Ravenloft: Prisoners of the Mist

Within the swirling Mist (IC) => Tales Around the Campfire => Topic started by: Praying Mantis on April 19, 2022, 10:46:45 PM

Post by: Praying Mantis on April 19, 2022, 10:46:45 PM
Vol. I- The Lady’s Resting Place

*A new series of unique fiction begins to circulate amongst the Core’s wide array of pubs, inns, and taverns.  Part review, part tale, all entertainment, the humble storyteller J’ystn Chance has begun creating these quick tidbits of written prose to both inform and excite*

Greetings dear audience.  I am pleased to welcome you along on this daring adventure as we seek out the most tavern worthy tales far and wide, while at the same time fulfilling my passion project…visiting every inn, public house, saloon, speakeasy, lounge, dive, and bar in the known Core and living to tell about it. 
Of course along the way, an intrepid Bard such as myself is sure to either pick up or create a story worthy of sitting around the hearth and sharing a pint to as the night passes by.  So what better place to start our boozy path than where all the newly misted begin their journey, in Barovia’s famed Lady’s Resting Place……

I entered the Lady’s in the wee hours right before dawn.  The crowd was as to be expected, tables of huddled adventurers seeking shelter from whatever terrors the night held and blowing off steam from a day of merchanting or the most recent chaos of the city’s outskirts.  I passed by them, circling around each in group that dotted the tavern floor like island clusters. 
I was intent on finding a place of rest.  There had been violence in the outskirts today, the senseless type that makes you shake your head and wonder why, the type that makes you want an ale and a bed.  Drifting by the fireplace, it’s warmth melted off the cold chill of the night, when I was suddenly surprised to see a young boy, no older than 10 in human years, tucked into the corner where the hearth met the wall.
“Hey pal, what’s the word?” I said as nonchalant as possible, children love when you talk to them like adults.  He didn’t respond however, and I was immediately put off by the odd guest.  The look on his face was that balled up scrunch children get when they’re doing their best to create a dam holding back the tears about to burst forth.  What’s more, I found it rather odd none of the brave, adventurous types gathered at their tables were paying him any mind.
“Want a drink?” I flashed him a playful smirk trying to lighten the mood.  The boy shook his head, still fighting back tears, and just pointed at the entrance.  He didn’t so much hold him arm out and point at the door as he did repeatedly thrust his index finger towards it with some urgency.  “Lad, I don’t know if you’re new here or not, but it’s rather obvious whatever’s out there that has you so worked up can wait till sunrise.”
Obviously he didn’t concur, the boy shook his head in adamant disagreement, and then left me stuck standing in sudden shock when he took off towards the exit.  It took me a moment to recover my wits and close my mouth which apparently had been hanging open at the brazen act.  Pivoting towards the door I more stalked than walked towards it, waving a mock hand of thanks to the rest of those gathered.  “Don’t worry…I’LL…handle it”.  I half shouted my frustration to no one in particular.  They scowled in return giving me the look one gives a beggar muttering to himself on the street.  Grabbing the handle I flung the door open, exhaling a tentative sigh as I stepped outside.
At first there was no sign of my new drinking buddy.  Just the chill air of a Barovian night that always felt cold and dangerous.  Narrowing my eyes, I glanced from side to side, catching a dart of movement to the right.  Taking off in a jog to pursue, I caught up to the boy who was now standing next to the city’s well, waving me on in great earnest towards him in a desperate plea to follow.  I sighed once more, closed my eyes, and cursed softly when I opened them, he’d already descended.
Sliding down the rope, my boots hit the ground with a muted slosh against the wet planks.  In truth I didn’t know what to expect, and my stomach was slowly turning into a knot.  My friend was there, standing over a tangled object several feet in length wrapped in a burlap sack, his back to me and head hung low.  I glanced up towards the mouth of the sewer intent on calling for help, dawns first rays forcing their way downward.  To my surprise, or perhaps not, when I turned back the boy was gone, it’d seem I found a place of rest after all.

