The party arrived in Vallaki and were confronted by pikemen at the gates. After a brief conversation, the party was granted entrance into the town. On their way to the Blue Water Inn, they stopped by Arasek Stockyard and discovered a carnival wagon. Alessandro was able to determine a sabre-toothed tiger trained to hunt and kill Vistani was locked inside. According to the stockyard owners, the wagon belonged to a half-elf named Rictavio.
Continuing on, the party discovered that the town's burgomaster, Baron Vargas Vallakovich, was apparently obsessed with promoting happiness in the town in the belief that such happiness would keep Strahd at bay. The town had just completed the Wolf's Head Jamboree and was preparing for the Festival of the Burning Sun, both intended to keep spirits high but not being very successful. He had even gone so far as to have Izek Strazni, his henchman and leader of the town guard, place dissidents in the stocks in plaster donkey heads. This included men, women, and even children.
Tanine attempted to release the people from the stocks, but this resulted in a battle with Izek and two dozen town guards. During the battle, Lucius managed to stay inconspicuous with Ismark, Ireena, and young Lucian, and Alessandro managed to slip away as he was near death. The remaining party members were subdued and kicked out of town, although Khagon's literal strong-arming of Izek allowed them to retain their weapons.
Not long after this, Strahd himself arrived in Vallaki astride a demonic horse—a nightmare. He seemed to know Ireena was there, but the Martikovs helped to hide Alessandro, Lucius, Ireena, Ismark, and Lucian inside the Blue Water Inn. Tensions ran high as it seemed Strahd would find them, but inexplicably the vampire lord departed.
The following day, the exiled team members found their way around to the west gate of the town, encountering some Vistani along the way who were searching for a girl that went missing from their camp. Some reconnaissance by Cora discovered that town drunk Bluto was carting the girl off to Lake Zarovich in a burlap sack. The party rowed out to Bluto just as he tossed the girl in the lake and resumed fishing with little emotion or concern. Khagon successfully pulled the girl from the water, and Cora dispatched the unrepentant Bluto to the depths of the lake.
Meanwhile, the party in town did some further investigating of Rictavio's wagon and tiger, as well as accepted a quest from Urwin Martikov to investigate delayed wine shipments from the Wizard of Wines winery to the west. On their way out of town, they reunited with the rest of the party as they were returning the Vistani girl to her father. They were rewarded with a treasure chest and loaned two wagons to retrieve wine from the winery, as the Vistani's supply is also low.
While en route to the winery, a pack of wolves attacked the wagons on the move. Although Khagon was unseated, he managed barely to hang on and eventually the wolves were defeated.
With the hostility of this forsaken valley becoming more and more evident, what new challenges await at the Wizard of Wines?