The party began their journey back to Loudwater, traversing the High Forest without incident. As they continued across the rolling grasslands they became aware of the sound of combat ahead.
Æðelric, Li, and Wrynn crept forward to investigate, discovering a tall, blonde barbarian engaged in melee with a pair of dog-like humanoids within an old, crumbling stone circle. Æðelric recognised the man as a fellow Uthgardt and thought the dog-men were either Gnolls or Werewolves.
Garusk and Fargrim charged forward to assist the beleaguered warrior, with Wrynn and Father Tully close behind. Their timely intervention distracting the creatures and diverting their attacks from the severely wounded youth.
As Æðelric and Li prepared to support their comrades two more, previously hidden creatures attacked them. The heroes were momentarily taken aback, watching in horrid fascination as their foes wounds began knitting together confirming their worst fears, Lycanthropes!
The heroes suffered many wounds from the beasts slashing claws and vicious bites but even knowing what their foes were didn’t prepare them for the revulsion of seeing the fallen bodies twist and squirm as they reverted to human form upon their deaths.
In the aftermath of the combat Æðelric recognised the blonde barbarian as Alkrum, a childhood friend from his tribe. As he made the introductions his comrades were shocked to see Alkrum’s own wounds healing themselves before their eyes. Another Lycan!
Quickly Æðelric explained the hidden truth about his ancestry. Explaining that centuries ago the tribe took in refugees from ancient Gauntlgrym, unaware that they were actually werewolves until the refugees turned upon their would-be rescuers. The tribe’s devotion to the Grey Wolf aspect of Uthgardt twisted the lycanthropic curse; while it did turn the entire tribe into werewolves they were able to control their savagery. His companions looked aghast, had they been travelling in the company of a savage beast all this time without knowing it? Æðelric continued to explain, if a tribe member chose to leave the tribe for a period of time no less than year would be free of the curse. His father, Wulfric, wanted to spare his son this fate and when his friend Mendohl Harpell saw the arcane potential within the young barbarian, agreed that he should leave with the wizard and make his own way in the civilised world.
At mention of Æðelric’s father, Alkrum announced that that was the reason he had sought him out. Wulfric was the tribe’s shaman but recently another barbarian, Colred, had returned from a spiritual journey and challenged him for his position, killing him in the process and becoming the new shaman. Since then Colred had subverted the tribe’s noble heritage, encouraging them to new heights of savagery. Soon after, the tribe of the Black Ravens who shared the Raven Rock ancestral mound with the Grey Wolves, drove them off. Colred led them to a new homeground in the Glimmerwood and continued to subvert the tribe into the worship of Malar (the Beastlord) and increasingly savage acts against their neighbours. When several members of the tribe spoke out against this they were slaughtered where they stood, and so Alkrum and a few select others set out into the wilderness to search for Æðelric in hopes that the magical skills he now had would help bring them back to their honourable heritage and to tell him of the sad demise of his father. Unfortunately, Colred despatched hunting packs to track them down.
As the party came to terms with this revelation, Alkrum offered to assist them in healing the festering bites they had received from the hunters, and prepared a herbal tea made from wolfsbane to counteract the Moon Fever that would be passed on in their saliva.
After a short rest, with Alkrum accompanying them, they set off once more towards Loudwater. Several times throughout the day they saw numerous wolves in the distance, shadowing their route, but coming no closer. As night drew in the group made a cautious camp, fully aware that the concealing darkness hid unfriendly eyes. Their fears were well founded as, in the early hours of the morning, shortly before sunrise, another group of werewolves attacked.
The ensuing battle was fierce and bloody, but the heroes and Alkrum prevailed, albeit suffering several more bites and slashes in the process. Gathering their belongings and partaking of another of Alkrum’s brews, they made it the rest of the way to Loudwater.
A quick stop at the Green Tankard Inn to drop off their travelling gear, and our heroes paid a visit to Captain Harrowleaf. Alkrum took his leave of the party, deciding it would be of benefit for him to appear to still be searching for Æðelric and laying a false trail to throw of any further hunting parties. As the rest of the party continued to the Captains residence, Father Tully took the opportunity to return the Heart of Silvanus to the under-repair temple.
Captain Harrowleaf seemed tired and haggard and told the heroes that he had been having a hard time keeping Zark in custody but as he was the only proof of Sebren’s involvement with these “Nighthawks” it was necessary. He informed the group that Loudwater in general and the magistrate in particular had been quiet in their absence.
The heroes regrouped back at the Inn, and while they were having a quiet drink that evening Li noticed her rooftop “admirer” watching her as he sat drinking at a table near the doors. As she watched her calmly finished his drink, stood and walked out. Quickly informing her companions, she followed him (Garusk, Wrynn and Æðelric in turn following her) through the night streets of Loudwater towards the run-down tenements in the north-west corner of town.
She watched him enter one of the ramshackle buildings and cautiously followed him inside, her three allies waiting within shouting distance outside. The downstairs was deserted and she crept up the rickety staircase. Of the three doors on the upper landing, only one showed any light through the crack at the bottom. A quick examination revealed a shoddy blade trap which she easily disabled before opening the door. The room beyond contained a small chest of drawers with a lit candle upon it and a bed occupied by a short, white haired figure. It took Li a moment to realise that the figure wasn’t moving at all. Checking the next door on the landing revealed a storage room with dust covered jars lining the shelves. As she checked the third door she found it to be secured with a very good quality lock which looked out of place in these meagre surroundings. As she attempted to pick it she heard movement from the rooms below.
Garusk, Wrynn and Æðelric watched as minutes after Li entered the building, two cloaked and hooded figures followed her in. As they entered the heroes caught the telltale glint of metallic weaponry at their belts, and realised their friend would be in trouble.
Garusk charged in at the men, swinging his mighty mordenkrad and catching his opponent a solid blow. The two figures drew shortswords and daggers, weaving the blades in intricate patterns and nimbly slicing the hulking goliath as they danced around him. Æðelric had waited outside the building and was surprised when the man Li had followed came leaping out of an upstairs window, landing in the street beside him, and beginning to run off, until Æðelric’s magic immobilized him.
Back inside the building Li unlocked the door only to find that someone had also dragged something heavy across to block its opening. Garusk was beginning to falter under the continued blows of his opponent. The second figure choosing to throw one of his silver daggers at Wrynn. Unfortunately the blade was coated in a wicked poison that caused the bard to lose his vision.
Li descended the staircase as the heroes recognised the stylised weaponry of their opponents as that of the Nighthawk’s, engaging the closest assassin just as her mighty barbarian friend fell to the floor into unconsciousness. Realising they were outclassed the heroes used their abilities to flee the building as Wrynn’s invigorating lyrics brought Garusk around in time for him to sprint after his friends.
Fearful of pursuit they didn’t stop running until they were back at the Inn, only then realising that Li wasn’t with them. As they prepared to go looking or her, she appeared in the doorway. Having sought refuge in a neighbouring building she waited until there was no sign of the Nighthawks, then ran back to regroup with her friends.