Ismark’s Letter

Dearest Ireena,

I pray to the Morninglord that this missive finds you and our new friends well.  I have arrived in the Graenseskov, and am the guest of boyar Borje Volchykrov.  Plans proceed for the wedding, but there are dark goings on here in the border woods.  The people are plagued by a beast in the shape of a great dire wolf, but one with a cunning, human-like intelligence.  The boyar is convinced that his court is under a curse laid on him by a foul fae hag which he had executed last year, and that the beast is a man able to assume the shape of a wolf.

This beast has killed at least twenty men, women, and children in the last year, most recently the boyar’s leal knight, Jovich.  I have been tasked with finding and stopping this monster, as a sign of my worthiness to marry Cvetlana.  To be honest, I find myself hoping I am unworthy, for she is a plain and homely girl, of a cold demeanor.  Spoiled by her father, she orders the household around as if she were a queen, and has already turned her sharp tongue my direction, a time or two.

Darian and Zhivago are proving to be boon companions.  We fought off two attacks by packs of wolves before we even reached Volchykrov manor.  Their puissance at arms is apparent.  There have been some words exchanged with the boyar’s “hounds”, led by the man’s boorish son, Cedomir.  It doesn’t help that Cedomir is on my short list of potential suspects.

Borje refuses to even entertain the thought that his son is anything less than a fitting heir.  If we didn’t need his support to maintain our own family’s position, I would already have left him to his own devices.  But regardless of my personal feelings, the people of this land no more deserve this beast’s predations than you deserve to be the focus of Strahd’s unholy and unwanted advances.

Tomorrow, we ride forth to look for the monster hunter who Borje had employed to track the beast.  The man disappeared a couple of months back, but in finding him, or at least his remains, we may learn more about our quarry.

I know that Barovia is not a safe place for you to be, but I must ask.  If you have found a place of safety, can you send our new friends to check on the villagers?  I heard some troubling gossip from a drinking friend of the boyar’s, Aco “Four Eyes”, a traveling spice and coffee merchant, who arrived back here not long after we did.  He swore that while passing through our village, he saw Pavel and Eta turning little Freek and Myrtle over to an old crone in exchange for some pastries.  Nonsense, I’m sure.  What kind of parents would trade their children for pastries?  Still, it troubles me to think that yet another darkness may be preying upon the poor folk of Barovia.

Take care of yourself, dear sister.  I worry, though I know you are in competent, safe hands.  We will be reunited soon, if it is the Morninglord’s will.  I look forward to that day.

Your loyal brother and burgomaster,

Ismark Kolyanovich

 

 

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