Session 26 A Kiss from a Rose on the Grave

The Wizard of Wines Winery
The Wizard of Wines Winery
Gulthias Staff
The Gulthias Staff

As our brave adventurers settle down to a take a long rest, Syrren and Aydin have a tete a tete to decide who can best wield the Gulthias staff. Syrren, holding the staff in his hand, gives Aydin an inquisitive look. Aydin grunts and looks at the ground for what seems to be an eternity. Syrren waits patiently for his companion to decide which of them can best absorb the blood-draining weapon. Finally, Aydin turns toward Syrren with a nod, then rises to his feet. As he walks away, Syrren begins to attune to the staff so he can use it in their quest.

Grateful for a chance to rest, they all settle into the safety of Tilly’s hut. Upon waking up the next morning, they agree to finish exploring the winery’s dark rooms. Together, they descend the stairs and begin trying to open the locked doors – one leading to the outside, and two leading to unknown rooms to the north and the south.


Demonstrating her prowess for lock picks, Tilly picks the lock of the door to the north. It leads the adventurers out onto a veranda that is obviously set aside for vigorous grape smashing. Tilly’s first inkling is to jump in and start stomping, but, cooler heads prevail, and she decides to dig into one of the three large grape troughs to see what might be buried.

She uncovers an empty vile with a suspicious scent – proof positive that much of the grape supply in the winery has been contaminated by the druids as part of their plot.

Next, they enter a room to the south, finding themselves staring down a long room that leads to a winding staircase leading downward. This room appears to be a glass blowing workshop. Tilly looks around to discover four sealed bottles of wine – two of the grapesmash, one of the red dragon crush, and one bottle of the coveted champagne. Term places them in the bag of holding for safe keeping.

Term heads down the narrow staircase and leads the group into a very dark room. This turns out to a room they have seen before. They leave the room by taking the main staircase, up to the hallway where they found a storage room, leading out to the main cellar. They continue out to the wagon, where their battle with the druids first began, and spot barn-like structure. The only door is around the side, though the structure appears to be connected to the main winery.

Inside the barn are two horses. Tilly begins bridling the horse to pull the wagon. She offers an exhausted Aydin the other horse to carry him for the next part of their journey. All at once, the group notices that the blights before them are not attacking. Instead, they are simply staring at Syrren. When his companions look at him with puzzling expressions, he nods toward the staff. They take their leave of the winery and encounter one of their wereraven allies. He transforms into a human before their very eyes. The shape-shifting acquaintance asks if their quest was successful. He is shocked to learn that the wine has been poisoned, but feels much better when Term and Syrren offer to purify the wine for them. Aydin pulls the green gem from his waist and hands it to the wereraven. He confirms that this is not the true green gem as his family approaches.

The adventurers are told that they need to go up the treacherous Yester Hill to reach the place where the druids have likely hidden the real green gem. They are permitted to take only one of the horses, as the second horse and wagon are needed to deliver the purified wine. Thaldir uses his scroll to begin purifying the tainted wine, while Syrren purifies batches using his druid abilities.

Onward to Yester Hill

For the journey, Thaldir packs several pony-skins full of wine (just to be sure it’s really purified). They head south toward Yester Hill and the tall forest. As they enter the dark forest, the stumble upon a lone grave. Syrren insists that they leave a token or a memento to honor the dead. Tilly and Thaldir begin to examine the pile of stones at the head of the grave. They don’t find any markings, but they do see a pile of clothes in some bushes nearby. Term discovers a trail of prints – first human, then appearing to become those of a large wolf – leading away from the grave. He shares his find with the group, but they all agree that the potential secrets the grave holds are more pressing than the werewolf.

Near the grave, they find a book that appears to be Vasilli’s missing ledger. They do not find the lockbox or any sign of Zenia Romanoff’s body. They add the ledger to their load and continue on the way to Yester Hill.

