There is an echoing wail in the air. Walking the near-deserted streets of Barovia, the group comes across a few dead-eye villagers and an old woman selling wares. Talitha barters with the old woman, convincing her to trade one of her pastries for an empty black book Talitha had taken from the death house. Talitha consumes the pastry and is immediately transported to a warm, sunny place filled with the sounds of birds and the scent of honey…at least in her mind. In the tangible world, her companions see her collapse into a trance and they carry her body through the streets to a tavern called Blood of the Vine, where Talitha eventually comes to.
In the tavern, they encounter a melancholy man named Ismark, who offers to buy the adventurers a drink in exchange for hearing his plight. Recently, the Burgomaster, his father, has passed…but more urgently, the devil Strahd seeks to take his sister, Ireena, as his bride. He has visited her twice…and a third could very well be the last. He urges the group to help him transport Ireena to the walled town of Vallaki, where he believes she will be safer from the grasp of Strahd.
Arriving at the Burgomaster’s manor, the group encounters many signs of assault, including scorch marks on the walls and claw marks on the front door. Ireena allows the group to enter the manor, and hears the pleas of her brother. She agrees to travel to Vallaki, but explains the need to bury the Burgomaster (whose body lies coffined on the dining table) before they depart. Her demands are conceded to and the group agrees to set out at first light.
In the morning, the group transports the coffin to the only church in town. Inside the church, their ears are assaulted with the screams of a young man emitting from the floorboards. Screams that cry, “Father! I’m starving!”
In the chapel, the group finds a drawn, haggard, and a less than sane priest in prayer. He introduces himself as Donavich who, upon discovering Hadriel is a paladin, explains that his son Doru had run away to join the fight against Strahd and had returned in a turned state. Hadriel wants to help, so Donavich shows them the way to cellar below the church.
In the cellar, they find a curled up vampire in the throws of starved insanity. He attacks the group, but as they battle to destroy him, he escapes.
They bury the Burgomaster. Donavich mentions that St. Andrals in Vallaki is a protected place and may be sanctuary for Ireena.
Amaterasu, Hadriel, Greybeard, Talitha, Ireena, and Ismark leave the Village of Barovia.
Eventually, they arrive at a crossroads with one road that climbs deeper into the forest and another that leads to the faint sound of merriment. With Ismark’s guidance, they take the more joyous path and find themselves in an encampment full of drunken Vistani, who could not be more gracious both in drink and in tale. One Vistana tells a story of a powerful wizard who incited a rebellion against Strahd. He led a mob of Barovians to the gates of Ravenloft, where battle ensued. The mob was quickly wiped out, but the wizard held his ground, exchanging spells with Strahd. Eventually, he was overwhelmed and he was thrown from the cliffs to the waters below. His body was never found.
Meanwhile, Talitha was bid into the tent of Madame Eva, the Vistani leader. The old woman instructed Talitha to bring her friends. Upon doing so, Madame Eva brought forth a deck of cards and told to them a fortune:
“This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy…Master of Stars, the Wizard. it says to me that you must look for the wizard’s tower on the lake. Let the wizard’s name and servant guide you to that which you seek. And I say to you… All, you will be lead here by someone you do not now know. Nor will you truly meet. But, perhaps, you may discover.”
“This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope…1 of Glyphs, the Monk. It says to me that the treasure you seek is hidden behind the sun, in the house of a saint. And I say to you…Hadriel, you may find yourselves closer to a god here… or perhaps you will be driven farther from all gods.”
“This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight…3 of Stars, the Enchanter. It says to me that there is a kneeling woman-a rose of great beauty plucked too soon. The master of the marsh knows of whom I speak. And I say to you…Amaterasu, that while this does not speak of you, it recalls of you. Fates show me a town brought to ruin, much as yours will be if you fail here in the darkness.”
“This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against the darkness…the Mists. It says to me that a Vistana wanders this land alone, searching for her mentor. She does not stay in one place long. And I say to you…Talitha, she shares much with you, this woman. She shares the ire of Strahd, yes. Ah, but she also shares the blood of family.”
“Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him…the Darklord. It says to me that he lurks in the depths of darkness, in the one place to which he must return. And I say to you…Greybeard. Darkness. Death. You chase these well. However, in your haste you may pass the very thing you hope to find at the end of your road.”
With that, she bids them farewell.
Before exiting the camp, the group barters with a Vistana who sells Amaterasu a box that makes noise at night, and to them all 3 bottles of potion that allow them to traverse the thick fogs surrounding Barovia.