Sept of the Five Winds

Epilogue - The Continuing Adventures of Firel
The Rite of Kinfolk Vengeance

After losing the mental connection with his master, Firel made for the caern with all haste. He went to Laria’s now lifeless body, and laid down beside him. Gere and his Fenrir feared the worst for their companions. Shakey Mac had entered the Umbra to aid them, but now it was clear that none who had gone to battle Tsannik had survived.

The Garou healed Firel’s cut and bloody body, and he communicated to them that Tsannik was weak from the battle. Gere called for the Rite of Kinfolk Vengeance, which holds that anyone who kills a packmate must be dealt swift retribution. Gere and Carla entered the Umbra, while Firel, Jumper, and Nadia remained in the physical realm.

The Fenrir returned to the clearing and witnessed the carnage there. They paused but a moment with the corpses of their friends, knowing that Tsannik could not be allowed time to heal. Firel caught scent of the beast, and Gere found a trail of the bane’s essence in the Umbra.

They tracked Tsannik all night, all the way to his lair, the Blightscape, an unholy caern of unspeakable evil. Here in this festering swamp they found the monster, crippled and bleeding from a hundred wounds. It was here, in this vile place, that Gere Hunts-the-Hunters plunged Gungnir, holy spear of Fenris, into the black heart of Tsannik’s hideous bane form, while Firel ripped out the throat of the poor creature he had possessed. Tsannik was dead.

. . .

The Get of Fenris made their way back to the clearing. They gathered the bodies of their fallen packmates, and returned them to the Sept of the Five Winds. Here they gave proper burial to their friends, brave warriors who gave their lives for the most noble of causes; the defense of life itself in the face of pure evil. Their names and deeds became legends among the tribes, and every Garou today knows the tale of their great sacrifice.

Firel was made a full member of the Get of Fenris, and lived out the rest of his days in peace with his new pack.

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Session 8
The Final Battle

Wishing to further prepare the party, Shakey Mac took Ansem, Laria, and Reið aside again and explained to them the nature of the Umbra. The Umbra is a spirit world that exists parallel to our world. It is entered by meditating in a caern, and one must possess sufficient gnosis (spiritual knowledge) to “step sideways.” Mac detected that these three were the best choices to plunge into the Umbra.

Shakey Mac continued, “While in the Umbra, your physical bodies will be unconscious and helpless. Mac and the Fenrir will guard your bodies, and act as a last line of defense for the caern. Your mind will manifest as an avatar in the Umbra, and you will be able to move through the spirit world normally. If your avatar is killed in the Umbra, your mind will die in your real body.” The trio remained silent.

“This avatar will have the same abilities as your normal body, with some exceptions. Your mental strength can augment your physical strength in the spiritual world of the Umbra. Because they are a part of your mind, your avatar retains all spells and special abilities of your corporal self. You three may use them as normal.” Shakey Mac’s countenance darkened. “But be warned, you will not have access to your physical weapons or equipment – your avatar will manifest with its own weapon and armor. Their strength will be determined by your own strength of mind.” Ansem, Laria, and Reið looked to each other, realizing that this would be far more dangerous than they had anticipated.

“The terrain in the Umbra matches our world exactly, but all flora and fauna are drastically different. Instead of animals there are strange and unnatural spirits. Plants and trees look similar, but are vividly colored and luminescent. Beings in the physical world will appear vaguely visible from your perspective, appearing as walking shadows. You will, however, be invisible on the material plane.” A cold grin crossed Ansem’s face.

Laria stood beside Firel, communicating quietly with his direwolf. “Laria, though you will be able to communicate with your wolf across the planes, it may be difficult. The shadowy beings of the physical world are but echoes in the Umbra… and as echoes, equally obscure.”

Shakey Mac cleared his throat and addressed the group as a whole: “Magic exists simultaneously in both realms at once. You may target beings in the physical world with spells, and area-of-effect spells affect creatures on both sides.” He paused briefly before continuing with renewed vigor. “Tsannik is the mission. The Sept of the Five Winds is a powerful caern, and through this gateway Tsannik could bring an army of Wyrm spirits. He cannot be killed while he possesses a body, yet if his physical body is destroyed first, he will simply possess someone else. Your only option to destroy him completely is to kill both forms at the same time.”

