Sic Pixie's Carrion Crown Adventure Path - Page 6





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  1. #51
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    How not to put on a disguise

    Dancing around Kat and Sayuri re the only ones to notice the sounds of battle still running downstairs; they look at each other and run back to the device and connect up to it again. Apparently the Beast is being attacked by something and they have little to no idea what it could be. (The device sends feelings not images) Pringle in desperation and risking his life to the rapidly diminishing duration on the flying Goat mounts up and heads down to see inside of the tower. To his surprise there is a four armed flesh golem inside which looks to have gone berserk and is attacking the Beast; the beast is giving as much as it received however he is sorely damaged by his assault upon the Aberrant Golem. It does not help either, that this golem is made from Gorillion parts and as such has four swipes with its clawed hands to the beasts two. The Beast is being worn down but Kat links in and grants him some healing through the device while Sayuri grants him the use of her flurry ability again. This is the deciding factor and the Gorillion Golem is soon reduced to a pile of twitching flesh and bone.

    The group again does a mini dance and caper around for a few minutes before exploring the rest of the tower. The Beast gives everyone back breaking hugs and is very happy to see them all there; Grembor finds a trapdoor made of pure adamantine which he promptly gets his tools out to start removing this expensive object to take with him. They find the Count locked up in an adamantine Misery Doll in the top room which was where the Aberrant Golem was nesting. He is de-hydrated and malnourished but some healing and restorations added to some water and some rations he is feeling much better though not really up to walking around just yet.

    The group is now aware of the twisted experiments Caromarc has been carrying out in his laboratory—the tragic existence of the Beast of Lepidstadt is only one among many. With his castle in ruins and his secrets revealed, Caromarc would prefer for his saviours to go on their way quickly and quietly—any gossip could have a devastating effect upon his reputation, and should the residents of Lepidstadt learn that he was responsible for the creation of the Beast, his position in Vieland would become very difficult indeed. Because of this, Caromarc offers the group 3,000gp as a reward to for freeing him and for having the courage to defend the Beast, and asks them to avenge the wrongs against him and the people of Lepidstadt by unmasking and thwarting the Whispering Way’s plot.

    Caromarc is happy to tell the them what little he knows of the Whispering Way’s plot; they used the Bondslave Thrall (the device on the roof) to force the Beast to steal the Seasage Effigy (though he does not know why), and once they had it in hand, they immediately departed. Caromarc’s homunculus Waxwood overheard the cultists talking in hushed tones about the Shudderwood, the dark forest to the south and east, and Caromarc suspects that they may be heading for Ascanor Lodge, since that is the only island of civility in its deadly depths. Caromarc directs the party to the Silent Path, an ancient hunting trail through the Shudderwood, now little more than a memory marked in places by strange bone fetishes. Caromarc often used the trail himself when he was younger and had more energy to seek out rare plants and toxins, accessing the old trail about a mile downstream from Schloss Caromarc. If the whispering Way did go into the Shudderwood, this trail is most likely the path they took. The Beast thanks the group for defending it and being the only friends it has ever known, and sobs bitterly when they leave bestowing more of his energetic hugs upon the party.

    Leaving Sayuri walks alongside the horses as her faithful steed was lost to the teeth and claws of the Troll hounds; they cautiously travel their way back to Lepidstadt and surprisingly find nothing blocking their progress. They enter into the city and the party notice several people giving Grembor suspicious glances; Grembor quickly dives into a small ally and dons his mustache disguise remembering too late that he has wanted posters all over the city. However a serious miscalculation has him using the guardhouse window’s reflection to don his masterful disguise; the amused guardsmen look on as he preens himself in the window’s reflection. His eyes refocus on the room beyond his now skillfully disguised exterior and he notices the room full of guardsmen who have taken a poster off the wall and are gathered around comparing the picture on this poster to the idiot donning his disguise right outside their window. Grembor grins and waves running to his horse and mounting up; kicking its sides in haste the horse leaps away and gallops up the street. If he had stopped for longer he would have heard the resounding sounds of a whole room of guardsmen breaking out into a chorus of howling laughter as they sit back down and discuss the idiosyncrasies of adventurers.

    They make their hurried way to the Judges house where she is currently enjoying her dinner; she gestures them in and sits them at her table; smiling when she recognizes Grembor behind the waxed mustache. She informs Grembor that the charges against him had been dropped when she heard of them and he was Lepidstadt’s most wanted for all of 2 days before it was quashed. He should take precautions as many of the people involved did not find the situation quite so amusing.

    After the party recount their exploits and gave tidings of what had happened Judge Daramid also personally congratulates them on their exploits, and tells them the fate of the Beast of Lepidstadt is no longer their concern. She informs the party that she will be contacting Caromarc to ensure the Beast never leaves his care again.

    She adds that one final loose end about the Beast still exists however; the stolen Seasage Effigy, the very reason all this trouble began. Daramid confides to them that she is a member of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, a secret organization that, among other things, seeks to defend Ustalav from threats both within and without. Now that they know the Whispering Way was involved in the theft, the Order is greatly concerned with what the Whispering Way might be up to, as it is a death cult that reveres undeath as a means of transcendence, and has disturbing connections to the Whispering Tyrant, Tar-Baphon. If they are ready to pursue the Whispering Way on their own, Judge Daramid bluntly offers them a substantial reward to track down and investigate the cult. The party agrees and leaves to wash up and change before hitting the hay.

    DM Note: Here pretty much ends the 2nd book of the 6 part Carrion Crown path. The party has a couple of days to buy and sell stuff while the Order sorts out payment for services rendered. The book details a cash advance for this but I personally find this adventure very low on magical items and as yet no real time in which to manufacture their own as it’s very much against the clock. They need to be quick obviously as the Whispering way has a head start but the party needs to re-supply and re-order its members.

    The party hit 7th level here, Grembor officially takes Leadership and Pringle becomes his cohort. (Pringle is played by Ron’s son Chris who can only attend sporadically) Sayuri also takes Leadership and takes on a cohort of a 5th level Elven Fighter called Zordlan. She needs a meat shield to protect her sensitive skin. We also have another person joining the group which looks like it may get to 4 real players; an amazing achievement here.

 

  • #52
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    End of the Trail of the Beast .... and a pause to recharge

    The next morning they wake up and have themselves a lie in; tis a glorious luxury for them to do so. Grembor is looking to have them adamantine weapons forged from the trapdoor they discovered and is also looking for somewhere he can spend several hours fashioning himself a bow which will be made to his specifications.

    Sayuri and Kat stay in bed till late morning enjoying the novelty of the situation while Pringle sits up reading his books trying to master a new spell of exceptional complexity. He has never manipulated quite so much magical energy before and the spell is having trouble sticking in his mind without it leaking out of his ears. He endeavors however and the complex gestures and inflections on the words are slowly sinking into his mind burning inflexible geometric patterns and symbols into his psyche.

    Grembor visits a fine Dwarven weapon smith first passing over some funds and instructions to make four daggers from the Adamantine; they agree on a price plus the leftover Adamantine which Grembor is happy about as long as the timeline is correct. Two days to coerce the notoriously inflexible material into a new form will be a challenge; after this bargaining Grembor heads to a well respected bowyer and requests politely to use his tools and equipment to fashion himself a bow. He has the skills but lacks the tools or experience and the bow snaps in its initial tests due to a hidden flaw or mistake in manufacture and Grembor leaves somewhat depressed. The bowyer tells him to return the following day as he will sort out the laminating and gluing of the various materials to he can start of the carving and finish off the work.