The Lady’s Resting Place-  A staple Barovian inn that’s as much shelter as it is tavern.  This famous structure has been keeping outlander adventurers drunk, and safe, since the beginning of time.
Ambience 3/5: Most if not all patrons are misted adventurers full of interesting story and good company.  Thats is if you can get passed the vampires and pesky gremlins that periodically sneak in
Space 4/5: Though simple and basic in design, the Lady’s is laid out like the ultimate tavern.  A bar, fireplace, wide floor space, stage, games, and rooms…enough said.  Sadly not all the amenities are used nearly as much as they should be
Menu 3/5:  It’s not a bad selection if you like Barovian fare.  Drink menu is simple and lacks depth.

Writers Tip:  Tavern Tales stories are told in something called “flash fiction”, a literary style designed to be short, usually under a thousand words which (not?) coincidentally is this articles count as a whole.  Most notable in this form of prose is a punchy ending often featuring a twist or strong sticking point.  Due to the brevity of the tale, each word must be made to count.

Post by: Praying Mantis on April 26, 2022, 08:57:26 PM
Vol. II- The Broken Spire
*A new series of unique fiction begins to circulate amongst the Core’s wide array of pubs, inns, and taverns.  Part review, part tale, all entertainment, the humble storyteller J’ystn Chance has begun creating these quick tidbits of written prose to both inform and excite*

Greetings again fellow revelers!  A quick detour takes us out of Barovia for this installment of Tavern Tales, and into the city of lights itself.  Drawn by the advertisement of chess matches, I was promised an evening of good ale, good conversation, and an unrivaled contest of strategy.   The wit and guile of chess is a metaphor for many things in life, as we’ll see in our next tale……

