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The Vallaki Review

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The Vallaki Review
« on: November 24, 2022, 12:19:06 PM »
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 1



INTRODUCING...
We are pleased to introduce the special first edition issue of the VALLAKI REVIEW, dedicated to keeping the hardworking people of our city informed and armed with information to protect themselves. See our final page for information on providing tips, opinions, or purchasing advertisement.

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.



DOMN CHISCA DEFENDS THE OUTSKIRTS, MURDERER AT LARGE
Spoiler: show
Local enforcer Radu Chisca has been on something of a rampage this month, stepping up his defense of the Vallaki outskirts outside the Lady's Rest Tavern. While those who frequent the outskirts bartered and bargained on the strada, unaware, domn Chisca was watching with a keen sense for the danger that lurked beneath the surface.

Greatest among his several recent targets was a disguised pitic, a wanted murderer now returned to Vallaki in the guise of a honey-tongued potion merchant.

Domn Chisca confronted the pitic, who was said to be wearing tan brown linens, his trademark sledgehammer in hand. Addressing the pitic as "Bones" and holding a weathered warrant poster, witnesses say that Radu gave the pitic a countdown of ten seconds to collect their things before he would collect the bounty on their head himself. The pitic denied any allegations of being the one known as "Bones", claiming their name was "Am'guud" from Har'Akir. To the surprise of all, as the countdown began the pitic's bones began to crack and their form shifted into that of a wolf before bounding off into the woods, Radu in pursuit!

"It was impressive, really, that Radu was able to sniff it out like that," one anonymous source tells the Vallaki Review. "Bones was completely covered from head to toe, you couldn't see its face or anything. And it played really dumb. I never would have guessed, and who knows how Radu figured it out."

We have obtained a copy of the original bounty, which we reprint for your education:

Quote
WANTED: DEAD or ALIVE

"BONES"

For the heinous crimes of MURDER, and DEFILING the CORPSE of their victim! (Charge addendum: two counts of assault upon the body of a servant of the Burgomaster)

REWARD: 10,000 (Formerly 5000) FANG

A female pitic hailing from the far-off wasteland of Har'Akir, known only by the moniker of bones.
This shameless and monstrous little creature has murdered a guard of Vallaki, who had done naught more than approach the imp while
attempting to carry out their lawful and noble duties on behalf of our beloved Burgomaster.
Any capable of apprehending this miscreant will be generously rewarded for doing so. Those who offer her shelter or succour will share her fate.
(Bones has recently committed another assault upon two guards of Vallaki, injuring one and lethally wounding another. Charge addendum entered by Private Vlestra Tercua, under direction of LCpl Oncuil)


Lance Corporal Cosmin Onciul (reposted by Private Vlestra Tercua, under direction of LCpl Oncuil, with updated bounty amount and added charges)
⚖️ VALLAKI BOUNTY AND COMMISSIONS OFFICE ⚖️
According to the Vallaki bounty office, the bounty is over a year old. The original issuer of the bounty, Lance Crporal Cosmin Onciul, could not be reached for comment.

The Vallaki Review is informed by multiple anonymous sources that the pitic is known for selling potions and purchasing herbs in the Vallaki outskirts. We encourage visitors to the outskirts to take caution, for the lawless outer edges of our beloved town are lightly defended.

The Vallaki Review was also able to witness the distruction of a witch's cat in broad daylight, the "Demon Cat" known as Midnight. Appearing as a mere black cat, Radu immediately recognized the creature and charged it, crushing its head with his sledgehammer.

Corporal Grigore Olinescu of the Vallaki Guard was on the scene, quickly recognizing the "cat" as a fiendly creature who had previously attacked the garda and killed several of his men. According to the Corporal, the cat had even spoken, and was a fiercer opponent than it appeared.

"Its skin was tough like iron, its fangs and claws were like blades," the Corporal tells the Review. "To be honest I'm not sure if it was the same cat but it looked the part. That one threatened me and my men, even killed several."

The hellcat's owner appeared, horrified by the crushed remains of the fiend and appearing confused by the presence of the garda Corporal. Domn Olinescu called the man a witch, and chased him away from the town quickly. We have been unable to verify the location of the hellcat's owner, but be aware he may have fled west into Wachter lands.



BELLEGARDE CONSORTIUM SUFFERING BUSINESS TROUBLES
Spoiler: show
The Vallaki Review has recieved tips from multiple sources that something is afoot with the Bellegarde Consortium in Barovia. Several days past, a small army of the Consortium's troops were witnessed marching fully armed and armored west out of Vallaki, towards their land near Zeidenberg. Passersby speak of smoke and the sounds of battle, though understandably none have dared to venture closer to see just who the Consortium is fighting.

Since the time of publication, fighting is known to have taken place around the mining town of Krofburg, and that wounded were among the Bellegarde's agents. Curiously, agents of the company were spotted spilling into Krofburg over a month ago, including foreign strike breakers from Dementlieu, the Company of the Fox, and others.

If you have any information, opinions or wish to make a statement to the Vallaki Review, please see our tip line on the final page.



THE RUMOR MILL...
Spoiler: show
A bizarre creature known as a "parrot", hailing from far-off Markovia may be spotted in the Vallaki outskirts of late. Sporting a rainbow of brilliant feathers, particularly red and blue, the creature is not yet named. Keep some seed in your pocket should you spy the little fellow!

A "devil ape" is said to be hunting the lands west of Vallaki. The Vallaki Review is seeking tips on sightings of this rumored ape.

A mystery poet, signing their work as "A.F.", has debuted in Vallaki. Who could this individual be? We will not reprint the artist's work without their permission, so you will have to keep an eye out for the curious poetry! Look for papers tacked against trees.

Who is the Black Duke, and is violence even occurring at all? Stories abound on the streets of this "Black Duke". According to an anonymous source, this "Duke" carries a whip and engages in torture, leading a cult dedicated to worshipping him. His followers supposedly have made a pact with him at the cost of their own souls, and are marked by their glowing red eyes. Yet, the Vallaki Review could not verify any truth to claims that he was committing violence in the Wachter region.



COMING SOON!
Spoiler: show
Look forward to our features next issue, on doamna Carmen Albescu, hostess of the White Lily and the upcoming Winter Festival! Alongside her feature will be a deep dive into the curiosity that is the Budding Fool, a local project of outlander domn Dirge Driftwood.

Here's a sneak peek of what is to come:

With a sneak peak at next issue's Feature on the Budding Fool, a local project of outlander Dirge Driftwood. A social establishment aimed at newcomers to our precious city, the Budding Fool's mission is stated to be to help newcomers to our area learn to survive in Vallaki.

"It isn't about grand events or sending waves through the city. You come for the conversation you'll share with others."

"I came to the Mist like many others...I have found myself able to strive in a land that supposedly bogs down so many."

Look forward to our features on doamna Carmen Albescu and domn Dirge Driftwood in Issue 2, where we will learn much more about the hard-working individuals who keep our city lively.



TIPS, REPORTERS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki, or to our reporter Anamaria Cosovei at the Lady's Rest. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth. We eagerly seek to employ new reporters.


VALLAKI CALENDAR
Note the following upcoming events. If you would like your event featured, please make us aware of it and write with any details.
- Dekavr 3rd, a winter festival sponsored by the Red Vardo Traders is to be held at the Guard Citadel courtyard.
- Dekavr 8th, a fishing competition hosted in Barovia. Carpentry workers are sought, and invited to seek out Kyleid.


CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2022, 11:14:38 PM »
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 2



INTRODUCING...
Welcome back to another issue of The Vallaki Review. Our pages today are full of both violence and joy, festivals and tragedy. We remind readers that we are actively looking for more reporters, information on which you can find in our final pages.

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.



VROLOCKS IN THE OUTSKIRTS?
Spoiler: show
According to anonymous witnesses, a priestess of the Morninglord by the name of Yeira engaged in mortal battle with an accused vrolock in the outskirts several days ago. According to these witnesses, the Morninglord priestess was battling the alleged vrolock when an outlander snuck around and pelted the alleged vrolock with a mixture of holy water and alchemical fire. This allowed the priestess to run the vrolock through with her spear, causing the vrolock to turn to mist.

Not a day later, a gruesome painting was left in the outskirts for all to see. In this painting, the outlander is stabbed from behind by a woman in red, and appears to be howling in pain. The painting is signed "B.T." and we have verified that at least one member of the garda is confiscating paintings by this artist.

After conducting numerous interviews, the Vallaki Review believes there may be truth to the claim of a vrolock painter and urges readers to report mysterious gruesome paintings to the nearest garda. Whether this vrolock is related to recent attacks on the outskirts and responsible for a pile of bodies in the Morninglord temple in the last few days is uncertain, as frequent travelers to the Vallaki outskirts report that another group of vrolocks may be operating at the same time, known only as the "Scarlet Cross".

We have information on a group which intends to hunt both the painter and this Scarlet Cross, and will be reaching out to them to learn more.

According to witnesses this last evening, a duel took place between a man by the name of "Vahn" and a supposed vrolock member of this Scarlet Cross. Our sources state that the duel was lost by the vrolock, due to fearing losing a favored weapon to the duelist's disarming technique.



THE WINTER FESTIVAL APPROACHES:
AN INTERVIEW WITH CARMEN ALBESCU
Spoiler: show

Today we sit down for an interview with Carmen Albescu, Vallaki's very own wearer of many hats! Charity organizer, hostess of the White Lily, baker, tailor, herbalist, and now a manager at the reopened Gaping Wound tavern, doamna Albescu certainly keeps busy. Doamna Albescu took some time out of her busy schedule to sit down with the Vallaki Review and discuss her upcoming Winter Festival, as well as other projects she is currently working on.

Interviewer: Anamaria Cosovei
Note: The order of questions and their related answers have been rearranged for readability.

Only a few days after this issue's publication, doamna Albescu will be hosting a festival in celebration of Vallaki's traditional winter festival, right in the Citadel, the safest part of Vallaki.

Q: Can you start us off by explaining what the Winter Festival is and how it works, for outsiders who may be unfamiliar with our local traditions?

     The turn of the year is as important to us Barovians as it is to many other people of the Core. New beginnings, leaving behind the worries and hardships of the last year, or simply reminiscing about the good memories we've had. Though it is not usually celebrated in a grand scale, I know most of us grew up with our mothers preparing a special dinner come the late of Dekavr. While it is held in the halls of some of our Burgomeisters and nobles' mansions, I figured this year Vallaki needs one for the people. And what better way to spend a cold winter's day, than drinking merry with friends, enjoying dancing to the tunes, eating good food and hoping for a better year to come greet us?

Q: What did your own family like to make in late Dekavr? (Readers, mine was fond of porridge. Very sad.)

     Pomana porcului, or pork's charity as it's named in Common. For those who do not know, it's basically a stew cooked in a cauldron with a variety of pork bits, served with garlic sauce and polenta. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Q: (So was I.) Now, on to more serious topics. Tell us a bit about yourself.

     Myself.. I am quite boring, I'm afraid. I am the hostess of the White Lily, a place in the basement of Houlgrave's Books & Rarities in the Residential District. I'm quite lucky that I get to be able to run the place. It's a place for those to gather, for either spending time together, or discuss pieces of literature, arts, and so on. I also hope to be able to properly serve my guests, so the White Lily will have a bakery addition soon! Other than that.. I live in the slums, with my mother, I take care of her. Whatever I earn from the many jobs I work, I try to give the excess back to those in need.

Q: The posters say all earnings will go to those in need. I'd like to learn a little more about the charity aspect of the festival.

     I hoped a day of celebration will open up means to help those in need. My main goal for setting this up was gathering donations, beyond having a joyous day. I wish for people to have a good time, but also keep those who cannot in remembrance, and pitch in to this charity cause. First on our list is the Orphanage. Kids grow, and so do their needs. As well as the people of the slums. I live in the slums myself, and it breaks my heart to see our homes in such state. If our donations can help a little bit, I'd be happy.

Q: Handling charity must be a difficult process. How do you make sure it gets distributed in the best way possible?

     On that note, I'm in collaboration with the Guards. They will of course oversee everything, as a tax needs to be paid even from donations earned as well. Depending on the amount raised, it'll be the deciding factor on how it is split. I also ask people where they would like their donations to go to, which I take into account. But...the priority would be the orphanage.

Q: Charity is sort of a matter of trust, and expecting that the person is going to handle the funds better than you could, right?

     I am very grateful and honored that people have trusted me with this so far. I will not betray that trust.

Q: It sounds like the Vallaki Garda will be involved in making sure the donations are spend responsibly. How else are people getting involved in helping with this event?

     Currently my official associates are the Red Vardo Traders, the Vallaki Guards, and the Morninglordian Church for this occasion, currently. The Red Vardo have been extremely generous, offering to cover the costs of the festivities, which has helped a lot since I am not a woman of riches myself. 

     The Vallaki Guards, specifically Corporal Olinescu and Lance Corporal Florescu.. this wouldn't be happening without them! They allowed us to use the courtyard grounds, and both of them are great men, that has been supportive and helpful through every step, with ideas and more. They will be keeping all of us safe throughout the celebration too so...cannot thank them enough. 

     The Morninglordians reached out, asking if they could celebrate their own holiday with us on that day, as the times are very close to each other. Dawnspear Yeira's a kind woman, who has provided me with many great ideas! And I think their hopeful outlook on things will make our night brighter that day.

Q: What convinced you to give something of this scale a try, instead of just hoping someone else would handle it?

     I had an inkling feeling no one would.

     I feel extremely lucky with all that I've managed to earn, and it feels wrong to keep it all to myself. I hope to see people smile, I suppose. I was conversing with Lance Corporal Blair Florescu, asking him for opinions and suggestions on what kind of gatherings I can hold at the Lily. A charity event...and he suggested doing it at the Citadel as part of winter celebrations! That's why the scale went big.

Q: So the Garda reached out to you to help?

     Yes! I am grateful to them, really. If Lance hadn't mentioned it, we wouldn't be having a festival. Corporal Olinescu allowed the usage of the Courtyard too, and even helps me with decorations himself.

Q: How did you manage to accomplish making a living for yourself, and all you've managed to earn?

     I am not rich, per se. The festival is sponsored by the Red Vardo Traders, for example! They are generous and willing, asking nothing in return. I wouldn't be able to fund it all alone. I also cannot NOT mention the donations of other people. I myself, well. I work many jobs. I save up all that I can, and spend it only on the Lily's rent and other costs similar to it.

     I work as a cleaning lady at the Citadel, a courier for the warehouse, I gather herbs while doing courierwork and sell those, I worked at a tailor, I am currently starting work at an inn.

Q: That's a lot of jobs.

     Yes...though up until now I have earned nothing from the Lily. I do not plan to, either. Though I wish to add a bakery section within, to make it easier for the place to support its costs.

Q: Tell us a bit more about the White Lily and your other endeavors. How successful has the White Lily been, as another one of your charity projects?

     The Lily has not contributed in a manner of fangs before. We've done non-profit meetings for teaching people how to read, educative lectures in poem writings, and book clubs, as well as artist gatherings.

Q: Why is it important people learn how to read, or learn about poems and art?

     Not many have the time to spend on arts and poems and paintings in Vallaki--we have, quite frankly, more important things to do. However, people also never have the opportunity to learn, if they never wish to. So, I wanted to provide the opportunity. I myself offered reading lessons and others contributed with art meetings and poems, like domn Cezar Paslaru and domn Arsene l'Hopital. I open up the Lily's doors to everyone who wants to hold something there, within reason of course.

     I think if anyone can find some respite from all the worries they have in their lives, through anything the Lily can provide...that's enough of a reason to keep going.

Q: Back to the festival, how are you feeling about it, now that the festival is almost here?

     I am...nervous. No matter how many gatherings I hold, being before a crowd is still terrifying, and also being responsible for their enjoyment, as well as the whole charity aspect. But, I am excited, equally if not more so.

Q: What comes next for you?

     The Bakery at the Lily will open, and with that, gatherings will continue! I'll focus on trying to do more there, until another festival time rolls around.

Q: Alright, we started on the topic of food, let's end on the topic of food. You mentioned you were working on opening a bakery at the White Lily. Any particular pastries you are most excited about?

     ...Almond cookies.

Q: Who will be doing the baking? Do you have any secret recipes? (I was hoping to learn one.)

     I'll be doing the baking. As the only daughter of my family, and living with my working aunt, I had to learn how to cake and cook! I am more intuitive than a recipe follower, but I'm working on perfecting my own recipes.



Readers, we look forward to reporting on the event, as well as the grand opening of the White Lily's bakery. You can expect both our pastry review and the reviews of those we find on opening day!



LOCAL CHILDREN WELCOME, PROPOSE NAME FOR EXOTIC MYSTERY BIRD
Spoiler: show
You may recall a note in last issue's Rumor Mill, of a curious creature known as a "parrot" from distant Markovia. Since the poor creature was without a name, we have recieved a number of drawings from local children eager to depict the magnificent beast and offer up their own name ideas! While the Markovian parrot is not ours to name, we are excited to share their little drawings.

"Markus", no doubt named in honor of his country of origin!


"Domn Feathers", an adorable name.


"Radu Jr.", and we are sure domn Chisca is delighted and honored.


Have you spotted the mysterious red monster bird?



TAVERNS APLENTY! GAPING WOUND, SILVER ASTER OPENING
Spoiler: show
The Gaping Wound, as we all know, has a storied history here in Vallaki Famed for its affordable drinks and lively atmosphere, but that is not all it's known for. Managing a tavern in the Vallaki slums is surely a challenge, for the Gaping Wound is also known for frequently exchanging management.

Who will be the latest manager in a string of many, you may ask. None other than the doamna of many hats, doamna Albescu herself! We are left with the question: what is it about this tavern that causes it to pass through so many managers' hands? Fear not readers, for this mystery is too intriguing a one to ignore. We shall be learning more about the Gaping Wound after its reopening.

In addition to the Gaping Wound, another tavern may be opening soon: the Silver Aster, which appears to be owned by outlanders rather than locals. We will be reaching out to the Silver Aster to learn more in our next issue, and reporting on our impressions of each establishment after their opening.

We humbly request that patrons of both establishment--as well as their staff--feel welcome to write in to The Vallaki Review with opinions, information and whatever might suit your fancy.




THE RUMOR MILL...
Spoiler: show
Curious markings in the dirt and trees. Have you noticed while walking through the woods, the sight of strange spiders and crescent moons scratched into both tree and dirt? What could these mean?

A week ago, someone pinned a rat corpse to the door of the White Lily and scratched a note insulting Barovians. If you have any information on who may have committed this act, please report it to the Vallaki Garda.

The garda have recently fined individuals in the outskirts for breaking curfew, at a cost of 1,000 fangs. Shouts can be heard frequently from the outskirts these days, calling out those who defy the curfew.

We have no reports of the supposed "devil ape" which was said to have haunted the outskirts a tenday ago. Nor do we have any updates on the strange business troubles which plagued the Bellegarde Consortium of late.

Be sure to write to us with any tips you might have, on these or any other topics, as we try to stay informed of each developing situation.



COMING SOON!
Here's a sneak peek of what is to come:

You can expect that interview with Dirge Driftwood, as well as reviews for not just the new White Lily bakery but the Gaping Wound--and more!


TIPS, REPORTERS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki, or to our reporter Anamaria Cosovei at the Lady's Rest. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth. We eagerly seek to employ new reporters.


VALLAKI CALENDAR
Note the following upcoming events. If you would like your event featured, please make us aware of it and write with any details.
Dec 2 - Gaping Wound Grand Reopening
Dec 3 - Winter Festival
Dec 4 - Fishing Competition


CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2022, 05:32:56 AM »
Quote
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 3



WELCOME BACK...
We are granted the opportunity to take a breath here at The Vallaki Review, as a string of exciting events come to an end and we may reflect on all they brought to Vallaki. Winter is close to its end, and spring will come soon. We encourage our readers to write in with tips about concerning activities, enticing curiosities, or even ideas they may have for our paper. To spring!
Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.



A RARE CATCH:
FUN & GAMES AT THE LUNA RIVER

Spoiler: show
Writer: Anamaria Cosovei & Team
Fishing poles lined the Luna River several nights ago, where outlander Kyleid hosted his first Fishing Competition with the help of several associates. The sounds of splashing, laughter, and frantic reeling filled air long into the night as ten contestants competed for the chance to be crowned winner of the competition.

According to several sources, many of the contestants that evening had never tried fishing before, and simply intended to watch. Domn Kyleid's convival cheer convinced them to give it a try, and in one case that try resulted in a win!

Kyleid spoke to us further about the results. "Our winner, Meresankh who had never held a fishing pole in her life, reeled in the largest freshwater pike I've ever seen! I'd wager it was around 40 inches and 45 pounds." According to Kyleid and multiple witnesses, the largest fish required the aid of a stout dwarven doamna to even hold at their size.

Other contestants included Gene, Athlauf, Vahn, Eloane, Yahtzee, Janos and Athiel, as well as more who did not share their name. The second and third place fish were close behind the first in weight, impressive in their own right! According to one of our anonymous sources who attended the competition, a strange man appeared at the end after the competition had already been completed. Although it was not eligible for entry in the competition, it weighed nearly as much as the winning prize!

"Other than that, it was a quiet evening, no night creatures harassed us, thanks to my hiring of a guard, Vahn, to watch over us in the night." Kyleid tells us. "I do plan to host more, yet I believe I'll need to do some much better planning next time.  You wouldn't believe how many wolves tore down my creations because they thought wood would sharpen their teeth!"

We spoke with one local fisherman who works the lines on the Luna River, and he told us the sizes reported by the competition were "ludicrous" and "surely involved vraja". Another, who identified himself as 'fishing veteran' Vlad of Krezk, assured us that such sizes are entirely possible along the Luna River.

"You get the same problem as with the wolves and the other creatures around this area," he told us. "There's something tainting the water and the soil alike, and what food you can hunt or fish either starves or gets big enough to snap your line."

When asked if he had caught any fish as big as those reported, Vlad assured us he had. "Would have fed my wife's whole family for a week, that one did. Called her Big Girl." Vlad showed us a mounted fish over his mantle, where Big Girl had been stuffed and was on display. She was a massive fish, and roughly the same size as the winner for the recent fishing contest. Vlad explained that he could barely hold the pike and marveled at the beginner's luck it would take to win such a fish just a little larger.

Nevertheless, we are assured by several sources that the fish caught along the Luna River that laughter-filled night were indeed of spectacular size.



VROLOCKS AND THOSE WHO STAND AGAINST THEM:
WITH EXPERTISE FROM VAHN STANEK

Spoiler: show
Writer: Anamaria Cosovei
Fear and violence have always ruled the night outside the walls of our protected city, and in no place is this more true than the Vallaki Outskirts. Recently, bloodshed has been the order of the night, as no less than two separate entities of vrolocks and more creatures of the night seek to sate their bloodlust on those stubborn few who live outside the walls of Vallaki, and outside the good Count's protection.

The wisest stay indoors, keeping to the sanctuary of the Morninglord temple or taking refuge at doamna Bianca's humble hearth. Outsiders, particularly outlanders, are well known to we locals for defying the good Count's curfew and even challenging the dangers of the night. Recently this has lead to an increase in the curfew fines we have reported. Sometimes they do this for a thrill, to enjoy the night, or out of ignorance of noapte's dangers. But increasingly this has led to a shedding of their own blood across the strada, due to multiple separate covens of vrolocks.

We spoke with Vahn Stanek, a Darkonese orphan who has come a long way from his days working odd jobs on the docks of Martira Bay. Domn Stanek is known among outsiders for dueling vrolocks and coming out alive, not only once, but countless times.

"About a year ago, I felt an urge to leave Drakon, found myself here in Barovia. Pushed on my training, embraced Ezra." Domn Stanek tells us he fights the Legion as a man of Ezra, but prior to embracing Ezra he was already focused on fending off the terrifying forces of the night as part of his Darkonese beliefs. "That's why I take up the fight against the undead. To purge any who might embrace or help along" the Legion.

Vahn Stanek has become familiar with the vrolocks we've previously reported on, in particular with the Scarlet Cross, who Stanek explains seek out fights with himself and other fighters in the area. His first encounter with one, Emilian of the self-proclaimed "Scarlet Cross", began one black night when the vrolock confronted him in his nighttime travels.

"He came across me as I was coming back from the Wachter area. I walked across the bridge near the orphanage, and he expressed dissatisfaction that I had avoided fighting some creatures," domn Stanek tells us. "And he wanted to fight me."

Domn Stanek won, and his success has been repeated since, with no end of witnesses ready to tell us the story.

However, each duel won does not mean the creature is defeated. "When you do enough bodily harm to a vampire, their body turns into mist. They then return to their coffins to regenerate, to heal. You win, but it doesn't die. It just comes back...and it comes back with knowledge on how you fight, how to counter your maneuvers."

Domn Stanek urges everyone to avoid fighting the creatures, particularly as doing so may only help make them stronger, and not to take his own success as encouragement to do the same. "I've spent a long time honing my skills and my methods, and they just so happen to be the types of methods that the Scarlet Cross has a hard time handling."

"It was purely luck of the draw," domn Stanek tells us, that won him this first fight. "The type of fighting I do is a good counter to Emilian's fighting style. There's a lot that goes in to fighting the type of fight that Emilian seeks. He's looking for that honorable duel type, raw strength." As for why the Scarlet Cross is seekfing out fights, the answer is a shocking one.

"Well, Emilian is seeking fights to gauge people's strength and see who could join the Scarlet Cross."

As for those who would consider taking them up on their offers, domn Stanek has some simple advice: "Don't. Just don't. You're cursing yourself if you aid vampires. It's an easy way to find yourself on the gallows."

The Vallaki Review recently reported on the vrolock's loss in a duel due to domn Stanek's reputation for disarming his opponents, and domn Stanek filled us in on the details. "That weapon is, evidently, special to him. And he does not wish me to knock it from his hands."

Bella T. also lost her weapon to domn Stanek recently, a rare blow against vrolocks who are said to be able to simply recover from losing a fight. "I disarmed her, and then she was misted by my friend. Some random outlander picked up the weapon when she flew off."

As for himself, domn Stanek only shrugs when speaking of himself. "I'm just a guy from Darkon swinging a big sword at the right things."



MIST-MAD THIEF IN THE OUTSKIRTS
Spoiler: show
Writer: Anamaria Cosovei
A male half-elf thief was stealing wares from merchants in the outskirts a few nights ago, particularly a valuable shield sold by the merchant "Lev". Vigilantes killed the thief, and planned to deposit his corpse at the charnel house managed by the garda. Mysteriously, the corpse quickly went missing...only to reappear alive again, minutes later and according to our source, "whining that he had been blinded and killed, and his meagre coins taken".

Who is this mysterious man, who reanimated before the charnel house could properly claim him? The man is described as short, with light auburn hair cut short. After being confronted by vigilantes, the man returned the shield he had stolen and demanded his coins back. The madman continued to harass the business owner "Lev", demanding more money and to be sold weapons for outrageous prices. Finally he tried to take more of her goods, and was lightly kicked by the merchant resulting in the man's bleeding to death once again.

An onlooker decided to get involved, healing the man and offering to hear his side of the story. No less than twenty witnesses refuted his story that the merchant he harassed was a thief and a "bad kisser". The man continued to harass the merchant after being healed and killed repeatedly, all while whining "Help! I'm being robbed!" and "I'm just a poor traveler!" Onlookers report that the man was healed and killed no less than seven times.

Finally the man was left a cold corpse once more and the corpse was not seen again that evening.



OPINION: BLOOD IN THE STREETS OF VALLAKI
Spoiler: show
Writer: Anonymous
Citizens of Vallaki in the slums awoke this last morning to a river of half-frozen blood in the streets outside the Sanctuary of the Eternal Dawn. The frosty cobblestones were red puddles and streaks which covered nearly half the strada of the slums, droplets flung across walls of various buildings.

The streets of Vallaki are dangerous at night, outsiders ought not risk the lives of the Vallaki Garda, Morninglordians, or slums inhabitants by running through the streets and drawing creatures of the night into any open doors. Those of us who live in and around Vallaki are all too aware of the nights being filled, recently, with constant blaring of Garda horns. Our Garda should not be needlessly endangered with self-indulgent jogs across town in the middle of night.

Even as far as the Market District, some outlanders have taken to fighting night beasts outside the Broken Bell and running back inside for "shelter", bloodied and beaten, without even closing the door to protect those inside. A curfew exists for a reason, and endangering the lives of innocents is not how heroes are made. If you hunger for a fight, do not break our laws and customs in doing so, and most of all do not draw them in to sanctuaries. Lives have and continue to be lost this way.

---

As for you reader, do you agree? Disagree? Have a strong opinion about the state of affairs in Vallaki? Write in to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water Inn to share your opinion.



THE GAPING WOUND'S GRAND OPENING:
DICE, DRINKS & DOAMNAS
Spoiler: show
Writer: Anamaria Cosovei & Team
The Gaping Wound tavern in the Slums district of Vallaki has recently reopened, with none other than doamna Albescu of the White Lily at its helm. The location sits not far from the slums Hospice, no doubt a convenient location according to our reports of how wildly drunk the crowd at the Gaping Wound gets.

According to several patrons, the night of the grand reopening was a bustling and exciting one, with cheap drinks flowing, friendships forged, and exciting games of dice. The tavern has followed this up with a game night, which was equally successful.

A grand prize of 3,000 fang was offered for the winner of a curious dice name by the name of "Tergs!", in which contestants compete with luck and occasional skill. Each round, the winner may choose to inflict some entertaining punishment on the round's loser, such as requesting secrets or handstands. The grand prize winner of their recent Game Night is said to be a young outlander boy by the name of "Florian", who despite losing one round as well as his lunch, stood victorious at the end.

Unfortunately for our tastes, the tavern does not serve food. Await our full review of the Gaping Wound in our next issue, thanks to the efforts of our newest reporter!



ALLEY CAT, WHERE DID YOU GO?
Spoiler: show
It was no more than a month ago that travelers through Vallaki's outskirts would find themselves frequently accosted by a local caliban gang known as the "Alley Cats", led by a fiery young man described by some as "unsettlingly handsome" and by others as "a crap-stirring monkey". The gang is known for operating out of the Drain, and had been witnessed occasionally kidnapping people to its depths.

Have the Alley Cats lost some gang war? Become sick with dysentry? Or moved on to the sewers of other cities? We invite you, reader, to let us know if you have any clues as to what became of them.




RUMOR MILL...
Spoiler: show
Vrolock Bella T. is said to have suffered numerous public defeats recently, including the loss of her weapon as reported earlier in these pages. But according to one of our most trusted sources, her coffin was located by a group of adventurers, who relocated it to a temple and 'soiled' it with a stake and a pile of dung.

A frail necromancer wearing black robes is said to have recently attacked Raduta Keep and an adventuring party exploring within. An unnamed templar of Ezra heard the commotion and confronted the vile necromancer, driving it and its horde of undead back.