As they travel onward, Syrren takes the ledger and tries to decipher it. It appears to be a collection of tax payments from some familiar names: Claudia, Lady Wachter, the church. It appears that Vasilli, has been collecting tax payments for Strahd. There’s no time for the group to debate what the ledger means, because the imposing Yester Hill looms ahead of them. The black rock is covered in moss, trees, and wild grass.

Yester Hill
Yester Hill

At the base of the terraced hill sat a small ring of standing slabs of stone, each slab no taller than three feet in height. A thick carpet of moss rolled over the earth here, clinging to the sides of a trio of carved obelisk-like slabs before bubbling over the sides of a terraced cobblestone shrine three layers tall. At the center of the shrine stands a single stone slab, its smooth face washed clean by millennia of wind and water, save for a myriad of carved symbols and runes. A single raven rested upon the slab, and cawed mockingly as they approached.

The Obelisks of Yester Hill

The obelisks contain symbols similar to those they found near the windmill; a symbol of an eye, a tree, and a wolf. On the central slab Syrren saw druidic runes carved above the engraved image of a long spear whose carved tip dripped with blood. Syrren looked at the ruins with a glimmer of recognition. Tilly gives him a swift kick and asks if he knows anything about this place. He is hesitant, but confesses that the runes translate to “Here lies Kavan the Bloodsinger. May his spirit guide us through the trials of the Ladies Three”. With this in mind, the rest of group agrees that they should move on from this place very quickly. As they make their way around the outside of the stone configuration, they hear a strange voice.

“Long have I waited” it says, “for ones who are worthy. Approach my monument, such that I may look upon you.”


A ghostly spirit appeared of a tall, broad-shouldered, well-muscled man with long, dark hair, and a pair of bloody handprints upon his chest. One of his eyes was missing, and he bears a gaping, ragged socket in the place where it once rested. He carried a ghostly image of a spear, and had a proud, solemn countenance.

He greets them and tells them that he is Kavan and thanks them for their service to the disciples of Rozana. When the group looks confused, he apologizes and tells them he is speaking of the Martikov family. Davian Martikov and his kin serve the legacy of the Ladies Three, a trio of archfey-like entities that once ruled the land of Barovia.

He goes on to tell them that the nation of Barovia was once called “Cerunnos” by the druids, but was renamed “Delmor” when invaded by a race of Men called Delmoreans, and again renamed as “Barovia” when Strahd’s forces invaded.

He asks Syrren if he knows the history of the Forest People and Syrren just nods. Kavan, looks at the rest of the party and tells them that A great schism split the Forest People in the wake of Strahd’s invasion, in which a group of druids, bitter from centuries of oppression and isolation by the Delmoreans, guided Strahd to their most holy places in the hopes that his patronage would replace the power that they had lost.

Kavan was chief of the Forest People when Strahd arrived, and was unable to prevent the schism between his people, dying at the hands of an unknown assassin shortly before the split was completed. Both sides of the druidic tribes claim the title of Forest People. Those that oppose Strahd name his servants, “the faithless”.

He goes on to tell them that it is these faithless that stole the artifact of great power from the Martikov clan, a large green gem imbued with the power of the Ladies Three.

Kavan warns them that the faithless have designs to invoke a ritual of foul blood magic atop the hill this very night, likely to strike back against the Martikov clan in retribution for their failed invasion. He informs them that the ritual will begin at Moonrise, and adds that the “whispering of ravens” have told him that an emissary of the Dark One will be present for this event.

He tells them that they have a choice if they wish to prevent the ritual. Strike in the day, before the ritual has begun, or attack at nightfall, when the shadows can cloak their approach. The way up the hill is long and taxing, and its trails are patrolled by many warriors of the faithless. If they are discovered, Kavan warns, the enemy will rouse many to combat, and may slay them or drive them away. If they attack under cover of night, however, they have a better opportunity of making it to the top, especially as many of the tribe’s berserkers will be drawn to the crest of the hill as guardians of the ritual. However, if they wait until nightfall, they risk the ritual’s completion.

Our adventurers are determined to halt any dark, magical ritual and vow to go up the hill toward the druids. Believing this might be their best chance to confront the druids that stole the gem, they assemble to plan their attack.

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