Come morning, the storm had passed and we had made it through the night. Another look at our map confirmed that the nearest settlement, a village called Whimsyshire, was at least another four hours away on foot. As Moira and Artemis helped Peregrine pack up our makeshift campsite, I sent Emrys to scout ahead. Hopefully he wouldn’t return with the news that Albion and Mersh were collapsed on the road ahead. Making the journey to Whimsyshire in the storm would have been taxing to say the least.
A few hours passed and the four of us arrived in the small town of Whimsyshire around midday. For a place with such a name, as Moira astutely noted, Whimsyshire was not very whimsical. The streets were deserted, save for a few guards and civilians darting between houses, as if they were trying to hide from something. Even the guards looked rattled, keeping a sharp eye on the road. I could tell we were not going to be received with a warm welcome.
If the town had a bazaar or market of any kind, it certainly wasn’t in use. At the center of town was a large cathedral, and I could see from the road that it was reinforced as if to ward off some kind of attack. Something was happening in the little village of Whimsyshire, and I had a feeling we were about to be caught up in it.
We made our way to the only inn in the village, simply named ‘INN’, to seek out our companions. The innkeeper greeted us cooly and asked us how long we intended on staying. She appeared to be relieved when we told her we planned on leaving in the morning for Westvale, and then showed us to the rooms Mersh and Albion had procured late last night.
Walking through the storm was more taxing on the two than I anticipated. Mersh was out cold in his room and even Albion was snoring the day away. Our rooms rented, Peregrine, Moira, and myself went to investigate the village, but not before we were questioned by the captain of the guard. Strange enough, he was very interested in when we planned on leaving his little town, and was satisfied when we told him on the morrow.
Moira and I ventured to see the local trader about some of the gear and loot we had acquired from our battle with the slavers. The couple that owned the trader were, as was everyone else we had encountered in the town, very interested in how long we planned on staying. Word had gotten out in the short time we had been in the town about our presence here and on how long we were going to stay. Something was happening in this village of Whimsyshire. The occupants were paranoid, and the guards suspicious.
Moira and I tried to glean some information from the trader, but the couple was tight-lipped. It appeared as if they were fearful not just of whatever was plaguing them, but of the ramifications in the town guard discovered they had told us. Even when we offered our assistance with whatever was troubling the town, they refused to tell us directly what was happening. All we learned was that it had something to do with the ‘disease’ that was stopping ships and sailors from sailing anywhere near Austrail.
No matter how much we asked, the couple refused to say anything more. Fed up, Moira and I chose to visit the temple at the center of town. The traders had informed us that we could purchase healing potions there, and we were in short supply. It would also do us good to pay our respects to the local deity.
We approached the temple doors, barricaded and barred, and were told by a voice within, presumably one of the clerics, to enter from the other side. As we entered the temple, we were met with the sight of several bedrolls and other supplies stacked against the walls, as if people were taking refuge here. Moira and I pleaded with the cleric to divulge what he knew, but alas, as every other soul we encountered had done, he refused to say much of anything. The residents were scared, even the clerics of the temple were tight lipped, and the guard was keeping a stern eye trained on us. We were given the impression that the sooner we leave this village behind us, the better.
With a heavy sigh, we left the temple. As much as I wanted to help these people with whatever was ailing them, they were adamant that they did not want nor need our help. It was just as we were descending the temple stairs that Peregrine came running up to us. As he wandered through the village, he seemed to have harassed a paperboy looking for answers. After a run in with the good captain of the guard, Harsk, and a shifty character in the streets. Peregrine learned from this man that this village of Whimsyshire has been besieged by “night terrors” for the past several weeks. Villagers have gone missing during these attacks, and the number of “night terrors” seems to grow with each assault. Another strange coincidence was the timely arrival of the new captain of the guard, Harsk. His promotion to the position heralded the beginning of these “night terrors,” and I agreed with Peregrine, his hurry to get us out of town and his timely arrival with these attacks was too much of a coincidence to not grant some investigation.
Come nightfall, Albion and Mersh had fully recovered from their trek through the storm. Peregrine and Albion went to the local watering hole and, despite the situation and threat of “night terrors” got drunk. Mersh had disappeared into the night, but I was confident he would turn up should something happen. As Artemis spent the night in his room at INN, Moira and I went to find our inebriated companions.
The night air was cold on my skin as I walked out of the safety and warmth of the inn. The wind howled through the trees and echoed around the deserted village. Only now did Moira’s conversation with a local in the bar make sense to me. At night, all of the villagers garrisoned in the temple. The howling on the wind. Disappearing villagers and increasing attackers. I looked up to the sky and found the moon was waning, nowhere near full. It was impossible, how could there possibly be…
Another ear-piercing howl shook me out of my thoughts, and Moira and I retreated further in the village towards the temple. There we met with Peregrine and Albion who, despite their current inebriation, had heard the howls as well. A growl from behind us captured our attention. We turned, and down the street were three werewolves and a dire wolf, fangs bared and jaws snapping.