A pitic was arrested in the outskirts recently, accused of assaulting a garda recruit. You have no doubt noticed the Vallaki Garda's latest notice. Witnesses of the arrest say that the pitic in question was of tiny build, with a squat oddly shaped body, and dressed all in black. It wore a strange pointy hat. The pitic, announced as "Obscurus" in recent garda announcements, was banished from Vallaki but has already been seen back strutting menacingly through the outskirts with no regard for his banishment. It seems only a matter of time before the patience of the good Vallaki Garda is spent trying to give this pitic a second chance.

It seems rumors of the devil ape were true, though the ape appears to have either wandered away from Vallaki or found its death somewhere.

Screams were heard drifting from the woods around the Wachter region this previous evening, and the source of the disturbance could not be seen.

Recently, the banner of the Morninglord flew alongside three who ventured out into the night to challenge its creatures. They were seen marching west from Vallaki and not returning until dawn.

The Terg ruins on the path towards the Baratak Mountains are especially chilly of late, host to some terrible new evil. According to our sources, this new evil inside is either a vampire or a necromancer, as there have been sightings of both in the roads outside Vallaki as of late.



COMING UP
Our interview with Dirge Driftwood is delayed, due to unfortunate issues with the Vallaki rental office. However we are excited to announce the addition of two new reporters to our growing team, to be reported in our next issue!

We have upcoming interviews and features on the following exciting subjects:
✯ The Church of Christ
✯ The Silver Aster's upcoming opening
✯ A review of the Gaping Wound


TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth. We are actively seeking Sponsors for our work.


CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei
Illustrations - Anonymous
And two more reporters, coming soon!

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2022, 02:04:24 PM »
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION



BREAKING NEWS!
VROLOCK OF THE SCARLET CROSS DEFEATED
A recent sunrise proved to be the last of the Scarlet Cross "knight" known as Alekxandru, according to our sources. Vrolock Emilian is believed to remain, so night-wanderers and city defenders should exercise extreme caution in anticipation of retaliation or other fresh dangers from the Scarlet Cross. The Vallaki Review urges individuals tempted by the group's recruitment efforts to consider the fate of one of its strongest members, to respect legal curfews, and to report any sightings to the local authorities.

The Vallaki Review will be investigating further and will report more fully on the matter in our next issue. See our information below on how to write in to us with any tips or information you may wish to share, as this matter is under our active scrutiny. Be safe, Vallaki, and be tempted not by the night!

- Dragomir Antonescu


TIPS, REPORTERS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallakii. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth. We eagerly seek to employ new reporters.

We are ACTIVELY seeking one or more new reporters to assist us in our mission of delivering news to the people of Vallaki, and giving them a voice.




The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2022, 03:38:52 PM »
Quote
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 4



WELCOME BACK...
These have been grim dawns in Vallaki recently, and our staff here at the Vallaki Review has worked hard to document every incident for you. Stay informed, stay inside during noapte, stay safe.

We wish to note that an error was made in the last issue, where we named the gang known as the "Tunnel Cats", incorrectly as the "Alley Cats".

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.



BLOODY ALTERCATION LEAVES SEVERAL GARDA DEAD
Spoiler: show
By Iosef Apostu 
 
A bloody altercation on the Western Outskirts left several Garda dead and authorities searching for the perpetrators. 
 
An unidentified person, hooded and believed to be an outlander, initially fought with and killed a Vallaki Garda Recruit. Upon questioning by Nyanka Lukresh and Rahela Amanar of the Vallaki Garda, the perpetrator claimed to have been attacked and fought in self defense. 
 
“I nay want to harm anyone but ye attacked me,” the perpetrator stated. 
 
Lukresh blew a horn, summoning numerous garda, but when they attempted to take the murderer into custody, they used vraja to attack the garda and escape. At lease one additional person, dressed in a red trenchcoat and feathered, brimmed hat also joined the fight and helped her escape. According to Lukresh, both are now banned from the Municipality of Barovia. 
 
As the fight ensued, at least six garda joined the battle, but the perpetrators proved to be more dangerous than initially expected. Radu Chisca also joined the fray, hammer swinging, but was the first to go down in battle. Amanar herself fell in battle, but was revived with a timely healing potion by an unidentified blonde elf in a tan trenchcoat. Locals and outlanders stood by and watched. They did not engage the criminals, per orders of the Garda, but did offer healing. 
 
In the end, despite a great battle, both perpetrators managed to escape, running west. Radu Chisca, the Garda Recruit and two Garda lay bleeding in the street. Authorities are still searching for leads on the two criminals. Any leads or information regarding the two, or their whereabouts, should be forwarded to the Garda, either in person, or in a letter to their headquarters in the slums of Vallaki. 

The Vallaki Garda released a bounty notice for the individuals, naming them as "Hale Burns" and the witch "Lyra Coldwater".

Quote
WANTED: DEAD or ALIVE


The SAVAGE Hale Burns
and
The WITCH Lyra Coldwater



For RESISTING ARREST, ASSAULT on a servant of the Burgomaster and MURDER of a servant of the Burgomaster.

REWARD: 7,000 FANGS each; 20,000 FANGS if brought in together.

Hale is said to be dressed in dark garb, is strong as an ox and savage as a boar. His witch aid Lyra was seen wearing a large brimmed hat and a red overcoat.

Lance Corporal Blair Florescu
⚖️ VALLAKI BOUNTY AND COMMISSIONS OFFICE ⚖️
 
“The penalty for this is death,” noted Rahela Amanar curtly.



WOMEN OF VALLAKI TARGETED BY GRAVEROBBINGS, FLESH PUPPETS
Spoiler: show
by Anamaria Cosovei

Creatures described alternately as "dolls" or "flesh puppets" have been reported in and around Vallaki, attacking subjects of our Count. Reportedly, graves have been disturbed in the locales of Raduta Keep, the Morninglord Temple in the western outskirts, and Constantin's Fishing Lodge, where limbs and organs have been removed from only female corpses.

Our sources inform us that a mysterious graverobber wearing dark clothing may be responsible. The evidence of this his heinous act is said to be seen the next day, in the copious disturbed graves and dismantled corpses.

In roughly the same span of time, we have heard reports of butchered animals strewn across the the edges of Mount Baratak and the forests south of Degannwy. It is unclear at this time if the carnage is related, but multiple sources have informed us that a necromancer has been at work along the path up to Mount Baratak.

One recent indicent reportedly resulted in a grisly scene in the slums, where we are told one of these 'doll-like flesh puppets' attacked and may have even killed a woman. Several of those we spoke to in the Slums recall hearing a terrible scream late at night, followed by the sounds of intense fighting.

We urge outlanders and locals alike to report any information they may have directly to the Vallaki Garda, and to comply with curfews.




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Gentleman A'Kaz Verth seeks experts to mentor him in the craft of smithing and leatherworking, to progress his own trade from that of a journeyman to master. Interested parties may seek out A'Kaz Verth personally, or write to The Vallaki Review to be put in contact.
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INSIDE THE SANCTUARY OF THE ETERNAL DAWN:
A CHAT WITH DAWNSPEAR BEHZADI

Spoiler: show
By Anamaria Cosovei

We spoke recently with Dawnspear Yeira Behzadi, known by many in the slums and outskirts of Vallaki simply as "Yessy". Doamna Behzadi has served the Vallaki community for x years, where she runs a local soup kitchen to serve the needy.

Today she invites me inside the temple's humble kitchen, which despite being a little cramped and doubling as a dining room, is cozy and brings to mind memories of my mother's own kitchen. The pots and pans that bubble away with fresh stew are as worn and aged as the temple itself, but clean and tended to with what is clearly a lot of love. It smells wonderful in here, reader: fresh golden asters on the table, and a bubbling pot full of cabbage, turnips and more. It feels happy in here.

Doamna Behzadi herself is much like the kitchen. Humble and tired, with kind eyes, but happy and without complaint. As we sat, I felt under the table and was pleasantly surprised to find it was clean--no one ever cleans under the table!

"It's no secret that Barovia is a land that has suffered quite a bit," she tells me, serving tea of some herb I don't recognize. "Some find it hard to see past that and look to what is head, which is the dawn. A better time to come." Doamna Behzadi is quite tan, but she flushes rosily as she eagerly tells me about her faith.

These pages are to learn about what we can see and feel, not to convert, and I'm more interested in what the church does and how it's run. For those intrigued by the dogma of the sun cultists, sermons are held nightly in the slums temple and doamna Behzadi herself runs mass often. It's here that the hopeful in Vallaki gather to hear her and other faithful speak, and to be served soup like the one bubbling away nearby after each mass. It serves as a shelter, too, she tells me.

"This temple is more so a soup kitchen with bedding for those without places to sleep for the night. I like to set up a table here, and chairs for those who come after the services." The soup is a labor of herself, as well as other brothers and sisters of the tiny church.

Many of those who come here are Gundarakites, eager for the Morninglord's message. I spied  many through the door as I entered the temple, almost outnumbering native Barovians. They looked particularly devout, quiet until it was time to fervently repeat the famous phrase of the Morninglords: "Thy lips be cleansed."

Doamna Behzadi confirmed what I wondered as I had stepped in the temple. "The Gundarakites have their own history, and our Morninglord's message seems to give them comfort and warmth. Any who find themselves in need might be drawn to the charity of this temple, to its warm beds and filling meals. She taps on her sundisk pendant, the symbol of this sun god. "Our doors and our faith are always here to give warmth, aid, and support to those in need, in all of Barovia."

"I know there are some eyes that look at us with judgement, but we only wish to spread the message of hope to all. Our zeal for the idea of a better day seems to be almost naive in some eyes, as some have told me." Yet, of the faith's message of hope, she says, "I preach this knowing what is out there."

Doamna Behzadi is no stranger to hardship and opposition. We have previously reported on her altercations with creatures of the night, and hers is a name we heard frequently as one who had managed to carve out a semblance of safety on dark nights.

'We try to not chase these creatures into the abyss but if they show their presences in the land of the living and attack the people there then we shall take up arms against them. I have a duty as of the vows I took to defend my faith's followers and also all those around it. Our temples serve as shelters from old night and if those terrors like these bloodlust creatures wish to bring harm to our doors then I shall defend those who cannot defend themselves."

That feeling of sanctuary sometimes attracts those who hide from the law, she tells me. "We had some incidents with those banished from Vallaki or currently wanted by the garda for crimes. Trying to seek shelter inside the temple. We are a temple for all those in need, but our grounds still lay within the region of Vallaki and because of this we need to respect their laws."

"It is painful to tell one that we cannot give them warmth as he does for all."

But doamna Behzadi does not dwell on the hardships, even as many of her fellow outlanders struggle to forget their past homes. Instead, she is eager to tell me about her work, about the soup kitchen and her sermons. It's helped her, she tells me.

"I have found a lot of my own confidence in myself, preaching and talking about his light for people. It makes me feel quite at home, in a way. Like it was something I've always been doing."

Recenly doamna Behzadi assisted with Vallaki's own Winter Festival, and she plans to do more soon. "The year of 777 comes to end soon and I may be looking at setting up a little gathering for it, let us celebrate the end of another year and look to the future with bright minds and warm hearts."

As for now, doamna Behzadi welcomes those in good standing with the law to come see the temple for themselves. "We hold our masses on the daily in the temple but I do take up hosting one of the masses each week so if you wish to come greet the dawn with us, listen to the hymns that we sing and have a small chat for awhile then our doors are always open. We serve soup and warm drink for those who are in need of it and we've plenty of warm clothing to give out too for this cold season."



RED VARDO TRADERS TO OFFER NEW BANKING SERVICE
Spoiler: show

By Prudence Jennings

The well-known Red Vardo Traders have decided to enter the banking industry, and will offer customers a competitive interest rate and unique services. 
 
“At this point,” stated a senior official of the Red Vardo Traders, “the service will work much like our storage and claims service, where an agent has to claim the items for you.” 
 
While there will be no dedicated tellers, there are no set hours of operations for the Red Vardo Traders. 
 
“We never close,” stated the RVT official, “If you can't find an agent, you can always send a letter to our offices.” Vallaki residents will most easily reach the Red Vardo Traders at their offices in the Market District of Vallaki, but may not know that RVT also has convenient offices in Krezk and Port-a-Lucine. 
 
“We offer a competitive rate for these services,” noted the RVT official, but the people will decide where and how to store their coins.” At five percent, the interest rate is equivalent to banking in Port-a-Lucine, with the Vallaki City Bank charging ten percent, and up to twenty percent through other banking services. 
 
RVTBS will also offer a unique banking service; courier deposits and withdrawals. “By sending a letter to our office, requesting a time and a place for a meeting, answered the RVT official, customers with RVTBS accounts can request a courier to meet them in order to make deposits or withdrawals, “for those who find travelling to be a burden.” 
 
Those interested in opening an account, or desiring more information should contact their nearest Red Vardo Trader, or send a letter to any of their office locations.



FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
TROUBLE BREWING OVER MAGE'S SUMMIT IN FAR-OFF SITHICUS
Spoiler: show
by Iosif Apostu 
 
Citizens of Vallaki may have seen flyers circulating through Barovia, written in elvish and advertising a Mage’s Summit to be held at the Tower of Har-Thelen in Sithicus. However, is seems that there is some contention as to the use of the tower between the Magi hosting it and the Sithican noble houses. 
 
"Our house,” advised Reyzana Elevashe, a noble of Sithicus, “is one of the several ancient families who have born right to rule over Har Thelen as customs and tradition dictates. We are nobility of the city. We hold authority over the city and share it with other houses from our caste. An unknown person, who did not bother to introduce itself to the ruling caste, calls outsiders to our home against our will and without any consulting with us. But they will not be let to trespass our city against our will.” 
 
Despite the admonishment of the nobles of Sithicus for the magi to take their meeting outside the gates, with an offer of protection by their city guard, the fey magi did in fact hold their meeting within the Tower on the fifth hour of Dekavr 11, beneath the gaze of Nuitari, that land’s sinister black moon. 
 
“That someone would question our rights and authority not only of Elevashe, but of the entire caste of highborns and then hide behind (the agreements to use the) Tower is unheard of and outrageous,” stated Elevashe. 
 
Could this series of events spur a full conflict between the fey users of vraja and the noble houses of Sithicus? Only time will tell. 
 
All good citizens of Vallaki are advised not to travel in fey lands beneath their unwholesome moons or to have any dealing with evil vraja.



PANIC AT THE BROKEN BELL AS CALIBAN HARASS PATRONS
Spoiler: show
By Anamaria Cosovei
Two caliban harassed the patrons of the Broken Bell late once recent evening. The first was described as a squat fellow with vivid green skin and a large bulbous nose, dark hair, and a chinstrap beard. The second was a woman of orcish descent, wearing a long braid.

According to our sources, these individuals made their way into the Broken Bell, and panic broke out as they worked vraja, shouting and chasing customers.

Domn Petrovsky repeatedly warned the caliban to leave, until eventually losing his patience with the larger female caliban and punching her twice, rendering her unconscious. Blood splattered the Broken Bell's pristine floors, and a nearby outlander roused the caliban and encouraged them to leave.



BLACK DUKE'S FORMER ACCOMPLICE ARRESTED IN SLUMS
Spoiler: show
By The Vallaki Review Team

A former member of the Church of Christ and the Brotherhood of the Whip was arrested last night in a slums tavern, according to a witness. "Diot" apparently admitted to serving the Black Duke, having sold their soul to the cult leader in the past and since left his service. Wearing clothing described as "foreign", their eyes were said by the witness to have glowed dimly behind red tinted goggles. These glowing red eyes are a trademark of the Brotherhood of the Whip, the cult which worships the Black Duke.

"Diot", as the creature was named, was quickly apprehended by a member of the garda who the Black Duke's accomplice swiftly surrendered to. We are told Diot spoke of not wanting their soul to be returned to the Black Duke, and appeared to have turned on their former master. We plan to investigate this matter further, and are seeking commentary from more witnesses or individuals familiar with the situation.



UPDATE: VROLOCKS OF VALLAKI
Spoiler: show
By The Vallaki Review Team
This week we bring you updates on the vrolock situation in Vallaki, which is now hunted by a confirmed one less vrolock. Alexsandru, a native Barovian in life who is said to have seen himself as a twisted vigilante crusading for Vallaki's laws. That Vallaki is hunted by one less is hindered by the grim fact that at least two vrolocks still hunt those who walk at night. We bring warnings of each for wary readers.

Bella T. maintains an art gallery in the sewers by the name of "The Gallery Below", which she uses to lure in victims and thralls, particularly of the female variety. Why the female variety, you may ask? It has come to our attention that this vrolock maintains a 'farm' of primarily female associates, to both feed from and act as her lovers. Some of her art, indeed, is said to feature disturbing images of former and current 'associates' being killed or chained in collars.

Bella emerges from the stench of the sewers to find these victims and thralls, often promising features in her gallery. She is known to rely on both domination witchcraft and her words to lure her victims. To the local churches and organizations that focus on her kind, she promises that she is 'harmless', but we have confirmed a number of unprovoked attacks by the vrolock.

Those she abused speak of waking up with marks upon their necks and being drained of blood, some attacked after merely passing by her domain and others attacked after being lured in by her flirtations. She hides her face, for what purposes we can only leave our readers to guess at, but prefers to wear long red dresses, black fur cloaks, and masks. She is apparently not a member of the Scarlet Cross order of vrolocks, despite their eagerness to recruit. She is known to be a witch, relying largely on magic to enhance herself.

Be wary at night, if you are approached by a mysterious woman unfamiliar to you.

Emilian, a remaining member of the Scarlet Cross, remains more mysterious. We have written previously on his eagerness to recruit members to his order, which believes in a twisted sense of order. That sense of order is a falsehood, readers, for this man has a darker past than his knightly appearance and words of honor might have you believe. A Barovian native from a time long past, "Emilian" is known to have butchered children despite his talk of knightly honor.



TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.


CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei
Reporter - Prudence Jennings
Food Columnist - Justin Thyme
Foreign Correspondant - Iosef Apostu

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2022, 07:10:47 PM »
Quote
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION



BREAKING NEWS!
BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHIP CULTIST EXECUTED
We reported on the arrest of cultist Diot last night, and this morning Vallaki awoke to a preparation of gallows for her crimes. Diot of the Brotherhood of the Whip met her end at the tip of garda blades, after using vraja to resist her execution.

Diot began to weep as she awaited her death on the gallows, claiming that the Black Duke would only become more powerful with her death. She had repeated these claims during her arrest the previous night, that with her death her bargained soul would be returned to the fiend.

She resisted the garda once placed on the gallows, using vraja to disappear from the sight of many in the outskirts. Lance Corporal Blair Florescu struck the woman down, but to the shock of onlookers her wounds began to heal before their very eyes. Lance Corporal Florescu grabbed the cultist by her hair, dragging her to the gallows and swiftly removing her head from her body. According to new sources, the Lance Corporal was also responsible for her swift arrest the previous evening, which occurred in the Gaping Wound after an employee locked the doors to keep Diot trapped inside.

Multiple witnesses report that upon Diot's death, a storm brewed overhead and lightning struck the area, as well as  several garda. Shadows poured from her body, and two onlookers were said to have joined in on beating back the vraja shadows, Dawnspear Behzadi of the Morninglord church and Domn Vahn Stanek. As the cultist drew her final breaths, a black cloud is said to have appeared above her and drained what remained of her soul. A terrible omen indeed.

Stay safe, indoors during noapte and on high alert, Vallaki, and as always please report any information to the Garda.

- Dragomir Antonescu


TIPS, REPORTERS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallakii. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth. We eagerly seek to employ new reporters.

We are ACTIVELY seeking one or more new reporters to assist us in our mission of delivering news to the people of Vallaki, and giving them a voice.




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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2022, 04:16:34 PM »
Quote
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION



SPECIAL EDITION:
Bella T., Seducer in the Sewers

I dedicate this special edition of The Vallaki Review to our most obsessive reader: a prolific if unsuccessful painter-turned-vrolock by the name of Bella T. Bella, more than most vrolocks, fears being without the mirage of her lies and fears the truth of her actions seeing the light of day. For this reason she has hunted, harassed, and finally threatened our reporters. For this reason I have made the decision, as Editor of The Vallaki Review, to publish in full the truth which she so desperately fears. I will not allow the truth to be bullied into silence so that an untalented feces-drenched corpse can indulge her vanity in the streets of my home Vallaki.



Let's go back in time, dear reader. To our first issue, when we first mentioned Bella in our reporting, when we reported on an alleged vampire by the name of Bella bringing violence to the stradas of Vallaki. At that time we had still not verified that Bella was in fact a vampire, and as a result gave her the benefit of the doubt in our article.

Bella wrote to me, not requesting anonymity, and feigning innocent interest in our paper alongside her desperation for publicity:

Dear Editor, 
 
     My name is Bella T.  I am an avid supporter of the arts, and think your attempts to bring a periodical to the people of Vallaki is inspired.  If you are interested, I am willing to offer you both an interview and artwork for your next issue.  I would love a little publicity for my gallery as well, and can offer safe passage to view my works if you'd like a tour. You may leave correspondence for me at the Lady's Rest under the name Suzette Smith or with Hoth in the Drains. 
 
Sincerely, 
 
      Bella T.

I did not respond, for several reasons. The first is that I have standards, the second is that I had freshly confirmed Bella to be a vampire and had no interest in dealing with foul creatures of Noapte. Third, I already knew at this time that Bella was not seeking an innocent encounter, and as you will learn her 'harmlessness' is a disguise she clings desperately to. As she was seeking us for an 'innocent' meeting, she was at the same time tasking her Thralls to find and hurt myself and my reporters. Even now, we are still learning of her admirers that are seeking us out and planning harm against me.

To many in the outskirts, her "harmlessness" will no doubt sound familiar, and bring to mind memories of drained blood and other unwilling violations. We will return to this topic later.

First, for those who do not know who Bella is: a vrolock, a vampire for those unfamiliar with the Balok tongue. We have spoken to countless witnesses and former associates of the immortji, as well as some among her 'friends' who quietly grow regretful of their association.

"Bella failed in life not only as a person, but also as an artist. She has come back in her unlife to fail yet again in her pursuit of being an accomplished painter," according to a source of ours who has been tracking Bella's activity. "The only people who will tell this wretched creature that her works of art are anything more than shite are the people whose mind she dominates."

Bella crawls out from the sewers beneath Vallaki sometimes in disguises. Sometimes in clothing meant to convince her minions, prospective lovers, and "art enthusiasts" (victims) that she does not dwell directly beneath their toilets. It is in the outskirts primarily where she takes advantage of naivety, ignorance and lust. Sometimes all three in the same person. And though she denies being harmful or making use of Domination, vehemently to anyone who will listen...we have independently verified a number of stories from her victims directly. She is a liar: Bella violently attacks both strangers and former lovers, feeding upon them. In some cases, she Dominates a victim to use as a lure for another, more desired victim. Turning friend against friend, stranger against stranger. She lures in desperates with promises of avant-garde artistic promotion, and feeds on them, or uses them in other ways. She returns to harass and threaten them, unwilling to be left behind as merely an unpleasant or shameful memory.

Running a 'gallery' known as "The Gallery Below", she hawks her paintings in the sewers and outskirts. Her paintings seek to shock the viewer with grotescue and crude depictions of gore, where talent alone was not enough to bring her success in life or in undeath. It is easy to conclude where the self-proclaimed "harmless" painter acquires her models of bloody organs and chained women, given the extent of both her violence and the number of women we have privately verified to be among her lovers.

We have spoken to several individuals that the painter believed to be her allies and admirers, who confessed that their fascination with the vampire's paintings came from an often morbid excitement at her flirtations. One former lover we spoke to told us, "You just get kind of bored, you know? Next thing you know you're agreeing to model for her, or bring your friends to her art show, because what else are you going to do? Sit in the Morninglord temple all night?"

Bella also does not want you to know that she uses flirtation and romance to draw in associates and victims, why she denies this I can only guess at. Perhaps even in death she knows a sense of shame. It may be that her flirtations would make even a chaste widow cringe. Take a glimpse into one such encounter, between Bella and a man who quickly crumbled to Bella's words:

To him, Bella said: "You've attacked my heart in other ways."
The admirer: "Well, as long as it's a pleasin' attack, I don' mind."
To which Bella giggled in her mimicry of a living socialite.

No doubt this man did not realize he could be heard. No doubt this man thought he was unique. It is a familiar story among those who have come to us with their confessions.

Bella claims she does not treat her victims as lovers, yet the mere snippet above of what we have learned is one among many. Nor would Bella like her associates to know that she desperately seeks out publicity for her work, including from our paper, an endeavor that as far as we have verified has been just as unsuccessful in death as it was in her life. In fact, according to an anonymous source within the Port-a-Lucine Gendarmerie, the painter's recent banishment from the city was not only a result of "threatening the lives of the gentry" but the culmination of attempting to solicit sponsors among the city's wealthy. She sought publicity from our paper as well, while hiding her blood-curse. Few are unwise enough to support a blood-cursed-vraja-using vrolock in what she considers her desperately important mission to draw her fantasies of those who have bested her being stabbed.

It's time we return to why we bother writing all of this. What makes this vrolock worth the time and energy that I should bother putting my ink to paper? It is her attempts to control what the people of Vallaki know about her, her attempts to manipulative the press, and her attempts to conceal her danger from you, reader.

We are not the real victim of her Thralls, of the multiple admirers she sends out seeking her. You, reader, are. You, misguided admirerer trying to track us down to please her, are. You.

As for the answer we hear Bella seeks, of who killed Alexsandru? The blade that cut him down is of less interest to us--you may want to look within your own associates' fat coinpurses for how his coffin came to be betrayed.

- Dragomir Antonescu




The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2022, 11:05:19 PM »
Quote
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 5



WELCOME BACK...
Well, that was certainly an exciting time between Issues 4 and 5, wasn't it? We are not stopping there, Vallaki. In our next special issue you can expect the comfortable to be made uncomfortable in our upcoming exposé. Stay tuned, and remember:

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.


IN REMEMBRANCE

Artist's depiction of one of the fallen.
Spoiler: show
The Vallaki Review team would like to take a solemn moment to remember those our city has lost. Five garda, killed in the line of duty defending the peace, murdered senseless by "Hale Burns" and the witch "Lyra Coldwater".

Still other predators stalk the city's outer edges, such as Nica Miller, a foul-faced witch, and Grael, the disfigured pitic.

These murderers of garda have stolen sons and daughters, wives and husbands, fathers and mothers from their families. The Vallaki Review encourages subjects and outsiders alike to report any sightings of the perpetrators of these senseless crimes, to the Vallaki Garda.

Rest in peace.

- The Vallaki Review Team



SILVER ASTER: A PASSING OF THE TORCH
Spoiler: show
by Anamaria Cosovei

As the Silver Aster nears its grand reopening, our reporter visited their location in the Vallaki Warehouse District to see how the progress was going and learn more about the history and future of the lounge.

✯✯✯

Only six months ago, entrepeneurs Roxana and Rakel opened the doors of the Silver Aster entertainment bar and lounge. Though it did not remain open for more than a half-year before shuttering its doors once again, it found respectable success in its several months of service and left behind a legacy of entertainment and classy service rarely found in Vallaki. It seemed uncertain if the lights would ever be lit again in the Silver Aster.

At the time, Doamna Ellavyra was a simple hostess at the Silver Aster lounge. Entertaining guests, providing conversation and comfort. Today, she is preparing to reignate that legacy for the Silver Aster's grand reopening.

"When the owners originally decided to leave The Silver Aster, they asked me if I would like to take it," says doamna Ellavyra, proprieter of the new Silver Aster. " It is not something I pictured myself doing at the time...but I did not want this place to close for good. Many people have grown fond of the Silver Aster, and I did not think that it was time to end."

"I was...rather surprised. It was certainly something that I needed to give careful thought to. However I thought it was best to at least try and see what I could do with the place.""

Ellavyra says no others from the old days have remained. Shortly after she was given the Deed to the rental, she had an unexpected leave of absence and lost track of the other employees.

Despite the loss of the old employees, Ellavyra says she is dedicated to making sure the place is familiar to the customers who patronized the previous opening. "Our business will remain largely the same. Serving drinks and appetizers, providing company and conversation, and hosting events." The entertainers will be different, but Ellavyra expressed that she is excited to see them settle in to their new roles.

The place should feel the same as they old, she assures me, and as the hostess of the old Silver Aster she is well-suited to preserve what made it so inviting to the people of Vallaki. "I very much am going to strive for preserving that atmosphere. Warm, comfortable. Simple elegance. Extravagance can lead to people feeling stiff, not relaxed...which is not what we are looking to do."

The interior will have an update, and Ellavyra gave me a tour of the elegant lounge. Red wallpapper in intricate patterns line the walls, freshly trimmed lillies gracing the corners of the room. In one intimate corner of the lounge, veiled by vibrant silk curtains, a statue of one of the previous owners gazes down at a plush couch. Across the room sits a bar that is already fully-stocked, and doamna Ellavyra tells me that fans of the old Silver Aster will find familiar drinks inside.

"Our signature drinks--verratti limoncello, calabresi amaretto, our imported teas, many of the patrons' favorites will be waiting for them on opening day."

As for her personal recommendation, come opening day?

The calabresi amaretto, a curious Borcan liqueur that I find after trying I am ill equipped to drink! It's a powerful taste, like almonds and apricots, and sweeter than honey. Meant for a more refined palate than mine, and yet--I find myself sipping it as I write, remembering the way the under-construction Silver Aster felt. Refined, yes--but comfortable enough for even a girl like me.



DARTS CONTEST IN THE GAPING WOUND IS A BULLSEYE!
Spoiler: show
by Prudence Jennings 
 
The Gaping Wound, located in the eastern Vallaki Slums, recently sponsored a Darts Contest which was a great success with both contestants and patrons. 
 
"The owner wants us to make sure the Gaping Wound is a fun place to be," said Olivenka Manolescu, bartender at the Gaping Wound. “I've done my best with that, I try to keep the place warm and cozy and always welcoming!” 
 
The entry fee for the contest was 50 fangs, with a grand prize of 5,000 fangs. The contest consisted of three rounds. During the first two rounds, contestants each threw three darts, and the highest two scores were recorded. The winner of the second round received a special commemorative beer stein. 
 
“In the final round,” confided Manolescu, “I made things a bit harder: you had to throw as many darts as possible within five seconds, and the highest score won that round. So things remained exciting every round!” 
 
Reynauld Von Brunk was the Grand Prize winner. According to Manolescu, “His dart-throwing skills wowed everyone, really, especially considering all of the contestants had already had a few drinks. He came very close to winning all three rounds.” 
 
Manolescu wishes to thank all of the contestants and other patrons who attended the Dart Contest. 
 
“It was really such a pleasure having you,” she said, “and everyone was a delightful guest. The day really flew by.”



MONASTERY OF THE GODHAND TO OFFER READING LESSONS
Spoiler: show
by Prudence Jennings 
 
The Monastery of the Godhand, located in Shop #1 in the Warehouse District will be hosting lessons in reading and writing, in addition to self defense. 
 
“In the case of the lessons for reading and writing,” stated Gene Siger, who runs the monastery, “I've encountered as of late quite a few people who seem to have issues with the subject. Whether it be them not having the opportunity to learn it properly, or simply not knowing how to do so at all to begin with. I think it would be good for as many people who cannot already do so to learn to read and write. Comprehension and understanding is key.” 
 
