After defeating the Princes of Elemental Evil and averting the plot of the Cult of the Elemental Eye, Kestrel, Marcos, Ryoth and Zsolt returned to their lives in the Nentir Vale, richer and more famous than when they left. Over a period of five years, each took the wealth and fame they had gained and began working toward their own goals. Kestrel to continue his search for ancient and dangerous artifacts and return them to his people. Marcos to rebuild his family estate. Ryoth to find her clan and continue to teach the secrets of the way of shadow she has discovered and perfected. Zsolt to discover the meaning of the visions that torment his dreams.
During this time a new land has appeared in one of the valleys hidden in the Dawn Forge Mountains. Where there was once barren rocky hills, rumors have reached them that there is now a dark forest shrouded in clouds and mist. Reports indicate that when the weather cooperates, a dilapidated village can be seen below a foreboding castle. Strange people have been seen coming out of this land but no one who has braved the fog has returned.
The four decided they would join together to investigate this strange place. They meet in the tavern of a small village, the last pocket of civilization near where the land appeared. Shortly after arriving, the tavern owner notices them and seems to recognize them. He delivers to them an envelope addressed to them in a flowing script. He tells them that it was delivered by a man that came out of the wilderness. His skin was an olive shade (very different from the light skinned folk of Nentir Vale and his manner of dress was dark but colorful. Browns, reds and greens. He wore gaudy cheap jewelry, tall muddy boots and a wide brimmed hat that always shaded his eyes. He paid the barkeep a tidy sum of gold, bought the patrons that were there a round of drinks and departed.
The envelop was sealed with a seal they didn't recognize (the head of a jackal over a raven) and contained a letter addressed tot the heroes from Kolyan Indirovich, Burgomaster of Barovia. It spoke of his adopted daughter, Ireena Kolyana and said she had been stricken by evil and implored the adventurers to come help her and promised the towns riches to them.
The party was already going into this land so they took this letter with a grain of salt. The next day they gathered their gear and headed toward the valley and its mist shrouded forests.
After hours of following wagon tracks that seem to have come and gone from the area they finally came upon a road that traveled east and west. Toward the east, the road disappeared into a thick fog. To the west it was clear. The wagon tracks headed west so they decided to go that way as well.
After a short time they came upon a large gate. Two statues of knights flanked either side but both statues heads had been knocked off and lay at their feet in the weeds. As the party passed through the gate, it closed behind them. The mists seem to have followed them all the way to the gates, but stop there.
Not far from the gate, Ryoth sensed the smell of decay. Not far from the road they found the mangled body of a young man. Crows had been at him and it was evident he had been torn to pieces by wolves or other beasts. They find on him an envelop similar to the one delivered to them in the tavern. This one was sealed with a wax 'B'. Inside they found another note also signed by Kolyan Indirovich but written in a very different hand. This letter had similar information in it, indicating his daughter had been bitten by a vampyr and warning anyone who read it to stay away.
After tarrying for a few minutes off the road, they heard the howl of wolves. This reminded them that staying off the road is probably a good way to invite trouble, so they returned to it. Another mile or two and they came to the edge of the forest and finally got a view of the village and the castle.