We readied ourselves for battle as the werewolves charged. As they neared, I unleashed a torrent of flames before ducking behind Albion and Peregrine. Moira’s bardic performance aided their attacks from a distance as she struggled with scaling a boulder. Despite our efforts, Peregrine and Albion’s attacks had little effect on the beasts, their wounds sealing up faster than they could be inflicted. I had forgotten, werewolves were largely immune to weapons that were not silvered. Luckily, my magic was proving to be quite effective.
The werewolves pounced, bringing me down to the ground. With a snap of my fingers, I was able to knock both of them out with a sleep spell. The dire wolf had already been disposed of by Peregrine and Albion, which left one missing werewolf to deal with. A scream from behind a house was all the indication we needed. Albion and I surged forwards to deal with the last werewolf, but were met with a horrid sight.
Mersh was lying on the ground bleeding out. If the gash marks raked across his neck were any indication, he was either already dead or seconds from bleeding out.
An arcane rage began to take over. I saw red and blood pumped in my ears. The werewolf charged, attacking its new prey. I focused my will on the beast, and unleashed my magic. A single pillar of fire enveloped the monster, reducing it to ash.
Leaving Peregrine and Albion to deal with the two slumbering werewolves, Moira helped me carry Mersh to the temple. He needed medical attention that only the healing clerics could provide. It took some bargaining, and I was prepared to blow the doors down myself, but they grudgingly let us in.
Peregrine and Albion joined us as the clerics examined Mersh’s unmoving body. He was dead. My oldest friend, killed by werewolves. Gathered around his body, we all mourned his passing, but through
the power of friendship a miracle, Mersh began to stir. The clerics set to work, and soon our friend was recovering in the corner.
The captain approached us, and after some negotiations accepted our help. Albion told us about a newspaper article detailing the escape of a prisoner from Fort Renwick on the western coast. The prisoner had fled east, towards Whimsyshire, and had taken two people captive.
We suspected that this man was responsible for the werewolf attacks, and our best option was to prepare the village for another attack tomorrow night. We spend the day building up fortifications around the village and ballista on certain buildings. Come nightfall, we were ready. Artemis and I stationed ourselves at the first ballista while Mersh and Moira stationed another on the building opposite to us. Peregrine and Albion had silvered weapons readied to fight the monsters. The werewolves attacked in greater force than last night, but were prepared, and were able to dispatch of the group that attacked us.
Emrys spotted one of the survivors from the attack limping away from the village, no doubt returning to wherever these werewolves made their camp. We followed, and sure enough found a small encampment of werewolves next to a cave not too far from the village. Emrys remained to keep an eye on the werewolves while the rest of us returned to town to rest for the next day when we would deal with the beasts before anyone else could get hurt.
As the others slept in the wee hours of the morning, I did some research of my own on werewolves. An alpha werewolf was responsible for turning others, passing on the disease. While the alpha had the power to transform at will and had full control over his actions, the others he turned were not so fortunate. The alpha controlled when they would transform and then they would do his bidding.
An alpha that could shapeshift at will… it could be anyone. The captain of the guard was ruled out as a suspect after last night, so it must be someone else in the village. First thing’s first, we had to investigate the werewolf camp itself.
Emrys returned as we prepared to set out to tell us that the werewolves had reverted to human form and that they seemed to be very confused. Could it be that these people had no memory of what had happened?
Moira, Albion, and myself approached the encampment. The villagers greeted us cautiously, and asked where we had come from. We told them that we came from the village of Whimsyshire, where they had all been taken from. They had been told by their “leader,” Matthias, that they were lost in the middle of a forest far away from any civilization. As we inquired about what they remembered, they said nothing. They had all woken up here and had been hunting and trapping ever since. Their numbers had steadily began to grow until these last few nights when people began to disappear.
I had met this Matthias before. His house was across from the inn, and he had told me he moved to this village around a month ago with his wife and child. He claimed to be the first victim of these “night terrors,” and had watched while his wife and child were carried away by the monsters.
A journal stolen from the cave by Peregrine and Mersh confirmed what I suspected. The kidnapper from the article Albion showed us was infected with lycanthropy and had been spreading it amongst the villagers. When we left the village earlier this morning, he was still sitting on his porch and now was the time to confront him. Peregrine, Albion, and myself returned to the village while Moira and Mersh opted to stay behind and keep an eye on the captives.
When we returned to Whimsyshire, Matthias was still on his porch. Peregrine and Albion approached, and soon enough the situation escalated. He transformed into his werewolf form as Peregrine and Albion began to wrestle with him. Before things could get ugly, the captain of the watch appeared with the majority of the guard. The monster was arrested and locked away, and the rest of the captives were led back to town where they voluntarily locked themselves up until Artemis could find a cure.
With the village’s thanks, we left Whimsyshire and continued our journey to Westvale. We had three days left before the ball started, and three days to capture Alexis Machine and save Alethea Albright from her fate.
Sometimes being an adventurer is more trouble than it’s worth, but none of us can escape our destiny, not forever. Our actions may alter the course of our lives and our fates my change, but I believe there are certain things that one is destined to do in life. No matter what I did, I was destined to meet Machine one way or another, and I could sense that time was coming.