    He returns back to the group somewhat depressed; they sit around chatting about the upcoming mission and what they plan; Traveling through the woods hold little surprise for this group; that is apart from Pringle whose favorite type of tree is his books.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    They all arise the next day feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world; Grembor heads out to check on the dagger production before heading to the bowyer while Kat Pringle and Sayuri sit around the bar most of the day chatting till Grembor returns bearing a newly fashioned bow.

    Later in the afternoon they head out sporting their new adamantine daggers on their hips; heading to the judges house they are welcomed in.

    Judge Daramid pours them all tea and takes out some items from a box beside her; an amulet, a headband, a quiver and a short sword. She lays them on the table before her and smiles at the party before producing a small bag and placing them beside each item. “Some of these are more powerful than the others but I think they will suit you each quite nicely. Kat I know of your hatred for those undead creatures and considering the course of the path before you I have allowed this item from my family’s past. This short sword is called Gravebane and you will find it particularly useful against those that have dodged the grave. Grembor; you are a fine archer and I have spoken to my order and they produced this item for your use; it can hold a large amount of ammunition plus it can cause your missiles to become enflamed once per day. Pringle and Sayuri I know you less than the others but I hear that your both spellcasters; I present to you each an item that will improve your spellcasting potential and make it easier to overcome your foe’s resistance. Hopefully this will be sufficient recompense for your time investigating the whispering way. Each bag holds some gemstones which you should be able to convert into any funds you require. Good luck with your journey and may the gods look over you.” With this she smiles at the party and takes a sip of her sweet tea before continuing. “Now onto other matters; If you have no objection you need some invitations to gain entrance to Ascanor Lodge as entrance is by invitation only. I have pulled a few strings and these should allow you access.” Handing the party some envelopes; “they allow the barer access to the lodge on official business of the order. We are a secret organization but we do have some pull at the lodge.” Smiling at the party; “Now finish your cup of tea and go kill something my dears … We have evil to protect the world from.” With this startling statement from the mouth of the Judge they drink up and head out and walk back to the Scholars Rest to spend the night before heading out the next day on a perilous mission.

    DM Note: Here ends the second book in the 6 part series; we are taking a break to allow James to run a Spelljammer campaign for a few weeks to allow me to re-charge my Dm batteries and re-read the next part before trying to kill everyone with it.

    We will be picking it up again in the next Adventure Broken Moon. …

  • #53
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    Broken Moon ... Teaser

    Thank you Emma157 for your praise, I'm glad you like it.

    Part 1

    The party expands;
    Pringle becomes Grembors Cohort as the party finally hit 7th level. (Pringle is played on and off by the RL son of Grembor when he visits)
    The party is breifly joined by Jah; an angry ½ Orc Barbarian who seems to have issues with nerds and other scholarly types. (Played by AJ)
    Sayuri is joined by one of her father’s retainers who has been sent to protect her so Sayuri gains Zordlan as a cohort; he is a Male Elven fighter who wields an exquisite curved 2 handed sword. The party is getting bigger than I thought it would.

    We rejoin our lucky party (and I do mean lucky) as they relax in the Scholars Rest; a tavern where the socially inept tend to hang out and try to not talk to each other.
    The Tavern is busy; all the tables are taken but even in the crowd there is space around one of the tables; Sitting at this table are four figures; each very unique and each with a story to tell. They stand out from the surrounding customers not only by the array of weapons some are carrying but more in the way they hold themselves; the confidence and potential violence in each of them is almost palpable. Well that is except for the one reading a book; he is just like everyone else here.

    Sayuri sits demurely with her eyes down while being lectured by her older guardian; the older Elven Male has not seen Sayuri in several months and has known her all her life but he has no idea how far she has progressed; the last time he talked to her she was a newly ordained monk. She is dressed in nicely tailored but worn attire consisting of silks and leather which allows for good freedom of movement; this is one of the only two in the group who are not decked out in a large assortment of instruments of murder. There are several rents in her clothes which have been meticulously repaired with regular and neat stitches. Her Hair is swept back over one ear with her mis matched eyes flickering around the room before returning to the dainty though powerful hands clasped in her lap.

    Her companion; a tall elf clad in a fine suit of Elven plate amour with a large elegantly curved two handed sword on his back. Is leaning forward as he lectures Sayuri; this is Zordlan; an employee of Sayrui’s father who has been sent to coddle his daughter on what he thinks is a baby sitting job. As a professional bodyguard to her family he thinks this is beneath him but he is sworn to her father’s service so here he is. He carries himself in the unmistakable manner of a skilled warrior; his weapons and amour not the only thing that would advise someone to not mess with him. His job just got a whole load more interesting than he thought it would.

    Sitting across from them are two figures; Grembor slowly working his way through some fruit pie; dressed in dark leathers. His weapons are arraigned around his person in easy reach with his bow propped up against the table; eyes scanning the room for possible problems. All entrances and exits and before him and his back is to the wall. An observant person would be alarmed at the sheer number of instruments of death he is carrying and the almost complete lack of emotion in the dead eyed stare.

    Pringle however is absorbed in a book; his eyes are only focused on the one thing and that is mastering the difficult (some would say impossible) feat of transferring the words and symbols scribed in his tome into a magical matrix in his mind to be released at will. He has recently achieved powers hitherto unknown by him and he is trying to memorize the complex symbols and motions for some new spells. He is dressed in a plain functional tunic and trousers; he has opted out of wearing plain slippers and instead is sporting a pair of sturdy boots. A cloak is draped around his shoulders and the only visible weapon is a dagger strapped to his side and a staff in the crook of his elbow.

    In a separate bar; in a more seedy side of town; sitting at a table all alone is a hulking figure. This bar is also very busy and the table our newcomer is sitting at is given a very wide berth. The hulking figure is clothed in serviceable though dirty garments; standing over seven feet tall with broad shoulders and a shock of dark hair in thick dreadlocks; the arms resting upon the table are corded in muscle which bulge underneath the thick green tinted skin as the hands flex and clench. His dark eyes scan the room his ears twitching at the sound of breaking glass. Two humans start a scuffle and the hulking figure leaps to his feet with catlike speed and large hands descend upon the collars of both drunken combatants lifting them both into the air like kittens being carried by their mother. They are ungraciously tossed outside and our hulking ½ orc returns to his table and picks up his tankard again taking a deep swig. A slight figure slips into the seat opposite and grins softly up at the ½ orc; “Greetings Jah, I have an alternative job for you if you’re interested?” Waiting for a nod from the hulking figure he continues. “My contact wishes some muscle to accompany some associates of theirs into dangerous territory; The Shudderwood is a place filled with deadly things thirsting for blood. I can offer you 50 gold just to talk to them; I suggest you arrange an equal share of the loot. The mission will be dangerous possibly deadly but the rewards could be so much more; they are sitting in the Scholars Rest and I think you will be unable to miss them.” Placing the bag on the table with a slight jingle he stands and walks out tipping his hat at a waitress as he passes. Jah sits for a few seconds before reaching out and scooping the bag off the table into his pouch; standing he heads to the bar and reaching behind his hand grasps the haft of a very large axe which he hefts without trouble and turns to the crowded bar; a bar which has become suddenly so much quieter; nervous eyes follow Jah as he walks out of the bar and heads down the street; there is a collective sigh as he leaves with the conversation resuming afterwards each expressing concern over where he was off to or which unfortunate person he is likely to meet.

