Arrigal, a nervous, possibly-incompetent envoy from Kolyan Indirovich, Burgomaster (it's like a mayor) of a village called Barovia, accosts Major Tom Mason on the road south of Daggerford and begs him for help on behalf of his boss. Tom finds Arrigal's pharmaceuticals enticing and agrees to help. Together, they recruit Thud, a wandering druid beset by visions. Arrigal departs on horseback to report back to Barovia, while Tom and Thud make their own way on foot.
Later, Grey, a girl on the run who owes the Harpers a favor, meets with one of their representatives: Zelarun Roaringhorn, who tasks her with partnering with a sorceress named Brenna Beren to eliminate some werewolves that have been terrorizing the region. While getting their weapons silvered, as one does when one is prepping to fight werewolves, Grey asks the metalsmith to describe Roaringhorn, and he describes someone other than the man with whom she met.
As each duo heads toward their destinations, they are consumed by a thick, oppressive, fog. When it clears, they are faced with an unfamiliar land… and with each other. Because of the circumstances of their meeting, and who they are as people, Thud and Grey are highly distrustful of the others and each other. Tom surmises that they're on another plane of existence.
The party heads east in search of civilization, and encounters a Vistani family. Brenna attempts to ingratiate herself with them by fashioning a clockwork toy for the children, only to have the ungrateful wretch declare that it "is no fun, is no Blinksy!" Undeterred, Brenna tries in vain to add lights to the toy. The family's patriarch—Gregor—tells Grey and Brenna that there have been no werewolf incidents in the village of Barovia for a long time.
The party also learns that some Vistani women have the gift of prescience. Madame Eva, a woman who resides at a camp just west of Barovia, is particularly adept. Tom, who periodically believes himself to be prescient, is interested in meeting her. The others don't care and eat the Vistani family's food.
Watching how they interact with the Vistani, Thud concludes that she doesn't care for her new traveling companions, but she's stuck with them all the same. Besides, she believes she's meant to pass through the gates of Barovia for some unknown purpose, and that's the direction these people are going.
Grey's paranoia prompts the party to check their belongings for missing things, and sure enough, Tom finds that an unopened letter from his father is missing. When Gregor's younger brother Donovan turns out to be suddenly unavailable for questioning, the party takes off in pursuit. They find a corpse (not Donovan) clutching a different letter, but Tom doesn't seem to like this one as much.
The party pursues Donovan to the gates of Barovia, where they witness him deliver Tom's letter to a man in a black carriage. Tom announces himself, and the carriage's elvish driver kills Donovan in a manner reminiscent of Scanners, then turns the carriage around and flees into the mist. The carriage leaves no tracks, which Thud deems to be bullshit.
Upon arriving in the village, the party is coaxed into a townhouse by a pair of illusory children and poor (read: fatal) weather. The house belongs to a well-off family by the name of "Durst", and the literal skeletons in the closets indicate that it may not be up to code. Meanwhile on the second floor, Thud discovers that metal armor hates druids as much as druids hate metal armor.