Day 16, Month 9, 3 After the Night of Fire (ANoF)
...but in a tremendous feat of acrobatic agility, Kiarra Foxten is able to dive and roll with the beast, and comes up unscathed! Devron Sharpis immediately leaps to her defense, and the rest of the party of characters splits into teams to take on the huge wolves. Barm Vaks finds himself with Edrik Hansohl defending against one of the wolves, and they are able to dispatch the creature. Torvu Peng, Teela Goran, and Kalev Hale aattack one of the wolves, and are able to keep it at bay while inflicting moderately serious wounds to the creature. Meanwhile, Maila Arette, Rovanis Gellorin, and Jarna Lovalin deal with the fourth wolf, and prove remarkably effective. The elf reveals that he possesses elemental magic, but in the aftermath of the fight denies this when confronted by Maila and Jarna. The player characters kill three of the wolves, and drive off the one that Torvu, Teela, and Kalev attacked.
After the characters engage in some healing of their bodies, and a quick snack to heal their spirits, Rovanis tells the others that he believes that the werewolf creature that they are facing is the former huntsman of Abreal, Derek Havorson. The characters learn the story of Havorson, as best Rovanis knows it, but says that the most shocking part of the story is that the forester was married to Carew Hanover's daughter! The player characters continue to head deeper into the ruins, and find several sets of human bones. Oddly enough, there is nothing to scavenge off the skeletal corpses. They hear the muffled howling sound several times, sometimes closer, sometimes more distant. Devron advises the characters to keep their wits about them, and leads them slightly deeper into the ruins.
Barm informs the others that he has founds several sets of footprints that are odd...half-man, half-animal, and the characters debate their options. The group moves cautiously along, following the prints, Barm leading the way. The characters come upon several ambushes, including a pit trap and a flying spears trap (from which they take the spears for later use), but Barm and Devron agree that the traps are not recent. Perhaps squatters in the ruins at some point? Continuing on, the characters reach the edge of what appears to be a small stream newly sprung up in the ruins, with a small old campfire near it. Edrik and Barm determine together that the campsite is only a few days old, but that the creatures that camped there were not human.
The group discusses their options, and Devron and Kalev decide that they should follow the trail of the creatures. However, they decide to make their camp in the same spot as the deserted campsite, since it is not likely that it will be attacked again. The night passes uneventfully, the characters engaging in some light banter before retiring for the night. The characters are woken up around the time of moonhigh, as Edrik has spotted a series of glowing yellow eyes watching the campsite. Devron resets the watch so that two characters are on watch for the rest of the night. While the characters are not attacked this night, they spend an uneasy night listening to wolf song.
Come morning, the player characters have started to follow the tracks led by Edrik and Barm. They come to what appears a section of hillocks and small copses of woods, and find the place littered with bodies. The characters are attacked by three orcs, all male, and somewhat emaciated. The player characters make quick work of the orcs, and loot the bodies of what they hold of value. Travelling on, the player characters find the odd half-human, half-other tracks once more, and follow the trail to what appears to be the only standing structure that they have found in the ruins - a derelict, ruined monastery covered in plants and dirt. Before the characters can decide what to do next, they hear the howling of wolves coming from the monastery ruins.
The player characters cautiously approach the monastery ruins, Devron and Edrik leading the way. They lose any trail or tracks they might have been following, despite searching for them. Overgrown and overrun with dirt and plant material, the characters see no way in, but Kiarra's sharp eyes spot what appears to be several sections of wall with holes in them that are filled with vegetation. Jarna and Rovanis use their staves to push aside some of the vegetation at one of the wall breeches, and must deal with several small forest spiders. Once they do so, the player characters enter the ruined structure.
Using torches that they have fashioned from materials they are carrying and some of the cloth found inside on one of the walls, the characters fashion several crude torches. The characters make their way through the ruins, encountering dessicated skeletal remains here and there, animal bones, and other such, as well as finding rooms that have decent amounts of scavengeable materials in them. They manage to acquire for themselves several weapons to replace their blunted and dented ones. As they take a quick break, they are attacked by what appear to be Broken wolves. The party is somewhat hard-pressed to deal with them, but are able to kill the wolves, although they do suffer a loss, as Edrik Hansohl is killed by one of the creatures. The characters are shocked and demoralised when the bodies of the seemingly Broken wolves revert to human corpses after being killed! Teela Goran says that they may have been mistaken - they were not Broken wolves at all, but werewolves of some sort. When the characters question Teela about this, she and Torvu see that several of the weapons the players acquired earlier after killing the the orcs, when they scavenged in the monastery, are silvered. Teela points out that silver is anathema to werewolves, according to the old tales.
