Hello everyone! Time to try to get all of you even closer to caught up with my Curse of Strahd campaign. If we remember, when last we left off, the party had just arrived at the Wizard of Wines Winery. On the road, to the winery, they met Davian Martikov and his family, who were huddled and hidden from sight along the side of the road.
Davian informed the party that an band of crazed druids and their minions had attacked the winery and driven the family out. He asked the group if they would be willing to drive the druids out of the winery. The party agreed and began to approach the lonely Wizard of Wines.
DM’s Note: Two of my six players were not at this session, so both Eogan and Mikhail were missing from the action. This left Buttkiss, Occulus, Haita, and Tordek to deal with whatever the session threw at them.
As the band moved towards the multistory building, they saw many shapes moving towards them from the woods. As the forms drew closer the party saw that they were weird humanoid like creatures, made out of clusters of vines! Seeing dozens of the creatures approaching from woods, the party fled into the Wizard of Wines, barricading the door behind them.
Glancing around the building, Haita saw a crazed, feral looking human, pouring some liquid into one of the giant fermentation vats in the main room of the winery. A combat quickly ensued, with Haita attempting to blast the evil druid. Much to the party’s worry, about 15 small Twig Blights rushed out of the nearest vat, attempting to swarm the party.
The diminutive creatures had little success damaging the heavily armored Tordek and Buttkiss; however, Occulus took several cuts and scratches from the creatures. Haita, fed up sprinted to the right of the melee and cast a spell, flinging a series of grasping and smashing tentacles into the mass of enemies, slaying about 8. At the same time, Tordek wielding Only Friend sliced left and right, hewing a Twig Blight apart with each strike.
The melee appeared to be going well, until Buttkiss and Haita heard the vine-like humanoids breaking into the vat room. Buttkiss, heroically moved to intercept, hoping to hold the swarm of enemies at the door; however, the Half-Orc reacted just a little too slowly, and the Vine Blights began to pour into the large room.
The combat turned from nearly over, to a desperate fight, as a dozen or so Vine Blights began to bog down and attack the party. Haita, blasted the Vine Blights with Hunger of Hadar, hoping to disorient and damage the mass of foes.
Occulus, damaged and hurt, began a furious battle for his life, as his darting rapier attempted to slay the several foes he was in combat with.
Tordek, feeling Only Friend vibrating in a dark joy, charged into the mass of Vine Blights, with the dark energy of the axe helping the dwarf slay foe, after foe. With each foe slain, Only Friend began to tremble and throb with an energy of its own!
Buttkiss, at the center of several Vine Blights, used his trusty Protection Versus Good and Evil spell, to allow himself to survive a flurry of blows struck at him, as he attempt to slowing fight back away from the group of enemies.
Haita, began to hunt down the evil Druid, blasting Eldritch Blasts his way, eventually felling his foe.
Occulus, failing in his frenzied battles, was knocked unconscious falling to the ground. His foe, wrapped a vine around the Rogue, and began to try to drag him away. Tordek, barely containing the rage Only Friend was feeding him, rushed further into the combat, attempting to cut a path to Occulus.
By this point only a handful of foes remained; however, Tordek was tied up in combat with two Vine Blights, and Buttkiss had fought his way to the other side of the room to protect Haita. The Vine Blight dragging the unconscious Occulus had nearly left the large room, and it was up to Haita to fire off a final few Eldritch Blasts, in hopes of saving his friend.
Luckily for Occulus, the Warlock’s shots remained true, slaying the Vine Blight. Attention then turned to the few remaining Vine Blights fighting Tordek. The dour dwarf quickly slew his foes and gained control of himself and attempted to reach Occulus, to drag him to safety.
However, the noise of the sprawling battle had gained the attention of the remaining evil druids in the winery. A trio of them, along with several Needle Blights, that began to fire their needles at the party.
The druids, shape changed into bears, rushed Tordek, hoping to quickly slay the dwarf. An intense confrontation began, with Tordek smashing left and right at his foes, while Buttkiss sprinted forward to help his friend.
Haita, feeling confident after his series of successes, shot into the melee, hoping to help the dwarf. However, a poorly timed natural one meant that his shots instead slammed into his friend, who was already battered from his extended combat. The plucky dwarf fell to the ground unconscious. Shortly later Buttkiss and Haita slew the remaining enemies, and amazingly Occulus passed his saves versus death to stabilize!
Searching the druid’s remains, they found a Gulthias Staff, which could have been used to control the blights, with the risk of madness.
Buttkiss, seeing it for the evil artifact it was, destroyed the staff. They also discovered that the wine had been poisoned by the druids.
