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Mind Flayer

JamZilla's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 2,269 posts (4,778 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 11 aliases.


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Andoran

@Davos and Markus

The pair of scholar's spend a frustrating day leafing through dozens of books, trying to find some mention of the werewolves or Highthrone. but none is forthcoming.

You do notice toward the end of the day that the library has a fairly extensive collection of tomes on history and religion. There may be some useful information about the Whispering Way here as well.

Estovian considers Markus' question;

I know that Highthrone is important to the wolves in some way. Blasted creatures. So I assumed it was some sort of... oh den or something. I'm sorry I don't know exactly. There is a series of traveller journals in the reference library, a collection of stories from those who have travelled through these woods throughout the years. There may be something there?

Anyway, the evening meal will be prepared shortly, I'm sure you will do the honour of joining the other guests? And I'm sure you will dress formally so as to avoid any unfortunate... ah... faux pas.

He smiles at you without feeling and excuses himself.

Andoran

@Jon

Cos the flowers only comes back in the summer. the gardner replies, blinking heavily. Can't get new ones if they squashed.

He begins trimming the hedge once more, humming tunelessly as he does so.

Andoran

@Morbar

No, no. Nothing of mine. It's just I was hoping you recovered his body or anything I could send back to his family.

Cilas looks downcast.

Andoran

@Morbar

Aye...aye. Old war chums. I suspected because I hadn't heard form him for so long. Damned shame. he shakes his head, looking genuinely upset.

Did you bring any of his effects with you? he says, hopefully.

Andoran

@Morbar

The man's jaw drops; How did you know that? Unless... he sighs. Did something get him in the forest?

Andoran

@Morbar

Oh I doubt it. he says somewhat regretfully. My military days are behind me, especially since those blaggards took my title. Treason, they said! Me of all people! You fight and you kill and you bleed for your country and all you expect in return is a little gratitude...

He looks off into the distance, obviously remembering something that causes him much chagrin.

I'm sorry, that was not directed at you. I too am looking for someone. Or waiting for them at least. My friend was supposed to join me here about a week ago but I have not heard from him yet. Anyway, what makes you think the man you hunt came through here?

Andoran

@Morbar

The man takes Morbar's hand in a firm grip. You can feel the roughness of his hands which seems at odds with the immaculate uniform-like suit he wears and waxed moustache.

I used to know them better than I do now. And I never had the good fortune of fighting alongside you chaps. But I'm a student of military history, especially in my later years. Cilas Graydon - The Margrave of Sturnedae. he introduces himself almost defiantly in an odd sort of way.

What brings you to the Lodge? he asks.

Andoran

@Jon

The man looks up from his clipping and stares at you briefly. He squints deeply despite the sun being at his back and a line of spittle runs from his curled upper lip to his shoulder. You can see even by looking at him that he clearly has some kind of mental difficulty.

An uncomfortably long silence sits between you before he says;

I cuts the grass and the hedge. And waters the flowers. Don't go stepping on the flowers! he points the clippers alarmingly at your chest.

Andoran

@Sebastian

Ah, Sebastian. Good to see you. Have you given any more thought to the scar-ward. If you're going to spend any length of time here I'd highly recommend it, you can't be too careful with those damned wolves. Before you can answer he waves his hand in the air in a dismissive gesture and says; Say no more about it, I'll bring the witch to your room tonight and she can tell you about it. She works for Ivanja in the tower so I'm sure it would be no problem.

As you begin to describe Vrood and your mission, you see his eyes begin to light up.

Why your hunt sounds even more exciting than mine! Of course I'll help however I can but unfortunately I only arrived here a few days before you so if this person passed through a week or more ago I missed them I'm afraid. Perhaps one of the other guests remembers them. Besides, I don't know anything about necromancy but I'd bet a good Courtaud Crown that if there's any misdeeds going on then the wolves are behind it somehow.

Andoran

@Markus and Davos

Markus and Davos spend the day in the private library. For most of the morning they are undisturbed and able to work in peace. Later, Estovian enters and asks if he can help with anything or indeed if there is anything in particular you are looking for in the library.

Also need knowledge rolls please

Andoran

@Morbar

As you sit down to enjoy your breakfast you notice there are two scullions, both human, fetching food from the kitchen and serving it to guests. One is male and the other female, you wouldn't say either were over twenty years of age.

Two of the guests are also up early enjoying breakfast though not together.

There is a human man with a stern expression and sharp eye. He is straight-backed and broad shouldered despite being probably well over middle age by human standards, possibly fifty or more. A large scar sits above his left eye and you notice that when his breakfast is brought to him, he uses a sharp knife that is clearly his own property to slice his cheese, butter his bread and to thrust into thick pieces of ham that adorn his plate. It is the kind of behavior you have seen for years back among your kin and denotes this man as clearly having spent time in the military.

