Charged by the Mayor of Keen with saving his son, the three companions immediately ventured into the forest of loggers’ hollow in search of wolfsbane. However, with winter fast approaching, it seemed unlikely that any would be found. Still, they had to try.
With limited daylight left, the three split up to cover more ground. After hours of searching, they happened upon a small patch. Merle harvested the plant, but the frigid autumn air had made it delicate, allowing only a small amount to be plucked. They hopped it was going to be enough. With wolfsbane in hand they turned back to down, the sun setting behind them, and storm clouds moving in from the mountains. Rain began to fall as they made their way through the dark forest with only their lanterns and the occasional flash of lightning to light their way.
It was one such flash that revealed the snarling, slathering muzzle of a well-muscled half-man, half-wolf. It bit and slashed at the companions, fighting with all the ferocity of a wild animal. While the three landed blow after punishing blow on the lycanthrope, the wounds they left healed over at a supernatural rate.
As Merle struck the beast with staff and fist, he remembered a book he’d read as a boy in the monastery, a book about the many types of werewolves. A sinking feeling fell over him as he realized that the only thing that could bring harm to the creature was silver. He announced his findings to the others, and Era reacted quickly, casting a spell that forced the wolf-man to double over in a fit of furious laughter.
Quickly the three bound the beast in all the rope they had. The werewolf thrashed and struggled, but could not break its bonds. The trio carried the great creature back to town, leading it through the Many-Partings revelers, who gawked and cheered.
It wasn’t long before they were met by Sheriff Stoke, who inquired why they had captured what appeared to be a live werewolf, and why they decided to parade it through town. They told the sheriff that their intention was to lock it in one of the jail’s holding cells and wait until sunrise, when the beast would return to its human form. Sheriff Stoke reluctantly agreed and soon they were racing towards the jail.
As soon as the three deposited the wolf into his cage, Merle and Era hurried to the Mayor’s home to begin brewing the potion that would (hopefully) cure young Ben Bran, while Lemaia ventured off to locate the final ingredient from the blacksmith; silver powder. Fortunately the smithy had a good handful on hand. The tiefling rushed to the manor, and with the silver powder added, the cure was set to be administered.
The three crept into Ben’s room. Inside his wolfish form struggled against his manacles. Lemaia ordered Merle to close the beast’s jaws once the potion was administered, and that he did, wrestling with the lycanthrope as it bucked wildly. Soon it began to shake and convulse, foam pouring from his mouth. Moments later, the form of a confused and terrified young boy had taken the place of the violent werewolf. The cure had been a success.
The next morning, at sunrise, the three gathered outside the jail, along side a very grateful mayor. They stepped in only to discover that the werewolf that had attacked them was none other than Grym, the woodsman who taught Lemaia how to care for a kobold egg. He revealed that he had gone into the woods in search of wolfsbane to end his miserable existence. He said that he was loosing control of the monster inside, and with each passing day he desired to give into the bloodlust. He plead with the party to finish the job he’d set out to do, and reluctantly they agreed. Merle was sent to the blacksmith in search of a silver weapon. He returned with a single silver-tipped crossbow bolt. When asked if he had any last words, he simply said, “Last words are for people with too much to say.”
With that, Lemaia ended his life. They took Grym’s body to the outskirts of town, and had him burned on a pyre, so that his ashes would return to the forests he loved. The mayor, who had wondered what manner of heartless beast could have attacked his son, could only mourn the woodsman’s passing.
That evening marked the beginning of the Many-Partings festival. The three companions ate, drank, and feasted for days, leading to the much anticipated “Best In Brew” competition. Rolo Stonehelm was beside himself with joy as the honor of the golden tankard was awarded to him and his Stonehelm Stout.
He had begun his acceptance speech when a wagon pulled into view, with a cloaked driver at the helm. The wagon bore the crest of the Amberstien clam. The crowd cheered and parted as the wagon came to a stop in front of the stage.
“Alright, alright. There’s no need for the theatrics, Amberstien! I already won!” Rolo declared, “Iffin’ ye wanted the tankard this year, ye should’ve put that nag on the road early!”
The rider did not move.
“Oh, I haven’t offended ye. Have I?” Rolo mocked.
An instant later, the walls of the wagon fell to the wayside, revealing a pair of burly orcs and a massive cage containing what looked to be the cruel amalgamation of a bear and an owl. The rider then stood, casting aside his cloak. It was a third orc, brandishing a wicked-looking black axe.
The cage door flew open. The owl bear leaped into the screaming crowd. The attack on Keen had begun.