Cast of Characters Brigid the Badass Barbarian by Heather Thornton Ramona Briars the Small & Mighty Paladin by Candace Reagan Zyrella the Passed Out Firebrand Sorcerer by Cindy Ferkenhoff (absent) Danu the Mercurial Druid of the Moon by Amanda Little And introducing Urdes the Cloaked Hermit by Allixandra Ashler
Our band was weary and triumphant after confronting the Crushing Wave Cult that had taken up residence below the island prison known as the Block. After the requisite celebrations and recuperation, they set off for the Clockwork City of Aurum to the south. Having had their fill of maritime lifestyle for a spell, they aided a band of Dwarven traders led by Agdi Ironheart. Their three wagons roamed along the high road along, reaching a high clear path known for its clear vistas of the sea to the west and the snowcapped peaks looming overhead to the east.
But they were not so blessed as they came upon the high road. Evening had set in before they had come to a campsite and leaden fog surrounded them. Danu, in the form of a dire wolf, scouted ahead of the band while Brigid and Ramona made an odd, but not unconvincing pair in the front wagon. Zyrella had settled in after a glass or three too much mead in the center car. And a cloaked figure, recently joined to the party, sat cross-legged in the rear wagon keeping her senses open to the world around her.
A scent on the wind caught Danu's attention as a rock outcrop rose to her right, the mountain plateauing overhead to her left. The forest was broken here, though trees grew to the left of their afront and afore the plateau. Danu growled back, raising the alarm to the others who drew their weapons. All except for Zyrella who grumbled and turned over. The fog overhead cleared for a moment, the moon glimmering brightly, revealing a pack of wolves overhead: the largest a massive presence with a grey streak of fur along her haunch.
Smaller wolves plunged into the woods below, heading to broadside the caravan while the Alpha led the strongest of the pack to the front. The cloaked figure threw back her traveling cloak, pointed ears on a small, lithe build shot into the woods to meet the wolves, slamming one to the ground with a snap. With a flick of her wrist, she cast what seemed an ember from her palm into the sky overhead where it grew to an orb of burning light, setting the surrounding in a red glow. She could see now that there were about a dozen in the woods as some of the leapt onto Agni's caravan, the dwarves within raising their maces and daggers, but were obviously no warriors themselves.
In front, Danu bit into the Alpha's side, but her fangs had little effect on the massive beast. Brigid slashed with her twin handaxes at the dire wolf to the Alpha's side, leaving a painful wound open. Ramona leapt down, her friends raising their weapons of iron and tooth, she raised her voice: "Sit." She commanded to the Alpha, who was loath but obligated to yield to her command. “Good boy,” she added. The effect frightened the juveniles on the hillside who halted before cutting back.
And then the wolves were on them in force. With only one down, Urdes was surrounded by the smaller wolves, their pack working in unison. They leapt and bit and tore, leaving painful gashes and tearing at her cloak. The orb of light overhead flickered and sputtered, ashes falling to the ground. While not much on their own, the pack were notable hunters.
The dire wolves, bit hard at Danu, forcing her out of her lupine form as one pounced atop her, knocking the wind from her lungs. In those eyes she could see a malicious cunning unlike those she had run with in her training. The second attacked Brigid, who dodged deftly to one side; but Brigid was struck by the third who moved around her. Shrugging off the blows and seizing the opportunity, Brigid raised her glass axe, which sparked along its edge, and slammed it to the prone Alpha! The cut was fierce, but not lethal. Ramona raised her rapier which shown white hot as she whispered her angry words of blessing, adding, "I just got this dueling blouse back from the cleaners," stabbing at the dire wolf restraining Danu, who yelped and as his fur lit brilliantly!
The Alpha stood, her stature growing and shifting, suddenly not on four paws but on two massive legs, claws growing in some facsimile of humanoid hands and slashed at Ramona. This was no ordinary wolf! Ramona, ever the acrobat, tumbled between the beast's legs and landed a blow at knee height! And these were no ordinary travelers!
The caravaners fought as one bit down hard on Thorun who bellowed, Agdi and the others trying to beat the beast back! Urdes, with three wolves before her and one laid low, kicked high into the air, flame arcing up from the ground as her own eyes reflected the brilliance back at them! One fell while the others were scorched in the cinder strike! She took the chance to gain higher ground, leaping off of trees back to the rear wagon.
Danu, freed from the dire wolf atop of her, stood and ducked closer to the front wagon before raising her hands and speaking in powerful Druidic words. The fog swirled into an orb of thunderous cloud as a bolt of lightning shot down and scorched several of the smaller wolves about to enter the fray! Brigid, bloodied and joyous in her rage, raised her glass axe which caught the magical storm's own fury, and struck the Alpha before her! Ramona slashed at the nearest dire wolf, hoping to even the field, and slew it with a dastardly stab to its bloodied head!
The dire wolves moved against Brigid, who smiled through the pain, and Ramona, who deflected the beast with her shield. The Alpha focused on Brigid, slashing at her though hardly landing a mark! The wolves in the wood circled Urdes on her high perch but were unable to bite at her above.
Urdes breathed deeply and struck out with lightning speed, felling the wounded creatures around her! She then bound to the second wagon--over the soundly sleeping Zyrella--to aid Thorun and Agdi. A peal of lightning flashed from the cloud, directed by Danu to a wounded dire wolf, who fell with a smoldering thump! Brigid stared at the monstrosity before her, raised her axe, and severed the beast's head! Ramona, glimpsing the massive lupine form change in its death, stabbed at the remaining dire wolf.
Urdes kicked off the wolf that had bit deeply into Thorun's arm and was briefly transfixed by the scene before her: An orb of thunderstorm, the bodies of several wolves, and a woman... no, a wolf... no, a woman, beheaded on the ground. Between the others the Alpha transformed. Fur shed, gave way to dirt smudged fair skin and rudimentary clothing, long dark brown hair with a shock of grey. But there was no time to dally!
Brigid slashed at the final dire wolf, already wounded, who took off into the woods along the steep mountain rise beyond the pass. Brigid, blood boiling and axe still in hand, gave chase! Danu, seeing the wild speed took on her lupine form again, Ramona leapt atop, and pursued! Urdes, perhaps with a moment of doubt at the wisdom of such choices, picked up Zyrella and followed.
The bleeding wolf was fast, but its trail obvious. The ferrous smell of blood cut through the moldering of pine needles and soft mountain earth. Brigid need no cat's eyes to follow the beast. The others, just a few steps behind, watched Brigid's form. Even when Brigid's rage faded, the anger continued.
And they ran. A pack in their own right. Pursuing some beast through a strange wood in the dark. Mountainous and dense. They ran longer than they thought they would have the strength to, though their muscles began to ache, their brows chill with sweat in the mountain air. As in a dream, they moved, covering a distance that extended out before them.
And then, the forest cleared, suddenly, violently. The rise before them was grassy with freckles of large stones. Some hundred feet before them stood a defensible stone wall. The moon, partially concealed by clouds, shone down on them, exhausted and bloodied. The wolf, who had left such a simple trail, was no where to be found. The tang of its blood gone, replaced by the crisp smell of fresh snow that had begun to fall. When? It was hard to tell.