In the last ‘session’, Brigitte set out toward Barovia by way of the Old Svalich Road, made it to the gates of Barovia and (thanks to our second journey roll) found out things were going to take a bad turn.
BUT FIRST, I need a bit of information for an NPC we’re about to meet. I hit a few of the Ironsworn oracles for a name and description and get “Mira, wild and sick.” Horrible. Perfect.
Brigitte is probably half an hour to an hour past the gate of Barovia when she spots someone on the road ahead. A woman. Tangled black hair. A white shift utterly insufficient for the damp and cold. Barefoot, Brigitte notices, as the woman shuffles toward her down the road. Pale, almost gray skin.
A hatchet in her hand.
Brigitte slips her shield from ‘easy carry’ to ‘ready’, and calls out “Hello, sister. Are you lost? Can I help you?”
The woman continues to shuffle forward. Her face is shrouded by her wild hair. Tension tightens the muscles of Brig’s shoulders, but she makes no move.
The woman – young, we think – stops a half-dozen paces short of Brigitte. Silence in the forest.
Then the axe hand swings up, level, the axe pointed at – or extended to – the farwarden.
“End my suffering.” The woman’s voice is dry, cracking. Makes you thirsty just to hear it. She finally lifts her head enough to see her face, and it’s gaunt and gray and her teeth are… wrong.
Brigitte tenses. Her eyes widen slightly, search the woman’s face. “What are… what happened to you?”
Okay, so the information complicates the quest but I get +1 momentum. Yeah, that tracks.
“My name…” the girl breathes, almost sighs. “Mira.” Her voice is wistful, as if she’s saying the name of a childhood friend she’d almost forgotten and misses deeply.
Her eyes, cold and hard and black despite the tone of her voice, focus back on Brigitte. “Creatures – dark things – came to my family’s home. My mother and father they killed. I hid my brother before they found me.”
“They didn’t kill you?”
“They destroyed me,” the woman says, baring her throat to show the marks there. “They laughed and said I would be welcome in their fold when the moon rose over my new life, and left me in the ruins of the old. I took my brother to town – left him on the doorstep of the church, and fled.”
Brigitte frowns. “Why? You could have stayed -”
Her head droops. “I could – hear his heartbeat by the end, and I wanted it. I wanted it so badly.”
She looks up at Brigitte. “I can’t be this. I can’t be a thing that would take my own brother, and I know – I know – that’s what I could become.”
She opens her mouth, and it is too wide, bends back too far.
And there are too, too many teeth.
Again, she thrusts the axe forward. “End me. Please. Please.”
Brigitte stares at the axe for what feels like a long time, but she knows at least something about what has happened. Knows at least something about what Mira will become.
Eventually she takes the axe, and does what she must.
But it is not without cost.
So, as this is part of a Troublesome journey, I think I take appropriate Stress from this interaction (-1 to my Spirit), and then I do the Endure Stress move.
But hey, Strong hit! This is pretty good: Since my Spirit is still above 0 (4, after the hit), I have the option of dropping my Momentum by -1 to take a +1 to Spirit – this scene with Mira takes the energy out of my step more than a little, but I’m able to shrug off the damage to my spirit. I like that (And I like not being down in Spirit this early into the game. Momentum loss I can deal with: I’m at 4, currently, so I drop that to 3 and effectively ignore the Spirit damage.
It’s probably only a few more hours to the village in the valley. Let’s see how I get on.
Okay, 3+2 gets me a 5 against a 8 and 4, so another weak hit. That moves my progress to 6, total, but I take another ding to Supply (I imagine using up a few consumables while burying Mira’s remains).
I don’t think I’m very far from the town, now, so I’ll risk rolling to Reach my Destination.
For this, I just roll the 2d10 Challenge dice, against my Progress (6), and see how things come out.
Okay, weak hit again, but a hit, nonetheless. “You arrive, but face an unforeseen complication.” Oy. More complications. “Ask the oracle if unsure” and luckily the Oracle of “the module” has an answer for this.
The last part of your journey is still within thick woods, so it’s hard to see much of the countryside, what you DO spot, however, is a body, barely visible under a bush near the side of the road.
I move to inspect the body. Male. Dressed like a villager. I’d guess he’s been dead a few days. The remains of his clothes are torn and raked with what look like claw marks. Guessing some sort of tradesman. Not wealthy. Not particularly well-fed, either, before he died.
There are many paw prints in the soft soil around the body – big ones, probably wolves, and heavy enough to make an imprint.
He has an envelope clutched in his hand.
The letter, unlike the one I got in the inn, which was dated only the day previous, is dated a week ago. The envelope is sealed with a wax seal stamped with a big “B”, and the parchment, again unlike that other letter, is worn and flimsy with damp.
Hail thee of might and valor:
Okay this sounds familiar.
I, the Burgomaster of Barovia send you honor — with despair.
My adopted daughter, the fair Ireena, has been these past nights bitten by a creature calling its race “vampyr.” For over 400 years this monster has drained our land of the life-blood of its people. Now, my dear Ireena languishes from an unholy wound caused by this vile beast. Yet I fear, too, the creature has some more cunning plan in mind. He has become too powerful to be fought any longer.
So I say to you, give us up for dead and encircle this land with armies and the symbols of Good. Let holy men call upon their power that the Evil One may be contained within the walls of weeping Barovia. Leave our sorrows to our graves, and save the world from our evil fate.
There is much wealth entrapped in this community. BURN THIS PLACE, then return for your reward after we are departed for a better life.
Kolyan Indirovich, *
While the wording is, in places, similar to the other letter, the handwriting is NOT.
So… two messages. Very different requests, within. No real way to see which is the real one, yet. Not without further information.
I take the letter, bury the body, and keep moving.
The ground is soft – it doesn’t take long to dig with a camp tool, but Brig hears the howls of wolves a couple times in the distance as she wraps up. First one, then two, a few minutes later…
She wastes little time hurrying on to town and (presumed) safety.