Wolfsbane

Featured

Chapter Four of Under the Goblin Trees

Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly

Wolfsbane

The morning light dawned on a scene of horror. Blood splattered the walls and washed the floors of many cottages. The afflicted resumed their human forms with no memory of the terrors of the night. More than a dozen villagers were dead, some slain by the wolves, some slain as wolves. Others came wandering into the town, naked and confused, unable to say why they awoke to find themselves alone and unclothed out in the woods.

Myron is never above sarcasm or gloating, “So what is your diagnosis master priest? What do you think? Is it merely the winter fever?”

I spent most of the day dressing wounds and invoking the gods for healing. Both Bruin and Mercifcul nursed ugly bleeding wounds. Cirilli and I treated their torn flesh. We exchanged knowing glances. At the next full moon, both men might be howling to one another.

Myron scolded Bruin, “Use your head instead of your brawn next time. What are we going to do with a werewolf your size? How are we supposed to deal with you this time?”

Bruin smiled sheepishly and explained, “I didn’t think I would get bitten.”

The afflicted were again restrained before sunset lest the affliction remain upon them under the waning moon. At sunset we burned the dead according to the custom of the villagers, and I entrusted their souls to hands of the gods.

As Luna rose, we stocked the bonfires and prepared to face the beasts again, but all remained quiet in the village. I fell into bed at midnight, utterly exhausted. I slept until late into the following morning, my sleep beset by nightmares the entire time.

The Investigation and the Mission

When I awoke, the others were already up and finished with breakfast. Cirilli sat with the daughter of Micksallicks, speaking to her about herbs and cures and how to dress her wounds. The girl showed absolutely no symptoms. If not for the torn flesh and rope burns on her wrists and ankles, I would not have believed it possible that this fair girl might be the same as that snarling, twisting creature from the previous night.

Myron took me aside, out of the girl’s earshot, and said to me, “Today, priest, we will get to the bottom of this insanity.” He proposed visiting every cottage in the village and taking inventory. I saw sense in this plan and agreed to accompany him. He put on his best face, so to speak, and we made the rounds. At each cottage we asked a series of questions, cross-examining and double-checking as best we could, and we took careful note of the answers. Was anyone here afflicted? Did anyone shift into wolfen shape? When did symptoms first manifest? Was anyone bitten? Does the afflicted possess any memory of the incident? Does the afflicted remember being bitten by a wolf or dog in the past? The investigation put me in remembrance of the diligent work we did in Orlane to solve the riddle of the naga witch’s enchantment.

Continue reading “Wolfsbane”

Bad Wolf Moon

Featured

Chapter Three of Under the Goblin Trees

Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly

Bad Wolf Moon

Ivan the son of Micksalicks and his kinfolk, we were later to discover, made their homes in a village on the edge of the Dim, known by the simple name Roanwood for a certain type of tree that once grew abundantly in the area and which they made their business—the sale of the much-esteemed lumber. This they had done for several generations and, over time, much depleted the number of mighty Roans that once stood sentinel on the edge of the wood. I took these folk for some mixture of the Suelish and Flan bloods, and many of them had red hair such as one rarely sees among the Oeredian but is common enough among the Geoff folk. So it was with this one red-headed leader of their band, Ivan O’Micksalicks by name, and the other men of his band, all redheads and red beards from Roanwood.

The evernight trees (which the elves call fuinoira) surrounded the village in darkness like an encircling wall. That shadowy dim and foreboding night frowned on the village from every direction, yet within the open spaces of the homely lawn shone plenty of sunlight upon their pleasant cottages, each with a stout chimney from which smoke curled. Here were clean streets, swept of snow, lined with a few shops and necessaries, a smithy, and a lumber mill powered by a waterwheel turned by a passing stream. The folk of the place were fair skinned and tall, the men broad shouldered, the women green-eyed and fair, and one could see that in the summer they made pleasant gardens and small fields under the blessing of my Lady.

Hardy they were, both men and women, wielding axes of their trade, and not afraid to fend off any who might threaten them. They thought it no great feat to slay a party of goblin raiders, topple a troublesome ogre, hunt down a pillaging troll, or chop down a menacing giant. They made a fair living from the Roanwood they harvested from the forest, a tree rare enough to make it’s lumber valuable. They took no haste to harvest, but waited until a tree had reached its full girth and height before felling it. Then cutting it into lengths of trunk and branch, they hauled it, pulled by horse-teams, back to their village where sawmen cut it into lumber. In the spring, when the water rose high enough, they floated the planks on a rafts to meet the Realstream all the way to Hochoch.

