Disclaimer: This includes spoilers for Curse of Strahd so don’t read if you don’t want to know.
We completed our looting of the Amber Temple. Aleera told the party she did not find Milo and succeeded in lying about it. Milo had the hard task of raising himself up and not dying. In spite of being left for dead he managed to stabilize and survive the Queens. He joined the party and since he didn’t know that Aleera left him to die, everything went on as if nothing had happened. Aleera accepted that he had survived and left it at that. If fate wanted Milo to live so be it.
The only place that was left for our party to go was Castle Ravenloft. We got the covered wagon ready to go and made our way north towards Strahd’s last bastion of control. We were powered up and ready to rumble. On our way to the castle there was a telepathic broadcast from Strahd to us. He cordially invited us to his wedding to Irina. We were confused because we had left Irina safe in Krezk where we knew it was safe from Strahd’s influence. Somehow, he had gotten a hold of her and was getting ready to fulfill his pact with whichever being he had dealt. We needed to hurry.
We increased our traveling speed and got there as quick as we could. When we arrived there was a light fog but nothing to be worried about. The bridge and front courtyard were all festooned in wedding adornments and various servants were running around preparing for the ceremony. Many servants were goblins. Milo and Wick were able to knock a couple out without the others noticing and dressed up as the servants. We entered and were shown around the foyer. We noticed however, that when we tried to go back towards the entrance the statues adorning the front seemed to glow in the eyes.
We correctly ascertained that we could not leave. We made our way to a side chamber that turned out to be the grand dining room for the wedding. The food appeared to be lavish and elegant but upon closer inspection we found that it was moldering and rotten. Some of us taunted Strahd to try and get him to reveal himself. All we did was anger him and get our invitation revoked. We then had to traverse the castle with everything attacking us.
The castle was like a maze and we went almost everywhere trying to find Strahd. He just kept taunting us and kept his minions attacking. Eventually we found a tall tower and made our way up. At the top was a pulsing red crystal in the shape of a heart. It seemed to be connected to the castle. We used a scroll we had found in van Richten’s hideout that purported to be able to break dark contracts and connections. Aleera, Kariss, Malachi and Wick started the casting and managed to do something. The heart’s inner light faded, the pounding heartbeat stopped and the crystal shattered into pieces. The falling debris fell into the darkness below.
We knew it couldn’t be that easy but perhaps we had weakened Strahd enough to fight him and win. We kept searching as he taunted and threatened us through his mass telepathy. Tired of the chase and ready to put things to an end we met Strahd on a high parapet and fought. He managed to get his hands around Milo’s throat and began to strangle him. Before, it was clear that Strahd was just toying with us, but now he was out to kill us! Strahd escaped as we began to gain the upper hand and we followed him back down into the bowels of the castle.
We made the long slog back down and made our way into the catacombs where we found our old friend Esmeralda the reformed werewolf. We freed her and noticed that there was a bright shining red door to the opposite side of her cell. It was Asterisck’s iconic shop door. In order to allow her to rest and gain back some vigor we entered. The place was even smaller as Strahd’s influence had shrunk more space around. Sylvia begged us to hurry and let us know that this would be the last time they could help us at all. They had no potions and nothing else we could use except the safety to sleep for a few hours.
We set down to sleep, more bunched up than before, with a growing darkness in many of our hearts.