Aug 22, 253AC
Waiting in the forest to the side of the mansion, the three of you saw an older wolf lead a procession of young pups through the secret side door. Annalyn seized the opportunity, used her second Wild Shape for the week, and posed as a different-looking young pup and blended in to the crowd.
She was taken to a room in the back corner of the main floor of the mansion, where the pups were given an inspirational speech about what they were fighting for — reclaiming the forest from the humans, who cleared a large portion of it away for their city. They were shown a series of persistent minor images, which showed portions of the destruction the forest underwent, as a means of getting them all angry and impassioned about the cause. After the speech, Annalyn made friends with Pwuli, an excitable young pup. Pwuli mentioned that his brother, Jerri, had met with the Forest Daughter once and had come back with much more luxurious fur.
While Annalyn was inside, Talm scouted out the side and back of the house. She found a series of “paths” that had been trod recently, likely by the wolves. Scouting out an old stable — after magically putting the two guard wolves to sleep (and taking a small pouch of some sort of goo off of one of the wolves) — she found the workbench where the net traps were being made. The workbench also had supplies to make spikes for pit traps. Off to the side, there was a small chest that contained a half dozen different vials of liquid, one of which matched the satchel she had lifted. After taking samples of all the vials, she scampered back to rejoin Raelynn, who identified one as a slow-acting contact poison and two more as herbalism reagents/tinctures that could be made from plants in this forest. Raelynn then immediately took off to reexamine the net trap he had gotten caught in, to see if it had any of this poison on it and if he could be affected.
After a short while, the pups were led back outside and grouped up, and the various groups headed out along each of the paths Talm had identified earlier. One of the larger groups headed in the direction Raelynn had just left down. Talm tried to follow above them (out of sight), in hopes to warn Raelynn of their approach with their agreed upon “owl call” signal. This succeeded in giving Raelynn about a 5-minute warning that trouble was coming, which Raelynn used to scramble somewhat awkwardly up a tree and hide — though not before confirming that there was, in fact, poison on the net.
Meanwhile, Annalyn had joined Pwuli’s group, heading in a slightly different direction to Raelynn and Talm. Another pup, Frederic, grumbled that this was the worst rotation to be on, and that nothing interesting ever happened here. He said that he’d only been on this rotation for a week or so, and hoped to be switched off soon — contrary to what Pwuli had said earlier, that he had been on this rotation for at least a month, and that no-one ever really changed rotations. Frederic said that only the strongest wolves didn’t rotate, and that this rotation in particular was where they stuck the pups that had pissed someone off.
Back at the net, when the wolves arrived at the clearing, the wolf leader shifted form into a woman — clearly a druid like Annalyn — and began to reset and re-poison the net trap. Raelynn, excited to see a human here, introduced himself with a loud “ho there!”. Instantly, the druid’s eyes snapped up towards him, and she began climbing the tree towards Raelynn easily, purposefully, and silently (despite Raelynn’s conversational urgings). Talm, meanwhile, was hiding in a tree nearby, poised to attack as soon as anything started going wrong.
After a short conversation with the druid, Raelynn mentioned that he had a druid friend (Annalyn) in the area. This druid, excited to meet Annalyn, waited for her arrival, and promised to explain everything to Annalyn once the two of them agreed to cooperate.
Talm then left to go intercept Annalyn on her route back, messaging her with the full details of what had happened, just after Annalyn’s group reconvened at another (unsprung) net trap. (The lead wolf had cast some sort of rejuvenation-type spell on this net before they turned back to the house.)
Annalyn asked Talm to create a distraction, so she would have an excuse to split off from the group early. Talm went to make a makeshift “trap” that would make a loud noise when shot, but accidentally set it off while still setting it up. Against all odds, however, she managed to duck and weave through the forest enough to lose the trail of the wolves chasing after her. They sent a few pups as runners, to request backup combing the nearby forest. Talm, meanwhile, cast an illusion spell on one of the wolves of herself running in a different direction in the forest — this thoroughly convinced the wolf, and they all peeled off in the wrong direction, leaving Talm free and clear to meet up with Annalyn and Raelynn.
Annalyn wandered into the clearing as a wolf pup, but then stood up on her hind legs and morphed back into a human as she walked forward to meet the other druid. The other wolves began to act very deferentially towards Annalyn at this point. Everyone walked back to the old mansion together, with the wolves surrounding Raelynn, the two druids speaking with each other at the front, and Talm following out of sight (but in message contact) behind/above. The druid told Annalyn the same story Annalyn heard earlier as a pup… the destruction of the forest, and how painful it was (this druid had lived her whole life here).
When everyone arrived back at the mansion, the druid did a rapid and precise series of hand motions before opening the front door (which none of the party quite caught exactly). They then walked up the stairs and down the hall to the right, past a large open archway that led in to a library that had an eerie blue glow emanating from somewhere inside, to a small room with Alera locked inside. The druid wanted to lock Raelynn in as well before talking privately with Annalyn, but Annalyn and Raelynn together managed to convince her to include Raelynn in these discussions as well. Instead, then, the three of them left Alera locked in where she was and went into an adjacent room, preparing to discuss the situation.
Meanwhile, Talm, unable to follow them through the front door while still remaining hidden, skirted around to the side of the house where there was a window on the second story. With the wolf guard diminished after they all went to patrol the forest to find her, she managed to get her timing right to reach the side of the house, climb up the overgrown vines, and hop through the window without alerting any of the remaining guard-wolves. She saw the same eerie blue light behind a bookshelf further over, but also noticed it was moving slightly. There were also a number of books open on a table nearer the open archway. The books near her were filled with obscure history…. likely the sort of thing the previous house owners would have kept stocked.
By this point in time, dusk has made way to night as the last stretches of sunlight have died out beyond the horizon. Raelynn and Annalyn are prepared to have a much more complete conversation with this druid about what she’s actually doing here, as Talm tries both to explore this library and to get near enough to them to provide backup (for when everything goes wrong, because of course it’s going to go wrong soon, she thinks).