After witnessing the shocking demise of Gae-al Thuliaga, and hearing the far off call of wolves, the adventurers decided that it was best to hole up for the night inside the Tower, as was advised by Rudolph Van Richten. Finding a elevator mechanism driven by clay statues inside the decrepit tower, the team decided to investigate and made a grisly discovery at the top floor of the tower – a severed head, seemingly untouched by decay. As well, they found that the tower had some sort of magic-cancelling aura as many of their spells had no effect. This especially consternated Mahel who wasted material components and time attempting to re-summon Albreth, AKA “Al” the Weasel and also Leowen, who without the power availed her by her spells, made her feel scared and helpless.
In the middle of the night, a lone figure painfully limped towards the magic puzzle door and then opened it. It was a Vistana, armed to the teeth, and badly wounded in her side. Finding a note of sympathy (perhaps for the first time) for a human, Mahel tended to her and attempted to comfort her while Flint Tarunn came down in the elevator and partially healed her deep wound. The Vistana’s name was Esmerelda, and she claimed to be a student of Van Richten. For the past two months, Esmerelda had been tracking Van Richten and had been using his old tower as a base of operations and potential research site. Hearing that the party was aligned with the good Doctor, she was thereby only mildly infuriated when the party owned up to accidentally destroying her wagon. It also seemed that she had a friend, waiting outside….
Peeking outside, Leowen saw that there was a lone figure standing in a daze among six or seven wolves. This, Esmerelda stated, was Kiril Stoyanovich, the leader of a pack of werewolves who served Strahd and who ambushed her on the way to the Tower. Using her Vistani powers, Esmerelda charmed Kiril and his wolves and left them outside while she recovered her strength. The spell, she confided, would wear off in the morning, assuming that the residual strength of the anti-magic field did not make it dissipate sooner.
Settling down for the night, the party locked the door to the tower while Leowen kept watch. In the morning, they would go to Krezk and attempt to find sanctuary for Ireena.
As the early morning mist appeared, the wolves disappeared into the forest and Kiril’s spell began to wear off. Seeing no use in destroying Kiril, Esmerelda let him go, giving him a message to deliver to Strahd — to come himself next time; she would be waiting. Kiril transformed into a wolf and bounded off into the woods.
The party prepared for their journey to Krezk. Wishing them the best of luck, Esmerelda gifted each of the PCs with a vial of holy water. Stating that she would remain at the tower to wait for Van Richten, Esmerelda also gave Ismark a small black journal, some kind of “monster manual” that Ismark seemed keen to pore through.
Making the 4-mile journey back down the road to Krezk was somewhat difficult as the road wound up into the mountains, where the air became frigid and thin. Reaching the town gate, the guards called for the Burgomaster of Krezk, Dmitri Krezkov, who stated that the only to gain entrance to the town was to find out what was going on with the Wizard of Wines Winery, because the village needed wine and none had arrived!
Packing up and heading down the southern road, the party arrived at the winery just after midday, just as the sun began to head towards the western mountains. Before entering the winery, they were flagged down by a group who claimed to be part of the Martikov family. Davian Martikov, Urwin Martikov‘s estranged older brother, stated that the winery was under attack by “evil druids” and asked for the party’s help. Leowen attempted to inquire as to the true nature of the Martikov family’s secret ( Keepers of the Feather) but was rebuffed and ignored until Davian’s son gently admitted that if there was a need for “help to arrive” that it would do so.
The group of seven trudged through the damp misty air and mud towards the main winery building… when a crackling sound filled the air from all directions. Surrounding them were dozens of twisted monsters, emerging from the vines around them, closing upon them as they searched for a way in…