Lost Chapters of The Mists – More Domains of Dread Part 1

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If you have found these notes, then I am still most assuredly lost to somewhere else. I am not sure when I catalogued these notes, but apparently some facet of me did very recently. Perhaps I continued to work for the dread lich without realization. None the less, may these notes prove most useful to you. Within the Lands of the Mists, the power of knowledge can sometimes be damning. However, it is often very, very useful. Stay well and ultimately stay alive.  And should you find me, you too are likely doomed.

Author’s Note: I had more domains of the Core to cover and I honestly didn’t have much other direction at the moment. I still feel a little sick and that sucks. You would think you could trust your own neighborhood to get itself together, but sometimes that’s asking too much. No matter, I’m feeling better. So, with that, here is my look at those other domains. And should I feel up to it, I might toss in an Island of Terror or two. Many of them were cool after all. Hell, some were once part of the core.  Either way, I have more to ramble on in due time.  We’ll probably see another post with lost bard entries on The Mists.  Also, happy 2021.  May it lead to good things for all.

 

 

Verbrek

In The Dark, Dark Woods Painting by Robert Sankner

Cultural Level: Medieval (within human settlements), Classical (almost everywhere else)

Darklord: Alfred Timothy.  The Timothy clan has long since been associated with the Lands of the Mists, some say that Nathan Timothy has his roots in Mordent.  Within Arkendale, Alfred was considered the runt of the litter.  Comparatively weaker and smaller, he always felt the need to compensate in power and viciousness.  In time, his resentment towards his family and especially his father grew.  Not only did he feel he had a connection to a holy power of The Wolf God, but he felt his father has grown foolish in his association with humans.  To Alfred, true humans and humanoids were lesser.  Lupine Supremacy embodied his growing ideals and hatred, and this vision of a werewolf god solidified them.  He broke free and fled, seeking to do damage and lead hunts in ways that defied the constraints of civilization.  Eventually, he was captured and set to burn.  A lone Vistani woman saw potential within him, deciding to help break him from the burning stakes.  In turn, Alfred responded through racism and slew his savior.  The Mists responded by creating a domain worthy of his extremism.  In the decade that followed, the borders and definitions of his domain’s and his father’s were skewed.  The Grand Conjunction allowed Alfred to take Arkendale, bringing the towns to ruin, while his father was free to sale around the Core once more.

Prior to the Grand Conjunction, Verbrek was far smaller, bordering on the Arkendale.  While Arkendale was the beast lurking around the corner, Verbrek was far more savage in its wilderness.  When Alfred’s father, Nathan, was disposed of his domain; Alfred took hold while the Conjunction was concluding.  Arkendale merged into Verbrek, as pervasive wilderness destroyed the towns to the north.  Ruins and bones littered the lands like trophies to The Wolf God.  But, not even this was pleasing to Alfred Timothy.  His devotion and sacrifice was also a mask for his weakness, caused by The Mists.  He cannot fully revel in his bestial instincts and lose himself to emotion.  Should this happen, he’ll be forcibly shifted back to a human form.  He despises his weakness, but this forces him to take a cold and calculating stance, even when venerating his chosen deity.  But, dare you fall into the fangs of the packs of Verbrek, doom is certainly your future.  The packs of Verbrek are almost as devoted to The Wolf God as Alfred Timothy, even forming different sects and tribes to show off the power of lycanthropy.  The Sheepskinners commune quietly, while infiltrating human settlements.  They study the flaws and weaknesses of their fleshy foes, while preparing for tactical strikes.  Many decry this sect as not only heretical, but decadent and succumbing to the traps of lesser creatures.  The Ghosthowlers are those most spiritually in tune with the wilds around them.  They prefer wild beast forms, running amongst the wolves that hunt in Verbrek.  The others often see this group as dimwitted and degenerate, no more than beasts.  The final are the Stonebreakers, who only use tools to sharpen their wits and ready them to further carve up human prey.  The other too see them as fence sitters, neither fully comfortable with either direction.  However, they are the most religious fanatical.  While all practice the darklord’s religion in their own way, their relationship remains tenuous but still strong.  They are united in The Circle, the spiritual home for Alfred Timothy’s hunts and prayer… which often coincide.

