After the Shadowslayers finished breakfast and made nice with their new riding companion, they headed off toward the southeast, eventually into the Shudderwood. The ancient, dark forest, widely known for it dangers, presented a few threats over a period of days. A group of ettercaps attempted to lure the party deeper into the woods; the ‘slayers wouldn’t bite on that hook. Aramond decided, against the explicit warnings of Torvald, to examine an obviously trapped hanging corpse, and was rewarded with several crossbow bolts stuck in his armor.
The nights were creepy, but since Torvald didn’t need to sleep, he offered to keep watch all night so long as he was given time to relax and meditate early in the evening.
After several days of travel, the party arrived at Ascanor Lodge and were denied entry by the swine of a halfling who ran the place – despite his being given a letter of introduction carried by the team. Well, screw them – we’ll keep heading through the woods, which had turned out to be far less menacing than stories had purported. As the team turned to leave, however, they watched as a loud-mouth blowhard minor noble, with men-at-arms and flunkies in tow, made a great show of entering the stockade, and even went so far as to try to boss the team around, treating them as inferiors.
Being both more clever and more experienced than Lord Duristan Silvio Ariesir (AKA Limp Bizkit), the team was able to throw down with their own spotty noble lineage, cow him into silence, and eventually able to get him to invite them to stay at the inn on his tab, so long as they helped with his werewolf hunt – he was, he said, a vaunted and famous lycanthrope hunter.
So they joined him, curious about what information he might unintentionally provide them and what clues they might pick up along the way. What this had to do with the Whispering Way was beyond anyone’s thoughts – in fact, an old-fashioned werewolf hunt in the Shudderwood, upon short reflection, sounded pretty pedestrian as an activity in Ustalav, compared against tracking down the agents of an ancient, powerful, and obviously active cult. No matter – werewolves and mildly obnoxious wannabee great white hunters it would be.
Acting on information from Lord Limp, the team tracked what turned out to be three dire boars, and killed them…leaving their noble patron shocked and awed by the ferocity, speed, and skill with which the great beasts were dispatched. His behavior, still haughty, now took on another annoying aspect, as he showed signs of a highly distasteful ‘bromance’-like admiration of the Shadowslayers.
Deciding to stay out in the forest, much to Torvald’s chagrin, the group set out traps for the werewolf that their ersatz patron was sure he was going to capture. Deep in the night the attack came, in the form of four greatsword-armed werewolves, who shredded the help before anyone could respond. The team awoke and attacked, with Celeste firing shots from her pistols, and the noble firing an arrow or two into the dark.
The fight was the toughest they’d experienced since the golem had killed Aebel…dear, important, respected and clearly needed Aebel…with many members of the team wounded. Three of the fell beasts were…felled…before the apparent leader retreated far enough to monologue for a moment about territories, warm beds, and how he wouldn’t take anyone’s crap anymore, and then make good his own escape into the night.
The three fallen beasts, after having breathed their last, transformed back into men – men who could not be identified even after the bodies were dragged back to Ascanor Lodge at dawn.
The team, on Lord Limp’s tab, ate and got cleaned up, and agreed to gather later in the day to discuss what to do next, and how to keep milking the noble’s tab for all they could.