Now that our adventuring party has survived Death House with the sacrifice of the puppy, Chester, they find themselves standing in the middle of town and free to explore as they wish. They continue to make their way down the same road they originally traveled before they see a little old woman pushing a small, rickety cart. She goes up to a nearby house and knocks on the door. After a few moments, the house owner answers the door and she begins attempting to sell something to the owner. The owner complies with the purchase and offers up his young son to the old woman. The woman happily snatches the little boy and shoves him into a haversack she is carrying.
Nedda and Varis immediately begin pursuing the woman through the streets and alleyways of the village. The old woman heads for the gate, but Nedda and Varis hesitate and hang back a bit. After a moment, the old woman turns around and sees Nedda. She approaches the two of them and offers them a pastry for a paltry fee. Nedda and Varis refuse and recoil back a bit before the woman eventually disappears with the small child in the sack and her cart.
Shaken by what they just saw, the party reconvenes and ponders what just happened.
They continue to walk on a bit until they come across a small shop called Bildrath’s Mercantile. They enter the shop and start perusing its wares. Cabel sees an older gentleman shopping at one of the shelves and goes over to talk to him.
After a few moments of conversation, Cabel is able to get some random pieces of information out of the man. Cabel learns that anybody that tries to leave Barovia chokes and dies on the fog that surrounds it. He learned that the woods surrounding much of the continent is filled with wolves, dire wolves, werewolves, and bats. Cabel also learns a vital piece of information about the Wizard of Wines Winery and how wine is the lifeblood of all Barovians. The finest wine in the land is made at the Wizard of Wines Winery and that it’s a central point of focus for the world.
Varis attempts to do a little shopping with the shopkeeper but learns that the prices there are massively inflated, most of their general wares costing 5x their normal amount. He contemplates purchasing a few things before the party decides it’s probably best to move on and explore more of the village.
They make their way across the street to the Blood of the Vine tavern where they find a shoddy looking building with a few patrons inside. They see three people convening in a corner, drinking and having hushed conversation. They also see a young man sitting alone at a table and the bartender. They all sit and have a few drinks before the young man beckons them over to his table.
After a moment of talking, they learn that this young man is named Ismark the Lesser, and he is the son of the village’s Burgomaster, Kolyan Indirovich. Ismark pays for their drinks and says that a fortune teller named Madam Eva told him of the arrival of four outsiders that could help him. His adopted sister, Ireena Kolyana, has been bitten by the vampire, Strahd, and he requests their help in protecting her. He says that Madam Eva told him that four adventurers that look extremely like the party would show up and do their best to protect her.
After a bit of deliberation, the party agrees to go with Ismark to his house to meet with Ireena. They walk to the end of the street and see that the Burgomaster’s mansion seems to be a once beautiful home that has been deteriorated over time. The walls around the grounds are covered in scratch marks and certain parts of the house have been heavily burned and scorched. The grass and weeds around the house are trampled.
They make their way inside and meet Ireena Kolyana, a beautiful young woman with auburn hair, and learn a few things about her. She has been bitten by Strahd twice, having no recollection of how she was bitten or the moments leading up to or after the incident. They also learn that the Burgomaster is dead, lying in a makeshift coffin in a sideroom from the entrance to the mansion. The party recalls the letter they found on their way into the village and starts to connect the pieces.
Ireena tells them that her father’s heart finally gave out after she was bitten the second time and the attacks on the house amplified. She says that wolves, zombies, bats, and otherwise have assaulted their house night after night for weeks. However, when her father passed the previous day, the attacks stopped. She asks if the party will escort her to the town of Vallaki, a supposed safe haven set in the middle of Barovia. Madam Eva told Ismark that Vallaki would be a safe place and that these four adventurers would help secure her safety there.
She also asks the party if they would be willing to bury her father in the morning. Apparently, the villagers are too scared to leave their homes for very long, and she can’t carry the casket with Ismark alone. The party decides they need to discuss some things and figure out their bearings, so Ireena invites them all to stay in the house overnight and let her know in the morning. Ireena and Ismark retreat to the room where their father’s body is located, locking the door behind them. The party has free reign of the house for the night.
Some sporadic conversations take place as they explore the kitchen and some side rooms. They talk for a few hours, trying to wrap their heads around everything that has happened so far. They discuss Death House, Chester, why they decided to sacrifice Chester, the loss of Varis’ owl, the Wizard of Wines, and whether they want to agree to take Ireena to Vallaki or do something else.
The party decides they will help take Ireena’s father to the graveyard in the morning but won’t make any other commitments until they can speak with Ireena and Ismark the next day. Eventually, sleep takes the group as they get a much needed night’s rest.
Morning comes and Ismark and Ireena emerge from the room and ask the party if they are ready. The party confirms that all they are agreeing to do right now is escort the body to the graveyard and oversee the burial and nothing more. Ireena agrees to this and they all head down the street carrying the coffin of Ireena and Ismark’s father.
As they arrive at the Church and graveyard, Father Donavich, the local priest, exits the building and begins following them to the graveyard. The casket is eventually lowered into a grave and the party stands around relatively awkwardly while Ireena, Ismark, and Donavitch pay their respects. However, out of the corner of his eye, Cabel sees that the mists have started to move toward the graveyard and have encompassed the entire area. There is no leaving the graveyard now.
Cabel also sees a man standing at the edge of the mist, his body adorned in a black cloak. The man has his head bowed in respect, but when he looks up, a rumbling can be heard in the ground beneath them. Taken aback by the rumbling, the party looks around in a frenzy as six disgusting, decaying zombies rise up out of the ground and begin moving toward the party.
The funeral just took a turn for the worse.
The stat blocks above reflect the current stats of the party as of our most recent session. These are not the stats of the party during the session described in the post above.