    In the Scholars Rest the party is enjoying a relaxing evening as are the other patrons until the solid door is suddenly slammed open causing squeals from several of the more timid students in attendance. Framed in the doorway is a large humanoid with dreadlocks; the rain glistening on his skin and the flickering lights within the room reflecting on his bare arms. Ducking to enter the 7ft plus ½ Orc steps into the room; his eyes scan the tables and every scholar in there sincerely hopes it’s not them he has come to see. Grembor meets his gaze his hand already clutching the bow beside him while his other hand is curled round the hilt of his sword at his side; Jah seeing the party in the corner table grunts and pushes his way through the rapidly depleting patrons.

    Stomping up to the table Jah grunts out a greeting to which those round the table reply to; Sayuri stands and utters a quick hello smiling at the hulking figure enquiring to his purpose here. Jah grins and requests to join with them in their quest as he has heard they need muscle and it’s very evident that he has plenty of this commodity as his hands clench sending ripples of muscles up his arms and across his chest. The party looks at each other then back at the large imposing figure before them and readily agrees that yes they do indeed need a meat shield; I mean a damage soaker… errr warrior to assist in their quest. Jah grunts his approval and accosts one of the patrons taking his beer and swilling it down before smiling an evil grin at its previous owner. There is the distinct aroma of urine in the air and a glistening trail following the poor lowly student from the tavern as he swiftly departs having disgraced himself.

    Jah gestures to the barmaid who brings over a large tankard of foaming beer nervously placing it before him before retreating; Jah sits at the table and tries to make small talk with Sayuri to little effect.

    Essentially:

    Jah: Me Jah man
    Sayuri: I’m Sayuri; this is Zordlan, Grembor and Pringle (pointing each out)
    Jah grunts
    Sayuri: what bring you here and why do you think we need your help?
    Jah: Little man told me.
    Sayuri: Err little man?
    Jah: yah (while looking around with apparent boredom)
    Sayuri: We have another colleague but they are busy she is our healer.
    Jah grunts and nods


    So ends the epic conversation …

    They decide to head out early the next morning so they drink till the early hours before heading to bed. Jah stays in the common room as no-one is brave enough to ask him to leave so he curls up on one of the benches and his snores sound like someone cutting wood or punching a baboon …

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    Spiders everywhere

    Come morning the waitresses come back in and find Jah still sleeping; the chef quickly throws together some spiced potatoes; bacon and other pleasantries and a generous bowl of the substance is placed before the slumbering ½ Orc with a large mug of frothy beer to wash it down with. Jah upon waking to the sounds of work around him is initially annoyed till his nose tells him about the food and with a grin he starts eating. Over the next hour or so the rest of the party wander downstairs while Jah is consuming his second bowl and 3rd Mug of beer. The rest of the party all order the same and Jah joins them for breakfast …

    Heading out the party pass through the northern gate and follow the trail northwards till they meet the Shudderwood. Standing at the edge of the Shudderwood is almost like staring into another world. Ominous, towering pine trees blot out the sunlight, allowing only occasional splinters of light to pierce through. Within this dimness, broken branches and occasional shrubs growing up through fallen trees create shadowy illusions both wondrous and haunting. Apart from pallid lichens, colourful fungi, feathermoss, and wintergreen, little else grows in the forest. The Shudderwood possesses an eerie stillness only occasionally lifted by the sounds of passing birds and small animals scurrying across the dry pine needles littering the forest floor.

    The party were advised by the Count to follow a trail called the Silent Path; an ancient and rarely used winding trail marked by bone and feather fetishes which travels for several hundred miles through the forest from it’s edge to Ascanor Lodge and beyond to the city of Chastel.

    The trail is easy enough to follow as long as you have some knowledge of woodcraft which this group has in spades. The bright sun barely able to penetrate to the forest floor as they pick their cautious route; the trail has been used and the odd passing wagon wheel ruts in the path attest to its functionality and width. However when it was last used is difficult to say; rain would have to fall pretty hard to work its way between the thickly laced branches above; the wind and other environmental effects that would erode the trail are muted by the choking trees.

    Footsteps and hooves are muted by the thick carpet of needles which choke the efforts of smaller fauna; the most common plant life (if you can call it that) are ferns and fungi; fungi which seems to shed an eerie glow when it get darker and tightly curled ferns which host all manner of ticks and other disagreeable grubs. The high acid content in the needles makes for a harsh environment for any other plant life.

    The first day passes uneventfully as they travel through the dimly shadowed eaves of the forest. Each of the scouts of the partying alternating between taking point and bringing up the rear; the gloom and oppressiveness of the forest soon works its magic upon the party; the muted sounds of the living forest causing them to talk in piercing whispers. The party are regularly startled by the clash of colour and sound from various distressed birds with the clap of pinions as they burst from the surrounding trees. Setting up camp they soon drift off to sleep leaving a guard to monitor the surrounds; the guards change every 2 hours and it’s upon Grembors watch that he hears sounds which were not there before. There is the sound of tree’s snapping and heavy footfalls; he quickly moves to wake up Jah who with his size and large axe makes for a good thing to hide behind as he shoots his bow.

    Jah is woken from his dreams of large breasted women bearing tankards of foaming beer; as his hand reaches for his axe the worried face of Grembor comes into view and the urgent whispers pierce the clouds of sleep and forestall the initial angry response. Jah is suddenly awake and alert and he too hears the sound of the approaching creature as it makes no efforts to hide its progress. Grembor disappears from Jah’s tent and heads to wake Sayuri who with the faintest touch on her arm is awake; she swiftly kicks Zordlan who grunts and instinctively reaches for his sword before sitting up and looking around.

    Bursting from the surrounding trees with the sharp retort of snapping trunks and branches is a huge spider; a tarantula fully 15ft across; it’s massive venom dripping jaws lash out at the nearest prey and Sayuri’s horse is practically cut in half by the gargantuan amounts of damage combined with the horrendous amounts of poison pumped into it’s body. Sayuri screams in anguish ‘Why is it always my horse” before getting to her feet and watching the bright light of life quickly fade from her trusted companions eyes as her horse staggers and collapse to the ground in a pool of blood which is being greedily absorbed by the hungry earth.

