The Divine Scepter

Chapter 2: Wolf in Sheeps Clothes

While recovering from the fight, Niem proposed that they should return the bones of the undead woman to the grave, believing that maybe her removal was what caused the undead to stir. Back in the chamber she was being held in, the fire had dimmed and only her bones remained. They gathered up what was left and made their way back towards the village ruins.

There, they spent the rest of the night reburying the woman’s corpse. Just at sunrise, they witnessed the barely visible projections of Lorence and the woman sharing a kiss before disappearing completely.

They headed to the unnamed farming town to see if the ghosts had reappeared that morning. To little surprise, the attacks seem to have ended, and the party was rewarded with two riding horses. They later bought a cart. That night, they slept and ate for free before hitting the tablelands the next day, due North towards Woolhope.

Nearly to Woolhope, the party entered the forest of spires, a section of the tablelands where jagged rock formations littered the planes like an orchard. Harper reported that the area is prone to bandit attacks, but they risked going through to avoid the longer route. In the end, their day long travel through the spires proved uneventful.

The next day they arrived in Woolhope, a shepherding commonwealth that spreads for miles, mostly comprised of small shepherd families and windmills. The actual “town” aspect of woolhope, is the community that sits at the crest of a massive, arching hill, named Fafnir Head due to its similarities to a dragon’s upper torso. Niem pointed out that the massive hill was actually the result of a massive tree from long ago, which petrified and fell after an inhabiting dragon’s treasure was stolen. Regardless, they headed towards Fafnir Head Crest, which was a growing town at the center of the commonwealth.

On their way, they talked to a few shepherds who had little to report of goblins. However, it seemed many families were having their flocks attacked regularly from some type of monster. They headed to the crest to investigate. To the party’s surprise, very few of the people in the core town of Woolhope had any knowledge of these attacks, even the guards themselves. When approaching the mayor, he passed off the complaints as superstition and had no interest in investigating what was likely normal wildlife attacks.

Even without promise of a reward, the adventurers set to finding out more about the attacks, question the townsfolk about people who had been targeted most. Once more, the people at the crest were oblivious, but automatically had suspicions. Beornwulf found out about a goliath nearby that refused to join the commonwealth and was sometimes seen roaming other people’s land at night. Niem heard about a cave hermit who lived at the base of the hill who had a Dire Wolf as a pet.

They investigated the hermit first, finding a secluded cave away from the fishing communities along the lake. It appeared she was a shaman and did have a monstrous wolf as a companion. She denied the attacks, but didn’t deny giving zero shits about the welfare of the town. She reported that her wolf had smelt the monster regularly before the attacks. When asked to help track it, she said she would only comply if they brought her the Hunter’s Blessing ritual book from the Temple of Correllon, who refused to share it with her.

The adventurers headed to the Temple, despite it already being sundown, and, naturally, they were denied sale of the book. They schemed to break into the temple to snatch the book, but first needed thieves tools. Beornwulf and Eanmund burst into the general goods store and quickly snatch the tools, leaving behind coinage for pay and quite an obvious trail.

With the tools, Niem snuck in through the window, carefully avoiding the still awake head cleric. She was able to pick the lock on a case containing what she assumed was the correct ritual and brought it two the rest of confirmation. With the hunter’s blessing ritual in hand, they quickly darted back to the cliff cave, hoping to not get spotted by guards. Luckily, there were virtually no guards out.

The hermit woman quickly learned the ritual and performed it, letting the Dire Wolf lead them to the monster. Eventually, they found a giant, humanoid wolf devouring a sheep not far from Fafnir Head. The wolf had amazing regeneration, shaking off enfeebling powers nearly immediately and healing it’s wounds rapidly, which Niem believed had to do with it being night. Despite the clear advantage, the party managed to mostly weaken it, causing it to flee toward the town just before sunrise. Using fear powers, the beast immobilized the adventurers, allowing him to get a head start with only the Dire Wolf in pursuit. Seeing the uselessness of catching up at this point, the adventurers sans the shaman woman mended their serious wounds before following the trail towards town. Along the way, they spotted the Dire Wolf, who was seriously wounded from trying to fight the beast solo. The Shaman woman similarly seemed uninterested in the pursuit any longer.

They followed the tracks to the crest, where the early morning foot traffic made tracking the beast’s steps any further nearly impossible.

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