Session 5: We Barely Knew Ye
After a strange dream, the party woke up for the day in the manor of Lady Volenta. After a quick discussion of their options, they came down for breakfast where the Lady of the House had set a feast for them with Olivia by her side. Upon being asked, she then shared information about the Murder Plays of the Toymaker and what do expect, cautioning them to be ready for anything as no two renditions(even of the same story) were alike.
She then pointedly asked Yimir why he kept looking at Olivia so intently, upon which he admitted to the promise he made to the Tin Soldier to help her escape from her. He then asked if he could talk to her and Volenta granted five minutes in exchange for seeing the sun. Casting sunlight, the party watched as Lady Volenta charred and was harmed though she made no outcry and if anything looked transfixed. Keeping her word after, she declined Yimirs offer to feed on him and gave them time to talk.
Yimir would tell Olivia there was an escape route and he would find her after the play.
The party would then be escorted to the infamous Opera House where they would meet the rest of the cast as well as a being from their world, one Dorian Gray who would play the role of Strahd himself. Alistair in particular despised him on sight and the feeling was mutual, as they engaged in a contest of pain-the dandy healing from the strikes inflicted. They would also meet the Puppeteer; the Toymakers second in command who initiated his orders and laws. He would inform the party and those connected to the play that they would be expected to merely survive, the talking lines reserved for others.
The play itself also had them meet new party members, as well as saw the death of Grimoire who would be ripped apart in the first act.
The play took part in four acts and was as a whole, the tale of Strahd first coming to Barovia with his army and his Black Fist legion, which the group played as. The first act had them combat a puppet construct known as the Songbird which killed Grimoire and dropped Yimir and the second upon a ship had them face the Giants of the Lake, which managed to curse both Alistair and Heinrich into deformed beings.
As the play continued, it was clear that Strahd was watching them as they fought and seemed incredibly annoyed. As the third act rolled and the party was healed and de-cursed by their patron, Lady Volenta would mention how Strahd and a man named Sergei painted as a villain by the play were no such things. And how much he idolized and loved him, the two of them actually brothers. This gave a spark of an idea and as the third act rolled, Heinrich went entirely off script.
This was not a new thing, the party not being actors in the slightest accidentally turning the tragic story into a comedy from hoisting Dorian Gray at the ship front, king-of-the-world style to the stoic nature of Komodo who utterly refused to participate and became the straight man of it all.
Heinrich, seeking wordless permission as Dorian Gray monologued would look up at Strahds box, miming a backstab into Gray. Strahd, considering would slowly nod and give the thumb of approval,suddenly more interested. And so, aloud the wizard would ask if 'Strahd' knew how to deal with fiends.
Gray would flounder, the audience snickering and Strahd unamused as the man attempted to sacrifice one of the party members to get the play on track, a thing utterly foredoomed to failure as Heinrich summoned Imps.
Both Imps, normally liable to go wild would realize where they were and recognized Dorian Gray. As the actor panicked, Yimir who had been busy assuring one of the extras(Olivia) to stay close, would go to Gray and proclaim if he submitted to his magic, he would protect him! Gray did so.
And would be subject to a hold person. The Imps, recognizing this as their lucky day decided to leave the question of escaping Barovia for another day as they took out clubs and proceeded to beat the crap out of a frozen in place Dorian Gray, his strange immortality doing nothing for the pain. The narrator, seeing Strahd leave the box at this point would declare to Gray's panic, that the forces of the island lake spirits would steal Strahd away.
Though not without his prop cape that Heinrich took nor without being pantsed, the last they saw of Dorian Gray being the Imps stealing him away as he vowed revenge, at this point giving up any pretense of staying in character.
And so the play ended, Lady Volenta granting Yimirs request to release Olivia from her service as she thanked him for letting her see the sun before this ending. Because at this point now, when she left the room? They would no longer have this relationship and would be enemies again. The thought was surprisingly bittersweet, and interrupted as Strahd entered the room. As Volenta attached herself to his side, Lord Strahd would declare he hadn't been so entertained in a long time. He would also extend an invitation for two weeks and a half from now to dinner at his castle, handing them a personal invite.
After leaving, the party would have enough time for a short rest, the play enabling them to be led to the Toymaker himself! But when they arrived....It was not to any sort of evil.
Instead, they found an old human male-working on a doll in his workshop as Ireena helped him, the latter explaining how she stayed with him-at first because she knew the others were seeking her, and then later to help the old man. When told what had become of Toy Town, the Toymaker was horrified and completely ignorant of what was going on outside his workshop.
For the true enemy and agent it seemed was his Second in Command, the Puppeteer confronting them and gleeful about Ireena here. In the midst of his monologue, Yimir flung a guiding bolt.
And the clash of the Puppeteer and the party began!