    Sayuri takes one look at the huge spider and the damage it caused to the horse and beats a hasty retreat; casting her favourite spell for making a swift escape; her rope levitates into the air fixing to a point in another dimension. Zordlan follows her, his armour laying forgotten and useless on the ground by his sleeping blanket as he scoops up his bow and fires an arrow at the monster which buries itself into an innocent tree. Grembor hurries onto Pringles tent and shakes him awake; startled Pringle grabs his staff and emerges into the dim light of the fire wearing nothing but his underclothes; the moonlight as poor at breaking through the branches as the sun was. However it takes no elf to see the huge spider menacing Jah and Pringle points a finger at the monstrosity and fires off his most powerful spell; a spell that previous to a day ago was beyond his talents. He had been waiting for just the right opportunity to use this spell and with a shouted string of nonsense; some complicated gestures and the producing of some simple bat guano rolled into a ball with some sulphur a tiny red ball streaked from his hand and exploded next to the huge spider. The spider staggered back a step from the bright flash of fire, however this was a new spell for Pringle and as such he did not appreciate just how big an area it affected. Jah sizing up his opponent notices a small red pea streak past him and alight upon the floor not 5 paces from him; he just shrugs his shoulders until the pea explodes into a ball of fire engulfing him in it’s flames. The after images of the blast almost blind him and he feels his anger threatening to overwhelm him. With a guttural roar which makes Pringle very nervous he leaps at the spider who was waiting for just such an opportunity before it was rudely interrupted by the fire; as he closes he finds some large sharp fangs which score lines on his shoulder but thankfully for Jah the poison missed and only impacted on the surface. His axe swings in a wide arc and connects with a meaty thunk and a squeal from the spider; it rears back spraying ichor from it’s severed leg all over Jah and it’s remaining eyes peer down at him with a terrible malice which if he was not in the midst of a rage may have caused him to pause.

    The Spider does not seem overly impressed with its breakfast fighting back and lunging forward impales Jah on its fangs; pumping in a large dose of poison it sits back and waits for the morsel to fall over dead. Jah thinks about this for a second before deciding he would rather not as he shakes off the effects of the poison and grins at the spider before him. Sayuri noticing that not everyone else is beating a retreat like she did and somewhat sheepishly moves forward and unleashes some balls of force at the spider; they impact with the meaty crunch of marshmallow wrapped in caramel causing the spider to scan around for the source of its pain. Zrolden fires off an arrow which misses while Grembor nocks an arrow and fires off a few shafts at the monster and predictably most of them miss also. (Could not hit the side of a barn comes to mind) Pringle casts and fires off a pair of flames which impact on the creature causing a couple of its eyes to pop with the heat. There is the distinctive aroma of scorched spider in the air; faintly mixed with burnt Jah … Jah flinches as the twin bars of flame streak past him possibly in remembered pain and growls at Pringle before unleashing a pair of solid hits on the spider who was surprised as nothing so far has resisted its potent poison; the spider who is not used to its breakfast struggling so much beats a hasty retreat leaving the party slightly singed and a whole lot beaten up and minus a horse.

    Grembor with the assistance of Jah butchers the remains of the horse; leaving the obviously poisoned parts alone and drags the remains a short distance away. The rest of the party are soon asleep again with Zordlan taking the next watch. He hears some slight sounds in the night but nothing to be concerned about; Last watch is Jah who grumbles about getting up in the middle of the night. Wandering round camp he hears a few low sounds including a thump of something heavy hitting the floor but can’t make it out. Listening he hears no more so dismisses it as some random tree falling over.

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    I don't need to make no stinking will saves !!!

    The morning is a slightly lighter affair then the night as the sun struggles to break through the canopy above; walking around the camp Grembor is the first to notice that the remains of the horse has gone; examining the ground it looks like a creature with large paws made off with it. As wolves tend to hunt in packs and there is just the one set of prints it looks most likely to be a large cat of some sort. Shuddering at what a cat this size could have done to the party as they slept he puts it to the back of his mind and continues packing up his effects.

    After a breakfast of oatmeal fruit and cheese washed down with water they set out; Sayuri bemoaning the loss of her horse even though she moves as quickly as it did; loading her possessions onto Zordlan’s horse they hit the trail. The day passes and a short time after lunch they spot a few figures in the trees ahead of them; from the looks of them they seem to be a cross between a humanoid and a spider; Pringle identifies them as Ettercap’s a nasty race of spider like beings that prey upon anything they can catch.

    They approach carefully and the Ettercap retreat knowing a party they can’t beat when they see one; Sayuri grins to see them back off but is momentarily distracted by a haunting tune floating through the trees. Shaking off the insidious effects of the tune she scans around the rest of the group hoping they did not hear it also; Everyone seems to be fine as none of them have the fine tuned senses that she has; None of them except Grembor who finds the tune so very captivating that he immediately heads off to discover the source of this melodious and haunting tune. Jah moves to prevent him from walking off into the trees but as he does so his ears pick up the tune as well and in an instant he understands and also moves to find the source of the beautiful music that brings tears to a ½ Orc’s eyes. The party attempt to manoeuvre themselves to block their passage but they just walk around them; Sayuri even goes as far to throw a ball of force at Jah thinking it may break the enchantment but he just shakes it off. Pringle casts a spell on Grembor to cause him to pause but this time his mental fortitude shakes off the spell.

    The Ettercaps look on in glee as most of the toughest looking members start wandering off and they look hungrily at the remaining party …

    Closing the Ettercaps send dense webs at the most obviously dangerous members who are not already entranced by the music; Zordlan gets most of it while Pringle receives another batch (not as he looks dangerous; he was closest) Sayuri misses out for the most part. The Ettercap are not really a problem though as they are swiftly dealt with even with Jah and Grembor off with the fairies; Sayuri does manage to leap on Grembor bearing him to the ground however before he moves too far into the ruined tower they were both heading towards. With the threat of being punched in his face Grembor manages to throw off the insidious music’s allure and Sayuri notices focus coming back into his eyes. They are closer now which causes another problem; Zordlan who previously could not hear the music (mainly due to terrible perception checks) finally tunes into his surroundings and with a glazed look starts stumbling towards the tower. Sayuri with a scream of frustration leaps from Grembor’s prone and recovering form onto Zordlan’s back bearing him to the floor and sends her fist knuckles first into his temple. With a loud yelp of pain Zordlan recovers his senses and looks around with a pained expression. Sayuri without an ounce of remorse stands up and looks down upon the weak willed Zordlan who is now sitting up rubbing his sore head.

    They re-group outside of the tower and look inside; to their dismay there is no glitter of treasure or anything to make this tower look at all appealing; it’s only room is covered in thick webbing which looks to have several medium sized packets dangling within. None of them seem to be moving although one does seem to be quite red with blood; however unless it’s bound exceedingly tightly then it’s too small for the 7ft plus frame of their ½ Orc companion.

    Grembor and Zordlan move into the tower noticing that the music stopped as soon as they set foot inside; Scanning the room the see no access to the upper floors and a large hole against the far wall which seems to have a path cleared to it. Moving carefully up to the hole they are startled when a large female form which seems composed of a bloated white segments of a maggot’s body erupt in a torso of mixed feminine and insectile features. Pale humanoid skin and carapace meld together beneath a face with segmented eyes and mandibles chittering a song of discordant alien clicks and hisses, as overlong carapace claws weave cords of thick webbing between them, bursts up and strikes out at Grembor with her claws; scoring a deep wound on his chest his eyes roll up into his head as he collapses onto the floor; Zordlan would have something to say about leaving him facing this abomination all alone but he soon follows Grembor to the floor also paralysed by the creatures poisoned claws. Sayuri looks at Pringle who is looking back at her; somewhat nervously as they were expecting to have the benefit of a meat shield they back away a step from the huge creature. Sayuri knowing that the fate of the party rests on their actions conjures her most powerful offensive spell which she had coalesce in her mind a few days ago. With a few mutters of arcane words and a small amber rod which she rubs with a little piece of rabbits fur a bright streak of lightning jumps from her hand and slams into the creature looming over her two paralysed friends; Pringle not to be undone fires off twin bars of flame which strike the creature in it’s torso. The Weaverworm having sparks still running all over its body and large burn marks across its chest is suitably annoyed; drawing itself up it spits a torrent of webs towards Sayuri which strikes a glancing blow on her shoulder. Rolling with it as the worm tries to haul her in she slips free as she grins up at the 15ft tall creature. With a gesture and barely a thought she unleashes a torrent of force missiles; four missile streak towards the creature impacting upon its face and chest with astounding force causing the worm to slither back a bit. This is followed by another pair of fire beams from Pringle who used the power of his staff to recast the spell again. Both streaks of flame impact on the worms shoulder and stomach blasting a sizable hole in its flesh and sending it slumping to the floor. Grembor recovering from the poison climbs slowly to his feet; plucking one of the creatures claws from his shoulder; Sayuri tending to Zordlan is not so tender and rips the claw from his flesh. Grembor tends to them both with his wand getting them back to some sort of healthy.