Without so much as a goodbye, the two parties separated to enter battle with the evil Tsannik. Conclin, Rizdaveez, and Trokmutt stood strong in the opening before the caern. Tsannik and his group came out of the treeline and marched toward the three. Ansem, Laria, and Reið awoke in the Umbra, their bodies transformed by their minds. Ansem’s appeared as a small shadowy creature, his massive wraith blade further dwarfing him. Laria stood tall, a proud woodland creature, his head crowned in branches and a spear in his hands. Reið was a hulking grey monster with no face – looking closer to his half-orc form than he had in some time. As they regained their bearings, they saw Tsannik and his allies approaching.

Then everyone died. Everyone except the bad guys.

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Session 7
The Rite of Totem Dedication

Only three of the Shadow Lords remained. The alpha, Anna; the treacherous Conrad; and the hidden archer, Nadia. Conrad was still suffering the effects of Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, thanks to Conclin. And Rizdaveez was ably fighting Nadia one-on-one. The remaining Fenrir were able to focus all their intent on Anna.

She continued to viciously gnash and claw at the prone Conclin, knocking him unconscious. Reið sprinted over to the cluster and shattered a phial of green mushroom spores which Laria had had the foresight to give him before combat. The cloud of magical spores had a subtle healing effect on the heroes, stabilizing Conclin, though not removing him from the danger.

As a dazed Golgol started to get his bearings, Laria told Jumper that this new body was in fact Golgol. He commanded Jumper to protect the body. The Garou said he would defend Golgol to the very end.

Seizing the first opportunity she saw, Carla was able to grab Conclin and spirit him away from the mayhem. Surrounded by the other members of the Get of Fenris, Anna was brought down by their combined efforts. Trokmutt finished the job by cutting off the head of Anna Kliminski.

Nadia sensed that the tide of the fight had turned against the Shadow Lords, and she began to flee into the forest. Rizdaveez took off after her, but he was not able to keep up with her through the foliage. He returned to the caern.

With only Conrad left at the caern, aggressive interrogation began. Ansem was the first to confront him, asking questions immediately. Reið followed his friend and began to pummel (non-lethally) Conrad as they asked him to explain himself and tell the group everything he could. Ansem tied Conrad up, and Reið remained on top of Conrad – hoping to pin the monster to the ground should he attempt to escape. Disgusted with Reið’s brutality, Laria told Reið to kill Conrad, stating that that was what he seemed to do with those he saw as problems. Though bothered by his friend’s sentiment, Reið did not feel it was the appropriate time to explain his relationship with death.

Conrad seemed more concerned with saving his own skin and escaping than telling the group anything. He advised that he had been manipulated by Tsannik – that Tsannik had some ability to control the minds of others. Naturally, this lead to discussion about whether Conrad could be trusted at all. He told the group that Tsannik would surely be closing in on the Sept of the Five Winds. Altering his appearance to look like the old man the group met on the road, Ansem asked Conrad about forms that Tsannik may have taken. Did any look as he did now? Conrad denied that Tsannik looked like that, but added that he did recognize the semblance. The man was named “Shakey Mac,” though Conrad offered few details on the character.

Conrad begged for the party to let him go. He seemed to believe that he was no longer useful to Tsannik, and as such would be killed. Seeing that the lone Shadow Lord was quite frightened, Reið offered a deal to Conrad. Reið offered to let Conrad go. He would be allowed to flee, with no weapons, no armor… nothing. In exchange, Conrad would need to tell the group absolutely everything he knew about Tsannik and his companions. To show his good intentions, Reið healed Conrad as best as he was able. Conrad leapt at the offer. The other members of the party were quick to remind Reið that he did not speak for the group. Conrad was disheartened. In a panic, Conrad told the group that Tsannik travelled with a fat man, a sickly looking horse, a woman, and a wolf.

When it became clear that Conrad didn’t have – or wouldn’t tell – any more information, the group debated whether they keep him alive as a sort of hostage, whether they ask him to fight alongside them, or whether they kill him outright. After some discussion, the group decided to keep Conrad alive until the fight with Tsannik was over. Conrad was escorted into the caern to await his judgment: either at the hands of the party, or at the hands of Tsannik.

Gere killed Conrad in the caern.

Gere was visibly angered at the end of the fight, and he called the remaining Garou members of the Get of Fenris together. Golgol accompanied his brethren. Though Trokmutt tried to eavesdrop, Gere dismissed him.

