- Verdis (HuS): Level 9 Human Fighter
- Phineas, Talking Rock
- Rovert (TrS): Level 5 Human Magic-user (Necromancer Aspirant)
- Drej, Level 3 Psuedodragon Familiar
- Dohasan, Level 0 Centaur Herbalist
- Ogre Skeleton
- Elf Eater Skeleton
- Rowan (MiM): Level 3 Elf Magic-user (Life and Death)
- Jeff (JaH): Level 1 Elf Magic-user (Fire and Wind)
They begin passing through Carrie, where the lake has thawed enough (the weather is becoming quite warm for the season) for a fisherman to carry them all (including Rovert’s massive skeletal wolf and ogre) across to the southern bank. Once there, Verdis searches for tracks, hoping to find wolf tracks but with much of the snow melted, there is no trail. He does find some recent, humanoid tracks pacing the bank and setting out to the South, so they follow these.
While Verdis tracks, near sunset, Rovert stops him when he sees a humanoid watching them from the bushes, but while they discuss what to do, it attacks, loosing an arrow into Rovert. They respond with fire and Verdis giving pursuit. The hobgoblin turns to fight Verdis and is quickly taken unconscious. Without any rope, Verdis holds the hobgoblin (in this world, any mix-breed orc/goblin, or “half-goblin”) while the others interrogate. Rowan heals him awake, but the hobgoblin either doesn’t speak elvish or refuses to, only shouting in orcish, which none of them speak.
They soon decide to tie him to the ogre for the night before Dohasan and the ogre carry him back to Agon in the morning. Desperate for something with which to tie him, Rowan searches the hobgoblin’s haversack and finds a rope (though his roll was awful and he didn’t place any importance on two parchments, one a map to an orc temple and the other the solution to the puzzle on its gate, and no one else took a look). The night passes uneventfully except for the hobgoblin howling and bellowing, keeping them all from getting a full night’s sleep.
In the morning, while Dohasan and the ogre head back, with the prisoner, they continue South, now without a trail, but going more or less the same direction the hobgoblin was traveling. Within the first hour, they come upon a group of two orcs, a hobgoblin, and a goblin. The goblin immediately starts casting a spell, while Rovert and an orc speak in elvish, the orc informing them that they approach sacred ground and must turn back. The goblin completes his spell, shrouding his group in fog that fills the surrounding area. They hear them withdraw and after a brief discussion, proceed through the fog, not able to find the trail of the four once out of the fog.
However, they soon see a spire through the trees up ahead. They approach, arriving at the edge of a clearing about 100 yards around a tall, blue wall surrounding the spire at the center. They see some movement atop the wall and no sign of a gate, but march out toward it. Verdis ignores a warning shot and takes a couple more arrows while the others follow, trying to stay behind him.
When it becomes clear that the arrow fire will only increase, they stop, attempting to yell negotiations to those on the wall but learning from them little more than that they need to withdraw and that this was the source of the frost wolf attack, due to disapproval about the location of their village.
They concede, warning that that future attacks will be met with unfettered aggression before returning and making camp where they made it the night before. As they set camp, Verdis senses that the weather, that was supposed to be warm through midnight, is about to become very cold and snow, then blizzard at least until midnight. They surmise it is something to do with the orc temple. During the night, Rowan and Rovert manage to resist the cold on their watches, but by near the end of his watch, Jeff is trembling and feverish. He is forced to return to the tent where Verdis sends him to bed and takes over a little early.
Well into Verdis’ watch, he hears howling that approaches. Soon he is under attack from the dark of night and blizzard with frost wolves falling under his axe while the others awaken. Jeff, not bothering to dress, makes it out into the battle where he evades wolves (one careening into the tent) until diving away from the last, unsuccessfully. It’s bite nearly knocks him out. In the tent, Rowan fights the wolf from inside his magical sleeping bag while Rovert plunges out into the night, casting a light spell on Verdis who is going to Rowan’s rescue. The alpha tackles Rovert, but soon Verdis drives it back, sheltering Rovert from an ice blast with his body. Jeff, panicking, runs back into the tent to find the wolf standing over Rowan’s sword-swinging torso. He casts a fire burst, melting it.
The rest of the night passes without further attack and the blizzard ends. The morning sees rapid warming as whatever magical effect initiated the blizzard comes to an end. They travel more slowly than they would like to (the sick and trembling Jeff hanging from the skeletal wolf in Rowan’s sleeping bag) back to the lake side, arriving by Wednesday night, hearing howls hounding their journey, but never drawing close enough to be a concern. They wait there until the boat they arranged for arrives to carry them back.
Meanwhile, back in Carrie, Agon had interviewed the hobgoblin they sent him, learning a great deal about the dogmas of Garim na Aguluk Sacra, which mostly revolve around the water cycle being free. He learns that the demands of the schek include their withdrawal from the lake shore, an end to fishing, and the destruction of the damn above Kite. He agrees to release the hobgoblin so it can carry a message that they are awaiting an emissary to negotiate these terms and that if no emissary comes or aggression continues, they will respond with aggression of their own.
The search for the origin of the wolves didn’t go at all the way I expected it to. I had thoroughly mapped the temple and prepared the puzzles for entry in spectacular fashion. Luckily, I had also thought a lot about the motivation of this orc/goblin group, which is most of what we needed.