These lessons are completely free, as is the use of the entire facility. The only people disallowed from entry are those banished or those not in good standing with the city. 
 
“The Monastery,” said Siger, “is mainly put forward and opened to all as a means to let all those who seek to better themselves, have a safe place to do so, away from the dangers that lurk outside the city. This can be either through physical training, rigorous study or prayer and meditation, the purpose being to help people try to perfect themselves as best they can. 
 
Siger will be teaching the self defense lessons, and will also be teaching the reading and writing lessons along with several other local scholars. 
 
“I would encourage (those interested) to stop by and get a feel for the building and the people inside when open, see how they like the environment before committing to one way or the other,” noted Siger. “I would encourage people to reach out if they have any questions about the Monastery in general. Meetings can always be arranged.” 
 
Siger can be reached in person, or by leaving a letter at the Monastery of the Godhand.


✯✯✯



NICA MILLER: HARASSER OF THE ELDERLY

Artist's depiction of a victim.
Spoiler: show
by Anamaria Cosovei

Nica Miller, whose bounty is republished below for visibility, has been reportedly seen harassing elderly women and dogs outside the Vallaki Outskirts. According to witnesses, the disfigured woman has white hair and eerie long legs. She was heard shouting for all in the outskirts to hear, having flung vraja spells and curses at an innocent elderly Barovian woman on her way back into town.

Quote
WANTED: DEAD or ALIVE


Nica Miller, The Tygan Bumpkin!


For assaulting Radu, disrupting the peace and assaulting members of the Vallaki Guard.

REWARD: 20,000 FANGS

This outlander has been given copious chances, however, enough is enough. She wears a tricorn hat and wears strange and outlandish clothes that makes her look like a sea farer. She runs fast as a weasel.

Lance Corporal Benedikte Zugravescu
⚖️ VALLAKI BOUNTY AND COMMISSIONS OFFICE ⚖️




THE GAPING WOUND: DESPITE NOAPTE, HOLDING ON
Spoiler: show
by Anamaria Cosovei

The Gaping Wound tavern in the Vallaki Slums is temporarily acting at lower activity, and primarily during the daytime, due to several incidents of noapte inviting themselves inside. It has left the bartenders fearful, but the owners and managers of the establishment tell us they have several plans in place to address the matter and the tavern will be reopening shortly.

We sat down with doamna Olivenka Manolescu, one of the Gaping Wound's employees who was present during both nighttime invasions.

"It started with the cultist Diot, she came into our tavern and we had a few patrons warn me that something might be wrong about her, so Raziel kept a close eye on her," doamna Manolescu tells me. "She was participating in one of my Tergs! games when the Lance Corporal came in and yelled "Stop!" I thought at first he wanted to join our game of Tergs. But the 'Diot' woman shot out of her chair and bolted out the door, and that's when we realized something truly was wrong with her."

When asked how Diot wound up being arrested, doamna Manolescu explains that Diot actually returned. "I called out to the good Lance Corporal that she was back, and in my kitchen no less. I think she came to surrender to him, although she used some sort of vraja to disappear and reappear before our eyes."

Doamna Manolescu reassures me that she threw anything Diot may have touched away, just in case it was tainted in any way. "Gave the kitchen a good scrubbing after that."

Not long after the incident with the devil-cultist, the Gaping Wound was invaded by another uninvited guest: Bella T., vrolock.

"It was late in the shift, all but one of our guests had left, just myself and domn Raziel the bouncer. That's when we saw her, trying out our dart board and just sort of throwing darts at the wall and ground. I thought she was mad about something. Well, Raziel stiffened up like a board and whispered to me that she was a vrolock."

Doamna Manolescu tells me she wasn't sure how to handle the situation. "Refusing her service seemed as dangerous as serving her, so I just told her the truth, we were closing. She wanted information, something about another vampire who had died in a duel, and offered us three thousand fang for the information. I was just relieved when she left."

The barmaid shows me the door the vrolock came through, and the place where the devil-cultist became locked in the tavern with the Lance Corporal. Bowls of food and water for the local Slums strays line the outside of the Wound, while fresh garlic hangs above each of the doors.

"I was terrified of coming back here for a bit, because of noapte coming in," she explains while arranging some of the Gaping Wound's new protective measures. "But the bouncer, the garda, and the owners have all been truly lovely in helping me feel like I can come here again."

The bouncer, she explains, is a sharp-eyed outlander who has learned to recognize creatures such as the vrolock. "The garda sent in some people during the dice contest, to check on us I believe. I felt much safer after that. And the owners have taken our safety and happiness very seriously. Domn Neferkasokar, Domn Rosca and Doamna Albescu listened to us and worked very quickly to address things."

As for the Gaping Wound, the owners state that it will be reopened soon and with protective measures in place.

"We've had our game of Tergs! interrupted recently," remarks doamna Manolescu. "So I am very excited to reopen. The time away from the Wound has made me realize just how special it and its patrons are to me, and I miss it dearly. I am planning a 'Beers of Lethe' special Tergs! game to start us off again with a bang."



VALENTIN KREZKOV: TAKING A STAND
Spoiler: show
by The Vallaki Review Team

Domn Valentin Krezkov held a speech and rally in the western outskirts several days prior, inviting both locals and outlanders in good standing to hear him speak. His signs stood grimly in the foggy morning, outside the Morninglord temple beside five wooden marks to remember the slain garda.

While we were unable to attend the speech, domn Krezkov shared with us his speech transcript and we plan to interview him in a future issue!

"My fellow Vallakians, Sons and Daughters of Barovia, hear my words and know them to be true. For I am you and you are I, Barovian blessed by our Count to live in our land from the rule of Tergs and Gundarakites. Free we are no longer for our third citizens squander the blessing our beloved Count and patient Burgomiester offer to them. I speak of the Outlander of course they who scurry outside our Outskirts and live in Houses within our city not even our common Vallakian can afford. 
 
Too long have we sat idle watching them disrupt the peace of our city. Too long have we witness the teetering scale of their loyalties. Watched as they murder our defenders of our city. Rude gestures to our ways and speech as we huddle on corner streets shocked and amazed. Do you not feel outrage? Do you not weep as now there is less Sons and Daughters defending our city because of their egregious failure to learn our ways and our language. How they spit at our culture and call us "False" in our ways? 
 
Take heed and pride for you are a Son and Daughter of Barovia! You who stood tall before the Black Army where our neighbors fell before them. Why should or Outlanders guests be no diffrent! Take caution of their honey words. Take care of their actions and do what is right by OUR Laws set forth by our Count and heeded by our Burgomiester. Be not tempted by their pools of Fangs ill got from the crypts and dens of the children of Olde Noapte. Be proud of your hard earn Fang! You who are the stone and mortar of our Vallaki! You are a Son and Daughter of Barovia born free by the hard labors of your father and mothers before you! 
 
Be wary of the deed of Outlanders and weigh in yourself the Good and Wicked they have done. Be witness and attest leave those who prove themself a citizen of Vallaki ones who would do right by Barovia be. Those who cannot side with us or mask behind so call good deeds and do nothing to better our city or stand aside and allow their fellow Outlanders to do crime should and shall be reported. Do your part to cement a change for our Municipality you from the Slums to the Noble houses! There is no divide among us Vallakians for engrained upon the palms of your hands is the callous of hard work from generations of forefathers and foremothers who bore the sword and the hoe to slay our enemies and tend our fields. 

Never Again..."

Domn Krezkov does not approve much of our paper, so we have invited him to speak with us and to have his feelings published in full. We at the Vallaki Review feel that open criticism and discussion of our work is vital to a healthy paper and to a properly informed readership.

We would like to thank domn Krezkov for speaking with us and his willingness to share his thoughts! Readers are invited to write to us with their opinions, criticisms and concerns.



BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHIP CLAIMS VICTORY IN FEY REALM
Spoiler: show
by Iosef Apostu 
 
According to an Emmissary of the Brotherhood of the Whip, Lord Soth, the "original ruler of Sithicus", has been reinstated. 
 
“No more than ten days ago” stated Valanthe Acanthos, “the true ruler of Sithicus was returned to his throne. In the Black Duke’s name Lord Soren Soth has been freed from his prison. He walks the halls of Nedregaard Keep once more.” 
 
We have no way to verify this claim and have received no word back from our contacts among the Sithican nobility. 
 
“Indeed,” claimed Acanthos, “it was quite difficult to accomplish, for he was trapped in a land of twisted nightmares…but with our Duke’s blessing justice was accomplished that day. I’m rather proud to say that we freed my former kin from the cruel clutches of Azrael. Now they’re lead by a righteous king once more.” 
 
If true, this is disturbing beyond words. Readers may remember Soth as a powerful Death Knight who previously ruled in Sithicus and even dared to clash with our noble Count Zarovich of that century. This is just the latest strike in the War of the Black Lash, waged by the Black Duke and his Brotherhood of the Whip. 
 
“While they were plotting petty slander we were delivering swift justice,” claimed Acanthos.
 
Good Barovians should not, under any circumstances, visit Sithicus, and are urged to remain in Barovia under the protection of our ruler, Count Zarovich, and his noble Garda, and to avoid associating with any members of this cult.



OPINION: VRAJA DEVIL BIRD

Fearsome beast with the powers of speech.
Spoiler: show
By Andrea Iacobescu, transcribed to text by Anamaria Cosovei

I saw one of those giant iadul devil birds screaming in the sky over my farm! It swooped at my dog and tried to carry him off! They're a menace! Birds aren't supposed to be that large. What's worse, it spoke as it swooped, looking me right in the eyes and shouting in its vraja voice, "Anyone wanna do Thoth?" like some sort of nose-picking, tomb-plundering outlander! And then it laughed! It tore up my roof awning and wet itself all over my iadul porch. I want them OUT of Barovia!



TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.

We are ACTIVELY hiring one to two more reporters, preferably of Barovian and local origin. Balok-speaking candidates preferred, payment to be negotiated.


CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu 
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei 
Reporter - Prudence Jennings 
Food Columnist - Justin Thyme 
Foreign Correspondant - Iosef Apostu

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2022, 02:22:52 PM »
Quote
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION



SPECIAL EDITION:
Red Vardo Traders: What Lurks Beneath The Surface?

The Red Vardo Trading Company. A merchant's guild, known widely across the Core for selling and auctioning powerful wares, along with selling their famous 'magic' bags. Vallaki is home to one branch of the guild, along with a main branch in Krezk. But the Red Vardo Trading Company is more than a mere merchant's guild. In this first of two-part series on the company, we will be exposing the questionably legal practices of the Red Vardo Traders.

The Red Vardo Traders maintain a facade of reputable legal business, but under the surface they have more in common with the infamous criminal organizations of Borca. It is primarily known for its "salvaging" business, employing tigans and thugs to plunder Barovia and foreign lands and sell them primarily to outlanders. Across the Core, R.V.T. hosts opulent auctions and sponsors charitable events such as the Winter Festival.

But what is the true cost to Vallaki, and the Core at large? Where do these fangs really come from?

The answers are as countless as the victims. Make no mistake, however, according to our research these questionably legal practices are widespread. The R.V.T. have their fingers in businesses and organizations throughout Vallaki and beyond, though their presence is most strongly felt in the Market and Slums district as well as the western outskirts.

In the outskirts, R.V.T. thugs hawk wares to sate the appetites of power-hungry outlanders. One such man, the mutilated Ioseph Rosca, will offer to sell you information in exchange for a bit of fang. The Vallaki Review must ask itself why so many of the R.V.T.'s thugs bear obvious scars. While the precise answer is unclear, violence is without a doubt part of the organization's operation.

Dwellers of the slums know better than to approach R.V.T. agents stalking their way through the city. Their agents may be spotted whispering in dark alleys or emerging from sewers, bribing caliban in the Drain, and plotting in the seediest taverns of Vallaki. Our reporter went undercover in the Slums, to listen in on some of these very plots, but found the thugs all too willing to resort to threats to prevent anyone from overhearing. It was while leaving one such tavern that an elderly doamna approached us, frightened out of her wits after an altercation with several of those very thugs.

"I was putting the garbage out, I live right down the street," she said, pointing to an alley we will not name to protect her anonymity. "When two of them, with the red and the black colors, saw me and thought I was peeking in. They grabbed me, gave me a good shove right into that alley there and asked what I saw. I didn't saw a thing!"

One woman, who we will refer to by the name "K", came forward to us with a disturbing story of her encounter half a year ago, when she decided to open a smithing business in Vallaki. She has since departed Vallaki for safer pastures.

"I was doing alright for myself, at first," she told us on condition of anonymity. "But I needed some extra seed money to get on my feet, so I could learn gilding. Everyone wants gilding, but it's expensive. Well, an R.V.T. agent found out about it somehow and approaches me with a deal. I'd never seen so much money in my life."

The amount, K. says, was enough to help her quickly pull ahead of other competitors in the smithing and gilding business. "But I quickly realized what a mistake I'd made. The Red Vardo, they don't mess around when you miss a payment."

The R.V.T. is generous with its loans, but its loans are in fact predatory with demands of high interest rates and late fees. We have reason to believe these loans have been profitable enough for the R.V.T. to fund the extensive new banking service. The trap was in the contract, according to both K. and several other sources we independently verified this information with. Another source showed us their old contract, explaining that the fine print used confusing wording designed to trap those foolish enough not to read. It's a tactic clearly borrowed from Borcan contract-slavery, put to use here to trap desperate people into promising payments they can't make.

The R.V.T. does not appear to stop at employing thugs or entrapping desperates in bad loan contracts. Numerous anonymous business owners we spoke to told us of the share of their profits that goes to the R.V.T., in return for its unofficial "protection".

"I mean, you do get protected," said one business owner. "Haven't had any problems with vandalism or old noapte getting in, especially lately. They took care of my neuri problem quick enough, but I'm worried they'd take care of me even quicker. It's not like there's much of a choice, is it? It's either pay them or pay one of the smaller gangs."

The profit sharing and thuggery appears to extend even to the Gaping Wound Tavern, which despite an overall positive reputation in the Slums District clearly hides something more sinister. It is common knowledge in the Slums, though rarely spoken around the Vallaki garda or other government officials, that the basement of the Gaping Wound not long ago hosted an illegal fighting ring.

"It's a little less exciting now that the fighting ring's gone, I want a bit of blood and gambling with my drinks after work," one anonymous Slums bounder told us. "Some of those fights are still legendary. Saw one of the old Red Vardo bosses have a go at the ring himself a few times."

As for what lies in the basement now? One need only venture a little too close to the kitchen or let your eyes wander over the back room to suddenly find the eyes of the scarred-faced outlander bouncer on your back. While our reporter was unable to get into the basement's trapdoor, it is obvious that the piles of half-filled boxes hide something questionable below.

During a recent evening at the Gaping Wound, local R.V.T. branch leader Neferkasokar brought his red-and-black thugs to keep an eye on the basement while he tossed coin and prizes at patrons, according to an anonymous source who was present at the event. Neferkasokar is a short and humorless man with an unconvincing smile, whose dealings in Vallaki have come at the cost of the safety of its citizens. "He's rude. And arrogant," we are told by one anonymous merchant who regularly works outside Vallaki's western gates, in the city's outskirts. "I mind my own business, but he's often out here staring people down with his crew of thugs. He had them surround me while he did it to me, is that really legal?"

Look for more investigation to come on the Red Vardo Traders, expect to learn more of their questionable business practices as we get to know their most active agents in the local branch. The R.V.T.'s harmless facade will be stripped and laid bare for all to see.

- The Vallaki Review


TIPS, REPORTERS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallakii. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth. We eagerly seek to employ new reporters.

We are ACTIVELY seeking one or more new reporters to assist us in our mission of delivering news to the people of Vallaki, and giving them a voice.




The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2022, 05:14:20 PM »
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THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION



An Apology:
A correction for our readers

The Vallaki Review would like to issue several corrections.

I wish to apologize to our readers for the inaccurate report in our latest special edition. Our article on the Red Vardo Traders was made in error, and we wish to retract the statements made within. The information came from unreliable sources that we deemed trustworthy at the time. The Red Vardo Traders are a respected organization, and we regret suggesting otherwise.

We owe our readers and the Red Vardo Traders an apology for reporting inaccurate information, which we hereby retract. The previously printed special edition will be removed from circulation.

- The Vallaki Review


The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2023, 07:46:53 PM »
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THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 6



WELCOME BACK...
Welcome back to another issue of The Vallaki Review. Our reporters have been hard at work bringing the people of Vallaki and the greater Vallaki area the latest in news.

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.


A Statement On The Mob Violence

We at the Vallaki Review wish to express our sadness over the recent violence which occurred in the Vallaki outskirts. A full report will be coming in the future.

This paper was started as an effort to bridge the gap that only knowledge can, to help local Barovians and outsiders alike understand what goes on in their area. It is our hope that outsiders will understand our local Barovian perspective and struggles, and in turn, that we Barovians may better understand the difficulties and dangers which both garda and outlanders deal with. Knowledge can bridge the gap, and while many of our fellow Barovians cannot read, we try to have our paper read so it can be heard. We shall do so with these words as well.

We stand, unequivocally, against the instigation of mob violence. Noapte endangers us all enough--let us not become Noapte ourselves. To those on each side we urge patience and calm, and to let the city's peacekeepers do their job. Let peace be kept. We plead with Barovians not to turn on their fellow man, no matter how strange they may be. The outlanders who do attack us are bountied, hunted, and reported on. Focus your ire towards those who have actually wronged you, the criminals, not those who merely are unfamiliar to you.

No good can come of violence, of hate, of refusal to work together. We are all in this together. We urge frustrated locals and outlanders alike not to turn to pitchfork or sword, and to remember the cost in lives and shattered families that violence always brings.

We wish, too, to express our gratitude for those who kept the peace, both garda and outlander alike. We hope this will never occur again.

- The Vallaki Review Team


HEADLESS RIDER SIGHTED IN WEST BAROVIA
Spoiler: show
by Iosef Apostu 
 
Recently a Dullahan, or Headless Horseman, has been reported in the wild areas surrounding Vallaki. 
 
“A local legend that’s true,” confirms Vandryn Carro, Prelate of Christ’s Church of Barovia. Prelate Carro was reported by several of our sources to have rescued victims from the Dullahan's violence, risking his own life in the process. “Every so often, a headless rider appears about these lands.” 
 
The exact nature of a Dullahan remains unknown, though it is said that Dullahan are created by Dark Fey when they decapitate a humanoid, often as part of a dark ritual. Harbingers of death hailing from the darkest of fey courts, the Dullahan are macabre creatures that walk hand in hand with death. 
 
“Past reports I’ve received said that the air around him is cursed,” stated Carro, “such that drawing near to him is death.” 
 
Most encounters seem to unfold as follows; The black horse strides out of the shadows with its nostrils huffing steam. Its rider, swathed in black leather, raises his arm to reveal not a lantern but its own severed, grinning head. It appears the Dullahan only rides at night. 
 
“Mind yourselves if you’re travelling after dusk these days,” said Carro. “Between the hordes of undead and the headless rider, the nights are terribly dangerous.” 
 
Indeed, all good citizens of Vallaki should remain at home with their doors barred and their windows shuttered against the perils of the Old Noapte. Should one find themselves about at night and hear the clatter of hooves, they best run, or hide, and regret not heeding this advice.




WAR OF THE BLACK LASH, CONFLICT STILL IGNITED
Spoiler: show
by Prudence Jennings 
 
The War of the Black Lash, the ongoing conflict surrounding the Black Duke, like a long burning fire continues to smolder and occasionally flare up even two Springs after its initial inception. Recently, new blows have been struck on both sides. First with the capture and execution of Diot Etheldred, a former member of the Brotherhood of the Whip, and then with the Brotherhood's still-unconfirmed return of Lord Soth to Sithicus. 
 
“The nature of this conflict is quite unorthodox to say the least,” said Melian Orne-iel, a member of the Wayfarer Kinship. “Generally it involved many skirmishes it appears throughout the Core, however recently actual fighting has died down and a war of words has generated.” 
 
Beyond his proclamations, little is known regarding the origins of the Black Duke. According to his followers, calling themselves the Brotherhood of the Whip, “The one true god is the Black Duke and we are his men.” 
 
“The Black Duke is an ancient and vastly powerful fiendish creature,” stated Giles Hawkins, a member of the Wayfarer Kinship, “hailing from beyond the realm of the mists. It can appear in the guise of a man with black hair, but it's true form is monstrous, grey and reptillian with devilish wings.” 
 
According to Orne-iel, “The Black Duke is a horrific monstrosity that should not be worshiped or praised to any length.” 
 
The Black Duke and the Brotherhood of the Whip first came into public record with their brutal attack on Har’Akir, where they marched upon the slave markets and slaughtered all of the slavers present. This gained them some sympathy from those opposed to the practice of slavery, even if those same individuals did not approve of the methodology. 
 
"They have been travelling across the core 'liberating' individuals to serve their master,” remarked Hawkins, “though only publicising their exploits of so called liberation, and not the enslavement of those under them. The Duke's men would have you believe they seek to free you from oppressive rule, but offer nothing but honeyed words concealing the lies of their thrice cursed master. Make no mistake, the Black Duke will offer nothing but untold misery and suffering." 
 
The cult's violence was followed up with a series of proclamations reaching out to Gundarkite rebels, Caliban, and other marginalized groups within Barovian society, and a heavy and very successful recruiting drive within those communities. 
 
Despite being an outcast and unlawful organization, the Brotherhood of the Whip enjoyed initial popularity, parading under the flag of the Black Duke through the Western Outskirts and other portions of Barovia, and all but claiming the Vallaki sewers as their own territory. 
 
“The Black Duke’s attacks were quite quick and eventful at first, striking fast around mid-year,” stated Orne-iel. “His cult spreads his poison, speaking of freedom but in actuality offering a new set of chains for one to wear.” 
 
Those who found themselves outcasts flocked to the Black Duke, both as a route to easy power and as a form of liberation theology. The Brotherhood welcomed these ragtag outcasts and quickly mobilized them into a formidable fighting force and a far-reaching spy organization. 
 
Representative of the cult, Emissary Althonos, claimed in writing that it had not started the bloodshed, accusing the Wayfarer Kinship of sparking the conflict.
 
This effectively ended the period of open recruiting for the Brotherhood, as forces began to actively resist and be marshalled against them. Following its initial gains, dark rumors began to spread about the underlying beliefs, rituals and initiations of the Brotherhood of the Whip. It was said that membership in the Brotherhood required both absolute submission to the will of the Duke, with the disobedient receiving lashings with a whip, and the pledge of the applicant’s soul to the Duke. Those who pledged their souls were marked with glowing eyes, a feature seen on Diot Etheldred and some lurking in the Drain.
 
“The cult seemed to have had a spring in it’s step before counter-efforts were organized,” proclaimed Orne-iel. “However eventually they realized they could actually be rebuffed as efforts against them became quick and responses heavy, the Ezrites, Morninglordians, Kinship, and various other groups crushed many Cult efforts and several cult members were identified and brought to justice through various means such as through the Garda. After these events, it seems they have gone quite underground and have taken to hiding and committing to a more subtle approach. However subtlety seems to not be doing them any favors.” 
 
Worse still, it was said that his inner circle, those which can be recognized by their burning red eyes and are often given reptilian wings and supernatural vigor and abilities, obtained such by actually giving their eternal souls to the Black Duke, and by sacrificing a child in a foul ritual before the Duke. 
 
The Brotherhood of the Whip have denied such rumors, yet they have persisted from sources too numerous to mention. According to Orne-iel, a Gundarkite named Inzinta who was involved with the Brotherhood of the Whip near its beginning, when confronted about sacrificing children, corrected her, saying that “It was only one child.” 
 
The Emissary blames the Kinship for blood spilled, and threatens to reduce the Kinship Lodge itself to rubble "so all can pray in peace knowing the wicked Kinship is no more".
 
With winter approaching, the War of the Black Lash appears to be heating back up, though whether for a new series of quiet skrimishes, duels and assassinations, or a final apocalyptic battle, no one knows. 
 
“My heart would have me tell you that we will succeed together united against these cultists,” disclosed Hawkins, “however pragmatism is a curse. This is a devil of untold power, leagues beyond anything we have yet faced I suspect. There is no certainty that we will be able to bring this conflict to an end. Should we fail however, Barovia may well be doomed. It is for that reason we must push on with all the strength we can muster, and urge those with a noble heart to join us in putting an end to this threat to all life once and for all.”



SOURAGNIEN CULT ATTACKS CITY WALLS
Spoiler: show
by The Vallaki Review Team

An attack in the outskirts by vraja-wielding immortji! Spewing fog and lighting, the immortji were attacked by outlanders and even some Barovians, the Garda horns ringing out from the city walls.

Eyewitnesses report that a wicked magic circle surrounded several Garda on the walls, the air swirling with floating skulls as more immortji were summoned to attack Garda and outlanders alike. We believe three or more garda may have perished in this attack, while the garda defended the people of Vallaki from the incursion.

According to anonymous sources, the attack was conducted by cultists of a Souragnien witch or "Loa" known as Baron Samedi, sometimes spelled Samedii or Samedhi. Some of the swamp-country worship this vile witch-man, bargaining with him for unnatural powers over immortji and death. He and his followers are known to command hordes of immortji, particularly of the rotting variant known as zombies.

According to our witnesses, the attack was repelled thanks to valiant efforts of the Garda on the city walls, Church of Christ Prelate Vandryn Carro, and a fey by the name of "Rebecca".

We reached out to Prelate Carro for comment, but he could not be interviewed in time for this issue.


✯✯✯



GREY CITY TAILORS' UNION: WHAT WILL COME?
Spoiler: show
by The Vallaki Review Team

A preliminary meeting for a new organization which calls itself The Grey City Tailors’ Union is to be held soon, at the Budding Fool in the afternoon of the 11th of this month.

We spoke to Doamna Neferet, an Akiri weaver and tailor who is founding the organization, to learn more. The Union will operate out of Shop III in the Vallaki Warehouse District, once the location of the under-construction Silver Aster.

It began when she contacted popular tailor Domn Dirge Driftwood, who she tells us was happy to provide his shop as a location to host the event. "While Dirge has not endorsed the Union yet," she says, "it is a hopeful step in the right direction."

According to Doamna Neferet, the market for tailoring is currently a thriving one in Vallaki. She says her goal for the event and the Union is not to undermine or supplant existing tailors, but to help individual tailors work together rather than compete.

"Why should each of us compete with one another by lowering our prices to the point of making next to nothing for our wares? Why should each of us try to promote our own brand while hoping to the netjers--that is, the gods--that our customers look not elsewhere for their goods if we are around not to fill their orders? While competition forces us to produce the best wares we can, it also forces us to do so at great loss. Such is where the Union comes in."

The preliminary meeting will give weavers and tailors a chance to speak their concerns and ideas for the venture, as well as provide an opportunity to gauge interest in the Union itself.

"I hope the Union to become an entity that helps standardize the market, fills orders for customers without worrying over competition, ensures clothing of quality is created, and mentors those less skilled who seek to improve their craft," she tells us. "The Union is not meant to convert and standardize brands. For example, I will still keep my scimitar oryx brand with the Souk of the Sands while Dirge shall keep his musical note with the Budding Fool. It is a place for our brands to cooperate, not compete. I also hope the Union becomes a place for weavers who prefer not to produce clothing are able to work with tailors who dislike weaving."

A simple tailor herself, Doamna Neferet tells us she came from the distant desert land of Har'Akir, known for both its riches and ruins and as a popular "destination" for outlanders seeking tombs to plunder.

"My mother and I were seamstresses to support the household, before I left seeking to become a merchant of renown. I own the Souk of the Sands trading operations," she told us. "Perhaps you have seen souls about Vallaki wearing garbs with embroidered tags showing a scimitar oryx--that is, a goat-like creature from the desert. Such is my brand."



A STENCH FROM BELOW: UPDATE ON CRIMINALS
Spoiler: show
by The Vallaki Review Team

We have learned from several eye-witnesses that various criminals previously reported on in fact associate with each other in the Drain and other sewer areas beneath the city.

One witness reports, after a lengthy session in their outhouse, overhearing a conversation between voices they recognized as Nica Miller and Akadus, the leader of the Tunnel Cats. Our other sources inform us that several criminals have been known to work together, particularly Nica Miller, the Tunnel Cats, and the 'painter' Bella T along with her admirers.

Nica Miller, you may recall, is the 'sea witch' with exceptional speed and a questionable smell, whose criminal activities have included garda-murdering and cursing of the elderly. We have word that she has been actively plotting with those mentioned above to attack those who her allies view as enemies, and we urge caution for any who may have crossed the paths of these individuals.

Bella T. recently published a statement claiming that the Wayfarer Kinship had attacked her while she was harmlessly moving through the outskirts, but an eyewitnesses who secretly watched the exchanged and witnessed Bella T. herself committing vandalism against an Ezrite shrine in a fit of jealousy over the piece of art. When a bystander atttempted to stop her, we are told that the vrolok turned her rage to the bystander.




SILVER ASTER SPAWNS HIGH DRAMA IN PORT-A-LUCINE
Spoiler: show
by The Vallaki Review Team

Our team at The Vallaki Review was surprised to discover that one of our recent articles was at the center of a minor drama in distant Port-a-Lucine. In such dark times, we feel there is room for entertainment. Not every page of our broadsheet need be about dark and gloomy news! For that reason, today we shall turn to the utterly unnecessary drama playing out on the sparkling streets of Port-a-Lucine, where the streets are washed with champagne and every citizen eats cake.

It began with our preview of the Silver Aster entertainment lounge, and a brief mention of one of its previous owners, "Roxana". Or, as it she is known in Port-a-Lucine these days, "Baronessa de Falsonno Roxana Barozzi".

In a public announcement posted prominently for everyone in the glittering city to read, Roxana's "Samurai" lover challenged a "Sieur Roland" to a duel, citing the latter's unflattering description of Roxana. What was this deeply degrading description, which another noble publicly proclaimed in a written notice all around the city to be "words which no man...should ever utter to a woman of any standing...which I shan't repeat out of the fair constitution of my poor heart and the hearts of any genteel woman who might read this publication"?

Tavern wench, as far as we can tell, though we have been unable to confirm whether further words were said. Domn Steele did not respond to a request for comment on further details.

While petty dramas such as this are of little interest, it was at this time that some of our behind-the-scenes investigation of the Silver Aster bore fruit, and we came to learn more about its curious past.

The previous owner Roxana advertised herself amongst the other 'companions' of the Silver Aster, which promoted itself promising to "cater to your every whim", Roxana advertised herself as:

Quote
Roxana 
A young woman of classical Borcan beauty, worldly and sophisticated. An avid conversationalist who can speak four tongues fluently with a love for sculpture, drama, and singing.

One is left to wonder what precisely the "roster" of entertainers is advertising for, though further down the list another advertised entertainer's description leaves a clue:

Quote
Valčre 
A rough-and-tumble sailor from the isle of Blaustein, you will feel safe in this handsome gentleman's arms.