While the Garou spoke, Conclin made a very cogent point. Knowing what the party did about Tsannik, it seemed like he had command over the dead. Fearing that Tsannik would be able to revive the scattered corpses, Laria and Reið cremated the remained of the dead Shadow Lords and Golgol. As they pair addressed the bodies with proper respect, Ansem asked Reið if he could speak to Jerry. While he did, Reið grabbed the body of Conrad and he and Laria burned the last remaining corpse in the clearing.

Returning to address the companions, Golgol revealed that Gere had called him out, stating that the former was no longer fit to lead the Get. He challenged Golgol to combat to decide the alpha of the pack. Golgol knew that in his new body, no longer able to transform into a werewolf, he could not pose a threat to Gere. Reluctantly, he handed over the spear Gungnir to Gere.

Golgol then told the group that he was going to leave the caern. Though the group tried to convince him to stay, reminding him that though they were not Garou they fought to protect this consecrated ground, Golgol’s mind was set on his self-imposed exile. Before he left the Sept of the Five Winds, Golgol asked the group if they had removed a necklace from his former body before it had been placed on the pyre. Somewhat puzzled, Laria and Reið stated that they saw no necklace on his body before they gave him to the flames. Even further dejected, Golgol got ready to leave. Before he did, Reið offered his sympathies. As one who had also been to the other side and returned in an unfamiliar body, Reið advised that, in time, he would grow accustomed to his new body. Golgol, the once vibrant alpha of the Get of Fenris shuffled away from the Caern he had once so fiercely defended.

Wasting no time in the face of the incoming threat, the newly appointed alpha Gere said that he needed to find Carla. When Rizdaveez noted that she set off in pursuit of the archer Nadia, Gere said he needed Carla – she would be integral to the coming fight. He asked if anyone else would come with him. Reið volunteered to assist Gere.

While the rest of the party rested, meditated, and looked after the caern, Gere took off into the woods with Reið trying to keep pace. After nearly an hour of exploration, the pair ran into Carla and Nadia, who were walking back in the direction of the caern. Carla spoke to the integrity of the only surviving Shadow Lord. Nadia confessed to Gere that she was unaware that Conrad had manipulated the group, and that she was only following the orders of her former alpha. As a sort of penance, she pledged her bow to defend the holy caern from falling into Tsannik’s possession. The four began the trip back to the caern.

Shortly after Gere, Carla, Nadia, and Reið returned from the woods, another figure appeared. It was Shakey Mac. He greeted the group and told them that he was a Garou, a member of the Bone Gnawers. He had much to tell them all, and he would need their help if they were to defeat Tsannik.

He told them all that Tsannik was indeed more than he seemed. He was a demonic presence which could take hold of others’ bodies. If his physical body was destroyed, Tsannik would be able to possess another. The only way that he could be killed would be to destroy his corporeal form and his spirit at the same time. To do so, part of the group would need to plunge into the Umbra, or spiritual plane, while others remained in the material plane.

Mac quickly assessed the group, noting who would be best suited to the perils of the Umbra. He told Ansem, Laria, and Reið that they would be sent to fight Tsannik’s diabolic spirit. Conclin, Rizdaveez, and Trokmutt would remain in the physical realm to crush his body. Laria asked about Firel. Would he be able to traverse the planes? For the first time, Shakey Mac seemed unsure. He advised that it might not be wise to do so. He was wary of what might happen if such an animal were to attempt the voyage.

Preparations needed to take place immediately. Shakey Mac said that he had a gift for the adventurers, something that would assist them not only in this upcoming fight, but in the future as well. Asking each member of the party to select a totem animal, he advised that this was not a decision to be taken lightly; it would be permanent. As each warrior chose his totem, Shakey Mac gave him a very precise tattoo. The tattoo seemed to carry with it an enchantment, offering each fighter a new level of insight to the world around him.

The party felt more prepared to fight the evil Tsannik, but Shakey Mac told them that he would need to advise them of the dangers and difficulties of fighting across the planes if they were to survive…

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Session 6
The Rite of Claiming

After emerging from the caern, Ansem approached the rest of his party. He shared new information with the party, explaining that he had been lured by Conrad into a clandestine meeting with a man claiming to be Tsannik. The assassin, Bloodjaw, had been sent by this same man. The party took this information with some surprise, trying to figure out whether it was only Conrad who was now aligned with Tsannik, or whether all the Shadow Lords were now corrupted.

