I have decided to part ways with my companions in order to resolve a number of outstanding circumstances. We pledged each other that we would again meet in Arbora one year to the day and complete our mission in honor of our old patron, Gray Ravenshaw. I initially spoke with George Weathermay and have agreed that, upon my return from the Amber Wastes of Pharazia and a meeting with Radu von Zarovich, I would make my way to Richemulot and join the Resistance lead by Javier Reinier against the blight of Vlad Drakov. I have spent some time with Sophia, attempting to learn Pharazian and mastering the rituals of her magical speech that may permit me the ability to communicate with those whom I seek. I was sure to pick up some of the soil and grasses of Arbora in order to aid my return.
With the sands gifted to us by our former companion, Drina, I have attempted to make my way into the mists, after being lost for what seemed like an eternity, the blasted lands I sought did eventually appear. I have kept my armor wrapped up and used a plain cloak to conceal my hair. Making my way along the river at night, I sought the old fisherman, the rakshasa to whom my soul was bargained with. Whilst washing my feet in the cool waters, I sensed the presence of someone. Turning, I noticed a man, covered from head to toe in black. He removed his hood, smiled, seeming to recognize me; he introduced himself as Nalik, a member of the Serpent’s Coil. I asked after the old man and was told that the rakshasa, whose name I learned to be Vanadadesh, had fled, absconding with my contract, and several of the assassins’ treasures. It would appear that this despicable and cowardly creature did not wish to deal with me and fulfill his bargain. I began to despair, for I did not wish to have the ownership of my soul belong to any other than myself. However, it became clear that, at least for now, I would have to put Pharazia behind me. Again I sought the mists, and was soon lost in its murky embrace.
The green fields and roaming herds of horses eventually did resolve in my vision, and I was relieved to be back in more familiar lands. I donned my armor and proceeded north and west along the main road to Bergovista on my way to Barovia. After nearly 2 weeks of travel, I cautiously turned onto the east-west road, and past the Village of Barovia where I kept my presence hidden, knowing that even after two years, there may still be those who would seek me out and attempt me harm. I found the temple of Ezra and spoke with the head priestess to whom I gave the necklace awarded to me by the Sheikh Allahn el Rashaan, in return for completing my training of the language ritual I had started with Sophia, along with some special materials that would allow me to use this magic whenever I needed it.
Wearily, I continued west into the mountains, giving wide berth to the cursed Castle Ravenloft. After several eerie and cold nights trekking through the passes, I was accosted by those vile frost creatures and nearly perished, had it not been for intervention of a ranger of the wilds. His name was Lek, and after spending the night encamped along the way and noting that this man had no love for Strahd von Zarovich, the cruel ruler of this realm, I inquired as to the whereabouts of those who oppose him, in particular, Radu von Zarovich. Lek was disturbed by my mentioning the name and bid me leave. Disappointed and concerned that I had perhaps gravely endangered myself, I proceeded to Vallaki and then attempted to trace our original path and the sanctum Radu kept whilst tending an enchanted Sophia. One night, sitting by a low fire, and attempting not to burn a rather large and furry rat I had ensnared, I felt an eerie presence. Drawing my sword, I looked about and saw a dark figure, back-lit by the near full moon, long hair flowing in the strong mountain gusts.
My heart leapt in my chest, for I knew it was Radu, finally after all this time. He approached me and smiled. I felt flushed and stepped up to embrace him. Radu and I talked for some time as we returned to his isolated home, nestled in the cracks of a stark ravine. Lek was a known entity in these parts from what Radu told me, but he felt Lek lacking in devotion and a wayward and selfish hermit. It appeared that Radu’s struggle was ongoing, and that Strahd von Zarovich and his soldiers had slain many of Radu’s allies within the Knights of the Raven. I was very tempted to join them, his conviction and devotion to the Morninglord so strong, I was humbled by its intensity. I struggled with the decision for some time, as Radu regaling me on the details of his latest campaign. I struck a compromise, asking for the honor of joining the Knights of the Raven, which Radu graciously granted. Since I had already pledged my support to George Weathermay and the protection of Richemulot, I told Radu that I must return to my homeland, but that I promised to return when my obligation was fulfilled, and continue the struggle against the great evil of Strahd von Zarovich and the many Undead infesting these lands.
Saddened after our parting, I was greatly torn by what I now saw as love for one who’s heart belonged to his faith. Knowing that there could never be anything between us, I resolved to focus on the mission at hand. I marched along the merchant road to Krezk, through Borca, where I encountered Thurik who regaled me of his own lengthy and strange travels. I urged him to join me in Richemulot against Falkovnia’s invading armies. His face was wrought with conflict, as he explained that all his clan were gone, and that he had returned from a pilgrimage to the great Temple of Ezra. Thurik seemed to recognize the immediate threat Richemulot was under, and as he had pledged to protect followers of Ezra in all threatened lands, he agreed to travel there as soon as he was able to gather a band of healers to aid him.
And so I continued on into my homeland of Richemulot, joining with partisans and soldiers heading north to bolster the Resistance. I was soon greeted by Javier Reinier, who was ecstatic to see me, and welcomed me into his main camp, based several miles beyond the advancing armies of Falkovnia. Reinier had not been successful in turning back the invaders, and, though scarred and wounded from his many battles, endeavored on night and day, planning his strategy, and commanding his small band of fighters. I was informed that the assassination of Jacqueline Reinier was likely planned by the Falkovnian leadership due to the speed and precision with which its army was deployed. This homecoming began what was to be an extensive and bloody series of battles in the struggle against the well organized and numerically superior forces of Vlad Drakov.
I cannot make a detailed account of those skirmishes, other than to say I came close to death on several occasions, but after some months, the time for my return to Nova Vaasa was near, and I bid farewell to Javier Reinier, praying to Ezra that he and his allies would prevail. It seems I am bound to an unending journey, with the light of the Lady of Mists to guide me and keep my soul intact, so on I go, writing the last entries of this journal as the boat I have hired passage on carries me east, the waters of the river lapping peacefully along its worn hull, and the evening sun’s dying rays scintillating on its smooth wake…