Thud is released into the pit by Kiril Stoyanovich, along with six children. Stoyanovich explains that they have all been cursed with lycanthropy, but only the strongest or the most ruthless of them may join the tribe. Thud—clearly the strongest—tries to prove to the frightened children that she is not the most ruthless by pointing out that children in Barovia often get eaten.
The sentiment is not well received. The children panic, and half of them embrace their curse on the spot in an attempt to get the drop on the half-orc. Thud fights back and discovers one blow too late that while these are werewolves, they are also still children, and children are not renowned for their ability to take lethal orc beatings.
Chaos breaks out: another of the children embraces their curse after witnessing Thud’s kill. Her attempts to escape are misconstrued and the one of the others cuts her down. The children turn on each other and on Thud, who attempts to wild shape her way out of the pit by turning into an elk.
[[Thud’s fey friend]] asks, “Are these not the ‘abominations’ you spoke of?” but Thud—not especially eager to kill more children—postpones debate on the issue until such time as she has killed Kiril Stoyanovich. She almost succeeds (although another werewolf child is gored by elk antlers in the attempt), but Stoyanovich escapes through a secret hatch in the rock, fleeing down into the den and running straight into Grey, Ezmerelda, and Brenna coming the other way.
Ezmerelda—who once took her school all the way to nationals in werewolf wrasslin’—easily subdues Stoyanovich long enough for Grey to forcibly extract Thud’s whereabouts from him. Then she forcibly extracts more things from him. And then a few things from his corpse. Ezmerelda deems this to be literal overkill, and she and Brenna bond over how weird Grey is. The other werewolves in the den, save for the unconscious Zuleika Toranescu, flee for parts unknown.
Thud, driven to de-curse the last surviving werewolf child (and, incidentally, herself) as atonement for the deaths of the others, knocks the kid out and reunites with the rest of the group. Grey and Brenna, having just lost one friend, promise Thud that they’ll find a way to fix her before the next full moon in two days. Ezmerelda’s on the fence about the whole thing—and is eager to get to Castle Ravenloft—but decides that accompanying the party to Krezek is safer than sleeping in a werewolf den.
On the way out, the party revives Zuleika and—though Thud is both highly suspicious of anyone who would embrace lycanthropy and loathe to give up the child he just swore to save—gives the boy to her. For her part, Zuleika is upset that the party killed so many of her clan besides Stoyanovich, and bitterly informs that those among them who stole from her shrine to Mother Night—Brenna and Ezmerelda—are cursed by the Goddess of Darkness. Not with lycanthropy, though. Different curse.
Parting with Zuleika on icy terms, the party resumes their journey to Krezek, but Grey gets into Tom’s stash and goes on a different trip. To the Underdark. Where she lives in a cottage with a slightly sexier version of her familiar. Still a skeleton, though.
The rest of the party finds the frozen corpses of Anna Krezkova—wife of burgomaster Dmitri Krezkov—and an escort of guards, victims of yesterday’s avalanche, and decide to deliver the bad news after they’ve had a good night’s rest in Krezek.
Brenna and Ezmerelda, however, prove incapable of such a thing. Instead they are visited by Shar, the Goddess of Darkness, who gives the pair a physically painful vision of a temple hidden on the slopes of Mount Ghakis far to the south. If they want to bargain their way out from under this curse, they can do so from there.
The party visits Krezkov in the morning, only to find him already distraught, not over the death of his wife—which he did not know about—but over the death of his son, Ilya. Ilya died of consumption a few days ago, and the mysterious, reclusive abbot of the Abbey of Saint Markovia made a rare appearance in Krezek to make the grieving burgomaster an offer: if Krezkov could provide him with a sufficiently resplendent wedding dress, he would raise Ilya from the dead. Nobody in Krezek has the skill to craft such a dress, but there are two noble families in Vallaki who should each already possess one: the Vallakoviches and the Wachters.
When the party breaks the news to Krezkov that an avalanche claimed his wife and her retinue, he concludes that the entire bargain was a ruse by Strahd to first tempt him and then punish him for his hubris. The party, however, is prepared to take the abbot up on his offer if it means resurrecting Tom Mason, and they depart for the abbey.