Title: Werewolves in Rustos
Date: Mid Dalan, 1333 Avard
Synopsis: Donald the Miller from Rustos begs help from Meridian Explorations, and so they go west – only to discover werewolves responsible for terrorizing the village.
Morning of Dalan the 20th, 1332 Avard.
Donald the Miller had ridden for two days, and made the city of Chasadan on the evening of the 19th. But the guards would not let him into the city, and the city gates were locked and barred with no one allowed in or out. Donald and his mule could only patiently wait, along with many other people, until martial law was lifted near dawn. The Guard told him that a gang of cutthroats from nearby Teras had run rampant through the city, but that the Ducal Mage and the Guard had put them down.
Donald asked around, and found someone who could tell him where to find Greff at that time of day. The strange man known as Greff had formed a fond friendship with Donald – or rather, with Donald's ales and spirits. Greff and his friends, sent by the Ducal Mage, had helped find out what happened to Gueron, and told the lord of the town enough to let him reassure the people they had nothing to fear from the night demons.
But after Greff and his friends had left, naught but days later, strange things had begun to happen in Rustos. Some people felt the Ducal Mage's people had started the strange goings on, but Donald knew Greff, and knew the greenish-gray skinned man without a nose wouldn't do those things. Animals were ripped apart, as by some great beast. People would wake up in the morning ravenous, as though they hadn't slept, and their skin and hair would be a mess – but not their clothes. No one knew who might be responsible, and when it started happening to Mother Petra… Donald conferred with Sir Rustos, and high-tailed it to Chasadan to ask for help.
Donald let Greff know what was going on, asking – begging him – for help. No one was missing, and no one was dead; Sir Rustos was mostly on his own unless worse were to happen, and the whole village feared what was coming. The Church was too busy to send help, and Chasadan obviously had other problems to deal with. Greff was their only help.
The Ducal Mage, for his part, was infuriated, and looked for any excuse to distract his mind. Martial Law in Chasadan had been lifted, but not before a hasty council was called. Hershel wanted to sail straight-away for Teras and kick the living crap out of the Gaunt, the crime lord supposedly responsible for sending Kagen and his goons. Teras was Hershel's home town, and for the town to sink into the kind of cess pool where things like that happened… Hershel wanted to fix it, and immediately.
The council, however, reminded him – and perhaps rightly – that Teras belonged to Duke Therinol. Chasadan could not get involved, though Duke Talon could attempt to intervene or ask the king to intervene. But such a response would take time. In the meantime, if it became known to the thugs in Teras just who Hershel's family was, they could be in danger. And the council forbid Hershel going to Teras – or sending his Meridian Explorations in his place.
He had to content himself with sending Meridia, his familiar, to at least keep an eye on his and his brother's family.
When one of the Guard reported something 'strange and golemy' at the North gate, Hershel had been ecstatic, despite his lack of sleep. At the North gate, he found a wonder left over from an ancient time.
Over half a millennium ago, the super mages of that time had gone to war with one another, using and creating and breeding armies the likes of which the world had never seen before. The war had really been between the Dark God and the druidic Karatikans, but history seemed to have distilled all of that down to the mages of the Dark God and the mages of the Karatikans dueling it out and battling against one another.
Some of the mages had created their armies, using crafted golems to construct more golems to make more golems. They were war-forged golems, designed to operate independantly of their mages, to take the fight to the enemy in numbers worthy of their masters. One of those war-forged golems was patiently sitting at the North gate, sitting astride a golem mount! Hershel tried to communicate with the golem verbally, but was answered in his mind. Oh, the powers of the ancients!
It was a wonderful distraction, indeed. But when Hershel managed to get the war-forged and his mount back to the tower, things went to hell. Some street urchin broke into his tower and was stealing things, a captain in the Guard was reminding Hershel of an assignment to Meridian Explorations, the bodyguards couldn't capture the urchin, another urchin they'd found in the warehouse was loose in his tower, and members of the council began dropping by to remind him not to go to Teras or use his company in Teras until things were worked out, and Hershel was very short on sleep and patience, and Greff said that Rustos was in trouble, and…
Hershel had had enough. He told the captain to take the war-forged and go with Greff and get the hell out of his tower. He wanted peace, quiet, and sleep, and he was going to turn the next person to knock on his door into a frog.
Sometime later, as Hershel was drifting off to sleep, he realized he had sent the golem to Rustos, and likely wouldn't see it for another several days.
The guards below saw the street suddenly illuminated strangely in full, broad daylight, and they glanced up to see the Ducal Mage glaring off towards the west for some reason, smoke pouring out of the inside of the tower. The Ducal Mage seemed all right, and so the bodyguards just shrugged.
