Session 9 - 10
Returning to the village after the wolves have been chased off by the illusory Griffon, the party catches up with Sulyex who had gone off in pursuit of the lean gray form he had spotted. When he sees how much faster than him it can move - approximately the same as Audir is capable of in her wolf-ish form - he breaks off pursuit and heads back to the village. The group spends a few minutes investigating the scene before heading in to the Shepherd’s Crook to meet with the Council of Elders; Coratana keeps Kaira outside to keep watch over the rest of the village while the party heads inside.
They enter and hear voices from one of the private rooms on the first floor. Hearing their arrival, a tired-looking Dwarven woman leans out the door. She looks them up and down, taking in their gear and the pendants, and without a word gestures for them to enter the room. She confirms that the group is a party of adventurers here to take care of the wolves, and introduces them to the Council: Corel, an older human man who speaks for the shepherds; Tillus, a halfling male who represents the trades-folk; Willen, a halfling female who is the miller in town; Alexei, a human male dressed in simple brown robes who is the local priest; and herself, Leanor, the Keeper of the inn.
The party gets right down to business asking questions of the Council; Audir and Sulyex take the lead in seeking information about when the wolves first appeared and what sort of damage has been done. Fairly quickly, it becomes apparent that Alexei is holding back something he doesn’t wish to discuss. Coratana takes in his shifty body language and inability to meet anyone’s direct gaze and - briefly warning the members of his party - takes matters into his own hands. He creates a sphere of magical darkness where, apart from a brief flash of light from a Fire Breath Sulyex releases into the air, the only illumination is from his glowing green eyes. Coratana informs Alexei that he does not appreciate the misdirection and lies, trying - successfully - to intimidate Alexei into being more open and honest. He also succeeds in alienating Corel, alarming Leanor and Willen, and scaring Tillus into hiding under the table.
Through Audir’s charms and Sulyex’s exhortations, the group discovers that Alexei has a brother named Marek who had gone into the forest - a dangerous proposition - shortly before the wolves became a nuisance. Marek and Alexei had been estranged for a number of years prior to Marek’s sudden appearance in Wellton. Marek had rejected the Wildmother (Alexei’s deity and the patron of this particular village) and left town in search of something or someone to help him control his innate magical ability, something that had previously been difficult for him to manage on his own. When he returned to town some two months ago, he had been pleased and proud to inform Alexei that he had made powerful new friends, and these friends had entrusted him with a mission. Shortly after that, he disappeared into the woods.
Seeing Alexei reveal information to the party that he had concealed from the Council, Corel, Tillus, and Willen leave the room, allowing the adventurers to continue their interrogation. After getting all the information they can out of Alexei - who still wishes to believe in his brother’s innocence in this matter, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary - Sulyex reproves Alexei, reminding him that his first duty is to his deity, and his second to the flock he has been given stewardship over. His wishful hopes for his brother’s innocence are blinding him to reality, and this is putting his charges - the people of this village - in danger. Alexei is sent to the temple to meditate upon the tenets of his faith and to reconsider how he has handled this situation.
During Sulyex’s exhortation, Coratana slips away to check on Kaira and the state of the village. Kaira had been perching on top of the highest building in the little valley, which happened to be Willen’s mill. He heads that way, and just outside the door to the mill Coratana meets a human boy in his young teens, resting and speaking with Willen, with a crutch on the ground beside his broken leg. The boy introduces himself as Sanvi, and in Coratana’s mind, Kaira telepathically communicates that the boy worries that he is insane. Coratana engages the boy in conversation, transforming his appearance into different faces to make the boy laugh. Willen watches Coratana cautiously but doesn’t interrupt. Coratana coaxes Sanvi to tell him how he broke his leg and what happened after.
Sanvi explains that he had broken his leg when the wolves had raided the flock he had been watching with a few other men. He had tripped and fallen, and broken his leg in the fall. He had passed out, and when he woke up, he heard gravelly voices arguing about whether or not to return him to the village or eat him here in the woods. In his pain and panic, Sanvi passed out again, and when he awoke, he had been moved to the edge of the woods, right on the outskirts of the village. Sanvi has concluded that he had lost his mind, hallucinating talking wolves to manage his panic.
Coratana is less sure that Sanvi hallucinated, having experienced an implausibly-sentient creature on the previous mission. He summons Kaira down in a flash of Eldritch-Blast light, introducing the creature to Sanvi and Willen. Willen smiles at the antics and remarks that Coratana’s familiar is exceptionally well-trained, and alludes to the fact that other wizards with their dragon-type familiars have come through town before. This catches Coratana’s attention because he knows that typically, only those like himself - who have made deals with some powerful being to gain power - have pseudodragons as familiars. Pondering this new information, he heads back to the Shepherd’s Crook to rejoin the party.
After the discussion with Alexei, Dorrin steps out to speak with Leanor. In an effort to mend bridges, Dorrin offers his services as a smith to mend anything in town that needs fixed. Leanor agrees to take him up on his kind offer and ask around to see what needs the other townfolk have.