The other man could not be more different from the first. He is lithe and handsome, with curly blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He lounges in his seat and eyes the scullery girl with barely disguised lust. Even at this time of the morning he has a glass of what looks like hard liquor in his hand that he occasionally holds up to the light to see the sunlight through the golden liquid before taking a swallow.

The pair exchange occasional words and the older man nods as you pass whilst the younger barely gives you a second glance.

---------------

Later, the sun burns away the early morning chill and training in the midday sun makes you start to heave and sweat profusely. As you strip off your armor and begin to bathe in the fountain, you hear a thick chuckle behind you.

You wipe the water from your eyes and see the older man from from breakfast standing on the back deck watching you.

In my day I was just the same. Eat when you can, sleep when you can, wash when you can. In the field you don't know when the next opportunity will come.

The man's accent is heavy and deep, making him a little difficult to understand. Now that you are closer you can see that his nose is disjointed and he walks with a slight limp.

I was watching you train, I didn't mean to disturb you. Are you a Gorgrim or an Ulhud? Or a Dwinhak maybe. My Dwarven heraldry is a little rusty, I'm just trying to remember those families that favored the heavy hammer.

Andoran

Still seething from his argument with Markus, Jon decides to head outside for some air.

He wanders the plush garden for a time and then decides to lose himself in the hedge maze for a while.

The privet is expertly maintained at a height of eight feet. He is impressed by the size and scale of the maze but even so it only takes him ten minutes or so to reach the center and begin heading back out. As he does so he begins to hear a clipping and clacking noise from near the entrance to the maze. He passes by a stooped human with a pair of hedge clippers, carefully pruning the verge. He doesn't appear to notice the oracle.

Andoran

Davos, the library will allow you to make a knowledge history check on Highthrone with a +4 bonus and also a Knowledge local check on the wolves with a +4 bonus

Andoran

I don't recall anyone like that. But then I was on an extended hunt about three weeks ago. Could be that I missed em. Your best bet is to speak to the staff and guests, Duristan seems to know who's who. I don't bother the guests too much unless they want to go into the woods.

Andoran

@Sebastian

Aye, fair enough. A fight you didn't need is good for no one and all that.

I seen the wolves riled up plenty of times, I been here for years after all. But nothing ever like this. See each of the five tribes is different.

The Broken Ones settle in remote or isolated territories, building small provincial communities near the wood’s edge. For the most part, they pose as simple farmers or trappers, occasionally traveling to larger communities to sell or trade for goods. They live and hunt in small packs, targeting lone travelers or those who stray from larger groups. Physically smaller than the other tribes, the Broken Ones transform into red wolves. Their pack structure is matriarchal, and their current tribe leader is a druid called Cybrisa Dorzhanev.

The Demon Wolves are smallest and most recently formed pack in the Shudderwood, the Demon Wolves are an amalgam of newly afflicted werewolves, whose pitiful existence is typically scorned by most natural lycanthropes, and exiles from other tribes. Their current tribe leader, is named Adimarus Ionacu. They say he willingly contracted the disease in devotion a demon.

The Silverhides are more aggressive than the Broken Ones, yet possess more composure and subtlety than the other tribes. The Silverhides rarely form standard packs, instead living much of their lives as solitary individuals or lone wolves. Only in times of great importance do they unite and form organized packs. More so than all the others, the they have been successful at blending in with normal humans and living secretly within their communities, with a few bold individuals even settling in some of Ustalav’s major cities. Or so I'm told. It is no secret that the Silverhides’ current leader, Mathus Mordrinacht, has had designs on the position of packlord over all the packs of the Shudderwood for some time.

The Prince’s Wolves are Varisian werewolves with ties to the Sczarni crime family. The Prince’s Wolves maintain a tight pack structure and spend much of their time traveling in small family groups, performing or
pickpocketing to support themselves before moving on to do it again somewhere else. The Prince’s Wolves transform into wolves with brown or gray fur, and their current tribe leader is a roguish scoundrel named Rhakis Szadro.

The smallest of the Shudderwood’s tribes, the Primals are also the most homogenous, as they are all descended from the ancient Kellid tribes who once inhabited these lands before they were driven out by the invading Varisians. At present, less than 30 Vollensag remain, settled deep in the woods and traveling in small migratory hunting packs, living as much as their ancestors did.

