Back on the road to the winery, but slightly more cautious than before, the party continued on their way. Just as they were arriving at the winery, they were flagged down by a cloaked figure standing at the edge of the forest near the winery.
Uncertain at first, the group approached the figure, who turned out to be Davian Martikov, the owner of the winery. He and his family had been driven from their homes by a large force of druids and animated wood constructs known as blights. The party agreed to help the Martikov’s clear out the winery, and cautiously they approached the building.
Before they reached the building a large force of blights was spotted approaching from the nearby woods. The group sought to take shelter inside the safety of the winery and quickly ran inside. Unfortunately, in their enthusiasm, they forgot to barricade the entrance. Moving further inside the building they encountered a number of druids, and a secondary force of blights already inside.
Taking up a defensible position on the upper level of the fermentation room, the group engaged the druids and blights. Gibbs’ spirit guardians made short work of the hordes of blights, reducing them to little more than kindling. They were joined in the fight by a large swarm of ravens that were taking up residence in the rafters of the winery.
After the battle was over, Mork and Langolan had a talk with one of the ravens, and shortly after they were rejoined by the Martikovs who told them that the Druids stole the magic gems that allow their grapes to grow. Unfortunately, other than the fact that something was going on at the nearby Yester hill, they weren’t able to tell them anything else.
After spending the night at the winery, they set out for Yester hill the following morning. When they arrived, Langolan heard a voice choosing him as a worthy individual to wield his spear. Opting to ignore the creepy voice, the group climbed to the top of the hill, where they discovered a fifty-foot tall replica of Strahd made from sticks and mud.
Approaching the statue, they spotted a number of druids and barbarians hiding amongst the stones in the clearing, and after being called out by Mork they emerged to face the party. The druid told the group that they were just waiting for Strahd so they could start their ritual. The barbarians only seemed to be interested in battle, but before a fight could break out, Strahd arrived riding dark horse with a mane made of flames and fire licking at its hooves.
On Strahd’s signal, the ritual began.