Chapter 8 – Village of Krezk

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The Village of Krezk is the third settlement in the Valley of Barovia. It is located in the westernmost part of the valley, really close to the mist wall. Krezk is a secluded place, the people that live here seldom go beyond the walls. It’s the only settlement in the valley with a stone wall and a proper gatehouse. The place is defensible, except that they do not have enough men to guard the place effectively. It is still better than having no protection (Village of Barovia) or a palisade (Town of Vallaki).

Krezk has most of what it needs inside the walls. There are trees, a water source, they raise chickens, hares and pigs, and there are also small crop gardens for beets and turnips. Krezk is self-sufficient except for wine. Which is actually the main quest when PCs first arrive. On top of a hill, the Abbey of St. Markovia quietly watches over the town. St. Markovia was a saint who rallied the peoples of the valley in a battle against Count Strahd a few centuries ago. She failed and her remains rest in the crypts under Castle Ravenloft (her thighbone is actually a magic mace). After the death of St. Markovia, the clergy in the abbey fell into disarray and eventually died out. The place was shunned for a long time afterwards.

Then came the Abbot. He is a Deva in disguise, he reopened the abbey and his intentions were good. The Abbot has changed in the last 100 years. A section on him is later discussed.

First Approach

Baron Dimitri Krezkov is the burgomaster of Krezk. He is a lord and very proud of his family line. He is committed to protecting Krezk from Strahd and outside forces, his people demand this from him, thus he is bound to do what is best for Krezk.

When the adventurers first approach Krezk, they are probably looking for shelter or refuge for Ireena. Depending on how things turned out in Vallaki, they may not be able to go back there, at least for the moment. Father Donavich or Father Lucian could have mentioned the fact that Krezk has a proper wall, or that the Abbey of St. Markovia is a good place to shelter Ireena.

Regardless of the reason, they will find the burgomaster reluctant to let them in. It is implied by the text in page 146, that hospitality rights are a thing for Barovian nobles. If the adventurers do something beneficial for the Village of Krezk, then Baron Krezkov is bound by his position to let them in offer a place to stay. Otherwise he won’t voluntarily let them in. Fortunately, for the party, the Wizard of Wines winery stopped delivering a few weeks back and there’s no more wine to lighten the spirits of poor Krezk people. Once the party secures a shipment from the winery, Lord Krezkov will gladly let them in.

If the party tries to force their way in a battle with the city guards will begin, however it is stopped by the burgomaster himself, who does not want any bloodshed. After all, any dead guard is hard to replenish form in such a small village. This apparent lack of nerve is actually caused by the Burgomaster’s grievance over the death of his youngest son Ilya, aged 14. He was the last of four children, all of them dead due to weak health and sickly disposition. He is distraught because with Ilya dead, the Krezkov bloodline is surely finished. He and his wife are unlikely to have another child.

Inside Krezk

Once inside, whatever the form of entry. The adventurers can be offered a place to stay in a barn or similar accommodations. The village has some awesome event that occur when adventurers arrive, they are in the last part of the chapter: Special Events.

The Something Old event is a great introduction to the Abbot, whose dark nature is not yet revealed. With the party as guests of the Krezkov household, The Abbot arrives to restore Ilya back to life. It is not said (vaguely implied) but the author behind this action is probably Strahd himself. As evil as he is, he is still the lord of this land and the people appointed to rule the villages where at some point chosen by him. It is probably more convenient for him to have the Krezkov bloodline continue in power than to name a different Burgomaster. Don’t forget to let the cleric or paladin in the party notice how the Abbot raises Ilya without the use of any material components (a big hint to his real power).

Something New, this encounter is just exposition. By this point the party may have heard that some portion of Barovians are just empty shells with no souls, projections of Strahd’s conscious. The Baroness Anna Krezkova is called on to help delivering a baby. A good way to involve the PCs is for the Baroness to command the cleric or paladin in the party to help in the delivery too. At the end of the ordeal, the baby is born healthy but does not cry. The midwife explains that sadly the kid has no soul. So she believes, but it confirms a bitter truth about Barovians.

Something Borrowed, this is the equivalent of the Bones of St. Andral, but set in Krezk. If the PCs actively help in this quest, they can prevent a terrible outcome. In short, The Abbot requests a bridal gown from the Krezkovs. He can threaten with death or just mention that this is the cost for raising Ilya. The Krezkovz will comply.