I eyed the haughty couple from over the rim of my mug as they entered.  He wore a well-tailored suit in current pastel colors that stood out like a beacon amongst the dreary blacks and greys of the other male patron’s clothes.  Her, a form fitting gown cut and colored in the most modern of trends, so lavish that her entrance halted all conversation for a beat.
After ordering drinks, they took a seat at a booth and chessboard across from my barstool, view slightly obscured by the damned spire sculpture taking up a good portion of the room. 
I couldn’t fully make her out but I could see the gentleman, eyes darting back and forth, his mouth pressed to a thin line of discomfort.  What was he so sour about?  Spending a night of drinks and games with the most beautiful woman in the room was no reason for frowns.
I thought them out of place.  Though the occasional wealthier patron might wander in from time to time, this quarter was usually reserved for the working class, or sailors coming in on shore leave.  Whatever spectacle they were after with their entrance was beyond me. 
I shrugged lightly, turning back to my drink.  In doing so I realized I’d made a mistake.  The latest entry to the bar was the second most beautiful woman in the room.  For seated at the opposite corner of the tavern was a working-class girl that despite her threadbare dress and unkempt hair, shone brighter than any silken gown the other woman could’ve worn.  Tilting my head, I pivoted on the stool to face her, flashing a small, flirtatious grin, and offering a silent cheers with my mug.  She didn’t return my advance, rare, so I figured her distracted.  Following her gaze, I realized the source of her diversion.  Her attention was rapt with the power couple across from her.
Not easily put off, I stood, setting my mug down with a bold clank that announced my determination.  Confident to make my way over,  the hushed murmurs of a nearby conversation however pricked my elven ears, and I paused a moment to listen.
“You got home late last night, my dear.  Those dreadful board meetings are stealing all our time”.  I heard the noblewoman lament as she pushed a pawn across the chessboard.  He responded with a disappointed sigh “I know dear, I know, I simply can’t find a way out of them, they need me there to make sure the books are in order.”  He moved a pawn of his own.
She moved her knight in a sweeping L into the battlefield.  “And I can’t believe that clumsy Monsieur L’orue spilt wine on your shirt!  The maids may never get it out!”  He moved another pawn forward.  “It’s fine really, I have plenty of shirts.”  I could see him give his best effort at a half-hearted smirk.  Of course the broken spire was blocking my view of her so I couldn’t make out her face, but I heard another round of questions come after a long pause.
“What a fool Madame L’orue was, bringing that mangy cat of theirs to the meeting.  Who do they think they are?  It’s basically feral, no wonder it scratched your neck when you tried to pet it.  You’re lucky you didn’t lose an eye!”  Her bishop made a direct line in a diagonal march across the board.  “I know dear I know, but I’ve loved animals since I was a boy I can’t help myself, the urge to pet is too much” He seemed to relax a bit trying to console her, sipping his drink and moving his own bishop from the rear line.
The banter of question and answer about the Monsieur’s ill-fated meeting quickly bored me.  I turned to check on the humble beauty I’d meant to approach, but she was apparently enamored with the chess match, not me…forget it. 
Checking back in on the couple, I heard the gentleman excuse himself to the privy.  I watched his departure towards the rear of the inn for a long moment, and when I turned back, I could vaguely make out the lady placing something back into her tiny clutch purse.
The gentleman returned shortly after, seating himself at the board who’s pieces had thinned out by now.  “Dear, this is fun and all, but why did you pick such a…salt of the earth type of place, surely there were better venues?”  He asked with raised inflection, skepticism.  “We’re nearly done my love, you never know what trap I may have laid out.”  Her tone was playful, but there was a shrewd, mechanical ring to it.
He gave a nervous laugh looking to the board, and took another eager sip of his drink, moving a rook to block his king.  “There’s just one thing dear.”  I could see her queen move into a dire position.  The night you were at the meeting, I was baffled when I saw the L’orue’s returning from the theatre, seems they had tickets and couldn’t attend your…rendezvous.”  I quirked a brow and pursed my lips watching the man’s reaction as he let out a flustered stammer.  “Wh…what, that’s impossible dear of…of course they were there, my shirt…and the bastard cat…I mean….” 
His face suddenly turned very white, and he reached for his throat, sputtering in short, staccato chokes.  “How long have you been f….” She composed her anger.  “How long have you been seeing her here in this filthy hovel, Luke?”  Her words dripped with venom.  Luke merely gasped out more wordless wheezes, eventually falling face first with an unceremonious thud as cheek met table.  “You should’ve known better than to try and play me dear.  And I believe that’s checkmate.”  With that she stood and flicked over his king.  Opening the purse from before, she dropped an empty vial on the table and strode out in confidence, like a queen.  The peasant girl in the corner shrieked in horror.

The Broken Spire Inn-  A modest venue located in Port a Lucine’s sometimes rugged docks district.  It is cleaner and safer than it’s counterparts in the quarter.  The floorspace features a large spire rising to the ceiling inside, hence the name.  The main draw is the free to enter chess matches that draws a friendly crowd, and the charming, albeit somewhat mysterious hostess Shrixenna.  She goes out of her way to make sure guests feel welcome, and is more than a pleasant conversationalist.
Ambience 4/5: There’s something I like about the idea of meeting new faces over a game that requires you to interact with one and other, while taking place in a bar.  Shrixenna takes this place from a run of the mill status quo, to something entirely unique.  Decorations inside are basic and limited, however there’s plenty of windows for air and light.
Space 2/5: Straight forward design and seating.  The giant spire in the center of the floor is either a huge attraction or a huge obstacle depending on your perspective.
Menu 3/5:  Simple food and drink selections, beer, cider, wine.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Prices for both the rooms and the menu are reasonable.

Writers Tip: Show don’t tell!  When describing something it’s all to easy to fall in the trap of telling something.  Showing something however helps immerse your reader and help them see what you see.  For example, instead of saying “When I told Madame the news, she was upset.”  You could say “The corners of madame’s lips sunk like a ship when I told her the news”. 

