The three sat through several moments in the dank lobby of Fiona Wachter’s house.
The old woman said, “Well, if you’re not the murderers, come to finally visit me.”
Usher objected, “I am no murderer!”
“Yes, yes,” Fiona said, moving toward the stairway, “If you would come with me.”
The group followed, coming to a room door. Fiona openened it without much of a comment, revealing a naked young girl on her hands and knees, moving with a feline touch. The rest of the room looked like it had been a mental hospital, complete with a bed with restraints and no hard are sharp objects.
“Meow!” The girl said, “Kitty smells new people! Kitty doesn’t know the new people!”
Fiona shut the door. “That’s what Victor did to my daughter,” She said. She continued back down the stairs to the parlor, “The ”/characters/baron-vargas-vallakovich" class=“wiki-content-link”>Vallacovichs are the only other nobility in town. I tried to get my poor daughter married to Victor. And he used dark magics to return her to me like this. I’m glad that you killed him."
“Oh right,” Uther commented, “I forgot about that.”
Fiona invited the group to sit down again. “I’ve had ”/characters/ernst-larnak" class=“wiki-content-link”>Ernst remove and hide the body of Victor. Anybody that runs across the room will assume that Victor died in a teleportation accident.
“But I need something from you in return.” The old lady looked more stern, "You know that the Baron of this town is quite insane. Not withstanding what he did to my daughter, he braced his mouth into that horrible smile, runs these kinds of constant festival, and has created a society that is dangerous to everyone within these walls. I need your help to stop this madness and save us all.
“Further,” She continued, “I will have Ernst tell you everything he found out about ”/characters/ireena-kolyana" class=“wiki-content-link”>Ireena’s location."
“What is it that you want?” Karlotta asked.
“You need to isolate and kill ”/characters/izek-strazni" class=“wiki-content-link”>Izek.
“Why don’t we just kill the Baron?” Uther asked.
Fiona swatted him gently on the head, “Think with your brains instead of your arms. If we kill the baron, there will be chaos in this town and it will plunge into disorder. This needs to be controlled, and the best way to do that is to slowly remove the power structure around him before dealing with him in a civilized way. If you take care of Izek, the gaurds will be in enough disorder that my followers can do the rest.”
“How do we isolate him?” Uther asked.
“Easy enough,” Ernst said, moving in from the shadows, “You know that there is something that he’s ashamed of — his doll collection. And you know that two of them are for pick-up at the toy store.”
“Okay,” Uther said, suddenlly getting up and racing out the door. He explained his plan to Keesya and Karlotta while he walked out of the Wachter property.
The first stop was to case Blinsky’s toy shop. They found a house next door, looked into the window, and saw strange figures in red robes conducting a ceremony.
The second house they looked into seemed empty. Keesya entered, and there was a great scream. Scores of rats covered her. Uther and Karlotta entered the house to fight the rats.
It was a grueling battle, and at one point Uther was on his knees as the rats worked themselves into his armour and began chewing inside of him. But they won.
Inside the house they found a shrine made up of animal heads on stakes around a blood pentagram in the kitchen that Uther destroyed. Upstairs was a bedroom with a few items including a hair pin and a corset.
The group decided to rest and keep an eye on Balinsky’s from the roof of the kitchen, which was accessible through the bedroom.
At night, when it appeared that Balinsky had gone to bed, the group decided to try and rob the dolls.
Karlotta used a disguise kit and other bluffs to dress as an old peasant woman. She knocked on Balinsky’s door. After several moments he answered, giving her enough time to summon a ghost servant to get inside the shop. Balinsky was happy to make a sale, but was baffled that the old woman didn’t want toys. He shut the door on her and pet his four-armed monkey downstairs telling him to guard the place.
When the ghost retrieved the dolls, the monkey began to scream. However, the ghost made it out of the store quick enough before Balinsky saw what was going on.
In the old house, the group was ecstatic. They decided to hide one of the dolls under the stairs of the house they had just taken over, and put the other in their room at the Blue Water Inn.
At the Blue Water Inn, Uther hired the two wolf hunters, Szoldar and Yevgeni, to help him assassinate someone. Not having revealed who, the wolf hunters agreed that they could “walk” at any time the deal went bad and keep the 200 gold that they were given as a retainer.
