In which the party keeps up their forced march to Krezk, and Sumu admits to seeing things she shouldn’t.
Vallaki’s gates close behind us. Chand and Fillegan appear to exchange some banter with a guard, who calls after us “Yeah, but only IF you come back at all.” His colleague laughs uproariously, and Grismar chuckles too.
We walk with minimal conversation, all the while keeping a mistrustful distance from the edges of the road. “Let’s keep an eye out for wolves,” we tell each other , but “let’s not be found by strange disappearing things with tails and large paws” we quietly think. Or maybe it’s just me who thinks that. I’m unnerved anyway: hearing faint echoes of my mother’s voice since we left that strange apparition on those gallows that stand in the road between here and the town of Barovia. ‘You mustn’t make a sound! And don’t move! Not even a finger!’ It is no surprise that the nightmares left me feel shaky and nauseous this morning. I shake my head to myself. As Lliira teaches us: the day’s best start is gladness of heart. I let go of the key under my shirt, lift my head and try for a hopeful smile. The fog is not so bad, after all, and breakfast was quite tasty.
Fitzworth catches up with me. He looks much better since Father Lucien ministered to him. “You agree with me, though, right?”, he says. I give him a puzzled look. He smacks his head with his fist. “Of course! No. I mean… Yes. I mean… I am sorry.” Another smack. “I mean to say: you’ll come with me, right, when we go to Yester Hill? To restore balance to the woods there?” I try to give him an encouraging smile and I nod. It must mean a lot to him, to bring it up again, after all that happened in Vallaki. He continues “And also help me do something about the… the cruelty that the burgomaster of that creepy town perpetrates upon children.” I nod again.
A gravelly sound comes from the cloaked and hooded Kurwin, who goes ahead. “Seems to me, we’ve got a lot more work here than we bargained for, between the strange creatures sneaking through towns and the monstrous cronies of a local lord.” Chand finds this amusing. “Come now.” he says, as he nods to Ismark and Ireena “All we need to do is deliver these two to their monastery, do a little tour of that doubtlessly delightful winery run by the Martakovs from the Blue Water Inn to see where that next shipment is, and stop by that old windmill on our way back to Barovia. Thats it!” He shrugs eloquently. Grismar, who convinced our friendly innkeeper Danika to fill up his waterskin with wine, almost chokes on his drink. “Ye’d let the people of Vallaki continue to live under this repugnant regime of forced merriment? And ye’d let this Strahd figure keep all these people trapped here in this landlocked hellhole full of pea soup fog?” “Worse yet!” Fillegan adds “You think we can just walk out of here if and when we please?”
An awkward silence falls over the group. Ireena pulls up the hood of her cloak.
“Well, and… Well. I really think we should stop the corrupting magic of the trees near Yester Hill. It is clearly making people suffer.” Fitzworth says, just as the silence started to feel natural again.
I swallow. It needs to be said. “W-what puzzles me is that none of you seem to want to know what that poor hanged corpse was pointing at.” Apparently, this was not a wise thing to say, for now everybody stares at me. A fiery heat begins to rise from my toes. Chand narrows his eyes. “What do you mean, pointing at?” The heat has now reached my throat. “The – the corpse. On those gallows. That we saw, yesterday. It was pointing.” “It wasn’t pointing. It was dead. Not undead. Dead. It was quiet. It did not point!” Kurwin sounds very sure of himself as he says this. I am now probably the shade of a ripe wispberry, and I feel like I am steaming.
My boots are scuffed. I should polish them.
It isn’t smart to inadvertently admit to seeing things others may not have seen. Best to ask a question. “What d-did the corpse look like to you?” The silence lasts too long. “I – I thought it might look different to all of us.” The silence continues.
Eventually Chand says “I think you should tell us what it looked like to you.” I just make it to the side of the road before I throw up my breakfast. Too bad. It really was quite tasty.