The party: Lucia the Brave the Heir, Dryden of Conwall the Collector
Lucia and Gleador have sent an angry mob home with no injuries, but a longer-term danger still remains: werewolves. People were attacked by at least one werewolf, and may turn into werewolves themselves. They consider the injured farmers they met earlier. Surely Kenney will turn, maybe the others too.
They return to town, where they are not particularly welcome, and return to Olivia’s healing house. They are met by Miles, a young man who is Olivia’s apprentice. Olivia is not here. She runs supplies to the scientists on the mountain to the north every two weeks. They ask what he knows about werewolves. Miles says that werewolves are only legends, although he did hear that some fierce, furry creature attacked the Fairmeadow Fair a few weeks ago. Lucia says she’s heard of the Black Beast. They go in and talk to Kenney, inquiring after his wounds. He’s healing very well, but still needs to stay in the healing house for a few more days. He doesn’t know what attacked him. He can’t remember anything from that night. They float the possibility of a werewolf attack. Kenney says thsoe are just stories. Dryden points at his wounds and asks “What does your chest say about stories?” They point out that the attacks happened on the night of the full moon, which reminds Kenney that last night, he was looking at the moon through the window and noticed a bright star that was not there previous nights. Molly pips up from the next bed. She noticed it too.
The party suggests that Kenney travel with them for the next month. That’s a sudden change for a farmer like Kenney. He barely knows them. Dryden says that they are very capable, and could protect him from mobs out for revenge (like, maybe, his home town?) and maybe find a way to heal him. They’ll let him think it over and check back once they return from visiting the mountain that Olivia has gone to.
So Lucia & Dryden leave the village and head north. The ground rises of plain suitable for fruit trees to hills, and mountains beyond. There’s a path to keep the party heading the right way, and soon they can see one particular mountain with buildings and paths on it. Far beyond, towering, sharp, snow-covered peaks are visible in the distance. Lucia & Dryden walk up the path and encounter a gatehouse. Addison, a woman wearing a thick apron and big gloves, asks their business, and they say they know Olivia & have come from the village. That’s good enough for Addison, so she leads them up the mountain to where Olivia is staying. The paths cut into the mountain are all covered, and the buildings that dot the slopes have huge umbrellas over their roofs. The gatehouse is on the southern slope and the main building is on the northern slope, so the path winds all the way around the mountain. The stairs cut into the rock turn into a bridge as the path crosses a huge slit cut east-to-west all the way through the mountain. the slit isn’t vertical, but tilts to the south. It’s aligned with the ecliptic plane, the apparent path of the sun and moon through the sky. In the center of the slit is a huge tube, thousands of feet long connected to tracks on the inner surface of the slit that let it rotate. Further up the path, around the north side, they approach the headquarters of the facility, which looks like a James Bond villain’s hideout, jutting out from the rock at an aggressive angle, all big windows and simple lines.
Addison introduced Lucia & Dryden to Olivia and Dr. MacLeod, the owner and head scientist of the facility. The party explains how they suspect a werewolf attack. Dr. MacLeod immediately believes them. She hates werewolves and is actually working on a plan to destroy them! This entire facility is dedicated to destroying werewolves, who only emerged after the Moon suddenly appeared 102 years ago. Dryden and Lucia aren’t old enough to remember a time before the moon. Dr. MecLeod explains how the appearance of the Moon and the werewolves was such a terrible thing, and how she’s been working for so long to construct this facility, and it’s finally ready! Tonight, the fruit of her labor will be revealed! Dryden asks how long she’s been working on building this enormous facility. She says 60 years, which is weird because she looks like a 50-year-old who puts a lot of work into her appearance, e.g. Nicole Kidman or Charlize Theron. Dryden wants to know exactly how she’s going to save the world from werewolves, but Dr. MecLeod is determined to wait for the demonstration tonight. Why tell you when you can see for yourself? The party agrees to wait. Dryden pretends to take a nap on one of the designer couches in the huge lounge, but he secretly lays a trap in case things to badly.
Immediately after the sun sets, Dr. MacLeod gathers her guests and most of the workers to the observation dome at the mountain’s peak. Everyone faces the moon and waits. There’s a flash on the surface of the moon and after a few minute, a few tiny twinkling lights surround the moon. Dr. MacLeod is distraught! The propulsion worked. The trajectory was perfect. The warhead was insufficient! The party realizes that Dr. MacLeod’s life work is to destroy the moon! Dr. MacLeod is pacing the room, thinking out loud. The warhead she built herself wasn’t even close to big enough. She needs a Source Of Power to be able to attack the moon. Alas, the library would probably be able to tell her where to find one, but that stupid warlord ruined everything, and the library is inaccessible. Dryden is sympathetic and asks technical questions about how the anti-Moon cannon works. Dr. MacLeod can prepare the compressed-light propellant for another shot before the next full moon, but without a Source of Power for the warhead, it’s useless. Dryden asks how she affords all this. She says “Old Money”Dryden indicates that the party could go find and secure a Source of Power for the next test.
The party is given a room for the night, since it’s already dark and too late to return to the village. As soon as they settle in, Dryden turns to Lucia and says, “She’s crazy! We have to stop her!” Lucia suggests finding a cure for werewolves at that library that she mentioned. Dryden says he’s already hidden some traps, and they may have to destroy this place when they return.
The next day, they set out for the location of the library, as described by Dr. MacLeod: inside on of the twin volcanoes to the west. Their route takes them past Lady Evelynn’s estate. Lady Evelynn is pretty scary, but Lucia is a Queen now, so Lady Evelynn will have to show her respect. They knock at the gate and a bored, sullen young woman with little horns on her forehead answers. Lucia shows her symbol of royalty and demands hospitality. The young woman walks unhurried to the main house, then a butler comes back much faster. This is Jayce, a tall, neat human that the party met last time they visited. He welcomes them warmly and brings them inside to meet Lady Evelynn. Lady Evelynn was amused last time, but she’s polite this time, mostly. She says that Lucia is now traveling in better company. Dryden agrees, and says that he has heard she has a collection of treasures. As a fellow collector of fine artifacts, he’d like to see her collection. Maybe they could even trade. Lady Evelynn assures him that her collection is better than le Grind’s, and takes Dryden into a show room. Her collection is cruel, just like her. Lots of items that are hard, sharp, or specifically weapons. Dryden doesn’t see anything he wants,but he wnats to present Lady Evelynn with a gift: the Ever-Burning Brand. It’s a branch that is always on fire, clasped in a protective stone gauntlet. Lady Evelynn leans into admireit, and the brand casts a big shadow of her on the wall and ceiling. Her shadow moves independently as if to get a better look. Lady Evelynn accepts the gift and places it in her showroom. (It’s actually an explosive trap. Dryden doesn’t trust anyone!) Lady Evelynn tells Jayce not to put these guests downstairs with the other guests. Use the nice rooms upstairs.
The next morning, the party says farewell and sets off toward the east. When they stop for a break, a pesky marmot gets into their bags looking for food and generally making a mess. Lucia kills it and cooks it. They continue and approach two volcanoes. One has smoke rising from the top and the other does not. Dryden jokes that Helen and Shasta could explore these volcanoes easily. He set off for the smoking volcano first.