Not all is a hostile wilderness within Verbrek.  Small points of light exist within these dark woods.  Farmers, woodsmen and other people of the trade have emerged to form bastions of civilizations in an otherwise savage frontier.  Many claim their roots to nearby regions and ethnicities, but still consider themselves a part of the land of Verbrek.  These colonists lives isolated lives, never straying too far from or asking too much of the spanning wilds, all impossible to tame.  As mentioned above, the tribes of the werewolves are far from unified.  Much like the trickery of Arkendale and Kartakass, there is a group that seeks to masquerade among the humans while waiting for the perfect chance.  The Sheepskinners have proudly claimed many kills in and around the dotted settlements and roads along the domain.  Sometimes, they’ll pose as travelers and tradesmen, other times they’ll pose as prey for other werewolves.  But, not everything pertaining to the beast is fully evil.  A stone-built cottage lies deep within the domain’s depths.  To the unassuming, it’s a safe haven inn to let outsiders escape the harsh wilds.  This is the Duskpeace Lodge, operated by a paladin seeking redemption and a traveling adventure from Staunton Bluffs, Ardent and Celia Whitmoor.  While they seem pleasant enough, one should take their advice when they say to “stay within your rooms during the night”.  The windows are barred, much like a cell block, with bolted doors and at times grim construction.  Not to mention, there are strange sounds and even howls within the structure.  It is likely that the otherwise kindly duo are hiding secrets of their own, which they intentionally keep away from outsiders.  While Alfred tends to his cult, Nathan has had several adventures well beyond the Musarde River.  His boat services have not only allowed him to get away with murder, but also allowed him to grow wealthy on expanded enterprise.  Out of spite against his traitor son, he has ferried passengers in and around Verbrek for an expensive premium.  In some cases, he has tried methods to discreetly infect them with lycanthropy in a way that blames the domain, rather than himself.  Sometimes, he’ll fight against transformed newly-infected to make himself look like a hero.

 

 

Borca

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Cultural Level: Chivalric (8)

Darklord(s): Ivana Boritsi, Ivan Dilisnya (later).  Her clan once hailed from Mordent, with Lady Camille Dilisnya holding the reigns of Borca for many years.  Camille’s daughter, Ivana, proved her treachery after Camille sabotaged a relationship.  Camille instilled within her daughter an immense misandrist attitude, while teaching her in the ways of intrigue and manipulation.  This lead to Ivana discovering her favored weapon, poison.  This caused the fall of both her lover and later her own mother.  In no time, Borca became her burden.  Her curse also became symbolic.  For her treachery against not only her wicked mother, but her first love, her very kiss became a deadly poison in itself.  She could never get too attached to anyone lest, they suffer just as much as her victims of intrigue.  Within Dorvinia, she had something of a friendlier rivalry with her cousin, Ivan Dilisnya.  While it did not seem like he cared for his dead relative, he maintained an alliance with Ivana.  However, the Grand Conjuncture ultimately caused the two to share a unified domain and come to dislike each other quickly.  While Ivana holds much in the way of power, Ivan ponders means of claiming more of what should apparently be his.  As for Ivan, he caused many transgressions of his own.  His most damning was his incestuous obsession with his sister Kristina.  Upon discovery she married to another man and was having a child, he struck both down with poison, then kidnapping the child as well.  In the end, it mattered not.  Ivan’s control was relegated to law and military affairs over politics.

A note about Ivan, his clan has its roots with assassination and poisoning within Barovia itself.  House Dilisnya has a sordid history of relying on brigands and killers of the Ba’al Verzi, especially through the Darklords’ mutual ancestor of Lord Leo.  Count Strahd von Zarovich has been known to pin the deaths at the wedding on the scheming nobleman, long since lacking any trust in him or his family.  Even Clan Boritsi has its grim connections on this manner.  It should be of no surprise that this dark history likely had its effects on generations to come.  Some family curse likely damned both of the Darklords to a life of evil.  It is said that both clans still hold some influence over Barovia, despite Strahd’s wishes to banish them once and for all.  However, Barovia is far from a modern priority.  Both Invidia and Falkovnia have become major issues.  While the latter was repelled with poison based trickery, the former has proved far more of a problem.  Tensions have flared up after a couple of Malocchio’s military associates were found dead, gurgling violent ichor.  The Dukkar knew immediately of the implications, more than ready to raze Borca in search of both traitors and Vistani alike.  And even then, the attention of the co-darklords is often pitted against each other.

