Purveyor of Dark Delights
- Jul 9, 2018
It all started with a letter.Not a simple letter mind you, but one that was elegantly scribed on layers upon layers of rich parchment that had been pressed together into one durable single sheet. It held its shape remarkably well despite being curled around itself for so long within a tarnished copper tube that kept it safe from the elements. Tiny blotches and stains upon the paper wordlessly confessed to the scroll having some age to it's fibers, but the ink was deep and dark, and most certainly freshly penned. Those little marks of age, the manner in which the words were wrought upon the smoothly sanded face of the scroll, and the red wax seal emblazoned with the shape of a castle tower that crisply fell away once opened all granted it an air of undeniable authenticity.
How that strangely dressed young man who couldn't of been but a handful of years her elder had found her amongst the swarming populace of Krotice was truly baffling. It wasn't as if she kept an address, or held a steady job somewhere. In fact she was all but the opposite of that, drifting randomly about the poverty stricken streets she called home. But that oddly attired man who could of passed as a peacock with all of the colors his garb flaunted found her all the same. Hell he even knew her by name, which was down right disturbing for it's own reasons considering she was sure they had never met. Still he didn't seem to be much concerned with her once that sturdy copper scroll tube was gone from his moderately bejeweled hands and firmly in her own. In fact he seemed so intent to move on and forget about her that he had to catch himself in mid turn and recompose himself. "Ah, ahmost forgat." At least he claimed such, though his dusky blue eyes and that little silver ring piercing the right side of his brow didn't lend much sincerity to the words.
His scrawny arm had descended to a deep red leather belt that hung around his waist like a sash, where his deft fingers unsnapped a tiny black coin purse from its possession and flicked it her way. "The Burgomastah, eh' wanted ya ta know, tis just a spittle of tha astates coffas in dat dere bag." His fingers had been busy adjusting his colorful scarf and fiddling around with the loose ends of a red bandanna that nestled across his dark brown curling locks of hair. "Use eht ta make yo' way, tha shoud be anough crowns ta pey fo'a guide, an if nat, dere's more dhen anough ta seddle up wid'em in Barvovia."
By the time her joyous eyes had risen away from the sparkling gold coins that held her in a sort of hypnotic state the gypsy was gone from sight. Ducked back into the throng, leaving her with a tease of untold wealth, and a note with a simple map delicately traced across the backside of its page. An easy to follow path, clearly penned, that would bring her directly before the gates of Barovia.
Hail unto thee,
It is with a great sense of sorrow that I must pen this letter unto ye and deliver such tragic news upon your eyes. Though you no doubt possess no memory of her, your proper birth mother, Ireena Kolyana, has fallen deathly ill. I fear that by the time this letter finds it's way into your hands, she will be gone from this realm. She was, and has always been the love of my life, and though I am by no means your father, for her heart belonged to another, I am duty bound to carry out her last wishes.
She beckons you to come home, to claim her estate and it's holdings, and do with them as you see fit. You are the last of her blood, the last of her and your family's lineage. I am sure that you have many questions, and from my understanding of things you have every right to be both skeptical and bewildered by all of this news so many years later into your own life that blossoms before you. I beg of thee though, return home. The gates of Barovia are open unto you. Do not let your mothers estate fall into obscurity and be lost from its rightful heirs.
Follow the map upon the back of this letter and it will lead you without fail to the village of Barovia. When you have found your way onto the path, be sure to travel at the onset of the rising sun. Do not stray, do not turn back once your journey is well underway, for the Svalich Woods are a dangerous place to find oneself at night. Heed these words and you will come to the edges of Barovia by nightfall. Once beyond the gates the manor should be easy to find, simply look to the south for it sits alone there on the fringes of the village proper.
I will greet you personally upon your arrival at the front door to your mansion, and do my utmost to answer any and all questions that I am capable of.
With much love, and regret for not being able to personally deliver this message unto you,
Burgomaster of Barovia
And so the gathered trio found themselves upon the wandering road that meandered along the valley floor between the foot hills of the Balinok Mountains. Black pools of water stood out like dark mirrors about the muddy roadway. Thick, cold mists spread a pallor over the path. Giant tree trunks rose up on both sides of the lonesome road, their branches clawing into the heavy lingering fog. In every direction beyond the narrow trail the forest seemed to grow more dense, becoming more and more oppressive until the fog grew so thick that it washed it all away. The muted presence of the sun shined like a blurred out blot through the fog. It's passing was difficult to trace through the dense canopy of limbs that crossed like the webs of some spiders nest overhead. The eerie silence only amplified the seemingly distant howls of wolves, closer croaks of toads, and other less identifiable sounds that intermittently greeted them.
The going was slow, but every step drew them closer to their destination, while every stride also pulled the hazy glow of the sun further down towards the horizon. The mist only grew thicker, leaving just a shallow deathly grey light to pierce through to the trail below. Even the towering trees whose trunks were almost touching began to fade away into the obscuring fog. The thick, damp undergrowth pressed and crowded all around, making it nearly impossible for the small group to keep each other in sight at all times. It had grown silent, after several hours spent on the road, as if the band of travelers were treading through a quiet graveyard that exuded a feeling of an unsounded scream waiting to be released.