We reached out to Doamna Ellavyra of the current reopening of the Silver Aster for comment. She released to us this statement, clarifying the role of entertainers at the Silver Aster:

"In the past, the Silver Aster's entertainers have lent themselves to private sessions with clients in contracts managed and negotiated by the entertainer. These private services range in a variety of companionships; a popular example being accompanying a crafter as they work, providing inspiration or simply charming company. However the range of intimacy provided was completely up to the entertainer and their client (hence the "safe in his arms" comment made by the previous owners), based on each respective comfort levels. As long as they kept within our expectations and everyone involved was safe, respected and consenting, we gave the entertainers mostly free reign with client contracts. "

Doamna Ellavyra stated that private sessions will continue to be offered, but only by select staff, and will not be required of every entertainer or staff member. According to Doamna Ellavyra, this was due to newer staff feeling uncomfortable with the idea of "private sessions".

"Going forward, I would like to focus more on the more public side of our business- serving drinks, providing engaging conversation, and hosting events all may feel welcomed to," she told the Vallaki Review. "We are a multifaceted establishment, and I want everyone in Vallaki to know this."

As for the 'scandal' in Port-a-Lucine, Doamna Ellavyra had this to say:

"When I worked with her before, she was a fine owner- respected my opinions, put in significant effort to pull off events and affairs, and most importantly made many people in Vallaki, local and otherwise, feel happy, warmed their hearts. Given how cold and even terrifying the lands can be to the good people around us, I would think such things are to be celebrated (if of course that is what that comment refers to). Perhaps it is my own cultural heritage speaking, but I see it as a shame such things are being reduced to senseless mudslinging."

As of the time of this printing, the Silver Aster no longer holds the lease for Shop III in the Warehouse District. Doamna Ellavyra graciously responded to our request for comment, telling us that she was unable to do so at this time until more details were available. Has the Silver Aster been shut down, or was there perhaps a paperwork mishap at the licensing office? We will report to you when we know more.



Food Review – Mariu Talovan’s Boeuf Bourguignon 
Spoiler: show
by Justin Thyme 
 
It’s a long trip for most citizens of Vallaki, but if one finds themselves in Krofberg, I recommend swinging by the One-Legged Dancer and trying the Boeuf Bourguignon. Located beneath the southern hills of the Tent City, the One-Legged Dancer is a quaint inn built into a cavern. It offers food and lodging, primarily to traders staying overnight, and its subdued mood can be a welcome relief from the raucous scene inside the Merriment. Mariu Talovan, the owner and operator, is a hulking fellow who welcomes his guests with a toothy grin and open arms. 
 
Boeuf Bourguignon is a pot roast prepared with beef braised in red wine. Flavored with garlic, onions and carrots and garnished with pearl onions and mushrooms, it is considered a delicacy by the upper class of Dementlieu. However, one doesn’t have to travel to Port-Au-Lucine to enjoy this flavorful dish, and Talovan's recipe includes bacon. 
 
There are no words to describe just how delicious this meal was. The sauce was rich and flavorful, and the meat was fall-apart tender and succulent, while still having a good texture. The sauce was nicely flavored and the pearl onions were sautéed in butter until lightly browned. The vegetables also still had a bite to them, and I sopped up every last drop of the stew with my bread.  The taste was velvety smooth, a luxurious meat bath for my tongue. The umami of the meat, the sweetness of the onions, and saltiness of the bacon all shined without overpowering one another. 
 
According to Talovan, the Bourguignon takes ten hours to prepare, and I believe that is time well spent. Even better, he packages the delicacy in small tins suitable for travel, which can easily be reheated over a fire. The flavor only improves with time. This means that diners can easily carry this dish back to Vallaki to share with friends and neighbors, and makes it a suitable replacement for tasteless, dry rations.



An anonymous critic: Response
Spoiler: show
We recieved a letter from one anonymous reader, who we believe has good intentions, wishing to share information with us as well as criticisms of our coverage regarding the Brotherhood of the Whip. We appreciate all letters, including criticisms, as well as the information you have shared with us.

As the letter did not include a return address and appeared to desire as much anonymity as possible, we will be refraining from including the text of the letter for fear of betraying their anonymity, even in the small chance that someone may recognize their writing style or anything they say. We wish nevertheless to respond to the letter's writer directly.

I'd like to address a few things.

1. The letter seems to be under the impression that we approve of the Brotherhood of the Whip, based apparently on the fact that we have reported on their actions without also mentioning their past misdeeds. We at The Vallaki Review feel we have very clearly reported that the cult is vile and dangerous, and I believe we have a duty to report their activity.
2. The letter appears to confuse the purpose of quoting sources, and equates quoting a source with agreeing with it. Please do not mistake quoting a vile beast's growl, as growling.
3. The letter makes references to statements and sentiments that have never appeared in our paper nor that our reporters have said. We do not "think the cult is a force for justice", we warn our readers against the cult. Repeatedly.
4. We urge you to reach out to us directly, there are channels through which we can be found by those who are trustworthy. We desire to know more of the cult, but we cannot simply reprint anything someone sends us without a way of verifying it.

We hope our critic will understand that remaining silent and not reporting on any of their claims of success only accomplishes precisely what they desire, 'apathy'. We consider it our duty at The Vallaki Review to ensure that ignorance does not fester, that readers are on high alert against threats. Avoiding reporting on the Black Duke and his vile cult does nothing to help with matters of ignorance and apathy.

We appreciate your letters, and encourage you to consider writing to us again, but giving us a return address.

- Dragomir Antonescu



RUMOR MILL...
Spoiler: show
Mysterious Luktar posters have been peppered around the Vallaki region. Outlanders may not be aware that the language is forbidden in Barovia.

Caliban have recently been both sneaking and running through the city, relying on vraja to shroud themselves in invisibility. One such creature was a caliban with lizard skin and wings of a drake.

The garda have been on a hiring spree, with several new recruits joining their ranks this month alone, along with one departure from the force for reasons unknown.

The Tunnel Cats appear to be active once again, though only their leader has been spotted. Have the Tunnel Cats all but dissolved?

The Silver Aster no longer owns the lease for Shop III. We have reached out to them for comment, and Doamna Ellavyra informs us she does not have enough information to share at this time.



TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.


CREDITS
Reporter Doamna Cosovei is taking a brief break from reporting duties this edition, and will return to us on the next issue.

Editor - Dragomir Antonescu 
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei 
Reporter - Prudence Jennings 
Food Columnist - Justin Thyme 
Foreign Correspondant - Iosef Apostu

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2023, 05:20:48 PM »
Quote
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION




SPECIAL ISSUE!
Two matters of timely importance have come to our attention. Look forward to our next full issue in the coming days!


OUTLANDERS ORGANIZE CHARITY RUN FOR BAROVIANS IN NEED
Spoiler: show
by The Vallaki Review Team

Citing a desire to mend fractured relations and aid those unable to meet the new auxiliary tax, several outlanders have begun a charity drive to ensure that impoverished Barovians are able to pay their taxes.

As of now, a total of 27,000 fangs has been gathered from among locally-based outlanders, who wish to remain anonymous, citing a desire to aid their hosts rather than benefit from goodwill.

The charity funds are to be distributed by Domn Felix, himself a local of Barovia, to any subjects of the Count who approach the Citadel to pay their taxes but find themselves unable to afford it.

Domn Felix states that the fund is still seeking donations, to ensure that more Barovians are able to meet their lawful tax requirements. Domn Felix says he can be reached at the Broken Bell.



DOLLMAKER, MURDERER AND MUTILATOR: UNVEILED?
Spoiler: show
By Prudence Jennings

The "Dollmaker", a person known to create and puppet patchwork living dolls made from human remains, may have been identified by several local investigators whose identities are kept anonymous for their own safety. This Dollmaker was the individual responsible for our previous reports on a swath of disturbing crimes including graverobbing, corpse mutilation, corpse animation, and violent murder. In each of these crimes, the targets were young women.

In fact, according to those involved in the investigations, the "Dollmaker" is not one individual acting entirely alone. The Dollmaker is a Lamordian doctor by the name of Herbert Ludwig, who arrived here by ship alongside a mother and daughter, the Ingrid family. Anasta Ingrid, according to our sources, suffers from a flesh-eating disease, and in an effort to save the girl Domn Ludwig began harvesting replacements first from fresh corpses and later from living victims.

According to our sources, Ludwig is believed to be the actual Dollmaker, using a type of vraja known as "Galvinism" which animates non-living matter through the use of summoned lightning. He has been known to create both "living dolls" and hands which crawl on their own. His creations are then apparently "puppetted" by the girl's mother, Isabella Ingrid. Finally, the daughter Anasta acts as the "doll", as investigators believe it is ultimately their goal to rebuild for her a complete healthy body using the limbs and organs harvested from those murdered by their "doll" creations.

These "living" dolls have been responsible for a number of murders in and around Vallaki. It should be noted that there seems to be a conflict between the Dollmaker and Emilian of the Knights of the Scarlet Cross. Additionally, someone calling themselves the Black Pilgrim has been seeking an alliance with the Dollmaker. 

Investigators believe that the trio are still seeking specific pieces, including a halfling torso, fey eyes, human limbs, and organs from an honest individual. Previously, they operated out of catacombs, but their laboratory was destroyed for unknown reasons.

We urge readers to report any incidents to the Vallaki Garda, and for women especially to exercise extreme caution as Noapte approaches.



TIPS, REPORTERS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallakii. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth. We eagerly seek to employ new reporters.

We are ACTIVELY seeking one or more new reporters to assist us in our mission of delivering news to the people of Vallaki, and giving them a voice.




The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2023, 04:48:16 AM »
Quote
THE VALLAKI REVIEW
NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 7



WELCOME BACK...
New and terrible threats rise from the dark, hassling garda, local and outlander alike. Keep your doors closed and windows shuttered, be tempted not by curiosity when a cold noapte wind blows. And most of all, if you hear an unfamiliar voice at your door asking to be let in ... bolt the door tighter.

Finally, we welcome the return of our dear Anamaria Cosovei, and wish to convey the bittersweet news that our reporter Prudence Jennings shall be retiring in the near future back to Paridon to write for no less than the Paridon Evening Standard. As ever, we are hiring new reporters, and hope to welcome you into our ranks!

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.



BATHED IN RED, THE CRIMSON GARGOYLE HOUNDS VALLAKI
Spoiler: show
By Iosef Apostu 
 
According to the Vallaki Garda, there have been confirmed sightings of a dire creature within the municipality of Vallaki. 
 
The creature known as the Crimson Gargoyle has been seen during the night within the Western Outskirts and even during the day along the paths of the forests south of Vallaki running to the Southern Farmlands. 
 
“It appears in the twisted mockery of a person,” according to a recent Garda proclamation, “and longs to be seen as one for it wears the torn remnants of attire, rent where its monstrous features betray it. It would be mistaken for a dwarven pitic were it not for the obsidian growths along its face and the span of terrible wings upon its back.” 
 
The creature is believed to be extremely dangerous and possessed of immense strength. There is no bounty on the creature, and the Vallaki Garda advise wary citizens and foolish outlanders alike to avoid it at all costs, at peril of their very souls.



DOLLMAKER VANQUISHED, DANGEROUS 'DOLLS' LINGER
Spoiler: show
By Prudence Jennings 
 
The mastermind behind the Dollmaker murders was put to rest this week, according to Esmerelda Namarra and her group of adventurers, who say they also managed to eradicate the Living Dolls that have plagued Vallaki for several months. 
 
“Let it be known they shall trouble you no more," declared Namarra. “Her dolls have been destroyed, and she has been slain while resisting capture.” 
 
The identity of the Dollmaker according to our sources a trio: Isabella Ingrid, who came to Vallaki in the company of her ill daughter, Anasta, and a Lamordian Chirurgeon named Herbert Ludwig. Details are still vague, but it appears that her initial goal was to save the life of her daughter using Galvanism and the unorthodox medical skills of Ludwig. However, after her daughter passed away, Ingrid turned to violence and butchery. 
 
“She was a broken woman,” stated Namarra, “bent on making everyone else suffer for the tragic and accidental death of her daughter, Anasta. Operating from a cabin near Lake Zarovich, she sent her twisted and tortured creations, to kidnap, maim and murder the good citizens of Valaki."
 
Those hunting the Dollmaker found themselves racing against the chirurgeon’s scalpel, as Ingrid and her creations carved a bloody path through the city of Vallaki, littered with the butchered and mutilated corpses of mostly young women, a wound that will be a long time healing. 
 
“If she had surrendered, “advised Namarra, “she would have been taken to the Guarda to see trial and justice for her crimes against (the people of Vallaki). Now instead she lies buried in an unmarked grave.” 
 
The citizens of Vallaki might rest easier at night, knowing that this twisted murder spree is at an end. However, reports are already coming in to The Vallaki Review of a new type of "doll" creature spotted in the Vallaki area. According to several of our sources, "exploding" dolls which chase down their prey and leave victims burnt or even dismembered have been attacking travelers along the roads in and out of Vallaki. Could this be a student of the deranged Dollmaker, expanding on his vile work? Or merely a copycat?



A LOOK BACK ON THE UNFOLDING OF THE OUTSKIRTS RIOT
Spoiler: show
By Anamaria Cosovei

We have spoken to several witnesses of the mob violence which broke out over a week ago in the Outskirts. We will do our very best to report the incident as accurately as possible, but we urge readers to remember that this was a complex event, viewed through many eyes, over the course of many hours.

It began, according to our witnesses, with a march of angry Barovian locals through the outskirts, chanting "Barovia for the Barovians" and that they were tired of outlanders and fey. It ended with an uncertain number of Barovian dead, twenty being roughly the average of the various counts we have recieved.

From the beginning of the march, the rioters focused their anger primarily on various fey individuals. According to other witnesses, many of these rioters filled the Lady's Rest tavern, where they harassed fey and outlander patrons for several hours, even chasing some out of the tavern itself.

"They chased some fey girl, or well I think it was a girl, out of the Rest. They were crying, real scared," we are told by one anonymous witness. "The only violent ones were the ones in the mob. They were trying to scare us, yes, but they were antagonizing the garda too. Wrongfully so."

We spoke with Doamna Orne-iel, a member of the Wayfarer Kinship and a fey herself, who said she heard the rioters shouted anger and accusations at the outlanders in the outskirts and was targeted personally.

"A Barovian man marched up to me and began to speak in Common, stating that the fey had killed his son," said doamna Orne-iel. "I tried to plead with the man, but it was for naught."

As the man returned, she says she saw the situation begin to spiral out of control, and shouted asking outlanders to get inside so as to not interfere with the Garda's work handling the situation. Soon after, there were shouts from the Garda that any outlanders coming outside would be arrested.

It is unclear when exactly the tide turned. We are told by another witness that the Garda carefully maintained the peace, even as the rage of the mob grew. At some point a garda horn was blown, and what is described as an "uproar" followed.

When those inside the Lady's Rest and the temple ventured out again, the streets were filled with bodies.

"One of the Garda a short while later arrived in and asked us to aid in collecting the bodies and trinkets..." said Doamna Orne-iel. "The man who was shouting at me moments ago, I had found his corpse in the pile. I plead to outlanders and Barovians to bridge the cap, so that this does not happen again."
 

 

TRAVELING BARD SEEKS AID IN RECOVERING LOST VIOLIN
By Dragomir Antonescu

A traveling bard has approached The Vallaki Review, seeking aid in recovering a precious violin of "utmost sentimental importance".

We have received conflicting reports about the incident in which the violin was lost, but our sources agree that a traveling bard was attacked by vile immortji, though it is unclear if the attack occurred on the roads south of Vallaki or upon the peaks of Mt. Ghakis. It is known that while the bard was surrounded by immortji, several members of the Wayfarer Kinship came upon the scene, dispatched the immortji, and a dispute of some sort occurred in the confusion of battle.

Aid from those new to the region or newly misted are preferred, and interested parties looking for work may contact The Vallaki Review by letter.

//This is a DM event aimed for new players or players that have not yet been involved in a DM event. Players can contact DM Brimstone if they have any OOC questions, and as indicated in the article should write to us if interested.


CORRECTIONS: DULLAHAN, CULT ATTACK
Spoiler: show
We received several corrections of some recent articles involving Prelate Vandryn Carro of the Christ's Church, for which we are grateful and humbly apologize. While errors and missing information are inevitable, we are thrilled to be aided by our readers. We wish to remind all readers that we welcome corrections and opinions with open arms, and that transparency is always our goal. And we extend our thanks to Prelate Vandryn Carro for speaking with us.

Below are reprinted Prelate Carro's corrections, as well as further enticing details about the stories.

To the business of the HEADLESS RIDER: 
 
I wouldn't hasten to say that I "rescued victims" from the rider. While the rider's arrival did place me directly against it, there were also others who stood directly against it at great risk to their own lives. Indeed, several of us cooperated to see to it that our company survived the night. These were Aegis, of the Church of Ezra; Ser Gregorio, a knight of the Christ; Lev, the merchant often seek outside the city gates; Carmen Albescu, of the White Lily; Frayne, a laborer; and myself. 
 
When we were first assaulted and overrun as dusk fell, Aegis, Ser Gregorio, and I mounted a fighting withdrawal to the Christ's Church, with Lev crossing our path and joining us along the way. Her blade was especially keen, and her aid was instrumental in clearing out the final monstrosity that held up our withdrawal. Carmen was among our company, as well, and as the night drew on, did much to tend to our bodies and our spirits by brewing warm tea and explaining the tale of the headless rider so those less knowledgeable would understand. 
 
We encountered Frayne after Ser Gregorio, Aegis, Lev, and I sortied from the Christ's Church to investigate several knocks on our front door. After being assaulted by more monstrosities, we came upon Frayne, who was himelf seeking shelter, and began to warn him of the danger. Not long thereafter, the rider again appeared and assailed us. Aegis, Lev, and Ser Gregorio boldly held it at bay while I opened the door to the church so that they and Frayne might shelter inside. When one was struck down, I drew the rider aside, away from the door, and circled around to administer healing to the fallen, allowing them to reach the door of the church. I was then, myself, struck down, but Aegis and Ser Gregorio rallied to help me (or so it would seem, judging by their presence when I regained my wits and was able to stand again). After this, having gathered all we could, we swiftly sought shelter in the Christ's Church in accord with the curfew. 
 
So truly, the tale is not of one person's heroics but rather of a company of friends and acquaintances--locals and outlanders alike--who were assaulted while lawfully traveling toward shelter after dusk and who cooperated, each at great risk to bring great comfort, to guarantee that all survived the night. If you're of the sort to produce corrections, I would humbly ask that you do so. If coin is of concern, I would gladly see to some of the costs, such that I'm able. 
 
Now, to the business with the supposed SOURAGNIAN CULT: 
 
I witnessed four hordes of unliving move through the outskirts or along the city walls that night. Frayne was traveling toward us and warned us of the first. It was by his vigilance that we were able to hastily prepare ourselves for the skirmish. 
 
The first horde was dispatched with relative ease, but a second arrived not long after. These were of some different sort and had blows that crackled with a power akin to lightning. The third, which we encountered along the city wall as we halted to hail the garda standing watch, were similar, as were the fourth, which we found along the wall to the north, about the charred ruins of the old house--the site of the rite. There were three piles of skulls arranged about the ground, with a dark haze between them. It seemed to several of us as if a skull floated in the haze. 
 
It's true that Rebecca and I were involved in the defense, but as with the business with the headless rider, it would be untruthful of me to take credit as a grand "hero." I was one of many who aided that night. Ser Gregorio was at my side and, after the ritual site had been removed, carried on with a large company of others to check the tunnels below the city while I and several others remained above. Toret Matthew Garrett of the Church of Ezra performed a blessing on the defiled ground after the final skirmish. Monsieur Arsčne was also present and lent his aid, as did a local fellow named Valentin. A woman I can't recall destroyed the site after we came upon it, and a fellow I don't know was the one who found it to begin with; he led us to it, and had it not been for his vigilance, the heavens alone know what manner of evil might have been wrought. Many others fought in the battle, not least of whom were the garda, who, as your broadside mentions, battled from the walls. 
 
It was, once again, a tale of locals and outlanders cooperating to aid the city that's become something of a home to all of them. 
 
I'm grateful for your patience and the opportunity to clarify the accounts. I hope, in the absence of my comments, this illuminates these matters more for you and your company.

Yours respectfully, 
V. Carro 
Prelate of the Christ's Church



UPDATE: VROLOK ATTACKS ON THE RISE
Spoiler: show
By Anamaria Cosovei

Attacks by vroloks have risen dramatically in the last week, including attacks by Emilian, Bella T., and a mysterious new immortji whose name is as of this time unknown.

Emilian: Little is known about his current activities, only that they have not changed much aside from frequency of violence.

Bella T.: Cursed with a need for constant attention more severe even than her immortji hunger for blood, Bella T. has made various dramatic proclamations to no effect. Continuing to claim that she is harmless, Bella T. has only stepped up the frequency and ferocity of her attacks with no actual impact. Relying on ambushes, she is frequently disarmed by those who know how to do it, and has even conducted attacks within sight of the windows of the local Vallaki orphanage. Our sources tell us that no actual goal appears to exist.

Finally, reports have come in of a male vrolok, said to be of a perverted nature who stalks women and has been spotted fleeing widows' abodes with stolen undergarments. The women of Vallaki surely breathed a collective sigh of relief at the defeat of the Dollmakers, and now must live in fear once more. Women of Vallaki are advised to remain careful of visitors at their doors or knockers at their window, to refuse strange visitors, and as always, to remain inside at night.


✯✯✯



CHURCH OF KELEMVOR TO HOST LECTURE
Spoiler: show
By Prudence Jennings 
 
The Church of Kelemvor will host a Lecture of Necrophages on the twelfth of Yinvar, at their location at Warehouse #1 in the Warehouse District. 
 
“A Necrophage,” advised Ramon Bhakul, Order Master of the Church of Kelemvor, “as defined by the Church of Kelemvor is a creature of Undeath that feeds upon the deceased, such as an abomination called a 'Ghoul'.” 
 
The lecture will discuss how to properly identify the signs a Necrophage has been in an area, how to determine what specific form of Necrophage is in the area, and the various behaviors associated with such. Furthermore those who attend will learn how to properly avoid encounters with said creatures and should one come under attack if methods of avoidance fail, how to safely disengage with minimal harm to oneself or neutralize the threat. 
 
“We believe that life is sacred and must be protected,” shared Bhakul. “Based on our doctrines the only way a life should end is comfortable in ones bed by old age. Creatures such as Necrophages obviously hinder the chances of individuals to live long, happy lives. As a result, the ultimate purpose of the Church secularly is to educate people on how they may best protect themselves against many of the dangers that exist in this land.” 
 
All peoples and faiths of Vallaki are welcome. This lecture and others to come at the Church of Kelemvor will be purely secular and will not involve religion. Bhakul urges citizens not to let a difference in faith or pantheon be the wedge that keeps them away. 
 
“The inspiration to hold this lecture” noted Bhakul, “is compassion and hope for the future, the idea of individuals no longer needlessly throwing their lives away in the Noapte. Through education and secular discussion, we hope to bring this dream of hope into reality. 
 
The Church of Kelemvor invites all lawful inhabitants of Vallaki to this lecture. Attendance is free of charge. However, anything not adhering to the laws of Barovia is strictly forbidden and breaches will be reported to the proper authorities 
 
“I would say to anyone wishing to attend this event,” stated Bhakul “to come with a willingness to learn and to engage in the lecture. We welcome all peoples of Vallaki to spend an evening in the company of their peers and perhaps go home knowing something new that will hopefully not need to be used.”



SILVER ASTER CLOSES, FATE UNCERTAIN
Spoiler: show
By Anamaria Cosovei

In our previous edition we reported on the sudden change-of-hands in the Shop III lease agreements, a developing story at that time. Now that the dust has settled, it appears that the Silver Aster's doors are finally shuttered.

The Silver Aster was an entertainment club in the process of reopening, its previous opening having been a success over the course of several months before its previous owner moved into Dementlieuse politics. Its current reopening was plagued by problems, with most of its previous staff disappearing and the torch handed to Doamna Ellavyra. After two months of preparation to reopen, the Silver Aster's grand reopening will no longer be happening.

"I had send out my payments to the Office of Commissions every month rather than hand delivering them since I tend to not have time to do such," explained Doamna Ellavyra. "Such payment didn't arrive, so the lease had expired."

The rental market in Vallaki is a competitive one, with few rental spaces available and long waitlists for those that are currently occupied.

Doamna Ellavyra tells us she hoped to regain her rental after realizing the mistake, but it was too late for her.

"Unfortunately, the current resident claimed such before I had much of a time to even notice what had happened. I had been in contact with them the day of losing the rental, and they were not interested in negotiations. Legally I have no backing, so there is nothing to be done at this time."

Shop 3 is now owned by Doamna Neferet, an Akiri woman who has swiftly set up shop and put the space to use. It has already seen openings within its brief time leased, while the Silver Aster never opened in its two or so months of ownership. The shop space now hosts the brand new Grey City Tailors' Union, whose preliminary meeting will still be held at the Budding Fool in the Warehouse District.

As for what Doamna Ellavyra plans to do in the future, she isn't yet sure.

"Nothing is set in motion quite yet as I am taking some time to figure things out as it were. I've considered doing something more spontaneous in locations around Port-a-Lucine and Vallaki."



ICE QUEEN HAUNTS PEAK OF MT. BARATOK
Spoiler: show

by Iosef Apostu 
 
Winters in Barovia are not pleasant things. Icy winds blow down from the peaks of the Balinoks carrying heavy snows and bitter cold. But frostbite and avalanche are not the greatest dangers to be found on the slopes of Mount Baratok. For as the days grow short and the nights stretch out, the Ice Queen Jezra Wagner reaches out to steal the heat from the living. 
 
Good citizens of Vallaki will be familiar with the legend of Jezra Wagner, if not the details. The Vistani have made her famous, or infamous, with their haunting song Regina d'Ghlaccio. However, here the details of her unlife shall be laid out in order to dissuade Outlanders foolish enough to think of disturbing her in her Ice Palace high atop Mount Baratok. 
 
According to public record, Jezra Wagner died at the age of 27, some 75 years after the domain of Barovia came into the Mists, during the reign of Strahd II. During that time, a boyar named Piotr Wagner was in charge of a lucrative silver mining operation in the Balinoks. His daughter, Jezra, was a free-spirited young woman who loved the natural beauty of the Balinoks. She had made it a personal goal to summit as many of the mountains as possible so she could drink in every possible aspect and angle of their grandeur. Winter was the season that she loved the most. With the coming of the first snow, she would dash outside to dance and frolic in its chilling embrace; how ironic, then, that it was the snows of winter that claimed her life. 
 
She was well known among the nobility and common folk alike, for she was as kind and loving a woman as anyone was likely to meet. The tale of her accidental death, and the terrible fate that awaited her on the other side, is one of Barovia’s most tragic stories. One winter day, Jezra and three of her friends set out to scale the mountains around Mt. Baratok. It was their hope to see the distant spire of Mount Nyid, which was said to be visible from the highest reaches of Baratok. Their expedition was ill-fated, however, and doom claimed it before they reached the mountain’s crest. No one knows exactly what happened, only that on the third day of their climb, an avalanche struck. Jezra's three friends were never seen again. Jezra, unfortunately, was not so lucky. 
 
For the past three centuries, some climbers in the Balinoks--mostly around Mt. Baratok, have reported seeing a pale, blue-lipped woman, her face rimed with frost. She shivers with cold, until she touches a living person. Then her blue lips become rosy, her cheeks flush with warmth, and her victim falls to the ground, frozen solid. 
 
All that time, Jezra has roamed the frozen slopes of Mount Baratok in search of warmth. She does not realize that she died on the mountain, believing instead that she is suffering from some strange curse. From time to time, she escapes the agony of her frozen unlife by drawing the heat from a living body and leaving a crystallized corpse in her wake. 
 
In the past century, or so, those foolish enough to brave the peak of Mount Baratok report that Jezra Wagner has constructed a grand and forbidding Ice Palace, and lies deep within. The peak itself if patrolled by packs of Winter Wolves and squads of Fog Wardens. Within the Ice Palace itself lurk even deadlier creatures of the cold, ready to rend and freeze the life from the unwary. Although the creatures that guard her are deadly, many would say that the greatest guardian of Jezra Wagner are the freezing temperatures atop the peak, which themselves can strip the warmth and life from a living person in a matter of minutes. 
 
Jezra Wagner’s is a cautionary tale about the Balinoks: they don't care whether you're a peasant or a boyar's daughter, whether you despise them or love them with all your heart. Like the Ice Queen, the mountains are beautiful, but they hunger for your warmth and life.



TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.


CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu 
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei 
Reporter - Prudence Jennings 
Food Columnist - Justin Thyme 
Foreign Correspondant - Iosef Apostu
« Last Edit: January 12, 2023, 01:38:20 PM by The Vallaki Review »

The Vallaki Review

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NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 8



WELCOME BACK...
Welcome back to another issue of The Vallaki Review. Our city is abuzz this month with the blossoming of fresh new endeavors, and you can expect to learn of them and more!

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.


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A TRAITOR AMONG US: EX-GARDA BARLADEANU BANISHED
By Anamaria Cosovei

A member of the Vallaki Garda has been expelled from his service and named a traitor, with warnings posted throughout Barovia and according to our sources as far as distant Port-a-Lucine. Cosmin Barladeanu, who served among the Vallaki Garda for only one month, was named by Lance Corporal Rahela Amanar for crimes of treason, cowardice, theft from the people of Vallaki, consorting with foreigners and desertion of duty.

We reached out to the Vallaki Garda for comment.

"We of the Vallaki Guard uphold our oaths and there is no greater disgrace than to breach these solemn vows," Lance Corporal Rahela Amanar told The Vallaki Review. "Cosmin Bârladeanu betrayed these promises and though his crimes were against Vallaki, all of Barovia and the lands that would shelter him are bettered to know his failings. Let none turn their back in the presence of a traitor lest they suffer as the good people of the municipality have."

Notices of his banishment can be found throughout Vallaki. A notice which cannot be found, however, is the first and last proclamation posted by then-private Barladeanu before his sudden expulsion from the Vallaki Garda. A shockingly high reward was posted for a fey man by the name of Selwynn, who according to our sources among the outlanders was known for engaging in liaisons with multiple fey and human women at a time. Ex-Private Barladeanu's notices can no longer be found in the city, having been stripped down from their official positions.

It is unclear at this time if some private drama developed between the two men, as Barladeanu is accused by the Vallaki Garda of harboring unnatural fey blood. Described by Lance Corporal Amanar as "excessively large", "native coloring" and with eyes of "unnatural blue".

"He has abandoned his own during the defense of the municipality and has turned from its people during their hour of need. This yaldson sot disgraced the mantle in which he was entrusted and fled, turning aside as his fellow guard contested the enemies of Vallaki. His cowardly excuses were curses blighting the ears of all those who stood witness to his miserable crimes."

It is believed by our sources that this incident may refer to one of many recent attacks by vroloks on the walls of Vallaki, where the Vallaki Garda have shed their blood defending the city.

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CURTAINS CLOSE ON THE DOLLMAKER SAGA
By Anamaria Cosovei

Following up on last issue's story of the Dollmaker's defeat, we spoke with Doamna Esmerelda Namarra of the Order of Virtue to learn more. Readers may recall that the "Dollmaker" was in fact several individuals working together to preserve the rotting body of a young girl, the one identified as the Dollmaker proper being the mother Isabella.