To say that the former childhood friends have soured in their relationship is an understatement.  The two have begun campaigns of poison based sabotage, despite being unaware that neither can die from poisons.  Many die in the crossfire as the very land is stained by their actions.  When not trying to outdo each other, each respective “Dark Twin” attempts to indulge in finer things.  While Ivana can never find another like her first true love, she empties her pockets in other ways.  And while Ivan can’t indulge in fine tastes, his debauchery extends into so much more.  Likewise, Borca is a place of fine pleasures that carry dark undertones.  Many of the plants that flourish in valleys and hills are secretly very deadly, as well as quite useful for the assassins’ poisons that are frequently crafted.  The lavish manors of other nobles seeking to outdo each other are a distraction from the absolute destitution faced by abused and neglected peasantry who try to avoid the dangerous fights of the nobility.  Much like the false beauty of the land, heated arguments and backstabbing are all too common.  Even desperate common folk aren’t above taking their neighbor down if it means they have an edge on living.  This is a land of fake smiles, where words are equally filled with honey and venom.  Life has gotten much worse from there.  Both cousins have launched propaganda campaigns on who to stay loyal towards and who to disregard, especially against each other.  This has escalated even further as both Boritsi royal guard and military constabulary have begun acting as secret police against citizens who go too far against such propaganda.  Many who disappear will do so for good, with many becoming test subjects for new poisons.

 

 

Dementlieu

The dark side of Romanticism | Arts | DW | 11.10.2012

Cultural Level: Renaissance (9)

Darklord: Dominic D’Honaire.  This advisor for Marcel Guignol has much of his own sordid past.  From a young age, abuse and manipulation were hobbies of Dominic, even driving his own nanny into suicide from madness.  Others around were seen as nothing but playthings and puppets, with many suspecting that his gifts of intellect and clever wit developed far more than his maturity.  This became more of a fact when his disgraced family fled from Mordent, emerging in the domain to capture Dominic.  He soon learned of his powers to literally dominate, bringing him an interest in politics.  While sitting on the side, he found ways to push for the agendas and desires he wished for, all while figureheads and statesmen talk for him.  His new abilities created a grouping of brainwashed subjects permanently under his sway, but also legions of enemies.  His biggest foe was a psychic-powered reanimated brain that operates a criminal ring diametrically opposed to D’Honaire.  However, he also became interested in forming a family life.  Despite his many attempts, the Mists cursed him to repulse and drive away any woman he would become attached too or try to romantically manipulate.

Considered the “Older Sister” to Mordent, much to their chagrin, this domain is very much the cultural center of the Core domains. In fact, this domain was instrumental in the creation of join anti-Falkovnian effect known as The Treaty of the Four Towers.  While there is much in the ways of lush meadows and beautiful houses, the cities of Dementlieu are particular sights.  Port-a-Lucine is a rather well known hub of culture and inspiration.  Both the capital and the port to the Sea of Sorrows, it captures the iconic image of its mother domain quite well.  Throughout its many quarters, one can find all means of museums, theaters, art galleries, eateries, inns and cultural landmarks.  Local culture can be found anywhere from higher class districts to the more humble working districts, all brimming with distinct aesthetics and sights.  While there is much in the ways of culture and trade, the darklord’s influence still lingers.  Plenty of underground syndicates have gotten their hands in the local market and arts, while even the darklord has sent proxies and spies to maintain things as he sees fit.  The most well known figure under his control is none other than Lord-Governor Marcel Guignol, which a well cherished museum is named after.  And when it comes to the darkside of the culture, Bohemian isn’t the only wax-made house of horrors.  There is a house of wax that also sports many grim things.  Alexandre du Cire is not what he seems, especially after discovering a means of mixing wax with blood to give his sculptures more life.  Some say he created a double of himself that ultimately replaced him.  And worse, it’s possible that more doubles of important citizens have been made as well.

