Chapter Thirty Six- The Battle In The Catacombs VIII.

Galan, holding the ‘Sunsword’ high,retreats back into the CRYPT as Thora blocks the entrance to the CRYPT standing there with her ‘Dragon Shield and Mace’. Galan steps through with the ‘Sunsword’ glowing, while Thora swings her Mace at one of the Strahd Skeletons. Thora retreats into the Arched Teleport Alcove as no Strahd Skeleton follows her into the CRYPT.

Monster - Strahd Skeleton
Monster – Strahd Skeleton

Once again there is a lull in Strahd’s attractional proxy assaults. The cunning Count Strahd is surely marshalling yet more necrotic mischief from the rat hole of his brother, Sergei’s, tomb.

Frimly, the vigilant little Thief, ‘Eleven Cloak’ drawn around him, so visible to only the keenest of perceptions, crouches near the entrance to the Count’s own soil strewn CRYPT. A study in intense focus, head cocked, listening for the imperceptible sounds that he has been trained to detect, and that elude even the Elves amongst his party.

Frimly: ”Yes, there it is again!”

Thinks Frimly. He hears the sound of stone being dragged across stone and also of metal scraping upon stone, echoing from the SOUTHERN end of the catacombs.

Frimly: “The skeletons are being kept busy.”

He muses. The constant percussion of pattering rainfall, driving down the open vent of the cyclopean tower to the WEST, is the only other sound to be gleaned; even the bats and their incessant mewling, have fallen silent.

In the Count Strahd’s Tomb behind him, the Paladins stand guard before the teleportation arch, cautious of a sneak assault to their flank. Thus, Sigune is fully occupied and less able to inadvertently spy upon her comrades for Strahd. The rest of the party are busy discussing tactics and the viability of an assault, in hushed tones and hand signals.

Frimly unfurls himself from the shadows and beckons to Mirafir, the self-styled Magenta Mage, to join him.

Frimly: “Wizard, there are two tombs that may be of use to us. I reckon it’s safe out there for us for a few minutes. Let the others blather while we do what we do best.”

Mirafir is as curious as the Thief and eagerly joins him.

The first tomb they inspect is that of an inventor which Frimly Greenish had entered in ‘Gaseous Form’, seeming aeons before.


“King Katsky (Katsky the Bright. King, Ruler, and Inventor).”

A skeleton draped in rags lies atop a marble slab in the centre of the Crypt. Lying amid the bones is a stoppered drinking horn, a fat pouch, and a weird-looking sceptre made of metal and wood.

Above the bones, hanging from the domed ceiling by wires, is a wooden flying contraption that looks like a set of folding dragon wings fitted with leather straps, metal buckles, and taut leather wing flaps. Can it be flown?

Crypt 13
Crypt 13

The pair, forging an alliance that neither had perhaps anticipated, worked quickly and quietly to prise open the carved stone portal to CRYPT 13 while Galan stands guard with the ‘Sunsword’. Finally, our heroes drag it far enough open for the still airborne Mirafir to ‘Fly’ inside in the hope of avoiding pressure traps and the like. Lying next to the bleached skeleton upon its funeral plinth are three curious objects: An intricately ‘Carved Horn’, setting out the life and exploits of its deceased owner. A short ‘Sceptre’ made of dark wood and metal and a ‘Leather Pouch’.

Mirafir dons the curious ‘Eyes of Minute Seeing’ to inspect the crypt and the items in more detail for Tracks or Traps.

Magic Item - Eyes of Minute Seeing
Magic Item – Eyes of Minute Seeing

The ‘Carved Horn’ is filled with a liquid that once unstoppered gives off the heavy and unmistakeable violet odour of healing draughts; it smelt as if it was a ‘Concentrated Extra Healing’.

Magic Item - Horn Concentrated Healing
Magic Item – Horn Concentrated Healing

The ‘Leather Pouch’ is filled with 10 marble sized ‘Black Pearls’, purpose unknown and which radiating no Magic.

