Against my better judgement we pressed our battle against the strange creature named Baba Lysaga. I struggle with how to describe what we were up against, however my best estimates fall greatly short with the reality of the situation. At best I can say we fought a house that trundled about on an extensive collection of roots operating as legs. I still couldn’t explain how best to fight a house, so I will just say that it was fought and we won much to my surprise. After parting ways with circus master, we continue on our way to the monastery in the hopes of finding the final key to our battle against Count von Zarovich.
After a day of uneventful travel, we find an appropriate place for making camp. The chosen site is in the shadow of a lonely towering spire with a bricked over doorway. From our cursory observations we quickly determine that we lack the tools necessary to excavate the passageway into the tower so we note it and make plans to return here at a later time with the appropriate equipment in hand. The next morning we return to the old Svalich Road toward the monastery once more. Along the path we pass a crudely erected gallows supporting three dangling bodies, upon close observation it is concluded that the bodies had been there for some time and that each has had their hearts removed.
Says I to myself, “This is something to let be”, however Pavel who has learned nothing from our time in this cursed land decides that the bodies should be set alight with mystical flame. I swear to you that his eyes danced at the prospect and before anyone could retort to the contrary he had already begun the conflagration. Surprisingly enough nothing happens and we continue on our way (in reality Pavel witnesses the bodies writhing in agony as they twist and fight against the cleansing fire). As we camp for our 2nd night of travel, we set watch and settle in. On her watch Inara spies groups of travelers wandering suspiciously through the woods opposite the road, she rousts the rest of us and we warily watch the strange procession pass. It was a harrowing and gruesome event, mothers dragging babies, men dragging legs, individuals missing arms. All shambling aimlessly forward.
The rest of the night passes uneventfully, and we take to the road again. As we travel some robed monks are spotted in the distance, Piddlewick quickly identifies them as a surly and dangerous lot, so upon his advice we rush into the woods and conceal ourselves until the travelers pass. Once they safely pass, we take to the road once more reaching our 3rd campsite. As we enter the clearing for our campsite, we are greeted with what is initially thought to be a sleeping individual. As we approach it is soon learned that it is actually the decaying body of Pavel, who appears to have been dead for some time. Also located around him are a collection of his equipment as he had them prior to the events at the Argenvast manor.
Perplexed and alarmed, we approach the living Pavel and request that he remand his weapons to us until we can make a proper investigation of the scene. We begin our examination of the deceased Pavel and it is determined that he has been dead for several weeks and carries the scars of several stab wounds (Pavel sees it to be a plantlike construct that is a copy of himself). Shocked and confused we struggle over how to proceed, do we trust the Pavel we have been travelling with? Has he been a spy this whole time? What are his motives in travelling with us? Throughout all this, the living Pavel seems to be understanding and compliant, and imploringly requests a chance to look the body over. We begrudgingly acquiesce to his request, and tell him that he is fine to look things over as long as he does not use any magic, we are unfamiliar with his mystic arts and would have no way to know whether he was doing what he states he is doing or whether we are by his actions being placed in danger.
As he approaches the body his traitorous and dishonest ways are exposed as he immediately begins casting his strange magics. Thinking quickly, Jacob breaks Pavel’s concentration disrupting the spell. Screaming in rage, Pavel lashes out at those with whom he once called friends. However Jacob and I counter his malicious advances. Screaming mindlessly to the sky the cowardly knave we knew to be Pavel changes his mind and attempts to flee instead, thankfully he is mercifully felled, trussed, and gagged until a better resolution can be determined.
As more time passes we still struggle with an appropriate solution to our dilemma. Finally Jacob exasperatingly offers to use his magics in order to speak with the deceased Pavel and question him regarding the particulars of his demise. It is our hopes that we can learn some insight and ascertain his identity. After discussing the best questions to ask, Jacob tells us that we will have a limited number of questions, he then performs the exhausting ritual.
The body doesn’t so much as come back to life, as words and phrases are expelled from his mouth in a whispering gurgle. It is uncomfortable and unsettling. What we learn is that there are definitely subtle differences between the two Pavels. It is confirmed that the deceased Pavel was felled by the Argenvast, and after barely surviving crawled here prior to expiring. He goes on to tell us that he needed to get to the monastery and that the monks there would be able to resurrect him. My first bit of doubt began to creep in as we who knew Pavel from the start know that at the time of our unfortunate melee at the Argenvast manor, we knew not of the monastery or the abilities of the monks. However we still could not reconcile ourselves with the actions of the living Pavel we still had trussed.
We descend into rest for the remainder of the evening with our questions unanswered. Further complicating things, the living Pavel attempts an escape on my watch! The nerve of this petulant fool! Does he not know that each attempt at freedom further dooms his innocence? Thankfully Piddlewick was not fooled by his treachery, and he quickly darts him back into submission. As things go, I find that I am beginning to care less and less as to which Pavel is the real one and it might be best just to end them both and save us the headache. It would be easy at this point to suffocate the life out of him as he sleeps off Piddlewick’s justice. After taking a breath I decide to let the thoughts pass form my mind and wait till the morning when all have risen.
As morning breaks, we break camp and begin the final leg to the monastery. The monastery itself is surrounded by a rather sizeable village with a protective wall. The guard at the gates was wary of us and would not allow entrance unless we left our arms at the gate. We agree as our quest being of great import demanded we make concessions in order to accomplish our goals. Once inside we are escorted up the mountain pass to the abbey itself, to see the Grand Abbot or whatever it is they call these sort of folk. We reach the abbey and are, after some discussion with the doorman, allowed entrance. The Grand Abbot appears to be kindly enough, however he is unable to aid us in our problems with Pavel’s identity. We finally decide that it may be best to cut him free and hope for the best. It is not a comfortable idea, and I see some fretful nights ahead with him.
Not skipping a beat the Abbot extolls the necessity of our assistance in helping him with his plan to….temper Count von Zarovich. Hoping that this will lead us to the aid we need, we agree to aid him, as he leads us up the tower of the Abbey to a locked door. From inside we hear the sounds of, I guess I would call it a tantrum. The abbot coos some soft words to the door as the sounds of crashing diminish and we are then allowed entry to the room. Inside is a woman of some beauty. She is strange and odd in manor however I have come to learn that all who dwell here seem to be rather off kilter (Upon seeing her Pavel sees her as a Frankenstein monster, however no one else appears to notice). She carries on about how the wedding that Count von Zarovich is about to have is nothing but a sham and that she is his true beloved. The Abbot explains that her name is Vasilka and that he has carefully prepared her in order to suit the Counts needs and will make an appropriate replacement. With her at his arm I am believing that the Abbot believes that the Count will have his heart softened and maybe cease in bedeviling the townsfolk of the region.
We again agree to provide her with protection and guide her to Valaki in order to acquire her an appropriate dress so that she can wed Count von Zarovich. As well we also acquire the necessary tools in town to excavate the tower that we had passed on our way to the Abbey. From the Abbot we learned that there was an ancient and powerful wizard that had been imprisoned in the tower and that there may be something of his magics still left inside and that these magics might potentially aid us. As well we make plans to return to Argenvast Manor in order to remedy the defeat we suffered on our first encounter there.
If you ask me, we should still deal with Pavel, because as said before you can’t trust a druid.