Beyond the worries of corrupt politics, there is far fewer supernatural concerns within the domain.  None the less, they exist.  None the less, there lies a sinister charm upon the land.  Councilor D’Honaire secretly has the ability to brainwash subjects into loyal “Obedients”, who he can bend to his whim through a simple command.  Some say he studied elaborate hypnosis techniques, while others claim he has powerful charms of his own.  None the less, hypnosis has become popular within the domain, especially among magicians and illusionist performers.  The ever accursed Von Aubreckers have brought their own misery from Lamordia to Dementlieu as well.  Thanks to Rudolph’s change into “The Brain”, the family can always be felt within domain borders.  The Living Brain is quick to lock wits against D’Honaire, while enacting all means of crime to foil and toil with the rule of the land. And even then, they have helped raised much in the ways of conflict against both the upper crust and the government.  As mentioned before, rumors tell of wax golems killing and replacing their living counterparts.  Should this be true, du Cire of the House of Wax has much to answer for, if that’s truly him.  The Brain isn’t the only mental horror to cause problems for Dementlieu.  Amidst the Grand Conjunction, one escapee from their respective domain was an illithid of Bluetspur.  Their studies within psionic practice relied on fleshcrafting and reshaping, allowing them to disguise as human.  “The Dome Splitter” is a rising rival that is unofficially endorsed by D’Honaire, due to the fact he singles out The Brain above all.  Currently, the mind flayer hasn’t discovered the Darklord in full, despite many years of living in the land, as he doesn’t care too deeply.  His otherwise pretends to be an eccentric sculptor, with plenty of victims to experiment and harvest from.  He is a vocal critic of the fake Du Cire and suspects something wrong about the wax crafter.  His nickname isn’t his public name of simply “Pierre”, as only his controlled henchman call him that.  Curiously, no one under the Dome Splitter’s control can be charmed by the Darklord, something that has become a recent enigma to him.  He has begun to suspect his anti-Brain puppet though.

 

 

Hazlan

The Wizard's Tower by JonasJensenArt on deviantART | Fantasy castle,  Fantasy landscape, Fantasy inspiration

Cultural Level: Medieval (7)

Darklord: Hazlik.  A Red Wizard, he hails from the mageocracy of Thay, within the world of Abeir-Toril.  Like much of Thay, he took his own magics for often corrupt ends.  But in the end, his naivety and desire for another would be his downfall.  While not skilled in the same school, Thantosya the Necromancer became quite the rival for him.  None the less, he sought to outdo her whatever the means or ends.  One method of doing this was taking Orliab, Thantosya’s lover, over to Hazlik’s side.  Convinced that the romance was true, Hazlik was lured by Orliab into a deadly trap of Thantosya’s design.  After capture, Hazlik was branded with feminine Thayan tattoos for his humiliation.  This lead him to torture and kill both Orliab and Thantosya.  Following this, The Mists claimed him.  However, he still felt that his revenge was far from complete.  He found himself in The Nightmare Lands, where he saw ghastly visions of his defeats and his enemies.  As he plotted for new ways to get his revenge, he found himself revealed in Hazlan.

Rather than simply escaping, he wants to survive out of spite and get revenge upon his enemies.  It isn’t enough to find a way out, he must come out on top in the end too.  He is disinterested in the plights and politics of his people, preferring to focus on his own arcane experiments.  Loosely trusted allies are instead appointed as noble overseers of the land.  Those who earn his ire or distrust are usually short lived and used for the Red Wizard’s many projects.  Before the Conjunction, when Hazlik was confined to just his visions, he stopped anyone else from properly learning magic.  His constant nightmares tortured him of the thought of a new rival emerging.  However, when the Conjunction occurred and he saw Toril once more, he knew he had to amass his own power base to destroy his enemies.  And thus, The Red Academy was born.  Its purpose was never about sharing secrets to those interested, so much as readying for the moment to escape The Mists and make Thay pay for their transgressions against him.  The private retreat of Veneficus is where he can be found, spending much of his time in obsessive preparation.

