As if the frozen man out front of the treehouse wasn’t bad enough, the scene inside was truly the image of sadness. A woman frozen in the midst of childbirth. When Osweald took the cup from the man’s frozen hands and placed it within the niche of the wooden altar, the baby completed its birth. In a world nearly forsaken of divine influence, how does one begin to explain a birth after the entire area had been frozen for a long, harsh winter?
The baby was healthy and after being wrapped warmly, the Watch members made to depart with their newest charge. Cohen went through Alyxann’s rituals with practiced precision and the team mounted up with a few new trinkets from the house, including holy symbols to Wylde, the goddess of nature, a set of four magic rings, and more furs.
The Mountain Pass
Fourth Squad set fore and rear guards as they worked their way back in toward civilization. With a particularly uneventful beginning, the team’s forward scouts passed by a thick copse of trees and winding down the side of the mountain. From within the trees could be heard a guttural chanting. Instincts kicked in and the squad prepared to repulse an ambush. Bugbears began pouring from within the trees and immediately went on the attack ignoring the scouts and bearing down on the center of the party. Another group of enemies came from the backside of the copse and did likewise – ignoring the rear guard and attacking the main group.
The team fought well, like always, but they were outnumbered and pressed sorely. With more bugbears appearing around the pass, it became clear that the beasts were being gated in somehow and were tactically driven. The party was wedged apart and forced to retreat from the sheer numbers of the beasts. Cohen, with babe in arms, Linfors, and Denn began to outdistance the bugbears who were on foot. The remainder of the squad dispatching bugbears as they retreated, noticed there was no pursuing enemies coming their direction. All were after the other three. Loyalty runs strong in the Watch and so they charged toward their companions only to be cut off by the monsters. Bugbears still poured from the copse of trees and completed the split in the party. As the team prepared to make a final stand, arrows began streaking from the rocks above and behind them. The monsters broke off the fight and followed their comrades in pursuit of the other half of the team.
A voice from the edge of the rocky pass shouted to the Watch to follow them to safety and that their friends would be helped by other members of these new arrivals further up the pass.
So, with little other choice, the Watch pulled out leaving many bugbear bodies on the mountain pass.
The Wolf’s Den
Weaving in and out of a weathered ravine cut into the mountainside, the Watch came upon a low, craggy entrance to what would be a rather large cave. The rugged looking men, dressed in greens and browns and covered in furs, led them into the Wolf’s Den as they called it.
A self-sustaining community within the unforgiving and cold Crane Mountains. It was explained to the team that these people lived outside the reach of the Kingdom of Aynemere, but not quite within the great beyond. All were refugees at one time or another who were rescued from the wilds and led to the Wolf’s Den and decided it was home.
Remnants of the deep green of Watchcloaks could be seen on several of the men who had led the team here. When names were exchanged, the people of the Wolf’s Den used appropriate rank titles without being prompted – and with the proper respect.
Warm mugs of a sweet tasting malt-like drink were given out to the strangers and rescuers alike. Welcoming smiles accompanied firm handshakes. Eddaryck was the apparent leader and the one to shout to the distressed team within the pass. He bore a wooden medallion around his neck surprisingly similar to the ones found in the treehouse. Wylde, apparently had some followers. The team was asked about wounds and quickly healed by Eddaryck and his younger brother, Samuel with what they learned was druidic magic.
A reverent hush came over the small gathering as a slender woman made her way into their midst. Commanding the attention of all there without having said a word, she smiled at the team as she approached. She was remarkably beautiful for a human, at least until one noticed the graceful curve of her ears as they just peeked from beneath her auburn tresses. The hint of almond shape to her eyes and the golden green cast to her irises revealed a hint of elven ancestry.
“My name is Planthryss. Welcome to our home.” Her voice had a slight lilt to it making it somewhat melodic and alluring.
There serenity of the scene was broken by a disturbance behind the gathering. Men were returning from outside with others in tow and two men being carried by others.
Planthryss politely excused herself and went to tend the wounded, healing each in turn with her druidic powers.
The cry of a baby could be heard from under a heavy cloak and Cohen took the babe out protectively. When the child made eye contact with the druid, she abruptly ceased her cries and smiled brightly.
Introductions were made all around and stories exchanged with the folk of the Wolf’s Den and the 4th Squad.