23 Mitra’n (March) – 9 Gaia’n, (April) 3363 A.A (253 A.F)
After visiting Phandelin and it’s inhabitants and stocking up on emergency chocolates and cigars, and newly joined by a pookha warhorse (with Angus tossed on top for speed) and a rather peppy owl familiar, the now-huge group headed west following the Heir-gloves of Anaya. Spring having finally arrived, the sky is clear, the air is crisp and cool, the roads are finally without ice and snow.
The first few days retread known ground along the Triboar Trail. The mines are busy moving the winter’s product west and north to Brindlingford, except for a cluster of several parked just southwest of the Corberry ruins. People (mostly dwarves, but from several clans) were clustered with their wagons, quickly moving into and out of a nearby mine. We didn’t bother asking why.
Turning north at the Corberry fork, we reached and followed the so-called ‘edge of the world’ for the Shadowlands, the badlands on the edge of the dragon-claimed eastern valley. A couple miles of sharply-descending cheese-grater, alternately shattered boulders and rough pumice-stone fell to the thick forests of Megalaar’s domain far below.
Worringly, the tracking spell from the gloves stopped working. Angus’s ‘feeling’ was still present, so it wasn’t a global condition, but no idea why. Decided to continue and find out what happened to the bard.
Another few days passed. The rough road wove between the rough canyon edge and the Craigsmaw forest heading north. It was obvious from signs on the trail that the larger wagons do not take this road, probably due to the irregularity of the surface and the eroding edges of the cliff it follows.
Along the way, a pair of local hunters were spotted ahead. They quickly jumped off the road into the woods upon seeing the oncoming gang. Following them until they threatened to shoot the group from hiding, a conversation ended with some exchange of information about local conditions and the passage of dwarves.
A day later a clear rocky hill was spotted ahead, and the group arrived at Twin Valley, a two-lobed scooped bowl of forest and swamp around 50’ across, separated in the center by a rough ridge dropping to the north. The eastern edge of the descending ridge was a tall cliff face, but several small creeks had joined the road in descending along the western side. The falling ridge formed shelf-like plateaus including the largest one halfway up the ridge where the town of Gallantry hid within it’s strangely-sloped walls. As both moons are nearly full, the group finished a march along the road to the central town in the dark.
The people of the valley seem uniformly slow and dim and terrified of being out at night. The group nearly failed to get into the main gate after dark, but clean living and holy power proved a useful key to entry. One inn. One temple, to Danae the Night Mother. A central cistern and it’s water gathering structures. Not much else.
Asking around the next day, people remember Agathius as being a bit pushy while inquiring about the Moon Hunter, a strange shield he carried, the local Curse (family relations being stuck here) and the legends of the valley, specifically the immortal Lady of the Night said to live deep in the woods. Not much else learned.
Agathius is FOUND! Sort of…The gloves started working one morning, again no idea why. So, onward! HItting the road into the valley, moving from stone hut to stone hut (provided to keep travellers safe from killer nights in the woods). Occasionally, single wolf howls can be heard from far away, sometimes in succession across the valley. NOT normal.
Later, surrounded by stealthing creatures, the group makes a run for the third hut. Rolen easily outdistances everyone on foot, then gets attacked by a pack of wolves coming from the underbrush. Several other wolves circle the main group. It’s not looking good. Carric speaks with the wolves in their own tongue, explaining there’s no need to fight, then hears a strange wolf cry from the East, ‘…it’s time’. Rolen gets chopped up pretty badly, but Angus (leaping off Agathius’s horse) keeps him covered, mostly. Then the wolves (except the ones slain) run off and leave the party alone.
Rest in the hut, then another day. There are no wolf corpses on the road, but there are a couple of dead men. Their wounds match the killing blows from yestereve, so werewolves? But they exhibited no signs of lycanthropy; no immunity, no healing regeneration, and no human intelligence. Carric is sure, they were normal wolves! Hmmm.
The gloves pointed to the southern end of the western valley lobe, so around the ridge we go. Over the rocky heights, near a tiny creek, many prints are found of bare-feet, humanoid not wolves. More strange evidence. Hmmm.
Continuing, another night in the open, but darker; Boares waning, Lena half. Scouting by owl-vision shows several small packs of wolves around the party at a distance, including one huge dire wolf, but no attacks tonight. Also a huge scarred man is seen, hanging in a tree groping for bird’s nest until he falls. Hmmm.
The afternoon of the following day, a ruined castle with 3 towers is reached. Thick stone walls, but long ago burned out, it’s roof and floors all gone. Nothing but a hollow shell. Wolf tracks around the walls, also deep footmarks where (apparently) a heavy man jumped off behind the ruin to the dirt below the west tower. Agathius is no longer detectable by the gloves. We wait for nightfall, but nothing of interest. Hmmm squared.