To the party, it became clear that there were two options: one, return to the meeting place and hunt down this man claiming to be Tsannik; and two, defend the caern against the Shadow Lords. But did that mean hunting the Shadow Lords, or attempting to lure them into a trap at the caern? Reið, remembering that he was holding a talking sword, asked Jerry for council. Jerry, acerbic as ever, reminded the party that this wasn’t their battle and that they could just as easily abandon the Fenrir and go on their merry way. He was summarily sheathed for such advice. [Side note: He was not sheathed, but he should have been.]

As the party discussed their options, a crow arrived at the camp. Carla’s keen eyes caught this and she warned that crows were messengers of the Shadow Lords. Conclin spoke with the birds and gathered that the Lords were approaching for a “meeting.” Not wanting to be caught off guard, the group made hasty battle preparations, and took defensive positions around the sept. Conclin prepared the melée fighters for battle by casting Mage’s Armor on Ansem, Golgol, Reið, Rizdaveez, and Trokmutt.

Anna Kliminski and her Shadow Lords arrived at the clearing. She boldly claimed that Golgol was unable to defend the Sept of the Five Winds from the Wyrm, and as such, it would now come under the guard of the Shadow Lords. She further accused Ansem of luring Conrad to Tsannik, of being the offspring of Tsannik, and of corrupting the Fenrir in order to deliver the caern to the Wyrm. The party rushed to their comrade’s defense. Reið claimed that he didn’t care what Ansem’s parentage was as he stood side-by-side with the accused. As Golgol called on Ansem to address the charges, Trokmutt reminded the alpha of the Get of Fenrir that Trokmutt himself had once stood falsely accused on these same grounds. Ansem confirmed that Tsannik had claimed to be his father, but denied the other allegations against him, and accused Conrad of betrayal in turn. Though Ansem had withheld that he may be the son of Tsannik from his friends, Golgol resolved to stand by his packmate and defend his honor. With that, the lines were drawn.

The Fenrir and the Shadow Lords met in a frenzy of tooth and claws. Bowfire came from the woods, and Rizdaveez tracked down Nadia and engaged her. Ansem, Reið, and Carla surrounded Roar-of-Storms and ably brought him down. Laria and Conclin used their magic to attack both Conrad and Anna. Trokmutt, Firel, Golgol, and Gere went straight for Anna.

The two alphas held nothing back, both taking their Crinos forms. Golgol and Anna traded vicious blows. But Golgol was underprepared for this battle, and Anna soon gained the upper hand. She plunged her silver klaive into his heart then brutally tore out his throat with her teeth. The alpha of the Get fell dead to the ground. Gere went into a fury – leaping over his friend’s body to rabidly attack Anna. But Anna turned her attention to Conclin, leaping at the flyer and pulling him back down to the ground. With haste Laria hurried to the corpse of Golgol. He tapped into his druidic power, suddenly causing the body of a half-orc to materialize on the ground behind him…

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Session 5
The Rite of Investiture

After returning to the caern, Golgol offered to make the adventurers full members of the pack. They agreed, and were welcomed to the Sept of the Five Winds through the Rite of Investiture. This involved Golgol, in his Crinos form, giving each member a ritual scar on their arm with his claw.

When the ceremony was completed, Golgol openly shared his distrust of the Shadow Lords, and that he suspected that they would attempt to take the caern by force. The group discussed strategies for the protection of the caern, and also expressed a desire to learn more about Tsannik. At some point, Ansem sneaked away from the meeting, and Laria revealed that he had gone to meet with the Conrad. With dawn approaching, the party decided to bed down for the day, and set a guard to watch for threats.

Rizdaveez took the first watch, and it passed without a problem. Laria then took second watch. He noticed a shadowy figure in the woods, and heard a branch snap behind him, but remained calm and held his position. He was startled, however, when he noticed that Ansem had apparently returned at some point, possibly during the first watch, and was sleeping by the fire. It quickly became clear that something was amiss, as the cloaked figure posing as Ansem rose, and began to approach Laria at the top of the hill. When he received no response from the stranger, Laria called for his friends to awake, as the cloaked being charged!