Black Pearls
Black Pearls

The ‘Sceptre’, on closer inspection, has a small catch of a mechanical nature. Frimly cannot resist the urge and flicks the switch. In the blink of an eye the top of the sceptre bursts open unleashing a metal chain with three iron orbs attached! A spring loaded Flail! The Sceptre does not radiate Magic either.

Weapon - Flail Sceptre
Weapon – Flail Sceptre

Above their heads, hung from the ceiling is the strangest of contraptions – seeming mechanically powered wings with pulleys’ and straps to enable someone light enough to fly.

They press on to the next unopened Tomb Galan using his ‘Sunsword’ to check for undead, marked with the epithet:

The ‘Sunsword’ does not detect any Undead.


‘Khazan – his word was power’

A skeleton draped in rags lies atop a marble slab in the centre of the Crypt. The skull has ‘2 Black Opals’ set in each of its eye sockets and ‘Shards of Amber’ where its teeth should be.

Crypt 15
Crypt 15

Here too the Thief had entered, in ethereal state. There were, he remembered, set in a skeleton’s skull, 2 ‘Opals’ in the eye sockets and ‘Amber shards’ where there should have been teeth. But he was equally convinced that those priceless gewgaws were trapped in some way and that taking them would unleash some form of hideous undead fiend….or worse. The Skull does not radiate Magic.

The Mage was less suspicious and with various Wizardly waves of the hand and meaningless mutterings implied that no evil lies within. Soon the Wizard was hovering over the Gem encrusted skull while Frimly hissed at the Magpie Mage not to touch them.

Frimly: “Ere!”

Frimly: “why not just say the name of this Khazan bloke, out loud?”

Mirafir hesitated, unsure, with so little Spell Power left, if even he should risk it. But finally curiosity, as it always would, get the better of him.

Mirafir: “Khazan, Khazan, KHAZAN!”

He intoned in his very best theatrical invocation voice.

For a brief second…nothing….then it was as if the whole of the Pillar of Ravenloft began to rock and shake and buck to the very core it was built upon. Much like that fateful day in Daggerford, when the Town walls collapsed upon the Dwarves.

The pair stood rooted to the spot. What had they unleashed? What was Thora going to say?

When they looked again within Khazan’s CRYPT, there had appeared a large ‘Ornate Alchemy Jug’. It does radiate Magic, but with no time to discern its purpose they scurried back to their allies. Thora scowled at the returning pair but kept her silence.

Magic Item - Alchemy Jug
Magic Item – Alchemy Jug

The offer of more draughts of ‘Concentrated Extra Healing Potion’ also enough to quiet the others. Galan, with ‘Sunsword’ in hand, and Sir Ly took the lion’s share while Father Tobias supped another. Mirafir keeps a small sample of the Potion back so he may analyse it further and possibly recreate, or have it recreated.

In their absence a plan had been hatched. A direct assault by the main party who would head to the SOUTH-WEST corner or the Catacombs while the two Paladins would venture through the Teleport Arche and hopefully create more confusion as they emerged from the linked CRYPT in front of Sergei von Zarovich’s white marble bedecked resting place.

But first Frimly volunteered to attempt to pass through at least one of the teleport traps that hindered egress to Sergei’s tomb and sent unwary victims to the underground CRYPT 14 where the 13 Wights had only just been vanquished. Thus he quaffed the ‘Potion of Flying’ that he had found and asked for the Cleric to bless him with ‘Invisibility to Undead’ creatures.

Crypt 14
Crypt 14

Losing no time, Frimly flew as rapidly as he dared towards the SOUTH-WEST corner, Taking note of the ranks of Strahd’s personal Skeletons lying in wait behind the penultimate line of CRYPTS. They numbered at least a dozen and more like a score. He caught a glimpse of the Teleport CRYPT 32, with a new stone door already replacing the broken one – those sounds of scraping stone, no doubt. The Giant Arachnid was not to be seen.

