Our Heroes arrive back home, unfortunately for Ota every body she was responsible for was consumed by the vampire’s necromancy spell. But, having failed in her mission, she is assigned to the care of a Dragonborn emissary of the Raven Queen who is noted for his sheer focus on completion of the mission. The Raven Queen religious organization has been granted generous funding from a lady called Helene Maurgen. She has asked for help from the church to find her husband, Jeref, and bring him home alive and well. Jeref has been missing for three months and was last known to be hunting werewolfs in the forest around a city called Barovia.
Upon arrival to Barovia, our heroes find the town under seige by the Undead. They fight their way to the center of town to find an archer defending what remains of the town. They join with the archer and turn back the tide of the attack, but not without each of the heroes contracting a disease. Trapped in the town with the village survivors, our heroes find young Toby and his family. They were trying to reach the Vistani (gypsies) encampment when they got trapped by the undead outbreak and have holed up here in the center of town. With the help of the Archer, they discover that the undead rising is a result of the town’s cleric gone insane due to the death of his son. The cleric had used a forbidden spell that he had found in the Castle Ravenloft that he thought would raise is son from the dead. Instead, it turn his son into a Blaspheme and began turning the dead of the city into walking zombies. One of the tidbits of information that the heroes learn from the cleric is that Ireena is not the natural daughter of Kolyan Indirovich (now deceased Burgomaster of Barovia). She never knew, but old Kolyan found her one day at the edge of the Woods near the very foot of Ravenloft’s crag. She was but a girl then and had no memory of her past. Kolyan adopted her as though she were his own and loved her dearly.
The Heroes visit Ireena next and find her standing guard over her father’s body. She was determined to not let him become one of the walk undead. But, now that the Heroes have stopped the outbreak, she asks them to help her bury her father. After the burial, our Heroes find a small secret hide away under a tombstone. Another small battle with undead ensue, one in which Ireena insists on helping. Of note for this encounter is what happens to one of the wrights after it succeeds in striking Ireena. Hundreds of rats come from all the cracks in the walls and devour the creature. After much scrutiny, Ireena breaks down and explains that she has twiced dreamed that the master of the castle, Count Strahd Von Zarovich, has visited her and expressed his desire for her. Closer inspection of Ireena reveals that she has two sets of bite marks on her neck.
Ireena and other town folk have informed the Heroes that Madame Eva, who can be found at the Vistani encampment, would be of great help to the heroes. So, off to the encampment we go, being sure to escort Toby and family back to their “home”. Along the way, the Archer gains a companion, Sir Urik. Sir Urik is a Knight of the Raven. (Before evil descended on the land of Barovia, it was home to an order of virtuous champions, the Knights of the Raven. United under the symbol of the raven, they set aside differences of religion and political allegiance in their quest to fight evil wherever it appeared. They prospered for centuries before the appearance of Strahd in their land, but now they are practically extinct. – Sir Urik) Ota is fascinated by this news and has asked to join the Knights of the Raven as their calling parallels her own desires to fight evil wherever it rises.
Madam Eve, a huge old lady, greets the Heroes with a grateful heart as they have brought back “home” young Toby and his family. She greets them all but comments on the divine power she feels from the diva, Ota. But, her attention falls on the dragonborn, whose duplicity is a strong attraction to the old lady. The results from her fortune card reading (which can be found on the Wiki page that has yet to be created) have given clues to our Heroes regarding the location of the Sunsword, the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, the Tome of Strahd and their best way to defeat the evil one. The first two are powerful weapons against the undead, the last two are even more powerful then the weapons, knowledge on how to defeat Count Strahd.
The heroes find the Sunsword buried in the same cemetery as Ireena’s father. Their next quest was to retrieve the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind. To do this, the Heroes defeated the Downed Lady of the Swamp. She had gone quite mad as a result of Strahd’s evil polluting the land of Barovia. She appeared as an old and horrendously ugly human woman with sickly yellow skin, covered in warts and oozing sores, and a mad tangle of greenish-brown hair resembling rotting seaweed. Her eyes stare wildly and her face was twisted in a perpetual mask of grief. Upon interrogating her, the Archer quickly killed her when he thought her mad ravings were threatening the party. After finding the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind hidden in a tree near the execution site, an elf appeared along the edge of the woods. He explained that they had hidden the Symbol as far away as they could from evil one of the castle, but it appears these foolish would be heroes would take it straight to Castle and into the hands of the evil one. He had heard them ask the Downed Lady about a fellow by the name of Jeref and informed them that he could be found in a cave by the Tser Falls. Last but not least, the Archer’s actions of killing the Downed Lady had not gained them any allies from the Elfs and that they were no longer welcomed in the Woods. A long fight out of the woods have left our Heroes near death in utterly exhausted. They retreated back to town and stayed in Ireena’s family mansion.
The next morning the sun is actually breaking its way through the perpetual fog that covers the land of Barovia. All are awake and making plans for what to do next when Ireena comes bouncing down the stairs all excited, for she will not be talked out of going with them to rid the land of the evil of Count Strahd Von Zarovich. She asks when we are all going to the castle. The Heroes explain that they want to make a side trip first to find the lost husband/werewolf hunter Jeref. Ireena explains that mission is along the way and if they are heading to the castle she has but one favor to ask. She explains that an old lady in the town has been driven mad with the lose of her daughter (I’m sensing a theme here), she has been inconsolable since her daughter has disappeared. Ireena wishes to give her some hope by explaining that if her daughter is at the castle, she will bring her back home. The old lady has been driven so mad with grief that Ireena feels that if Ota was to join her, that her angel-like appearance will give her a sense of calm and help give her hope that her daughter will be returned. Ota agrees and off those two go to see the distressed mother. Five minutes later, Ireena comes bouncing down the stairs all excited and asks when we are all going to the castle and where did that hourglass come from that is beside the door. All were able to escape the hourglass bomb trap and the Archer was able to track which direction Ota and the imposter had traveled. Following the trail, the Heroes enter an alley that is blocked by a Young Dragon. The Dragonborn tries to communicate with it, but it explains that he is under magical directions that they are not to pass. A fight begins.
Meanwhile, Ota is being lead by the imposter Ireena. They round a corner and the Barbarian Vampire is waiting for them. Ota finds herself dominated by the vampire. The imposter Ireena shape changes to Ziki, the changling serial killer from the floating city now turned vampire, and explains that Ota and her friends had robbed her of her revenge on the circus members who killed her son. Then, left her in the prison, where Kavan, the Barbarian vampire, turned her into one of his minions thus stopping her from even seeing her family in the afterlife. All that rage is now focused on Ota and anyone whom has helped her. Kavan, the Barbarian Vampire, explains that he was furious that Ota and her friends had stop his plans to take over the floating city and claim it as his own. All he dreamed about was killing her, but now he has changed his mind. Now she will become his bride, and with that said, sinks his teeth into Ota’s neck.
The battle with the young dragon, goes well in the favor of the Heroes. In the last rounds of action, Ota joins the battle. She remembers nothing of Kavan, but has full recollection of Ziki and her desire for revenge has shifted to now include all the Heroes. The party closely inspects Ota and discover the bite marks on her neck. Ota asks the party members to kill her if they find they cannot save her from becoming one of the evil things that she has dedicated her life to fighting.
The last thing that has happened before we left for Thanksgiving break, was a battle with Worgs and Dire Wolves that are protecting the entrance to a cave hidden behind the waterfall.