Andoran

Ascanor Lodge Locations:

D1. Gatehouse
D2. Porter’s Cottage
D3. Ruessa’s Cottage
D4. Stables
D5. Maintenance Shed
D6. Watchtower
D7. Huntmaster’s Cottage
D8. Beast Pens
D9. Cobbled Path
D10. Back Deck
D11. Courtyard Fountain
D12. Hedge Maze
D13. Main Entrance
D14. Grand Hall
D15. North Stairwell
D16. South Stairwell
D17. Kitchen and Prep rooms
D18. Dining Room
D19. Music Room
D20. Conference Room
D21. Washrooms
D22. Trophy Room
D23. Sitting Room
D24. Grand Ballroom
D25. Front Deck
D26. Guest Bedrooms
D26a. Corvin’s Room
D26b. Empty Room
D26c. Duristan’s Room
D26d. Graydon’s Room
D26e. Empty Room
D26f. The Markiza’s Room
D26g. Ostovach’s Room
D27. Cross Passage
D28. Estovion’s Quarters
D29. Reading Library
D30. Reference Library
D31. South Tower

Andoran

I really need to know where you all are. I have posted the Ascanor map above. I assume Sebastian is in D3/D4. Davos went straight to D30. Where is this arguement taking place?

Ascanor Lodge Locations:

D1. Gatehouse
D2. Porter’s Cottage
D3. Ruessa’s Cottage
D4. Stables
D5. Maintenance Shed
D6. Watchtower
D7. Huntmaster’s Cottage
D8. Beast Pens
D9. Cobbled Path
D10. Back Deck
D11. Courtyard Fountain
D12. Hedge Maze
D13. Main Entrance
D14. Grand Hall
D15. North Stairwell
D16. South Stairwell
D17. Kitchen and Prep rooms
D18. Dining Room
D19. Music Room
D20. Conference Room
D21. Washrooms
D22. Trophy Room
D23. Sitting Room
D24. Grand Ballroom
D25. Front Deck
D26. Guest Bedrooms
D26a. Corvin’s Room
D26b. Empty Room
D26c. Duristan’s Room
D26d. Graydon’s Room
D26e. Empty Room
D26f. The Markiza’s Room
D26g. Ostovach’s Room
D27. Cross Passage
D28. Estovion’s Quarters
D29. Reading Library
D30. Reference Library
D31. South Tower

Andoran

Nope. he says, puffing on his pipe, the smoke thick and black.

Something's riled up the five tribes that's for certain. At first I thought it was Duristan and his incessant hunts. The man's a fool but he has killed a few of them so they must at least see him as a thorn in their side.

But after what that Demon Wolf said about Highthrone, it ain't him. There must be a power struggle going on. Still, they've never attacked the Lodge so that's one good thing.

He puffs again, one eyebrow slightly raised.

You fight like that, all jumping and dancing about?

Andoran

After some brief conversation and several night caps, the party finally retires.

What follows is one of the most restful nights sleep you can remember. The beds are like sleeping on clouds and the Lodge is kept warm the entire night by the large fires in the hearths downstairs.

What follows is basically a big sand box. You can more or less do what you want and talk to whomever. You know based on what the Count told you that Vrood, if he came here at all, likely did so about a fortnight ago. There are thirteen staff members at the Lodge, of which you have met Delgros, Estovian and Belik. There are also just five guests currently in the Lodge of which you have met Duristan and seen a lady he referred to as Markiza.

Over to you guys!

Andoran

Please forgive any confusion, sir. I myself am not a member of the Order. But we have a long standing agreement that they may use our facilities. I am not privy to their secrets or rivalries and nor would I want to be. But for any other matters, my staff are at your disposal.

Andoran

Vrood. he muses, tapping his chin with his fore finger. An unusual name. And one I think I would remember. But I'm afraid I don't recall. Having said that, if invitations are in order, I don't always see all the guests, especially if they are here for a short visit. I'm sorry, I don't think I know this person you are looking for.

He looks serious for a moment then;

Whatever your business with him is your own. The Lodge is nothing if not discreet. However, if you say you hunt this man then I insist there be no trouble here in the Lodge.

Now then sirs, ladies. I'm afraid I have some matters to attend to before I retire and you must be in need of some rest after your journey through the Shudderwood. Please, allow Belik to show you to the rooms we have available for you.

Belik awaits in the doorway and after your conversation with Estovian is concluded, he shows you to a series of well furnished, comfortable rooms scattered across the first floor of the Lodge.

It's late at night and even Duristan appears to have drifted off to bed. Whether his own or someone else's is another matter. Anything else before you rest?

Andoran

As you move into the grounds of the Lodge you can see it is indeed as grand as the Count assured you. In addition to the main Lodge you can see various outbuildings and a stables as well as a watchtower and even a hedge maze.