After that, Uther got very drunk. Urwin seemed very particular about keeping an eye on Uther, making sure one of his sons interrupted Uther any time something of substance might come up in ranting and raving conversation.
The next morning, the group got up from the house they had cleared the rats from. Today was the day of the festival, and they decided that they were going to do their best to assassinate Izek before the festival started later that day.
The group gathered the wolf hunters, who questioned the ambush site. They suggested they use the old dock on Lake Zarovich, suggesting that it’s more isolated from travelers and a more natural choke point.
In going to look at the docks, the group saw decrepit boats tied to a rotting dock. The woods around the lake were very heavy and dense. Out in the middle was a boat with a man and a little girl on it.
The adventurers hopped onto the boat and came to the side of the other boat, just as a man threw a girl into the water. Uther dove deep into the water and pulled the girl out, who looked identical to Karlotta—had Karlotta been a little girl.
Karlotta questioned the girl a little bit. She liked magic, she was Vistani, all attributes that Karlotta had had. Uther suggested that perhaps the mists don’t just work to change place, but also change time. However, nobody else seemed to support that theory.
The girl’s name was Arabelle, the drunk was Bluto, who had nothing on his mind aside from more drink and did nothing to anybody in the party when they attempted to yell at him.
The wolf hunters led the way to the Vistani camp to return Arabelle to her father, Luvash.
The camp was built atop a hill. Around the hill were hobbit holes, each with a closed door and a thin guard with a gray cloak in front of them. On top of the hill were 12 carts around a series of horses, and inside that pack of horses was a great tent.
Arabelle led the party into the main tent where her father was drunk and whipping a VIstani against a pole. The inside of the tent smelled like old wine and other alcohols. The Vistani here were mostly young men, all doing some kind drugs. Some were smoking, some were making some kind of powder drug that they were snorting. There was someone in a corner playing a strange looking instrument trying to make music.
It was Arrigal that did most of the talking since his brother Luvash was drunk.
He had Eddie run off and get a few hundred gold as a reward for bringing back Arabelle.
Uther noticed a container of booze from his home world of Aqua on the floor. Arabelle gave it to him and asked if he wanted to ax-guitar hybrid that the last person from Aqua brought with him. This was declined and the party continued with their plan.
The party spent the rest of the day building screens and preparing the trap. They wrote a threatening note in a hand imitating that of Strahd saying that they had the dolls and would expose Izek as a pervert if he did not retrieve them from the dock. Giving the note to a bookish girl that Ernst said they could trust (and some silver) they had it delivered and fell back to the docks.
There, behind screens, they waited for Ernst to arrive at dusk. The wolf hunters went into the woods a bit to make sure that there was no flanking by wolves of Ernst’s guards. And they waited.
At dusk, it began to heavily rain.
And it continued to rain.
At one point, they heard a magical sound from around the lake, but did not look.
For hours it continued to rain.
Ernst never arrived.
After several hours, after exhaustion had set in, Uther sent the wolf hunters home, hoping to see if there was a counter-ambush waiting. So far as they could see, there was none.
Keesya noted that the eyes of wolves began to be seen in the forest. Debating their future, the party decided that they would get into a boat and see if they could find the fabled “Mad Mage” before the wolves or guards found them.
Karlotta got a whiff of smoke, but saw a fire in the opposite direction. She followed up with the visible fire she saw and motioned the others to join her.
There was a cave with a fire in it, and what appeared to be a door behind the fire. Approaching it, Uther realized that it was not a door but something mocked up to look like a door. As he realized that he heard a familiar voice yell, “You will never get me alive!”
And magic misses, of a familiar type, came pouring into the adventurers flanked from all sides by the cave walls. Uther told everyone to lower their weapons and reasoned with the figure he was speaking to. His broken mind kind of remembered seeing him, in Barovia, inspecting troops that Uther and Fu Hao had trained.
“Uther? Is that you?” The wizard said, stepping into the light.
“It’s me, ”/characters/mordenkainen" class=“wiki-content-link”>Mordenkainen."
He ran a spell that opened up a door with a dry, warm interior of a palatial mansion on the other side. “Come with me, come with me,” Moredenkainen said, stepping through. The party followed.