As the group prepares to take a long rest, Sulyex pulls Audir aside for a brief discussion. He expresses concern for the bargain she made and pledges his aid in dealing with any repercussions that may befall Granny’s possession of Audir’s voice and name.
The first watch is taken by Quaesitor, Dorrin, and Coratana, during which Coratana detects a faint tremor in the earth, seeming to originate from the East. Halbard and Quaesitor share the second watch after Quaesitor takes a short rest. They discuss Nightbane’s growth and Halbard’s experience being possessed in the graveyard. Halbard shares some of Nightbane’s past with the bard: how Halbard had rescued the Displacer Beast kitten from a dragon’s den, where the remains of his family still surrounded the kitten. Quaesitor casts a spell that permits him to speak with animals, and he has a brief discussion with the Beast himself about Nightbane’s sudden growth, and his relationship with Halbard. The Beast reveals that he refers to the ranger as “Guardian,” and Quaesitor translates a brief discussion between the two of them.
The rest of the group arises from their rest, and they set out through the forest towards the wolf den, some six hours away from their location. Quaesitor keeps an eye out for components to complete Luka’s list, and Halbard searches for items for Lyran. Dorrin and Sulyex lend their aid and eventually, they manage to locate Juniper Berries and Glow worms for Lyran and fireflies for Luka.
While they walk, Halbard has a brief discussion with Audir, just checking up on her and seeing how she feels with the bargain she made with Granny. She assures him that she is fine, and she speaks briefly about her past, and the fact that she is continually searching for answers about why her clan disappeared.
A little over halfway through their estimated six-hour trek, they group discovers a large pond in a clearing in the woods, with a stream running through it. They investigate the area and discover a number of tracks and evidence of various animals: feathers, paw prints, a few tufts of sheep wool. They collect the feathers, identifying some as belonging to Owlbears, and focus on the wolf and sheep tracks leaving a fairly clear trail towards the Southeast… the approximate direction of the den.
The party begins to follow this trail, but shortly after leaving the watering hole, they hear the sound of something large moving through the forest at speed. Two Owlbears - already injured - barrel out of the woods, and the party is caught up in combat with them. Quickly, the group dispatches the two Owlbears, but sees two large, slow-moving masses of decomposing plant matter following the Owlbears’ trail. The party decides not to engage the Shambling Mounds in combat and flees after quickly removing the two front paws of one of the Owlbears in the hopes of harvesting the claws at a later point.
They continue to follow the wolf tracks through the twilight and into the deepening night. They approach the cliff wall they know the wolves to have made their den in, and Coratana sends Kaira scouting. The little dragon returns with a report: they are about half a mile south of the den, and there are wolves around a fire pit outside, with more light glowing within the cave. The group decides to take a short rest and allow some of their group to recover before tackling this encounter. Coratana asks Kaira to keep an eye out and alert them if there is any movement in the woods around them. Kaira returns very quickly: there are multiple patrols of wolves scouting these woods, and one group is coming towards them!
The party prepares an ambush, but at the last moment, Coratana decides to shadow step closer to the wolves and speak to them telepathically. The wolf patrol freezes, then sends one of the four wolves racing in the direction of the den. Coratana deploys Kaira to follow the wolf. When the other three see this small dark shape following their compatriot, they send up a long, low howl, then turn and run off into the woods themselves. Back in the ambush set-up, both Halbard and Quaesitor attempt to imitate the howl - Quaesitor somewhat more successfully than Halbard.
Coratana returns to the group and informs them of what occurred, and they shift and change positions. Coratana, Sulyex (who is stubbornly refusing to let this excitement interrupt his attempt to rest), and Dorrin build a small campfire, and Halbard, Nightbane, Audir, and Quaesitor hide themselves up in the trees or behind illusions. Halbard assists their attempts to be stealthy by using his ability to let them Pass Without Trace.
Very quickly after the group situates themselves as they wish, those with eyes able to pierce the dark notice a number of wolves beginning to encircle their location. Coratana manages to count 12 wolves surrounding them before his attention is caught by another large group of wolves approaching: another 12 wolves led by the two largest wolves any of the party had ever seen. The two pony-sized wolves approach and seat themselves ten feet away from the three in the open before speaking in gravelly common, asking why the group has trespassed on their territory. After overcoming his brief shock, Coratana begins to speak with the wolves, maintaining a telepathic link between the party so they can communicate amongst themselves. They learn that the wolves claim this territory as their domain and view the humans as trespassers. The alpha male seems to be of a more conciliatory nature, willing to live with what they currently have and pleased that they are provisioned well enough so that the pups will not starve during the winter. He even advocates for taking what they currently have and moving North, deeper into the forest and away from the humans. The female is more assertive and aggressive, advocating a more militant approach towards the nearby town. Coratana manages to persuade the wolves to negotiate with Welltown, proposing a mutually-advantageous alliance between the two folk. The wolves agree to attend negotiations the following day on one condition: that Coratana be the one to represent and speak for them to the villagers. He agrees to do so, and the wolves depart.
The hidden members of the party come out of their stealthy positions and the group prepares to rest for the night. Sulyex and Dorrin take the first uneventful watch. Coratana and Halbard take the second, and as the sun begins to rise, they get a glimpse of a griffon launching itself off of the cliff overhead and fly out over the woods. A single golden griffon feather drifts downward towards them, and Coratana sends Kaira up to catch it and bring it to him. The rest of the party awakens, and they begin to prepare for the day ahead.