The Ravenloft Files: Dead of the Night

The Ravenloft Files, Vol. 24, Chapter One, A Foreshadowing

Through the dense fog, and nearly hidden among the tall weeds and hanging moss, we spotted a dark silhouette, crouching low with pointed ears pinned back in anticipation. Two yellowish orbs with feline pupils stared back at us with obvious menace. Slowly, Redwald raised his double-barreled musket, took aim and gently squeezed the trigger. A loud booming sound echoed throughout the swamp following by the squawking of ravens. When the smoke cleared, the dark silhouette was gone, nowhere to be found. Like a ghost, it had vanished…

Excerpts from

The Journal of Jareth Ambrose

(Continued from) Sunday, October 8th 745 B.C.

With the threat of attack from either Emil Bollenbach or any of his henchmen now apparently passed, we had Redwald and Scar go and retrieve the carriage and horses, while the rest of us remained at the windmill and continued looking over the notes and equipment that the mad doctor had left behind. Ladislav was interested in the electrical generator and wanted to see if it might be possible to take it with us. Vance gathered up any alchemical equipment he thought might be useful while I spent more time examining Bollenbach’s notes and updating my journal.

Redwald and Scar have since returned with the carriage and horses and because we have further work to do at the windmill, we have decided to spend the night here. It is possible that Bollenbach, now in the body of his doppelganger golem, might return to try and retrieve his original body or his notes and equipment, and we intend to prevent that from happening. So we will keep a watch out tonight and hope that he does not return.

Monday, October 10th

Fortunately, our night last night passed by with no further interruptions and no attempts by Dr. Bollenbach to retrieve anything from the windmill. So in the morning, after preparing ourselves for the day, Ladislav, with help from some of the others, managed to remove the electrical generator and place it in his magical portable hole, along with some lab equipment and the doctor’s notes on golem construction. We then gathered up anything combustible and piled it in the center of the basement where we placed the body of Dr. Bollenbach. This we then dowsed with oil and kerosene and lit it on fire as we made our exit from the basement. After climbing upstairs, we poured more oil and kerosene inside the windmill and the adjoining shack and likewise set it ablaze. Gathering outside a short distance away, we stayed just long enough to see the entire structure engulfed in flames. Once we were certain that all would be destroyed, we headed out and made our way back to Neufurchtenberg. The plume of smoke could been seen for miles, I’m sure, and we wanted to be as far away from it as possible before anyone came looking for its source, undoubtedly loaded with questions that we did not care to answer.

Thursday, October 12th

After three days of travel through Dementlieu, during which time we encountered no difficulties and for which I have nothing of interest to report, we have arrived, safe and sound, back at our home in the Great Moor of Mordent.

Friday, October 13th

Today, we all decided to make the trip into Mordentshire to check on our businesses and deal with other personal matters. I was hoping to set out tomorrow morning and make another return visit to Il Aluk in Darkon where I plan to search for a few spells that I wish to acquire. So, when we all headed over to the inn to have a few drinks, it was not my intention to stay out late. But as it often happens when one becomes engaged in conversation and enjoys a few drinks, the time just seems to slip away. And then, there was the band of gypsies.

At first we were unaware of them. But after a bit, we noticed a small crowd of people forming not far from the inn, accompanied by shouting and cheering…and the faint sound of a drum beat. When we went to investigate, we saw five gypsies at the center of the crowd putting on a little show. There was one young man and four attractive girls, all in their twenties or thereabout. The man beat out a rhythm on a drum and shouted out like a carnival barker while the girls danced around and posed with curved swords balanced on their heads. The crowd, meanwhile, would occasionally clap, holler and whistle whenever the girls struck a pose, or sometimes laugh at the raunchy jokes told by the gypsies.

We soon found ourselves watching and joining in with the crowd as we seemed to have become mesmerized by their performances, Ladislav in particular. One of the girls, in fact, appeared to take notice of Ladislav, most likely due to his obvious Vistani lineage. When their show was over, they all moved around the crowd with baskets gathering up whatever tips the crowd was willing to offer. As this was going on, the girl who seemed to have taken a liking to Ladislav, approached him and commented on his Vistani ancestry.

She introduced herself as Yana, and by the way she spoke and carried herself, she appeared to be the leader of the band, or at least among the five that were there. She also introduced the others as Joaquin, Sonya, Maria and Anastasia. She and Ladislav had a brief conversation as he told her a little bit about himself and introduced the rest of us. From what we could tell, there were no elders or children among their group and, though they did not all look to be true siblings, they claimed to all be members of the Vodca family.

My intuition, however, tells me that they are more likely to be orphaned or runaway Vistani from different caravans with tragic pasts, and who have banded together to form a family of their own. Whatever the case, Yana invited us to visit with them later on at their vardos which were parked just north of the old mill at the edge of town. There, Yana offered to do a Tarokka card reading for us. We accepted the offer and returned to the inn for a bit, while the gypsies finished attending to the rest of the crowd.