Belik leads you up the steps and through the grand double doors into the Grand Hall. This huge hallway serves as a centrepiece for ground floor. Golden pine floor planks, over a foot in width and sanded smooth, stretch almost the entire length of the hall, while four massive tree trunks serve as pillars, running down the centre of the room supporting the ceiling overhead.

Large hide rugs and trophy heads of bears, bucks and snarling wolves adorn the floor and natural log walls, boasting some of the lodge's patrons' finer kills. Garlands and banners embroidered with the crests of various aristocrats, secret orders, and hunting clubs hang from exposed rafters high overhead. Stone fireplaces on either side keep the room at a comfortable temperature.

Duristan walks with you until this room where, despite the late hour, he spots one of the Lodge's current guests - a slim and elegant lady in her mid-forties.

He turns to Sebastian;

There are dozens of wolf tribes in the forest as I said, but all of them are either descended from, or owe allegiance to, five main tribes. That werewolf we spoke to was a Demon Wolf. There are also the Broken ones, Silverhides, Prince's Wolves and Primals. Each have their own traditions and hunting grounds but all will bow to the will of the Packlord, a powerful werewolf from among the tribes who has earned the right to oversee all of the tribes. Whilst squabbles over hunting grounds and territories will always be a mainstay of wolf tradition, the Packlord prevents it from descending into all out war.

He pauses to roll up his sleeve to show you all a curous, web-like scar carved into his shoulder.

That's what the witches call a 'scar-ward.' It's one of the reasons those mangy muts don't scare me because it makes me immune to their horrible curse. If you'd like me to arrange one for all of you, please just say the word.

But... I'd love to tell you more about all this, but I think I've spotted my next prey. he says, with a wicked grin. Why don't we catch up tomorrow after you've had a good night's rest?

He then moves quickly and lithely over to the comfortable sofa the lady is residing in and sits down heavily beside her. too close beside her.

My charming Markiza, how radiant you look this evening? What is that you're reading, something scandalous no doubt!

The lady turns her head away from Duristan in distase;

Mr Ariesir, you stink of sweat and horses...

You cannot hear the rest as Belik leads you further into the building, up a set of stairs to the souuth of the complex and to a stout wooden door on which he knocks three times. The door opens with an exceptionally loud creak and you are ushered inside a great circular room with every inch of the walls lined in hundreds of books.

In the centre of the room is a large oak desk behind which sits a slight man in his sixties. He has a long face, myopic eyes, dirty spectacles and what appears to be a permanent squint. He stands as you enter and says;

Thank you Belik, that will be all. And thank you all for taking the time to see me. Please do not hold the actions of my Porter against him. The error in your improper greeting was entirely mine. My name is Estovian Lozarov, the warden of this Lodge. I neglected to inform my staff of the open invitations I gave to the Order, he pauses here to wink conspiratorially. And they did not recognise the reservations. Rest assured, however, that all of the Lodge's facilities are at your disposal, including our libraries. Whilst the general library is down the hall, this one is my own personal library which, as a gesture of goodwill, I will make available to your good selves.

Sense Motive DC 12:
Whilst he didn't mention it and nor did the Judge, Count Caromarc must also have been a member of the Order of the Palatine Eye and it is this connection, more than his name itself, that seems to have opened a door for you.

Andoran

Davos knowledge check :
The Shudderwood is one of the largest forests in northern Avistan, with half of its area in Ustalav and the other half extending as far north as the Worldwound itself.
The Shudderwood in Ustalav is almost entirely within the county of Lozeri covering most of that county to the point that, for many, the Shudderwood and Lozeri are synonymous. There is a small part of the wood in eastern Vieland. Many rivers flow through the wood including: the Buestral River, the Calscroix River, the Mothburn, the Moutray River, and the Troll's Tail. The Dippelmere Swamp lies in the Vieland portion of the wood.

The wood itself is said to be one of the wildest and untamed places in Avistan and is infamous for both the packs of wolves that roam the forest and the werewolves that are said to control them. You know that whilst there are dozens of packs within the wood, they are all derived from, or pay homage to, one of five powerful tribes; The Demon Wolves, the Silverhides, the Broken Ones, the Princes Wolves and the Primals. The werewolf mentioned that Mathus Mordrinacht was the leader of the Silverhides and called him a betrayer.

Andoran

Below is a spoiler containing the portraits and information you have found out about the residents of Ascanor Lodge. As you find out more I will add to it and continue to update and I would highly recommend checking back through this information as I post it periodically to keep up with who is who.