    Sayuri, Pringle and a quiet Zordlan search this chamber which is festooned with webs and web wrapped bundles while Grembor squeezes past the worm to investigate its hole. The hole very much like the worm itself stinks worse than a Trolls armpit after an hour slogging through a fetid jungle. However he does find a comatose Jah wrapped in webs awaiting the next meal of the worm; also hidden beneath the webs he finds a small box within which he finds some trinkets so this may not be a totally wasted journey. After slapping Jah some and extracting some of the worm’s claws from his stomach Jah regains consciousness and gets shakily to his feet assisted by Grembor. So far the ½ Orc has not shown himself to be much use as the spider left with a few wounds and he walks blindly into the next fight and is knocked unconscious without a blow being struck.

    They squeeze past the foul smelling worm; its juices practically covering the pair as they make their way past. It’s wormlike body feeling like a bag of warm mashed potatoes as they push against it; wriggling up the tight corridor to freedom and fresh air. They eventually make it out to the tower’s base; Jah getting stuck a couple of times while Grembor slithers through as if part snake. Sayuri, Pringle and Zordlan all are standing in the fresh air outside of the tower awaiting their return; Sayuri’s nose cringes as they approach the smell of the worm covering them. With a few well placed cantrips their clothes are cleaned and the smell is banished although the feeling of the things skin and the memories will haunt them for a while.

    Sayuri shows them what else they found on the bodies; displaying an invitation to Ascanor Lodge for what looks like someone of noble birth called Echtmoor Dravin. The date is a week previous so they are assuming he will be missed. Collecting their things they quickly make off along the trail towards the Lodge.

    Later that day as they are riding through the oppressive gloom Grembor who is scouting ahead of the party notices the shine of metal and something pale off to the side of the trail. Holding up his hand everyone behind him comes to a stop; Pringle who had his nose buried in his book inadvertently runs into the back of Zordlan’s horse causing startled neighs from both parties as Pringle finds himself on the ground looking up at his horse who is looking down at him with some surprise and more than a little annoyance.

    Pringle dusting himself off with his hat gets back to his feet and strolls forward to speak with Grembor while avoiding the accusing stare of his horse. The rest gather round as Grembor points off dramatically into the woods where the pale corpse of a naked man hangs from a large yellow pine, bound to the trunk with rough cords. His mouth is stuffed with large, pale purple flowers, and his wrists and ankles are swollen and dark with bruises marking where his bindings cut into his skin, but the large silver hunting knife embedded deep in his heart seems the most likely cause of death.

    Grembor had caught the glint from the hilt of the knife as an errant ray of sunshine pierced the canopy and reflected off the shiny silver. Dismounting they approach cautiously; Grembor scanning the ground and the trees for signs of a trap; Sayuri following close until she realises that anything Grembor may set off will get her too she backs away allowing Grembor the room to pursue his chosen profession. A profession which is better suited to people with a talent in that area as Grembor misses the thin wire he catches with his boot and sets off the trap. Cleverly hidden crossbows surrounding the location sing as they release their pent up energy in the form of a hail of crossbow bolts; Grembor takes a couple while Sayuri grins as they strike the ground inches before her. Grembor staggers out of the circle of death and pulls the offending bolts from the fleshy part of his thigh before taking out his wand and applying its powers to his leg.

    Grembor examining the bolt feels his heart sink as he notices some paste on the bolt tip; handing it to Sayuri neither of them know what the paste is; however Grembor is feeling no effects from the poison so he assumes it’s been left too long and gone stale. They move forward to examine the corpse finding the large knife in his chest is indeed made of silver and the flowers in his mouth are wolfsbane; apparently someone thought this person was a werewolf and strung him up as a warning to others.

    They gather the silver knife after severing the poor unfortunate corpses head and collecting the wolfsbane hoping they don’t need it as it’s supposed to help with preventing the curse. Gathering their things and Pringle giving his horse a dirty look they set out again hoping to make it to the lodge in good time.

    They soon find the light fading and find a campsite for the night.

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    Nobles, gate guards and halflings ...

    The night passes uneventfully; even with the very nervous Jah taking a turn on watch as he jumps at every slight noise from the deep woods.

    With the light of morning making the darkness somewhat lighter they set out again along the trail; travelling through the day it’s getting close to mid afternoon when they round a corner in the trail and suddenly before them is a wooden wall made of many trees driven into the ground. It’s with no small excitement that they follow this wall to the gates as they are all looking forward to a proper bath; well cooked food and some nice wine.

    However upon approaching the gates they find them sealed shut; their shouts for entrance go ignored for a while before a serious looking guard opens a small hatch in the gate and peers out. “Whatcha want?” is his belligerent question. Grembor heeling his horse forward requests entrance; they are told firmly that entrance is only through invitation. As they don’t have any they will have to move along. This causes a stir among the party before they remember that they do indeed have invitations from the Judge Daramid and inform the gate guard of this fact. The guard looks sceptical but he does tell them to wait while he calls for the Lodges porter. Several minutes pass before the small hatch opens again and staring out at them is the face of a Halfling; Grembor goes to open his mouth but he is quickly moved aside by Sayuri who hands over the invitations with a smile. The Porter looks over the invitations with a quizzical expression before looking up again. “I apologize for any misunderstanding, but as the porter of Ascanor Lodge, I cannot permit your entrance at this time. You do not have reservations in our books, and despite your claims, I have no evidence to justify allowing strangers into the lodge. From the looks of you, unlike the rest of my guests, you haven’t come here to take a peaceful retreat. I want no trouble, so off with you all, and take whatever troubles you bring somewhere else!” With this the hatchway slams shut with a strange sound of finality and they hear the stomp of little Halfling feet as the fade away. Everyone turns to look at Grembor who is strangely calm looking; they all are wondering if this is Grembor mellowing eventually or if the Halfling will be regretting turning them away.

    While the group sit and discus the problem the gate slides open revealing a small selection of riders. The guards are watching the party making sure they are not looking to make a reckless ride into the compound but they sit astride their horses while the new group exits.

    A rough-and-tumble-looking woodsman exits the gate, followed by a young noble dressed in finely tailored, studded hunting leathers. Despite the commotion, the two men push through the crowd, oblivious to anyone else’s concerns. Several scruffy-looking nerfherder hirelings follow behind them leading a pair of horses and carrying wooden crates marked with heraldic symbols. As they shuffle past, the woodsman calls back to the noble, “For the last time Duristan! I’ll take you there, but I ain’t bringing my dogs!”