A short while later, after the crowd had dispersed, we left the inn and drove the carriage to the old mill, where indeed we found a couple of vardos and some horses parked near a cozy campfire. There we were soon greeted by the same gypsies and introduced to two more, Aria and Niko, who had stayed behind to watch over the vardos. After some pleasantries, the pouring of some wine and a few brief conversations, Yana invited us into one of the vardos where she pulled out a large deck of cards and began telling us our fortunes.

Having witnessed several Tarokka card readings before, we were somewhat familiar with the cards and their meanings, but every fortune teller, it seems, has a different method of lying the cards out and interpreting them. This time was no exception and Yana’s method was the most unusual I had ever seen. Instead of doing brief card readings for each of us, she chose instead to do one large reading for the entire group. The end result of the card reading was interesting, though as is often the case, sometimes rather vague or confusing. It is usually not until later on, when some of the meanings then become clear. Because the card reading was more extensive than is typical, I have drawn a diagram and made notes elsewhere in my journal for future reference.

When the card reading was over and Yana had answered what questions she could about it, we thanked her and the rest of the gypsies for their hospitality. Then we piled into our carriage and drove the five miles or so to our home in the moors. Upon our arrival, each of us decided to pack our backpacks and Ladislav’s portable hole with gear and supplies for a sudden and unexpected journey. Some of the things mentioned in the fortune telling had us thinking we might soon be departing for parts unknown, and with little or no warning.

Sunday, October 15th

As previously mentioned in my journal, I had planned to set out yesterday morning to Darkon. But due to the late night on the previous night, I slept in longer than I had intended. When I did finally arise, I noticed the fog outside was thicker than it typically is. Fog, of course, is quite normal in the bogs around our mansion, especially overnight. But it usually dissipates to reveal the gray and overcast skies of autumn in Mordent by late morning. Yesterday morning was different and the fog was too thick for my liking. So I further delayed my departure.

By about 10:30 am, the fog still had not shown any sign of clearing. It was about then that we heard Douglas, our gardener coming in from outside, saying he had not seen the dogs for quite some time and he was becoming a bit concerned. A few minutes later, as if on cue, we heard the two dogs barking, off in the distance. This was immediately followed by another sound that had us all very concerned. It was the roar of a large feline, perhaps a plains cat, which are not native to that area.

Each of us quickly grabbed our backpacks and weapons, just in case, and headed out the door in the direction of the barking dogs. Very soon, Redwald was able to pick up the dog’s tracks as we moved out into the bogs. But before long, we suddenly heard the sound of the large feline hissing and one of the dogs yelping in pain. The other dog, barked and growled for a bit. Then all went silent. Hastily we proceeded forward still following the tracks.

Moments later, a dark four-legged shape was seen moving rapidly through the thick fog and towards us. We raised our weapons in defense. But it was only one of the dogs, Eric. We were relieved to see him, until we noticed blood on the dog’s muzzle. We quickly checked and found that it was not Eric’s blood, thankfully. Still, Eric was clearly upset and concerned about the other dog, Erwin. He seemed to be pointing us back towards the brush and fog from where he had just emerged.

We were about to set off in that direction when we heard the sound of movement behind us. Again, we raised our weapons expecting a large cat to come leaping out at us. But this time it was only Douglas. He had followed us by the sound of our voices and wanted desperately to help.

Over our long absences from the manor house, Douglas had grown to be quite fond of Eric and Erwin. Redwald told him to return to the mansion, but he refused to go. There was no time to argue, however, so we pressed on with Douglas right behind us.

Moments later, we finally caught a glimpse of our quarry…

…After Redwald fired his musket, we quickly moved in the direction of the large cat. It was nowhere in sight. But much to our relief, we did come upon Erwin. Unfortunately, our relief immediately turned to concern once again when we realized Erwin was lying on his side with several gouges and wounds around his face and along his flank. He was bleeding badly, wincing in pain and breathing laboriously. Redwald cast a heeling spell on him though, which greatly eased his suffering and soon he was up and ready to move on.

At this point, Douglas offered to take both dogs back to the mansion while we went after the cat. Again, Redwald objected to this, feeling it would not be safe for Douglas and the dogs. But Douglas insisted they would be okay and that it wasn’t that far back to the mansion. Redwald eventually relented, realizing that the cat had to be hunted down. So, we then parted ways with Douglas and the dogs, and continued following the tracks of the cat.

We followed the cat’s tracks for a little bit then through the dense fog. But at some point, we came upon a dry patch in the bogs and soon after we noticed that the trees and vegetation around us were no longer what we had come to expect in the bogs. Gradually, as the fog slowly began to dissipate, we came to the realization that we were now standing in a thick forest of stately oaks, maples, and other leafy trees. The air around us became a bit chillier and less humid than before, while the leaves on the trees were beginning to turn their autumn shades. Clearly, we were no longer in the Great Moor, and judging by trees and the color of their leaves, it appeared we were no longer in Mordent.



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