For a time, he had a more solidified relationship with the Vaasi Church of the Lawbringer.  This was due to his ban on magic within the lands.  However, as he changed on this, his views on the church have also changed.  To him, their presence is merely a tool to maintain order and control over the populace.  Thus, he weaves means of keeping the church under his control as well.  This is often from afar, due to their own distaste for magic use.  However, he cares more for his own endeavors of culture, preferring to see both Rashemani and Mulani people within the domain suffer for their perceived sins against him.  His hopes that the church would be of use to him have faded over time, but he still sees value in their presence, even if the feeling is not mutual.  His loose trust in the church has been thrown into question lately, as someone has been educating the public more on Thayan culture.  Many clamor and lament the lack of a proper Zulkir for magic, as Hazlik has authorized means of silencing this.  It is likely that the conspirator was a Thayan pulled into The Mists.

 

 

Nova Vaasa

A sketch of William Norris, a patient at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, circa 1814

Cultural Level: Medieval (7)

Darklord: Malken.  A man whose attempts to cover his dark side have manifest in dreadful ways.  Many know him as Tristen Hiregaard, but a dark spirit known as Malken also takes residence within him. His curse was spawned by his own mother, who held a great contempt for her husband.  After countless accusations of adultery and the husband’s belief that he was cuckholded, the husband was cursed to slay another other woman he found himself admiring.  This became manifest after his wife was killed by him.  After Tristen’s father killed himself, the curse transmitted itself to the son.  From a young age, the dark and murderous impulses got the better of him, starting with an equally young peasant girl.  Several more murders followed suit, with Hiregaard trying to split the perverse satisfaction with his desire to repent and reform.  As he attempted to kill himself, The Mists intervened and his dark side was given a true form, Malken.  Not only was this a side of Tristen that he hated, but it was a fully living and sentient personality capable of hijacking the honorable knight.

Hiregaard was a man of strange duality before the Mists claimed him.  His curse made him slay the women he found himself with, causing a repentance and revulsion.  But, deep down, a part of him enjoyed the wicked acts.  This began to pull apart into two distinct personalities, as his “good” side did all he could to banish or suppress the other influence.  When Malken takes over Hiregaard’s body, the dark secrets of the domain are his to command.  However, he struggles to close the domain borders without help from his other side.  Hiregaard sought out the aid of any to help him purge this inner evil.  Among them was Desmond LaRouche, a physician seeking to purify his employer’s soul.  An accident left the physician in dreadful shape, who has since came to resent his former employer.  Other opportunities have shown themselves to Hiregaard, which are often destroyed by Malken.  He has gone on to track down the damage of this “Signature Killer”, while finding ways to keep him away by any means necessary.  In such time, he has built a reputation built upon an honest and honorable life, even being knighted not long after emerging into the domain.  While the Evil Malken vies for control to unleash havoc, Tristen seeks to be the best form of himself possible.  In fact, it’s possible that as both act as further polar opposites, the stronger both get in the end.  He has also served as prince and regent numerous times, gaining a respectable reaction from the public.  He has also become a clan patriarch, maintaining much in the way of influence over his own family.  Through his aid, even Tepest has recovered much from famine and dark magical forces.

But, what of Malken and his accomplishments?  First and foremost, he exists to torture the good soul of Tristen, true to the curse.  One of the first families formed by Tristen was slain in the dead of night.  Furthermore, numerous businesses have become victim to the Signature Killer, including a tavern that tried to bank on his name.  Kantora alone is haunted more than the shadowy lurking of Malken.  The Church of the Lawbringer proves to be a rigid and often cruel religious establishment.  Magic is persecuted and those who fail to heed the dogma are labeled morally degenerate.  In fact, Malken has taken joy in using public discomfort in the church to his own gain at times too.  Prince Othmar, who Tristen has served under, has made bribes and deals with Malken that not even the knighted regent is aware of.  In time, Tristen was made aware of his fate, sending him into madness and allowing Malken to take control for an extended period of time.  A recent scheme has targeted Tristen himself, with someone blackmailing him over the truth of Malken.  Tristen suspects Malken trying to pull a trick, but it’s actually from an outside source.  The interloper does probably work alongside Malken, but even Malken doesn’t want to be fully exposed.

