26 Flocktime, CY 575 (Cont.)
After resting in the chapel, we proceeded to explore the remains of the manse, which was hauntingly empty. In the churchyard, we discovered a mausoleum and tower, and looking up, I noted a man with blonde hair observing us. Outside the mausoleum we noted gargoyles in the shape of dragons, the name “Argynvost” inscribed upon its door, with the following epitaph:
Argynvost, Lord of Argynvostholt, and founder of the Order of the Silver Dragon
We began to make our way through the place, attempting to find our way to the tower and the mysterious figure observing our actions. Through the kitchen, which had been thoroughly wrecked and left in a shambles we found a curtain to a lower tower with rotted and ruined beds, but no stairs. A doorway led to a hallway with a portcullis at the center, beyond which was a round room filled with dusty and disheveled furniture. It appeared to be a parlor, with a mural of silver dragons painted on the walls.
A door leading out of this room led to a wood-paneled den which had been ransacked and contained a sarcophagus with an effigy of a queen. In this room, we were shocked, when out of the hearth leaped a fiery spectre of a dragon! As we stood, weapons drawn in shock, it spake thus:
“My knights have fallen into darkness! Save them if you can. Show them the light that they have lost.”
It then faded back into the fireplace and nothingness.
It was at this time that Adren discovered a secret door leading to the keep’s distillery. The barrels, once full of doubtless excellent wine, had all rotted, the interior liquid growing sour and turning to vinegar over the decades or centuries—we still know not how long—it had sat untended.
A flash of motion caught my eye and I chased it down, eventually encountering a weak and wounded elf, dark of skin and hair, hiding among the barrels. We managed to calm him and made introductions. His name was Savid and he’d been hiding here for some time, having angered the Devil Strahd and having had a run-in with the undead guards in the chapel.
Savid is a member of a race native to this world known as “dusk elves,” who as near as I can make are similar to the wood elves of Oerth. He sought only to return to the Vistani camp outside of Vallaki with whom he lived, but was grateful for the healing we provided him, and regaled us with what he knew of the place.
It seems that Argynvost himself was a silver dragon who led a noble life as a human being, and sheltered refugees, including members of Savid’s own people when Strahd turned his wrath upon them. Eventually, Argynvost himself stood against Strahd’s forces and joined the increasingly long list of Strahd’s enemies who met their end at the hands of the Devil and his minions. Since then this place has fallen into ruin, a haunted and corrupt reminder of the hope it once offered travelers.
Savid informed us that the subtle magic we noted on the dragon statue in the front was once a trap for unwelcome travelers, which would blast the dragon’s cold-air breath weapon at intruders. The trap, however, has since grown weak, and cannot do harm. We escorted the elf to the front door and bid him farewell.
I must admit, I find my own hope dwindling. If so many mighty heroes have stood against this demon made flesh and failed, what hope have our small band? I suppose, should we fail then at least we have failed doing what is right, and that is as much as any hero could ask.
We continued our journey to the main hall, which had as its centerpiece a lavish, grand staircase with two balconies. At the center of the split stair hung a tapestry depicting a handsome nobleman in silver armor, who appeared much as the man we’d seen watching us in the tower—I had begun to suspect this to be the spirit of Argynvost. We made our way upstairs, where we discovered four pedestals, three of which bore busts of noble countenance. The fourth had been knocked over and the bust shattered into shards.
Suddenly, a winged shadow passed over us with a hiss, causing us once again to spin, our weapons drawn, but we saw nothing overhead. We called out to Lord Argynvost, but received no response.
As we walked, I had another bone chilling experience as it seems this land has targeted me in an effort to tear down my good spirits and will. Beneath a black cloth upon a pedestal, I discovered my own dead and severed head! After a moment, the vision passed, however, and the head was a mere bust that bore a passing resemblance to me.
At this moment, another fiery dragon spectre (or was it the same one?) emerged from a bedroom and flew down the hall. We followed it, dashing from room to room, until it flew into the throne in a huge room on the third floor, and vanished.
Upon the throne sat a gaunt, armored figure who admonished us to leave its presence. No amount of parlay could convince the creature that we meant no harm, were not foes, or that Strahd was anything but an indestructible plague on the land and, at length, we left the knight to his despair rather than battle that which should hot have been an enemy.
We made our way at last into the room at the top of the tower where we’d seen the blonde figure. In that room we saw a gigantic bed and a torn painting fallen from the wall. Using his magic, Davlin repaired the painting, at which time the spectral form of a massive silver dragon filled the room and addressed us, begging us to restore that which had been lost, to bring hope back to his memory by finding his skull, which “lay in an enemy fortress, displayed in a place of ill omen,” and returning it home.
The vision faded back into the painting, and we, too, faded from this place, after vowing to do all we could to return the dragon’s skull.
Thus it is that we made our way back to Vallaki, and I complete the record of this day’s events as I retire for the evening.
Until the morrow,