Caster's Cradle

Enemies at the Gates

The group made their way back through the forest once again. All seemed quiet in the Wood as they retraced their steps to the Academy. Rutty and Kraown went on ahead of the others, merrily chatting about their adventures.

Alhazred, Stromm and Thud reached the road that lead from the Academy to Hindvale late in the afternoon. As they rounded the corner they could hear cries coming from further down the road. As they looked for its source, Thud also noted the plumes of smoke that billowed up from somewhere a few miles down the road.

“Is that Hindvale?” he asked.

“Well, better go see what’s going on,” Stromm said with a sigh.

The three crept along the edge of the woods, staying in the shadows. Just a few minutes down the road, they could see a man standing atop an overturned carriage, screaming for help as three wolves circled. To make matters worse, the cart was on fire as well, slowly constricting the area where the man could keep himself safe from lupine jaws. Of the three wolves that prowled below, one was disturbing large, practically the size of the carriage itself. It’s fur was white as snow and a thick mist tumbled out of its muzzle with each breath. Stromm was the first to make for the carriage. He drew his sword and charged at the beasts. Thud and Alhazred followed, gathering arcane energy about themselves.

The white wolf spun to see Stromm running toward it and recoiled, thick muscles tightening. Fast as lightning, it leapt from its place by the carriage and landed with grace in front of Stromm. It roared at Stromm, unleashing a blast of ice from its maw that froze everything touched by its breath. Stromm dodged and landed a blow on the wolf’s flank. It reared back in pain as a bolt of fire, slung by Thud, hit in the chest. The white wolf cried again, calling its pack mates to its side. They abandoned their sentry of the man, who was still scrabbling on top of his flaming carriage, and ran to their alpha.

The three wolves did not look sick or cursed, but they still fought with a ferocity and malice that seemed at odds with their nature. Why was a winter wolf here in the Hart’s Wood anyway, thought Alhazred as he sent Melf’s acid arrow toward the pack leader. As the acid splashed across its fur, the beast crumpled to the ground at last.

As they regrouped, the party noticed the man had finally come down from his carriage and was walking toward them shakily. “Oh thank you for saving me!” he cried, coming to shake Stromm’s hand.

“What happened here?” Alhazred asked.

“The town, something’s attacked us, everything is on fire,” the man said, casting a glance over his shoulder toward Hindvale.

“What exactly did you see?” Alhazred continued.

“I don’t know,” the man shook his head, “I could hardly think, I just threw my things in the carriage and left town.”

Stromm crossed his arms, “I guess we should go check that out too.”

“I don’t think so,” Alhazred said, "We need to get back to the Academy.

“The sending stones, can we contact Kraown?” Stromm asked. He pulled out the bag of holding and began to rummage inside.

“Damn,” he said, pulling out three sending stones. We have them all.

“Let’s go to the Academy and then we can help the town,” Alhazred said.

Stromm looked at Alhazred for a long moment, and then shrugged, “Let’s get going then. Come along, sir, we’ll take you to safety.”

With that, they set off for the Academy with haste.



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