Ann Arbor Adventure

There's Something Strange in the Woods

And it's a scary tower.

As soon as the wolf silhouette vanishes, it begins to rain, slowly at first, and then a downpour.  Luckily, thanks to Chava's magic circle, everyone is quite dry.  Owain and Murphy are quite concerned about this, and what it might mean in terms of strange creatures in the woods.  Chava makes some tea and tries to keep everyone calm without giving away that she put up the strange tent.  After some debate and haranguing, Kai and Owain attempt to build some shelters – however, as there are no branches of a useful size, this leads to an argument about the suitability of Owain's lute as a tent support.

Murphy decides to eat breakfast, and is sorely disappointed to find that they are out of cheese.  He grumbles and complains for a bit, then decides to change some of the bread to make it taste like cheese.  The change is successful, and the others are surprised to notice how happily Murphy is consuming his bread, after complaining so much about the cheese.

Chava had only intended the circle to last till dawn, so she takes time to reinforce it to last till noon, hoping that the rain will have stopped by then.  She next announces that she is going to take a nap.  While Chava is napping, Owain attempts to tell a story, but it is so bad Branwyn starts booing.  Murphy decides it's a good time to relate a parable, but he tells it all backwards, and nobody is listening anyway.

Chava's nap, of course, was only an excuse for practicing her astral projection.  Her spell is successful, and she steps out of herself and wanders into the woods, back in the direction of the place where Kai got spooked.  The world looks very different from this perspective, material objects have little meaning – the forest is a landscape of living things.  She herself is a being of shimmering substance.  The one thing that has come with her from the material world is her charmed necklace.  Traveling is also much faster.  As Chava approaches the tower, she begins to feel uncomfortable, nervous.  She approaches cautiously, and emerges into a barren place.  In the center is a tall, swirling cloud of black smoke, reaching from the ground to as far up as she can see.  It seems to emanate malevolence.  Chava turns to leave, but is caught, and begins to be drawn toward the tower.  Suddenly, a figure appears between her and the tower.  The wolf from her dream.  He stands, black as night, but gleaming with a strange, white brightness, and growls, "Go! Now!".  Chava grumbles that she is trying, and manages to break free from the vortex.  She snaps back into her body abruptly, and wakes with a pounding headache.

Distressed by her encounter, Chava goes to Matza, and gives her a hug.  Kai notices her distress, and inquires.  This leads to a conversation about the tower, and eventually Kai reveals most of what he knows about it.  Everyone is quite distressed at this point, and they make the decision to head into town, despite the rain.  Knowing there will be concern about crossing the magic circle, Chava walks through it, breaking the barrier, and dissipating the magic.  Rain immediately starts falling into the previously dry campsite.  This leads to Murphy's speculating about the nature of bubbles, and inspires him to start composing a story about the miraculous experience.

The group slogs through the mud and darkness for hours before they finally see the lights of the town.  They immediately find the inn, and are taken care of by the innkeeper's wife, who is quite distressed that they've been out in the rain and gotten so wet.  Chava mentions strange things in the woods, which leads the woman to stop chatting and go elsewhere.  Once they are dry and sitting by the fire, Owain tells some stories, and Murphy tells the story of Noah's Ark, both successfully.  Owain is quite pleased, because he finally managed to get through the tale of Gorm the Brave without people falling asleep.

Later, Chava goes in search of the innkeeper's wife, in order to inquire further about the woods.  After assuring Chava that yes, the town is perfectly safe, the woman answers some questions.  She isn't very talkative, and doesn't know anything about a tower, but she seems to be quite concerned about druids.

That night, Chava, Kai, and Branwyn dream about the tower.

In the morning, Chava brings up what she learned, and asks Murphy to go talk to the local priest to see if he knows anything.  Murphy, having eaten his fill of cheese, is more than happy to oblige, and Owain goes with him.  They go straight to the town's church.  The priest (a Norman), is less than helpful, dismissing all the stories about the woods as nothing more than primitive superstitious nonsense.  He is quite confused when they ask about the tower, assuring them that there are no towers on that road.  He and Murphy discuss the dangers of traveling, which the priest also pooh-poohs, insisting that the bandits are only interested in merchants, and wouldn't bother to attack a monk.  Murphy stays to say a few prayers in the chapel, and then he and Owain go out into the town. After leaving, Murphy tells Owain that he suspects the priest was hiding something.

It's still rainy, though better than yesterday, so there are few people out on the street, though most of the shops are open.  Owain and Murphy wander into an herbalist's shop, where they chat with the owner.  They learn that he grows some of the herbs, and purchases others from the merchants who come through (there is a port a little less than a week's journey north).  Much of what he has locally he purchases from local farmers, or from a woman who comes in about once a month with gleanings from the woods.  He can't remember her name, just remembers that she's from 'Geli' (the grove).  When Owain inquires about the woods, the merchant hints about people who have gone missing, and the general dangerous nature of woods in Wales anyway.  He also mentions Druids.  He is more than happy to supply them with some wolfsbane to keep werewolves away.  Owain is eager to purchase some, especially since Kai is so spooked, but the asking price is fairly high.  Murphy offers to bless some water in exchange, which the herbalist is more than happy to accept.  

Chava decides to go explore the town, and is, of course, followed by Kai and Branwyn, who don't think it's safe to let her wander about on her own.  They come into the herbalist's as the merchant is attempting to sell Owain daisies to keep away dragons.  Kai points this out, at which the herbalist claims his assistant has put things in the wrong box.  Chava purchases a number of useful healing herbs, for use in poultices and potions, at a good discount.  Murphy is curious about what she buys, as he is interested in what might be useful for healing.



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