Laria, thinking quickly, cast Master Air, grew wings, and flew straight up in the air! As the party began responding to Laria’s call, the stranger diverted his course and stabbed Conclin while he slept. Conclin was able to heal himself and crawl away, and while the cloaked figure was focused on him, Golgol arose and threw Gungir, piercing the creature through the back. As his cowl fell away, it became plain that this was certainly not Ansem, but a red-haired man with a mask covering his mouth. As he was surrounded by Reið, Gere, and Firel, he suddenly transformed into a werewolf, though a severely malformed one. His snout was a bloody and toothy mess, and he viciously began attacking all those around him. Trokmutt and Rizdaveez joined the fray, and the werewolf was finally dispatched by a well-placed lightning bolt from Laria.

Golgol informed the party that he knew the dead Garou by reputation, and named him as Bloodjaw, an assassin for the Black Spiral Dancers, a tribe of Wyrm-tainted Garou. As Laria eradicated the body with repeated lightning bolts, the group discussed the implications of a Wyrm assassin infiltrating their camp, and the increased likelihood of Tsannik’s coming. When Ansem returned and expressed knowledge of the attack, the party questioned his actions that evening. Ansem first insisted on speaking with Golgol alone, and they entered the Sept together . . . .

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Session 4
The Moot of the Tribes

After the Rite of Passage, the party returned to camp to eat and rest before the midnight moot with the Shadow Lords. Several party members had discussions with certain pack members, and it was suggested that outsiders attending the moot should not speak or bear weapons. When it was time to leave, Gere stayed behind to guard the caern, and the party followed Golgol west, deeper into the woods.

After about a 3 mile hike, the group came to a clearing where the Shadow Lords were waiting. Anna, apparently the pack alpha, traded information with Golgol on current happenings in the forest. She informed him that Mamu, the feared human-killer and alpha of the Red Talons, had returned to the forest. Golgol expressed concern that Mamu might target his new human companions, and hoped to avoid a confrontation with him.

Anna then brought far graver news to the attention of the Fenrir; that Tsannik had been seen in the forest as well. This news seemed to shock the Fenrir, and Conrad, another Shadow Lord, explained to the party the story of Gaia and the Wyrm. He told how the Wyrm is Gaia’s ancient enemy, and that his minions on Earth fulfill his mission to corrupt and kill all that is good in the world. He explained that Tsannik is the most powerful agent of the Wyrm that any Garou had ever encountered, but that none of those present had ever seen him. When the group asked him to describe Tsannik, Conrad told them that he was capable of changing his appearance. Jerry informed Reið that the name “Tsannik” was demonic in origin.

Anna pressed Golgol to allow the Shadow Lords to assist in the defense of the caern, but Golgol sternly refused, and declared the moot to be concluded. Some of the party had conversations with Conrad and the Fenrir after the moot, and the group started the hike back to camp.

On the way back, the party was ambushed at a stream by Mamu and his Red Talons. The skills of the group were on full display, as they made short work of the famous killer Garou and his tribe. Trokmutt cleft two of the Talons in twain, while Laria commanded his own wolves to finish off the other two. Golgol, Jumper, and Carla remained uninvolved during the fight, claiming that it was forbidden for Garou to slay Garou. When the dead werewolves were buried, the party returned to camp at the Sept of the Five Winds.

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Session 3
The Rite of Passage

Gungnir, the holy spear of the Fenrir, and Golgol’s personal weapon, had been stolen from the caern. Azriel, having bragged of the crime, was called out by Golgol to show himself, return the spear, and answer for its theft. When the spear was revealed to be in the possession of Trokmutt, Golgol immediately challenged him to combat, but Carla was able to convince him to question Azriel.

When Azriel and Trokmutt continued to accuse each other of the crime, Golgol banished the group from the camp. As the party turned to leave, Trokmutt suddenly transformed into a bear and attacked Azriel! While in the grip of the bear, Azriel was impaled by Jeryth, and dealt a vicious blow by Reið. Trokmutt, reverting to his natural form, flung Azriel’s limp body at the feet of Golgol. Laria confirmed that the halfling was dead.

While Reið and Laria went about burying Azriel, the pack met within the caern. After some deliberation, Golgol agreed to let the party remain in camp, as the spear had been returned and its thief met with justice. The party, thoroughly exhausted, finally was able to rest through the day.

Upon waking in the evening, Conclin asked Golgol if the group would still be permitted to attend moot with the Shadow Lords. Golgol said they would, provided they agreed to a Rite of Passage. This rite turned out to be a melee in the woods, with no magic permitted. The party handily defeated the four Garou, and Laria was able to mend Gungnir, after Rizdaveez had destroyed it in the battle. Having defeated the pack in combat, while also returning his spear to him twice, the party earned the respect of Golgol Fangs-First and the Fenrir.

