Chapter Fourty – The Battle In The Catacombs XII.

Chapter 40: The Thief, the Blonde, Her Count and His Brother

Scene: In the gallery above the Chapel of Ravenloft, Tatyana sits alone, her eyes move nervously, beautiful but deathly pale. Entering hastily through the double doors behind her, Sergei von Zarovich, brother of the ruler of Barovia, Count Strahd von Zarovich.


Tatyana (whispering): “All is ready, my love! I have taken great care to package everything without his knowing. It is stored in the stable in the courtyard, beneath the hay bales under the hidden hatch. We need but to take our horses and all of our essential provisions are to hand!”

NPC - Tatyana
NPC – Tatyana

Sergei: “Aye my love, thou hath given our dream wings to escape this nightmare of my brother’s madness! Yet I fear his suspicions grow by the hour…”

Tatyana: “Then we must leave at once! I cannot bear his glare any longer! It is as though he can read my thoughts, like some ghastly and deathly giant spider, an icy mould upon him, freezing my very heart! [Organ music resonates distantly within the castle] Hark! He plays that terrible melody once again upon his organ! Its melancholy exceeded only by its horror – not music, but a hypnotic dance of death! What dire muse consumes his black soul?”

NPC - Sergei Von Zarovich
NPC – Sergei Von Zarovich

Sergei: “Hush, my love, at the least we know he cannot be using subterfuge to unveil our plan of redemption! Let us pray, here in the chapel, for our swift and safe flight from this realm of gloom. The very air chokes me! When last did my eyes see sunlight? This interminable fog has been upon us for weeks! It clouds not just my vision but also my mind. Let us pray for a light to lead us out of this darkness so that we may be together and without fear! For surely, our love is greater than my brother’s—”

[Silently, while Sergei speaks, Count Strahd von Zarovich appears at the top if the stairs to their left, listening]

Count Strahd von Zarovich: “No, please, my brother, do continue, since I, your little brother, am no longer a part of your plans, at least do me the courtesy of sharing your vision of your glorious golden future with Tatyana with me?”

Tatyana: “Strahd! Despicable fiend! How didst thou approach yet thy infernal dirge continue?”

NPC - Tatyana
NPC – Tatyana

Strahd: “Ach, Tatyana, fairest and palest of maidens! Thy words are icy daggers in my cold and shattered heart! Why didst thou listen to the treacherous cunning of Sergei? This loathsome brigand will lead thee into a worthless life! Yet with me, thou shall be a mighty countess! Together we shall rule Barovia forever! Hear me, Tatyana! I have uncovered secrets that will preserve our love for eternity! Our rule will be an unbroken legend! Thy beauty preserved forever!”

Tatyana: “Never! I choose death before an eternity of deathless madness with thee! Sergei has my heart! For this moment and forever!”

Sergei: “Come my brother; let us not squabble as we did as children! Thy honour exceeds thy renown! And thy renown is counted as great among our long line! Thou shall rule Barovia with a just and measured hand and take this great land out of the darkness back into the fold of the kings and queens of the realm. Tatyana and I are to be wed, and when this is done, we shall return and thou shall bless our oaths and we shall aid and advise thee in a strategy to restore the glory of this great nation! Listen to me – little brother!”

Strahd: “I listen; brother, but thy words hold no meaning for me. Thou hath betrayed me! But it is of no account. Thou shallt leave Barovia and my world forever. Thy pitiful treachery will fade into insignificance in an eternity, which I shall rule. Many great achievements lie before me, this castle; its very foundations are as the blood pulsing through my veins… Goodbye, brother… Goodbye forever! Rhadin! Escort them to the stables: See that they take the direct route. Do as thou hath been instructed…”

Strahd Von Zarovich
Strahd Von Zarovich

The Catacombs, Castle Ravenloft, Barovia:

Father Tobias is helped to move into the thoroughfare to attempt to turn the Skeletons, which, by the miraculous power of St. Cuthbert he successfully executes. Sigune cuts another one down while Thora continues to fight Strahd Zombies in CRYPT 35!

Crypt 35
Crypt 35

Thora kills one!

Galan shouts out:

Galan: “Ireeeeeena! I bear the Magical Long Sword which only he can bear that will fight Strahd!”

Sigune swings wildly and misses while Sir Ly attempts only to parry, his abilities greatly slowed by Strahd’s spell.

Sigune nicks the last Skeleton with her sword – and it collapses in a pile of dem bones dem bones dem dry bones! Thora whacks a Zombie – killing it instantly.

And then another as Mirafir moves to a corner to fire a ‘Lightning Bolt’ at the bats, hoping it then forks into the tomb of Sergei! The bolt kills some of the Bats but around 300 of them swarm around Mirafir.

Monster - Bat, Swam of Bats
Monster – Bat, Swam of Bats

Meanwhile Thora cuts down another Strahd Zombie!

Meanwhile Strahd Zombies lumber down from where the Nightmare was.

Mirafir fires another ‘Lightning Bolt’ and takes out all four of the latest Zombie arrivals!

Thora kills another of the Zombies – just one still standing!

