Upon a pale horse... (The Mists of Ravenloft)

Book One, Chapter Six

Heroes defend a town under siege

September 25, 747 – The people of Mortigny awake to papers nailed to walls and littering the streets:

BY ORDER OF HER ROYAL MAJESTY JACQUELINE REINER

Louise Reiner and her illegal mercenary army are hereby accused of treason against the sovereign nation of Richemulot. She has committed a coup d’etat on the legally appointed governance in the city of Mortigny and executed them without charge, trial, or authority.

LET IT BE KNOWN THAT all citizens of Mortigny are hereby ordered to leave the city or face the wrath of the Grand Army of Richemulot. No quarter will be given to those who take up arms against their fellow citizens.

The long night before

Louise Arrives

September 25, 747 – Louise stormed into Hotel d’Or in a fury sending the servants scurrying for cover. She held in her hand the bill declaring her and her supporters outlaws. Once the group had been gathered she showed it to each of them angrily before throwing it into the fire.

She begins to pace near the large crackling fireplace as the paper is passed around.

“So this is what you want Jacqueline?” Louise curses at the air. “This? I have finally given the people of Mortigny a chance at a new dawn and you want to crush them under your heel? Is it jealousy…? Jealousy?!?” Her pacing grows more frantic.

“The people want to build statues with your face but not your name… Is that it? For once the people love me… Me! THEY LOVE ME!!!” She catches her reflection in a mirror above the fireplace and lets out a wail of rage. She grabs a fireplace poker begins to manically smash at her image in the mirror.

“Damn you, Jacqueline! They love me, damn you! ME! ME! ME!!!” She smashes every bit of the glass on the wall before flinging the poker across the parlor and hastily wiping the tears out of her eyes.

“Now…” she states matter-of-factly (and as though her tirade hadn’t just happened). “I have ordered the city gates closed and I have
ordered all ships and cargo in the harbor to be seized. We must
prepare this city for war…”

“Villim. What is your plan?”

Villim’s plan

The group discussed at length the strategy of how best to defend the city. First, Evan agreed to get supplies from the Moreau Shipping Company and have them shipped overland through Mordent as to avoid the likely blockades on the Musarde River. Boris would oversee the training of the men in siege defense and close combat. Lydis would work with Vivianne from the Hospice of Hala to prepare for the wounded and disease. Helen remained largely silent, but was contemplating her own way of contributing to the defense of Mortigny. Villim would oversee the general preparation of the city for the siege, which included pulling the populace back into the Harbor and Castle districts so that their inferior numbers would be better concentrated. The sewer entrances into these areas would be heavily trapped and in some cases collapsed.

Villim and Cara would perform a desperate maneuver that Villim hoped would bring the forces of New Brand into Mortigny (as well as give Maria some cover to escape). He would first go to New Brand and ask them to give their loyalty to Louise. Next he would go across the border near Aerie and fight a brief skirmish hoping to make the Golden Lion Army believe that the citizens of New Brand were committing acts of terror across the border, as well as planting evidence that implies that Eckhardt had kidnapped Maria and was staying in New Brand. Finally, he sent a messenger with a false letter (hoping that Jacqueline’s messengers would intercept it) that implied that Falkovnia was sending skirmishing forces to Villim to aid him in Mortigny.

The goal of this plan was to either -

1 – Convince New Brand to join on the side of Louise, either out of promises of reward or out of fear that the Golden Lions would attack them in search of Eckhardt, Maria, or revenge. or

2 – Make Jacqueline paranoid of any Falkovnian forces so that she would attack the New Brand forces if they tried to come to her side instead.

Taking action

September 26, 747 – Villim and Cara rode hard to the north to put their plan into action. At their first stop on New Brand, Villim meets with Jorn Rainer (mayor of New Brand) and attempts to convince him to join Louise in Mortigny. Jorn hesitates believing stating that Jacqueline has always been very tolerant of Falkovnian settlers and asking why would he turn against her. He states that he would prefer neutrality.