    Earlier that day, Delgros (the rough and tumble looking woodsman) led a small party of patrons into the woods on a hunt that ended with the horrific, unexplained slaughter of the golden buck he and the guests were pursuing. The sight of the stag’s flayed carcass so terrified the participants that they fled back to the lodge in a panic, spreading rumours of the Devil in Gray flying among the lodge’s guests. Delgros attempted to quell the rumours, but Duristan (Young Noble) immediately caught wind of the gossip and drew his own conclusion; that the stag was slain by a werewolf. Excited beyond belief, Duristan demanded Delgros take him to see the carcass and quickly rallied his six ragtag hirelings to grab his werewolf-hunting equipment and set off on a hunt. Duristan is badgering Delgros for all sorts of information; whether there were any howls or footprints, whether Delgros tried to track the prints around the carcass, and whether he measured any of the claw or bite marks on the body. Almost in mid-sentence, Duristan catches sight of the party and sizes them up. He calls to them, “You there! Fall in with me; I need more able sword-arms for the hunt!”

    The party looks at one another and then Grembor still in a foul mood from the Halfling responds to the brash aristocrat’s pompous request in a low piercing growl telling him where he could stick his sword. Duristan suddenly realizes that he is in the company of real adventurers and becomes star-struck. He quickly apologizes for his gaffe, claiming to be in the heat of great excitement. He entreats the party to join his hunt, his eyes gleaming as he tells them he’s going to track down a werewolf. In exchange, he offers to treat them to dinner as well as pay for their accommodations at Ascanor upon their return from the hunt later that day. As the diplomats in the group were unable to convince Belik (Halfling Porter) to let them in, Duristan in gratitude promises to host them as his guests at the Lodge. The group with a resigned sigh agree and follow the young foolish noble and his entourage into the deep wood.

    Duristan regales the party with his exploits and asks the party to tell him theirs; the party soon come to the conclusion that this tiresome noble is an overly enthusiastic idiot with no real appreciation for the dangers he is putting himself and his hirelings into. They play down their accomplishments only going through a most basic of an outline before Duritsan starts telling them of his ‘other’ accomplishments.

    This passes a couple of hours as they ride through the dense forest; Delgros is seen to sigh often and his furtive eyes constantly scan the surrounding trees. He is obviously used to escorting idiot nobles and can tune out their constant nattering. The group is unfortunately not so lucky to have built up this resistance. After a couple of hours Delgros hisses through his teeth and Duristan eventually goes quiet; looking very much like he wants to say something. Grembor and Sayuri dismount and move up the narrow trail to Delgros who advises them that it’s just in the next clearing. The party dismounts and advances on foot after tying the horses to the surrounding trees.

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    How to scare the party ....

    They follow Delgros as the trail leads to a small clearing, where the trampled ground and snapped brush show signs of a great struggle. The soil is soaked with blood, and more has splashed upon the tree trunks and leaves. Despite the telltale evidence, Delgros’s jaw drops and his eyes dart wildly with shock at the situation. “It’s gone!” he cries… (I don’t know why he would be surprised; forest full of werewolves and wild animals; fresh meat is not going to sit around)

    The missing carcass spurs Delgros to organize a frantic search of the immediate area. Grembor and Sayuri quickly scour the area for clues revealing at least two distinct sets of prints in the clearing, besides those of the stag. Frustratingly, most are only partial prints and all are badly trampled. The most striking are large wolf like prints, twice the size of a typical wolf’s prints. Which they realize that the tracks are not consistent with normal lycanthrope hybrid prints; seeming more like dire wolf tracks with strange, elongated claws. The other set of prints belongs to a great boar, which Grembor identifies along with noting that a swath of crushed scrub and brush which is marked with relatively fresh blood, as if something had been dragged off into the wood, Duristan looks at Grembor and Sayuri with wonder in his eyes as he had no idea they had such experts with them. Delgros nods at them both in confirmation of their finds. They swiftly follow the trail for another 50 feet or so until they hear loud scuffling and grunting noises and spot the bushes rustling ahead.

    Grembor and Sayuri at the front pause before a huge porcine shape bursts from the bushes where he and his two friends were happily gorging on flayed stag meat before they were disturbed. Porky sprints to Grembor and tries gouging him with its tusks while the others appear behind it along the trail. Sayuri with a grin sends a lightning bolt down the path causing two of the three pigs to convulse with the electricity coursing through their body. Grembor steps back as Jah advances his own tusks no match for the porcine before him but his greataxe is a very effective replacement. With a huge swing he buries his axe in the closest tree which judders under the impact raining needles and cones down upon the pair. The other boars advance as Zordlan blocks their approach to the more fragile members of the group. Pringle opens fire literally with a twin beam of fire which splashes across the pair roasting them nicely as they drop to the forest floor as the aroma of cooked pork drifts along the breeze. The last remaining pig is hit with a spell causing it to reconsider its life options and it retreats into the forest squealing like only a scared piglet can do.

    At the death of the Boars Duristan quickly moves to the stag corpse and starts inspecting it. Finding himself over his head in such matters he beckons over Grembor and Sayuri to help. Between them they figure out the Boars mauling on the Stag and some other lacerations and wounds which could have been caused by a wolf or some wolves. Duristan is convinced that werewolves made the kill and is determined to stay behind to make another werewolf kill. Duristan decides to stay the night and wait for them to return; Delgros tells him that he is crazy and he will be heading back to the Lodge before night falls as he wants no part in this fools errand. The party decide to remain after Duristan reminds them that he will be paying for their room and board at the Lodge upon their triumphant return.

    Darkness is swiftly approaching and Duristan tells his minions to set traps around the perimeter; there is a collective gulp from both Grembor and Sayuri when the bear traps are brought out. They notice that the teeth on these traps glisten brightly in the rapidly fading sunlight as if made of silver; Duristan is given a chair and some glasses as he pops open a bottle of expensive brandy and sits observing the progress of his followers as they trap the surrounding forest. Duristan asks the party to expand upon their tales of bravery and high adventure while he sits back and listens. All the while watching his hirelings set up baited traps while others keep watch.

    As the hour grows late and the conversation winds down the night is split by a soul cringing scream then ends in a rough blood chocked gurgle. The group spring to their feet with weapons at the ready and turn to face the source of the terrible sound; standing before them at the perimeter of the firelight is a towering hybrid of wolf and man. The creature stands close to 9ft tall with rippling muscles covering it’s frame hidden from view by the waves of matted fur which is currently covered in the blood of the poor unfortunate hireling currently dangling from one claw; his legs twitching as he is hoisted off the floor and into camp. Landing before the party they are sprayed with his blood which is still pumping weakly from his torn out throat. He gurgles at them loudly as his eyes roll up into his head and he expires; his face still frozen in a look of pure terror.

