not he was able to charm the creature I cannot be certain. But he was able to convince the creature to release Clint, at which point an identical creature approached us and attacked. But by doing so, it ceased the moaning it had been doing, which released all of us from the lethargy. This creature then engulfed Baldo and we were left with little choice but to attack the creature while Baldo was still trapped within. Because of this, every time we struck the creature Baldo was injured as well. So we had to try and come up with methods of doing harm to the creature which would not also do harm to Baldo. At one point, Garret had to channel positive energy in the area, excluding the creature, in order to heal up Baldo. Eventually though, Baldo managed to escape the creature, at which point we then destroyed it. With this done, we turned on the other creature that Waylan had somehow managed to keep distracted, and destroyed it as well.

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