Villim then rides across the Falkovnian border near Aerie, and finds that the Golden Lions are on the move. The appear to be preparing for a major action, but there is no evidence to point to where they are going. All that is known is that they have largely pulled out of Aerie. He nearly avoids being spotted by his brother Baldur Steinadler, before executing his plan, burning down a barn, and fleeing to the south.

September 27, 747 – When he returns to New Brand, he alerts Jorn that an invasion might be coming right at him and that his only hope is to seek protection in Mortigny. Jorn is still skeptical, but promises to consider Villim’s offer.

Invasion Eve

October 4, 747 – The anticipation of the siege continues with the Mortigny loyalists training and working through fierce preparations. As the week progresses, the morale of much of the population begins to suffer. People begin to wonder if this really is a fight worth having. Louise Reiner schedules a night of the arts at Opera de Mortigny on the eve of Jacqueline’s forces arriving. She plans to show the population all that is distinct of their great city and celebrate together one last time before the difficult fight begins.

The celebration is viewed as a novelty by the population… They are curious what Louise might say, but are skeptical of the cause. There is word on the street that the population might simply lay down their arms when Jacqueline arrives. Louise delivers a rousing address to the people and introduces them to the heroes. Villim gives a bit of oratory trying to rally the people to the cause of Louise, but it is Helen who makes the biggest impact. She stands before the crowd and acknowledges Louise Reiner to be her mother and claims the name of Antoinette Reiner. Louise recognizes this relationship and embraces her with a tearful hug. Helen then tells the population that it was Jacqueline who tricked all of the heroes into starting the war and attacking the Levigny Family. She implores the people that Louise was trying to settle this peace without bloodshed, but it is Jacqueline’s hatred of her sister that is driving the conflict and making all citizen of Richemulot suffer this terrible civil war… out of nothing but petty sibling jealousy. Louise is aghast and humiliated that the people know how she was duped, but to a person, everyone in the Opera starts to chant Louise’s name and vows to fight for her against her jealous sister.

Jacqueline Arrives

October 5, 747 – In the early morning, the horizon is dotted with the approaching forces of Jacqueline Reiner. By midday the cover the fields around the city, the banks of the river, and Mortigny is cut off. Jacqueline sends forward an offer of parlay. Louise and the heroes accept and meet her in a tent on the fields before the city.

Jacqueline taunts the party calling each of them by name and exposing a dirty secret of each of their pasts, attempting to humiliate them. Jacqueline saved Helen for last and began to imply that Louise was not her mother, but Helen cut her off forcefully by saying “I don’t care!” She then reminds them that this is not their fight. None of them are even natives of Richemulot. She offers them each the opportunity to freely leave Mortigny and Richemulot with their lives. Each and everyone one of them rebukes her advances and (for various reasons) stands by Louise.
Jacqueline tells them to think on her offer as it expires at dawn.

Finally, Jacqueline taunts Louise by telling her to think hard about the love she has from the people now. Will they still love her after a long winter of famine and siege? Will they still build statues in her name they die of plague and hunger?

Vilim abandoned

October 6, 747 – While Vilim and Boris see to the defenses of the city, Helen and the others go to the Harbor District to visit one of Helen’s Vistani friends (see Book One, Chapter Seven ). By morning, Vilim realized that they haven’t returned. Villim initially fears that his companions had abandoned him. After all, Jacqueline was right: they didn’t have a reason to stay, whereas Vilim had his own family issues (Eckhardt Steinadler, Boris, & Maria) to resolved before he could leave. However, after looking over his companions’ rooms he discovered that a large majority of their belongings had been left at Hotel d’Or. Things they would never leave: Evan’s books, the Chain Ring of Kyton, and other personal belongings. He began to think that they might have been taken against their will.

Louise, on the other hand, fell into a sobbing, drunken stupor at the “betrayal” of her daughter Antoinette and left the siege in Vilim’s hands. Vilim convinced her that he believed that they wouldn’t have left and that the Vistani friend they went to meet probably had something to do with their disappearance.

