Excerpt from the journal of Gevyen Tallmer of Tethyr in the Year of Wild Magic, 1372
14 Eleint: We are now within reach of Barovia, and have broken our journey at a wayside inn, “The Weary Horse”. It appears to be a comfortable enough hostelry, with a warm fire, though the patrons are sullen and stare boldly. Ash, forever loyal, saw to the horses, accompanied by young Seth & Pardrey. Once ensconced in this tavern for the evening, we were approached by an energetic and jolly young dwarf. Glor, a journeying mage, is many leagues from his homelands of the Icewind Dale; his eyes seemed afire with the prospect of adventure. We do not seek adventure, of course, and I informed him we were simply on an errand for our glorious Lord. What odd characters we meet on our travels! Later, in the tavern’s common room, Seymour and I witnessed a worrying scene. A rough halfling messenger, his once vibrant clothes bedraggled through travel, marched to the bar and threw a letter in front of ourselves. “The village of Barovia is in need of heroes,” he said in a thick accent that I could not place. “You’ll do as well as any.” Surprisingly, he turned on his heel and marched for the door. Why he collared two agents of the church of Lathander – the Morninglord himself could only know. Our interest piqued, Seymour and I opened the letter, to be utterly bewildered by its contents. For posterity, I shall record its contents here, though they do not make sense to me:-
Barovia. The worms creep beneath our floors and our streets, they feast on the flesh of our dead.
High in the castle, the once lord no longer, the new lord is not yet, without form, void. All is void and vanity.
Ireena, Ireena, Ireena! Long have I kept you at my side, long will I keep you close to my heart! Save my Ireena!
I am the Burgomaster. The Master! Kolyan am I! Soon the worms will feast on me.
Come! Do not tarry!
All my divinations and research had suggested that Barovia was a peaceful, fertile land. I was certainly not expecting danger to thrust her prickly nose into our affairs! The names Ireena and Kolyan do not resonate with me; though I was reminded by my research that a Burgomaster is likely to be a town’s mayor. Perhaps this Kolyan is the person we should seek. We were too stunned to pursue the bearer of these tidings, and stayed within the common room. I supped a little mulled mead, whereas that buffoon Seymour made great show of expressing his desires for all forms of luxurious food and drink – Lathander’s choice in elevating him through the priesthood will remain a mystery. Our gentle repast was politely interrupted by a travelling elf, who’d witnessed our little scene. Introducing himself as Valarion Ulthedran, he explained he was familiar with the region of Barovia, and kindly offered his services as a guide. Seymour and I acceded to his request; we are not so foolish as to deny help that crosses our path. It seemed his services would not come cheap though, as he travels with a surly brute of a fellow in Saldek. Of course, Lathander’s coffers are not bottomless but Hirak has supplied us well – I do not wish for hiccups at this late stage. I pray for the gentle rays of the Morninglord to shine on this meeting as we depart on the ’morrow.
15 Eleint: I am not one to place much faith in omens, be they fortuitous or nay. However, the failure of Lathander’s bright rays to pierce the foggy gloom of dawn failed to raise my spirits. An impenetrable fog has descended on these hills, and will not shift; despite our remonstrations to our glorious Lord at dawn. Our party had been swelled by events of last night. Joining we Lathandans, were of course, Valarion and Saldek as our guides through these increasingly damp lands. Glor had motioned to travel with us as far as Barovia as well – he understands he is not in our pay, yet seemed keen to see this hidden realm we seek. I trusted with my heart that these fellow travellers are of noble mind – neither Seymour nor Ash noted any sense of malice or mischief from these additional three. It has been a long day by wagon today, through dimly lit yet peaceful forests. Oddly, for hours we heard nary a sound from the dull, silent trees. We were not able to broach the distance from the Weary Horse to Barovia in a single step, so tonight are forced to sleep amongst these brooding elms. The dying glow of this campfire’s embers seeks to remind me of the lack of Lathander’s morning glory these past few days. I shall be warmed, relieved and heartened by the welcoming embrace of Barovia, her relics and her blessed saints that I have sought for so long.
Gevyen Tallmer Scribe to the Dawnhall of the Morninglord, Zazesspur, Tethyr
Excerpt from the journal of Valarion Ulthedran
1372 14th Day of Eleint
Saldek Strongarm and I were wasting some time in a low dive known as the Weary Horse, considering how exactly to go about our current mission on behalf of Helene Maurgen. Two armour clad human god botherer types entered the tavern accompanied by an old man, the elder of the armoured men made a nuisance of himself with the barkeep while the younger went to attend to their horses. I sat and assessed the newcomers for what value that may have to us there was obviously church money involved but I couldn’t press it too hard or we could lose out on additional work. When the younger of the two returned he was followed in by a rather peculiar dwarf in the robes of a mage, moments later a halfling of the Vistani tribes who wander the lands of north Damara entered and approached the strangers.
“The town of Barovia needs heroes and it looks like you will have to do.” He said and threw a note on the counter before departing. I hastily followed him, my previous dealings with his tribe of some value. I questioned him but he knew or was divulging little only that the money was with the heroes to whom he had handed the note.
I was not overly enamoured with the idea of approaching the armoured types, humans are bad enough without adding in religion but I figured as we were headed that way anyhow we could make a little extra coin. The elder, apparently of higher status, was conversing with the peculiar dwarf as I approached, I respect Saldek’s skill with arms but his charms leave much to be desired, as does his hygiene. I presented myself as a guide and pathfinder for their little entourage and negotiated a small fee for getting them to Barovia and back, it is little more then a couple of days travel, a trifle considering the added safety of additional sword arms to get us where we would have gone anyway. We agreed to set off early the next morning.
1372 15th Day of Eleint
Saldek and I watched in bemusement as Seymour de Crecy and Ash Torsden carried out their prayers to Lathander, I do not understand the way in which they carry out such duties as if they are a burden. It appears that Seymour is a cleric and Ash is his sworn protector, a paladin, the old man is Gevyen, a ranking priest of their temple or some such. I could not bring myself to inquire of the dwarf, he seems bewildered more than anything else.
- Valarion Ulthedran