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Names and Terms

Terms:
Garou – natural born werewolf, also called Child of Gaia
Gaia – Earth goddess
Caern – holy place of prayer to Gaia
Pack – group of Garou living together
Sept – pack of Garou defending a caern
Tribe – a broader term for a group of Garou with shared ideals
Skindancer – a person who becomes a werewolf by wearing wolf skins, considered an abomination by Garou
Moot – meeting between Garou tribes
Lupus – wolf form Garou, born to a Lupus and a wolf
Homid – humanoid form Garou, born to a Homid and a humanoid
Wyrm – Gaia’s ancient enemy, God of corruption, war, and soul-consumption
Crinos – a Garou’s werewolf form
Auspice – moon sign of a Garou’s birth, determining her role in society
Ragabash – auspice of the dark (new) moon, the Trickster
Theurge – auspice of the sickle (crescent) moon, the Seer
Philodox – auspice of the half moon, the Judge
Galliard – auspice of the egg (gibbous) moon, the Bard, or Moon Dancer
Ahroun – auspice of the full moon, the Warrior
Suharrahu – auspice of the blood moon (lunar eclipse), the Hidden One
Bane – evil spirit in service to the Wyrm
Klaive – holy silver dagger
Kinfolk – non-Garou member of a tribe
Umbra – spirit world, accessed through a caern
Gauntlet – magical barrier separating the Umbra from the real world
Totem – spirit animal that aids its followers

Names:
Samuel Haight – skindancer killed by Jeryth/Ansem
Sept of the Five Winds – the caern, and the pack defending it
Get of Fenris – tribe of the sept, also called the Fenrir
Golgol – Get of Fenris, pack alpha, Protector of the Sept, a huge and gregarious man
Carla – Get of Fenris, a handsome young woman with short white hair
Gere – Get of Fenris, a stern, middle-aged man with red hair
Fang Jumper – Get of Fenris, a teenager with a shaved head
Shadow Lords – tribe with whom the Fenrir trade information
Anna – Shadow Lord, pack alpha, a tall and muscular woman with black hair, killed by Trokmutt
Conrad – Shadow Lord, a sallow, middle aged man with graying hair, killed by Gere
Nadia – Shadow Lord, a petite young woman with a scar over her eye
Roar-of-Storms – Shadow Lord, a jet black wolf, killed by Reið
Red Talons – tribe of all lupus Garou, renowned for hating humans
Mamu – Red Talon, pack alpha, an enormous, dark red direwolf, killed by Firel
Eater-of-Bears – Red Talon, a small, brown wolf, killed by Trokmutt
Sees-Past-Lies – Red Talon, a reddish-brown wolf, killed by Trokmutt
Growls-at-Moon – Red Talon, a pure white wolf, killed by Laria
Tsannik – powerful minion of the Wyrm, possibly a Bane spirit
Black Spiral Dancers – tribe of insane Garou who have converted to the Wyrm
Fangthane Bloodjaw – Black Spiral Dancer, an assassin with a damaged and bloody face, killed by Laria
Shakey Mac – Bone Gnawer, an ancient and wise Theurge

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Session 2
The Rite of the Skin Dance

Jeryth and Azriel approached the clearing, and witnessed what appeared to be a human sacrifice in progress. Three humans wearing only bloody wolf pelts stood over an unconscious man on a stone slab. As the leader of the rite brought down his dagger, Jeryth intervened, and stabbed the nearest man through the heart. As Azriel joined the fight, the cult leader suddenly transformed into a huge, white werewolf!

Hearing the commotion, the rest of the party arrived to the fight and waded in. Reið traded blows with the werewolf, while Jeryth dispatched the female follower. Lightning, fire, and eldritch blasts rained down on the werewolf from the sky, and the creature was finally destroyed when Jeryth pierced him though the throat. Reið asked Jerry for assistance, and Jerry informed him that the group were “skindancers”, unnatural werewolves.

Laria revived the bound man on the slab, and he introduced himself as Jumper. Jumper claimed to have been captured by the skindancers while hunting, and asked the party to accompany him to the safety of his camp. When asked if he was a “shapechanger”, he confirmed that he was “Garou”, a natural born werewolf. Jerry was consulted on the term “Gaia”, used both by Jumper and the skindancer, and he identified it as the Earth goddess, worshipped by the Garou and other woodland dwellers. After some debate on whether to return to the road and the old man, the party resolved to follow Jumper to his camp, west through the woods.

