Leaving in the early morning, Fizban’s heroes begin the trek southward on the dirt track towards Yester Hill. After a couple hours of travel and steady climbing through the woods and a few side tracks the crew arrives at a clearing, seeing Yester Hill rises ahead of them. The hill itself is large, and surrounded by strange mounds of stones, resembling ancient burial piles. The top of the hill is ringed by a rough stone wall that is getting periodically hit by lightning. Once they reach the top, they find a massive 50’ tall effigy of what looks to be Strahd, made from logs, dirt and sod which seems to be supported by strange roots coming from the ground. Unfortunately, before they can investigate further they are ambushed by more wild druids and psychotic wild men. The fight is savage, with Klept and Jal being struck down before the savages were dispatched. Holaf brought forth the word of Helm to heal the injured while every took a break to rest.
Meanwhile, back in Vallaki, Runga and Braap are bored. Ireena and Ismark have kept to themselves in the Blue Water Inn and seem safe enough. Both Runga and Braap decide ride for the winery and try to catch up with the rest of the crew. They make good time along the old Svalitch Road when they encounter a group of hunters crossing the road. After a short, awkward exchange, the hunters move on searching for game and leave the two heroes to their travels. By the time they arrive at the winery, the rest of Fizban’s Heroes have left and after a short introduction to the Martikov family, they head out to Yester Hill.
Climbing the hill, Braap suddenly heard a whisper on the wind urging him to retrieve a spear that would let him rule over the hills. He veered around the hill, inexplicably pulled towards a particular pile of stones. Inside the stones was a blood-stained spear – despite it’s obvious ancient demeanor, there was no rust, but the blood stains would not come off.
Approaching a copse of trees away from the top of the hill, the party was surprised to discover a grim, gnarled tree, bleeding black ichor, with a group of twig blights standing beneath. Jal and Klept split off to the sides and stealthed in, while Braap moved forward, spear outstretched. The blights turned, and slowly marched to the attack. [Darcy] moved in with some oil to light the tree on fire, but as he did so, more than a dozen tiny twig blights jumped from the trees and bushes and swarmed around him and Jal. With a feat of acrobatic daring, Klept leapt from the center of the circle, lit a flask of oil from the flames on the tree, and tossed it perfectly in the center of the group behind him, obliterating them all. Braap called the lightning, wrestling control of the bolts hitting the rock wall at the top of the hill from whatever power controlled it, bringing it to bear on the blights and the tree. Jal had some difficulty after he became entrapped by two of the vine-wielding monsters, but the party quickly began to put the creatures down. While the battle raged, the tree trunk began slowly opening, and after a few rounds a centuar-like creature with blades for arms sprung forth, charging into battle. A few lightning strikes and some heroic blows from Runga removed the threat surprisingly quickly.
With the fight over, the party discovered a silvery axe with intricate inlay embedded in the tree next to an old corpse. After recovering the axe, the party destroyed the rest of the tree with fire, lightning and axe blows. Gromthar took some time to Locate Object and found the fertility gem inside the giant effigy of Strahd at the top of the hill. After pulling it down, the gem was recovered and the party triumphantly returned to the Wizard of Wines winery.
The next day the party escorted a shipment of wine back to Vallaki and discovered the inn owner, Urwin, was the brother of the two cart drivers and part of the winery family, but there is some kind of feud between Urwin and the others.
Another night’s rest and the party attended the Festival of the Sun. Jal and Klept snuck off to the burgomeister house while the rest of the town watched the parade. There they found the room of Isek, the man leading the guards, and found dozens of dolls in the likeness of Ireena. They also found a side room with a beaten man chained to the wall. Deciding this was way too creepy they ex-filtrated from the building.
Meanwhile, everyone else was in the town square to watch the festival. The baron and baroness arrived and prepared to start the festival by lighting a massive straw figure shaped like the sun. Unfortunately, at that moment the skies opened and a downpour ruined the ceremony. One of the guards laughed which led to the baron calling for the man to be put in chains. Gromthar decided to help by casting daylight in the middle of the straw effigy but it freaked out all the locals. Quickly people began questioning the baron and calling him cursed. As the group left the town square, they met up with Klept and Jal in the street in front of the inn. The hear screaming coming from the church. A quick investigation shows the priest, his attendant and a few parishioners savagely murdered. Braap speaks to a shrub out front of church and learns that vampires broke in through a window in the early morning.
Mutterings of fear start rolling through the populace. After what he saw in the baron’s house, Jal starts calling out jibes about the baron into the crowd. This quickly escalates and a mob forms. Fizban’s Heroes decide Vallaki might not be the place for them, and grab Ireena and Ismark and head out of town toward Krezek and the Abbey of Saint Markovia.