Louise grasped upon this and had the guard seize any Vistani that were in Mortigny. In reality, most of these “Vistani” were just dark skinned people foreigners and people of Barovian decent. Vilim realized this, but he allowed Louise to torture and question them regardless for fear of her temper. After a couple of days, Vilim did notice two actual Vistani in the cells and approached them for information. They agreed to cooperate if Vilim released them and got them out of the city. He agreed and upon freeing them, they told Vilim that “the ”/campaign/ravenloft-game/wikis/mists" class=“wiki-page-link”>Mists had taken his companions, but they were safe for the moment.

Boris’ visitor

October 8, 747 – Over the past several months, a voice in Boris’ mind had been whispering to him. This voice told him to take The Butcher’s cleaver and it told him to take the chains from Compte Jean Marcel de Penible. Now as he lie in bed with his bride Maria, he heard this voice again… distant at first, but becoming more and more familar. As his eyes opened, he was shocked to see the spectral form of his mother, Liesl looking down at him.

“She is such a beautiful girl Boris,” Liesl purred at him. “But you know when the time comes you will not be able to protect her. I hold the secret to great power. I can show you the same, if only you accept my help…” After recovering from the shock of seeing his mother, Boris refused her offer saying that his soul had already been corrupted enough. She promised to always remain with him and her offer would stand.

A sudden change

October 29, 747 – At the break of dawn, Vilim was awaken to disturbing news: the armies of Jacqueline Reiner had withdrawn from the city and were hurriedly heading north. Vilim was baffled by the development and left with Boris to cautiously scout the abandoned camp fearing that it may be some sort of trick.

When he returned, he was met at the gate by Louise Reiner who gave the order to arrest both Villim and Boris. Villim protested, not understanding what had happened. She told him that Villim’s father’s army had launched a rapid invasion of Pont a Museau just two nights ago and were now in control of the city, therefore she branded Villim and Eckhardt to be spies for Wolfram Steinadler and Falkovnia.

Eckhardt laughed hysterically as Vilim and Boris were lead to the same cells that he was held in.

Imprisoned

October 29, 747 – Locked away in the dungeons of Mortigny, Boris, Villim, and Eckhardt were quickly joined by Lena and Maria who were also accused of being part of the plot. Jacqueline and Louise Reiner began torturing Villim for information by placing him in a “”/campaign/ravenloft-game/wikis/Rat%20Box/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Rat Box" (a cruel torture device when a person is locked in a metal box with starved rats). Villim was maimed and suffered greatly, but focused on simple surviving the ordeal as he knew that nothing he could say or do would change their opinion. He did taunt Jacqueline saying “I know this is really all about ”/campaign/ravenloft-game/wikis/lycanthropy-serum" class=“wiki-page-link”> R-21B" even though he did not fully understand everything about it. She blanched for a second before denying she had any idea what he was talking about. His worst suffering came at the hands of Louise who came to believe that Villim had killed her daughter. Boris was also tortured, but he simply laughed seeming to develop great pleasure from the experience. His mother appeared to him again and told him that she could help him escape if he trusted her. Again Boris refused.

A strange occurrence

October 31, 747 – The prisoners were left to rot for several days, having to survive by drinking rainwater off the floor that leaked through the cracks in the walls.

One night a Vistani woman was dragged to the dungeons who had been running mad in the streets. She continually ranted about how she was “not supposed to be here” and how “Malocchio did this, but he can’t…My son?!? How could he?!? I’m not supposed to be here!” During the night the screaming and ranting stopped and by morning she had vanished from her cell.

A transformation

November 1, 747 – Boris, Villim and Eckhardt were dragged to the torture chamber and restrained in chains. They were told by Jacqueline and Louise that they would indeed give them their answers today. Lena and Maria were then dragged to the chamber and the torturers stripped them naked, and chained to a metal table. They began to burn Lena’s skin with hot irons and she (much like Boris) laughed and appeared to take great pleasure in her suffering. Frustrated they began to turn their attention to Maria — Eckhardt and Villim’s sister and Boris’ wife. Eckhardt and Villim screamed threats at them while Boris howled in rage. For a third time his mother appeared to him and before she could even repeat her offer, he screamed “I ACCEPT!! I ACCEPT!!”