The Baroness Anna Krezkova decides to go to Vallaki with some company. In Vallaki the only way to secure the dress is to get it from Lydia Petrovna. The bridal gown is in the Vallakovich Mansion in area P (page 109) next to the Spirit Mirror. Lydia wants to help but Vargas Vallakovich will have none of it. This quest assumes the Vallakovich are still in power, but in reality, anything might have happened in Vallaki already. Maybe the mansion was burnt to the ground and there is no gown. In case you want to adjust this in the party’s favor, another feasible person to own such a gown is Lady Fiona Wachter. The party will have to help her secure this gown to later return to Krezk. If the gown is delivered to The Abbot, the danger is prevented.

However if PCs don’t help, Baroness Anna and her entourage die on the road to Vallaki, then more people are sent to find them, they don’t return either. Baron Dimitri then asks mercy from The Abbot, who doesn’t care. Next evening the mongrelfolk rain down on Vallaki and steal food and resources. A few days later Dimitri Krezkov is found dead, after hanging himself.

Something Blue. This encounter is special. This encounter between Ireena and Sergei Von Zarovich helps her remember her past and true self, Tatyana Federovna. If the party let’s her join Sergei in the waters, she vanishes from Barovia and is forever lost to Strahd. This earns Strahd’s committed enmity as he controls the land to shoot lightning into the pool. A while after, (unless this already happened), a servant of Strahd delivers a letter of invitation to dine with the Count.

If the party prevents Ireena from jumping into the waters the opportunity is lost., but Ireena is forever changed. She can now remember her past incarnations. This alternative is not discussed in the module but it is a great source of motivation for her and it makes her character grow in the setting. This is particularly useful if Ireena is the appointed ally against Strahd. You might even decide that she will not go with Sergei, and stay and fight.

The Abbey and the Abbot

The most noticeable feature in Krezk is the Abbey, and the most mysterious person is without doubts The Abbot.

A Deva in disguise, he came to Krezk and tried to help the Belviews, an inbred family afflicted with leprosy. He healed them but they strived for regeneration of inborn defects and some more questionable modifications to their bodies. The Abbot slowly and over the years complied with their demands. The first tries resulted in death. Shortly afterward Vasili Von Holtz a local Barovian Lord and Strahd in disguise appeared before the Abbot. The deva knew he was evil, but Vasili offered the needed knowledge to really help the Belviews. It was probably the extended stay in Barovia and the influence of the Dark Powers that made The Abbot accept Vasili’s help, which was in fact forbidden knowledge from the Amber Temple. The Abbot changed the Belviews into what they desired, that turned them into the mongrelfolk. The became insane in the process, many of them are in fact behind bars most of the time. Strahd revealed his true form and the deva decided Strahd was not killable. Being as he was, cursed forever and trapped in his own land. After scores of years, The Abbot has slipped into insanity, step by step. He is always tortured for what he did to the Belviews, thus he stays in the abbey, taking care of them. He cannot help them any more. His knowledge in flesh molding led him to experiment with recently dead bodies, he built a flesh golem. He was trying to create a bride for Strahd. He is convinced that once Strahd achieves happiness reuniting with his lost love, the curse will be lifted. Helping everyone in the valley in return. The flesh golem was just a crude experiment that know just guards the cells. His second attempt is better and shows promise. Built from women bodies, he created Vasilka (page 151).

The Abbot is a really interesting figure. After all he is done and the atrocities he committed, he is considered to be lawful evil. But he is insane, in his delusion, he still believes his actions to be of noble intentions. He regrets what happened to the Belviews but finds solace in knowing that they are taken care of. If your roleplay this character correctly, the characters might not even detect the evil behind the mask. The Abbot does not reveal his angelic origin unless threatened. This show of force might be enough to make the PCs hesitate. The Abbot can also offer a 3 times Raise Dead if they help him secure the bridal gown, you can combine this with the “Something Borrowed” event.

Fighting the Abbot 

If thing go down this way, it’s bad news for the PCs. The battle does not appear to be all that difficult but I tell you it is really dangerous. The Abbot is a deva, so that’s that. The apparently small Vasilka is a fully fledged flesh golem. There is another flesh golem in the next building, it can come aid The Abbot. Plus, there is any number of mongrelfolk to aid. This battle is easily hard for a level 8 party.

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