We hadn’t asked for a wake-up call from the innkeeper and we certainly didn’t ask for one in the middle of the night. I awoke to the crash of the balcony doors being smashed through. I still had time to grab my swords and get myself in position at the side of the balcony. I ran my sword through the first fool to step through; he didn’t even see it coming. These idiots have a thing or two to learn about murder in the night. Not that they will be learning anything ever again.
The door came crashing through and more of them came pouring through, all quickly falling to our relentless assault. One of them seemed to be in charge and far more capable than the others, but he didn’t seem to have the backbone to carry his own plan through. On seeing his minions torn apart he decided to flee back down the corridor. I ran to the balcony and leapt to the ground hoping to slit his throat as he came running out the door, but it appeared he at least had the sense to leave by some other means. Frustrated by the escape of my quarry I made my way back upstairs.
My companions had had the good sense to keep one of the would-be assassins alive for questioning. Arcael seemed to think the promise of release and his life would be more effective in getting information from him, I thought sliding my dagger in his eye would have been far more effective. Someone babbled something about defenceless prisoner; I don’t call attempted assassination defenceless, an eye for an eye, perhaps literally. The soft approach seemed to work though and the Sorcerer managed to wring some information from him regarding this challenge the maiden was sent on. The details weren’t particularly important to me; these “Vargamors” as they called themselves had made it personal.
Truman cast some spells to heal our bumps and scratches and we discovered another wonderful twist of this accursed forest. Where the Oracle placed his hands to heal our cuts the skin took on a barkish tone and small twigs and leaves seemed to sprout from the flesh. Disgusted, I hoped that it wasn’t permanent or that someone in the city had a method of removing them.
We made our way out to the forest and in the direction we were told the girl had went. We found ourselves on a narrow trail; there was not much room to manoeuvre the canopy hung low and thorny branches reached in on both sides. I spotted small children of the briar scampering on either side. A nuisance to mortals and fey alike, I made note to avoid finding myself off the path. Huge statutes lined the path, riders atop horses struck from wood. Ominous, but then so was everything in this damned forest.
We entered a clearing with a gentle river flowing across it; a handy set of stepping stones crossed the water. Knowing that things are rarely as they seemed we tied a rope around my waist and I grabbed hold of another. I leapt on to the first stepping stone then quickly hopped to the next. The one thing I hadn’t expected was the second stone moving under my feet and rising from the water. I must say it is the first time I have tried to balance on one leg on the head of a creature, but these things happened I suppose. I hopped backward to the shore as the rest of the creatures rose from the waters. They didn’t seem actively aggressive which made a change for this place, but they seemed irritated ranting about trespassing on sacred ground or something. They seemed to demand for us to give tribute to their goddess, kneeling under the water for an hour. A nice trick if you can do it.
The druid Bartiman seemed to have confidence though and proceeded to step into the waters and lowered his head below the surface. There appeared to no thrashing waves or screams and impatience was getting the better of me. I told the minotaur to hold the end of the rope I still had attached and if by the count of 30 I hadn’t pulled on the rope to drag me back out. I lowered my head under the water and immediately noticed the druid about ten feet from me seemingly breathing normally. I braced myself and took a breath, it was a strange sensation slightly panic inducing at first but relaxing afterwards. I decided I would rise and tell the others. Arcael had his doubts, I can’t blame him trust is a hard thing to come by, that I know. We all complied and were allowed to pass; I filled a couple of water skins if the water kept its properties they may have had uses.
We eventually passed into another clearing with the sight of two beautiful creatures, a nice change to the sights we had beheld so far. They were alluring and seemed to be keen to a little challenge of archery. Not one to pass up on a challenge or a bet I happily obliged. I wasn’t on my best form and certainly not compared to the fey skill. Her suggestion to lie down in her warm embrace that followed however was hard to pass up and I had to agree. I have no idea what the others got up to, but next thing I know I’m being dragged by the arm from the clearing to the next path.
We stumbled into another clearing where an old hag awaited us. She said we had to beat one of three tests in order to pass. Bartiman shouted “all” though, something about something some old seer had said to him back at the Inn. Looks like three it would be. First was the test of skill, playing a balalaika full covered in wasps. Arcael tried his best, but kept disturbing the wasps and managed to get himself badly stung. Thinking I could help by holding the instrument steady, I received some stings myself for the trouble, but he managed to play the damn thing.
Next was the test of strength, something about wrestling with a dwarf, Balgor and Iron Wall tried their luck. I assume one of them was successful, I would have liked to pay more attention, but I had the druid working his magic on my stings to recover some freedom of motion. Bartiman then turned his attention to the third challenge.
A game of Gul Bara, now my skills with games of chance and skill may have been better suited, but I was still nursing some bad stings. After a few rounds, however I did notice that the dice were rolling strangely. We called the hag on her cheating and were met with her furious rage. Surprisingly though she conceded the game to us and awarded us with the enchanted board. Should fetch a nice price back in town in some places I frequent.
Curiously we entered another clearing. Empty, apart from a small arrangement of steepled sticks. We approached cautiously and I extended my thieves pole. I gently flipped the sticks to reveal some familiar looking playing cards, the top one showing my own face. As a kind reward for my caution I was granted a couple of arrows to my shoulder and arm.
The Vargamors burst from the foliage, led by their cowardly leader. I berated him for his fleeing before and his underhanded tactics, truth be told it is exactly the methods I would use. Again his followers seemed as untrained as the last group and we cut through them like ribbons. Their leader seemed determined to press on his attack this time though. The savage actually managed to sink his teeth into me at one point! He was obviously enraged by me knocking him to the floor and making him look foolish. We eventually took his snapping and snarling face and drove it to the ground his blood spilling into the forest floor.
Feeling the pressure we hurried on to come across a huge tree with a house nestled in its branches. We also came across a young warrior glad head to toe in plate. It would seem we weren’t the only ones in search of the young woman. We rushed to the bottom of the tree, Iron wall already swinging a rope up to catch one of the windows and Arcael moving another up through his magic. I took one look at the plated warrior and the look of hopelessness on his face as he eyed the climb. I shoved my potion of spider climb at him and told him to try that. We grabbed the ropes and scaled them as quickly as we could, some more easily than others. Can’t bears climb trees?
I clambered through the window to see the girl sitting casually at the end of the bed and a huge wolf creature tucked up in bed. I wondered how the house managed to stay aloft in the tree it was so full of crap. Not a bit of floor was clear, cluttered with odds and ends, jars and herbs and assorted bric-a-brac. The creature leapt from the bed and started waving its hands. Next thing I know I’m being awoken by the Sorcerer, I guess I must have really needed a nap! I caught a glimpse of Balgor heading back out a window; it wasn’t like the minotaur to be a coward. The others had started their attack.
While the others rained blows down upon the Wolf I maneuvered myself round to get a better angle to slide my swords in. I noticed a sprig of wolfs bane hanging amongst the herbs. I concentrated and used a handy little magical trick I knew to lift the herbs over and place it into the boiling pot.
Perhaps the fumes would have some effect on the bloody werewolf, if the stories were to be believed. I wasn’t going to get to find out though, as after a few well-placed blows from my companions our newly met warrior friend swung a well-timed blow and practically cut the creature in two.
From the belly of the beast we found a still arrived old woman, apparently the woman our druid had been chatting to back at the inn. We had ensured our dominion over the wolves of the Margreve for some time. We returned to the North Road and the rest of our journey to retrieve the artwork was shockingly uneventful. As night drew on and the moon was rising I could feel a strange sensation all over, like the hairs all over my body standing on end. That damn bite is itching too much to carry on writing this. I should get it looked at when we get back to the city.