The player characters make their way cautiously through the ruins of the monastery, and eventually reach the central shrine. The domed roof here is chipped and cracked, slightly open to the sky with plants and dirty obscuring the sunlight, and the second level of the dome appears to be in danger of collapse. As the characters move around and attempt to size up the chamber, they are attacked by several large wolves and their master - a huge werewolf that is actually Derek Havorson!
The battle between the player characters and the werewolf and his minions is savage, and quite rapid and deadly. It is doubtful the player characters would win the fight, were it not for the silvered weapons in the hands of Devron, Kalev, Torvu, and Jarna. The characters that are facing the wolves find themselves forced to retreat below the seemingly crumbly upper tier, giving the wolves no room to manuever, and Kiarra, Barm, Teela, Maila, Rovanis, Jarna, and Torvu deal with the wolves giving them no quarter and slaughtering them with some difficulty. Jarna is almost killed during the fight, her body badly mangled by several of a wolf's attacks. Meanwhile, Devron and Kalev engage the werewolf creature in combat, and are forced to work well together in order to defeat the powerful were creature. Using their silvered weapons, the two are able to kill the beast, and the body of the werewolf reverts to the human form of Derek Havorson upon death. The characters are also relieved to find that the wolves do not revert to a human form, and were in fact animal servants of the Havorson werewolf.
After spending the next day or two burying the dead, scavenging a bit in the ruins, and healing up from the fight with the werewolf and his minions, the player characters head back and return to the village of Abreal. They are greeted at the village as heroes, especially in light of the killing of the beast, and the goods and supplies with which they have returned to the village.
That evening, as the player characters relax at the inn over drinks and food, Kiarra and Devron drop a bombshell on Barm, Torvu, Teela, and Maila - they have decided to remain in Abreal. The village is quite a pleasant place, and there is much to be done in the village, both from the point of view of getting the inn properly functioning, as in several years Abreal could well be a trade centre, as well as exploring the Kiton Forest and perhaps reestablishing the original Abreal as well. Kiarra says that she and Devron have established a good relationship with Kalev Hale and Jarna Lovalin, and that the four have decided to perhaps go into business together. While Barm, Torvu, and Teela are all saddened at their desire to remain in Abreal, they understand. Kiarra tells Teela and Torvu that the Harp and the Hare Inn back in Wilkerson Dale is now theirs, and that they should do what they see fit with it. Kiarra also tells Teela privately that she should be good and kind to her adoptive daughter, Asper Kalvi. Perhaps she can even bring Asper with her to visit Abreal at some point in future.
Meanwhile, Maila learns of these arrangements from her friends, Kalev and Jarna, but sadly informs them that after the deaths of Vardek Tarl, Edrik Hansohl, and Chanar Vorlek and the fact that she doesn't like the mayor of Abreal, Carew Hanover, she feels that she cannot stay in Abreal with them. She says that she hopes the folk of Wilkerson Dale will welcome her into their community, and that perhaps she can work with them and the folks of Stor's End to make a good life for herself there. Kalev and Jarna give her their blessing, and tell her that she will always be welcome in Abreal.
Meanwhile, Rovanis Gellorin asks Barm, Torvu, and Teela whether it would be all right with them if he accompanies them back to their home of Wilkerson Dale. The elf says that while he likes Abreal, there is no real place for him here, and he wants to see a bit more of Scondera in the After and to settle down elsewhere, preferably where there are some of his own kind. He says that he trusts the characters moreso than some of the people in Abreal (but won't tell them why, but implies that it is due to his being an elf), and says that he can help them during their travels if that is part and parcel of the arrangements with them. Barm, Teela, and Torvu discuss the matter between them, and then tell Rovanis that they need to talk to Maila, Devron, and Kiarra before making a final decision on the matter.
The adventure ends in the inn, as the player characters and their new-found friends sit around a table enjoying a round of ale, as they tell some of the local patrons about what it was like in the ruins in the forest and confronting the werewolf...
As you can see, this game session was quite long and concluded with some major changes in the cast of player characters. This was largely centred around the fact that Kathy knew that her story with Kiarra was over, as with the death of SteveB, she felt that it was time for both Kiarra and Devron to stay in the village of Abreal, as there was a lot to do. Sure, some of the character logic was a bit wonky, but who was I to say no? That said, the game session was extremely long, but had a lot of stuff happening in it, and a good deal of roleplaying going on as well. The world of Desolation is quite deadly, and as this session proved, it can be relatively easy to come close to dying for player characters, and even die in the case of some of the more likeable NPCs. But for now, I just have to wonder what the game chemistry will be like with David's new character, Rovanis, and the new character that Kathy will introduce to the mix.