Curse of Strahd: Chapter I
A new tale unfolds
If you’re new, welcome! I’m Arjun Agarwal and this is my newsletter. I hope you have a great time reading the first chapter of my new serial novel, Curse Of Strahd
Before you ask me, entering a domain of dread is a bad idea. Like on the scale of amoeba to giant blue whale, it is on giant blue whale for the level of stupidity.
Don’t do it.
Hi, I am Mauzzit, I was a happy gnome making potions and selling them to adventures before I fought with those god-damn wolves in that god-damn fog that god-damn night.
Let me start from the beginning. I was in the tavern drinking.
It was a boring tavern in a boring town in a boring province where I wouldn’t have stayed for long. The only reason I had stopped there was to buy some equipment and ingredients, which I needed for a fresh batch of Mauzits(I call my potions Mauzits). Outside the tavern, a fog layed stagnant. The damp, cobbled pavement glistened as the lights from the street lanterns danced across the slick stones. The fog chilled the bones and sent shivers down the spine of anyone outside. The streets were shrouded with melancholy silence. However, behind the tavern walls, the food was hearty, and the ale was frothy. A fire blazed in the hearth and the voice of country-folk roused around.
Suddenly, the tavern door swings open, and the room too was shrouded by melancholy silence.
Framed by the lamp-lit fog, a form entered through the doorway. His heavy, booted footfalls and the jingle of his coins shattered the silence. His brightly coloured clothes were draped in loose folds about him, and his hat hung askew which hid his eyes in shadows.
Without hesitation, he walked up to me and said in an accented voice, “I have been sent here to deliver this message to Bruno Harwood, Valentine Castor, Mauzzit, Somelina Vardez, Xaia Lim and Sleantenss. If you be of honour, you will come to my master's aid at first light. For it is not advisable to travel the Slavich Woods at night.”
He pulled from his tunic a sealed letter, addressed to all the others, including me in beautiful flowing script. He dropped the letter on the table. “Take the west road for some five hours. At the bridge of the river Slavich, my master shall be waiting.”
Paying no heed to the silent stares, the gipsy strode to the bar and said to the old and lean barkeep, “Fill the glasses, one and all. My Master and I apologize for interrupting your jolly night.” He dropped a purse heavy with gold on the bar. With that, he left.
The chatter of the bar resumed but was now no longer the needless gossip of town folk but were subdued whispers. Bruno, Valentine, Somelina, Xaia and Sleantenss pulled their chairs to my table. In front of us lay the sealed letter which the mysterious man had delivered. It was sealed with red wax embellished by a crest which I had never seen before. Bruno looked like a normal human you would meet walking down the street. He wore a white shirt and silver-blue pants. His hair were the darkest shade of black. He picked up the letter and examined it closely, “The stamp seems to be made of the old wooden block. Might be some kingdom which is disconnected to the world.” Bruno took a deep breath, “However, as tradition, I cannot leave a letter opened.”
“Stop right there, dude. We don’t know what the letter contains, it could contain a trap.” Valentine snatched the letter. He was a telling, dark-skinned with ram-like horns. He had grey hair with strands of blue spread across. He wore flamboyant scarlet robes with brown leather shoes.
“We can’t fit a trap inside” I blurted. “Like there is no place for the mechanical contraptions.”
“It can be something magical,” Somelina replied. “Not that I sense magic around it but...” Somelina was a human who wore a purple long dress with black leggings. Her skin was neither too dark nor too fair. Her eyes were blue with a hint of green.
“So, come on. Why would someone send a letter which is rigged?” Xaia asked. Xaia wore a black short top and long black leggings. Her curly hair revealed her ears, which were open testimony to her elven heritage. At that time, None of us knew(including Xaia herself) that she was only half-elven.
Sleatense snatched the letter from Valentine and ripped it open in a fashion much to Bruno’s dismay. Sleatense was a goblin, he wore a brown hunter's tunic and long pants to protect his legs. He also wore a blue woollen cape that doubled as a scarf. His quiver full of arrows and his bow hung on his side as he read the letter,
“Hail to thee of might and valour!
I, a lowly servant of Barovia, send honour to thee.
We plead for thy so desperately needed assistance. The love of my life, Ireena Kolyana, has been afflicted by an evil so deadly that even the good people of our town cannot protect her. She languishes from her wound and I would have her saved from this menace.
There is much wealth in this community. I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea.
Come quickly for her time is at hand! All that I have shall be thine!
“I haven’t heard of this kingdom,” Bruno said once Sleatense was done. We all nodded in approval.
“It could be a trap.” So said.
“I think the request is sincere. The man wants to save the love of his life from something beyond his understanding.” Valentine argued. “I have lost a loved one, and I don’t want anyone to go through that pain. I am going, regardless of any of you joining me or not.”
“He’s right. Why don’t we go and help?” Sleantense joined in.
“I also think that we should help,” I said. I was naive at that time.
“But the messenger knew us by name, don’t you smell something fishy?” So argued.
“So, come on. We both are anyhow mercenaries, why don’t we do some good this time?” Xaia chimed in.
“Whatever, I am still suspicious.” So said, agreeing in her own way.
“So everyone’s up for it, so I’ll also hop on the bandwagon. Let’s go!” Bruno exclaimed.
Valentine put the letter in his bag and walked towards the exit. “Where you goin'?” Bruno asked.
“Aren't we all leaving for the woods?”
“The messenger said that it isn’t safe to travel at night,” I replied.
“The more we delay, the more we risk.”
“So we travel at night in woods?” Xaia objected.
“The goblin can guide us.”
“It’s Sleatense.” He replied.
“Sleatense can guide us.” Valentine corrected.
“I don’t mind night travel but you humans, you all can’t see in the dark,” Sleatense said.
So, Valentine and Bruno snapped their fingers at once each creating a ball of light, So’s was purple, Valentine’s was blue and Bruno’s was yellowish-white.
“That does it. Let’s go.” Valentine exclaimed.
It took a few minutes of walking to reach the end of the city and then we walked along the only unvegetated path, in the middle of the woods. Black pools of water stood like dark mirrors in and around the muddy roadway. Giant trees loomed on both sides of the road, their branches clawing at the fog.
It was a silent walk which took about three hours despite the messenger claiming it would take five. The stone bridge arced grandly over the river Slavich. Its walls were carved and cut artistically. The design was magnificent but unfortunately, no one else noticed as a human silhouette stood near the bridge and before we could reach it, a pack of wolves attacked it.
Clio-Amanda System got a lot of great reviews from all of you however due to my co-author Huzefa being busy right now, It is paused.
The next episode of the Box 99 series will come by the end of this week.
The next episode of this series will come next week.
Thanks for reading,
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Comment below to tell me which character(till now) is your favorite and more importantly which character deserves to die a painful death 3 chapters later.
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