After about 3 hours, the party reached Jumper’s camp, which turned out to be a clearing next to a small hill. Jumper introduced his packmates Carla and Gere, and Carla invited the party to rest and eat. Carla also provided some information on the pack. She stated that the cave in the hill was a holy place, called a caern, where they prayed to Gaia. This caern was named the Sept of the Five Winds, and she said that it was the mission of the pack to defend it with their lives.

Golgol, a huge man identified as the pack alpha, exited the caern and joined the conversation. He praised and thanked the group for rescuing Jumper, and for destroying the notorious skindancer Samuel Haight. He insisted that the group stay with the pack to regain their strength. Gere informed the party that they were not permitted to enter the cave, and became agitated when he could no longer detect Azriel by his scent, though Golgol dismissed his fears. Several one-on-one conversations occurred, and the party prepared to bed down for the day. After a long and trying night, everything seemed to have calmed down. And then mention was made of a missing spear . . . .

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Session 1
On the Wooded Road

After sleeping at Hoenheim’s Tower, the party (Reið, Laria, Trokmutt, Conclin, Azriel, and the newly returned Jeryth) met for breakfast in the dining room. With a curt “Gentlemen, thank you for your service”, and a wave of his hand, the adventurers were instantly teleported out of the Tower, and materialized on an unfamiliar dirt road in the woods.

The party made some fruitless efforts to discern their location. Flying above the high tree-line proved useless, revealing only more woods in all directions. Azriel was able to spy what appeared to be large river to the north. Laria determined that they were in a temperate forest of hardwood trees, with normal woodland life in the area. Conclin was able to make some headway by getting some information from a local hawk. Based on this information, the party resolved to head southeast down the road, away from what the hawk described as “monsters” to the west.

After about 9 miles of travel with no change in the situation or landscape, the gang took a brief break for lunch, and a short foray into the woods, ostensibly to observe the local squirrel population. When this proved tiresome, they hit the road again.

Another 6 miles and still no change, the party decided to make camp with dusk upon them. It was at this point that Reið remembered Jerry the talking sword, and asked it for help in determining their location. In his usual prickly manner, Jerry deduced that they were in the woods, and that it was too dark for him to tell anything else.

As they prepared to make camp, a lone figure was spotted approaching from the southeast. Despite suspicion on both sides, Conclin was able to defuse the situation, and invited the lone dwarf to join them for the evening. He introduced himself as Rizdaveez, and, though wary to give details on his past, did reveal that he was the last of a party of dwarves, and had been wandering the woods for days until he found the road.

Trokmutt took the first shift, and it passed without issue. Laria took second shift, and sometime after midnight, was alerted to an approaching creature when Firel awoke, and began growling towards the northwest. Laria quickly awoke his companions, and Conclin addressed the shadowy figure with a Dancing Lights spell. The figure, apparently an old human man, proved difficult to read, and when the lights wore out, began approaching again. Laria was shocked as Firel quickly went from anger, to submissive fear, to walking forward and sniffing and licking the strange man’s hand, all in a matter of moments! Sensing no hostility in the man, Laria invited him to sit by the fire.

The party asked some questions of the man, but the cryptic answers they received offered little in the way of information. When asked if he was a friend of the forest, he claimed to “serve her, as I serve all living things.” The gang was getting drowsy, and they began to bed down again after an eventful day. However, before anyone could get settled, the party was startled when the old man unexpectedly grabbed Jeryth by the arm violently. As the man’s eyes rolled back in his head, he pulled Jeryth close, and whispered in his ear. The two exchanged whispers for a few seconds, when suddenly, the old man released his grip, and proceeded to lay down and go to sleep.

As the party looked to Jeryth for a reaction, he became wild eyed with what appeared to be both fear and exhilaration! He asked the party for help, and to come with him immediately. When pressed for a reason, his response was “to save an innocent life.” Jeryth then quickly packed his things, and took off at a brisk pace, southeast down the road. The party, left with few options, followed his lead, and left the old man behind.

The group reached a large boulder by the side of the road, and, again following Jeryth’s lead, headed west into the woods, in the direction of the full moon. As they neared a clearing about 2 miles in, Radagast was able to communicate “DANGER” to Conclin, and Laria (in wolf form) confirmed the presence of multiple humans ahead . . . .

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