Sigune steps forward to cast web from the ‘Cloak of Arachnid’ and covers a huge area of the catacombs, ensnaring the remaining 300 odd Bats.

Thora hands Sigune the ‘Holy Symbol’:

Thora: “You are the only one now immune to his charms!”

Galan then hands the ‘Sunsword’ to Sigune:

Galan: “I am in no condition to wield this! You must try!”

The Sunsword to Sigune:

Sunsword: “The Ranger is no use to me right now. Perhaps you can help fulfil my purpose.”

Mirafir casts ‘Invisibility’ on Frimly from the Scroll. Thora moves ahead into the entrance to Sergei’s tomb. Sigune follows-up after the Thief.

Father Tobias casts ‘Invisibility to Undead’ on Sigune. All or nothing!

Thora hears barking as she gets to the bottom of the stairs.

Galan drinks his potion, becomes visible and takes damage! A trick! Rhadin!

A sudden flash of lightning strikes Thora and flashes up to Sigune who takes a glancing blow.

Meanwhile, Galan is unable to hit Rhadin who is ‘Invisible’ and ‘Displaced’, Despite a 20!

NPC - Rhadin
NPC – Rhadin

Rhadin: “Hahaha!”

He tries to strike back and amazingly misses!

Mirafir casts ‘Web’ to try and catch an invisible fly.

Mirafir: “Rhadin, you tricky fly, how about this for a sticky spot!”

Thora, reduced to four hit points charges into the CRYPT! Sigune follows.

The others hear:

Count Strahd: “You shall all die!”

It is Count Strahd – outside of the tomb!

Sigune is bitten by something from behind her – she turns but sees nothing.

A radiant light suddenly bursts forth from Frimly:

Frimly: “Come to me!”

The light of the ‘Holy Symbol’ begins to melt Strahd’s face!

The sound of hooves can be heard! The brides of Strahd appear and three Vampire Spawn drop out of the CRYPT next to Galan!

Galan: “Get me a line!”

Meanwhile, Sigune consults with the ‘Sunsword’ and is convinced to leave the CRYPT!

Sigune: “Come Thora! Vee must save our friends!”

Mirafir casts ‘Magic Missile’ at Strahd! Sir Ly charges Strahd! Sigune is bitten again as she runs up the stairs! She is badly injured! All are now badly injured.

Galan shoots an Arrow at Strahd but misses.

Sigune: “Strahd! I am coming for you! For St. Cuthbert! For Sergei and for Tatyana!”

Sigune misses! Sir Ly and Sigune rain blows upon Strahd!

He dissipates!

Frimly: “Come, Sigune! Now we must go!”

They run to the teleport trap and have a short moment before passing through! The Vampires have already raced screaming towards Strahd’s tomb! They go through and Sigune runs to the coffin. Strahd is within: She plunges the ‘Sunsword’ into him. Frimly calls to her desperation in his voice as the last rays of light from the Holy Symbol begin to fade:

Frimly: “Think, Sigune! You must finish him!”

K86. Tomb of Strahd Von Zarovich
K86. Tomb of Strahd Von Zarovich

Sigune’s expression contorts as she attempts to summon meaning from the request, grappling with the dilemma of switching between her primary desire to fight for the will of St. Cuthbert or utilize her limited cognitive skills. A look of relief slowly spreads, as she finally understands what she must do. She draws some wooden objects from her bag and then hammers a stake into Strahd’s heart, just as the other adventurers charge into the tomb! It is as if the entire Castle screams – its very foundations, running deep into the roots of the mountain it is so precariously placed upon.

A howling wind blasts through the chamber and through the entire castle – like a giant sigh of relief that this endless nightmare of the Count has finally been brought to an end. The adventurers collapse in exhaustion to their knees: no sleep, relentless combat against foes that would normally best them even at the peak of their powers and the psychological drain of confronting an opponent who has played this game for an eternity… VICTORY!

EPILOGUE: In the Halls of the Righteous & Just

An immense hall, filled by a mighty table, hewn and polished from purest emerald. To the left, a gallery, with tall arched windows, that looks out upon the mountainous vale of Barovia as gentle sunlight once again touches the tree tops and slopes of this once veiled landscape. A gigantic figure, a titan to mortals, stands framed in the central window, a mighty cudgel at his side, a golden crown upon his brow. He drains a huge vessel of Mjöd in a single downing, belching loudly before wiping the froth from his beard and laughing heartily to himself.

St. Cuthbert: “Ha! Again my warriors of righteousness and purity have triumphed against the curse of evil and deathless ignominy! A thousand years of that blood-sucking trickster ended in just a few short days! My champions bring light to all corners of darkness! None shall withstand them! Zagyg and his sorcery be cursed! That fool is little more than a conjurer and a clown!”

[Emerging silently from the shadows]

Zagyg: “Be that as it may, Your Saintliness, your champions’ triumph was only secured with the aid of others whose zealousness was otherwise inclined. Why, were it not for Roven, Tara and of course Greenish, events may have taken a more predictable course…”

St. Cuthbert: “Nonsense! Their roles in this great victory were merely as scenery in a drama played out between the powers of light and darkness! Imagine the sorcerer, forest ranger and thief attempting this undertaking without the righteous might of holy warriors, doughty fighters and a priest!