    The hybrid wolf speaks; its blood soaked teeth showing through as glints of white marble in a sea of blood; its voice low and growling with thinly veiled menace. “Stop your pitiful whining over the fate of one runted pup; why have you entered Vollensag territory?” It raises its paw and mercifully wipes it across its mouth transferring the blood from its chin to its arm. Its mouth seems to be in a perpetual hungry grin. The party stutter out a response; “We come seeking the Whispering way” to which the response is “Your false explanations are meaningless. Go tell whoever sent you to stay out of wolf affairs! Let him know that his dealings with Mathus Mordrinacht and the Silverhide pack do not sit well with the other tribes of this wood. There shall be much blood spilled between our kin before a Silverhide packlord sits upon Highthrone. Mathus the betrayer shall never claim the title, and should you and yours continue to support him; the wrath of the wolf packs shall fall upon you! Now leave our territory and return to your cosy wooden den, or share the fate of these poor little sheep!” With a gesture that takes in the camp they notice another large biped figure in the shadows slowly ripping apart one of the other hirelings by pulling his arms from his shoulders and drinking the resulting blood that pours from within in large thirsty gulps.

    The party shudders and Duristan moans low in his throat at the horror of the scene. Grembor stands forward and asks by what right do they kill these innocents and drive them from the forest? The towering figure before him steps fully into the light; the red blood from his kill running rivulets down his chest and his eyes burning with barely held in rage. Raising one clawed hand to his mouth he fishes out a hard piece of the hireling’s throat; flicking the bloody piece to the floor before the party. “Scurry away with your tail between your legs like the scared little puppy you are; tell your masters to stay out of wolf affairs or this morsel here will be a fate you will be wishing for” With that his head raised to the sky it unleashes a howl that reverberates through the forest; his twin across the clearing joins the song; the party hears the cry taken up by many other throats as it reverberates through the trees and the whole forest seems to resound with bone chilling howls. Sayuri feels the material of her shirt sleeve being pulled and Duristan’s face is very pale as if the blood had already been drained from it. It seems the bravado has gone and cold fear remains. The group swiftly removes themselves from the forest and make their way back to the Lodge; the journey is very quiet …

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    Return to theLodge

    Upon safely returning to the Lodge they are surprised when they are warmly welcomed by Belik holding a tray of hot beverages. “Please accept my most sincere apologies for my inappropriate behaviour earlier. I was not informed of your coming and acted hastily on behalf of the lodge warden. I can assure you that you will suffer no further ill treatment during your stay at Ascanor Lodge.” They each take a beverage but none of them partake; “If it’s convenient for you, my master requests your company at this time for a brief introduction and to offer his apologies as well.”

    They all follow the well dressed Halfling into the Lodge and are escorted to the upper floor where they are introduced to a slight man in his sixties, with a long face, myopic eyes, dirty spectacles, and a permanent squint “Esteemed guests, may I present Estovion Lozarov, Lodge Warden of Ascanor.” intones Belik who bows low and finishes with a hand flourish. Estovion nods to each of them and invites them into the library while curtly dismissing the Halfling porter before speaking to the party in a sombre tone. “Please do not hold the actions of my porter against him. The error in your improper greeting was entirely mine. I neglected to inform my staff of the open invitations I gave to the Order,” there is a brief pause as Estovion (obviously not used to subterfuge) winks at the party in a knowing way “and they did not recognize the reservations. Rest assured, however, that all of the lodge’s facilities are at your disposal, including our libraries. While the general library is down the hall, this one,” he says, gesturing at the book-filled shelves, “is likely better suited to your research. Any questions you may have please ask Belik or myself who will be only too happy to assist.” While the words themselves seem positive and helpful his tone however seems distracted and somewhat dismissive; he soon excuses himself stating that “Belik should be waiting outside to show you to your rooms as you must be very tired.” With this he ascends the stairs to his office and closes the door behind him. The group look at each other and move out of the room to find the errant Halfling who is standing outside of the room looking intently at his fingernails.

    Belik escorts them to the two rooms set aside for their use; Sayuri and Zordlan take one of the rooms while Grembor, Pringle and Jah take the other. The rooms are large and very comfortable; unfortunately there is only the one big fluffy bed per room.

    Pringle decides to forgo an early night and heads back to the library to research the werewolves of the region which will take several hours to read through the many books on the subject.

    Jah heads outside to explore the complex and see if there is anything unusual he can find. There is a housekeeper’s cottage with an expertly maintained herb garden, the stables, the huntmaster’s cottage, the porters cottage, a handyman’s hut, a nice looking watchtower, a small but well kept maze and a small shed with large very solid oak doors reinforced with iron which has a very large lock on it; so no nothing too suspicious. Jah hangs around outside for a while to monitor the going’s on for a while then heads up to the room to sleep.

    Grembor heads downstairs after freshening up to see if there is anyone around to talk to and is rewarded by the presence of two noblemen. One young; lean nobleman called Corvin Tergsvor who’s quick mouth and dark wit seems to annoy Grembor with little to no effort at all; the other older man who he is currently discussing the problems of the world with also has a lean frame although getting close to his 50’s he still carries himself with the poise of a military man. His piercing gaze informs anyone that this is not a person you want to get on the wrong side of. Standing nearly 6 feet tall, with a slender build, long features, and a sharp nose; he wears his hair cropped short and has a carefully trimmed goatee and waxed moustache. Also of note is the Lepidstadt fencing scar across his left eyebrow as a sign of his martial prowess. This is Cilas Graydon; the Margrave of Sturnidae.

    Grembor in a stunning display of diplomacy manages to offend Corvin with his first utterance; although it’s unlikely anything the grimy Ranger could have said to make a good first impression on these finely dressed nobles while dressed in his combat leathers. Thinly veiled insults pass between the pair for the best part of several minutes; finally Cilas raises his hand and asks Grembor about a certain letter he may have on him regarding a dear friend of his one Echtmoor Dravin. Grembor looks blankly at Cilas for a moment and Cilas thinks he has just asked a question of an obvious moron until finally the clogs start whirring again and dim realisation comes to Grembor. Echtmoor Dravin was the name on the bloody invitation they found on the body in the lair of the Weaver worm. Cilas apparently heard about the incident at the gate earlier today from the rumour mill of the Lodge and was worried about his friend who is a week late. Grembor apologises and says he does not have the letter on him as it’s currently sitting quietly in Sayuri’s pack but he will get it to him as soon as he can. Cilas questions Grembor about the incident and is saddened to hear of the most likely death of his dear old friend. Cilas pours himself a large drink and makes his excuses as he has to arrange for the body to be collected and departs to his room. Grembor and Corvin exchange glances and neither wants to start a fight without someone around to rescue them so they both make their excuses also and depart heading to bed.

    Sayuri has a bath while Zordlan stands guard outside her room; she then heads to bed.

    Pringle remains in the library for a few hours researching the werewolves of the Shudderwood. He finds out an awful lot in this short space of time and he makes copious notes in his book to share with the rest of the party. (stupid high knowledge rolls)

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    Thar be wolves in them woods ...

    Pringle’s notes on wolves of the Shudderwood:

    While over a dozen distinct werewolf packs live within the Shudderwood, most packs trace their lineages to one of five tribes native to the region. Most of these tribes have two names: that which they call themselves, and a more common epithet by which most outsiders know them.

    Dorzhanevs or Broken Ones: These lycanthropes settle in remote or isolated territories, building small provincial communities near the wood’s edge. For the most part, they pose as simple farmers or trappers, occasionally travelling to larger communities to sell or trade for goods. They live and hunt in small packs, targeting lone travellers or those who stray from larger groups. Physically smaller than the other tribes, the Broken Ones transform into red wolves. Their pack structure is matriarchal, and their current tribe leader is Cybrisa Dorzhanev.

