We began where we left off, the adventurers licking their wounds from the battle with the wolves and indulging in the waters of Hayden spring. Elmer and Karadoc were bitten by wolves but after investigating the wounds, Elmer determined that they were clean and would not cause problems. He washed them with the waters of the spring all the same.
The adventurers decided that they knew what lay behind them and that Crystal Spring was to the west and south. There was a trail away from Hayden Spring leading west so the party followed that path for many hours in hopes of finding the town.
Eventually the found themselves at a great stone wall with an iron gate and a pair of imposing statues guarding the door. The statue’s heads were severed and lying in the grass near their feet. The gates swung open as the party approached and closed behind them. The party saw that the trail continued on beyond the gate and that the mists cleared some after that and decided to continue west.
About a half a mile after the gate, Karadoc found a bundle of drab clothes in a tree. They were folded somewhat and looked to have been intentionally placed there. They were most likely women’s clothes. Farther down the road he noticed a rotting smell. Further investigation revealed a corpse of a young man (clothed) with claw marks about his body as though he had been felled by wolves. Upon searching the body, we found a letter with an unbroken seal holding a large “B” on it. The letter, penned by a burgomaster told of a cursed town called Barovia. The letter said dark forces had come, vampires and werewolves. The daughter of the burgomaster, Ireena, had also fallen under the vampire’s curse and was likely to turn into one too. The letter closed by first stating that doom awaited to any who came to Barovia and so all should stay away. It then said that much wealth awaited those who might someday come and find the town after all the inhabitants had died and the curse faded.
As we began to bury the body, a pack of wolves came into view. We quickly retreated to the road where we could better defend ourselves but the wolves didn’t follow. We left the body and continued down the road.
We continued west, through a marsh with a river and as we walked we noticed that the mists did indeed thin. But the sky remained overcast making it difficult to see the sun, yet the day was light enough to see normally.
After a few more miles we came to a town. No walls. Dilapidated buildings. Shuddered windows. And a strange wailing ringing through the streets. As we followed the sound of the wailing, we came to a small town square where there was a trading post or general goods store and a tavern. The tavern “Blood on the Vine” was clearly once called “Blood of the Vine” but the “of” had been changed by someone with a dark sense of humor. We decided to ignore the wailing and stop for a drink. We entered and were “greeted” by sullen stares from the keeper. There was also a small group of Vistanni women and a lone man in the common room.
The keeper served us wine for just a copper each. We asked him a few questions but he was not very respond. The lone man offered to pay for our drinks and threw a silver to Elgin to cover us. We went and sat with him and he told us he was Ismark, son of the burgomaster.
He explained that the town and the whole region were under the control of a vampire named Strahd who lived in castle to the west (he pointed in an upward direction indicating a mountain possibly). He also told us that his dear sister (adopted) had been corrupted by the vampire. Strahd had visited her twice and drank from her. He feared she would be to turn to a creature of the night herself though Ismark knew not how or when. After more talking about the lands and the mists, we agreed to join Ismark at his home to meet his sister Ireena. But not before Elmer does a bit of fraternizing with the local Vistani ladies (Charisma role of 23).
Barovia: The town is one of three in the valley. The others being the fortified town of Krezk (with an abbey) and Villaki. It has been under the control of Strahd (as has the whole valley) for hundreds of years. It is self-sufficient in some way with local farms producing food enough for the people. There is trade between the other towns in the valley but few outsiders come to visit. No one ever leaves… the mists see to that.
The mists: The mists are a permanent feature of the valley. When people have tried to travel out of the valley, the mists seem to swallow them up. Sometimes corpses are found on the edges of the valley but usually those who leave are lost and never heard from again.
Blinsky: We found out that a man named Blinsky lives in one of the towns (Krezk?) and is a toy maker.
Hayden: There is a mad wizard that lives near Mt. Baratok. He apparently lead an uprising against the vampire Strahd Von Zarovich but lost.
Klause the Protector: Ismark things he may have seen Klause weeks ago but has no idea what became of him
The Vistanni: They are lively and happy and come and go to the valley as they please. Ismark claimed that they are in league with the vampire but suggested speaking with them as they would know more than he did.
Ismark’s home was a large manse at the edge of town. The windows lacked glass and were barricaded. There were various evil omens marked into the windows. There were scratch marks on the doors and burn marks on the wood. And it smelled faintly of death. But otherwise it was a lovely place.
His sister Ireena greeted us at the door. A beautiful woman with red hair and two bite marks. We agreed to do what we could to protect her. We wanted to go into town where we might have a better chance of doing so. But first we must take care of something. Apparently the burgomaster had died of a heart attack and his body was in the parlor. We agreed to take the body to the church so that it could be laid to rest.
We carry the body of the burgomaster in his coffin to the church. When we enter, there is a screaming from the cellar. Someone is creaming about how hungry they are. They need food. We come upon the priest of the church. His name is Donavich. He tells us the screaming person is his son a year ago he was convinced to go on a crusade by the Mad Wizard of Mt Baratok who we thought might be Hayden but aren’t as sure any more. The crusade was against Strahd but Strahd defeated the wizard and killed his retinue of crusaders. Donavich’s son was turned into a vampire spawn and the priest has kept him in the cellar ever since.
Danovich eventually agrees to bury the burgomaster’s body and performs last rights as per their traditions. While digging the grave for the burgomaster a strange crow or raven landed nearby. It stuck us as odd.
We ask for Donavich’s help and he says that so long as his son is in this state, he can’t leave him. We agree to see if there is anything we can do to help his son. In my heart, I know the only help for the boy is a cleansing blast of sunlight.
We returned to the tavern in hopes of getting a large room where we could wait out the night. But before we all enter Ada, Elgin, and Karadoc decide to investigate a woman (named Morgantha) selling “dream pastries”. They follow her down some alley ways before catching up to her. She offers them some pies. Elgin buys one for a gold piece. He notices that there is something moving in the woman’s cart. It turns out it’s a child. She claims that it’s hers but Elgin removes the child from the bag he was tied up in and the child (without much reaction) walks away. He goes to a house not far off and enters. The woman doesn’t seem to look guilty or anything about this apparent kidnapping. Bewildered by the surreal scene, Elgin, Ada, and Karadoc admonish the woman as a kidnapper but then head back to the tavern to rejoin the group.