This week, Gwindil Elmrock is present, along with guests playing Throkk Stonesplitter and Hayward. Due to scheduling conflicts, this is the first half of the end of this story arc. The party is split; half will engage session 11, and the other half session 12.
The three party members awake in the night in Barrier Town, to the sound of a woman’s cries, outside the Sea Wench Inn. Malkovich and Raz will not wake (their players are absent!). In the light of the full moon, they see a figure stumble off the end of the wall gangway, and rush out to investigate. She is wearing a cloak of blueberry color, has beautiful strawberry hair, and is of fair complexion. A small figure moves in the shadows behind her. She is battered and pleads the party to aid the logging encampment on the far side of the wall. The party see there are several torch lights on the far side of the lake’s channel, and immediately row across in a canoe, leaving her safely behind with the shy child.
Half way across the lake, something very large begins to beat upon the barrier, from the other side. A massive, dark form is detected beneath the water’s surface. After several rams, a wooden pylon splinters and sends a section of the gangway above crashing into the water, narrowly missing the canoe. The party hastily paddle to the encampment, ahead.
The logging camp is reached as dawn breaks, and the denizens are clearly recovering from an incident. Mrs. Buttersworth, a camp resident, recalls the frightening events of the night: a terrible, viscous beast attacked occupants of tents, in their sleep. The camp guards saw nothing enter the camp.
Just then, Karraak arrives, having run across the water barricade and using incredible dexterity to hop across the failing pylons where the gangway collapsed. Karraak brings attention to huge paw prints in the soil around the camp. Unfortunately, they are too obscured to determine their path of origin. Pressing Mrs. Butterworth further, they party learn the beast resembled a massive wolf, but was clothed, at least in part, and walked on its hind legs. She noted that it seems only select tents were attacked, instead of those adjacent to prior attack.
Hayward recalls legend of the Curse of Lycanthropy: the cursed individual transforms in part or whole into a beast. Also, those bitten or otherwise attacked by a lycanthrope and survive also fall under the curse. Looking at the 20 injured survivors, laying in the common area, the party quickly grow concerned and are determined to locate the attacker. They decide to search the area surrounding the camp.
Nearby, they encounter a huge, human lumberjack named Brawney, returning to camp from the woodland. An interrogation reveals Brawney is intimately familiar with the Curse of Lycanthropy; he himself is a bear lycanthrope (werebear). His massive size, alleged, bearlike appearance, and paw prints prove he is not the attacker. He hails from a generational line of lycans, who have apparently embraced their misfortune and have long learned to manage their periodic transformation.
Brawney reveals not all lycans are dangerous; those who resist the curse and are unwilling to surrender to its power retain some means of self control and are unlikely to spread the curse. Those who surrender themselves become truly beastly, wild, and dangerous. He has also pursued his great-grandfather’s vision of creating a disposable towel somehow made of wood pulp. This is how he and his sister, Rosie, came to the logging camp. Rosie? By the way, have you seen her? She seems to be missing. Brawney describes a woman of strawberry hair like his own, fair, and possibly wearing a blueberry cloak.
Upon returning to camp, the people beg the adventurers to provide safe passage for the injured, to return to town, to receive medical attention. The party are concerned that come nightfall, the injured will become feral and ravage the remainder of the camp. The injured must be de-cursed by Malkovich, as soon as possible. Because the crossing to Barrier Town could not possibly be accomplished before nightfall, the party prepare to put all of whom are possibly infected to death, against the pleas of Mrs. Buttersworth.
In a shocking revelation, Karraak speaks to the party, intervening in the demise of the injured and possibly the entire encampment. Karraak is apparently female and speaks with the slow wisdom of a native American accent. Throughout the conversation, she covers the jewel embedded in her headband, which the party suspect the Raven Queen observes the actions of the party. Karraak advises the party to spare the lives of the most stalwart lycans and use them to save Barrier Town and the entire region from the ravages of whatever beast assaults the barrier. With an obvious enemy present, and being constrained to a construction barge, the werewolves will focus their rage on the beast rather than the party nor flight. Survivors will be exhausted and docile for the remainder of the passage to Barrier Town, where they may be de-cursed and their lives spared.
Realizing this deep wisdom and with Brawny’s assistance, the injured are ushered and carried aboard a construction barge and begin the slow crossing to Barrier Town. Mrs. Buttersworth and the able-bodied remain in the logging camp.
The crossing is slower than expected. Those able to help pole the barge along tire quickly. As the sun sets, the moon threatens to rise too soon. As the curse of the lycan begins to well, the injured find strength before the tether of sanity slips from their grip, and surge the barge toward the barrier breach as the last fingers of golden daylight surrender the sky to the night. The moon peaks through the trees and pain, terror, and savagery tear through the lycanthropes. The party prepare to defend themselves.
Just as the first werewolf crouches to spring on the party and Brawney, now in bear form, the massive head of a Dragon Turtle slams through the barrier, drawn by the screams, yammering, and then howls aboard the barge. The battle begins! The werewolves prove to be terribly effective in packs. Brawney’s steely claws and savage strength tears through the thick hide. Karraak attacks the eyes, and the party throw their renown magic and skill against the adversary. The battle is long. Wolves are lost to the blacks depths and the deadly maw of the mountain-like beast. Though only its head and a forelimb protrude the barrier, it is able to cast fog about the fray, making battle all the more perilous.
At last, the gargantuan surrenders life to the myriad slashes, gouges, and rent wounds of the werewolf army and the blinding magic and wounds of the party. The four remaining wolves collapse to the deck, exhausted and further injured. The party reflect the beast likely only wanted to swim the channel as it has for the past hundreds of years.
The party turn their attention to a new sound: screams of terror and the roar of flames. Chaos reigns in Barrier Town…
(To be continued in Session 11b!)