Post by: Praying Mantis on May 09, 2022, 01:21:07 PM
Vol. III- Tigan’s Rest
*A new series of unique fiction begins to circulate amongst the Core’s wide array of pubs, inns, and taverns.  Part review, part tale, all entertainment, the humble storyteller J’ystn Chance has begun creating these quick tidbits of written prose to both inform and excite*

Hello once more fellow patrons!  Returning back to Barovia, I thought it best to continue our journey in the safest route for any bar guest, a straight line.  As I was strolling the main road of Vallaki, Tigan’s Rest appealed to me for two reasons, a quickly setting sun, and nothing else to do.  It was inside that I recalled an older but classic tale inspired a band of thieves looking to capitalize on a guard’s passing, and the swift judgement one of my closest and most righteous of friends enacted.....

They swore this would be their final score.  It’s not like Petru and his gang liked stealing from the dead.  It’s just that when one of the Garda’s own passes, let alone two, their graves twinkle like a dragon’s hoard with all the shiny offerings piled up by grieving mourners.  The cold grey stones marking what lives once were now lined with trinkets like a shrine. 
At first when they’d started casing funerals for the loot of grief-stricken mourners, they’d ran through a gambit of emotions.  Guilt, desire, remorse.  Then you spend the money, get your first taste of stepping out of the filth of the slums and suddenly the remorse melts away to determination.  They weren’t malicious men, just poor.  Tough world out there and all.  Now that they were pros though, the main thought was mostly just don’t get caught.
They’d done everything right as usual, meticulously planning in the back rooms of Tigan’s Rest.  Deciding exactly the precise number of days to pass after the last shovel of dirt was thrown is critical.  The secret is you must find the sweet spot where enough time passes that the flow of mourners paying their respects slow down, but not too long as to have your prize carried off by someone else.  In the basement of the dive tavern that smelt like old ale and sweat, the men agreed on three days’ time.
When the time had come, the silvery glow of a waning moon cast only the feintest glow over two headstones erected with dignity and care along the shorelines of Lake Zarovich.  Petru and his gang were shadows in tall grass as the snuck towards the beach side memorials.  As the men drew closer, they could almost taste the cheap booze they’d splurge on with their stolen fortune, could nearly smell bargain perfume of the entertainers at the Prancing Nymph as they pressed against them.
The men looked like sailors caught in the dreamlike lure of a sirens call while they glided in a crouch towards their target.  Captivated in a magnetic haze brought on by the feintest glint of gold amongst the tombstones in the gloomy moonlight.  So intent were they on their prize, they hardly noticed the silent, grey sentinel step from behind the tree in front of them a mere few yards from the beach.  Petru halted, squinting stupidly as the flash of insignia on the figure’s cloak revealed justice’s scales held up by a skeletal hand.  There was a second flash of metal in the grim moonlight, though not gold.
They swore this would be their final score.  But Petru couldn’t keep that promise to his men.  The grey sentinel kept a silent vigil now over three new coffins after a cheap, quick Vallaki Slums burial for which no one mourned.

Tigan’s Rest-  An infamous bar located in Vallaki’s slums known for drawing a suspect crowd.  They’ll be more than happy to pour you a drink or rent you a room, just make sure not to get too curious about the other patrons in the process.  And if you’re carrying anything valuable, do yourself a favor, check your pockets often
Ambience 2/5: Standard bar decorum of unfinished hardwood furniture and structure.  Nothing fancy here, and that’s just how the guests seem to like it. 
Space 3/5: Tigan’s offers a large open space with plenty of seating and room to stay as far away as possible from the other customers who seem to …highly…value their privacy.  A shame they don’t book entertainment because the place is laid out perfect to dance or mingle.  The rooms were surprisingly clean as well
Menu 2/5: The food menu, not surprisingly, features the standard Barovian fare.  What is surprising is that there are far more options in food than even the more popular inns like the Lady’s Rest.  The drink menu on the other hand…look I love a plain old standard ale more than most, however…that’s about all you’ll find here…or worse.

Writer's Tip:  Tigan mean’s “Gypsy” in Balok, usually with a negative or suspicious connotation.  Doing a bit of research to learn the basics of the local environment your story will take place in goes a long way to help with the reader’s immersion into your tale.  Much like showing over telling, using a background that feels thought out and alive will make your narrative resonate more.