Primus 21st-29th, 1668:
The heroes traveled west toward El Rio de Delia along with their raft and captain Hans Schmitt. The evening of the 21st they talked around the campfire. Hans explained his background as an Explorer Shield Man and asked about how the heroes’ ended up where they are. Federico and Jean gave out their history once again. Henri said that he grew up as the younger son of a noble family. Without many political prospects and having an interest in puzzles and exploration he joined the Explorer’s Society.
Nigel explained that he fought in the Avalon civil war that brought Queen Elaine to power. He hadn’t had much luck in the military lately and transferred to an overseas positions as one of Elaine’s Knights. Federico made a joke about Nigel taking an “arrow to the knee” to which Nigel scowled and gestured to his eye patch. “It wasn’t my knee that got hurt.”
After some prodding Katy admitted that she was pursuing a Inish man named Finn O’Doul who had run off after she loaned him 1,000 guilders. Henri said that he’d heard of Finn when he was staying with Don Mendez. Apparently the Inishman had been staying with some local nobles and been involved with a scandal. The Castillian’s tracked him north but lost him near the Montaigne border. Nigel also said he knew the man, Finn served with him during the war. O’Doul was a young Glamour mage who had a habit of getting in trouble when off-duty.
Nigel asked Katy what she was going to do when she found Finn and Katy said she was going to make him pay her the money back with interest. “And what if he doesn’t have the money,” asked Nigel.
“Then I’ll make him work it off. I’ll chain him up and zap his butt with lightning if I have to.” replied Katy.
Hans, noticing Federico’s interest in stories, also told everyone a traditional Eisen bedtime story that his mother told him growing up.
The next day as they neared the river they noticed a group of people riding on horses toward them from the south-west. As they got closer they realized it was a group of Castillian soldiers. The heroes coordinated their story, Nigel was helping Katy track down the Inish scoundrel Finn O’Doul along with the rest of the men. When the soldiers arrived their leader, Lt. Emillio Vasquez de Zepeda, demanded to know where they were going with a raft. Federico quickly responded “across the river.” The rest of the party shushed him while Katy and Nigel explained their cover story. The soldiers were satisfied with their explanation, having heard of the Inishman escaping justice the previous month, and wished the heroes luck on their journey.
A few hours later they descended the small valley to the river bank and prepared the raft for crossing. To pass the time Hans told another story, this time one of his favorites because it was about an old Eisen hero names Hans.
Finally they had the raft ready to go with the horses in the center for safety. As they shoved off from the river bank they head the clamor of horses coming down the path. The Knight Inquisitor had caught up to them! Fortunately they were far enough out in the water that the Inquisitors could not follow. She and her 20 followers dismounted and readied a firearm volley. Hans and Nigel used their shields for cover while the rest of the heroes hid behind the horses. Everyone took minor wounds as over a dozen bullets rained down on the group. The horses paniced and raced off the raft in a small stampede.
After the volley the Inquisitors tossed several flasks toward the raft. Nigel blocked one with his buckler and Henri caught one in his hands. Two others crashed against the raft leaking oily liquid all over the wood. Henri checked his flask and confirmed it was in fact lantern oil. The inquisitors got out heavy crossbows and lit the bolts on fire and started pelting the raft with them. Nigel protected Hans while Hans manned the makeshift rudder. Katy and Federico used cloaks to douse the flames when the raft caught fire while Henri and Jean paddled madly for the center of the river. After several minutes of enduring crossbow fire the raft made it out of the Inquisitors’ range. Henri had been badly wounded and passed out in the center of the raft and others were hurt as well but they were alive and safely out of reach.
The Knight Inquisitor told her Defenders of the Faith to mount up. “They may have escaped us for now but I’ll teach them how long the arm of the Inquisition can reach.”
The heroes landed safely on the other wide of the river and dragged their raft onto the bank. They made camp that evening while Federico gave Henri the last dose of his healing balm. That evening, as Federico and Hans were on watch, Federico heard someone sneaking up on the camp. He called out to some shadowy figures who rushed forward with their rifles with bayonets affixed. A Montaigne soldier patrol was attacking! Katy woke up and calmed the situation down quickly. She explained the cover story of tracking down Finn and invited the soldiers to share their fire. Their leader, Lt. Felix Bonteco, accepted, on behalf of his squad. There were five soldiers in total. One of the privates named Jerome was quite talkative while the rest mostly ate and turned in to sleep. During the meal the lone wolf howl pierced the night once again. The Montaigne soldiers looked pale and shuddered at the sound. The heroes asked them what was wrong and Jerome explained that it was the sound of the black wolf.
Apparently while sieging a Castillian fortress months ago a group of Porte mages teleported into the fortress and brought along wolves that went mad and caused chaos among the defenders. However, not all the wolves died. After that day there were sightings of black wolves the size of ponies stalking through the countryside. They had somehow developed Porte magic of their own and could appear out of nowhere to attack and vanish before your weapons could hit them. Two days ago their squad mate, Aristad, had left the campfire long enough to relieve himself, and they heard him scream. By the time they got to him all that was left was blood and rags in the snow.
The Montaigne commander has put a 1,000 guilder reward out for the beasts’ head but no one has managed to track the monster down. It has been picking off soldiers all winter and most of them are terrified of it.
The next day the heroes followed the Montaigne soldiers back to their base camp farther up the river. The military encampment held several hundred soldiers and was led by Captain Charles Riche du Pourisse. The heroes were able to get medical attention but didn’t receive that warm a welcome due to supplies being low all winter. Federico made himself useful by joining the cooks and quickly ingratiate himself with the soldiers. Katy sold some of her jewelry to the officers.
While recovering from his wounds, Henri managed to solve the puzzle box and opened a secret compartment that had some papers. He gave them to Jean who shared some of the information with Henri and consulted with Katy about accounting figures on some of the pages.
After resting for several days the heroes decided to escort Hans back to the raft so he can head back to the Explorer’s camp. Katy tried to acquire horses from the stable master but he refused to let any of his horses go to a group of strangers who wandered into camp. Apparently he’s lost several horses to the black wolf as well as one to a mysterious robber (Katy assumed this to be Finn). He was open to giving them horses if they killed the black wolf. The heroes settled on traveling back to the raft on foot and then hunting the wolf once Hans was safe on his way.