According to Doamna Namarra, it was in fact one of the Dollmaker's own creations who struck the killing blow against Isabella. Many individuals were involved in tracking down the witches who subjected Vallaki to these abominations, and Doamna Namarra has requested to withhold their names for their own safety unless they wish to come forward. She publicly thanked, however, Daomna Livu Dhendras who is a member of this same order, and Domn Aegis Tale, a dedicated member of the Ezrite faith.

Others involved in the internal Vallaki Guard's investigation of the Dollmaker were Doamna Nyanka Lukresh of Lukresh Investigations & Bounty, Private Nichitov Dragolov of the Vallaki Garda, outlander Kasumi, late Barovian local Dragova, and the Wayfarer Kinship. The investigation is believed to have included countless individuals, which Lukresh describes as a "collective effort" to stop the Dollmaker.

"Her creations have mostly been destroyed, though a few may yet linger," said Doamna Lukresh. "The Dr. Hubert Ludwig who had been turned into an abomination, along with Engrid's daughter, Anasta, have both been put to ash so that none may ever harm the good people of Vallaki or Barovia ever again."

We asked Doamna Namarra why doll-like vraja creations were still being seen around Vallaki, if this Dollmaker had been defeated.

"After the Dollmaker's mortal form was slain, it is true that her head was recovered from her unmarked grave, I believe by one of her creations," says Doamna Namarra. "It was animated by dark powers upon the corpse of another, creating a faux doll, a monsterous echo of the woman who was."

"In life she was determiend to make others suffer as she had...to make everyone a grieving mother. In animated death, she was the essence of this evil."

Doamna Namarra states that the reborn Dollmaker had reassembled her creations but that these were no more than frail and walking corpse "bombs".

"She set out to destroy all those who had thwarted her plans, myself included." According to Doamna Namarra, once the plan was uncovered, she and others stopped her on her way to Vallaki and separated her head from her corpse. The head was fully destroyed, and Doamna Namarra promises the city is finally safe from the Galvanist monsters.

"She is now gone - Utterly. No more will she, her creations, or their shadows trouble any of the good people of Vallaki."


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TRAVELING BARD SEEKS AID IN RECOVERING LOST VIOLIN

A traveling bard has approached The Vallaki Review, seeking aid in recovering a precious violin of "utmost sentimental importance". 
 
We have received conflicting reports about the incident in which the violin was lost, but our sources agree that a traveling bard was attacked by vile immortji, though it is unclear if the attack occurred on the roads south of Vallaki or upon the peaks of Mt. Ghakis. It is known that while the bard was surrounded by immortji, several members of the Wayfarer Kinship came upon the scene, dispatched the immortji, and a dispute of some sort occurred in the confusion of battle. 
 
Aid from those new to the region or newly misted are preferred, and interested parties looking for work may contact The Vallaki Review by letter. 
 
//OOC: This is a DM event aimed for new players or players that have not yet been involved in a DM event. Players can contact DM Brimstone if they have any OOC questions, and as indicated in the article should write to us if interested.


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FORMER GARDA LAUNCHES PRIVATE INVESTIGATION FIRM,
LUKRESH INVESTIGATIONS & BOUNTY
By Anamaria Cosovei

Among the flurry of new businesses and endeavors in Vallaki is Lukresh Investigations & Bounty, a private investigation firm founded by Doamna Nyanka Lukresh.

Formerly a member of the Vallaki Garda, Lukresh tells us that she led the internal garda's investigation of the Dollmaker alongside Private Nichitov Dragolov and several individuals and organizations outside the garda. Now she seeks to put that experience to use as a private investigation business, which recently opened in Shop II of the Warehouse District.

Its opening was marked by a shocking act of vandalism, one which may have even made use of some unknown vraja. Almost burned into the stone were bloody words in Balok of "Murderer", and handprints smeared across the shop's outer walls. The agency's new sign had been dismantled, while the sign of the Budding Fool itself remained untouched.

The culprit is currently unknown, as the attack has only freshly occurred, but Vallaki is not without those who hunt or attack garda, including ex-garda. Lukresh may have been targeted by any number of individuals who hold a grudge against the city's laws, such as those who live in the sewers beneath our cobbled stradas.

We spoke to Doamna Lukresh to learn more of her new business venure, which she tells us will retain a low number of staff. "We are not a mercenary company, and therefore require fewer numbers. This also helps us to maintain confidentiality and discretion, something I believe is highly valued by our clients and customers."

Asked about the various services the firm will provide, Lukresh explained that surveillance services, for example, "simply include keeping an eye on individuals at the request of the client". She explained to The Vallaki Review that for a specified period of time, reports could be made of observations on a subject. "Reasons for such practices may vary greatly from client to client, so I won't speculate as to why someone would ask for such work to be done".

"While working the Engrid case, I found that I truly enjoyed the investigative side of the work." It was there she learned she enjoyed trying to pick apart puzzles and mysteries. After she was dismissed from the Garda, she said, she was at first angry that something which gave her purpose was taken away. "I came to realise that while I would miss the camaraderie of my fellows in the guard, I could still do good for my people and the city that I now call home."

Lukresh describes investigative work as a slow, ardous process that doesn't easily turn a profit. But she has found through her work with the Garda that the criminals are endless, and there will always be more work. Lukresh says she sees it as a way to make coin doing what she knows, while supporting her former comrades within the Vallaki Garda.

"I know that most people look at the Garda with disdain and hatred, but they are just people like you and me," says Doamna Luklresh. "They have families. I don't know a one of them that actually enjoys the more gruesome parts of the job."

Of her agency, Nyanka Lukresh wanted to make one more thing clear.

"It should be noted that under no circumstances will I take work that could be deemed treasonous or otherwise illegal in the eyes of the Count or his appointed servants. Lukresh Investigations & Bounty is a private institution and in no way affiliated with any law enforcement agency within Barovia," says Doamna Lukresh. "With that said, we are still beholden to the laws of the land and will obey them at all times."

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NIGHT OF MUSIC WITH SOUK OF THE SANDS:
Is the winter of Vallaki's art scene coming to its end?

       
By Anamaria Cosovei

The newly opened "Souk of the Sands" tailoring boutique is hosting what may be the first among many artistic performances. Vallaki has long lived in a drought of art, music, and theater, with the indefinitely shuttered Broken Bell Theater only one example of lost potential. Will the Souk of the Sands' upcoming "Night of Music" break the city's curse, and allow music and art to flourish once again?

According to Doamna Neferet, not only can Vallaki residents expect more, but future performers are already lined up.

"The idea for hosting events came about initially when I first walked into the recently-closed Silver Aster as the new renter of Shop III. The shop was much, much larger than I expected, and the back room of the Aster was set up as a stage. I can only imagine what sorts of shows they held there," she says. Realizing she had far more potential with the space than she initially envisioned, Doamna Neferet decided to use the front of her shop as a boutique and the back as a special events hall for the future. "And lo, the future has come!"

The performance, to be held on the 26th of this month, will feature imported Akiri drinks and outfits designed by Doamna Neferet intended to showcase both the performers' abilities and her own.

"My performers are something special," doamna Neferet tells us. "Ljot, the Skald hailing from beyond the mists, may be an intimidating towering figure with blonde hair and blue eyes like the skies of Blaustein, but has the heart of the fairest orchid. Aura, on the other hand, is nearly a local. She is an Invidian with an acute fashion sense, a fiery soul, and quick wit. Last but not least is Isabel, the Iberian from beyond the mists. She is a humble and earnest one, willing to help as she can, and she certainly will on the 26th."

Doamna Neferet promises the clothing itself will "awe the audiences".

Of her shop, and the upcoming performances, Doamna Neferet makes one thing clear: "It is exciting to see these steps of my dreams come to fruition."

We will be observing the blossoming of new artistic endeavors in the city with great interest, and will be publishing our own review of the show after its release

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COMING SOON
In upcoming issues, expect in-depth features of the "Van Couvenhoven Society of Adventurers", the "Order of Virtue" and our review of the upcoming "Night of Music" by the Souk of the Sands!

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UPDATE: VROLOKS OF VALLAKI
By Anamaria Cosovei

Why, this is becoming a regular little feature isn't it? A small update on the exploits of various Vroloks operating within the city.

Bella has been desperately allying herself with anyone intending to do harm to innocents, no longer even bothering to feign innocence. According to those who fought the Dollmaker, Bella fought against those attempting to stop the the vile murderer.

She has also allied herself with a vrolok known as the "Blood Knight", yet another unoriginal vrolok hiding behind a thin veneer of honor and feudal prestige. Multiple sources inform us that this "Blood Knight" is as cowardly as his ally, despite the strength that the vrolok curse gives.

Bella herself has been stepping up ambushes of garda and outlander alike, stooping so low as to attack Vallaki's own orphanage in the dead of night. According to multiple sources, she has even turned her rage against the walls of Vallaki itself, where she has spilled the blood of garda merely doing their duty.

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A HUNGER FOR FEY:
The Onyx stalks southern forests

By Iosef Apostu 
 
According to representatives of the Fey, a spiderlike creature called the Onyx has made its home in the Blightwood. 
 
“Described to me as darkness that descends from the canopy,” stated Lorelei, Marquessa of the Autumn Grove, “A spider-like beast, larger than a Vistanti caravan. It has many eyes and feelers on its face. Black like night with swirls like storm clouds as markings on its hide.” 
 
The creature is reported to be powerful and is known to stalk its prey with its brood, smaller spiders with muted crimson markings. 
 
We have been unable to verify this information outside of the Fey denizens of Degannwy. However, all wise Barovians will stay well away from their domains, and within the municipality of Vallaki, protected by the Garda from such terrors.

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RUMOR MILL...

A vandal struck the Warehouse District late this previous night, smearing a bloody handprint across the wall of the building and painting the word "Murderer" in Balok. The words appeared almost burned into the stone itself, could vraja have been used to leave these marks? A fresh sign for Lukresh Investigations & Bounty was torn down as well.

"I'm not sure who the culprits might be or the reasoning for it," says Domn Dirge Driftwood, the lease holder of Shop II. "I will give a word of warning though, I am not sure why my place was targeted. It could have been convenience at the time, so please, all establishment owners be wary!"

A member of the Wayfarer Kinship was murdered this past day, the blood of Doamna Melian Orne-iel flowing freely outside the walls of Vallaki. Speculation abounds as to the identity of her murderer.

"Where is Alexi?" has been scratched into the walls outside Vallaki by an unknown vandal. It is believed that the wanted criminal is working with various creatures of the night, including murderous vampires.

TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.

CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu 
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei
Food Columnist - Justin Thyme 
Foreign Correspondant - Iosef Apostu


An addendum is quickly added, and the rest of the day's publications include the following correction:

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CORRECTION:
Doamna Melian Orne-iel was quickly resurrected after her death, and is now alive and well.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2023, 04:36:28 PM by The Vallaki Review »

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2023, 04:28:08 PM »

NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 9



WELCOME BACK…
We welcome our newest reporters, a sister and brother team from Krezk who are excited to lend us their talents and curiosity. Doamna and Domn Vântu will act as our Krezk correspondants for the time being.

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.


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BLUE KRENSHARS DRAG VALLAKI INTO FOREIGN DISPUTES

          by Iosef Apostu with contributions by The Vallaki Review Team
 
The Blue Krenkshar Mercenary Company has found itself in hot water recently, both locally and abroad. Notorious for being caught double-crossing their employers and losing their only contract of note, the gang is led by known cannibal Slade. The group returned to Vallaki to answer Slade's Garda summons, and harassed locals and businesses on their way back to their camp in the mists.
 
“The night was going well enough,” said local tailor and business owner Dirge Driftwood, “when, near the struck of midnight the bell rings at the front. Naturally I'm eager to invite more in, it was a very busy night. But what bursts through is a random drunken, injured lady accompanied by four members of the Blue Krenshar group.” 

Multiple witnesses report that they then helped themselve to Driftwood's private drink cabinet, while raising so much noise in their revelry that it became impossible for the class to continue. Slade is said to have loudly complained about being summoned to Vallaki "because Ilona likes to run her mouth and lie" and "bragging about riding Vistani wagons with the vrolok Bella", according to our sources.

"Once they started breaking open the drinks, they gathered around that injured woman and tried to force her to drink more and more. She was barely conscious, and Slade kept trying to make her drink more while flirting with her," one anonymous witness told us, their story confirmed by two others. "She couldn't even stand, and he kept creeping on her even after she collapsed. It was perverted, sick. Some of his mercenaries were surrounding her. Thankfully they were acting tougher than they were, the minute Dirge mentioned calling the Garda they scurried out faster than caliban past Radu."

Dirge Driftwood told us he didn't put up with the behavior for long.
 
“With those manners, it's a wonder they haven't been assaulted or worse yet by someone else,” said Driftwood. “I was furious. The real kicker is that they came by right after they were called up BY the Garda! For what I do not know - But the Port-a-Lucine authorities in Dementlieu have banished their leader, Slade, and branded him a cannibal as well. And this is not the first time I have heard such accusation of him.” 

The Blue Krenshar Mercenary Company were released from service and had their contracts voided by the Barnonessa di Falsonna, formerly Roxanna Barozzi of the Silver Aster 'gentleman's club' of Vallaki, and currently the leader of the Borcan Consulate in Port-A-Lucine. In addition, they were barred from entrance to the theatre of war in the Silent Fields campaign, for conspiracy against Dementlieu and planning to undermine the campaign. 

Slade, named as a cannibal by the Gendermerie Nationale de Dementlieu, has, along with his officer Dracos Von Nightscape, already been banished from Dementlieu on charges of espionage against, and conspiracy to undermine an officer of the High Republic.

An anonymous source from within the Blue Krenshars, along with several others, have confirmed the truth of these Dementlieuse charges: The Blue Krenshars took part in assisting Falkovnian sabotage and war crimes against the very employers who hired them, in direct breach of their contracts. Additionally, several of our sources have witnessed Slade's acts of cannibalism, though it is unclear how much his employees know of his acts.

What is known, however, is Slade's penchant for recruiting women to his company for less than savory reasons. As witnessed in the Budding Fool, the mercenary group is accustomed to witnessing its leader prey on vulnerable women, even those who are half-conscious and unable to stand. Though one woman in particular "Ilona", he is said to seek above all others. Accusations have publicly flown back and forth between Ilona and Slade, as these two outlanders drag Vallaki and the garda into their spat. Ilona, who is known to slaughter travelers while outside the boundaries of Barovia, has similarly accused Slade of engaging in "power grabs" over a vraja Keep in the mists. Blood has been spilled before in Ilona's disputes, and we hope that the blood feud does not spill into Vallaki's own streets.
 
“I simply do not know why they even showed,” said Driftwood. “Did they show just to raise rabble? Was it all on purpose? I won't speculate further on this, as the night is done and I should not worry myself more on it.” 
 
Wise citizens and even outlanders should take caution to avoid associating with members of the Blue Krenshars, and especially any situation in which one would find oneself alone with them, lest one become the next meal for their master.
         


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ADVENTURERS TO UNCOVER BAROVIA'S FORGOTTEN HISTORIES

          By Anamaria Cosovei

Vallaki is no stranger to foreign bands of adventurers and mercenaries passing through its walls, often looting Barovian tombs and ruins for relics and then spending the stolen coin abroad. But one new band of adventurers claims to be different: Couvenhoven Society of Adventurers, founded by Kartakan Bartholomeus Van Couvenhoven.

The Vallaki Review sat down with Domn Van Couvenhoven, alongside society member Nifretiri of Har'Akir, to hear what they had to say about the Society's past, present and future.

"In my homeland of Kartakass, we grow up on different stories and I loved those stories growing up," said Domn Van Couvenhoven. "So did my son Erik. But to uncover the truth and reality of these stories, the history and the greatest story ever told: it involves a bit of excavating and archaeology."

'Archaeology', Van Couvenhoven describes, involves entering forgotten "fortressess, ruins, and other long abandoned sites" to find relics of the past and "piece together the truth from local folk tales to scholarly estimations."

As for what the Society does with these Barovian relics?

"We return them back to the people of Barovia!" insists Van Couvenhoven. A broad man larger than life both in stature and laughter, Van Couvenhoven is eager to talk about the history and scholarly efforts of his Society. His associate, Nifretiri, is a striking opposite: muted in dress and voice, she whispers of how Har'Akir's ruins have had their stories lost. A dire warning to Barovia, that we may share the same fate.

Van Couvenhoven says that his Society returns all relics to the Bounty Office, but that he hopes one day to reach out to Immol, where he believes a museum exists.

"Our mission is the careful handling of history, culture and academics. We aren't interested in any kind of politics or to change things but quite the opposite: preserve them," says Van Couvenhoven. "We think it's important the people of Barovia have their artifacts in their home...not like many past scholars before...me bringing back little trinkets from Har'Akir to some posh museum in Dementlieu, ikke ikke ikke!"

(Ikke means no in Vaasi.)

Van Couvenhoven is animated when he expresses his distaste towards the hoarding of history, his voice rising loud and booming and angry.

"It's the people's history and it belongs to the people!"

Time will tell, and The Vallaki Review will be sure to hold the Society to this promise.

As for how the Society acquires these historical artifacts, Van Couvenhoven was eager to tell us.

"Our first venture was deep into the south woods. Some time around, oh, 684 through 691 a great plague had befallen a monastery built by missionaries from Darkon," said Van Couvenhoven. "They worshipped a deity called the Overseer and ill fortune befell them. Thankfully these Darkonian visitors kept very good records of things and I was able to piece together a story how an accursed plague befell them, in particular they mentioned a knight by the name of Sir Gilos who perished to the plague and wolves, betrayed by his religious allies."

"The shadow of death grasped tightly upon the ancient hallways," remarked Nifretiri, who assisted the mission alongside Society member Anlyth. According to the Society, the ruin is infested with dark spiders and other dangerous beings. "Dark will, intent, something kept the spirits yet in unlife."

The Society says it uncovered two vials of 'Darkonian holy water', which were promptly turned in to the Bounty Office along with an explanation of how it had been discovered. Such bounties, says Van Covenhoven, are the bread and butter of funding for the Society.

"Money really isn't at the forefront of what we do. I am not interested in gold coins or blood sport, I am interested in academics. I think it's important that people know the history and tales of their ancestors...we wouldn't be here without them!"

As for what comes next for the Society, Van Couvenhoven says that the history of the Tergs in Barovia is of particular interest to them, after a recent discovery of graffiti in an old Barovian fortress. "Calls of insubordination as they accused their commander of being a Terg Lover. But little is known about the site."

The Society does not plan to linger in Barovia forever, but Van Couvenhoven believes they may in the future write a book or anthology of their findings.
         



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BANDITRY ON THE RISE?

                    By Octavian and Demetra Vântu

Bandit activity appears to be on the rise along the length road between Vallaki and Krezk. Reports have reached The Vallaki Review of bands of outlanders in dark clothing, wielding glowing vraja-touched weapons and speaking in foul tongues.
   
"I was stopped along the road past Wachter, well outside of what the Wachter guards worry about," we are told by one alleged victim. "I'm used to outlanders, but these ones surrounded me with sneaks and had some kind of skeletal creature at their command. They didn't look very well-equipped, so I decided to take the risk and book it all the way to the gates of Krezk."

Among their number, our reports claim, was at least one caliban of towering height and menacing build. Another was half-Vistani or Borcan man with dark curly hair.

"The Borcan, I think, was their leader," our witness tells us. "Thing is, they didn't seem to expect any trouble or even for me to run. But I could see they'd set up a small camp near the road, closer to the woods."

Our investigative team sought out this camp, and did find evidence of a destroyed camp not far from the gates of Krezk along the treelines. Whether this was a bandit camp or not, we cannot confirm.

More concerning are reports of necromancy among their number. It is unclear at this time whether the matter is related, but a lone necromancer has been spotted by some racing through the outskirts and sewer underworld of Vallaki. Readers may recall that other necromancers were recently reported to us, including one following travelers along the roads near Lake Zarovich. Could these individuals indicate a rise in necromantic activity well outside of the Vallaki municipality?

We spoke with another local who claimed to have seen a band of outlanders traveling near Krezk, speaking in strange tongues.

"I make the trip out that way sometimes, to work on my tailoring and purchase dyes," she tells us. "It's normally a very safe trip, though it's no guarantee. I usually feel relief when I see other travelers on the road, but something about this group really unnerved me."

The outlanders, she tells us, didn't sheathe their weapons or otherwise make their friendliness clear to her as she passed them on the road. "Most people say hello, especially if they're a big armed band of adventurers. No, these ones just sort of...smirked. And kept talking in their strange language. I was worried they would follow me, so I hurried the rest of the way. Thing is, I'm not so sure they didn't. Outlanders can make themselves invisible, so I'm still not sure what happened after we crossed paths."
                   

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A KNIGHTLY CODE: A CONVERSATION WITH THE ORDER OF VIRTUE

By Anamaria Cosovei

We sat down with Doamna Esmeralda Namarra to learn more about the Order of Virtue, which recently took part in the victory over the "Dollmaker" menace that had claimed countless womens' lives.

"The Order has no leader, though I am its founder," said Doamna Namarra. The Order, she says, is "a small Order of knights of different views, of different faiths and ideals, bound together by one common cause. To drive away the dark."

Currently, many of its members remain missing or traveling outside Barovia and are no longer in contact with the Order. Our interview is transcribed below.



Q: Where do these titles come from, exactly?

Tradition I suppose. I confess I am a poor student of history...I suppose I am just trying to keep tradition alive.

Q: What tradition is that, doamna?

The tradition of knighthood. Of knights...the story of it all, I suppose. Things like that have power. Words have power. You of all would agree, I am sure. There is power in stories.

Q: Are these Mordentish traditions? Outlander?

I am from a country called Amn. Olivia, she is from Mordent. Livu, Waterdeep. Silvia? She is from Darkon. Alissa, I believe she is from Sithicus, though I am not certain on that point. So I suppose in that regard, everywhere and no-where, all at once.

Q: So it's an amalgamation of your distant traditions, then?

Perhaps. Yes, Something knew made of something old. Like a girl who has seen a dozen different dresses at a ball, and sets out to make her own based on all the ones she has seen. Some of us were knights long before we met. Livu was knighted in distant Waterdeep, I was knighted here, in Valaki, though by an outlander, as you would say, though she had lived here for many, many years. Alissa too, was a knight long before we met. The others, yes, were bestowed their titles by myself.

Q: Is the Order associated with or working for any foreign entities, or is it entirely independent?

Each knight is only beholden to their own oaths. While we have often worked with other organisations, like the Guarda, we do not work for any specific organisation or cause.

Q: With the Dollmaker put to rest, what comes next for the Order? Are there other concerns you turn your attention to?

There are always more. Four vampires, in particular have been menacing the people of Valaki, before, during and after. Rumors of a creature called the 'Handsome hulk' that lurks beside the lake. Some investigation still to do on the matter of the so called 'Duke' - A fiend. That is to say nothing of the lycanthropes, large and small. There is always something.

Q: There is some talk of difficulty between various organizations that seek to face the creatures of noapte, particularly as there are quite a few aiming to do so. What separates your Order from other similar organizations? How closely do you work with them?

I suppose what sets the order apart is that we are knights. That is not to say that we are better, or we are worse, but we are different. We are bound to very specific codes, ideas, goals.

Q: What are these codes, ideas and goals?

They would vary from knight to knight. Each of us is unique.

Q: What about yours, doamna?

I shall not lie, for beauty is my truth. I shall obey the law, unless the law holds no beauty.  I shall not torture, for there is no love in cruelty.  I shall keep my Oaths & Promises, for my honor is beauty.  I shall not kill without purpose, for there is not beauty in slaughter. I shall fight with honor, for none can love dishonor. I shall turn aside no challenge, for beauty is my shield. I shall lead the charge, so all might see me. I shall never harm a captive, because even they deserve Love.  I shall harbor no evil, for my beauty is my sword. I shall aid all those in need, so they too might know my Love. I shall heal the sick, for there is no Love in suffering. I shall heed the church, for a sword must be wielded wisely. And - I shall travel not with Darkness, for I am Light.

Q: That's quite a list, doamna! I notice beauty and "Love" feature heavily in your oaths, is that common among the Order, or personal to you?

Personal, to myself. But then, I would say that of all of us. Our strength is in diversity.

Q: Is there any unifying idea or goal which--well, unifies this Order, given the diversity? Any ideas which are not allowed?

We stand against the night. Against darkness, against Evil.  There is much that would fall within that. Necromancy. Cruelty. Dishonour.

Q: What sort of thing results in someone being rejected from the Order?

Temperment. Inability to commit to the ideals - Inability to commit to the risk. We should have to believe that you have what it takes to become a knight, to surrender your entire life to service to others. That is not an easy thing to find - Nor do we expect it to be. To be a knight... It is not a path you can give up. It is the calling of your life. To swear a code, in service of others, and carry that with you every day for the rest of your life - Fighting, and eventually dying, in the service of strangers.

Q: What is the greatest threat you are concerned with currently? Or the one that the order is most concerned by?

I am most concerned by the simpliest thing - That we might lose heart. That in our struggle against the evil without, we can come to conflict within. The Wayfarers, the Order, the Guarda, all the other good people of this land. There is always much disagreement on what we should do.

I worry there is no clear way to have everyone fight together against the monsters that beset us, and it is fighting together in which grants us victory. And fighting alone - That is what the monsters wish.

Q: Is there anything you wish to communicate to the people of Vallaki?

To apologise. That we as outsiders come, and fight your battles. For not understanding you as well as we should. For not winning, as often as I would like. To know that I find you, as a people, beautiful and couragous, to endure so, in the sometimes harshness of this land. But if I were to say but one thing, it would be to have hope.



We wish to extend our thanks to Doamna Esmeralda Namarra and the Order of Virtue for meeting with us and allowing us to learn a little more about the Order!


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RUMOR MILL…
The Garda's ranks have swelled incredibly as of late, as the city no doubt strengthens its numbers after a successful recruiting campaign.

Rations of food and soup have been seen throughout the Vallaki Slums, placed by an unknown individual. Is this an act of charity? None have yet come forward as responsible.

Strange Luktar notes have been scattered through the woods south of Vallaki, near the village of fey.

Something strange is occurring in the realm of the vroloks, as one ever-loud 'painter' has ceased making noise. There are rumors of other vroloks increasing their activity once more, but we have not been able to confirm.

We have recieved word of the Markovian Menace "Radu Jr." being sighted near the Village of Barovia. Our reporter Anamaria is en route to investigate! If you see this mysterious razor-beaked bird, please let us know.

TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to Dragomir Antonescu at the Blue Water in Vallaki. The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.

We are hiring new reporters, couriers and criers!

CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu 
Foreign Correspondant - Iosef Apostu
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei
Food Columnist - Justin Thyme 
Reporter - Demetra Vântu
Reporter - Octavian Vântu


The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2023, 02:43:44 AM »

NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 10

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!



WELCOME BACK…

There is much to say, but much that may not be said for the sake of my reporters' safety. Since the publication of our last issue, attempts of violence and intimidation began against my reporters. Understand that details will be scarce to protect their identity. We believe the Blue Krenshars, their allies, or those they have hired are behind these acts, and we urge our readers not to assist them in their campaign. We will no longer be distributing in the Vallaki area, but you can find our broadsheets available at most stops along the road east, west, north and south of Vallaki.

In brighter news, we welcome Corb Corbeanu, our dapper wiseman ready to help you solve life's little problems. Welcome to the team, Domn Corbeanu.

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.


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Regarding the proclamation by the Vallaki Guard:
Our Response

A recent proclamation by Corporal Benedikte Zugravescu banned our publishing in Vallaki, due to alleged "failure of communication on matters concerning their publications". We would like to address these allegations.

At the time of the proclamation, The Vallaki Review had answered every written request for information from the Vallaki Guards and still had ample time on individual summons. The request was regarding our Blue Krenshars article.

The Vallaki Guards had received a complaint about our Blue Krenshars article. While it was not spelled out for us precisely the complaint or who made it, the Vallaki Guards told us that they were investigating and required proof of Dracos von Nightscape's association with the Blue Krenshars and his poor reputation. We provided an official and signed document from the government of Port-a-Lucine, which included convictions of necromancy and conspiracy alongside the Blue Krenshars.

The request came from a Lance Corporal, and its results were given to the superiors of that Lance Corporal. It was unclear to us at that time why a complaint regarding the reputation of Dracos von Nightscape was a matter which required an investigation that went all the way to Corporals or higher of the Vallaki Guard. Nevertheless, we responded with firm proof. Nevertheless, a summons was issued, and before the ink on the summons had so much as dried (and before it had expired) our paper was already banned.

As our paper is no longer legal within Vallaki, we have no choice but to sadly relocate both ourselves and the paper fully outside the city as we will comply with the proclamation. We will continue to bring you the truth, but with a few small changes! More than ever we need the support of our readers, and you have shown us much of it so far. Please continue to write in with your tips, suggestions, comments and criticism, and we will continue to provide coverage of the city we love.


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TWO PROMINENT CLERGYWOMEN LOST TO VROLOK ATTACKS

By Octavian & Demetra Vântu 

The fight against vroloks has taken the lives of two prominent Vallaki clergywomen within the last two weeks. Ezrite Warden Eloane La Sueur was brutally murdered by vrolok Emilian in an ambush attack outside the walls of Vallaki, and her death was followed by the disappearance of her close friend Dawnspear Yeira Behzadi of the Morninglord faith.

Warden Eloane, known for her faith and compassionate spirit, had been a pillar of the community through her healing work at the Lantern Light Clinic. Warden Eloane was known to have befriended clergy and laity alike from Vallaki's other churches, who are known to be mourning the unfortunate news. Similarly, Dawnspear Yeira was known for running soup kitchens and a sanctuary for the poor. Together the women were relied upon by many in the community who could not afford better care.

However, the Church of Ezra itself has not released any statement regarding Eloane's death or plans for funeral arrangements. Toret Matthew Garrett, speaking on behalf of the Refuge of the Fifth Light, responded to our request for comment by asking for privacy as the situation is evaluated. He stated that the Church will make a statement once it has thoroughly examined the situation. The Church of the Morninglord has also not released a statement.

Disturbingly, memorial markers have appeared throughout the Vallaki outskirts and southern forests with poems dedicated to Warden Eloane that misspell the Warden's name as variations on "La Surer" and "Le Suer". These memorial markers appear to be dedicated from members of the Ezrite faith, and we wish to take this time to clarify the correct spelling of Eloane's surname: "La Sueur". It is unclear if these were left by allies of Emilian in an attempt to mock the Warden.

The tragedy is compounded by the fact that Eloane's body has not been returned and is believed to be in Emilian's possession. Emilian, also known as "Drache", is rumored to have once been a member of the Vallaki Guard, but his past is shrouded in mystery. Emilian is hunted by a strange golem who patrols Lake Zarovich and around the orphanage, adding to the fear and confusion surrounding his presence in Vallaki.

