Already investigating the mysterious tower is a similarly mysterious Vistana: Ezmerelda. She’s been away from her homeland for a long time, and has returned to search for her mentor. Her cart was destroyed when a werewolf triggered a lethal booby trap trying to break in; this is what set off the avalanche that side tracked and/or traumatized the rest of the party; especially [[Ms. Parsley]], who Grey takes behind the tower to calm her down.
Knowing that other werewolves will have heard the explosion and be on the way, and eager to find a safe place to rest to boot, the rest of the party tries to decipher the stone disk on the handle-less front door. Tom, experienced now in both obliterating innocent doors and being attacked by somewhat-less-innocent ones, determines the arcane symbols to be dance instructions and performs the dance. Unfortunately, the door finds his DDR skills wanting and summons a blue dragon to dispose of the interloper and his compatriots.
Relatively unperturbed and largely excited to see a dragon show up in a game of Dungeons & Werewolves, Tom greets the lightning spitter, and finds that the dragon has its own shit to deal with; it doesn’t particularly want to be here. To move things along, the dragon says that this asshole door will let him return home when it is either opened, or anyone hanging around outside the tower is dead. The terms of the race laid out, the dragon attacks the party while Tom tries reordering his dance moves. The monk wins the race handily, and the tower dismisses the dragon.
The tower proves to be quite charming: its a one bedroom with a magic elevator and an incredible view of the lake. Admittedly, the resale value is harmed by the anti-magic field it seems to generate and the considerable structural instability, but Barovia is a seller’s market. The party doesn’t find the seller, but it does seem like someone’s cleaned the place out within the last week or so. Ezmerelda finds some not-completely-burned pages of a book in the tower’s wood stove, but keeps them to herself.
The werewolves arrive. Grey attempts to dissuade them from approaching the tower by impersonating (through documentation) the Barovian Zoning Commission. When the wolves spot a half-orc—that is, a foreigner—talking to a shark outside the tower, they suspect that the Barovian Zoning Commission might not be a real thing, and that someone—definitely a “she”, probably Ezmerelda—is inside. Tom greets the leader of the pack, one Kiril Stoyanovich, to negotiate a “leave us the hell alone” agreement, but negotiations break down when Tom punches him in the face.
The party holes up in the tower and works on augmenting its defenses against the forces Stoyanovich will certainly send against them: Thud leaves the tower and throws up a wall of wind that proves especially lethal to those of the lupine persuasion. Grey oils up the scaffolding leading to the hole in the tower’s third floor while reminiscing with Tom about the vial of Vistani semen they’ve acquired. Ezmerelda, confused and a little disgusted by her new companions’ crudity, proceeds to empty her balls all over the tower, rendering every floor dangerously slippery.
Brenna tries to alter the inscription of the tower door, that the werewolves might get the dance password wrong and re-summon the dragon. The door, however, doesn’t seem to want to be defaced, and the tower spews lightning on those outside, grievously wounding Tom and Brenna and killing Ms. Parsley.
They were ball bearings, before. Ezmerelda had ball bearings. Don’t be gross.
As the werewolves try to invade the tower, many of them thwarted to death by collapsing scaffolding, Thud drags his downed companions inside and strikes the door of the tower, prompting the return of the lightning. In a complete panic, several of the wolves try the dance to open the door at once. It’s a jumbled mess of moves, and the thoroughly offended door re-summons the dragon, who handily obliterates the lycanthropes.
The ancient tower, its magical defenses expended (and also having had lightning spewed all over it by a very annoyed dragon) begins to collapse, trapping the party—now unconscious—in a pile of rocks, ball bearings, and elevator-operating golems. As Tom loses consciousness, he sees Kiril Stoyanovich approach and order what little remains of his entourage to take the party to their den.
The party members awake in cages, disarmed and largely isolated from one another. With a few well-placed message spells, Brenna finds both Ezmerelda and a werewolf sympathetic to the party: the apparently pious Zuleika Toranescu, mate of Emil, the political prisoner currently held in the bowels of Castle Ravenloft. Zuleika agrees to release the pair of adventurers on three conditions:
- they kill Kiril Stoyanovich
- they free Emil Toranescu from Ravenloft
- they knock her out to hide her betrayal of Kiril
Brenna and Ezmerelda agree to Zuleika’s terms, then fulfill the third one and loot the shrine she maintains. In addition to a significant amount of gold and other oddities, they retrieve the party’s weapons just in time to hear Grey shouting from a southern part of the den.
Grey, having made good use of her cage time re-summoning Mr. Whooper—now a skeletal rat instead of a raven—spots Tom, who was rather inexplicably not caged. Unable to hide her excitement, it echoes throughout the den and a fight breaks out. In addition to a pair of werewolf guards (who are dispatched, of course), the party faces the pack’s wolf keeper: Skennis. Though Grey renders his pack of wolves especially sleepy, Skennis himself proves especially ruthless, nearly drowning Grey and—for reasons unknown—taking special care to kill Tom Mason outright, tearing out his throat.
But since the party still has Skennis outgunned, they call for his surrender, and the tired old werewolf agrees. He claims that he’s sick of his clan’s infighting and holds no loyalty for either Stoyanovich or Toranescu. In exchange for his life and—perhaps more importantly—the lives of his wolf charges, Skennis agrees to head for Castle Ravenloft, to scout for a secret entrance to the castle along with Gregor and Marta Drazkoi.
An impromptu funeral is held for Tom, and Grey shaves her head in his honor, bringing the number of party members who have been bald at one point or another to three. Tom was nothing if not a trend setter.
And all the while, Thud remains caged, not in the den but somewhere outside it, overlooking a makeshift fighting pit as the sun goes down…