Duristan Silvio Ariesir:

Duristan Silvio Ariesir
A young thrill-seeking aristocrat hailing from one of Ardeal’s wealthiest families, Duristan has come to Lozeri to make a name for himself as a werewolf slayer. He’s already had a few successful hunts and to date has slain three of the beasts.

As a result of his success, he’s grown dangerously overconfident. Still, he becomes somewhat star-struck in the presence of real adventurers, and eagerly attempts to discuss his hunting tales with them.

Duristan is somewhat contemptuous of most of the lodge’s other guests. While he considers himself a hunter, he views the others as pampered politicos who use Ascanor Lodge to escape from their nagging spouses. Duristan rarely denies himself the opportunity to pique the ire of his fellow guests, whether by wearing his bloody armor around the lodge or by f lirting with the lodge’s “low-born” staff members and even inviting them to participate in “upper class” social events.

Delgro Kroitzcer:

Delgros Kroitzer
Delgros Kroitzcer serves as Ascanor’s huntsmaster and leads (or at least accompanies) the majority of hunts for the lodge’s guests.

Delgros is in his early thirties, and he possesses a fine physique. Still, his appearance seems to complement his gruff demeanor.

Belik of Courtaud:

Belik of Courtaud
Tidy, well dressed, and officious, Belik works as Ascanor’s porter.

Andoran

Davos - if I recall, the party's original knowledge local check on the Shudderwood was fairly low. So whilst you knew there were werewolves present in the wood, you didn't know enough to be able to make supplementary checks, such as on the name of Mathus Mordinacht

The party retreat from the clearing, the sound of wolf howls still ringing in their ears.

I had no idea the tribes were this riled up. says Duristan, looking somewhat shaken. It looks like I'm going to have to change my tactics... he says to himself.

You all pack up your gear and head back toward the Lodge. Duristan and Delgros seem deep in conversation at times and at others, they ride in silent fury.

Once at the gates to the Lodge, Delgros and the surviving hirelings take the horses toward the rear of the Lodge whilst the rest of you and Duristan walk toward the gate.

For everyone it has been a long day and now that the adrenaline from the confrontation with the wolves dying down, you find yourselves exhausted. The last thing you need is another argument with the halfing porter, Belik.

Unfortunately, as you approach, you see him hurry toward the gate with something in his hands.

The porter, still immaculately dressed in his small blue suit, also now wears an apologetic look on his face.

Please accept my most sincere apologies for my inappropriate behaviour earlier. I was not informed of your coming and acted hastily on behalf of the lodge warden. I can assure you that you will suffer no further ill treatment during your stay at Ascanor Lodge.

He carries a wooden tray that holds a silver pot and several ceramic mugs. He offers you hot coffee and then continues;

If it is convenient for you, my master requests your company at this time for a brief introduction and to offer his apologies as well.

You can tell that it is obviously causing Duristan untold delight to see Belik squirm before you.

Andoran

This werewolf doesn't look in a talkative mood and his patience is running thin

Andoran

The howls seem to be everywhere and at least a dozen pairs of eyes have appeared all around you.

NEEDLESS!? THE WOLF HAS NO SYMPATHY FOR THE SHEEP WHEN IT BLEATS FOR ITS LIFE! This is our territory and any who enter here, our prey.

Long lines of blood and drool fall from the wolf's snarling lips at it stares down Jon. Even in his demonic for it shows no fear.

I think we are at the disadvantage here, sirs. Duristan whispers.

You're f#cking right we are! Delgros curses. I'm not going end up as meat picked from some wolf's teeth. he begins slowly backing toward the horses.

It's obvious you are clearly outnumbered.

Andoran

The wolf growls, a deep, primal sound. You can see the fur along it's neck and shoulders begin to stand on end - it's hackles rising with every word that Sebastian utters.

RRRRRrrrrraaaaghhhhhh! Lies! What fool would hunt the tribes of the Shudderwood?

The bulky wolf rears his head to the skies and releases a long, braying howl. Within moments several more pairs of yellow eyes appear in the dense undergrowth and another howl answers the first. This is echoed by a third howl - close by. And another. And another. And suddenly the still of the night is shattered by the sound of dozens of individual howls ringing out.

You have to strain to hear the werewolf's next words.

As he points a bloody claw at Sebastian's chest he growls:

Your false explanations are meaningless. Go tell whoever sent you to stay out of wolf affairs! Let him know that Mathus Mordinacht and the Silverhide pack do not sit well with the other tribes of this wood. There shall be much blood spilled between our kin before a Silverhide packlord sits upon Highthrone.

Mathus the betrayer shall never claim the title, and should you and yours continue to support him, the wrath of the wolf packs shall fall upon you all! Now leave our territory and run back to your cozy wooden den, or share the fate of these poor little sheep!