It is believed that Emilian and other vampires have tried to assassinate Eloane in the past. Reports suggest that Emilian may have committed terrible acts in his past, fueling rumors and concerns about his motives and intentions in Vallaki. The misspelled grave markers that have appeared throughout Vallaki, in both the outskirts and the southern woods, serve as a reminder of the tragedy and the loss felt by the community.

Eloane's death is believed to have led directly to the death of Yeira, who disappeared only days after Warden Eloane's death and has not been seen since. The Vallaki Review has previously reported on Yeira's efforts within the community, as a leader of the local soup kitchen and the Morninglord sanctuary. We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to friends and family of both clergywomen, and hope for Dawnspear Yeira's safe return.


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BLUE KRENSHARS: CORRECTIONS, UPDATES

By the Vallaki Review Team

We wish to provide both a correction and an update on the Blue Krenshars bandits, who we reported on in our previous issue.

But first: as noted in our introduction to Issue 10, we believe we are under attack by either members or allies of the Blue Krenshars, or those they have hired. We will not go into details for fear of our reporters' safety, but we will no longer be easy to contact via letter. Suffice to say that acts of violence and intimidation began shortly after our last issue.

Incorrectly was Dracos von Nightscape reported as a direct member of the Blue Krenshars. During our response, our review of the records which had been provided to us indicated that Von Nightscape was not fully confirmed as a member of the Blue Krenshars. Instead, official sources within Port-a-Lucine attested that Von Nightscape conspired alongside Slade in various offenses including spying on an officer. We remind the reader, of course, that while Dementlieuse problems are of little interest to us, the Blue Krenshars were caught red-handed spying on and betraying their own employers.

Furthermore, a review of that selfsame letter indicated that Von Nightscape has previously been convicted of six counts of possessing necromantic contraband. According to the Vallaki Guard, a complaint was made which required investigation regarding Von Nightscape's innocence. The matter is clarified.

To update on the matter of the Blue Krenshars, as predicted more violence has broken out between the band of mercenaries/bandits and the country they were previously hired to protect. According to our sources, a fight broke out in a 'mist camp' claimed by the bandits over debts owed to "Baroneasa di Falsonno". We know no more about the matter at this time, as proclamations by involved parties are what we deem not trustworthy in this matter.

Slade, who wears golden dentures, is declared Wanted by the Port-a-Lucine Gendarmerie (Garda) for violating his banishment, with a payment of 20,000 fangs offered for his body dead or alive. All members of the Blue Krenshars are now required to identify themselves within Dementlieu.

Our sources have been hard at work compiling a list of known associates and members of the Blue Krenshars. We believe that some of the names on this list may merely be closely associated or work 'for' the Blue Krenshars without being members, for the sake of clarity.

Slade
Allay
Antonia
Eldacar
Fahren
Rorry
Hani

We do not expect this is an exhaustive list.


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ATTACK ON THE OUTSKIRTS!
Necromancer summons fiends to attack city walls!

By Demetra & Octavian Vântu

Yesterday, the city of Vallaki was targeted in an attack by Necromancer Ivanovich. Eyewitness accounts confirm that Ivanovich summoned a Balor, a fearsome fiend, and murdered several members of the Vallaki Guard. The cobblestones outside the gates ran red with blood, a reminder of the earlier attack on the city.

Despite the efforts of the city's garda and several outlanders, including Melian Orne-iel, Vahn Stanek, Vandryn Carro, and members of the Wayfarer Kinship, Ivanovich was able to flee north from the city walls. He later returned, attacking once more those who defended the city.

Throughout the day and later into the night, the sound of Garda horns echoed through the streets in a desperate call for aid. The attack resulted in the loss of several garda, and the city was thrown into a state of chaos. Private Lacusta of the Vallaki Guard played a crucial role in the defense, maintaining the walls and gates to prevent the vile mage from entering the city. The gate remained locked throughout the day.

Ivanovich left a posted notice in the Vallaki Outskirts, proclaiming that the Wayfarer Kinship had provoked him into attacking.

In response to the attack, the Vallaki Guard has offered a bounty of 5,000 fangs for the capture of Ivanovich. The Vallaki Review mourns the loss of our city's garda, who died while defending our peace and safety. The necromancer is said to possess a strange fleshless bone-arm.

This marks the second attack on Vallaki in recent times, with two garda bodies having been found on the streets after an earlier incident. The city remains vigilant, ready to defend against any further threats.
     


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BAROVIAN WISDOM
With Corb Corbeanu


We are proud to present the first column of "Barovian Wisdom with Corb Corbeanu", our very own advice column for the lost, the confused, and the strange. For our first edition we have privately collected questions from our closest friends, but for future issues we invite you, the reader, to write in with your own burning questions! Embrace the Bizzare with Corb Corbeanu, and try not to take these ones too seriously! Just for fun. Now, go on and write in with some real questions.



Dear Corb,

Pitics keep stealing my turnips. The worst part is they're saying my turnips aren't any good! How can I make them stop?

Signed, Frustrated Farmer

Dear Frustrated Farmer,

Oh no! Pitics are notorious turnip thieves. My first piece of advice is to not leave your turnips unattended - if you can't watch them, the pitics will. Another option is to disguise your turnips as rocks. Pitics aren't too bright, and they might fall for it. Or, you could try using decoys. Place a few fake turnips around your field, and maybe the pitics will steal those instead. Or, you could always try just giving your turnips to me! Problem solved.

Yours truly, Corb the Wise 
Dear Corb,

Everyone keeps talking about the magical parrot, but I haven't seen it yet. Is it wrong to feel jealous?

Signed, Feeling Left Out

Dear Feeling Left Out,

Well, don't worry, my lonely friend! The magical parrot is just like the Aboleth or Mist Camp - everyone talks about it, but not many have actually seen it. But that doesn't mean you should feel left out. Instead, focus on all the cool things you do have, like your friend Corb, or your impressive collection of crackers to share. Who needs a magical bird when you have me?

Yours truly, Corb the Wise   
Dear Corb,

I am in love with a vampire. They say they really need a little of my blood. Is this a good idea?

Signed, Love-Struck

Dear Love-Struck,

My dear, let me tell you, love is a tricky thing in Barovia, and falling in love with a vampire is not a good idea. Vampires are dangerous creatures and should be avoided at all costs. Life in Barovia is hard but you can survive if you keep your wits about you. Just don't kiss any vampires! I'm here if you need a kiss.

Yours truly, Corb the Wise




Quote
RUMOR MILL…


We have received reports of the vraja devil bird near the Village of Barovia and will be investigating! Is this massive feathered beast a menace, or more?

A circus troupe appears to be forming in town! We are excited to see what they have in store for us.

A group of outlanders said to be wearing bright festive colors and tooting horns traveled through the outskirts several days ago, shouting claims of planning to "defeat the mist". They went west from the city and were not seen or heard from again.

Benedikte Zugravescu was recently promoted to Corporal, from his previous position of Lance Corporal, as evidenced by the new title donning his proclamations. It is a rare occasion that Corporals are named within Vallaki.

Lance Corporal Blair Florescu has not been seen in some time, a stark change from his usual habit of remaining seen. Has some unfortunate fate befallen Florescu, or is he simply on leave?

The bandits reported near Krezk have mysteriously vanished since our last report. Investigation of the woods found evidence of a camp, but at this time we believe the bandits have moved on. Be sure to write in if you believe you've spotted these bandits.

TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to us at one of the following locations:

Midway Haven, Barovia 
The Keep of the Dyad, The Mists 
Davy Jones' Locker, Blaustein 
Blood of the Vine Tavern, Barovia 
The Miner's Merriment, Krofburg 
Mutinied Sailor, Port-a-Lucine

The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.

CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu   
Wiseman - Corb Corbeanu
Foreign Correspondant - Iosef Apostu 
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei 
Food Columnist - Justin Thyme   
Reporter - Demetra Vântu 
Reporter - Octavian Vântu





//OOC: The broadsheets are distributed, placed and posted throughout Barovia outside of the border line of the municipality. Post edited to add this OOC line.
Spoiler: show


Future publications of Issue 10 after the first day have the name "Rory Blake" removed.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2023, 09:37:44 AM by The Vallaki Review »

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2023, 09:27:01 AM »



NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 10

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!




Quote
A Correction
Regarding the list of Blue Krenshar members


It has come to our attention that Rory Blake has, as of roughly a week ago, stopped working for the Blue Krenshars and formally renounced them in the presence of individuals whose word we trust. Said individual and Doamna Blake have written in to inform us of this fact. Due to the trustworthiness of this source, we are correcting the record of Issue 10 to inform you that Rory Blake is not a member of the Blue Krenshars, and was not a member during the recent troubles in Port-a-Lucine.

As always we strongly encourage our readers to take part in the process of ensuring our newspaper is as correct and free of mistakes as possible. A newspaper is a collaborative project, and the most important participant is you.

Quote
A Warning
Regarding the relocation of our broadsheets


Another matter has come to our attention, though we are not surprised. We have received trustworthy reports that individuals are moving copies of our newspaper into the borders of Vallaki. While we are unable to control this, we strongly advise against bringing our broadsheets into the borders of the Vallaki municipality. Whether it be an attempt to harm us, an attempt to spread our delightful new advice column, or simply a lack of awareness, we do not wish our papers to cause anyone any harm. For your own sake, please do not bring copies of The Vallaki* Review into Vallaki. We believe that swift reading and memorization of our articles is helpful for keeping one's mind healthy and spry.

- The Vallaki Review Team
« Last Edit: February 06, 2023, 10:05:58 AM by The Vallaki Review »

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2023, 02:38:09 PM »

NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 11

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!

Life moves on, as much as any individual moment might feel like the end. This is a truth the elderly all too often hope to impart to those who come after us: though in Barovia, that wisdom usually goes "no good thing lasts forever". The Morninglord faithful would have us say, "no terrible thing lasts forever". Whatever your way of viewing the ups and downs of life,

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.


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DAWNSPEAR BEHZADI'S FATE REVEALED

By Dragomir Antonescu

New information has come to light regarding the fate of Dawnspear Yeira Behzadi, who we previously reported was believed to have perished, thanks to information confirmed by Light Carrier Arshtat and our anonymous sources.

Yeira sold her soul in exchange for power, resulting in her transformation into a fiend-like appearance, with horns and a wicked face. She has gone into hiding and is communicating with some former allies via letters.

"I'm aware of everything about her," said Light Carrier Arshtat when asked about this information and her recent proclamation to The Vallaki Review that Dawnspear Behzadi was not dead. "I know in mine statement I didn't reveal all the truth, because until we lose all hope, I still see that she has a condition that could be healed".

After the Light Carrier's proclamation, The Vallaki Review sought out our sources for more information and reached out to Light Carrier Arshtat for details. Initial reports indicated that Dawnspear Behzadi had perished in mourning, due to word spreading among those in the religious communities of Vallaki.

Arshtat is a clergywoman who worked alongside Yeira in the Church of the Morninglord. She told The Vallaki Review that she was made aware of the truth about her fate and recently received Yeira's possessions from her Morninglordian days, including Behzadi's own "Dawnspear Lance".

"Apparently she left the Church but I see it temporarily," says Arshtat. "I might be not realistic, but there is still hope, even a little one. I know where she is hiding and I might be close to finding her, though I cannot give further information through the letters".


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HAVE YOU SEEN THESE PEOPLE?

SEREJA TARSET/VOLYAKOGA;
Rashemi woman of around twenty years, small to middling height, dark hair and eyes, and olive skin.
Likely clad in grey travelling robes. Likely heavy with child.

SISTER PERENDRA JHAEREN OF ILMATER;
Tethyrian (outlander) woman of around twenty years, middling height, blonde hair and blue eyes, pale skin.
Likely clad in grey holy vestments or simple armour. Likely wearing an amulet displaying two bound hands, and a white cloak displaying the same.

LADY ALLISA LIARIETH; KNIGHT OF THE DAISY, SWORD OF LIBERALITY
Fey woman of elven height and aspect, with pale blonde hair and golden eyes.
Likely clad in shining armour and of determined demeanour.

Please send any information to Nishan Tarset at the Vallaki Municipal Hospice or Midway Haven. No financial rewards available, but tonics of various sorts can be provided free of charge.

Mercy Bless.

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LIFE WITH THE BLUE KRENSHARS:
Former mercenary speaks out

By Demetra & Octavian Vântu

Rory Blake, a former member of the notorious Blue Krenshars Mercenaries, spoke to the Vallaki Review to offer her personal perspective on her time with the group and its leader.

Doamna Blake, a wandering bard and troubadour born in the outlander city of Waterdeep, first encountered the Blue Krenshars after her arrival in the Mist Camp. "It wasn't hard to stumble upon the Blue Krenshars when visiting Mist Camp," Blake said. "Their fortified encampment was the first thing people usually see when leaving the Vistani wagons, causing a lot of controversy among the folk residing in the area."

She said her journey as a mercenary began with impressing the group's leaders with her combat skills, leading to her acceptance into the company. However, her time with the Blue Krenshars was not without its challenges, as Slade, the group's leader, was a controversial figure and she says difficult to work with.

"He was a very proficient fighter, always holding his ground to the bitter end. When things went completely South and most of us ended up bleeding out on the ground," Blake said. "He never really lost his head and always found a way to bring us back. He also always gave everyone a chance to prove themselves, never really turning away anyone willing to travel with us."

But Slade's behavior towards Doamna Blake and other members of the group was often inappropriate. "He used to call me his 'Second Girlfriend' even after I told him to stop many times," Blake said. "I have a lot of distance to myself and always enjoy banter, but some people actually began to believe it's true, thinking that I am some kind of Slade's possession. Awkward. I know."

Doamna Blake says Slade often made comments like this, which rubbed many members of the Blue Krenshars the wrong way. This and a number of other factors contributed to her leaving the Blue Krenshars, including simple burnout from constant adventuring. "I had no time nor energy to pursue other activities that I am passionate about," she said. "At some point we had been visiting Markovia every single day, coming back exhausted, dehydrated and most often injured. It was extremely taxing and began to affect my mental and physical health".

The scandals surrounding Slade also began to take a toll on Blake's musical career.

"Everywhere I went, people kept asking me about him and the company," she said. "At some point things go so bad that I was even ashamed of wearing the blue uniform."

One of the most troubling aspects of Slade's reputation for Doamna Blake were the allegations of cannibalism that surrounded him. Slade was publicly declared a cannibal by the government of Port-a-Lucine, when he was banished from Dementlieu for conspiracy. "I was aware of those allegations, yet I had never seen Slade performing this terrible act," said Blake." He always treated those accusations as slander aiming to undermine his reputation."

Blake also spoke about Slade's golden dentures, revealing that his natural teeth were almost completely rotten when she first met him and that he had them removed and replaced with the dentures by a medical specialist in Port-a-Lucine.

When asked about Dracos von Nightscape, who allegedly has disputed his involvement in the Blue Krenshars, Doamna Blake confirms that Dracos von Nightscape was a full member of the Blue Krenshars, organizing the company's paperwork, offering medical assistance, and advising Slade on Dementlieuse matters.

"Dracos von Nightscape was a member of the Krenshars for some time," she stated. "Organizing the company's paperwork, offering medical assistance and in general advising Slade on Port matters. After our contract was cancelled, I have never seen him showing in our camp ever again."

We asked Doamna Blake what her opinion was of our allegations that the Blue Krenshars assisted Falkovnia against their own employers. "Me and many of my colleagues would leave the company on the spot, as we wanted nothing to do with Falkovnia," said Blake, of the possibility of the allegations. She says that she and other members of the Blue Krenshars confronted Slade about the many allegations against him, and he claimed to have been framed. It is a matter of public record that Slade was declared a cannibal, for conspiring against 'the Republic' as Dementlieu calls itself, and more.

Doamna Blake describes Slade as an "extremely ambitious" man who "will stop at nothing to achieve his goals". She describes a amn driven to become rich and famous in Port-a-Lucine, who told his mercenaries cryptically that "many doors are opening for us in the nearby future".

"After that was out of the list, he shifted his entire focus to unify the Mist Camp and turn it into a kingdom for himself. He began running the noticeboard, organizing gatherings in the camp to share his vision with everyone else, which were usually met with mixed reactions."

"When it comes to treating his own people, it was a mixed bag as well. Some people he treated with respect, probably because they were useful to the company. Others he openly mocked and bossed around," says Blake of her experiences. "Good friend of mine went missing for almost a week because Slade send her somewhere to Barovia without any assistance, banning her from coming back to the camp until she finished his task. Newly misted folk often were turned into pack mules, gathering trash left by the slain enemies.

"Not to mention he often referred us as his 'little slaves'. So yeah, that says a lot."

The final straw for Blake came when she had a conversation with Slade about his plans for unifying the Mist Camp into a state with its own laws and government. "He then told me that in order for such state to exist and survive, people need to listen and follow to a single leader, in order to get things done. That when he becomes the ruler, there will be no voting that could possibly get in the way of things," says Doamna Blake. "It was then when I realized that for the last few months I have been following a tyrant. I packed my things the next day and never looked back."



Quote
VIOLENCE IN BEREZ, VALLAKI

By The Vallaki Review Team

Disturbing news has reached us from Berez, where an attack and spectacle allegedly took place. The bodies were allegedly arranged in a way that resembles a skull, with reports of an unknown message being carved into their skin. Despite the lack of concrete information, speculation is rife as to which group may be responsible.

Private Ecaterina Zamfir of the Vallaki Guard was allegedly murdered in front of the Church of the Morninglord alongside another Garda, according to our sources. Thankfully, she was swiftly recovered and revived. Her murder is said to have been targeted directly at her, as another Garda alongside her was not kidnapped. It's believed that an incident earlier in the day may have triggered the attack.

A large bounty of 10,000 fangs has been offered by Corporal Benedikte Zugravescu for Gareth Rex and Aithra each, along with special commendations. At over double the bounty offered for necromancer Ivanovich or Selwynn Lostblood, these two individuals have the distinction of the largest bounty posted since Zsofika Dvorzsak. Dvorzsak is a member of the Gundarakite's Black Army and was named by the Vallaki Guard as their spy and assassin, as well a member of the Black Duke's cult.


Quote
MYSTERIOUS TRIO CULLS NEURI IN EASTERN BAROVIA

By Demetra & Octavian Vântu

In recent days, the residents of the Village of Barovia were disturbed by marauding neuri attacking nearby farms. Despite the danger, a group of individuals stepped forward to track down and defeat the werewolves, putting a temporary end to the danger at the Village's gates.

These individuals, consisting of a two humans and a pitic, worked together to defeat the werewolves, but their actions went largely unnoticed by the townspeople. The heroes declined to comment on their actions, and the people of the Village of Barovia carried on with their daily lives as if nothing had happened.

Neuri, also known as werewolves, are no new problem in the Village of Barovia. Travelers frequently report encountering these dangerous creatures of noapte and in packs larger than are seen around Vallaki. While the neuri problem cannot be completely eradicated, the roads may be safer for a short time.

It is unclear what motivated these individuals to take on such a dangerous task, but their actions have brought the residents of the Village of Barovia a brief reprieve.


Quote
BAROVIAN WISDOM
With Corb Corbeanu


Dear Corb,

I'm new to Vallaki and having trouble fitting in. I don't feel like I belong with the magic-wielding adventurers, but the locals won't accept me either. How do I find my place in this strange city?

Signed, Homesick Human

Dear Homesick Human,

Finding your place in a new town can be tough, but you'll get the hang of it. Just remember, you're not a bird trying to fit in with the squirrels. You're a human, and you deserve to find a community where you belong.

Start by seeking out others who share your interests and values. You never know who you might meet in a local book club, hobby group, or community volunteer project. And don't be afraid to embrace your unique qualities. Your differences may be exactly what someone else is looking for in a friend.

So spread your wings, Homesick Human, and let your search for belonging take flight.

Sincerely, Corb Corbeanu



Dear Corb,

I'm having trouble making any money in Vallaki. Everyone says to kill undead monsters or make deliveries, but that's dangerous and I'm not a good fighter. What do I do?

Signed, Penniless from Paridon

Dear Penniless from Paridon,

Making a living in Vallaki can be tough, especially if you're not a seasoned adventurer. But don't worry, there are many other ways to earn a coin or two.

Why not try your hand at a trade? There's always a demand for goods and services in any town, and your skills could be just what someone is looking for. You could also try offering your services as a tutor, a gardener, or a cook.

And remember, the early bird catches the worm. Be proactive and start your own business. Offer goods or services that others in Vallaki may not be providing. It might be a bit of a risk, but taking a chance can pay off big in the end.

So spread your wings and find your calling, Penniless from Paridon. The sky's the limit!

Best of luck, Corb Corbeanu



Dear Corb,

Adventurers keep leaving the door of my favorite tavern open. When they do this, it puts us at risk for vampire attacks, werewolf attacks, and a chilly draft. How can I get them to stop?

Signed, Born in a Barn

Dear Born in a Barn,

Having adventurers come in and out of your favorite tavern can be a double-edged sword. On one talon, they bring excitement and business to the establishment. On the other, their carelessness can put you and the other patrons in harm's way.

The first step to solving this problem is to not let this ruffle your feathers and instead have a frank conversation with the adventurers. Explain the risks and consequences of leaving the door open, and ask them to kindly close it behind them. If that doesn't work, try placing a bell over the door to politely remind them, or a sign to easily point to. A friendly and persuasive sign might do the trick.

So don't let a drafty door spoil your pint, Born in a Barn. So keep your feathers unruffled: with a little patience and persistence, you'll find a solution that works for you.

Good luck, Corb Corbeanu




Quote
OPINION:
Readers share their thoughts


The contents of opinion pieces may not reflect the opinions of The Vallaki Review. We invite readers to submit their own opinions!



Dear The Vallaki Review,

I hope this letter finds you well. I have been a loyal reader of your newspaper for several issues now and enjoy keeping up with the happenings in Vallaki. However, I must express my disappointment with the recent coverage of your publication.

As a lifelong Vallaki local in this city, I find it disheartening to see that the focus of your articles is centered around the antics of adventurers. While these individuals may bring excitement to the city, they do not provide a clear picture of what is actually happening within the walls of Vallaki.

I understand that adventurers bring a certain level of interest to your readers, but I believe it is important to also highlight the hardworking individuals who make this city what it is. The merchants, tradespeople, and other members of our community play a crucial role in the growth and prosperity of Vallaki, and their stories deserve to be told as well. While many in the city cannot read, men of means like myself have much to gain from staying apprised of events.

I implore you to consider shifting your focus in the future to cover more of the events and happenings within the city. I believe this will provide a more well-rounded and informative perspective for your readers, including myself.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to future issues of The Vallaki Review that better reflect the diverse and thriving community in which we live.

Sincerely,
Anonymous



Greetings, my fellow adventurers. I write to you today with a heavy heart, as I have observed a disturbing trend among our ranks. It seems that cruelty and violence have taken hold of the hearts of many, leading to attacks and unrest that threaten the peace and stability of our beloved Barovia.

I worship the Morninglord, and as a faithful devotee, I firmly believe in the power of hope and kindness. It is these virtues that have sustained us through the darkest of times and brought us hope in the face of despair. Yet lately, it seems that these values have been forgotten, replaced by a ruthless pursuit of power and wealth.

I am deeply troubled by the recent increase in violence among adventurers. It seems that every day, there is another rumor of adventurers attacking guards or experimenting with necromancy. These acts of cruelty are not only a threat to the safety and security of our communities, but they also cast a dark shadow over the reputation of all of us "outlanders".

I understand that the dangers of our profession can sometimes lead us to become hardened and jaded, but that is no excuse for the kind of violence and cruelty we have seen in recent times. The people of Barovia allow us to live in their country and to protect from the terrors that lurk in the shadows, and we must not let them down.

I call on all adventurers to remember the values of hope and kindness that have sustained us for so long. Let us set aside our differences and come together to bring peace and stability back to Vallaki. Let us show the world that we are not merely brute force, but true heroes who are guided by a higher calling.

I fear that if this violence and cruelty continues, it will only be a matter of time before another riot breaks out, causing even more destruction and chaos. Let us not wait for that day to come. Let us act now, before it is too late.

In conclusion, I hope that this editorial will serve as a wake-up call to all adventurers, and that we will come together to restore hope and kindness to the hearts of all who call Barovia home. May the Morninglord guide us on our journey and bless us with his grace and mercy. Thy lips be cleansed.


Quote
REVIEW: ANOTHER NIGHT OF MUSIC
The contents of opinion pieces may not reflect the opinions of The Vallaki Review. We invite readers to submit their own opinions!


By Anonymous

"Another Night of Music ft. Rory Blake" was a unique experience that showcased the musical talents of performer Rory Blake. The "Souk of the Sands" tailoring boutique in the Vallaki Warehouse District provided the perfect setting for the event, with its elegant furnishings and tasteful décor. The venue, run by businesswoman Neferet, is a true gem in the heart of the warehouse district. From the moment guests stepped through the doors, they were transported to a world of sophistication and style. The atmosphere was nothing short of magical and set the stage for what was to come.

As for Rory Blake's musical performance, it showcased moments of potential and demonstrated that she is an artist to keep an eye on. All artists have room for growth and development, and I am excited to what comes from Rory Blake in the future.

More important than any individual performance, however, is the flourishing of art again in Barovia. After so much darkness and despair, it is heartening to see the arts scene beginning to thrive once more. It is our hope that this trend will continue, and that we will see more and more local Barovian artists taking the stage in the future. After all, the arts are a cornerstone of any thriving society, and Barovia is no exception. Overall, the event was a testament to the hard work and dedication of those involved, from the performer to the venue owner.


Quote
RUMOR MILL…


According to our sources, a mercenary company by the name of "Golden Shilling Mercenaries" has set up a base of operations just west of Vallaki, located on the western side of the Luna River bridge. Reports suggest that the company, led by a person named Tordack, is comprised of several members. These mercenaries are said to be in search of work in the area. However, it is not believed that they are the same group that caused trouble for travelers near Krezk recently.

"Bella T." the vrolok met her final end recently. According to our sources, Bella perished at the recent gallery she attempted to host near Lake Zarovich. Prelate Carro of the Christian Church announced that she had "chosen to depart this world for the next, willingly greeting the dawn while painting the sunrise".

The vrolok Emilian Drache is said to continue to be plotting, though for what ends is not known...



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TRAVELING BARD SEEKS AID IN RECOVERING LOST VIOLIN

By Dragomir Antonescu

A traveling bard has approached The Vallaki Review, seeking aid in recovering a precious violin of "utmost sentimental importance".

We have received conflicting reports about the incident in which the violin was lost, but our sources agree that a traveling bard was attacked by vile immortji, though it is unclear if the attack occurred on the roads south of Vallaki or upon the peaks of Mt. Ghakis. It is known that while the bard was surrounded by immortji, several members of the Wayfarer Kinship came upon the scene, dispatched the immortji, and a dispute of some sort occurred in the confusion of battle.

Aid from those new to the region or newly misted are preferred, and interested parties looking for work may contact The Vallaki Review by letter.

//This is a DM event aimed for new players or players that have not yet been involved in a DM event. Players can contact DM Brimstone if they have any OOC questions, and as indicated in the article should write to us if interested.



TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to us at one of the following locations: 
 
Midway Haven, Barovia  
The Keep of the Dyad, The Mists  
Davy Jones' Locker, Blaustein  
Blood of the Vine Tavern, Barovia  
The Miner's Merriment, Krofburg  
Mutinied Sailor, Port-a-Lucine 
 
The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.

CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu    
Wiseman - Corb Corbeanu 
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei  
Food Columnist - Justin Thyme    
Reporter - Demetra Vântu  
Reporter - Octavian Vântu


//OOC: The newspapers are only posted and placed outside the Vallaki area.

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2023, 07:38:27 PM »



NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Special Issue

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!




Quote
A Word From The Editor
Regarding future issues and vandalism


Dear readers,

We have some important updates to share with you regarding our newspaper. Starting next month, our newspaper will be published every other week. We appreciate your continued support as we make this change.

We would also like to take this opportunity to address recent events that have been associated with our newspaper. We want to make it clear that we condemn the acts of vandalism and aggression that appear to have been carried out against those who have an issue with us. We want to make it absolutely clear that the newspaper did not ask for, condone, or endorse any of these actions: and whoever is doing it, we ask you to stop. We believe in treating others with respect and dignity. We urge everyone to refrain from engaging in any form of harassment or violence towards individuals or groups, regardless of their views or beliefs.

Finally, we would like to let our readers know that we are still hiring. We are looking for individuals who are passionate about journalism and are committed to upholding our values of integrity and impartiality. If you are interested in joining our team, please write to one of our known addresses.

Thank you for your continued support and for being part of our community. We have greatly appreciated your letters and your many tips. Fear not, Corb Corbeanu shall answer your questions in no less than a week.

Sincerely,

Dragomir Antonescu

Quote
DAWNSPEAR BEHZADI RETURNS!
Fiendish transformation undone?


Recent developments have shed light on the fate of Dawnspear Yeira Behzadi, who was previously missing after having made a deal to sell her soul. According to Dawnspear Arshtat Amakiir, Yeira has been located and her soul restored.

"I have returned from my search of former Dawnspear Yeira Behzadi," said Amakiir. "She is fine now and completely normal. People might see her by now, though she has been through a lot of things, both, mentally and physically she needs rest.

Previously, Arshtat had received Yeira's possessions, including her "Dawnspear Lance," from her time at the Church of the Morninglord, and expressed optimism that Yeira could be healed. It is currently unclear whether Yeira has renounced her deal with the devil, although our reporters have been able to verify Dawnspear Behzadi has reversed the transformation.

Dawnspear Amakiir is planning charity work in the city with the Church of the Morninglord.

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2023, 03:38:16 PM »



NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Letter from the Editor

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!




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A Word From The Editor


Dear readers and fans of The Vallaki Review,

It has come to my attention that many of you, including local fans and some from abroad, have expressed a desire to meet me in person. While I appreciate your interest and support, I regret to inform you that I am unable to meet with fans due to security concerns.

As the editor of a newspaper, I am often privy to sensitive information and must take precautions to protect my own safety as well as that of my colleagues. I hope you understand that this is not a decision I have taken lightly, but one that is necessary to maintain the integrity and independence of our publication. I kindly suggest that you refrain from expending time and resources in attempting to locate me, as your efforts will not yield any success.

However, I am always happy to hear from our readers and fans. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to send a letter, and I will do my best to address them in a timely manner.

I also want to take this opportunity to address recent events involving one of our reporters, Jericho, who admitted to being responsible for the vandalism that was associated with out paper, and the author of the "Blue Krenshar" reports. I want to make it clear that this behavior is not condoned by our newspaper in any way, and that Jericho has since parted ways with our organization.

We take our journalistic ethics and standards very seriously, and will not tolerate any actions that compromise our integrity or the trust of our readers. I want to assure you that we are taking steps to ensure that such incidents do not happen again, and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism.

Once again, thank you for your support of The Vallaki Review. We take our responsibility to provide accurate and insightful news coverage seriously and appreciate your trust in us.

Sincerely,

Dragomir Antonescu
Editor, The Vallaki Review


The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2023, 02:01:53 PM »

NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 12

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!

