Disclaimer: This includes spoilers for Curse of Strahd so don’t read if you don’t want to know.
We head out of the city to search for the missing shipment of alcohol. We find the shipment in a broken down wagon off the side of the road a bit into the forest. We only saw it because Milo the Rogue had such a high perception. The driver was nowhere to be seen. We collected the goods and made our way back to the city. We arrived to see a raging inferno.
Valaki was on FIRE! The entire city was aflame. We rushed through the streets to the Mayor’s home. Upon arriving we were stopped by guards. They refused to let us in but my Bard managed to charm them into letting us through. Upon entering the house we split up to try and find the Mayor, Irina and her brother. We didn’t find any of them but we explored the rest of the house. In the attic we found the eldest son, Victor, the betrothed of Irina. He was huddled in a corner of the room and muttering to himself. In another corner of the room there are the remains of a cat. In the center of the room was a circular spellform. Inside it were another set of remains, this time of a maid. Her limbs were contorted into unnatural angels and parts of her were just gone. We came up slowly on Victor and gently tried to talk to him. Of course, he was super skittish and jumped away from us, scared. He babbled on about how he hated it here and wasn’t happy. He denied wanting to marry Irina and said it was all a ploy of his father to continue the family line. In a sudden rush of activity Victor ran past us into the circle and started to cast. Before we could stop him he completed the spell and at first it seemed like it was going to work. Then he exploded in a shower of red innards.
We just stood there shocked and covered in steaming guts. We looked around after the initial shock wore off and found Victor’s notes. He had been trying to replicate a teleportation circle to get out of Barovia and finally be free. He saw this world as a prison. He didn’t know that Barovia was cut off from all dimensional magic. He didn’t know that even the souls of Barovia don’t get to leave. You see, that’s why there were certain people who had no expressions of any kind. They were the ones born without souls. When souls can’t leave they can only be recycled but humans multiply faster than that so that meant there were a limited amount of souls for too many bodies. These people were born without a soul to bring them joy and passion for life. That’s why there had been such a high demand for dream cakes. They made the consumer feel something for a little while. Magical drugs basically. And like all drugs, they only wanted more and more as time went on and the cakes affected them less and less until they died of eniu or starvation.
With nothing else to do at the house we cleaned ourselves up and left. We wandered through town and came up to the cemetery and church. We had been here before when investigating the missing thighbone and wanted to check in with the Father there. As we entered we noticed that at the front of the pulpit was Strahd, flanked by his three concubines. One was a small Vistani girl, one was a beautiful Drow, and the last was a busty red-headed human. It looked like service was being held and there were people in the benches. At this time it would be appropriate to mention that Milo the Rogue stayed outside the church, wanting some element of surprise. We were all still pretty new at this game and he blurted out without thinking, “I aim my crossbow at the doors and hold my shot for the first person that comes through!” Remember that.
Inside the church we rolled for initiative and started fighting the four enemies on the field. Then, as if out of nowhere, This van Richten guy we had heard Rictavio praising in his slam poetry showed up. He starts shooting at Strahd and they start battling it out. As the fight progressed we started realizing that the people in the benches had also been vampirized to some extent and because they were in thrall to Strahd he could use them as feed bags to heal himself, making it even harder for us to try and beat him. We started to retreat towards the doors, continuing to fight all the way. My Bard was the first to the doors but my turn ended before I could open them and leave. Bullet dodged right? WRONG. Strahd sent a Thunderwave to AEO the group by the door. We all went flying but my Bard was the first through the doors. Then she got shot. In the shoulder. By the rogue. It sucked and since things were still tense between us, you can imagine the aftermath of pissed-offedness that ensued. My bard eventually agreed that in this case the attack was not intentional and forgave Milo the Rogue.
Van Richten had managed to send Strahd back to his home, heavily injured. What we didn’t know was that van Richten was also injured. With the battle over, we headed back through the city towards the tavern, putting fires out along the way. We got to the tavern to find the sons of the owner rough-housing. It got a little out of hand and one of them disappeared! In his place was a raven squawking at the other brother. It then turned back into the third brother. The father came out to admonish them and that’s when we found out that were-ravens are a thing. With that bit of knowledge to mull over on top of everything else we drank ourselves into a stupor and tried to just forget.