Curse of Strahd

Elodin's Dream

Sometimes I can still hear the screams. In the dead of night, when the radiant glory of Amaunator’s face has turned from the realm and the denizens of darkness hold sway, the terrible memory haunts me still.

I am just a child of seven (or eight perhaps, I am not sure) and the caravan has stopped for the night on a wild, remote section of the trade route between Scornubel and Baldur’s Gate. I play with the other children as the adults inspect the horses and prepare camp. Suddenly, I feel something, a growing sense of unease and impending doom. I hardly have a chance to process the strange sensation when a wall of flame, 20’ high, erupts from the ground, encircling the camp. This is when the screaming begins, screams of terror that increase as a huge, winged humaniod entity falls from the sky and lands near the center of the ring of caravan wagons, no more than fifteen feet from where I stand. I catch a glimpse of its dragon-like wings, horned head, and smoldering eyes, and as it raises a terrible flaming whip high into the air, the terror fully grips me and I clap my hands over my eyes. The whip cracks, I feel an explosion of heat and fire, and the screams of terror become screams of pain and agony. Men, women, children, beg for mercy in the face of relentless slaughter, their voices at times drowned out by cruel laughter and speech in a tongue so dark and hideous it seems to eminate from the depths of the Abyss itself. I stand alone admidst the carnage, surrounded by death and frozen in terror. Desperate for the nightmare to end, I cry out for my mother and father, but they do not answer. The only responses I receive are more screams.

Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, the screams cease. I begin to wonder if it has gone, if the nightmare is finally over, but I am too frightened to open my eyes. It matters not. I feel it approach, the heat from its body growing in intensity as it draws near. Its stench, a sickening mixture of burning blood and sulfur, is overwhelming. As it comes to a stop several feet in front of me, it speaks, and I am shocked as I realize that I can now understand the words:

“Hello, little worm. Did I hear you call for your Mommy and Daddy? Well, I brought them to you. Open your eyes and see.”

My heart leaps at the thought of my parents, and I allow myself to consider that they might have been spared. Slowly, I open my eyes. And I see them. I see their scorched, severed heads, faces frozen in silent screams of agony and fear, held aloft by the demon. Tears blur my vision and I scream at the beast in anger and despair. Howling with laughter, it raises the fire whip above its head, and I drop to my knees and close my eyes in anticipation of the killing blow. I hear the hiss of the whip as it rips through the air toward me…and then…CRACK. Instead of the enveloping darkness of death, I feel an explosion of pain as the barbed end draws across my face, searing a swath of flesh from my left temple to the right side of my jaw. My mouth opens in a silent scream, the pain far beyond my ability to handle or comprehend. I fall backward and the whip cracks once, twice, and a third time, tearing into my chest, abdomen, and right leg. The agony is unbearable, and darkness begins to overtake my vision as the demon speaks:

“Thought I’d give you something to remember me by, worm.” It leans in closer, its voice a low, menacing growl: “Don’t worry, we will meet again.”

I see no more.

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