Disclaimer: This includes spoilers for Curse of Strahd so don’t read if you don’t want to know.
We woke up the next morning and most of us were hungover. We ate breakfast and headed out with the idea to speak to the next person in line to be in charge of the town, Fiona Watcher. As we walked we noticed these people in black robes walking around taking notes and watching. We showed up and found her having tea in her garden. She told us she didn’t need our services anymore and that we could go. We questioned her as to why and she told us she had wanted our help in removing the Baron from power but that that was no longer necessary because the family was gone. We left after realizing that she was a powerful warlock with an invisible familiar hanging around, a blue-ish pseudodragon. We left, disappointed and embarrassed by our mishandling of the situation. We headed back to the tavern, only to be immediately confronted by the owner and his wife.
They implored us for help saying that the tavern got its ale from the brewery located to the southwest of the town. They told us of how the were-ravens were only one family, there were many of them but they never bit anyone for fear of spreading the disease. Their main goal was only to watch but never interfere. They kept record of the problems and built knowledge for someone who could take down the evil Lord Strahd von Zarovich. The owner was the son of the leader and had left because he believed in fighting however they could. His father had not agreed and while they shared a business relationship, they never spoke to each other. They explained how they found a note in one of the casks saying that the brewery had been attacked by forest folk and that the family stayed behind to defend it. The owner didn’t know if they were dead or alive. We headed out right away.
On our way to the brewery we came across a tower right off the road. We went to investigate and found a locked door with symbols written on it. They looked like stick figures moving in weird ways. My bard had ironically chosen a homebrew College of Dance so of course I had to see if I could dance our way in. I had to do this in real life as my husband, the DM, is a maniacal overlord! So I stood up and did the dumb stick people dance. I got the first few wrong and was struck by lightning multiple times. It HURT. I guess I should also mention that each time I got something wrong there was something coming into more and more focus on top of the tower. By the time I got the sequence right there was a faint shape of a BLUE DRAGON! It looked like we were seeing it through a sheet of moving water but it looked pissed.
As I was trying to figure out the correct steps we were beset by a pack of werewolves. The rest of the party members had to fight them off as I got everything figured out. Weirdly enough, it actually helped to fail a little because the visible blue dragon also scared off the werewolves. We finally made it into the tower where we found that it is the tower of van Richten. We found his journal and read about how some of the Vistani took his son and sold him to a vampire to be a blood slave among other unsavory things. By the time he found his son it was too late and he was a vampire.The son begged his father to kill him and van Richten gave him his dying wish. After that van Richten vowed revenge on the Vistani tribe that had taken his son from him.
We also found a journal belonging to Strahd and learned about him as a mortal. He wrote that he spent years as the Lord fighting to expand and defend the family territory. Upon coming home he was introduced to his brother, Sergei’s, fiancee, Tatiana. He fell in love with her but she wanted nothing to do with him as he was scarred and haggard from war. He began to seek out ways to become beautiful and young again. That is how he came to be a vampire. We kept looking around the tower and found a head in a box. That’s right, van Richten had taken the head of one of the Vistani he had killed and cast gentle repose on it. Apparently the box had also been enchanted with the Speak with Dead spell. The head had an enormous amount of knowledge about his people, Barovia, and Strahd himself. We exit the tower feeling very sorry for van Richten.