Date: early Trical, 1333 Avard
The troupe went to the monastery and spent time recovering, there. They were tapped out, and knew that they would need to be well-rested before going to the Broken Bow tavern and trying to find Eingrim.
The abbot of the Hidden Vow monastery brought a gift for Toox, who gave it to Roland while he rested.
Hiko flipped through Eingrim's traveling spellbook, and realized that it was a journal. Eingrim was a physician, and an artist. He found a picture of Beth of Kashin, and saw Eingrim's notes on his surgical alteration of her ears, the notes on the demons summoned in Kashin – and his plans for the Black Feather Troupe to clear her name.
Hiko felt used, at first, but the more of the journal he read, the more he understood what Eingrim intended.
Once everyone was well-rested, they devised a plan. Chimes would use her makeup to change Hiko into an old human male, complete with a fake beard. Toox would shape-shift and go with him to the Broken Bow. Once they were in, a suitable time would go by before Roland and Chimes entered, together.
The plan would have worked perfectly, but Chimes' need for attention got the better of her. The minstrels on stage were far inferior to her, and she blew the crowd away with a rendition of a common sea-shanty song. They demanded encore performances, and she was forced to perform again, trying her best to downplay her abilities and hand the stage back to the original minstrels. Only very quick thinking and yet another special performance allowed her to get back to her seat.
During the performance, she had realized that one of the half dozen Guard in the joint was one of the two Guard that had been pushing the cauldron in the jails.
Almost as soon as she sat down, another fellow at their table – bull-necked with dark hair and dark eyes – leaned in close to her. While the crowds were singing along at full volume, only Chimes could hear what he said. “Follow me if you want your friend back.”
Chimes and Roland followed the man out into the snowy night, where snowbanks several feet high were building. The bull-necked man walked off towards the docks, and they followed.
Above them, Missus Melbourne, Hiko's familiar, kept an eye on them. Hiko and Toox followed at a distance. Unseen, behind them, also followed a member of the Guard – trailing them on scent alone.
The bull-necked man went into a warehouse near the docks. Inside the warehouse were boxes and crates, barrels and sacks, all stacked thickly against the sides. The big doors on opposite ends were wide enough for a wagon and a team of oxen to go through one end, down the middle, and out the other side. Several lanterns were lit, but most of the warehouse was in darkness. A wagon with two draft horses was in the middle of the warehouse, being loaded by two other men who seemed as strong as the bull-necked man.
The bull-necked man said that the Black Feather Troupe would leave town, and if they didn't… He presented Chimes with a lidded box, and then started helping load the wagon. Inside the box was the right hand of a slate human, with familiar golden rings on each finger. It was Eingrim's right hand.
The bull-necked man told them to get out.
Roland seethed, but he understood that Eingrim's life was in the balance. He escorted Chimes out, into the gentle snow.
Outside, a member of the Guard held a lantern up. A young lady was trying to convince her doddering grampie to get out of the snow and come home with her.
Roland recognized the Guardsman. It was one of the two that had been carrying the cauldron of soup around in the jail. It was one of the two that Hiko had seen summon a demon.
The 'doddering old man' saw Roland's reaction, and crafted an illusion of mighty ox carts going by the entrance to the warehouse, complete with the creak of axles and the jingle of harnesses, the heavy clop of braying oxen and grumbling men.
Roland clotheslined the Guardsman and sought to beat him down before he could warn his compatriots inside the warehouse. Unfortuantely, the Guardsman laughed and in one smooth movement, took off his mail coat and tossed it aside. The man transformed into a half-wolf, half-human with winter-white fur.
The werewolf attacked, and the 'granddaughter' moved in to assist, all of them as quiet as they could be.
The winter werewolf bit Toox and slashed Roland, and then the leaf blade came out. It erupted into warm fire, sizzling in the snow. When it struck the werewolf, the wolf howled.
Hiko's familiar, observing from the roof windows, warned him that the other three men in the warehouse – the bull-necked man, included – transformed into werewolves, as well.
The battle was rough, with the bull-necked man their prize. They wanted him subdued, not dead. The other two… One of them had his head lopped off by Toox's shortsword. Hiko teleported to the roof of the warehouse, but did not register that it was a short hop up for a werewolf. Bull-neck was a beast, slashing at Hiko on the roof before he could respond.
The third werewolf went out the other end of the warehouse, splitting the party. Roland and his mighty shield and flaming blade held that wolf, while the rest of the party tried to subdue the other.
A carriage raced by, and two figures leapt out – both transforming into werewolves almost immediately. The carriage kept going, but the battle got rough.
One of the two werewolves reached to his neck, using an amulet to summon a vrock. The vrock and the two werewolves took on Roland almost as soon as the bull-necked man-wolf was subdued.
The last time they had taken on the vrock, it had been inside the cramped confines of the jails. Outside, the vulture-like demon could spread its wings. It grabbed Roland with its beak and flew into the air over the warehouse, where it let loose with a flurry of inky black wing molts that were poisonous to the touch.
Hiko, seeing the danger, threw Roland a magical rope with which he could slide down, and so he broke free of the vrock's grasp and latched onto the rope, sliding down into the maelstrom of poisonous feathers. Chimes popped up a tiny hut of magic that pushed the poisonous feathers out, protecting herself and Roland and Hiko.
They left the hut the moment its poisonous feathers settled out of the air and were trapped in the snow, battling it while stealing the wagon from the warehouse. There was a tense moment as Toox tried to talk Roland into fleeing with them on the wagon, rather than facing the vrock and possibly dying. They knew it was a summoning, that it would fade and the demon would go back where it came from, but Roland knew that if anyone died, it would haunt him.
Hiko, seeing no other choice, found the amulet that had summoned the vrock. Using his arcane powers, he hurriedly translated the tiny markings on the amulet. Realizing that he would lose such a powerful magic item, he summoned another vrock – one under his command. As the amulet began to flake away, its magic gone and its material life measured out, Hiko ordered the the vrock under his command to attack the other one.
Roland, seeing the werewolf-summoned vulture demon being worn down by the Hiko-summoned demon, was able to limp away from the battle and get on the wagon. With Chimes at the reigns, they moved out through the evening's snowfall following the carriage tracks before they completely filled in with snow. Behind them in the darkness, the vrocks screamed and roared, their sounds muffled by the snow.
DM's Notes: After the game was over, Caileb let me know that when he went to get something from the printer, he had seen my game notes! He knew from the bold print that werewolves were involved! Toot. He didn't let it affect his time in the magic shop, though, so I'm proud of him for that – no metagaming. One point to Gryphindoor or however-the-hell it's spelled.
None to date.