The runes around the fane are broken and the connection to Strahd.
This fane wards things. We see something below the ruins of the runes and begin to move the rubble away. Hurrn circles above to search for an entrance or pattern. He says that this area is similar to the real Barovia, but the castle and the ever-present fog are non-existent. He determines that we are in the gray: the area between Caledonia and the Realm of the Dead.
The excavation reveals another stone circle and another iron circle-both with runes of warding. In the center is a box that appears to be carved of basalt (2’ square). Matt sees a seem on the box. He feels it’s a well-made lid. We detect magic and it gives off the sense of more warding type magic-to keep things in the box, not from something to get in. It is an imperfect ward and energy is leaking out of the box. Both the skull and the femur bone pulse with power.
Lawrence opens the box and inside is an ancient small cloth bag. An appraisal lets us know that the bag is about four centuries old. There are warding runes inside the box, and the lid contains a ward against scrying. We copy the four non-detection spells (good, evil, chaos, law) and also the ward from scrying. Lawrence copies the warding of escape which is located on the bottom of the box. Inside the bag are: coins, jems and three medallions which are penance pieces. Some believe that penance pieces are used to pay the passages to the after-life. One has the symbol of the raven (copper), one the symbol of the sun of zirconum (low quality gold) and another the symbol of the mother (stone).
The wooden jewelry box is old, but not decayed, and has wards against fire, rot, and age. Lawrence opens it and there’s a mummified hand that is holding an object wrapped in a handkerchief. The skull and femur pulse even more. Lawrence removes the object and opens it. Inside is a finger bone and it begins to levitate and floats away. Lawrence cannot recapture it. Augury states that we should let the finger bone continue on its path. At the same time, the skull and femur bone begin floating as well, and all move toward the central fire pit. Upon assuming position, black smoke appears and takes the shape of a shadowy human figure which we recognize as the walker’s blighted relic: he who walks behind. With glowing green eyes the walker looks at Lawrence and says “Now I get another chance at you!”. The walker breaths deeply and exhales a 30’ cone of blighted breath. It misses Jeremy and myself. We begin our battle.
In the battle, green flames appear in the fire pit. The Chain Lord rises from the flames and captures the walker in his cage. He then says, “The Mother thanks you,” and steps into the flames and disappears. We heal and rest.
Around 10:30 the next day, when the light hits the runestone, things begin crumbling. I divine that all connections from the fane to the primal plane are severed, and we run down the path leading back to Barovia. Around 100’ from the entrance, the tunnel begins to collapse, we see a blinding light, and we begin to fall. Lawrence and I wildshape while Matt uses his ring of featherfall and the remaining party members take damage upon exiting the plane. We exit the quarry and return to our horses at the abandoned guard house. While at the guard house, I see the dire bat-though he is staying farther away than he had previously. On the second watch the ghostly wagon is heard traveling by again.
While at the guard house we figure out that Damian’s ring is part of a larger crystal that absorbs positive/radiant energy and can negate the effects of sunlight. The full size crystal was in the tree that we had previously found. Also, Matt’s coins are from ancient civilizations and are called pieces, bits, and talents. There is a total of 150 gp worth.
We head to the guard house on the way to the castle. We we arrive we see two slots for two bits. We pay the toll and the drawbridge begins to lower. As we cross the bridge we swirling mists and about 1/2 across we notice the weather begins to change. The sky darkens, the wind begins to blow, it begins raining and lightning flashes across the sky. The wind seems to be howling the name “Ireena.”
We enter the courtyard of the castle, and begin to look for the drawbridge controls. We find them, but cannot operate them physically—they appear to be controlled by a command word. After 3-4 minutes, the drawbridge rises.
The courtyard is a standard one and the walls are roughly 100’ tall, 200’ wide, and 400’ long. The front of the castle is about 75’ from the gate. The castle predates Barovia, and no one has lived here for a long time. On the left side of the castle is a garden. There are many statues, and the one that is most well-kept is of a beautiful woman that looks somewhat like Ireena. The name carved at the base says “Tatiana.” One statue is missing its head and the name at the base is “Sergei”-Strahd’s brother. Another statue is of a couple, and this one is of Strahd and Sergei’s parents—the ones who built the castle.
On the right side are the remnants of an old stable and a path that leads to an overlook. This is where Tatiana jumped. There are planters with overgrown fruit trees that reach up to the first level of the castle. From the overlook we have a clear path to view Ireena’s house—specifically the corner where her bedroom is.
There are gargoyles around the castle and the top two corners of the main entryway have carved stone ravens. Hurrn says that they were once worshiped and that the watchful gaze of the raven means protection. The door beneath them is carved and unlocked.