 

 

 

Kartakass

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Cultural Level: Chivalric (8)

Darklord: Harkon Lukas.  Originating as a wolfwere in the Torilian territory of Cormyr, the future meistersinger preyed upon humans alongside his many brethren.  However, his inquisitive nature made him a pariah among his pack, leading to abuse and exile.  He took out his frustration on livestock and innocent humanoids as well.  He garnered the attention of the latter, sparking unsuccessful hunts.  In time, he grew curious about the society of these weak creatures, finding ways to weave into their world while still hunting in secret.  He was drawn to the trainings of the bard, where he garnered influence around Cormyr.  This lead to his desire to take power within the nation, or perhaps the whole nation itself.  As he readied his takeover, he was instead taken to Barovia.  His new conflicts with natives and werewolves alike lead him to flee.  His desire for power became his ironic fate, as he arrived into a new land, Kartakass.  Very quickly, he discovered that he could never truly leave and that his attempt at influence would be confined to some place so ironically insignificant to the greater picture.  Of course, he has found ways to use agents to spread the word of the bard.

A somewhat remote land where the scribe and the storyteller prevail supreme, and the musician above all.  Kartakass is a somewhat remote land surrounded by much wilderness.  However, it is still rather rich in culture.  The arts, especially stories, are well cherished among the Kartakan people.  To add the how literal the rule of story is in this land, the leader of such a land is called the Meistersinger.  Such a title is granted to a bard truly worthy of their claims.  At a grand festival in the cities of Harmonia and Skald alike, many compete for the chance to become the next supreme storyteller of the lands.  Few dare to challenge the mighty Harkon Lukas, a figure of myth and legend in his own right.  Whether from history with the land or his immense talents, he is a greatly feared and respected individual.  While the current Meistersinger of Skald can be heard grumbling about aspiring for so much more, he still takes his role quite seriously.  The Old Kartakan Inn is a particular hotspot to see the esteemed celebrity of the land himself.  In fact, those who hear his accounts and tales well into the night find themselves whisked away.  Some have never been heard from again.

Being a land of storytellers, rumors and conspiracies run rampant as well.  One of Lukas’ children, Akriel, formed her own conspiracy using Dr. Heinfroth of Gundar.  The goal was the overthrowing of each domain’s respective darklords.  While Duke Gundar was killed following these events, the attempts to incapacitate Harkon Lukas failed.  Her goal was ultimately to betray Heinfroth to slavery while Gundar fell to Kartakan control.  Following the failure of the Gundarakite Conspiracy on her end, she vanished.  It is said that much like Nathan Timothy, she too travels via boat near domain borders.  Another child, the prospective meistersinger known as Casimir of Harmonia, tried his best to suppress his dark bloodline.  His rival was blamed for not only removing information on his mother, but the destruction of the orphanage he grew up in.  Among his accomplishments were revealing his rival to be a werebeast, as well as becoming Meistersinger himself.  However, his father used him until he was cast aside once his nature was revealed.  In the end, he forcibly took human form upon dying in defiance of his father and wolfwere heritage.  Some say that the lands of Daglan were absorbed into Kartakass after Akriel’s conspiracy failed.  The strange undead and odd monsters along the southern parts of the now larger domain greatly support this.  Plus, contending with goblyn attacks on both the eastern and now southern borders further cements this.