Returning to the Martikovs, the party told them their home was now druid free. Thankful, the family returned to their home. The party, hurt and exhausted, took a long rest in the safety of the winery. The next morning, Davian, now having a reason to trust the party, told the group the secret of the Wizard of Wines. The founder of the vineyard had enchanted three gems, burying them in the ground allowing wine grapes to grow in this desolate land.
Several years ago, one of the gems went missing. At the time Davian’s son was supposed to be watching the vineyard, and Davian blamed his son’s a lax watch for the gem going missing, causing a rift to develop in the family. A few weeks ago, another of the gems went missing, Davian believed at the hands of Baba Lysaga, the ancient witch. Finally, a few days ago the druids came and stole the final gem, bringing it to their lair on Yester Hill.
Davian explained to the party that without these gems, the grape plants would shrivel up and die, and there would be no more wine coming from the vineyard, the only source of alcohol in Barovia. Wine was one of the few joys left to the Barovian people, and Davian begged the party to help him. The gem that went missing years ago was as good as gone, but they could still retrieve the other two. In return, Davian would supply the party with information essential to defeating Strahd.
Buttkiss, already feeling sympathetic to the family agreed to help them, and the party made plans to head to Yester Hill.
Arriving at the hill, the party saw that it was a rather large hill, with a small circle of stranding stones in the center, and a small copse of trees on the other side. The hill was surrounded by mists, and the group swore they could see the hints of a wonderful looking city within the mists, they made note that this made no sense, as Castle Ravenloft, the only place that could closely resembled this faced in the other direction…
Cautiously advancing forward, the group got to the top of the hill. Occulus noticed that the hill was covered in small graves, and warned the party to proceed cautiously. Creeping forward, Haita saw that within the circle of stones was a large crudely made statue, made of sticks, twigs, and mud, which looked a little bit like Strahd. A gleaming gem rested in one of the statues eyes. Sneaking back to the party Haita told them what he had seen.
Buttkiss, feeling confident, strode into the circle of stones and began to climb up the statue. Tordek, Occulus, and Haita watched cautiously from outside the stone circle.
Once Buttkiss began climbing, five fur-clad humans, in pale face paint rose out of some of the graves outside the stone circle. The humans began frothing at the mouth and charged the party. At the same time a feral druid rose up from a grave within the stone circle, with four more moving up alongside the human berzerkers.
Scrambling to react the party watched as the five berzerkers charged them, striking a series of blows. At the same time, the evil Druid at the center of the stones began a weird chant, which was causing a flow of dark energy from him to the odd statue.
The party quickly found out that the berzerkers were extremely tough, with all but Tordek quickly being driven back. Haita, seeing the dark energies flowing from the druid, began to fire blast after blast at the ritual caster, hoping to stop it. At the same time, Buttkiss, having jumped down the statue, rushed alongside Tordek to help him.
The evil druids for the time being seemed content to let the berzerkers fight for them, and they watched. However, after 2 berzerkers were slain, they changed form into bears and charged the party. Occulus, feeling overwhelmed and battered, fled the melee, but was ran down by three of the druids.
At this point things were looking desperate, with the party battered and outnumbered. Haita, continued to blast the ritual druid, ignoring a charging bear to strike the final blow of the ritual caster, before being smacked unconscious himself.
Falling closer to death, Occulus heard a voice in his head…
DM’s Note: While I would love to share what took place in Occulus’s head, I don’t want to spoil things for Occulus’s player, who has kept this secret.
The nearly dead Rogue muttered, “I agree,” and suddenly burst upwards, rippling with muscles that he had not had moments ago. His horrific wound closed, and he wielded a blood red shortsword, hewing left and right slaying his druid foes, while shouting “For the Whispering Well.”
This sudden change turned the combat in the party’s favor, and they quickly slew their remaining foes. Occulus, passing out, reverted back to his regular form, and only Tordek had seen a hint of what happened.
After being revived by Buttkiss, Haita realized the druid he had killed was attempting to call to Strahd, and had nearly succeeded…
Exploring the hillside, the party found a foul, mutated Gulthias Tree, with a silver axe near it, just out of reach of a long dead adventurer. Picking up the silver axe, Tordek chopped the evil tree down ending the blight threat on Barovia.
For good measure, Buttkiss, pushed over the crudely made Strahd statue, after taking the gem from it.
Battered, worn, and worried about what had happened to Occulus, the party limped back to the safety of the Wizard of Wines to rest and heal. Buttkiss muttered to Haita,
“Between Occulus and Tordek I am worried we are going to have to start taking peoples’ toys away, shit is getting real…”