They did honor to the true gods but also named Pelor, Beory, Obad-Hai and so forth. Most of all they cherished Ehlonna, Lady of the Wood, but called her by her elvish name, Ehlenestra. They had not priests in their midst or clerics who might teach them the service of the gods or how to direct their devotions, but they said a visiting friar of Cuthbert made the rounds among all the villages of the eastern Dim.

Continue reading “Bad Wolf Moon”

Horse Thieves

Featured

Chapter Two of Under the Goblin Trees

Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly

On the Edge of the Wood

“Four or five days to the keep at Forest Watch. We know not precisely how far beyond the Foredge to the baron’s lodge,” Sir Merciful and Sir Belvenore poured over parchment with a few sparse lines that sufficed for a map. Many miles passed before our road entered the wooded lands. Groves and wild woods stood in patches now and again, thicker to the north. We had fair skies for two days, but on the third day from the keep, more snow hampered our progress again. This time we camped and waited out the weather in shelters beneath a stand of white chestnuts. Bruin foraged about in the woods and collected dry timber enough to keep a merry fire blazing, despite the wind and the snow.

The warmth of the fire was not enough to chase the chill from the bones but it melted some of the ice between our party and our chivalrous escort. Considering their coming errantry in Farvale and Orlane, Sir Belvenore and Sir Merciful inquired of us regarding all we could tell them about that place. Their questions gave us the opportunity to recount for them the tale of the naga witch. After hearing our story and asking after the details until they were at last satisfied, they looked on us with newfound respect, and their demeanor improved.

We woke in the morning under skies both clear and cold. Cirilli and I conducted our prayers while the others stoked up the fire, heated the water, and boiled the grits. The Watchers followed their own monastic-styled devotions, reading the psalms of Cuthbert and the odes of Heironeous each morning and conducting themselves according to their fixed routines before strapping on armor. Myron reviewed his spells. Bruin saddled the horses.

Now the trees had begun to grow more closely, and we saw that we drew near to the shadowy world beneath the boughs of the Dim Forest. Nevertheless, we camped that night in good spirits for we knew that Forest Watch remained only a short journey on the morrow. We looked forward to warm beds, cooked food, and strong drinks.

An Interrupted Night

Sir Merciful was at watch when thieves stole into the camp and made off with the horses. How it came to pass that he neither saw nor heard, I received no explanation. None was needed. It was clear enough that he had fallen to sleep. Some hours after his watch had begun, he roused us. A Watcher is a watcher in name only, I suppose. Now in the middle of the night, shivering in the darkness and stiff from the cold, we did not know what to do, nor did we know then the culprit that had stolen our steeds. Bruin wanted to pursue immediately, but what was the point in that pitch darkness? Myron cast a magical light on his quarterstaff, and we searched about the immediate vicinity of the camp. The light proved to be a bad idea as it made him a clear target. The first arrow stuck him and buried its head into his chest. As if a dam broke, they charged from out of the woods.

Continue reading “Horse Thieves”

Errand in Hookhill

Featured

Chapter One of Under the Goblin Trees

Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly and sequel to Against the Cult of the Reptile God.

574 CY

In the year that Prince Thrommel vanished, the news of his disappearance did not reach the court at Hookhill until winter. I know this to be so because, when the news did arrive, I happened to be at the court of His Most Resolute Magnitude Commandant Petros Gwalchen of the Gran March to deliver a report about recent affairs in the neglected Barony of Farvale. Rumors abounded, and, as everyone now knows, the strange circumstances around the kidnapping of the prince have never been satisfactorily resolved. The disappearance of the prince and the handsome reward offered for his return inspired many Knights of the Watch and heroes of Gran March to set their hopes on errantries.  What is more, the arrival of the news was shortly followed with a specific summons recalling heroes loyal to Furyondy, including two of my companions, those respected veterans of the Troll Wars on the borders of the Pale and also Emridy Meadows, the half-elven brothers Llywain and Dorian. Fealty to the fifth of the Seven Families of the house of Furyondy obliged them to depart at once.

Now this turn of events I took sorely because I had hoped that they might accompany me back to Farvale and Orlane, guarding me for safe passage through the hazards of the Dim Forest. They assured me, “You have nothing to fear Father Tabor. You have the mighty sword of Sir Bruin and the competent dweomers of Myron the Glamorer. What is more, we are sure that the commandant will provide you a company of doughty knights back to Orlane.”

In the Court of the Commandant

My appointment with the commandant came on Freeday the last day before the week of Needfest. This unfortunate piece of timing forced me to keep the report and its corollary appeal as brief as possible, for the court was eager to dispense with business as preparations for the festivities were already well underway and the everyone was already swept up with the spirit of the holiday.

Continue reading “Errand in Hookhill”