Barovia Goes to the Birds: Curse of Strahd Session #13
By MARK WILSON
DM: A Friend
(Me) Ahk-wa – Female Aarakocra Ranger
Aial – Female Aarakocra Druid
Lhandroval – Male Aarakocra Sorcerer
Gwaihir – Male Aarakocra Bard
System, Setting, Adventure: D&D 5e, Barovia/Ravenloft, Curse of Strahd
PC Level: 5
Previously, the birds had met the Mad Mage of Mt. Baratok and became friends.
Unpacking the Madness
We rewound a bit to give Gwaihir’s player more time with the mad mage, and through some spells we learned that he was under the influence of a Mind Blank spell, but that it was his own spell. We get him to lift the spell, but his mental state doesn’t change.
Returning to Vallaki, we stop into the inn where our cart is and, deciding we don’t really need the cart and horses, lend it to Erwin the innkeeper, our new ally and member of the secretive raven-hybrid flock we had previously befriended. We then rest for the night.
We wake early, and have the entire day while the ravens are spying on the witches in the windmill for us. During that time, we determine to head to the nearby “Dragon House” we heard about, which was a location that was referenced obliquely in the Tarot reading we had received many days ago. It was said we’d find knowledge there, in the hands of one once clean but now corrupted.
House of the Dragon
We find a mist-shrouded hill with a partially collapsed mansion atop it, and a large silver dragon statue in front. With some sleuthing, we deduce this to be Argenvost [sic], an ancient dragon lord that we heard about briefly in the Death House. We approach the front door, and the statue breathes frost breath on us, though it does no harm.
But, we’re wary at this, and we’re also birds, so we fly up to the roof and find a hole to enter instead. Inside we find a somewhat ruined chapel (with Morning Lord iconography, which we’ve encountered before and have some symbols of).
And a dragon-shaped throne, with a figure nearby that tells us to leave. His name is Vladimir, and he provides us with some backstory about the dragon lord Argenvost that was killed by Strahd, and how Vladimir lost his beloved and wants Strahd to be in torment but not to be destroyed. Vlad is a Revenant, we learn, and cannot truly be killed (he’ll inhabit another). There’s also some exposition on the now-defunct Order of the Silver Dragon, which was created to defend the Amber Temple, another location that’s popped up in our wanderings and which may house Strahd’s power source.
Lhandroval lies and says we want to make Strahd suffer (but not die) too, and have come here for knowledge to help us. Eventually he points us toward the dragon’s mausoleum out back, but seems upset at our presence.
Notably, Gwaihir is not in the room for this conversation.
Reverence for the Revenants
The mausoleum turns out to be a dead end with nothing useful. It looks ransacked. We head back into a different door, and stumble upon a group of revenants in another chapel area. They attack immediately, and we find ourselves in a rough fight.
Gwaihir gets caught in melee for much of the fight and is knocked out repeatedly. Aial is knocked out of her first animal form but manages to summon some wolves that aid us, and eventually becomes an elk (her 2nd animal form). Lhando lightning blasts several and Ahk-wa darts around the battlefield, using the winds at her command to prevent opportunity attacks and healing Gwaihir, and bouncing between ranged and melee.
Emerging victorious, we realize we’re at the base of a tower that Vladimir had told us housed a “beacon” that brings hope. Flying up and speaking to some ravens, we find no evidence of any beacon, but the ravens (through Aial’s Speak With Animals) reveal that Vladimir sits upon a book of great knowledge. Boom.
We take a brief rest and discuss strategy. We don’t want to destroy Vlad, since Strahd is his enemy. But we also realize that he likely won’t let us take the book. Ahk-wa and Gwaihir form a plan to avoid combat, and we return to the rooftop hole that we descended into to speak with him.
The Morning Lord Cometh
Gwaihir descends into the hole in the roof, his form lit by a light spell and with his Morning Lord symbol held in front of him and his magnificent light sword gleaming. “Vladimir!” he booms. “It is I, the avatar of the Morning Lord. You have done well in your service, and now your reward and rest is at hand” (this is all heavily paraphrased, btw) “Come, bow before me and prepare to be at peace.” It works, and Vlad falls prostrate in front of the hovering Gwaihir. At this, Ahk-wa – cloaked by her Pass Without Trace spell – swoops in silently, steals the book, and flies out in a single round of movement. Gwaihir follows, and we all race behind the mausoleum. After a few moments we hear a cry from within Vlad’s room, and it’s angry. We decide to read the book later, and fly off to our allies at the winery…
Props to our DM for letting the goofy spectacle happen. Though, in fairness, we had done a LOT to lead up to such a convincing display, and had the spells to pull it off convincingly. An outgoing bard with a bunch of morning/light swag and a stealthy bird-ranger…a plan like this was basically destined to happen at some point.
I almost f***ing botched the stealth roll, which was at advantage, with the +10 from Pass Without Trace, AND my normal +6 bonus. I needed all of those to make it happen. I would have been so disappointed, as I thought it was an awesome plan.
Our DM lamented some “fun” stuff we missed in the house. But hey, we’re birds. Skipping to the top-floor boss fights is kinda what we do.
Reading the book, a long rest, and then a long-awaited date with the kid-killing witches at the windmill.