Sybil had been trekking almost entirely alone through the countryside of Barovia for almost half a tenday. Their group had been split up by the assault of the witches and they were scattered to the wind. Sybil had a mission in mind before she attempted to find the group again… she was suffering from a curse and she needed it to be broken before she could get back into the fight. A bark roused her from her low mood and she looked up to see the wolf that had been her companion since they had fled, another victim of the witch’s curses. His fur was matted and mangy, but he was loyal and protected her while she slept. Under normal circumstances, she would have been able to remove the curse quickly with her magical powers, but they were bound, that was what the hags had seen fit to do to her, remove her friends, remove her powers, and leave her stranded in this horror-filled landscape with only her wits, weapons and wolf.
Another half-day of travel, Sybil squirmed in her armour, uncomfortable as the swampy landscape grew harder to travel through. She had known what she needed to do for the last couple of days… but finding her way was proving hard. Her group would be meeting up again soon… They had made plans to meet at the Blue Water Inn in Vallaki if they were separated for more than a week. It was a sensible plan, this guerilla war with the Count of Barovia saw them fighting on many different fronts against many powerful opponents, or meeting with potentially powerful allies. Sybil looked up and saw a ramshackle hut with no windows that seemed to almost be grown out of the swamp in front of her. The wolf whined at her side, afraid by the occupant of the hut. Sybil placed her hand on the wolf’s head and he nuzzled into it, “It’ll be okay, she’ll make me an offer… it won’t be worse than I am going through at the moment… I’ll get my powers back… we can break your curse… and then we can go and meet everyone else.” Sybil said to herself. The wolf whimpered in response… he wasn’t entirely convinced that whatever this hag offered would be better than they were currently experiencing… but he didn’t have a way to communicate any differently.
Sybil took a deep breath and walked towards the hut, the wolf staying a couple of steps behind her. As she reached the door and raised her hand to knock, the door swung open and a voice came from inside… weird and hollow and reedy. “Come on in, dearie” Sybil’s hand twitched towards her sword, but the voice rang out again, “You won’t be needing that, you just want to talk.” Sybil entered the hut, which was filled with jars, furs, traps and other strange knick-knacks. At first glance, a little old woman sat at the table in the middle of the room, lit by a candle burning low in the holder at the centre of the table, a tea set… slightly cracked… was laid out on the table in front of her. Sybil crossed the threshold and sat down opposite the little old woman, and the wolf stood at the door. “You have a request, dearie?”
“Baba Lysaga… she sealed my magic away… claimed I was a threat to her beloved son. I need to get my powers back.”
“Preciiisely…. That’s something I can help you with…” Her voice was disconcerting to listen to, “but… him…” she stopped, her head turning to an almost unnatural angle “I’m not sure I can break that curse quite so readily.” The wolf’s tail sank further between its hind legs. “I’m so sorry, Creed, but it looks like you will be stuck like that for a while longer.”
Her arm reached out and snatched Sybil’s hand, for a second it appeared the little old lady’s arm was longer than a normal human, with two elbows… but that faded quickly. “I just have a simple request for breaking the curse. One day… I will need something… something that someone with your… skills… your position can provide. Deal?”
“Just once… to get my powers back”
“Just one thing… and then you can get back to your other friends. You can get back to freeing this hopeless land from its dark ruler.”
“Deal,” Sybil said, and then screamed as hag’s hand suddenly burnt across her wrist. Sybil could feel her magic returning to her… but as she looked down, the hag’s marking was burnt into her flesh around the wrist, a permanent mark of this place and her time in Barovia.