As the company draws up at the gate, road weary though they are, the guards refuse to let them in, citing that they are unexpected. After Shala shouts they have a letter of introduction from Count Caromarc, the guards talk amongst themselves, and send for their superior. A few minutes later well-dressed Halfling appears, introducing himself as Belik, and asks they send the letter up in a basket he lowers. After carefully examining their letter, he still declines them entry, stating that it could be a fake, and that given the rough look of their company they are not likely here for leisure. Nisca talks further with the obstinate porter, passing along one of her ruby hat-pins as encouragement, and he begrudgingly agrees to let her and her entourage at least camp out within the safety of their courtyard for the night.
As they are entering the lodge grounds, however, their progress is moderately hindered by a hunting party pushing it’s way out. Duristan the Werewolf-hunter is in the process of badgering Delgros the Huntsman to show him and his men where he’d found evidence of something having killed a deer he had been stalking earlier – a creature Duristan is convinced must be a lycanthrope – when he spots our heroes and orders them to join him as he has need of extra swords. When they respond he stops and takes them in, then apologizes, noting Nisca is noble like himself, and the rest are clearly adventurers of some caliber, before again encouraging them – much more politely – to come along for the challenging hunt. Nisca & Shala agree, bringing along two of her duelist companions and Father Khruger. Kendra is left to see to it the rest of the expedition is settled in, and to see if she can’t get access to the lodge’s library.
The Heroes of Harrowstone find they are not the only adventurer Duristan has roped into this little hunt. Sir Jan One-eye, a halfling knight riding a boar, also travels with them. As they travel they chat up the hunter, discovering that the trap they’d run into was one of his. He also enlightens them as to the local werewolves society, of how there are five tribes living in the Shutterwood, in turn making up nearly a dozen packs.
Delgros proves quite upset when they reach their destination and he finds the stag-carcass missing. As they search, the woodsman points out the evidence of the beast’s death, and they follow a bloody trail for a short interval until they stumble into a trio of cranky Dire Boar, who very clearly were the culprits for filching the kill. After a brief but bloody fight (led by the ever impetuous Duristan) the Boar are killed and the stag’s corpse studied. Though little more can be discerned, Duristan declares it clearly as the work of werewolves, ordering his men set up camp and begin bating silver-tipped traps in the nearby woods. Delgros declares him to be a fool and stalks off to the Lodge, but the others remain and as they wait, Duristan offers his fellow heroes fine brandy and invites them to tell him their tales.
Shala eagerly leaps into the tale of fighting the horrible creations they found at Schloss Caromarc, which Nisca builds on in discussing the Skin-Thief Alchemist of Lepidstadt. Jan in turn tells them of his coming from Brevoy and challenges fighting Trolls and Elk in the Sundered Lands. He also tells them of how he and Variel had died there, and been brought back in new bodies by the Witch that now rules those lands, and of how they came to Ustalav and faced bitter loss in Carrion Hill in failing to stop the summons of a horrible, invisible monster that rampages there still. Duristan takes great delight in talking of the three werewolves he himself has killed, admitting that he’d fallen onto this path as a way of making a name for himself after one had come to menace his home town.
As they rap up their stories of adventure (and polish off the last of the brandy) a growl nearby brings them to attention, as does the scream that follows. Racing to find its’ source, they find a monstrously huge werewolf, great-sword in hand, standing over the corpse of one of Duristan’s men while ripping the throat out of another with her teeth. She turns and growls a warning for them to stop, to explain why they have impinged on the territory of the Vollensag Tribe. Nisca explains their purpose here is to hunt, but is interrupted in explaining what, exactly (the Whispering Way never quite getting out into the dialog), when the great wolf-woman calls her a liar. She goes on to tell them to flee back to their “master” and stay out of wolf politics. Their “master’s” alliance with the Silverhide leader Mathus the betrayer has not gone unnoticed, and that the other tribes will never accept at Silverhide packlord on the Highthrone. Should they and theirs continue to aid the traitor, they shall suffer the same fate. With that she demands they flee back to the lodge with haste, before she looses what little patience she has.
They consider asking questions, but are interrupted by her howling, which is joined by a cacophony of howls from elsewhere in the wood, so all agree not to press their luck and retreat.
Back at the lodge they find an apologetic Belik with a tray carrying mugs of hot coffee. He explains he wasn’t informed of their coming and informs them his master, the Warden Estovion Lozarov, would like to meet with them. Leaving servants outside, they are led up to the library where the Warden himself apologizes for their earlier treatment, and accepts Duristan’s offer to cover them as his guests. With that e takes his leave of them, stating he is quite busy, but states he has sent orders to the kitchen for a late dinner to be prepared and Belik will lead them to their rooms when they are ready…