PnP:Liberation of Osoerde Turn Eighteen

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Dear Rudolph,

I write this brief missive to you to update you on what I can, because there is much intrigue in Thaenon and little time to tell you all of it. I wonder if its something about the Raenech bloodline that breeds the evils that seem to surround them, or just their own misguided choices. No matter the reason or cause, it seems to infect everything around them. And their home province was the most accursed of all the places they touched.

As I mentioned before, we had heard many rumors of disappearances of the poor and needy alongside tales of merchants and travelers vanishing on the road that travels through the woods just outside of town. Thinking that the two were connected, we decided to venture along the road to see if we could uncover the cause. Cerin used his keen tracking skills to seek the trail of whatever haunted the dark forest, and as night fell we relied on Issacarius' magic light to guide us in our hunt. It was unnerving since we did not know what awaited us out in the darkness, and even mighty Varg seemed ill at ease as we traveled.

Cerin eventually found the prints of large wolves near the main road, and we suspected that they might be the culprits. So we left the road and went into the woods, but again Varg seemed disturbed by something. I know he possesses some affinity with wolves similar to my own gift with snakes, but he kept mumbling about how there was something off about this place and how he could not sense the wolves that should live there. Our horses grew uneasy as well, and they nearly panicked when we heard the first howls in the distance. Varg and Cerin both said that something seemed off about the sounds, almost a metallic quality to them. We sought the high ground of the trees and left most of our horse go, although Cerin tied his to a nearby trunk to draw in the beasts. As his horse panicked more, he slid down to calm it and something leaped out from the darkness at him! But it did not connect and vanished just as quickly as it appeared. We quickly joined him to watch the darkness for the creatures that lurked there.

And then nothing came. Sounds and howls and then... nothing. The forest grew quiet and still, unnaturally so. Warily we ventured a little bit further and waited for an attack to come, but it didn't. Was it some magic? An illusion? We were not sure, and we traveled further into the night to learn the truth. What we found was our other horses, torn apart by something vicious and brutal.

If the unusual and unknown threat was bad enough, the fear of not knowing what might leap out at any moment was worse. We studied the remains and Cerin tried to hold onto his terrified mount but it broke free and attempted to flee into the darkness. He was annoyed and loosed and arrow that hobbled his steed long enough for him to catch up to it. We attempted to seek out the threat in the darkness as he went to heal his horse, but again we heard the sounds of beasts in the shadowed woods. Cerin found himself surrounded by a pack of coal black wolves, their eyes red like hot coals. He called out as they lunged at him and his horse, pulling him to the ground and tearing his poor steed apart.

As he fought to keep them from being their next meal, we charged up to help him drive the creatures off. The flaming arrows of his magic bow seemed effective, and again Eloele's Kiss proved to be a true blessing from our shadow goddess. Issacarius' song seemed to spur us on in battle, which helped Torin because it seemed as if his steel axes were having a hard time finding purchase in the shadow flesh of the wolves. Several of them fell to Cerin's arrows and Varg's sword, and our barbarian friend's rage seemed more potent as he bellowed at the unnatural beasts. The bodies of the creatures remained, leaking wisps of darkness into the night. I managed to plunge Eloele's Kiss into the eye of one of them, and strangely the shadow wolf simply evaporated into darkness and mist!

The black vapor from the other bodies gathered in the air and sank into the corpse of Cerin's poor horse, reanimating its ravaged form into sinister unlife. But we were set into battle at that point and nothing would deter us from ending these things, so we brought death back into it and the rest of the wolves again. And just as we managed to catch our breath, we heard slow, mocking clapping from the deep dark of the woods...

...and saw the foul half-brothers of Jaison standing before us. Oervel and Vaisil started to go into some diatribe about how we had no chance and I saw Cerin knock an arrow openly and start to draw back. He had encountered them before, and I know he had regretted not killing them when he had the chance. They saw that we would not be intimidated, but still they kept the same arrogant smiles on their smug faces. And we soon saw why. I have never seen something like what happened next, and I don't wish to see it again. Their flesh seemed to melt like molten wax and shift as they both grew, hair sprouting from their skin, all in the matter of few seconds. As they shifted, more of the shadow wolves emerged from the darkness next to them. And when the transformation was over, both brothers had turned into something that was half man and half wolf and now stood more than eight feet tall.

A wave of primal panic swept through me just for a moment, and it probably froze my reactions for a fraction of a moment. Varg did not have that same problem, and he bellowed with a roar that even drown out their own bestial snarls as he lifted his blade up high and charged. He swung down into the creature that was once Vaesil and cleanly cleaved his clawed hand from his body. Cerin's arrows cut through the air over Varg's shoulders and hit the brothers with fiery pain. Torrin launched himself at the shadow wolves, but two got past him and started snapping at Issacaius. I made the decision that the brothers might be the source of the shadow creatures and started attacking Oervel, hoping that Eloele's Kiss would end his foul existence.

Vaesil proved to be no match for Varg's fury and he soon fell, but I could see the massive cuts healing unnaturally fast. Oervel managed to sink his teeth into Varg's shoulder, which only intensified his rage.

Several of the wolves fell and we finally managed to down Oervel, and I plunged my dagger into his black heart in the hope it would end him once and for all. It did, but I did not expect wretches such as they would be blooded. A wave washed over me and hit Varg as well, and for a moment it appeared as if some spirit version of him left his body. He seemed shaken, but it did not stop him from driving his sword into Vaesil's heart and ending his life. Another wave coursed through us, and the woods were quiet once more. But something still unnerved Cerin about the place, although I saw him giving Varg some concerned glanced as we walked back to town. Truth be told, even though Varg and I always seemed to work well together there seemed to be some strange new kinship between us now.

It was morning by the time we got back to the city, and I fell into a deep sleep as soon as we arrived at the tea shop. When I awoke, William was up discussing what our next move would be. He still seems to have some concerns about me because of how he acts when I am present. I hope my deeds will change that in time. He decided that our next plan should involve gaining the trust of Seriena, and he dispatched Rena with a message for her so they could meet. She was gone for some time, and when she returned she told us it was difficult to locate the woman.

When she did, Jaison's sister was guarded by several priests of Cuiraecen at all times. Rena managed to slip the message to Seriena, but it was quickly snatched away by one of her guards. Covert meetings may not work as we hoped, so now we must decide how we can reach her. I will send more word once I have more information, and until that time may Eloéle protect your secrets with her shadow.

Harker Graywind

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