Zagyg: “Is it not curious that the thief was the one, in the end, to break the curse of that monster? The least righteous, yet the only one with the wits to channel the powers of justice to extinguish the Vampyr’s curse? And let’s not beat around the burning bush here, it took that charming paladin of yours a little while to realize what she had to do: not altogether the sharpest stake in the Vampyr killing kit…”

St. Cuthbert: “Enough of your sniping and nit-picking, Zagyg! You aim only to distort and mock all that is true and just! Take heed, trickster, for your mockery may yet come back to haunt you! The courage of Sir Ly, the piety of Father Tobias, the bloody determination of Thora and the single-mindedness of Feldschlächter have prevailed! My servants and ambassadors in the Forgotten Realms! Willing to sacrifice all! A purity of belief and unswerving loyalty the truest weapons in their armouries! Steadfast and bound by the Sacred Codex! A Holy Alliance of Might and Justice dedicated to exterminating the enemies of light and life! None can stand before such dedication and purpose! None can … Zagyg? Zagyg?”

[The purple robed deity sits motionlessly in his emerald throne, his face hidden in the shadow of his cowl. The sound of snoring can now be faintly heard in the silence that has broken St. Cuthbert’s heroic monologue. St. Cuthbert steps closer to him. Raising his cudgel, he gently touches the flowing purple robes. In an instant, they fall softly and shapelessly to the floor. Zagyg has vanished.]

Appendix: The History of Count Strahd von Zarovich, as recorded by His scribe and executor of His estate, Sir Mans von Martinezovich 

In life, Strahd von Zarovich was a count, a prince, a soldier, and a conqueror. After the death of his father, King Barov, Strahd waged long, bloody wars against his family’s enemies. He and his army cornered the last of these enemies in a remote mountain valley before slaying them all. Strahd named the valley Barovia, after his deceased father, and was so struck by its scenic beauty that he decided to settle there.

NPC - King Barov And Queen Ravenovia

Queen Ravenovia lamented the death of Barov and was fearful of Strahd. War had made him cold and arrogant. She kept her younger son, Sergei, away from the battlefield. Strahd envied the love and attention his mother visited upon his brother, so in Barovia he remained. Peace made Strahd restless, and he began to feel like his best years were behind him. Unwilling to go the way of his father, Strahd studied magic and forged a pact with the Dark Powers of the Shadow fell in return for the promise of immortality.

Strahd scoured his conquered lands for wizards and artisans, brought them to the valley of Barovia, and commanded them to raise a castle to rival the magnificent fortresses of his ancestral homeland.

Strahd named the castle Ravenloft, after his mother, to demonstrate his love for her. When it was complete, Strahd commanded his mother and brother to come to Barovia and stay with him. Sergei eventually took up residence at Ravenloft, but Ravenovia passed away while traveling to her namesake. In sorrowful disappointment, Strahd sealed his mother’s body in a crypt beneath the castle.

Strahd’s attention soon turned to Tatyana, a young Barovian woman of fine lineage and remarkable beauty. Strahd believed her to be a worthy bride, and he lavished Tatyana with gifts and attention. Despite Strahd’s efforts, she instead fell in love with the younger, warmer Sergei. Strahd’s pride prevented him from standing in the way of the young couple’s love until the day of Sergei and Tatyana’s wedding, when Strahd gazed into a mirror and realized he had been a fool. Strahd murdered Sergei and drank his blood, sealing the evil pact between Strahd and the Dark Powers. He then chased Sergei’s bride-to-be through the gardens, determined to make her accept and love him. Tatyana hurled herself off a castle balcony to escape Strahd’s pursuit, plunging to her death. Treacherous castle guards, seizing the opportunity to rid the world of Strahd forever, shot their master with arrows.

But Strahd did not die. The Dark Powers honoured the pact they had made. The sky went black as Strahd turned on the guards, his eyes blazing red. He had become a vampire.

After slaughtering the guards, Strahd saw the faces of his father and mother in the thunderclouds, looking down upon him and judging him. He had destroyed the family bloodline and doomed all of Barovia. The castle and the valley were spirited away, locked in a demi plane surrounded on all sides by deadly fog. For Strahd and his people, there would be no escape.

Strahd has been the master of Ravenloft for centuries now. Since becoming a vampire, he has taken several consorts-none as beloved as Tatyana, but each a person of beauty. All of them he turned into vampire spawn. Although he feeds on the hapless souls of Barovia, they provide little nourishment and no comfort. From time to time, strangers from faraway lands are brought to his domain, to play the vampire’s game of cat-and-mouse. Strahd savours these moments, for though these strangers offer him no lands to conquer, they aren’t so easily destroyed and therefore provide a welcome diversion.

Strahd believes that the key to his escaping Barovia lies in finding someone worthy to rule in his stead (Mirafir), but his arrogance are so indomitable that no one is ever good enough in his eyes. He believes in his cold heart that only a von Zarovich as great as he or his father could sway the Dark Powers to release him.


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