Boris immediately burst into flames hot enough to melt the chains that held him. The chains on his arms grew and he was able to wield them like a lash. Within seconds the torturers were torn apart in a shower of gore and rage. Louise and Jacqueline immediately transformed into rats and fled the scene. Guards from above rushed down and Boris rended them apart as well.

The group escaped into the sewers when Boris collapsed from exhaustion.

Escape

From his time overseeing the fortification of the defenses, Villim knew of one sure way out of the sewers. On particular major pipe had become a deathtrap to any who entered it. Something was in there. The group decided to brave the pipe and hope for the best. Within the pipe they found a horrible spectral creature the raised her victims as the walking dead and attempted to suffocate the living with a powerful mental assault. The group fled for their lives and managed to escape the monstrosity and exited the sewers into the Musarde River. They slipped past the Falkovnian patrols and made their way to the woods on the far side of the river.

Villim and Eckhardt parted ways, Villim telling Eckhardt that would lie to his father and tell him that Eckhardt had died in Jacqueline’s dungeons, but in return he never wanted to see him again. Eckhardt agreed but told Villim to keep a close eye on Boris for the safety of their sister.

Flight to Mordentshire

November 2, 747 – Villim and Boris fled northwest and into Mordent, hoping to turn Lena over to the priests of her sister’s order at the Chapel of the Pure Hearts in Mordentshire. Along the way Villim began to get weak from a fever her caught in the sewers of Mortigny. They were met with many suspicious glances along the road and were forced to sleep in the cold Mordentish night as no rural inns would house Falkovnians due the invasion of Richemulot and the Four Towers Treaty. The cold nights played havoc on Villim’s health make his condition deteriorate faster.

Boris’ mother appeared to him again beaming with pride for his role in their heroic escape. She told him that he should always trust her and through her, he will continue to be powerful enough to protect Maria from any threat she faces. However, the greatest threat to her was no longer from their foes, but from his friend Villim. She told him that he would try to split them up because he doesn’t feel that he is good enough for his sister. She told him that he should always be wary.

Mordentshire

November 4, 747 – At the Chapel of the Pure Hearts, the Falkovnians were given refuge and Villim was promised that Lena and Maria would be taken care of. He then told Boris that they would leave the next morning to return to the front at Mortigny.

Boris awoke in the night and wandered down to the freezing river band where he found Lena, wearing only her nightgown, submerging her hands in the freezing water with tears running down her face.

“I miss ”/campaign/ravenloft-game/wikis/compte-jean-marcel-de-penible" class=“wiki-page-link”> him so much Boris," she cried. “The only time I felt alive since he died was when I being tortured. I just want to feel alive again.” Boris we to comfort her and as he put his chain-covered arm on her back the chains sprang to life. They tore away from his arm tearing the flesh away and wrapped around her arm. They twisted tighter squeezing both of their arms like a vise. They both howled in pain and agony as the chains began to glow red and hot. Both tried to pull away from each other and the pain grew more excruciating as it felt like the bones in their forearms were being torn out through the flesh. Finally, in a crescendo of agony, the chains shattered in the middle leaving Lena with a chain-wrapped arm that matched Boris’. The two fell to the ground, their sweaty bodies steaming the frozen snow. They panted in exhaustion as waves of pleasure coursed through their bodies.

Lena crawled in the snow to curl up next to Boris, her eyes filled with…love? Boris leaped to his feet and ran quickly back to the sleeping Maria in their bed chambers.

Betrayal

November 5, 747 – Boris and Villim said they goodbyes the next morning and (against the advice of the nurses at the church) made their way back along the road to Mortigny. After another night in the freezing air, Villim’s health failed and he could barely stand in the morning. Boris’ mother appeared again and told him to abandon Villim to die on the side of the road. Boris refused, but instead left Villim on the doorstep of a remote Anchorite chapel before returning back to Mordentshire.

He went to find Maria, but found his way blocked a priest of Ezra. “My son,” he said. “You need to stay away from that girl. Their is an evil in soul that will claim her as surely as it is claiming you.” That is the last thing Boris remembered before awakening to find the room showed in gore. He ran to Maria’s room and passionately embraced his darling wife. The two then ran to gather Lena and disappeared into the night.

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