As Frimly weaved between the ancient CRYPTS, a human cry went up. A Vistani lookout was hidden in a side CRYPT’S entrance, seemingly with the sole purpose of spotting those with ‘Invisibility to Undead’ cast upon them. The Vistani Archer loosed an arrow, narrowly missing our hero.

NPC - Vistani, Barovian Gypsies
NPC – Vistani, Barovian Gypsies

Now flying directly SOUTH along the EASTERN side of the Catacomb, for the portcullis that led to Sergei’s Tomb and where Strahd was now surely planning his final battle strategy alongside his cohorts, Frimly seemingly blinks out of existence.

Almost instantly appearing in an open coffin within the Wight’s lair, stomach churned and disorientated, gulping the foetid air; but grateful that he is indeed intact and fully equipped, unlike his first impromptu excursion to this chamber. But he is not alone! There are now skeletons there, perhaps half a dozen, rattling gently in the still air. 3 stand by the stone coffins where our Heroes had killed the Wights that lay in wait for the exchange of the Teleport Traps, and a further 2 standing by the only Wight’s that were not burnt by Mirafir’s ‘Fireball’ Spell. How!? These are not Strahd’s doing though. Perhaps when a Wight is dispatched, it is replaced by a skeleton? Tobias would know for certain. As Frimly gently Fly’s up and out of the Stone Coffin he now see that he was laying on the rages worn by the Wight’s and himself at one time.

Monster - Wight
Monster – Wight

But this was no time for conjecture, the ‘Invisibility to Undead‘ Spell is fast ebbing and he intends to deactivate another of the ports in front of the Brother’s entrance; this time electing to head SOUTH EASTWARDS towards the Teleport he originally pass through when he was exchanged with one of the Wights..

Another cry goes up. Two more Vistani have been placed on watch. One of them takes Frimly completely by surprise. Arrows whistle past his ears as the Gypsy Warriors give chase. Thankfully they are too slow and a second portal is disrupted, sending the Thief once more into Wrightsville. As he emerges once more, he can feel the ebbing of static tension that was the ‘Invisibility to Undead’ Spell.

Out of Sigune’s earshot, he offers the party his reconnaissance. However, it changes little. Strahd holds all the cards and anticipates their every move.

The only choice is to whether Mirafir chooses to direct a ‘Fireball’ in the radius of the gathered Skeleton hordes or to save his few remaining Magical charges for the Count and his cronies.

The party move forward, with only Sigune and Sir Ly waiting for the sound of battle, before making their way through the Teleport Arched Portal.

Unhindered, they head to the SOUTHWEST where they soon engage with the first wave of Strahd’s Skeletons. Thora and Galan, ‘Sunsword’ in hand, standing side by side soon see off the first two.

Father Tobias holds aloft Shield with its Symbol of St Cuthbert and sends three Strahd Skeleton Warriors and an Archer scurrying away. His first success against Count Strahd’s elite Undead.

Galan hold aloft the ‘Sunsword’ and looks EAST and can see other Strahd Skeleton’s being held back by another of Strahd’s powerful Skeletal Warriors, holding a Two-Handed Sword and commanding his troops without any verbal commands.

Ireena and the Wizard keep watch for attacks from the CRYPTS, behind, while Frimly has lagged behind the others and found a vantage point in the shadows of the CRYPTS.

The sound of steel thudding into bone almost masks the sound of sandaled feet creeping towards his friends. Three Vistani, two Archers and another carrying a Long Sword which he has not drawn are sneaking forward. Frimly intends to backstab the unarmed Vistani by flying in behind and charging the caravan dweller.

NPC - Barovian Gypsy Vistani Men
NPC – Barovian Gypsy Vistani Men

Frimly can see another Skeletal Archer move WEST towards Thora and Galan, ‘Sunsword’ to hand, and the Skeletal Warrior stride SOUTH towards Sergei’s Tomb and where the Turned Strahd Skeleton’s moved to.

