SESSION ONE: A Barovian welcome
By: Sandra Twitter
Mistborne Souls is a weekly recap of an ongoing game set in the land of Barovia. While Curse of Strahd lies at its core, the world of Mistborne Souls is a variation of the adventure of my own making.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Death, Mentions of Child Abuse.
Izi, a half elf warlock, and her travelling companion Asha, a half-orc cleric, awake and find themselves in the back of a horse-drawn wagon, confused, as their last memory is of walking into The Misty Forest outside of Daggerford. The wagon appears to be transporting supplies, as well as Izi, Asha, their third party member- a tiefling paladin named Lucian, and an unfamiliar elven woman dressed in furs, with an animal skull on her head and no shoes on her feet.
The third to wake up, the elf makes an attempt to run away before realizing that she is on a moving vehicle. In spite of the others attempts to calm her, she climbs her way to the front of the wagon, putting the tip of an arrow against the driver’s throat, demanding that he halt the horses.
The driver keeps still, turning his gaze to look at the elf. As the remaining group make their way to the front of the wagon, Lucian now awake as well, the driver introduces himself as Petya. Petya explains that he found them all lying at the side of the road four hours earlier and brought them along. He explains that he and and his family will drop them off near the Village of Barovia, where the group should be able to find food and shelter. This comes as good news for Asha, Izi and Lucian, who had all received a call for help in Barovia.
Thick mists trail the group of wagons as they make their way through a large gate and further through a gnarly old forest. An unkindness of ravens caw above, breaking the deathly silence of the woods, as the wagons make their way down into a valley.
Around dusk, the group is dropped off at the side of the road, happy to be back on their feet. The elf, having introduced herself as Wynne during the journey, leaps out of the cart and darts onto a path seemingly leading to the village. In the thick fog, the rooftops are barely visible.
After a few minute’s walk, the stench of something rotten overwhelms the group, who finds the source – a severed arm. Izi notices a letter clutched in the swollen hand, calling the others over to look at it. Wynne seems to not care much for the letter, but states that the arm has no doubt been ripped off by wolves.
Opening the letter, sealed with the letter ‘B’, Izi is puzzled. The letter is eerily similar to the one she, Lucian and Asha had received calling for their aid. But the letter addressed to them has a much more intricate seal, and the wording isn’t the same. Most apparently, the letters are not penned by the same hand.
While reading and discussing among themselves, Asha, Izi and Lucian look up to find Wynne gone. They hurry along the path, and find her just as their feet hit cobblestone streets.
The village welcoming them appears empty. Most of the houses boarded up, shops abandoned, their windows broken. Then, through the silence, the group hears soft sobbing.
Wynne follows the noise and comes upon two children, standing in the street and staring at the group. Careful not to scare them, Wynne lowers herself to their level. Once Asha catches eye of the two of them, she mutters a soft “Oh no.”
Although shy and wary of strangers, the children ask if they are some kind of travelling heroes. They explain, after some gentle urging, that there is a monster in the cellar of their house, and that their parents have gone out and not returned. Without consulting the rest of the group, Wynne agrees to help.
At the other end of the street, a tall human woman with a shovel in one hand, turns the corner just in time to see the group step into the house. Aware that everyone in the village stays well clear of this particular house, and against all her better judgement, she takes off running toward it. She slips through the door just in time for it to fall shut behind her.
Confusion erupts in the hallway of the house as the stranger enters, not offering more of an explanation than calling them all stupid for entering. As the woman turns around to open the front door and get the group out, she finds that it is no longer there at all.
Annoyed, but seemingly unphased by this development, the newcomer takes charge, not even introducing herself before she takes off into the house to look for potential windows and exits. When she doesn’t find any on the ground floor, she proceeds up the stairs. The rest of the group follow along, making quick procession through the house, surprised to find the top floor covered in dust and cobwebs, it’s appearance vastly different from the tidy downstairs.
Reaching the top of the stairs with no clue as to how to get out, Wynne makes a discovery in a bedroom. While pausing in front of a mirror, she hears a soft “Hello?” calling out to her. Asha, noticing Wynne speaking to someone, makes an attempt to move the mirror. There is a soft click, and it swings open under her hands, revealing a narrow staircase leading further up.
The attic is barren of decoration, covered in years worth of dust and grime. An exploration of the open rooms on the floor reveals no source for the voice Wynne heard downstairs.
At this, the newest addition to the group approaches the only locked door in the attic, sealed with a heavy padlock. She picks a couple of hairpins out of her hair and unlocks the door with ease.
Peering inside, reveals a children’s room. All toys and furnishings covered in dust and cobwebs, and in the middle of the room – two small skeletons, huddled up together on the floor. Moments later the children from outside, now in ghost form, appear in the room.
Talking to the ghosts, the group discover that the children have in fact been dead for a very long time. Once locked in the attic to protect them from the monster in the cellar, the two starved to death when their parents never returned to get them.
While initially disappointed that the children aren’t alive, Wynne insists that the group should still find and defeat the monster. The children tells the group that there is a secret door in the attic, but fearing abandonment, they ask to come along. When it turns out that the ghosts can’t move from the room, Wynne bundles up their bones in her winter blanket and takes them with her.
Followed closely by the ghost children, the party make their way down the secret stairs and into a narrow corridor. The ghosts stop them in front of two crypt doors bearing the names Rosavalda and Thornboldt Durst. Wynne asks the children if they want to be put in their coffins, and Rose helps Wynne and Izi sort out the bones from the blanket.
Having helped the children to rest, Asha, Wynne and Izi go back out in the corridor to investigate their new surroundings. Meanwhile, the newcomer and Lucian stay behind, each saying their own prayers over the children’s tombs. Momentarily without light, as Asha had turned away, the human woman falls upon exiting the crypt, dropping her shovel with a loud clatter and a mutter about expensive equipment.
Curious to see if there was any magic in the area, Izi walks further down the hall, away from the others. Once she reaches an open doorway into a dark room she can hear chanting. Faint, at first, and then a little louder. Izi motions for the others to join her in the doorway, and hushes them all. After a moment, they can all hear it. The chanting echoing around them, insistent, ominous, tireless.
And that is where we ended our session.