The party having returned to Altdorf from recovering the petrified bear, was contacted by Fanny (the ersatz nun) and told they were tasked with investigating the disappearance of one of Oldenhaller's agents named Jeref Maurgen in a place in the Grey Mountains called Barovia. Maurgen had been investigating the location of a powerful artifact known as the Sunsword. Oldenhaller has a customer who was interested in purchasing it. They do not to recover the artifact, although that would be appreciated, but they do need to recover the signet ring Maurgen wears.
After some initial outfitting, they traveled uneventfully up the Weissbruk canal and the River Bogen to Mörlenfurt, a small dwarf and human mining town. They declined the offer of an old mine cart and mules, deciding to continue their journey on foot. They also ignored not very veiled hints that only smugglers seem to come and go from Barovia. Two days later they reached the Weary Horse Inn at dusk, where they had been told was at the turn off to Barovia.
The party detained him with the offer of a drink and received sneeringly unhelpful responses to most of their questions on the order of:
I not hero. I messenger, message delivered. Am done.
Letter say it from burgomaster.
You try follow me, wolves eat you. I not afraid of wolves.
before he departed into the night
The next day the party started up the Old Savlich Road. They passed through the gates, mildly surprised they opened automatically as they approached and closed after them, and not yet disturbed that they wouldn't open automatically from the inside.
|A zombie's best friend|
Escorting the villagers' whose anti-zombie defenses they had smashed; as they approached the next intersection they observed two huge maggots feasting on a body. After a round of not terribly effective missile fire, the zombies appeared along with two vargouilles. The vargouilles shrieks paralyzed all of the villagers and none of the party. I had great hopes that the creatures would be able to descend for a kiss - but the elf opened up the Gatling gun and magic missiled them before they could swoop back around.
Continuing to the town square they found the barricade smashed and a lone paladin fighting a swarm of zombies. While the rest of the party formed a line to protect the villagers from the advancing undead, the dwarf fighter/cleric took off at a zombie dodging run to help the paladin. Five zombies straggled up to the party while four others and a dirt encrusted entomber whaled away at the paladin and dwarf. The main party's fight turned into a meat grinder as they slowly hacked apart the zombies; while the paladin's fight seesawed back and forth. She and the entomber traded blows, while the dwarf reached in and healed her, ignoring the zombies attacking them both. The first time the entomber hit, a ring of dust flew up around the paladin as she resisted the entombing effect. The next time she wasn't successful and the dwarf was surprised to find himself standing with a bunch of zombies at a fresh grave; he was relieved when a hand broke the surface. The wizard had been watching the fight from a distance and saw the paladin disappear, although not the hand breaking free. He turned to the dwarf's player and said "I hope you can take this" then dropped a fireball on the group. Twenty five points on a 6d6 fireball is pretty good. The entomber dropped, although all of the zombies and the dwarf survived. I had to look up the effect of complete cover (being under a pile of dirt) gave to the paladin and found that with the +2 she just saved. And was now down to two hit points. She stopped moving, which made the dwarf lean down and give her a shot of healing, not knowing that she was laying on hands on herself at that point. The party was now rapidly advancing, so the dwarf turned himself invisible (Trickery domain spell) and started healing himself while the paladin dug herself out and rest of the party finished off the zombies. He only popped back into view to poach the last zombie from the monk who had done most of the damage.
The villagers tarted coming out and repairing the barricades while they interviewed Ashlyn the Paladin and Bildrath in the store. Ashlyn told them she was searching for the Sunsword herself, which didn't bother the party as they haven't been told they have to bring it back and that her companions went to find the church several days ago and haven't been seen since. Bildrath told them that the letter wasn't in Burgomaster Kolyan's handwriting and that he had been dead for at least ten days. Also that Ireena was Kolyan's daughter and that Kolyan's son, Ismark, was probably the new Burgomaster. He declared that the letter wasn't in Ismark or Ireena's handwriting either, but seemed oddly evasive when he said he didn't know whose handwriting it was in.
We broke there, a good session for everyone I hope.