He squeezes the throat of the dead man dangling in his claws, sending another gout of blood spurting out of his multiple, grievous wounds.

Andoran

Sebastian creeps forward, his gentle steps barely disturbing the delicate foliage beneath his feet.

The light is dim now, the last beams of sunlight barely penetrating the heavy forest canopy but for his outsider eyes, it proves no obstacle.

He finds the first trap, a wickedly barbed affair reminiscent of a bear trap except with longer, silvered teeth.

Just beyond, he sees the distinctive shape of a body lying in the undergrowth, drenched in blood. His eyes follow a blood trail, the scarlet red seeming almost black to his nightvision until the trail ends at another body. This one held in the clutches of a savage-lloking heavily muscle lupine humanoid.

The beast stands on two feet like a man but it's entire body is covered in thick, coarse fur and it's head is that of a massive wolf. One with razor sharp teeth and eyes and reflect the dying light like mirrors. It wears iron bracers on it's thick forearms and a long wickedly-shaped greatsword across it's back in a sling.

The werewolf drops the body of the hireling and sniffs the air once, twice and then glares directly at Sebastian.

At that moment the rest of the party catch up and lay eyes on the creature.

A low growl, emanates from deep in it's throat and through gritted, pointed teeth it addresses them;

Stop! it shouts, almost like a bark. Why have you entered Vollensag territory? it demands.

Andoran

Delgros and Duristan draw their weapons and begin heading toward the tree line

Andoran

Hmmm? You know, you're right. Delgros, where are the men, have you seen them? Duristan calls.

The woodsman looks up from his tent and frowns before shaking his head.

I think we'd better check on them. he says grimly.

Andoran

Duristan and the party share stories until the bottle of brandy is nearly dry. As the last remnants of sunlight dapple through the tall trees the sky is turned a beautiful blood red.

Perception DC 15:
As you look around you realise that only one pair of hireling And Delgros are putting the finishing touches to the camp. The others, those who were setting the traps, haven't been seen for a while.

Andoran

Duristan nods seriously at Morbar's words. You get the feeling that if he had a quill and ink with him, he would be taking notes.

Andoran

Duristan seems almost bashful at Markus' question.

Oh I came here from Ardeal. Father has done quite well in the shipping trade there but sails and lists and tar and lists were never for me. I'd rather make my name as a hunter.

Knowledge Nobility DC 12:
Unlike some other nobles you have met, Duristan is being falsely modest. Ariesir is the name of one of the richest families in Ardeal, with a huge trade and export industry behind them

I always enjoyed hunting and sports. But when you have a thirty beaters flushing out the game just for you to take the final shot, the novelty soon wore off. So I decided to throw myself in the deep end and I came here to the very edge of civilisation to hunt the most fearsome prey I could think of. Werewolves! he grins broadly.

Father was easily able to get me an invite to the Lodge thankfully. At least that was one good thing. But the other occupants are such tiresome bores. Nothing but pampered politicos who play at being one with nature or pretending to hunt. In truth, seeing the reaction you got from that little urchin Belik and some of the others, I would have happily hosted you even had you decided not to accompany me - just to get up their noses!

I've had several successful hunts so far in the woods - three in fact. But with the tribes of the Shudderwood all here, that's too great an opportunity to miss and I'm determined to obtain a pelt from all of them.

Andoran

Duristan hangs on firstly Jon and then Cara's every word, a small boyish grin on his face.

When the tale is done, he leans back and gives you all a round of applause.

Bravo! Bravo! What amazing adventures you have had! Far more impressive than anything I have accomplished. These days my only real pleasure in hunting and annoying those pampered ingrates at the Lodge. I'd like to see some of them in a haunted prison let me tell you!

Wound-weaver eh? he says, turning to Jon. A fearsome name! And well-earned I'll warrant. Perhaps I should name my own blade. Something like.... oh I don't know.... Wolfsbane! he cries delightedly. Oh no, that's a plant. That won't do. Perhaps as my hunts continue I can think of something better.

He swallows another shot of brandy and passes the bottle back to Morbar as it appears only he and Markus are joining him in the tipple.

And Dawnbreaker. Another fascinating tale. As experienced adventurers you've faced far more dangers than I. Perhaps you could give me some advice or help me learn from your experience?

Andoran

Jon:
YoU CaNnOt KiLl WhAt DoEs NoT LiVe...!

Jon recalls the Splattermans final words all those months ago, as if they were yesterday. And weren't those other words he has been hearing so different and yet so similar?

You are damned to Hell Jon... But there is another way...

