Located close to the shores of Lake Zarovich, the town of Vallaki (pronounced vah-lah-key) seems like a safe haven against the evils of the Svalich Woods, if not Strahd himself. The town lies beyond the sight of Castle Ravenloft and doesn't, at first blush, seem as depressed (or oppressed) as the village of Barovia farther east. Those who spend time in Vallaki, however, quickly realize that there is no happiness here, only false hope; which Strahd himself cultivates. Vallaki was founded not long after Strahd's armies conquered the valley by an ancestor of the town's current burgomaster, Baron Vargas Vallakovich. The Vallakoviches have royal blood in their veins and have long believed themselves superior to the Zarovich line. Baron Vallakovich has deluded himself into believing that hope and happiness are the keys to Vallaki's salvation. If he can make everyone in Vallaki happy, the burgomaster thinks that the town will somehow escape Strahd's grasp and mists that trap it from the outside world. He stages one festival after another to bolster the spirits of the townsfolk, but most Vallakians consider these festivals to be pointless, meaningless affairs more likely to incur Strahd's wrath than to provide any hope for the future. In the last festival, Baron Vallakovich had townsfolk parade through the streets with the severed heads of wolves on pikes. Baron Vallakovich has begun arresting local malcontents and throwing them in the stocks so that his efforts aren't ruined by "those of little hope or faith."