After meeting with Rathlaris, and unexpectedly delivering his lost chest of ritual components (thereby gaining a measure of his trust), our heroes proceeded to tell him Jalenna’s apparent disappearance. While reclusive and paranoid, the old wizard clearly has a soft spot for his youthful apprentice, and exhorts our heroes to take up the search for her in earnest. He offers them a small sum of gold to carry a letter to a ranger named Karipur. This ranger, he says, knows the Churnwash better than anyone. If Jalenna has been seen along the river, he will know. He further promises them a larger sum of gold if their action result in the young woman’s safe return. Scir haggled with the wizard as some length, asking that the man keep his gold and accept the old enchanted sword they’d found. Instead, the Dragonborn reasoned, the wizard could confer a minor enchantment on one item for each member of the group. At last, the wizard agreed.
Their business in Samurth concluded, our heroes bargained for a ride back up river. Moving against the mighty Churnwash is always harder, and their strong backs were most welcome to assist. As such, passage costs them nothing but some sweat and blisters. Upon reaching Karipur’s farm, they plunge into the shallows of the river, wading through icy waters to shore. The farm is large and well tended, equally divided between the raising of beasts and the tending of crops. Directed by farmhands, our heroes find Karipur near the main house, chopping firewood. After reading Rathlaris’ letter, he immediately sets about preparing to accompany teh adventurers. While they dry their gear, soaked by the river, beside his comfortable hearth, the ranger delegates the running of his farm to his foreman, and assembles a travel pack.
He does not have any news of young Jalenna, but surmises that she may have wandered into the Tanglewood along Dogtree Brook. She was often seen there, collecting herbs for her master, and could have gotten lost. The next morning, after a hearty breakfast in the bunkhouse, Karipur and our heroes set off. They take a skiff across the Churnwash and then begin hiking along the brook. Towards the evening, they abruptly come upon a gray wolf who does not take flight at seeing them. Karipur bids them hold and wait. Moments later, an Eladrin woman of feral appearance steps from the underbrush. Her hair is wild and unkempt, and her bare feet are dirty. The smells of earth, leaves, and wolves. Despite the clear fact that her only hygiene is bathing in streams, she is not unattractive. Karipur introduces our heroes to Arriane, a druid, and the source of local legends about a wild “wolf-woman”. She speaks only a little of the Common tongue, and mostly converses with Karipur in some Fey-touched gibberish none of the adventurers know (though it shares some similarities with Elven, at a root level).
Through the translation of Karipur, she tells our heroes that she has seen and heard nothing of Jalenna. However, she agrees that she and her wolves, two of whom are present, will join in searching for Jalenna if the adventurers will aid her in solving an immediate problem. It is revealed that she observed a young farm boy change into a bear the previous day. Obviously distraught and confused by the state of affairs, the young werebear had stumbled into the Thornwood. Arriane tried to approach and help, but the bear fled, perhaps in part because of the stories about a wolf-woman and her dangerous disposition. Arriane needs assistance in subduing the frightened werebear so she can teach him to resume his human form. After some discussion and debate, our heroes agree. The hour is by then late, and they all set to making camp.
A fire is built, bedrolls laid out, and watches assigned. As always, Cuts takes a hand in every watch. The construct needs no sleep. It is a matter of note, that Arriane treats the Warforged as a person, unlike everyone else they have encountered in Farandale thus far. It stands out only by its rarity. The druid eschews a bedroll, instead curling up into a pile with her two wolves to trance (traveling with Ezio, our heroes have learned that Eladrin do not actually sleep). Once or twice, Nithauk, who has been fascinated with the woman, gets too close, drawing a warning snarl from a wolf. Other than that, all is quiet. That is, until the middle of the night. Those on the middle watch are alerted when one of Arriane’s wolves begins to growl. Hearing a sound, Scir stands to investigate, only to be struck by arrows from the darkness.
The adventurers leap to arms, even as a mix of goblins rush into their clearing. The battle is fierce, and many of our heroes suffer injuries. In the end, however, they emerge victorious. Arriane and her wolves chase down those goblins who try and flee, so that none survive the fight. Alar begins committing the slain to the earth, as is his fashion, though eventually the druidess convinces them that the bodies can be left for the animals. The goblins’ possessions are searched, and some oddities noted. For one, all the goblins exude a scent of rotting fish, which is most strange. For another, their clan symbol is unknown to Karipur or Arriane, despite the two having a great deal of knowledge about Farandale’s wilderness.
The leader of their number carried a shield without the clan symbol, a splashed claw mark made with animal (one hopes) blood. The leader’s shield is not of goblin make at all, but instead an old dwarven style of shield, and of good quality. Also of note were swords carried by two of the stronger goblins. Made of a silvered alloy, and also of dwarven design, they appear to be crafted specifically to hunt lycanthropes. All of the goblins carried coin, and Nithauk notes that they coin is very different from any they have seen circulating in Farandale. Compared to the coin they were paid by Rathlaris, for example, these are of archaic design and extremely worn.
With the goblin threat eliminated, our heroes finish out the night without incident. Rising in the morning, they eat a light meal and prepare to track down the frightened werebear. Some of them still grumble that this is distracting them from finding Jalenna, while others ponder how many days the girl has now been missing. Four nights, five days, since she was discovered missing… suspicions of foul play are expressed with more certainty now, along with concerns about the girl’s welfare as the days creep by. As the mystery takes on new and ominous dimensions in their mind, they set out with Arriane. Hopefully, the werebear issue will be quickly solved.