Andoran

Oh there are well over a dozen distinct wolf packs in the woods. No one knows how many individuals but they must number in the hundreds. Duristan says, matter of factly.

You chaps! he calls to the hireling. Be good fellows and bait the perimeter won't you?

The men set about following his instructions, pulling hunks of raw meat and large, deadly looking traps from the crates.

As they do so, Duristan himself opens a smaller box and withdraws a single bottle.

I shall tell you all about my meagre exploits later but please, prey tell me how you came by the name the Heroes of Ravengro and spare not a detail!

The bottle is a particularly expensive Andorian brandy that he uncorks with a satisfying pop.

May I offer you a drink? he asks, already pouring. And prey Mr Dwinhak, that hammer of yours. Why I've never seen the like! You put it to use like a brutal artist, wherever did you learn the skill? And I must admire your blade, Mr Moulton. It looks as light and deft as my own rapier and yet cuts like a cleaver! All of you, please I'd be honoured to hear your stories!

The star struck young hunter eagerly awaits your response.

Andoran

You hear that, Delgros! Duristan shouts triumphantly. Mr Valon just confirmed it - "something big." Just like a werewolf! He looks off into the dense forest with a half smile on his face. I knew it. I knew the tribes were all here. Just think, I could hunt all of them and be the first to collect a pelt from each one!

He turns back to the group his excitement almost at fever pitch.

That settles it, we'll set up camp here. We'll set a perimeter and wait to see if they return to their kill site. Besides, what better way to trade stories than by moon and fire light, haha!

He then sets about ordering his hirelings to set up camp for the evening.

Andoran

Just lost my post. Great

Combat Over

Through a combination of sword thrusts, crushing hammer blows and arrows the final boars are felled.

Delgros and the hirelings have gathered the horses some disatance away and the woodsman approaches;

You're damned lucky, Duristan. Those boars could have skewered you. There could well be a pile of guts where you're standing now.

Nonsense. the nobleman replies, checking his wound and finding it nothing but a scratch. What challenge could a trio of smelly pigs provide for the Heroes of Ravengro, seriously man?

He moves to Cara and says quite seriously;

My thanks for your aid good sirs and madame, I trust you weren't injured badly Miss Caradwen?

Delgros moves to the carcass and looks down at the bloody mess.

No telling what attacked that. Not now the boars have had a go at it.

Heal check DC 22:
Despite Delgros' negativity, the trained eye can differentiate between the tooth and tusk marks of the boars and the bites and lacerations of some other creature. Though what that other creature was is impossible to determine.

Andoran

As the party wades in, Duristan drops his bow and pulls the rapier from his belt. It gleams in the sun and you notice that the slender blade is made from pure silver.

Duristan, boar 2, Rapier, piranha strike: 1d20 + 11 - 2 ⇒ (17) + 11 - 2 = 26
Damage: 1d6 + 3 + 1 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 3 + 1 + 4 = 10
Duristan, boar 2, Rapier, piranha strike: 1d20 + 6 - 2 ⇒ (12) + 6 - 2 = 16
Damage: 1d6 + 3 + 1 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 3 + 1 + 4 = 11

His first thrust pierces the enraged boar's cheek, already slashed and bloody from Jon's assault. It roars loudly and as it opens it's mouth revealing filthy yellow teeth, Duristan lowers onto his haunches and launches forward into a perfect fleche, a thrust through the roof of the creature's mouth and into it's brain, at which point it's momentum sends it past the hunter to slump on the ground.

Round 4 - Enemy

Boar 1, Gore, Duristan: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10 Miss
Damage: 2d6 + 9 ⇒ (4, 4) + 9 = 17

The first boar once again tries to rip out Duristan's guts but the nobleman proves too nimble for the lumbering beast and gives it a disdainful smack on the rump as it charges past him.

Boar 3, Sebastian, gore: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11 Miss
Damage: 2d6 + 9 ⇒ (5, 5) + 9 = 19

Sebastian is similarly light on his feet and easily side steps the enraged beast.

Round 4 - Heroes

Andoran

Cara also dismounts and readies her bow, knowing that should this turn into a fight, she will have little chance of controlling a panicked horse.

The boars, wild with blood lust, charge!

Round 2 - Enemy

Boar 1, Duristan, charge: 1d20 + 8 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 8 + 2 = 15 Miss
Damage: 2d6 + 9 ⇒ (5, 6) + 9 = 20
Boar 2, Duristan, charge: 1d20 + 8 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 8 + 2 = 20 Hit
Damage: 2d6 + 9 ⇒ (1, 5) + 9 = 15
Boar 3, Cara, Gore: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23 Hit
Damage: 2d6 + 9 ⇒ (2, 2) + 9 = 13

The first boar charges Duristan, it's razor sharp tusks aiming for his soft belly but he dodges to the side, avoiding it entirely. The second however gores him across the ribs, tearing through his armor. For a soft-skinned noble, he takes the blow well and fires his bow like a trained soldier.