 

 

Invidia

Friday Travel Photo: Italian Alleyway at Dusk | Backpackingmatt.com

Cultural Level: Chivalric (8)

Darklord: Gabrielle Aderre.  The Witch Queen of Invidia always had a cruel side, especially granted her cruel upbringing.  As a human with a Vistani bloodline, she was rejected by countless mundane humans and Vistani alike, forcing her to life in an isolated and alienating state.  Her own origins were the unfortunate result of Vlad Drakov’s molestation of her mother, a secret that couldn’t be shared with Gabrielle.  One night, while fleeing to safety once more, a werewolf attacked.  Gabrielle exploited this to ask her mother who her father was.  While struggling to use her Evil Eye to trap the werewolf, she eventually revealed Drakov.  For ages, Gabrielle created a fantasy of her father to cope, all but shattered when the father was revealed as a cruel warlord.  Figuring it a lie, she didn’t help to dispose of the werewolf.  She stole her mother’s silver dagger instead, as the mother cursed her to have a future child betray her some way.  Gabrielle payed this no mind, turning to abstinence and magic to avoid future born.  She emerged into Invidia, where she was soon captured and tortured by King Bakholis and his men.  The lecherous tyrant sought to make Gabrielle another ill-fated bride.  When left alone, he revealed he too was afflicted by lycanthropy.  However, she used her inherited Evil Eye power to stun the king and slice his throat with the stolen silver dagger.  It was at that moment, that The Mists claimed The Witch Queen.  Soon after, she found that she could no longer actively search for her “true father”, forcing her to contend with the subjects of this land instead.  She proved to be just as malevolent as Bakholis in the end.

Her plans to avoid childbirth were ultimately foiled by the beguiling presence of a mysterious figure, the Gentleman Caller.  Able to surpass her charms, he ironically turned the tables against her.  After discovering the dreadful encounter, she realized that she contended with a magically accelerated pregnancy.  Even after birth, the child was far from ordinary, growing and developing at a rapid pace.  From her own frustrations and malice, she taught this young Malocchio her hatred of the Vistani as well as means of ruling through cruelty.  However, his strange blood made it so he too resisted her great powers. The child, quickly an adult, overthrew his mother’s rule as she was tortured and left near dead following an annual festival.  She was driven mad and tortured through the magically recalled memories of that fateful night with the caller.  Rescued and taken to Castle Hunadora, the former power seat of Gundar, she found herself using her charms to control the rebel armies of Gundarak to her bidding.  Other men were seduced and used for her uprising as well.  One of the few to resist, a wolfwere from Kartakass named Matton Blachard, ironically fell in love with her anyway.  After failed strikes and manipulative betrayals, Gabrielle found herself baring yet another cursed child, Lucita.  The rebel leader and Blanchard both assume themselves as the rightful father, as the growing daughter is liable to turn on her mother just as Malocchio did.  Even if she stages a coupe and overthrows her son, it is likely that her plans will fall at the hands of either jealous lovers or the next of her kin.

Many other troubles haunt Invidia though.  The capital seat, Karina, isn’t just home to a festival every year.  It is also home to a serial murderer who went mad from Gabrielle’s torture.  The Midnight Slasher seeks those who dared to harm families or children, slaying in cold blood and leaving chilling rhymes written in blood.  Meanwhile, bad blood boils in Hunadura.  The rebel leader and Blachard are liable to tear Gabrielle’s rebellion forces apart, if her daughter doesn’t some day do this.  And this is to say nothing of the supposed return of Duke Gundar, who is comfortable to seize power much as he did in the past.  It is said that numerous rebel cells have heard from him, further empowering them to worsen their attacks.  Some have fallen ill, developing a taste for living blood.  While Gundarakite Rebels have remained a problem for Barovia, the strife that they cause Invidia is likely to become far worse.  One thing has evaded them, the secret of the blood gate within Castle Hunadura.  When Gundar Clan blood is spilled upon the castle, a black gateway forms.  Somehow, this information made its way to Azalin Rex, as part of the construction of The Mist Gate, holding vials of preserved Gundar Clan blood.  In fact, hearing of the tale of Strahd’s manipulation of Lord Soth to spill such blood is what sparked the Mist Gate plan to move forward in the first place.

 

IMAGE CREDITS: Pawlack – Dark Castle; Robert Sankner – The Dark, Dark Woods; Giovanni Martinelli – Death Comes to the Banquet Hall; Arnold Böcklin – Villa by the Sea; JonasJensenArt – The Wizard’s Tower; Bethlehem Royal Hospital Records – William Norris; ptwo – Black Forest; Backpacking Matt – Italian Alleyway

 

 

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