“I must apologize for speaking to you on such short notice, my Count. Please take whatever comfort in my quarters that you require. My scheduled appointment was far later and I must thank you for willingly meet me within my own home. You are likely aware of why I’ve requested to see you. The crazed arcanist, known as ‘Azalin’, has-“
At the mention of his nemesis, Strahd twists like a gust from his seat, staring at the Burgomaster in contempt. A stare of shock and rage quickly transforms into the cool and collective grin shown to friend and foe alike. “Do understand,” Strahd calmly verbalizes, “such a name causes contention within my land. You should know that more than anyone. But, I rudely interrupted you by my reaction. Please… continue.”
His commanding words pierced the burgomaster harder than arrows or even the count’s hidden fangs could. As if he too was hit with a shocking statement, the burgomaster jerks back a bit. He sighs, trying to cover it up as the airs leaves his lips. Eyeing Strahd, the count simply raises an eyebrow after casually reclaiming his seat. After a few seconds of stammering, leading to the count’s arched eyebrow rising further, he continues with a hint of shakiness.
“-has been seeding the lands with spies to gather any information possible. He is plotting something big, but I shall rally the land to your aid. I am a patriot to Barovia first, and thus I shall heed any call to action. I know these matters cause a great deal of grief to you, but I hope to take some of the strain off of your shoulders.”
The count leans in, like a predator readied to pounce. “Yes, very fair. Now, out with it.”
The burgomaster visibly gulps his own spit while refraining from further stutter. “Several informants have reported to me, currently stationed at makeshift barracks by the village. They’re recanted some strange activity that might relate to Barovia and that other figure of contention. Fortunately, the rebellions of the subdued rival populations have been met with appropriate force. The rumors of their ruler’s return are grossly overstated, a mere distraction as an attempt to scare us.”
The Burgomaster twitches and fiddles in his seat, sweat drops gathering in more number like the growing armies he promised. The Count stares deathly upon the simple false ruler of the village, before his intrigued expression flattens into something more playful and cruel, “the active vigilance of a patriot should be rewarded. The call to action will begin soon, but first these informants of yours need my acquaintance. I must thank you for your service.” The Burgomaster shudders, while attempting to stiffen his stance in pride. Without further word, Strahd lifts himself to his feet and leaves toward the home’s wooden door. “And another thing, you would do best to find any spies and eliminate them quickly. I *shall* keep my trust in you.” As the door slowly shuts behind Strahd, the Burgomaster deflates into his seat from his received threats.
Author’s Note: Big thanks to P.N. Elrod, who inspired the intro blurb after a good rereading of “I, Strahd.” Likewise, big thanks to Ari Marmell for a reinvented version of Winding Road. Here’s my more constrained take, a pocket domain that links to Barovia… and possibly other domains as well. And a thought experiment gone wild, The Rule of Threes Cluster. One of the concepts is a call-back to a Planescape creation that felt right at home in the Mists, so here we are! As for the original Chaotic domain, Point Barmy was going to be it, but I was dissatisfied with it… and thus it was my April Fool’s post for how crazy it was. So, instead, here’s a domain inspired by the bank collapse of Florence. Also, I know I said I’d stop using Barovia, Gundarak, Darkon and Invidia… and yet here I am, haha.
Also, let me respond to a request I’ve gotten a few times. I won’t do a review of the new “Ravenloft” book for 5e; it’ll be dismissive, biased and angry. I’ve seen enough of it, I won’t enjoy it. Even pirating doesn’t feel like it’s worth my time.