Greff led Captain Aeron and Ryviik out of the city, with Donald mounted on a spare horse. The 'urchin', a halfling named Corrin, followed them – astride a translucent spider bigger than a horse. Captain Aeron rode a juvenile minotaur lizard that bit almost everything it could try, and the golem rode another golem shaped like a mace-tail. The whole thing was ludicrous.
Even patrols of the Guard stayed well away, as soon as they knew that it was Meridian Explorations wandering through their areas. Captain Aeron had only to mention 'Ducal Mage' and people went another direction – not out of fear, but out of a general sense of chaos. The company was strange, and it brought strange troubles with it.
The journey to Rustos took but a day for good mounts, though rain and drizzle dominated their afternoon. They learned that Captain Aeron was an ordained Priest of Yatindar, of the rank of Prior. He was a judge and a barrister within the Church of Yatindar, believing that most everyone could be redeemed, and justice was often only a matter of time and patience. Of course, the prior also wore twin lonsgswords and mail to help justice along.
The halfling spoke little of where she was from, though they found she and Aeron both spoke dwarven – but only if they spoke slowly at one another. The two dialects seemed oddly mismatched, and Aeron realized that she had learned the dwarven tongue from the Deep Dwarves, whom some say were made first by the Forge God.
The rain stopped around the time they made it into Rustos. Accomodating the mounts was relatively easy; the golem mount required no food, took basic instructions, and never slept. It also could keep a predaceous minotaur lizard in check. The halfling's spider was another problem; it was an herbivore, but still frightened humans.
Sir Rustos was not long for arriving. The heavy cloud cover and time of the month meant no light, that night. Rather than divide up forces, the animals would be brought into two paddocks, one on either side of the twenty acre lake that was the center of Rustos. Sir Rustos and his people would guard one paddock, and Meridian Explorations would guard the other. Hopefully they would be able to catch who or what was preying on the animals – and perhaps figure out why the people were having strange nights with no memories.
The answer was something they felt on a visceral level. Ryviik and Corrin managed to find tracks of a beast with paw prints very similar those of snowfell, though snowfell were usually constrained to the snow and ice. Later that night, when all was darkness, and the animals could scent something on the wind… When the first animal panicked and there was a snarl, Aeron unleashed a great light, easily illuminating a hundred feet in all directions.
Green eyes reflected the light from the darkness, and several werewolves were clearly visible, turning towards the light.
The leader was too visible. The company targetted him, figuring him a controller for the other werewolves. If the lesser werewolves were truly members of the village of Rustos, then the leader would be the key to everything. Greff and Aeron managed to get bitten by the leader, but in the end, they managed to bring him down, with only one of the townspeople getting harmed. A farmer from the east side named Donovan died, but no one else from Rustos was killed that night.
Greff and Ryviik were impressed; Captain Aeron, the golem, and Corrin all worked quite well, together. They were battle-tested, after only a day's knowing of one another.
A quick check of missing people and homes revealed that fourteen of the villagers, including Mother Petra, had become werewolves. The night belonged to them, but without a leader to control them, they fought with one another for the right to be leader of the pack, and undergo the next horrifying transformation in the curse.
The lycanthropy was truly a curse. Mother Petra and Captain Aeron, along with Corrin and her spider, had to go to Chasadan and consult with the Stamp of Peace's library to find the ritual to end the curse. They stayed the night, there, with Corrin's spider binding them in its webbing so that they could not break free. The next day, they returned with the ritual to release the village from its curse.
In the aftermath of freeing the village, they could only wonder at who the lead werewolf had been. Once he had been defeated, he had reverted back to human form – but before anyone could see who he was, he had been torn apart by the other werewolves seeking dominance. No one was missing from the village, and so it had to be an outsider.
The situation took an even more confusing route when one of the farm boys brought in a scroll case he had found out in the pasture. The case was oiled leather that could easily withstand rain or water, and signed in elven: Selistar Arelae, a cartographer in Kashin. Inside the scroll, penned in blood, was a set of instructions to one 'Durridel'.
The instructions detailed the use of a 'smithbane guardian' to find the Dragon's Bones.
Evening of Dalan the 22nd, 1332 Avard.
We ran quite late that night. Bill had gotten tied up at work at the last moment, and so we let Caileb play, not knowing when or if Bill could make it. Getting Caileb's story fitted in, and then both Sommer's and Dave's, took up quite a bit of time on top of a late start. I didn't want the session to turn into a two-parter, though, as that would have left the players stuck with those characters next week for the next session. I ran through some of the description here in the recap, and I'm afraid I was just as terse in some things with the session itself. I hope the players had a good time – even if I managed to get two of the characters infected with lycanthropy. :)
All characters have 16,500 experience points and are 9th-level. Level Up!