Our inscrutable heroes found Kozac unconscious under a tree; he awoke with no memory of how he got there. They followed the sound of the echoing sobbing and, on their way, found the Blood of the Vine Tavern. Inside were three women playing cards and ignoring the party. The barkeeper welcomed them in monotone, saying “Welcome to Blood of the Vine Tavern, where all our wines are blood red.”
A young man sitting at the bar named Ismark welcomed them heartily. He bought drinks for them as he asked for their help “moving some heavy items.” He said he didn’t feel comfortable discussing the details there, but would tell them everything at his mansion. The party decided to investigate the town further and come back later.
They found the source of the sobbing: a woman named Mary who claims her daughter Gertruda was taken by Strahd, but did not actually witness anything. Mary told them Gertruda is 13 and blonde. Not able to get much useful information out of her about Gertruda’s supposed abduction, they continued on.
Vannah entered Bildrath’s Mercantile down the street, and checked the price of a bow. Bildrath carried mediocre weapons at a hefty price. She offered services as payment, but Bildrath refused. Dalinar strongly considered stealing from the merchant (for justice, obviously), but Vannah convinced him to move on.
Ismark took them to his mansion, which had evidence of claw marks and scorch marks, and boarded windows. A young woman opened the door, who Ismark introduced as his sister Ireena Kolyana. They learned that the house had been attacked by Strahd’s minions every night for weeks. Three days ago, the stress of the attacks had overcome their father Kolyan Indirovich, and he died from a heart attack. The body has been kept in a coffin in their side room, since none of the villagers were brave enough to help them move the body. Ismark and Ireena ask for the adventurers’ help in taking their dead father to the church to be buried. Afterwards, they asked for an escort to Vallaki in order to escape Strahd.
They carried the coffin to the church, where they found more claw and scorch marks. Upon entering, they heard a voice coming from below the church yelling “Father! I am starving!” The pews in the chapel were destroyed, and the priest was praying at the altar. He seemed disheveled and sleep-deprived. He insisted on burying Kolyan at dawn, as per tradition.
The party searched the church and found a locked trapdoor to a basement. Dalinar handily picked the lock, and they found a man trapped below. Baring his sharp fangs, he hissed “I can smell your blood!” They learn the man is the priest’s son, Doru, who Ismark says supposedly died a year ago. Suspicious that Doru might be a vampire, Spatula pulled a piece of garlic bread from his pouch and tossed it at him. It did nothing. The results of the experiment were inconclusive.
Vannah used a spell to communicate with Doru from a distance, and asked him about Strahd. All he revealed was “Strahd is my master!”
Donavich the Priest claimed that the church is safe from attack, despite the markings being recent. Dalinar intimidates him and Vannah charms him to see if he is lying, using the old Good Cop Bad Cop routine, but he believes the church is safe. Donavich revealed that. Doru stormed Strahd’s castle a year ago with a group of angry Barovians, and returned home changed. Donavich had kept him locked up ever since, hoping that prayer would one day change him back. He has never fed him blood.
They asked Donavich to make holy water in his charmed state and he complied, saying “Anything for you, friend!”. They took the holy water into the basement and splashed Doru with it. He screamed and disintegrated as if burned by acid. They convinced Donavich to bury Kolyan at that moment, in the midafternoon.