The thirdd rushes into the midst of the party and buries it's tusk into Cara's upper thigh.

Round 3 - Heroes

Andoran

Cara and Morbar to act

Andoran

Standard action to cast Bull strength, move to dismount and move to draw weapon so you'll have to draw weapon next round Jon

Andoran

Mmmmhmmmm... Duristan says distractedly, bending down to examine an area of flattened grass and broken shrubbery.

The trail leads this way. Jon and Delgros agree.

Duristan pushes back the bushes and follows in.

Knowledge nature DC 13:
The tracks that Jon and Delgros identify are not consistent with normal lycanthrope hybrid prints, seeming more like dire wolf tracks, though with strange elongated claws.

The bushes part into a second clearing, this one occupied by a trio of hugely fat snuffling boars that dig hungrily into the carcass of the great stag Duristan has been looking for.

They look up angrily with blood covering their tusks and snouts, beady eyes fixed on the interlopers.

Morbar: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
Davos: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
Markus: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Jon: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
Sebastian: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Cara: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
Duristan: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26

Average is 10

Boar 1: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16
Boar 2: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
Boar 3: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (19) + 4 = 23

Average is 15

Round 1 - Enemy

The boars snuffle and tramp their feet. One takes several steps toward the party and bares a set of blood-stained teeth.

Round 1 - Heroes

Duristan sees the carcass of the stag and gives an angry yell;

Away, filthy pigs!

He then quickly looses two arrows at the nearest boar.

Duristan, arrow 1: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18 Hit
Damage: 1d8 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 4 + 1 = 7
Duristan, arrow 2: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25 Hit
Damage: 1d8 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 4 + 1 = 7

Andoran

Crime? Whilst it's true that the werewolf tribes have attacked and killed travellers in these woods, either devouring them or turning them into their kind, I must confess it is the sport for which I hunt them rather than any sense of justice. Imagine a creature with the strength and savagery of a dire wolf but the cunning and intelligence of man! A truly worthy adversary. he replies.

It is a shame you do not share my passion but I would be glad to host you at the Lodge nonetheless. But for now, I want to find this stag!

Jon and Delgros set about examining the scene. Each points to tracks and signs written in the broken foliage and Jon and cannot help but respect eachothers ability to read the ground. However, with the amount of blood present, a fairly obvious trail leads into the undergrowth some distance ahead.

Duristan excitedly heads in that direction, bow in hand and arrow nocked.

Andoran

The trail leads to a small clearing, where the trampled ground and snapped brush shows signs of a great struggle. The soil is soaked with blood, and more has splashed upon the tree trunks and leaves. Despite the telltale evidence, Delgros' jaw drops and his eyes dart wildly with shock at the situation. It's gone! he cries.

Andoran

Duristan lights up at talk of the slain man.

My trap! Did it work, were there other werewolves around it? Ingenious, I thought and it'll show those other beasts that there is a master hunter on their trail1 Haha!

Reasoned with? Whatever for, sir? These are creatures that stalk the night and feast of the flesh of any poor soul that wanders into their clutches,

Andoran

Man on the way? Duristan says, excitedly. Have the wolves attacked an actual traveller?

The group, now joined by Duristan and Delgros as well as half a dozen rag-tag hirelings, follow a worn trail through the dense trees.

Andoran

The werewolf tribes in this region are savage and rampant. They are Beasts of the highest order but they are a most excellent quarry!

A party from the Lodge were out hunting a magnificent stag yesterday afternoon and they came upon it flayed and torn. Delgros is going to lead us to the kill site to see if we can track them!

Although young, perhaps in his mid twenties, Duristan has thinning brown hair and a plain face. He wears a large wolfskin cloak and wears an elegant rapier at his belt.

Andoran

Of course! he says giddily. You shall be my guests. I will happily host you at the Lodge.

The woodsman just rolls his eyes but doesn't say anything as he lights some kind of foul-smelling tobacco in a horn pipe.

Oh don't mind him. Duristan says. That's Delgros. A fantastic tracker but his conversational skills leave something to be desired.

assuming you agree to go with them...?

So the 'Heroes of Ravengro?' I don't believe I know it. What did you do to earn such a noble title? he asks eagerly as he pulls his wolf-skin cloak tighter about him and urges his horse into an easy trot back toward the forest.

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