Having escaped the clutches of the death house, our group proceeded into the center of Barovia Village. All around them, shops were closed and houses appeared to be abandoned or sealed out to keep out the dangers of the night. Everything looks to be very old and in a horrible state of disrepair.
Once they reached the town square, two buildings appeared to be open – a tavern, formerly named the Blood on the Vine, has its aged sign scratched to now read Blood of the Vine and a general store named Bildrath’s Mercantile. Several paths lead from the square, including one going uphill towards a church and cemetery and another leading to a large manor house. Everyone decided to try the tavern and look for someone to speak to.
Inside, the tavern was nearly empty with 3 women at one table (later identified as Vistani owners of the tavern), a listless barkeep named Arik, and a young man named Ismark Kolyanovich who invited them to his table and bought a round of drinks. Although initially suspicious of Ismark, they found out he was the son of the Burgomaster, Kolyan Indirovich, and seemed to be an honest individual.
He asked about their business in town and eventually was allowed to view their letter, where he confirmed it was not written by his father. He was worried about his sister – she had been targeted by “the devil Strahd” – a vampire and lord of the valley – and had already been bitten twice. He wanted to take Ireena to the walled town of Vallaki for safety, but she would not leave the house. He pleaded to the party for help.
Our group agreed to go and help and proceeded to the manor house, where they saw signs of fire damage, great scratch marks and many footprints. Ireena – a passionate and fiery young girl – greeted the party and welcomed them inside where they found the Burgomaster, dead. It turns out he had died three days prior due to the attacks on the manor house – Ismark confirmed they were attacked almost nightly, but that they had stopped after her father died – and Ireena would not leave until her father was buried.
Everyone decided to take the Burgomaster to the church and have Father Donavich perform the burial service. Once at the church, everyone was shocked to hear cries from the basement of the church. After pressing the priest, they found his son had gone with a group of villagers to confront Strahd, but had returned as a vampire spawn craving blood. Donavich had locked his son, Doru, in the basement while he prayed and searched for a cure.
With cries of “Father!” echoing throughout the church, the group discussed their plan. Father Donavich insisted that the Burgomaster be buried at dawn in accordance with his faith (he serves the Morninglord), so the group agreed to return the following morning. He also suggested the party consider the Abbey of Saint Markovia for Ireena, but they decided to stick to Vallaki.
Returning to the manor house, the party stopped by the house of Mad Mary after hearing her sobbing from down the street the past two days. It turned out her daughter, Gertruda, had snuck out of the house and not returned. She showed the party her favorite doll (with a curious tag reading, “Is no fun, is no Blinsky!”) and pleaded that they find her. Everyone agreed to look on their route.
The night passed quickly, as did the service, and so the group set out for Kallaki to the west. Both Ismark and Ireena had gathered weapons and armor, intending to pull their own weight. Not far past the village borders and back into the woods, the group stopped to the sounds of howls all around. Soon, they found themselves surrounded by a pack of wolves who rushed in, biting and pulling people to the ground. Ismark proved to be a very capable warrior and helped fend off the wolves.
Our adventure stopped here, with many miles and even more dangers lying ahead.