Having exhausted their leads in Phoenix, the party decides to make their way back to the Hound’s Tooth Inn. On the journey there, Dusan reacts like he has been physically assaulted, and slumps over in his saddle. Takeo and Wren quickly move up to assist, while Sprocket moves into the forest…to ambush the potential ambushers, of course. Not running and hiding.
As Dusan is helped off of his horse, Argentum, he regains his balance and clarity. He describes how he had been hit by no less than eight visions, more than he had ever received at one time. He describes it as the “gift” of Rozerus; he had been seeing things since he was young, but these were full-on prophecies. Eight at a time was a bit much for him to take in at once.
He describes the visions he saw, but other than the fact that the skull with dragon wings was used once by the Dyriskilssi as a holy symbol for Dyradak, little esle could be immediately divined from the visions.
When the party arrived at the Hound’s Tooth Inn, they checked the upstairs rooms first. A letter was found in one of the rooms, dated about a week previous. It appeared to be addressed to Prince Rashid, also referred to in the letter as the Voice of Shadow. It described how his servants had set up in the ruins of Garlan Watch, and abandoned tower in the Brackenwood. It was signed by someone named Aloran.
Further investigation of the inn rooms revealed the battle scenes where the four Knight-Petitioners guarding Wren had been killed. Of note were the use of Lightning Bolt spells and the claws of a hunting cat.
Investigation of the cellar lead to the discovery of four human hearts in a bag, which the party assumed to be those of the dead Knights. A summary check of the nearby woods and the rest of the inn lead nowhere. Having spent the day traveling and searching the inn, the party set up in the main room of the inn for the night.
During the first watch Wren hears the growl of some sort of large cat upstairs. When Dusan and Valorus, his guard dog, go to the stairs to check quickly, the dog’s hackles rise and he refuses to go further up the stairs. Noting this, Dusan and Wren wake up Takeo. As they get each other’s armor ready, Sprocket wakes up, makes his way over to the bar, and casts a spell that makes one of the mugs glow brightly. He then tosses this up the stairs and creeps up to find out what he could see. Upon seeing all the doors half-open, he quickly makes his way around the floor, closing all of them as Takeo and Dusan make their way up to check the situation out.
Other than a fleeting cold presence, and a receding evil aura, nothing was discovered. On edge after this near-encounter, Wren stays up over the rest of the night, keeping an eye out for further dangers.
In the morning, the party makes their morning preparations, and sets off into the Brackenwood to make their way to Garlan Watch, their only lead at the moment. They make their way to a river north of the inn and follow it westward, towards the tower. The combination of overgrowth and armored warriors slows the party to a mere eight miles traveled along the river that day.
Once more, on Wren’s watch, the sound of a large cat is heard, this time growling in the distance. Other than a few tense moments where it sounds like it was getting louder, nothing else happens that night.
Once again, the party performs their morning routines. Other than an incident involving Wren, a backpack, Sprocket, and the river, the party prepares for their travels that day uneventfully.
A few hours in, they discover an abandoned camp by the riverside. Sprocket, Takeo, and Dusan cross the river to investigate. As they are checking the camp out, two panthers leap out of the bushes and attack. The first savagely mauls Sprocket, while the second nearly tears through Dusan’s armor completely, leaving him reeling. As Wren and Simon run to the shore on the other side of the river to attempt to assist, Takeo quickly cleaves through the cats. Dusan rushes over to assist Sprocket, who claims he is feeling ill and runs into the bushes, where a burst of fabulous rainbow light comes out, which just happens to make Dusan, Takeo, and Sprocket feel better.
Upon examination, Takeo and Simon note that these cats are not native to this area of the world at all, confirming the presence of more foreigners.
After some debate, the party decides to wait for the campers and see what their business was in the woods. Wren sets up in one of the trees, Sprocket hides (get it?) in one of the cats, and the other three just sit in the clearing, making a fire once dusk falls. At this point five humans with blonde hair and hide armor (not a normal outfit for this part of the world), along with a cat’s paw around their neck, walk up to the camp. Dusan attempts to use the party’s Writ from the Warden to get them to answer some questions, probing as to whether or not they recognize the local authority.
The five glance dismissively at the Writ and Simon, Takeo, and Dusan the “Heir to Dameir”, the “hisskarssi”, and “the Knight of the Everseeing Eye”, and asked where “the other two were”. They claimed they were sent by Prince Rashid, and that they “were to be our doom”.
An attempt to intimidate the five by Takeo fails to dissuade them from their position. On seeing this, Dusan pulls his sword and charges (what in hindsight will be the first tactical mistake of the battle). Appalled by this, screaming "You dare attack servants of the Night Stalker, the five warriors begin frothing at the mouth, screaming obscenities and fighting recklessly. Three move to Takeo, while two stay and hammer at Dusan.
The battle initially goes well, with Wren’s arrows and Takeo’s blades taking down two of the warriors. Attempts by Simon to bring his special attack into play fail, unfortunately, and Takeo is taken down by the third barbarian.
Meanwhile, Sprocket has been sneaking up into the middle of the fray, and casts Obscuring Mist. While it helps keep some of the attacks from hitting Dusan, it hurts his chances of attack as well, leading to a sort of melee stalemate, one Dusan cannot sustain for long.
Wren takes out the last barbarian that had attacked Takeo and swings down as Simon enters the mist to engage in the combat. Sprocket sneaks up behind Dusan and whispers something encouraging, as his wounds shine and begin to fade.
By the time Simon and Wren make it into melee, Sprocket and Dusan had taken one of the warriors down, leaving only Dusan’s Special Target of the Day. He yells at Simon and Wren to get out of the melee so that no one else is harmed while he finishes this last combatant (perhaps not the best move).
As the final warrior drops, Takeo is brought back up to consciousness, the three surviving warriors are manacled, and the party binds their wounds and decides to rest.
Wren berates Simon and Dusan for “spending too much time protecting her” and that they are going to get themselves killed because of this. Dusan acknowledges his mistake and apologizes, but Simon becomes incensed, claiming that her safety is now “his responsibility”. Argument ensues. Simon reluctantly concedes in the end, as the Writs we were given were given to us all, treating everyone as equal agents. Thus spells the end of that conflict of personalities. I’m sure we will never, ever hear of it again.