A dead Chimera does not have many uses, but Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn and Magnus are creative. Kulich, Yorgenson Uberson, Armst, and Elroy Wick watch as the Druidbarian and the Fighter dismantle the hodgepodge Magical beast. Magnus lops off the black dragon head and stuffs it into a burlap sack. Øskur takes the mane-less lion head as his trophy. Then he hastily skins the body of the Chimera, bundling up the hide. The rest is left behind.
The party mounts up, except Armst – his horse was killed in the fight. Druid Yorgenson invites the Warmage to ride bareback behind him. Not long into their ride, the party makes a Listen check. Kulich has temporary deafness (Listen = 2) but Elroy Wick (Listen = 22) hears the distant sound of howling wolves. The forest obscures the sound’s direction and distance.
An hour later, another Listen check. Composing a song in his head, Elroy Wick (with a Natural 1 rolled for Listen for a total skill check of 7) does not hear the wolves as distinctly as Kulich (Listen = 22) and Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn (Listen = 22).
By mid-day the party’s ride is distinctly uphill. At regular intervals every hundred yards or so, a mossy boulder the size of a house rests on one side of their path or the other. Druid Uberson (Spot = 17) observes that the party is riding along a ridge line; these natural formations have something to do with that.
Late in the day, near dinnertime – the group makes a Listen check. Yorgenson Uberson (Listen = 23) takes in the baying of wolves. The others catch some of it. A Wisdom check by Elroy Wick (with a Natural 20 rolled for a total check of 22) gives the impression that the wolves are further away than the first time the Bard heard them.
A depression beside a boulder is a good camp site. Before watches begin and the party settles into sleeping shifts, Druidbarian Røgnvaldurarsøn casts Healthful Rest on himself, Magnus, Magnus’s injured horse, and Druid Uberson. This will double their natural rate of healing.
On the third watch, something interesting happens. Elroy Wick is awake, tending the campfire, and Øskur is scraping fat and gore from the awful-smelling Chimera hide. The Bard (Listen = 25) and Druidbarian (Listen = 31) suddenly hear wolves again – closer than ever.
One wolf is somewhere due south of their camp; another is not far off to the west. Both men attempt a Wisdom check (both < 12) but make no insightful observation. Øskur (Knowledge : Nature = 25) feels there is something not quite right about the pitch or tone of the wolves’ howl. Wick (Knowledge : Arcana = 21) is aware of a handful of magical beasts that sound like a wolf, but not having made the Wisdom check, he cannot narrow the list of possibilities.
The sound does not repeat. Øskur, Laddie, and Elroy remain alert but have no cause to rouse everyone. Dawn warms the sky. The rest of the party wakes. Wick is about to relate what they heard, when everyone except Magnus, busy fitting his armor for the day, startles at the echo of wolves. The trees muddle the source but Druid Uberson (Wisdom check = 22) is certain the predators are almost upon them. Magnus guesses aloud that, given the party’s luck, they are probably Dire Wolves or Winter Wolves.
Yorgenson wastes no time. He gathers the horses together by the huge mossy rock, then encourages his friends to form a strategic half-circle to guard the animals. A Spot check – Elroy Wick (with a Natural 1 rolled for a total skill check of 5) sees clover on the ground. Magnus (Spot = 26) catches a glimpse of something Large and white approaching through the trees. The Fighter grimly declares he was right. It is a Winter Wolf – and probably not just one.
Assembled in a defensive line, the party girds for war. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn casts Bull’s Strength on himself; Yorgenson Uberson puts the same enhancement on Magnus. Magnus stakes javelins in the soft earth beside him, ready for use.
A Winter Wolf weaves into view, a snarling, dangerously intelligent Large-sized beast with bright white fur and sinister eyes. It slows from a run, closing fast on the humans. Something this scary requires the warding of Inspire Courage and Inspirational Boost. Elroy Wick provides; in a speech so extraordinary (with a Natural 20 rolled for Perform : Oratory for a total skill check of 34) that will command the full 18-gp from the party instead of 3d6-gp. The oration is so astounding, that it transcends planar boundaries, attracting the attention of extraplanar beings.
Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn rushes to the shelter of a tree. Armst delivers a Hail of Stone, battering the Wolf. Magnus uproots and hurls a javelin – a brilliant hit, deep in the beast’s frigid flank. Yorgenson Uberson taps Magnus with Virtue, blessing the Fighter with one single, solitary, temporary hit-point. The gain is underwhelming – Magnus is not sure what just happened, or why.
The sly Winter Wolf charges Kulich, at the last second blasting frost-breath. Armst and Wick’s horse both make their Reflex saves for half-damage. The Cleric, his horse, and the Bard, fail to evade.
Wick steps into attack range and slices the Winter Wolf with “Homestead Avenger”. The Bard expects the Winter Wolf to be at the nadir of its power, this being summertime and all. Burning in a Rage, Druidbarian Øskur flanks the magical beast from his ambush at the tree and hits with his greatsword. Warmage Armst is about to cast Hail of Stone when he makes a successful Spot check and notices a second, shaggy Winter Wolf slinking up on the party from the west. Armst instead casts Flaming Sphere against this interloper; the shaggy Wolf avoids the rolling ball of fire.
Cleric Kulich notices frostbite on Bard Wick, fixing it with Cure Moderate Wounds. Yorgenson decides to Summon Nature’s Ally. Magnus sees the shaggy Wolf and punctures the newcomer with a javelin.
The larger, sly Winter Wolf lunges at Øskur, biting the Druidbarian but failing a Strength check to trip the human. Bearing down on Magnus, the shaggy Winter Wolf chomps on the Fighter and barely loses an opposed Strength contest to knock Magnus down.
The party rallies. Elroy Wick and Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn each cut deep into the sly Winter Wolf. At close range, Kulich misses with his crossbow. Armst and Yorgenson both bring Flaming Spheres bowling into the shaggy Winter Wolf. Armst also hits with Melf’s Acid Arrow. The Druid’s Summoned black bear accomplice appears. The bear takes a swipe, missing and getting knocked to the ground by the shaggy Wolf’s Attack of Opportunity. Magnus switches to the melee comfort of his Heavy Pick, and mines deep in the shaggy Wolf’s chest.
The Wolves work in concert. The sly Wolf bites and trips the Druidbarian. The Magical beast ignores a failed slash by the talkative Bard, biting and tripping Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn again when Øskur tries to stand up. The shaggy Wolf sends Magnus falling to the dirt after dealing a freezing-cold bite.
Armst’s Flaming Sphere bounces aimlessly past the shaggy Wolf, but the Warmage’s Orb of Fire scorches the beast. Kulich closes on badly-hurt Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn, managing a Cure Moderate Wounds for his grounded friend.
Yorgenson’s Flaming Sphere narrowly misses the shaggy Winter Wolf, as does the black bear when the Summoned minion gets to its feet. The Druid Critically Hits (with a Natural 20 confirmed by a 17) the shaggy Wolf, killing the evil creature. Now safe to do so, Magnus gets back on his feet.
The sly Winter Wolf knows its advantage is lost. It rapidly withdraws from combat and bounds back into the sheltering forest. Armst sends a long-distance Hail of Stone to injure the Wolf one last time before the creature is gone for good.
Healing is the first order of business. Kulich and Øskur invigorate themselves with Cure Light Wounds. Yorgenson heals Magnus with two Cure Light Wounds spells. Ending his magnificent spoken-word performance, Elroy Wick salves Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn’s frost bites with Cure Moderate Wounds.
Curious about Winter Wolves, Armst (Knowledge : Arcana = 27) recalls their attributes and vulnerabilities. Magnus looks close (Spot = 29) and notices a glint of metal on one of the shaggy Winter Wolf’s claws. Yorgenson casts Detect Magic. The object glows – it is a magic ring, made of silver. Its magical properties are unknown. Magnus puts on the ring. He cannot say (Wisdom check = 12) what effect it has on him. He does feel lighter on his feet than normal, but that may be the lingering effects of adrenaline.
There is no interest in the dead Winter Wolf’s pelt. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn has much work left on the Chimera skin, the smell of which likely attracted the Winter Wolves in the first place. Breaking camp, the party rides north for several hours. They stop for a break when the incline of their northerly route brings them above the treeline. Ahead lies barren foothills; rocky, broken ground cut with gorges and valleys, with mountains looming ahead. Far behind and below, the hazy shadow of Tannis is barely visible.
(end of the session)