Despite the difficulties of relocating, and the unfortunate dangers placed upon my young reporters, we return to business as usual here at The Vallaki Review! We have had a wondrous surge in letters and requests, but at this time I am placing a pause on responding to any. We will resume taking questions, comments and interviews in the near future!

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.


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WHERE ARE VALLAKI'S GUARDS?
Witches and criminals prey on outskirts

By The Vallaki Review Team

The Vallaki Guard, once known for their unwavering presence and enforcement of law and order, have been noticeably absent in recent months. Some of the Vallak Guard's best men and women have quietly left its ranks, donning civilian clothing in an attempt to help the city in other ways. The departure of these experienced guards has raised concerns among locals about the ability of the Vallaki Guard to maintain law and order in the city.

The Garda who were best known to locals and outlanders alike, and who had been heavily involved in the city's defense, have since departed the Vallaki Guard. Lance Corporal Blair Florescu was well known as a calming presence in the outskirts, often putting an end to the more disconcerting antics of outlanders. He is famous for the arrest of one of the Black Duke's cultists, and for their eventual execution when they attempted to escape. Likewise, doamna Nyanka Lukresh has found ways to help protect the city outside of the Garda. As reported in previous issues, Lukresh was involved heavily in the investigation and aided in the destruction of the murderous "Dollmaker" group. Both Florescu and Lukresh are known to have continued their efforts to protect the city in their own ways as civilians.

Meanwhile, among those who remain, Lance Corporal Rahela Amanar and Corporal Grigore OIinescu are similarly among the garda best known to outlanders for their fair hands and even heads. Corporal Olinescu was best known as a peacekeeping presence in the garda like Florescu, while Amanar was known to be an active defender of the city's safety.  After so many departures among both the higher-ranking and lower-ranking Garda, as well as numerous deaths this year alone, the Vallaki Guard's best and brightest Amanar and Olinescu have less support than ever, at a time when the Garda need them more than ever.

The Garda's numbers had increased dramatically with a surge in recruitment in response to riots at the beginning of this year. However, this Garda presence in the outskirts and the city walls was short-lived as newer leadership within the Vallaki Guard have not maintained the heightened security.

The outskirts of Vallaki have become a hub of violence and disorder once again. Mages cast spells, witches speak to their familiars, and blood is frequently seen in the area beyond the gallows, where the city's exiles gather at increasingly shorter distances from the city.

Recently, there have been a series of attacks targeting the Vallaki Guard themselves, carried out by armies of undead and vraja-wielders. However, the walls have been mysteriously quiet since then, often left unmanned despite the lull in attacks. One of the Garda's own was brutally attacked, and it is in particular since this attack that the Garda have become a quieter presence in the city.

Locals expressed their concerns about the situation, with one resident stating, "It's like the Guard has given up. They used to be everywhere, and now you hardly ever see them. It's not safe out there anymore, and something needs to be done about it."

With dwindling numbers and increasing threats, defense of the city is no doubt an uphill battle for both those who have remained in the Garda and those who have departed alike.



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HAVE YOU SEEN THESE PEOPLE?

SEREJA TARSET/VOLYAKOGA;
Rashemi woman of around twenty years, small to middling height, dark hair and eyes, and olive skin.
Likely clad in grey travelling robes. Likely heavy with child.

SISTER PERENDRA JHAEREN OF ILMATER;
Tethyrian (outlander) woman of around twenty years, middling height, blonde hair and blue eyes, pale skin.
Likely clad in grey holy vestments or simple armour. Likely wearing an amulet displaying two bound hands, and a white cloak displaying the same.

LADY ALLISA LIARIETH; KNIGHT OF THE DAISY, SWORD OF LIBERALITY
Fey woman of elven height and aspect, with pale blonde hair and golden eyes.
Likely clad in shining armour and of determined demeanour.

Please send any information to Nishan Tarset at the Vallaki Municipal Hospice or Midway Haven. No financial rewards available, but tonics of various sorts can be provided free of charge.

Mercy Bless.


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GANG LEADER MYSTERIOUSLY MISSING

By Octavian Vântu

According to sources close to the Tunnel Cats, their leader Akadus has gone missing. Reports suggest that he was increasingly disliked by his peers in the Drain, and it is unclear whether he was assassinated or left for his own safety.

The Tunnel Cats are known for their shenanigans and occasional harassment of Vallaki's citizens in the outskirts of the city. Their activities have been a source of frustration for the city's law enforcement for quite some time. The disappearance of Akadus has raised questions about the group's future and their impact on the city.

We reached out to a few residents of the Drain to get their thoughts on the matter. One Drain resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "Akadus was not well-liked by many of us. He was reckless and put us all in danger. It's possible he got what was coming to him."

It is believed by our sources that Akadus got into serious trouble with the more established members of the Drain.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the Tunnel Cats now that their leader is gone. Some Vallaki citizens may breathe a sigh of relief at the news of Akadus' disappearance. As one resident said, "The Tunnel Cats can be a nuisance, but they are a part of the fabric of Vallaki. Their disappearance could have unintended consequences, and we need to address the underlying issues that give rise to groups like the Tunnel Cats."


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MYSTERIOUS TRIO OF VILLAGE DEFFENDERS IDENTIFIED

By Octavian & Demetra Vântu

The Vallaki Review has identified the individuals responsible for defeating the neuri that were attacking farms near the Village of Barovia. The group consisted of Adrian Dubois, Eva Kovacs, and Rurik Stonefoot, each of whom played a crucial role in stopping the werewolf attacks.

Adrian Dubois, an outlander squire working to improve his sword fighting skills, was a natural leader and strategist. According to his friends, he had dreams of joining the Wayfarer Kinship after his skills were properly honed. Eva Kovacs, an accomplished archer, was also an expert tracker. She used her skills to help the group locate and track the neuri, ultimately leading to their defeat.  Rurik Stonefoot, a pitic with impressive strength and agility, was the group's scout and reconnaissance expert. He was known for his ability to navigate difficult terrain and his willingness to help those in need.

"We knew that the werewolves were getting bolder and more dangerous," Doamna Kovacs said. "We had to act fast to stop them before they caused more harm."

When asked about his role in the fight against the neuri, pitic Stonefoot said, "We knew that we couldn't take any chances. We had to be prepared for anything."

Despite their success in defeating the neuri, the group suffered a devastating loss when Adrian Dubois perished in a far-off desert while protecting a group of travelers from a dangerous creature. Eva Kovacs expressed her grief, stating "Adrian was a true friend and a fearless warrior. He will be deeply missed by all of us."

However, it seems that the efforts of these individuals have gone largely unnoticed by the villagers of the Village of Barovia. Locals we spoke to criticized the adventurers for getting involved. When asked about the trio, a local resident of the Village of Barovia responded, "I have no idea who you're talking about. We have enough problems of our own without outlanders coming in and trying to save the day. We don't need their help, and we certainly don't need their attention."

Werewolf attacks had become a growing concern in recent months, with reports of attacks on farms and travelers becoming more frequent. The loss of Adrian Dubois is a reminder of the dangers faced by those who challenge noapte. Many outlanders do not live past their first few months in Barovia's harsh environment. The Vallaki Review extends its condolences to his loved ones.


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BAROVIAN WISDOM
With Corb Corbeanu


Dear Domn Corbeanu,

I'm struggling to deal with my obsession over my favorite writers. They won't meet with me or respond to my written insane ramblings. How can I get their intention? Would threats work?

Signed, Obsessed and Depressed

Dear Obsessed in Vallaki,

I can't deny that writers are an interesting breed. Like a cat to a bird, some writers can be elusive and hard to catch. But I must advise against using threats to lure them in, my dear friend. If not exercised with caution, threats can have negative repercussions and harm the individual who made them. I advise you to reflect on the possibility that your behavior might be obsessive and quite frankly, insane. It's worth considering whether your long and rambling monologues may not be of interest to anyone else, and whether it's time to move on and leave the past behind.

Lastly, if your obsession with writers is causing you distress, consider speaking to a professional. Just as a bird needs to take care of their feathers, it's important to take care of your mental health as well. So keep your head up, Obsessed.

Best of luck, yours truly, Corb Corbeanu.



Dear Corb Corbeanu,

I want to join the Vallaki Garda, but the guards keep disappearing and I'm a bit worried that will happen to me too if I join. Should I join anyway? It's been my dream since I was a young domn.

Signed, Nervously Dreaming

Dear Nervously Dreaming,

As someone who often flits about the streets of Vallaki, I can understand your desire to join the Garda. However, I can also understand your concern about the disappearances of other guards. It takes a special kind of bird to be a guard, and if it's been your dream since you were a young domn, then I say go for it! While the disappearances of other guards are a valid concern, it's important to remember that the Garda plays a crucial role in keeping Vallaki safe and secure. By joining the Garda, you'll have the opportunity to serve and protect your community, which can be a very rewarding experience. Before joining, it's important to do your research and gather information about the situation. Talk to current or former members of the Garda to learn about their experiences and any potential risks. But don't let fear hold you back from pursuing your dreams. So spread your wings, Nervously Dreaming, and pursue your dream of becoming a Garda. With dedication, hard work, and a passion for justice, you can make a real difference in Vallaki.

Best of luck, Corb Corbeanu



Dear Domn Corbeanu,

The taverns around here aren't very good quality, and there's never anything to do. I'm thinking of giving up on Barovia, especially since the people are so unfriendly to outlanders like myself. Should I stay and keep trying to get my business started? I'm tired of feeling bored and unwelcome.

Signed, Unhappy Outlander

Dear Unhappy Outlander,

As a bird who has flapped around Barovia for quite some time, I can understand your frustration with the local taverns and general lack of excitement. But don't ruffle your feathers just yet, my feathered friend. While it may seem like there's nothing to do and the locals aren't very welcoming, perhaps it's time to spread your wings and try something new. Consider taking up a new hobby, like bird-watching or butterfly chasing. Or why not try your hand at local crafts, like knitting woolly scarves or carving wooden statues of Barovia's favorite burgomasters? Additionally, while starting a business in Barovia can be a bit of a wing-and-a-prayer situation, it can also be a great opportunity to spread your wings and soar.

Just remember, Vallaki wasn't built in a day, and neither was the biggest nest in Barovia. It takes time and effort to get things off the ground. And don't forget to embrace your outlander status! Sometimes being different is just what a flock needs to shake things up and bring in new ideas. Who knows, you might even inspire the locals to spread their own wings and try something new. So keep your beak up, Unhappy Outlander, and remember that the sky's the limit. With a little bit of humor and a whole lot of perseverance, you can make a place for yourself in Barovia.

Sincerely, Domn Corbeanu


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THE MARKOVIAN MENACE RETURNS!
By Corb Corbeanu

According to secret sources embedded deep within both the Gendarme, the high clergy of Har'Akir, and the Church of Ezra, the Markovian Menace has been spotted once again in Barovia!

Weary yet saddled with newfound riches, Radu Jr. is said to have made a small fortune by plundering ancient Akiri tombs alongside the most dangerous of Vallaki's enemies and exiles. Apparently, Radu Jr. has even managed to get his claws on the Eye of Ra, a powerful artifact coveted by many adventurous outlanders.

Some sources claim that Radu Jr. has been living large since his latest score, with more treasure than he knows what to do with. Perhaps he's planning a luxurious new nest or a lifetime supply of gourmet birdseed? Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that this parrot pirate's return to Barovia is a worrisome development for all of us. Let's hope he doesn't start teaching his feathered friends to talk like him and lead them on a treasure hunt!

In other news, it seems that Radu Jr. is planning to attend Valentin Krezkov's next speech, much to the surprise of many. Some say that Radu Jr. is simply curious to hear what the famous politician has to say, while others speculate that he's looking for a way to use his newfound wealth and power to influence the political landscape of Barovia.

As we eagerly await Radu Jr.'s next move, it's worth noting that his exploits have already captured the imaginations of many in Barovia. Some are even saying that he's become a sort of folk hero, inspiring tall tales and epic poems in his honor. Rumor has it that bards across the land are already working on ballads about his daring tomb raids and his eccentric band of nude Caliban worshippers.

Satire.



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Unveiling the Dark Secrets of Vallaki's Abandoned Manor:
A Haunting Journey Inside

By Demetra Vântu
As a journalist for The Vallaki Review, I'm always on the hunt for the next big story. When rumors began to circulate about an abandoned manor east of Vallaki that was said to be haunted, I knew I had to investigate. I didn't go alone, though. My twin brother Octavian, an amateur ghost hunter, was more than happy to accompany me.

As we approached the manor, we could feel the hairs on the back of our necks standing on end. The house loomed over us, its windows boarded up and its walls covered in vines. We could hear nothing but the sound of our footsteps as we approached the door. We pushed our way inside and were immediately greeted by darkness. We flicked on our flashlights and began to explore the abandoned rooms.

The air was thick with dust, and the floorboards creaked beneath our feet. We made our way from room to room, searching for any sign of the strange occurrences that had been reported by locals. The first floor was filled with discarded furniture, and it seemed as though the previous owners had left in a hurry. We walked past an old wooden dining table, its surface coated in a thick layer of dust. The chairs were pushed back as if the people who sat in them had gotten up and never returned.

As we climbed the stairs to the second floor, we felt the temperature drop. The air was musty and stale, and we could feel an unsettling presence. We made our way down a long hallway, checking each door as we passed. Most of the rooms were empty, but one caught our attention. The door was slightly ajar, and as we pushed it open, we were hit with a pungent smell. It was the smell of decay, and it was overpowering. We covered our noses and made our way inside. The room was small, and it was difficult to see anything in the dim light.

But as our eyes adjusted, we saw that the walls were covered in what appeared to be dried blood. There were strange symbols etched into the walls, and candles were scattered around the room. It was clear that something sinister had taken place here. We continued our investigation, growing increasingly uneasy as we explored further. We entered another room, and as we stepped inside, we heard a strange whispering. We looked around, but there was no one there. The whispering grew louder, and we could feel a chill run down our spines. We knew we had to leave.

As we made our way back to the entrance, we could feel a sense of relief wash over us. We had survived our investigation, but we knew that the manor held many more secrets. It was a place that we would never forget, and one that we would never return to.

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The Terg Ruins: A Journey into the Unknown

By Demetra Vântu

As a historian and a native of Krezk, my brother Octavian and I have always been fascinated by the rich history of Barovia. When we heard about the Terg ruins near Mount Baratak, we knew we had to explore them. However, the journey was perilous, as the ruins were infested with vampires. To ensure our safety, we hired a group of brave adventurers to accompany us on our quest.

As we entered the ruins, the first thing we noticed was the eerie silence that permeated the air. The crumbling walls were adorned with mysterious symbols and intricate carvings that seemed to tell a story of a long-forgotten civilization. The only sound we could hear was the rustling of leaves as the wind blew through the overgrown vegetation. As we delved deeper into the ruins, we were suddenly ambushed by a group of vampires.

We drew our weapons and fought bravely, but the vampires were too powerful for us to defeat alone. It was only with the help of the adventurers and a skilled cleric of the Morninglord that we were able to turn the tide of the battle by finding an opening in the ruins through which sunlight could strike the vrolock.

However, as one of the vampires perished in the light, it hissed insults at us in a language we did not understand. Despite the danger that came with exploring the Terg ruins, we continued our journey, driven by our curiosity and fascination for this ancient civilization.

As we explored further, we stumbled upon a mysterious artifact that left us in awe. It was a small, intricately carved stone, with symbols and glyphs etched onto its surface. Upon closer examination of the artifact, we discovered that it was a fragment of a larger object that had been broken apart. The symbols on the fragment appeared to be a map or a key to a secret location within the ruins. Excited by the prospect of uncovering more secrets, we set out to find the missing pieces. After a long search, we discovered the other fragments of the artifact scattered throughout the ruins. When we put the pieces together, we were astonished to find that the object was a map of the entire Terg civilization, with detailed drawings of their cities, temples, and cultural practices. Our journey into the unknown taught us that Barovia is a land full of hidden wonders, but also hidden dangers. We may not know what the future holds, but we will continue to seek out new adventures and unravel the secrets of this mysterious land, one artifact at a time. The Terg ruins have left an indelible mark on us, igniting our passion for uncovering the secrets of Barovia's past.

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RUMOR MILL…

Sacrifices have increased in the area around Berez and Lake Zarovich. We have recieved reports of a fresh pile of bodies discovered in the woods not far from civilization, marked with strange symbols and mutilated in ways we would not put to paper.

According to sources who frequent the outskirts, a necromancer is doing business outside the walls of Vallaki. We do not yet have enough evidence or confidence in the matter for a full report, but we will keep an eye on the situation.

A raven corpse was found nailed to the door of an abandoned building in the Slums district.

According to our sources, a witch has been spotted in the Vallaki outskirts, consorting with fiends and bragging about getting away with it.

TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to the VALLAKI REVIEW, write to us at one of the following locations: 
 
Midway Haven, Barovia  
The Keep of the Dyad, The Mists  
Davy Jones' Locker, Blaustein  
Blood of the Vine Tavern, Barovia  
The Miner's Merriment, Krofburg  
Mutinied Sailor, Port-a-Lucine 
 
The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. No amount of threats, bribery or whining will break our vow. Anonymity if desired is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.

CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu    
Wiseman - Corb Corbeanu 
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei
Reporter - Demetra Vântu  
Reporter - Octavian Vântu
And other intrepid souls...


//OOC: The newspapers are only posted and placed outside the Vallaki area.

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2023, 01:32:49 AM »

NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 13

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!



WELCOME BACK…
...to our "not silenced yet" editon!

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.


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UNMASKING THE HERALDS OF PAZRAEL:
The dark truth behind Vallaki's newest menace

By The Vallaki Review Team

In the shadowy corners of Vallaki, a new threat has emerged that seeks to exploit the vulnerable and lure them into a sinister world of dark worship and ritual. The Vallaki Review has conducted an in-depth investigation into the self-described Heralds of Pazrael, uncovering a tangled web of deception, necromancy, and the insidious influence of fiends on the people of our fair city.

You have no doubt noticed it: the propaganda scattered across the city, from every alley to every doorstep, proclaiming the benevolence of the "angel" Pazrael and his self-proclaimed heralds. The Heralds of Pazrael claim their cult is a sanctuary for "the forlorn, the abandoned, the discarded, those lost in despair". With a temple located in the Drain, the cult offers "salvation" to those who seek it and proclaim benevolent goals in their worship.

In fact, the cult worships an unknown fiend with dark designs on Vallaki itself. At the heart of the Cult are two mysterious figures: "Brother Vastin" and "Brother Covac", as they call each other.

Brother Vastin, also known as Vastin Swift, is a local merchant and mercenary who has had secret dealings with the Falkovnians during the war with Dementlieu. More alarming still, Vastin Swift has privately professed to friends that he has a history of worshipping fiends. Our reporters have witnessed his use of the disturbing "abyssal" tongue, which is used to speak to fiends and their servants. Swift's proficiency in the fiendish language of Abyssal, which is commonly used by fiend worshippers and caliban, suggests a deeper connection between the Cult of Pazrael and the forces of darkness. Vastin Swift has also previously had ties to the vampire Bella T., the Black Duke, and the Blue Krenshars.

Brother Covac, also known as Covac, is the necromancer we reported on in "WOMEN OF VALLAKI TARGETED BY GRAVEROBBINGS, FLESH PUPPETS", Issue n. 4. Covac has previously been spotted by several witnesses summoning skeletal minions along the road to Mount Baratak and along Lake Zarovich, where he reportedly threatened travelers who strayed too close. Covac sometimes wears a red robe and a gold mask.

These enigmatic leaders have conducted secretive sermons deep within the bowels of the sewers beneath Vallaki, near the docks. Our sources report that these 'sermons' are attended primarily by caliban and pitics, as well as a small handful of human twists. The atmosphere of these sermons is thick with tension and fear, as the cult's charismatic leaders weave a tapestry of lies and false promises.

During one such sermon, Brother Covac vehemently criticized a book penned by an Ezran wandering priest, which claimed that outlanders are misguided fools. Instead, Covac offered the cult as a bastion of safety, promising salvation from pain, sin, and ruin.

Our investigation has also uncovered disturbing ties to local Barovians. One Barovian man wearing 'dark leathers' has been spotted repeatedly distributing books titled "Blessings of Pazrael" throughout Vallaki, primarily in the basement of the Lady's Rest Inn. It is unknown at this time what Barovians currently work for the cult. With a growing list of caliban and twists attending the cult's underground sermons, The Vallaki Review has witnessed and is taking careful note of the names of those attending sermons and becoming involved in the cult.

While it is unclear whether the Cult has engaged in human sacrifice, our reporters and informants believe that this may be the ultimate goal of its leaders. What we do know is this: Vastin Swift and Covac use the "angel Pazrael" as a front for their fiend-worshipping, and are willing to engage in the darkest of acts to further that fiend's goal.

As the citizens of Vallaki, we must be ever vigilant against the encroaching darkness that threatens to consume our city. The Vallaki Review will continue to expose the Cult of Pazrael and its dangerous intentions, ensuring that the people of Barovia remain informed and protected from this malevolent force.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

I
     UNMASKING THE HERALDS OF PAZRAEL: The dark truth behind Vallaki's newest menace
II
     The White Lily Wilts: A Fading Beacon of Vallaki's Intellectual and Artistic Scene
III
     INVESTIGATIVE FIRM IN TROUBLE?: New Partner Raises Questions About Firm's Future
IV
     WHO IS "THE RHYMEWEAVER"? The Mystery Behind the Nocturnal Troublemaker
V
     DOLE ACADEMY: A Troubling Institution Run by a Controversial Figure
VI
     BLOOD & TERROR: FULL MOON BRINGS RISING NEURI ACTIVITY
VII
     The Vallaki Review Honored by Recognition at the University of Port-a-Lucine
VIII
     Barovian Wisdom with Corb Corbeanu!
IX
     RUMOR MILL…


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The White Lily Wilts: A Fading Beacon of Vallaki's Intellectual and Artistic Scene

By The Vallaki Review Team

Once a symbol of Vallaki's thriving intellectual and artistic community, The White Lily has recently experienced a troubling decline in activity. Public openings have become increasingly scarce, raising questions about the establishment's future and the intentions of its proprietor, Carmen Albescu.

The last public opening at The White Lily took place over two weeks ago, on February 25th, while the previous event occurred a month prior. With the frequency of openings dwindling to a mere once-a-month occurrence, many in the community are left wondering about the reasons behind the sudden change.

Carmen Albescu, the owner of The White Lily, has also been the subject of increasing curiosity and suspicion. Sources have reported witnessing her sneaking through the streets of Vallaki at night, displaying a surprising level of skill and stealth. This mysterious behavior has only added to the concerns surrounding the once-popular establishment.

As The White Lily's role in Vallaki's cultural scene continues to diminish, the community is left questioning what has led to this decline and what it might mean for the future of local art and intellectual pursuits. The Vallaki Review calls for transparency from Carmen Albescu and a restoration of the vibrant cultural hub that The White Lily once represented.

We will continue to follow this story closely, providing updates and insights as new information comes to light.


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INVESTIGATIVE FIRM IN TROUBLE?:
New Partner Raises Questions About Firm's Future

By Dragomir Antonescu

Lukresh & Manolescu Investigations, formerly known as Lukresh Investigations and Bounties, has experienced a significant change in ownership, with Olivenka Manolescu, a former barmaid, joining the firm as a partner. While her background in the service industry may provide some value in certain business aspects, concerns have been raised regarding the company's commitment to professionalism and expertise in the field of investigation.

In previous months the firm encountered difficulties in upholding its reputation as a reliable investigative entity. According to information provided by Jericho Saint Croix, Lukresh Investigations had been hired to track down the editor of the Vallaki Review and their reporters. Despite their significant efforts, the investigative firm has only added itself to the growing number of admirers unable to track down our staff.

With the addition of Olivenka Manolescu to the partnership, it is unclear whether her skills as a barmaid, will contribute to the company's core capabilities in investigations and bounties. Furthermore, it has been observed that several other employees of the firm have seemingly disappeared, raising questions about the company's stability and future direction. The "Curfew's Call", a bar open only to Barovians, was established within the building of Shop II by Doamna Lukresh but has yet to open.

The rebranded Lukresh & Manolescu Investigations now faces the challenge of proving its competence and professionalism in a risky industry.

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WHO IS "THE RHYMEWEAVER"?
The Mystery Behind the Nocturnal Troublemaker

By The Vallaki Review Team

The streets of Vallaki have become the canvas for a mysterious figure known only as The Rhymeweaver. This individual has been posting songs and rhymes around town during the night, targeting various members of Vallaki's society, including Corporal Benedikte Zugravescu, Vahn Stanek and the Order of Virtue. The Rhymeweaver has stirred interest and speculation, leaving many questioning the true intentions behind these actions.

With their identity concealed and their motives open to interpretation, The Rhymeweaver has garnered mixed reactions from Vallaki's populace. Some see them as a nuisance, sowing discord and confusion, while others view their activities as a curiosity, igniting discussion and debate. Regardless of one's opinion, it is undeniable that The Rhymeweaver has become a topic of conversation within Vallaki's walls.

Seeking to shed light on this enigmatic figure and the reasons for their nightly postings, The Vallaki Review extends an invitation to The Rhymeweaver for an interview. Our intention is to offer an opportunity for this individual to explain their actions and provide context for their choice of targets.

The Rhymeweaver, if you happen to read this, we invite you to write to us to arrange a discreet and confidential meeting. We are interested in understanding the person behind the rhymes and the motivations driving your activities. This is an opportunity for you to clarify your message and intentions to our readers.

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DOLE ACADEMY:
A Troubling Institution Run by a Controversial Figure


By Octavian Vântu

Vallaki has recently seen the emergence of The Dole Academy, an institution that claims to provide education and share knowledge across a wide range of skills and talents. While the premise may seem innocuous, the person behind the academy is a source of concern and controversy for the citizens of Vallaki.

Miou, a shockingly pale Halan pitic who runs The Dole Academy, has raised eyebrows due to her peculiar behavior and questionable associations. Known to fashion her face in a childlike manner and engage in childlike behavior, Miou's unsettling relationship with her lover, Raenok, a swordsman, has become a source of unease for the townspeople. Their bizarre interactions are often the topic of hushed conversations in local taverns, raising serious questions about her judgment and the propriety of her role as an educator.

Miou's reputation as a witch and a mage further fuels suspicion and unease about her involvement in the academy. Her alleged connections to dark mages, even while working with her allies, casts doubt on her trustworthiness and the true purpose of The Dole Academy.

Furthermore, it appears that other members of the Halan order distance themselves from Miou, leading to speculation about whether she truly belongs to the order at all.

In a recent announcement, Miou invited individuals with various skills and knowledge to become teachers at her academy. She encouraged interested parties to contact her in person or send a letter to arrange a meeting, outlining the subjects they are willing to teach. Curiously, the academy has yet to disclose any specific subjects or even a location for teaching, leaving many to question its true intentions and credibility.

The Vallaki Review calls upon the town's authorities to investigate the legitimacy and safety of The Dole Academy, as well as Miou's background and associations. The well-being of our citizens and the integrity of our community's education must be safeguarded against any potential harm. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as new information becomes available.



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BLOOD & TERROR: FULL MOON BRINGS RISING NEURI ACTIVITY

By Demetra Vântu  

Vallaki is facing a terrifying reality as werewolf activity around the town continues to escalate. The situation has taken a grisly turn with the recent discovery of torn clothes and blood in the woods, suggesting a violent encounter between an unfortunate victim and one of these fearsome creatures. A scout made the gruesome find, raising even more questions about the true extent of the werewolf threat in the region.

In another chilling incident, an outlander adventurer who wishes to remain anonymous recounted a harrowing experience of being pursued by a werewolf from the Sullen Woods all the way to Berez. The outlander described the relentless pursuit, the snapping of the werewolf's jaws just inches from their heels, and the creature's piercing howl echoing through the night. It was only when they reached the protective walls of Berez that the werewolf finally retreated, leaving the adventurer shaken but alive.

Of particular concern is a werewolf unlike any other, described by witnesses as bearing large, distinctive claw-like scars across its face. This menacing figure has been spotted on two separate occasions in the Sullen Woods, further fueling concerns that these creatures are becoming bolder in their activities.

The Vallaki Guard has yet to release an official statement on these disturbing incidents.

As the situation unfolds, The Vallaki Review urges all citizens, particularly outlanders, to exercise extreme caution when venturing outside Vallaki's walls. Travel in groups, avoid the Sullen Woods, and be vigilant of any suspicious activity. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates on the werewolf threat as new information becomes available. Stay safe, and stay informed, dear readers.

Readers like you.


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The Vallaki Review Honored by Recognition at the University of Port-a-Lucine

By Dragomir Antonescu

As the editor of a modest local newspaper, it is truly astounding to witness the influence the Vallaki Review has garnered among a broader audience. It is always deeply satisfying to know that our hard work is appreciated. So, imagine my exhilaration upon learning that a devoted fan, Mr. Dorian, had chosen to express his admiration by organizing a comprehensive lecture at the prestigious University of Port-a-Lucine. Such recognition in a distinguished academic environment is a rare honor, and I was delighted by this news. To witness our fan channel his appreciation into the realm of scholarly and intellectual discourse is simply exhilarating. I can only envision the excitement and anticipation coursing through the veins of all those lucky enough to attend Mr. Dorian's lecture. To think, they will have the opportunity to bask in the glory of our publication, to drink deeply from the well of our wisdom and insight, and be enriched by the knowledge and understanding that only the Vallaki Review can offer.

It is quite humbling to realize the impact the Vallaki Review has made in the world of ideas, especially when one considers that Dementlieu boasts two fresh new papers of its own among its collection. However, it's no surprise that our publication stands out among the rest. After all, we are The Vallaki Review.



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Barovian Wisdom with Corb Corbeanu!


Dear Corbeanu,

I'm a musical artist who often plays in the Lady's Rest. No one pays attention though. They are too busy flirting with each other and drinking. What do I do?

Signed,
Bardic Blues

Dear Bardic Blues,

Just play louder!

Signed,
Corb Corbeanu



You know me as Vallaki's favorite talking bird (and quite a bit more beloved than that rapscallion, Radu Jr.!) and most prestigious advice columnist. But did you know I'm an aspiring journalist too? That's right! While my cawlleagues are out in the field poking around braving dangers and taking notes, I've been spreading my wings reporting a bit as well.

The only problem? Around here, everyone thinks if you're a small to tiny animal, you must be a witch's familiar!

My problems began one dark, stormy night in the Vallaki outskirts. I was out for a late-night flap, minding my business as I soared above the outskirts scouting for juicy news to report on. Or maybe some small berries or worms! Suddenly, I heard a group of outlanders shouting.

I flew closer to investigate, only for an arrow to whizz right past my head! That's when I saw them: a group of half-naked outlanders in wildly mismatched colors brandishing bows and blades all pointed in my direction shouting "familiar!" and "druid!". As someone who works for The Vallaki Review, I knew right away that what these people needed as information. If I just explained to them that I was their beloved advice columnist, they would calm down.

I did what any self-respecting raven journalist should do in that situation: I flew in swooping circles around them, explaining very calmly that I was not a witch or any sort of witch's familiar! But they didn't listen, and kept shooting arrows at me. Well, that's just rude. Eventually they grew tired of harassing me and gave up, and I couldn't help but chuckle to myself. Little did they know, the only witchery I was familiar with was Mariska's miracle work on those honeyed cakes.