    Jezeldans or Demon Wolves: The smallest and most recently formed pack in the Shudderwood, the Demon Wolves are an amalgam of newly afflicted werewolves, whose pitiful existence is typically scorned by most natural lycanthropes, and exiles from other tribes, all worshipers of the demon lord Jezelda, Mistress of the Hungry Moon. Their current tribe leader is named Adimarus Ionacu. To date, Adimarus’s missionary zeal has been quite successful; the black-furred Jezeldans are one of the fastest-growing tribes in the region, and may soon rise as the new lords of the wood.

    Mordrinacht or Silverhides: The Mordrinacht, colloquially known as the Silverhides for their gray-white fur, are more aggressive than the Broken Ones, yet possess more composure and subtlety than the other tribes. The Mordrinacht rarely form standard packs, instead living much of their lives as solitary individuals or lone wolves. Only in times of great importance do they unite and form organized packs. More so than all the others, the Mordrinacht have been successful at blending in with normal humans and living secretly within their communities, with a few bold individuals even settling in some of Ustalav’s major cities. Descended from those afflicted with lycanthropy by the ancient high priest of Desna, the Mordrinacht have long gathered at the Stairs of the Moon to pay homage to the spirit of their ancestor. It is no secret that the Silverhides’ current leader, Mathus Mordrinacht, has had designs on the position of packlord over all the packs of the Shudderwood for some time.

    Prince’s Wolves: Varisian werewolves with ties to the Sczarni crime family, the Prince’s Wolves were created as part of Prince Andriadus Virholt’s efforts to rid his lands of the agents of the Whispering Tyrant centuries ago. The Prince’s Wolves maintain a tight pack structure and spend much of their time travelling in small family groups, performing or pick pocketing to support them before moving on to do it again somewhere else. The Prince’s Wolves transform into wolves with brown or gray fur, and their current tribe leader is a roguish scoundrel named Rhakis Szadro.

    Vollensag or Primals: The smallest of the Shudderwood’s tribes, the Vollensag are also the most homogenous, as they are all descended from the ancient Kellid tribes who once inhabited these lands before they were driven out by the invading Varisians. At present, less than 30 Vollensag remain, settled deep in the woods and travelling in small migratory hunting packs, living as much as their ancestors did. Despite their declining numbers, the Primals’ ability to transform into large gray dire wolves makes them an influential force among the wolves of the wood. The Vollensag tribe leader, Kvalca Sain, is packlord over all the wolves of the Shudderwood.

    After packing away his pen and ink Pringle staggers to bed at an early 2-3am and knocks loudly on the door as they have locked him out. Grembor grumbles as he opens the door but he is the one who locked Pringle out. Everyone sleeps.

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    It's a beautiful Day ....

    The sun rises as is it’s want and there are few clouds in the sky; The shadows of the surrounding trees blocks out the sunlight till mid morning but the sun still manages to wake up most of the party. Sayuri is the only one up even though the soft fluffy bed was calling out for her to remain within it’s snugly confines.

    She finds the balcony to her liking and starts meditating and stretching in the brightening sunlight while the rest of the party is rousing themselves. The passing servants and nobles in the grounds below appreciate the view but keep silent so as not to disturb her.

    Finally at around mid morning the party troop downstairs to have a pleasant breakfast; they find only one other person in the breakfast room who seems to be collecting enough food for two; a broad-shouldered and handsome young huntsman named Ostovach. Grembor introduces himself and the party as does Ostovach; they discuss the breakfast, lodge and its environs while Grembor subtly shifts the conversation to other guests. Specifically Guests from two weeks ago; Ostovach while tall, handsome and broad shouldered is no match for Grembors insidious mind and he is soon discussing some visitors who went to the watchtower a couple of weeks ago. He never saw them; they did not stay long but he was looking to employ the services of the tower residents when he was turned away due to these other visitors by Madame Ivanja. Shaking his head as if to clear his mind he grins at the party; while looking down at the tray he is holding. “Sorry; very pleased to meet you all but I have to get this to the Markiza otherwise she will be having my hide” With a grin he grabs some drinks and heads out of the dining room.

    Everyone takes a walk around the complex; they pause at the strangely heavily reinforced door and listen carefully. They can hear sounds of something large moving inside but can’t make out much more; the sounds echo strangely though. Retreating inside they split up Jah remaining outside while Pringle returns to the Library to continue reading the books there. Sayuri and Grembor lounge in different area’s of the main building’s public area’s hoping to find other people to question. Zordlan remains on the porch overlooking the maze with a good view of the watchtower and the current primary suspect Madame Ivanja.

    The morning passes and the only interesting part is when Duristan has a conversation with Sayuri. They discuss the other patrons here who Duristan scoffs at as none of them are true hunters like himself. (This from a noble with illusions of grandeur wrt hunting) He happily strokes the mangy wolf/dog’s head he has draped over his shoulder. He does however advise on the other members of the household and the one they are most interested in; Madame Ivanja she is informed is a Varisian Witch who does Harrow readings along with other more interesting services. She is not a woman to cross lightly. Thanking Duristan who is more than happy to hang around and talk about her experiences and invites her on his next werewolf hunt (Obviously has a very short or selective memory) Sayuri goes in search of Grembor to discuss the conversation.

    Grembor however finds himself talking to Corvin who looks decidedly worse for wear after another Absinthe fuelled bender last night. His acidic tongue is somewhat dulled by the Dwarven smiths pounding in his head; however he is soon annoyed enough by Grembor’s common peasantry rudeness to seek solace elsewhere. He departs mumbling something about the quality of the patrons or something along those lines.

    Sayuri and Grembor meet up in the small but comfortable sitting room and discus their findings. Grembor is very interested in the goings on here and wishes to find a way into Madame Ivanja’a rooms so he can question her. At the point of a sharp blade if needed; Sayuri is a little against this as all they have is the unconfirmed rumours of a pair of the guests. They decide to play it more subtly and gather more information on the Madame and anything else they can discover.

    Grembor in a mood heads outside and takes a walk around the grounds; he is distracted by the stablemaster who is an attractive, short, fit human woman in her early thirties with pale skin, dark eyes, and long auburn hair gone slightly gray at the temples; Grembor notices her lean and muscular form beneath her livery and goes to investigate. Up close he finds she has very attractive eyes and they start discussing the horses and her work here; she is a wealth of information on the goings on here and the patrons; but her deepest regards are for the animals in her care. She shows Grembor round the stables and her horses; while Grembor also finds out that she lives above the stables. She is interested in the simple life but is an accomplished hunter and very capable in the wilds of the forest as she assists the huntmaster from time to time. Grembor suddenly finds something to entertain himself with and asks her to have a meal with him tonight. She readily agrees as he is not of the usual type that frequents this establishment and she enjoys the company of people who know and love the wilds.

    The discussion turns to the current residents and then onto recent visitors; she remembers some strange visitors about two weeks ago who only stopped for a few short hours. They claimed to be from Courtaud but they spoke with a thick southern accent; she was told to not unsaddle or unload the poor horses and they visited with Madame Ivanja. She remembers they had a strange looking small demon with them that perched on the leaders shoulder. Grembor grinning leaves to advise the group of the latest bit of information; the information is looking grim for Madame Ivanja and Grembor is all for having a very pointed discussion with the ‘lady’.

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