The Swallowed Sun

A Dwarven Caravan

Upon returning to the village after their success against the ominous black dog and its dire wolf companions, Gustavus relayed the tale of their adventure to the village council. Adara took the paw of the black dog with Mogroith to withdraw and study the signs to see what could be learned. The group also turned over the hides of the dire wolves to the village tanner, to fashion some armor for one of the warriors and a mantle for young Ulfbert, who fancied the prize as a sign of his prowess in battle.

Having no other pressing need for the services of the hunters and warriors, the elders bid them return to their usual labors. The dwarves of Vorn Uhlum would be arriving soon from the northern mountains to conduct their last trade before winter snows made the journey to treacherous. The hunters and woodcutter set about their work with more zeal than usual, hoping to parlay their efforts into some personal items from the dwarves. If the elders were going to send them off on dangerous errands like the matter of the wolves, they would need some better equipment.

After a few busy days of preparations in the villages, the unmistakeable chanting and drums of the dwarves could be heard approaching the village. Everyone assembled in the village square and along the northern road out of town to see the procession. Wagons laden with metal ingots and ores rolled into the village, accompanied by half a dozen armored dwarves. Merchants rode with the drovers on the wagons, dressed in the robes of their caste. The last wagon was a mobile smithy, complete with anvil and tools, driven by a craftsmen looking to ply his trade.

Over the next few days, the dwarves conducted their trade, feasted, and told tales of the increasing audacity of the goblins that routinely assailed their holds in the mountains. They seemed unsurprised by the news that the wolves had grown bolder in the woods, or even by the tale of the fearsome black dog…the merchants spoke of things creeping up from the deepest reaches underground — monsters unseen for generations that were beginning to appear in the remote fringes of their underground domain.

To take the edge off of their grim tidings from the mountains, the dwarves unloaded several casks of the finest dwarven ale for the feasting, and sang songs and told stories of brave warriors triumphant beneath the mountain. On the last night of feasts, the leader of the caravan, the merchant Badru Khorbek, thanked the humans for the hospitality and pledged continued trade between their peoples. The following morning, the entire village turned out again to see the dwarves off as their wagons rolled north, laden with food and cloth from Keflavik.

Leader of the Pack

As harvest season turned unseasonably cold, the village’s hunting parties noticed wolf packs, much too far south for this time of year, stalking them on their patrols. The wolves didn’t seem underfed, but were unusually aggressive, raising concerns amongst the hunters and the village elders.

The elders, spurred by Mogroith’s curiosity into the animals’ behavior, called together a group to investigate the problem. Two of Keflavik’s best hunters would accompany Mogroith’s apprentice, along with some additional warriors and a priest of Brigantia to bring the Tuathas’ favor on the endeavor. The skald Gustavus, sensing the beginnings of a tale worth telling, hitched his pack to come along.

As a cold rain began to fall, Kyr and Argvidr set out the next morning, scouting ahead and leading the others to where the wolves were last seen. After an unevenful morning of travel, Kyr’s instincts steered him towards a remote woodcutter’s cabin. As sunset approached on their first day, the group reached the cabin, only to find the signs of a grizzly slaughter. The woodcutter, along with his wife and young son, were scattered around the cabin in pieces. While the kills all appeared consistent with animal attack, there were no signs that the dead had been eaten.

Searching around the area, Kyr found signs of a half-dozen wolves, including one much larger than the rest. Adara knew from her studies that dire wolves made their home in the mountains to the north, but neither she nor the hunters had ever seen one. The tracks indicated that the wolves headed northwest away from the cabin. After burning the bodies and performing funeral rites, the group followed.

When the last of the day’s light had faded, the group made camp for the night. The hunters located a slightly elevated patch of ground and foraged sufficient rabbit and roots to feed everyone. After setting watches, they settled in for some much needed rest. It was during the first watch that Tarmo suddenly became aware of three figures standing motionless just beyond the campfire’s dwindling light. With a welcoming nod, he motioned them to join the group around the fire.

The trio were an elven patrol, out in search of a group of missing elven scouts. The leader of the trio, Eldrin, told the group they had seen a “black dog” moving through the woods, with both dire and mundane wolves seemingly following its lead, but the pack had not troubled the elves or their settlement as of yet. They directed the party to head toward a nearby stream to the west, and follow it to the north towards an old abandoned wolf den, where this malevolent dog and its pack might be found. With that, they departed to search for their kin amongst an old human ruin days to the southwest (a place the village party knew nothing about).

Following the lead the elves had provided, the party set out the next morning, heading upstream in search of the den. The trackers saw increasing evidence of wolves (large and small), and proceeded with caution until in sight of the den itself. As the archers positioned themselves in the trees, Ulfbert and Marsk moved in for a closer look. The wolves caught the scent of humans, and charged out snarling. Adara managed to communicate with the smaller wolves and convince a few of them to turn tail and run, while the warriors rained blows and arrows on the larger dire wolves. After a few moments of the battle, a large two-headed black dog emerged from the cave, its eyes glowing a baleful red.

Despite the ferocity of its attack and the two dire wolves that served him, the black dog proved no match for the group in combat. Gathering a paw of the black dog to show to Mogroith and the skins of the dire wolves as trophies, the group poked through the den to make sure there were no further surprises in store, and set out to return home.


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