So please, if you see a dapper raven, don't assume I'm another vraja devil bird!



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RUMOR MILL…
Long-banished gnome Katja Vinter has returned to Vallaki in recent weeks, primarily lurking in the sewers and around the Vallaki Guardhouse. Our sources within the Port-a-Lucine artistic community tell us that Vinter was once a popular illusionist who was known for dabbling in dark arts and annoying other artists with long megalomaniacal rants about herself. Readers are warned to be wary of any self-described "alienists", as this one is armed with firearms, gunpowder, and a god complex.

In other sewer-related news, something is stirring in the Drain. We know not yet what, except that we have friends with eyes on the matter...

Vampire sightings have begun once again around the greater Vallaki area. Adventurers report that female vampire has moved into the Mt. Baratak area, appearing to be of Invidian heritage.

TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to The VALLAKI REVIEW, write to us at one of the following locations: 
 
Midway Haven, Barovia  
The Keep of the Dyad, The Mists  
Davy Jones' Locker, Blaustein  
Blood of the Vine Tavern, Barovia  
The Miner's Merriment, Krofburg  
Mutinied Sailor, Port-a-Lucine 
 
The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if requested is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.

Though we do request readers cease writing insane manifestos to us without at least requesting anonymity!

CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu    
Wiseman - Corb Corbeanu 
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei    
Reporter - Demetra Vântu  
Reporter - Octavian Vântu
And several more...


The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2023, 04:32:50 PM »


NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Special Issue

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!




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A CULT OF UNDEATH PLOTS MORE DEATH FOR VALLAKI
Espionage and murder responsible for chaos within our beloved city


The Vallaki Review has conducted an intense investigation into the cult of an unknown fiend and Nerull, served by a Gundarakite Lich and Terg undead knight Burhan Yilmaz. These immortji have left a trail of blood and pain across Barovia: a campaign of violence, intimidation and dark rituals, including past attacks on the city and murders that have left countless Garda and Barovians dead. More concerning still, the two immortji have conspired with outlanders and Barovians alike who have assisted them in their dark schemes in exchange for powers.

We have identified a number of their co-conspirators and servants. Gareth Rex and Aithra the Fey were among their most prolific and well-known followers, responsible for tortures and maimings on their behalf. But their deaths have not spelled the end of the cult of this wretched fiend. Their followers still living that we have identified beyond all doubt:

Avram Enache and Mordalynne DeWynter. Enache has provided his services to the cult in exchange for dark powers and the gift of unlife, and secretly conducts dangerous tasks on behalf of his masters and their gods. DeWynter, we have learned, has conducted extensive espionage on the Vallaki Garda, including spying on individual members of each.

We are closely observing other potential cultists with a high degree of certainty, but we will not publish their names until we are certain. The followers likely make frequent use of disguises and false names, though we have confirmed at least one Barovian and at least one member of the Cult of Pazrael among their numbers, names currently unknown.

Recently the Wayfarer Kinship participated in the slaying of cultist Gareth Rex, and members of the cult were aware of the slaying with alarming details. The Lich's followers are currently planning to murder two members of the Wayfarer Kinship by the name of "Roland" and Melian Orne-iel in retaliation for Rex's slaying, using some manner of dark ritual. The cult believes Gareth Rex was lured in using DeWynter as bait, though we have not been able to verify the truth of this, and An unknown man is assigned to conduct their revenge killing.

The cult is targeting doamna Orne-iel in particular, believing her a threat to their aims and believing she must be eradicated. Mordalynne DeWynter's fate is currently unknown, though it is believed she may be in hiding and the cult is weighing suspicions that she may have assisted in the killing of Gareth Rex. Internal discussions among the cultists reveal that Gareth Rex's killing has thrown the cult into a state of fear and paranoia, with internal purgings planned of those suspected of leaking information to their enemies.

We can only pray Vallaki's defenders are up to the task of opposing them.



((Edited to fix a typo.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2023, 07:45:45 PM by The Vallaki Review »

The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2023, 02:56:20 AM »

NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 14

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!



WELCOME BACK…
Welcome to yet another issue of The Vallaki Review, Barovia's best source of news, opinion and investigation. And, of course, the best place to find traditional Barovian wisdom. We here at The Vallaki Review greatly value our homeland, and no doubt avid readers may recall previous issues covering the riots of last year. All to many lives were lost, both Garda and civilian, and we mourn them all. It is with a heavy heart that we recall the dangerous rhetoric of that time, and the anger that still simmers under the surface in our fair city. Read on, cautious reader, and be warned of such angry rhetoric threatening to boil up once again. Those who are quick to call for violence are rarely appeased, merely quieted.

Additionally, we will be accepting submissions of articles by readers once more who are not affiliated with The Vallaki Review. You are invited to write in!

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

I
     GAPING WOUND ALIVE AGAIN?
II
     WHO IS "THE RHYMEWEAVER"? II: Searching For Answers Still
III
     Mere Public Nuisance, or More? Vallaki Review Investigates Valentin Krezkov's Troubling Actions
IV
     Barovian Wisdom with Corb Corbeanu


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GAPING WOUND ALIVE AGAIN?

By Nicolae Tismaneanu

The Gaping Wound, the infamous tavern with a tumultuous history, has recently reopened after a few months of unexplained closing. The tavern had previously seen a successful run under the management of Carmen Albescu, leaving patrons wondering why it had suddenly shut down.

However, things look promising for the new crew, led by manager Isabel Velasquez, who has brought a fresh approach to the establishment. The new management team seems to focus more on art shows and entertainment, which is a welcomed and needed thing in our city. The new management has also revitalized the ambiance of the tavern while retaining the rustic charm that has made it a popular spot in the past.

Despite the promising outlook, questions still linger about the previous management. People wonder what happened to Carmen Albescu and why she suddenly disappeared. The mysterious circumstances surrounding her departure have led some to recall the ominous stories that have been associated with the management of The Gaping Wound over the years, and noted how several former managers simply vanished one day with no explanation.

However, one thing is certain. The reopening of The Gaping Wound will bring back the energy to the city's night life. Patrons can now look forward to experiencing the unique charm and hospitality of The Gaping Wound once again.


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UPDATE: CULT OF UNDEATH PLOTS MORE TROUBLE FOR VALLAKI!

By The Vallaki Review Team

We continue our investigation into the cult of undeath that plots destruction of the Count's rule and murder of the Barovian people. This issue, we bring our dear readers the news that the cult of undeath is scrambling to discover our informant while attempting to protect their own spies. We have further learned that one individual within the group of the Immortji's allies have gone rogue, making decisions on their own to reach out to 'do-gooder's in the hopes of retrieving the body of Aithra the Fey.

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WHO IS "THE RHYMEWEAVER"? II
Searching For Answers Still

By The Vallaki Review Team

Following our recent article about the enigmatic figure known as the Rhymeweaver, we have received an unexpected response. After requesting an interview with the Rhymeweaver, we received not one, not two, but four different requests from individuals claiming to be this mysterious figure.

We can only assume that these requests were made in an attempt to lure our reporters into a trap, and to silence us once and for all. However, we can confirm that we did not fall for this deceitful ploy, and our reporters remain safe and unharmed.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of trustworthiness displayed by these imposters, we were unable to secure an official interview with the Rhymeweaver. However, we have collected some intriguing evidence and information that we believe sheds some light on this elusive character.

As journalists dedicated to the pursuit of truth, we take our responsibility to our readers very seriously. To ensure that we present only verified information, we have made the decision to offer the Rhymeweaver another opportunity for an interview, to confirm or deny some of the shocking information we have collected.

Rhymeweaver, if you are interested in the interview, let us know in a way that will confirm that we are talking to you, and not an imposter. We hope you can think of one.


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Mere Public Nuisance, or More?
Vallaki Review Investigates Valentin Krezkov's Troubling Actions

By The Vallaki Review

The Vallaki Review has been closely examining the volatile Valentin Krezkov, a former Vallaki Guard who was dismissed under mysterious circumstances. Krezkov, a self-proclaimed traditionalist and "Son of Barovia," openly advocates for action against outlanders, fey, and magic while professing loyalty to the Count. However, our meticulous investigation has revealed that Krezkov is not who he claims to be, as his actions starkly contradict his fervent rhetoric.

Despite his public denouncements of fey, outlanders, and witches, Krezkov's private behavior tells a different story. We unearthed evidence of his involvement in insurrection and riots, intimate romances with fey witches, and habitual lawbreaking. Furthermore, Krezkov has shown a willingness to collaborate with and defend the very vampires that terrorize and assault Barovians. This reckless encouragement of "action" against non-Barovians only attempts to fuel the same fires he so recklessly added fuel to during the riots several months prior.

Formerly a member of the Guard, Valentin Krezkov was removed from the Vallaki Guard and has harbored resentment ever since. His animosity towards the Guard is evident in his manifesto, which supports violence against them. Krezkov attempted to persuade The Vallaki Review to endorse violent "action" against the Guard and outlanders, but we firmly declined.

"I honestly feel if this continues our people should do like the old days and commit to an Angry Mob with pitchfork, scythe, tar, and feather at hand," said Krezkov to our reporters. "If we cannot rely on others to protect us who are trained or good deed, then what is left but ourselves to do what we must to protect our children and our future?"

His calls for action against outlanders and more agitation agains them were far from one-off statements made to our reporters. In fact, Valentin Krezkov sent The Vallaki Review countless long, rambling manifestos in which he repeated his attempts to call us to support him: "We have allowed these criminal outlanders free reign over our city and outskirts to long. Something must be done. What say you?"

He remarked further to The Vallaki Review, criticizing the Vallaki Garda for stopping the riots that threatened the Count's peace: "Are you not outraged that our people spoke up against their frustrations and we were cut down for speaking out."..."What is the Garda doing? What is our Burgomaster doing to eliminate the Criminal Outlander threat or assuage the worries of his people? I give you proof the False Gods and their worshippers do not listen to us. Proof that outlanders and priests of cultists do not care. I hope you find it in your heart to care more for your people. For if violence is not the answer neither it seems like peaceful talking is an answer."

Krezkov frequently breaks curfew and other laws but justifies his lawlessness by blaming outlanders. He says he was accused by the garda 'wrongfully' of trying to raise a militia during Blair Florescu's time as Lance Corporal: "As it was imposed and accused by him that it seemed I was raising a militia when I simply rose Barovians to defend themselves with the rise of outlander murderers and present them to the Garda to Bolster our numbers and defenses I was accused poorly with no defense of actions. Taken to the Barracks to be scolded for antagonizing the Outlanders and causing instability." Yet the evidence stands within Krezkov's own words of encouraging Barovians rising up to attack outlanders, the very same actions that took so many Barovian lives and pit Barovian against Barovian during the outskirts riot so many months ago.

Krezkov's disturbing interactions with vampires warrant concern. He has defended vampires and chastised those who protect against their attacks, including recent written flagellations of the Wayfarer Kinship. He spoke casually to The Vallaki Review about his encounter with the vampire Emilian Drache, who has killed multiple Barovians and their children, expressing admiration for how much more the immortji cared for Barovians than the Guard.

When speaking with our reporters, Valentin Krezkov backtracked, insisting he was only attempting to "raise awareness" as it became evident we did not support his goals of inciting an angry mob.

"It even offered to reward me which I turned down because if I do anything it will be by my hands and not by any other," said Krezkov when telling our reportesr the story of meeting the vampire Emilian. "This old barovian Sir Emilian Drache of Immol a Scarlet Knight promised peace would return to Vallaki and all of Barovia..."

Krezkov has consistently defended vampires while attacking those who seek to shield Vallaki from their predations. In a recent tirade posted around the city, he once again complained that the Wayfarer Kinship fought the murderer Bella T., with whom he is believed to have had a romantic interest.

In these recent postings, disseminated dangerous misinformation about the illness affecting some defenders of Degannwy. He attempted to sow suspicion and animosity towards Degannwy and its inhabitants, as well as the Wayfarer Kinship. His signs were promptly removed and warnings given by the Vallaki Guard.

In a striking contradiction, Krezkov is intimately and romantically involved with a half-fey witch despite his public disdain for fey and witches. He also seems to harbor an obsession with half-fey women and has been known to make excuses for collaborating with other half-fey or fully fey women. We spoke with several women who, preferring anonymity, described Krezkov's "creepy" or "gross" behavior towards them as half-fey women. One anonymous half-fey woman stated, "He sort of infantilized me, and I feel bad for the woman he's currently dating. He tells people she's like a daughter to him, and is weirdly controlling, and he also treats us poorly because of our fey blood. But then he talks about his bedroom exploits with her when she's not around. It's deeply uncomfortable."

In conclusion, Krezkov poses a danger to the city of Vallaki and potentially to Degannwy as well, as he appears to be targeting them next. His actions and affiliations not only contradict his public persona, but also threaten the safety and stability of the communities he claims to defend. The Vallaki Review urges vigilance in the face of such hypocrisy and deception, and we remain committed to keeping our readers informed about the truth behind those who purport to have the best interests of our city at heart.


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Barovian Wisdom with Corb Corbeanu!


Ah, my dear readers, it's your favorite feathered friend and Vallaki's most esteemed advice columnist, Corb Corbeanu! I'm here to talk to you about something that's been on my mind lately - chocolate. Now, I know what you're thinking - "Corb, what on earth does a bird know about chocolate?" Well, let me tell you, my dear readers, I may not be able to enjoy it myself, because it would literally kill me, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good chocolate recipe when I see one.

I recently stumbled upon a recipe for Mausoleum Mocha that's simply to die for. It all started when I was exploring the catacombs below the Morninglord temple (as one does), and I stumbled upon a hidden cache of chocolate powder. Now, I know what you're thinking - "chocolate in the catacombs? That's preposterous!" But trust me, my dear readers, it was there, and it was calling my name.

So, being the curious bird that I am, I decided to take some of the chocolate powder back to my nest and experiment with it. And boy, am I glad I did. Here's my recipe! It's made with a mixture of the chocolate powder, warm almond milk, a little indignant anger at perfectly reasonable Morninglord church rules, and a sprinkle of sea salt. It's the perfect drink to warm you up on a chilly Barovian evening after someone's left the door open all night. Best served with a side of sunflower seeds.

Now, I know what you're thinking - "Corb, if it's so good, why can't you try it?" Well, my dear readers, as much as I would love to enjoy a cup of Mausoleum Mocha myself, chocolate and coffee are actually poisonous to birds like me. But don't worry, I've made sure to share the recipe with all my human friends out there: you!

And speaking of culinary adventures, I've been on quite a few lately in Vallaki. But I want to hear from you, dear readers - what places would you like to see reviewed in my next column? Are there any hidden gems that I should know about? Let me know in the comments below, and I'll be sure to add them to my list of places to visit.

Until next time, my dear readers, stay curious and keep exploring!

TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to The VALLAKI REVIEW, write to us at one of the following locations: 
 
Midway Haven, Barovia  
The Keep of the Dyad, The Mists  
Davy Jones' Locker, Blaustein  
Blood of the Vine Tavern, Barovia  
The Miner's Merriment, Krofburg  
Mutinied Sailor, Port-a-Lucine 
 
The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if requested is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.

Though we do request readers cease writing insane manifestos to us without at least requesting anonymity!

CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu    
Wiseman - Corb Corbeanu 
Reporter - Nicolae Tismaneanu
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei    
Reporter - Demetra Vântu  
Reporter - Octavian Vântu
And several more...


The Vallaki Review

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Re: The Vallaki Review
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2023, 03:18:23 AM »

NEWS ✯ OPINION ✯ INVESTIGATION ✯ Issue n. 15

*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!



WELCOME BACK…
Welcome to yet another issue of The Vallaki Review, the only organization actively investigating all of the activity in Vallaki and Barovia. While many seek to hoard knowledge, and keep their fellows "out of the loop", we believe that an informed populace is a safer one.

When we first began this paper, anonymity of our reporters was not required. We were perhaps a bit naive in our optimism, hope in our hearts before we learned how dangerous our work is. As we learn and grow from our mistakes, there are those in this city who know the truth of the sacrifices my dear reporters have made. Have sheltered and healed them. I want to take this moment to thank you: you know who you are.

Our sources will continue to be highly anonymous, while we take measures to increase their security and our own as well as hold each source to a higher standard of reliability in return. No source that contacts us and requests to remain anonymous shall be ratted out, and no amount of threats, torture, bribery or detectives will change that.

Truth will always prevail when there are pains to bring it to light.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

I
    DEGANNWY STRUGGLES WITH DISEASE AFTER EXPEDITION AGAINST MONSTROUS SPIDER
II
    CANNIBAL TIEFLING RUFFLES FEATHERS IN VALLAKI'S CRIMINAL DENS
III
    An Update on The White Lily: Hope and Sorrow for Vallaki's Intellectual Light
IV
    LUPTATTORI ROSSI FIGHTING ASSOCIATION DEBUTS! Thrilling fights and flowing alchohol in Vallaki's warehouse district
V
    Krofburg's Miner's Merriment Brings Life Back to Beloved Establishment
VI
    Barovian Wisdom with Corb Corbeanu!
VII
    RUMOR MILL…
VIII
    CORB CORBEANU'S CROSSWORDS!
IX
    LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: A Response to Satire


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DEGANNWY STRUGGLES WITH DISEASE AFTER EXPEDITION AGAINST MONSTROUS SPIDER

By The Vallaki Review Team

The small fey town of Degannwy is in the grips of a terrible plague or "blight" after a successful expedition against a monstrous spider known as Onyx. The expedition was organized by the fey of Degannwy and attended by numerous allies, including a delegation of the Archondum dwarves and the Wayfarer Kinship. The goal was to slay the spider that had been warring on the town, but the aftermath has been catastrophic.

Those dealing with the infection believe the disease is related to a seed of a Darkonese plant called the Spuma Vitae, the spores of which have planted themselves in the bodies of those infected. Symptoms include a bloody cough, nausea, vomiting, unconsciousness, and pain.

Our readers may have observed the recent blockades and warnings advising against venturing into the southern forest. In light of these developments, our team of reporters has conducted a thorough investigation to uncover the root causes of the forest's troubles, including the enigmatic Onyx creature and the plague currently afflicting our beloved city.

While Doamna Orne-iel of the Wayfarer Kinship has publicly claimed that the disease is not infectious, there are indications that she and other infected individuals believe the disease to be transmissable through blood, including the blood sprayed from their own coughs. For this reason several infected persons warn their allies and keep a cloth tied over their mouths to protect others, though not all infected have taken such measures to protect others. The Lady's Rest and other taverns around Vallaki have continued to be frequented by infected persons who are not taking any measures.

The Blight feeds off the body and its energy, draining the individual, and is accelerated by vraja, even the "good" vraja, such as healing. As the disease progresses, a powerful change occurs in the body of the infected individual before it begins its next stage. The final stage of the Blight allows the Spuma Vitae seed to possess the infected individual and connect it to its own mind. Those closely attuned to the fairy woodlands, such as fey, are at risk of transforming into blighted tree beasts at the command of the druid who created the spores of the Spuma Vitae.

The recent fight against the Onyx, and the spread of plague resulting from the fight, is only the latest in a war against the Blight which has encroached upon Degannwy for several years.

A druid named Avalan was working with the Onyx to help speed up the growth of the plague-ridden seeds and had even created the spore itself out of frustration with the fey of Degannwy. Originally, he had claimed to be working on a cure for the Blight, but his deceit was discovered by unknown individuals. Degannwy's leaders currently retain his research on how to accelerate the growth of the Spuma Vitae and its Blight.

It is believed that due to Avalan's deceit, there has been great confusion regarding the source of the plague. Marquessa Lorelei, leader of Degannwy, has issued several conflicting statements regarding the Archondum dwarves and their involvement in the plague's spread. We have recieved reports that a member of the Archondum may have initially released the disease in a moment of carelessness, however we have not been able to reliably verify this report.

In response to the seed's Blight, the fey of Degannwy and their allies are organizing an expedition abroad to obtain samples of the Spuma Vitae and develop a cure. A vessel will be created to contain the plant sample, using fey forest vraja known as a "druidic ritual." The ritual will be conducted by Degannwy's guardians, including Doamna Orne-iel and Doamna Caerylia. Although the seed itself feeds off of vraja and witchcraft, the fey are hoping to contain it using the very vraja it feeds off of. However, it is believed that Avalan may attempt to attack the fey town and its guardians to disrupt these rituals.

Information on ways to protect against the plague is sparse. According to our sources, it is helpful to avoid anyone who seems ill or weakened, and to keep your distance from any blood. Herbal potions meant to defend against 'negative energy' may be of use. Most notably, since the plague feeds on vraja and even 'divine vraja' such as that practiced in cult temples, readers are advised to avoid all sources of vraja and churches in the city.


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CANNIBAL TIEFLING RUFFLES FEATHERS IN VALLAKI'S CRIMINAL DENS

By Demetra Vântu

The Drain, a labyrinthine underworld located beneath Vallaki'scity streets, has always been a hotbed of crime and lawlessness. But in recent weeks, a criminal by the name of Savrasa has been seeking to make a name for himself within the sewers of Vallaki.

Savrasa, a tiefling with with the appearance of a farm animal, is rumored to have begun positioning himself as the 'new leader of the Drain' and is quickly earning enemies among the older leaders of the Drain.

A known cannibal, Savrasa will tell anyone who listens that he rejects moral 'chains' and their rules, and for this reason has begun opposing the Cult of Pazrael in public arguments with the priests in the sewers. Savrasa rallies against 'servitude' and limits, which has ruffled some feathers in the Drain where a delicate balance prevents all-out war between gangs.

But it is Savrasa's recent behavior that has earned him enemies within the Drain. He has been acting as the de facto leader of the Drain.

Savrasa has placed underworld bounties on his enemies, hoping to eliminate those who oppose him. However, none of these bounties have been enough to entice anyone to carry out an assassination on his behalf.

Meanwhile, a secret bounty is said to be circulating within the Drain for Savrasa's own head. His rising power and unpredictable behavior have made him a liability to many within the criminal underworld, who see him as a threat to their own interests.


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An Update on The White Lily:
Hope and Sorrow for Vallaki's Intellectual Light

By The Vallaki Review Team

Vallaki's White Lily has been a symbol of the city's thriving intellectual and artistic community, but concerns have recently been raised about its decline in activity. It has been a long time since its last public opening, a fate which we at The Vallaki Review are saddened by.

However, in a letter sent to The Vallaki Review, Albescu explained that the lack of public openings was due to her taking care of her ill mother for the past year. Unfortunately, her mother passed away recently, and she asked for understanding during this difficult time.

Despite the recent setback, Albescu noted that the White Lily is still being used for meetings by an explorer and scholar guild. She also invited contributors such as teachers and musicians to continue utilizing the space.

The Vallaki Review expresses its condolences to Albescu during this difficult time and hopes to see the White Lily reignited as a vibrant cultural hub once again. The White Lily has been a light in the city, and we look forward to seeing more contributions from Barovian artists and writers. We stand in solidarity with the community in supporting the arts and literature in Vallaki.

Given doamna Carmen Albescu's many charitable efforts for the benefit of Vallaki's underprivileged, the staff of The Vallaki Review wish to express our condolences for doamna Albescu's loss and to encourage the community of Vallaki to support her and her future endeavors. Doamna Carmen Albescu is active in the Morninglord Church in recent times, providing songs and sermons in a church which has been at the forefront of charity work in our beloved city.

Regarding concerns about Albescu sneaking around at night, she clarified that on occasion, at night, she had to go to the library or the Sanctuary in the slums for refuge from nightmares. As she lives in the slums, she did not consider this to be sneaking about at night.


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LUPTATTORI ROSSI FIGHTING ASSOCIATION DEBUTS!
Thrilling fights and flowing alchohol in Vallaki's warehouse district

By The Vallaki Review Team

The Red Vardo Traders held their first event of the Luptattori Rossi Fighting Association, offering contestants and spectators alike prizes for participating. The Vallaki Review spoke to witnesses who were at the event to learn what occurred.

After a long wait at the start of the event, the fights took place and contestants battled against each other.

For the main event, a final showdown began between contestants Vahn Stanek and Calym with the crowd eagerly anticipating the battle between these two formidable warriors. "After a count of three, the two clashed with a ferocity that left us on the edge of our seats! Calym took out his shield and tried to block Vahn's greatsword," said our source at the event. "Calym held his own for a bit but Vahn beat him down quickly enough."

According to our source at the event, the night was greatly enjoyable with excellent hosting and drinks. We look forward to seeing future events to lighten Vallaki.

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Krofburg's Miner's Merriment Brings Life Back to Beloved Establishment

By Nicolae Tismaneanu

The Miner's Merriment in Krofburg has experienced a surge in activity recently, to the excitement of old regulars and those who travel through the region. Well-known even among Vallaki locals for its "dancing girls" and as a place of business for criminals, its "re-opening" has been praised for bringing life back to the beloved establishment.

The Vallaki Review spoke to several recent customers of the Miner's Merriment, who praised the recent openings. Advertising hearty food, drinks and dancing girls, the Miner's Merriment has found itself compared to similar establishments in Vallaki which have attempted to secure a similar place in the hearts of locals here.

We wonder whether the Gaping Wound, Broken Bell, and other establishments in Vallaki will seek to follow the Merriment's example.

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Barovian Wisdom with Corb Corbeanu!


My dear readers, it's your favorite feathered friend and Vallaki's most beloved talking bird, Corb Corbeanu, reporting once again from the trenches of Barovian society. I have to confess that my latest experiences have left me more than a little bit bewildered, if not outright flabbergasted.

You see, after my last article on the subject of people mistaking me for a witch's familiar, the situation has taken a drastic turn. It appears that now, instead of thinking I'm a witch's pet, everyone seems to be convinced that I'm a druid! It's like I'm the unofficial poster bird for the druidic cause or something. Oh, the trials and tribulations of avian journalism.

Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate the interest people have in me, but it's becoming a bit much. I can't go anywhere in this town without someone trying to convince me to join their party and go on some sort of "dungeon crawl." And the other day, someone even asked me if I wanted to "do Orphanage" with them. I'm sorry, what? I was quite concerned for their mental state.

And let's not even get started on the subject of the orphanage. People seem to think that the poor children there are hoarding some sort of valuable loot or mystical powers that only a druid can tap into. It's downright disturbing, I tell you. Those children have already suffered enough in their lives without having to deal with a bunch of misguided adventurers trying to loot their toys and blankets. Really now, I saw several of you returning from the orphanage selling their chocolate and toy spinning tops! Is the economy truly in such shambles?

So, my dear readers, I implore you: leave the orphanage alone. While I concur that children are treasures and so on, the children there deserve better than being treated like some sort of treasure hoard. And as for me, well, I may be a clever and dapper talking raven, but I am not a druid, nor am I interested in any dungeons or "loot".



Dear Corb Corbeanu,

I hope this message finds you in good feather! I have a problem that I hope you can help me with. You see, I have a bit of a chicken addiction. I can't stop eating chicken, whether it's fried, baked, or grilled. I know it's not the healthiest choice, but I just can't resist the savory taste and crispy skin. My friends are starting to worry about me and I'm afraid I might turn into a chicken myself!

What should I do to curb my chicken cravings and avoid turning into a poultry creature?

Sincerely, Chicken Lover

Dear Chicken Lover,

Alright, first of all...I can't help but feel a little threatened here, but it's still my duty to help a loyal reader.

First and foremost, I suggest trying to substitute your chicken cravings with other meats or proteins. Maybe try a juicy steak or some marinated fish? And if that doesn't work, try mixing it up with different spices and herbs to make your chicken meals more exciting. I hear that black pepper and rosemary make for a clucking good combo!

But if all else fails, try surrounding yourself with other foods that make you forget about your love for chicken. Perhaps some fresh vegetables or a nice, crunchy salad can help distract you from your chicken obsession.

Remember, Chicken Lover, moderation is key. But take it from me, life as a bird isn't too fowl.

Sincerely, Corb Corbeanu



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RUMOR MILL…
Bizarrely, a squirrel was poisoned by an attendee of the Degannwy meeting conveneed recently to discuss the matter of Onyx. It is reported that none stepped forward to defend the squirrel from this assault.

Mysterious symbols have been left in the forest south of Vallaki, and strange shadowy figures seen moving in the dark. While we cannot verify the identity of these individuals, our source indicates the presence of necromantic magic in the area.

The Vallaki Garda are beginning to see a mixed return of some of their active duty members.

A wailing spirit has been spotted near the orphanage and around Lake Zarovich. Meanwhile, the hulking golem that once called that place home has not been spotted recently. Where has he gone? Does he still hunger for revenge against Emilian Drache?

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CORB CORBEANU'S CROSSWORDS!
Introducing our first crosswords puzzle, we invite our readers to attempt to solve our riddles each issue! Open your minds, search your hearts, and you will find the answer. Answers will be provided in each following issue.

Send us your answers, and every isssue one lucky winner will get a special dedication signed by Corb Corbeanu!

ACROSS

2 Beloved defender of murderers everywhere. Free hint! Rhymes with "Areth Ex".
5 Sad and newspaper-less.
8 Glorious eagle-eyed defender of the outskirts.
10 His lodge sees more suspicious meetings than a Drain bartender.

DOWN

1 MISSING! Have you seen one? Another free hint. The answer's "Garda". That's the hint.
3 Not the best spelling.
4 A dangerous talking beast.
6 A cheap thing that most in Vallaki don't bother with.
7 Takes six pages to deliver a two sentence message.
9 A glorified postman for the exiled.
11 What every freshly misted caliban aspires to.



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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: A Response to Satire
We have recently learned of a satirical piece about our beloved paper.

First and foremost, we would like to thank whoever wrote the piece. It is clear that they are extremely interested in our work, and we are flattered by their attention and attempt to mimic our style and attention to our names. While the font choice was questionable, we admire the writer's main point and message from the satirical work.

The writer emphasized the importance the Vallaki Review places on not ratting out sources at all costs, and we wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. Anonymity is guaranteed for our sources, and we take that guarantee very seriously.

We understand that satire is often used to make a point or to highlight issues, and we believe that this piece did just that. Mimicking is a sincere form of flattery, and we take this as a sign that we are doing something right.

- Dragomir Anontescu, Editor


TIPS & ADVERTISEMENTS
For all inquiries related to The VALLAKI REVIEW, write to us at one of the following locations: 
 
Midway Haven, Barovia  
The Keep of the Dyad, The Mists  
Davy Jones' Locker, Blaustein  
Blood of the Vine Tavern, Barovia  
The Miner's Merriment, Krofburg  
Mutinied Sailor, Port-a-Lucine 
 
The VALLAKI REVIEW is dedicated to honoring the safety and integrity of our sources and advertisers. Anonymity if requested is guaranteed, as no one need fear speaking the truth.


CREDITS
Editor - Dragomir Antonescu    
Wiseman - Corb Corbeanu 
Reporter - Nicolae Tismaneanu
Reporter - Anamaria Cosovei    
Reporter - Demetra Vântu  
Reporter - Octavian Vântu
And several more...


//OOC: Placed in-game.