But the space is too confined to charge and he must content himself with a near silent assault, which inflicts a massive wound on the unsuspecting Vistani. It is also warning enough for the Wizard and Ireena. Mirafir could see that Frimly was behind the Vistani, Blood drenched Sword in hand and hovering in the air. Mirafir opted to create multiple ‘Mirror Images’, fearing multiple attack upon his person, while Ireena moved forward to take on the Vistani Archers, there is movement from the CRYPT 25 they are stood next to.

Crypt 25
Crypt 25

The priest steps forward to hold the stone doorway to CRYPT 25 closed and stop what is within from escaping, but not before the adjacent CRYPT 24 is flung open and a normal Skeleton emerges, surrounding our heroes in a perfectly choreographed assault.

Crypt 24
Crypt 24

The temporary distraction of his multiple forms allows Mirafir to cast ‘Magic Missile’ at the Vistani, who are in turn firing arrows at him.

Frimly is gobsmacked that the warrior is still alive and uses his ‘Ring of the Ram’ to send him flying into the two Vistani Archers, disrupting their aim.

Magic Item - Ring of Ram
Magic Item – Ring of Ram

Father Tobias, fearing the weight of the stone door will injure his comrades if he allows it to fall, is caught in a precarious position.

Meanwhile, Galan, with ‘Sunsword’, and Thora, with Mace, hold their ground, despite the best efforts of a Skeleton Archer, who causes a minor wound to Thora, but further chaos as each arrow calls forth another Skeleton when they miss their intended target. 

Galan, holding the ‘Sunsword’,glances along the line of CRYPTS, CRYPTS 30 to CRYPTS 34, to where the two Paladins of St Cuthbert should now be emerging. However, there is no sign of them. Are they in trouble or has Sigune taken this moment to ponder the meaning of the hypotenuse of the square?

The ‘Sunsword’ does not detect any Undead.


And still no sign of the spitting, spitting spider (Harrychnid Kanus).

Monster - Wolf Spider
Monster – Wolf Spider

Frimly elects to parry fearing that he cannot fight two of these Gypsy Warriors, despite his superior speed. While Father Tobias shouts out to all to stand clear as he lets the stone door, of CRYPT 25, fall to the ground. Allowing the Skeleton behind to step forth.

Mirafir, with his simulacra being whittled down rapidly fires a Magical Sling Bullet at the large Weapon less Vistani, who finally slumps to the ground allowing Frimly and Ireena to engage the remaining two Vistani, who have dropped their Short Bows and changed weapons, drawing forth Longswords. The fighting is ferocious but not deadly and minor injuries are both received and given.

Father Tobias manages to turn the two Skeletons in close proximity, rendering them into a pile of dust that, according to 5th level horticulturalists, is very good for roses.

 Mirafir is down to his last ‘Mirror Image’ after attacks from the Skeletons and Vistani.

Galan received another blow, but his fearsome combination of ‘Sunsword’ and Mace is wreaking heavy damage on their foes.

Finally, the cries of the holy warriors ring out from nearby and Sigune emerges from the Teleport CRYPT 32 to engage with two Strahd Skeletons. From behind her Sir Ly has used a charge from his ‘Ring of Shooting Stars’ and casts ‘Faerie Fire’ in an attempt to expose the New Type of Giant Spider and make it easier to hit. Sure enough the vile scuttling giant emerges from CRYPT 27 in front of them employing the Strahd Skeletons blocking effect to lose a noxious spray of deadly poison at Sigune. By the will of St Cuthbert, and her ‘Cloak of Arachnid’ she is protected from this assault and the attack causes no harm to her.

Magic Item - Ring of Shooting Stars
Magic Item – Ring of Shooting Stars

The next few minutes of combat will be pivotal for our brave adventurers!

Can they see off the Strahd Skeletons? Will the Spider try and apply some pressure in pursuit of its trophy? Will the Vistani see sense and surrender? What Old and Ancient Evil lurks within the other CRYPTS?

The ‘Sunsword’ will be needed to defeat the Undead.


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