The party emerged from the Dearth house into the pale mid-morning of the town and quickly set off in search of accommodation, food or answers (in no particular order). Wandering what appeared to be the main strip of the settlement; the group came upon an inn and entered.
Like everything else we had encountered, the inn was dinghy and ill-maintained, but still serviceable. Adran tried to draw the bartender into conversation to no avail. Delfina had more luck with a wealthily garbed young patron. He introduced himself as Ismark Kolyanovich and offered us food and lodging for assistance in protecting his sister, Ireena Kolyanovich. It quickly became clear that the young gentleman was the son of the burgomeister who had sent the initial message.
Ismark led us back to the family estate, a dilapidated mansion at the end of the main cross-road. Two things arrested our attention on the trip. First, we heard weeping coming from one of the houses along the way. Lady Arimaka insisted we investigate. We identified the cause of the weeping as a householder along the main way. Upon prompting, the woman explained that her daughter, Gertruda, had disappeared a week ago from her bedroom. The girl had piercing green eyes, but an investigation of her bedroom failed to disclose any information we could use to track her.
Second, the mansion itself seemed to have been attacked by large creatures with sharp claws. We were unable to obtain a satisfactory response from Ismark as to the cause of these marks on the house. At the house, we met his sister Ireena, and obtained more particulars on the situation. Ireena had attracted the eye of the local nobleman, Count Strahd (“the devil Strahd” Ismark sneered) and required our assistance to flee to township further afar from his charmed gaze. She was, however, unwilling to leave the family homestead without burying her recently departed father, lying in state in the dining room. It was quite obvious that though the family (and perhaps the town) had known prosperity, there was very little left. The heirs had no servants.
Lady Arimaka agreed to transport the former burgomeister to the town chapel: she and Oscar held one end while Elga grunted and lifted the other. An odd procession for a town worthy: the half-orc easily doing the work of two pall-bearers, the two dwarves awkwardly carrying their part, followed by the bereaved, the enchantress trying (and failing) to look subdued and sufficiently decorous and a slouching half-elf and handmaid taking up the rear.
When the procession arrived at the chapel, a dim light seemed to indicate the priest was present, but he failed to respond to our hails. We left the Kolyanaviches and Mika to guard the body while we entered the church.
We met Father Donavich, a sad, pathetic, broken man. It seems his son had joined a mob to protest the actions of Count Strahd, and Count Strahd had responded by giving him the gift of undying death. The younger Donavich was confined under the chapel, wailing his hunger. The
restless dead take priority over the more restful dead, so the priest, Oscar, Lady Arimaka, Elga, Delfina and Adran went to deal with the risen son. The battle was short and successful.
The group then returned to the task of burying the unfortunate burgomeister. Father Donavich realized that the shovels were in the rectory, so went to get them with Ismark. Adran, suspicious, accompanied them. After their departure, a ominous carriage pulled by jet black horses appeared. Lord Strahd descended, and went to pay his respects. As he passed through the cemetery gate (literally, he became mist to cross), a skeletal hand shut the church door, trapping the priest and Ismark inside. Adran pulled at the door, and in a feat that surprised no one more than himself, succeeded in freeing the prisoners.
In the cemetery, Strahd called to Ireena. Though the charm seemed initially successful, a protection spell by Lady Arimaka freed her from his control. He then summoned a clutch of zombies and wolves and departed. As he left, Ismark drew his sword and attack. Unfazed, Strahd picked him up with one hand and threw him against the chapel, knocking him unconscious.
Elga, Delfina and the two dwarves fought the zombies and wolves. Adran carried (dragged) Ismark back to Father Donavich and persuaded (nakedly threatened) him to return him to the manor and keep him safe.
In all the confusion, Strahd charmed Mika, drew her into the carriage and departed to the castle. The party regrouped to the Kolyanovich home, with Father Donavich, where they must decide whether to take Ireena to another town, or, as suggested by Father Donavich, to a monastery of his order.