Session 7: The Crossroads
The village of Barovia receding behind them, the party crossed the River Ivlis and followed the road into the Svalich Woods. After several hours, they came to a fork in the road. To the north, the path descended into the trees towards the Tser Pool; to the southwest, the path climbed up into the hills winding towards the next river crossing.
In a clearing at the other side of the fork stood an old wooden gallows, an empty noose hanging in the still air. Just past the gallows lay a makeshift burial ground, eleven unmarked headstones signifying the place of overgrown graves. Thought the newcomers to this land were curious, Ismark urged the group to continue onward, knowing that they could afford no delays if they were to make it to the river crossing before nightfall.
As the party turned down the southwest path, Corwyn gasped in shock. They all turned back to the gallows, where a humanoid corpse now hung from the noose, slowly turning back and forth, its hollow eyes gazing down upon the travelers.
From the woods in front of them, a figure covered in mud and animal skins bounded onto the path on all fours. Responding to the party's greetings with a mad cackle, it leaped forward and struck Aya with a gnarled staff. Ismark tackled the figure to the ground and the party surrounded and attempted to subdue the wild creature. A rustling from the woods revealed that they themselves were surrounded, as twig blights emerged from every direction and advanced on the party. The creature on the ground called out in a coarse language, understandable to Aya as a rough form of Druidic, "Capture her! For the Master!"
Deesqo cleaved the druid's skull in twain, but still the blights advanced, slashing open a nasty wound in the dog Lancelot. Aya called forth a flaming sphere, and soon the blights that were not consumed by the fire of the sphere had been shattered by Corwyn's magic, or hacked to pieces by the swords of Marbas, Deesqo, and Ismark. The blights destroyed, Aya turned to see Ireena bandaging Lancelot's wounds. Aya summoned forth a handful of berries, feeding several to the dog and eating the rest herself, to heal the wounds of battle.
Deesqo cracked open the skull of the druid, scooping out the brains to feed to the pteranodon that accompanied him. Finding nothing else of interest on the corpse, the party piled it and the remains of the blights onto the gallows, and set the whole thing ablaze. Recalling that being engulfed in the smoke of burning blights had directly preceded finding themselves in this land, Aya stepped forward towards the fire, but the acrid smell brought her to her knees, nearly causing her to wretch. Whatever magic had brought them here, it seemed it was more than just the burning of blights.
The pyre to their backs, the party hurried onward, Marbas lifting Lancelot and carrying him over his shoulders when the wounded dog struggled to keep up. As the light filtering through the mist overhead began to dim, Corwyn noticed a raven circling above them. For a moment it seemed to her that she locked eyes with the bird, before it wheeled away and disappeared into the mist.
As the last light was fading, the party came upon the bridge crossing the river. A mile to the west, the Tser falls crashed down nearly a thousand feet into a misty pool, the bridge crossing the outlet of the pool into the river Ivlis. With the light fading, the party decided against trying to make their way to the base of the falls, instead setting up camp beneath the bridge.