Volume 1: Amberfall by fyzu | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Chapter 2: The Beast of Folngrove

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            The party continues down the river, making talk all the while. The sun has set by the time they arrive at a small village in the woods. Posted on an old sign near the entrance is its name: “Folngrove”.

            “Well,” Norixus begins, striding up to the sign. “Here we are.”

            Rognalad walks past him. “Finally, I can blast more barkeeps.”

            “See?” Big Hat shouts, jumping up at Ben, “I told you there was a village here! Can we all be friends now?”

            Ben grins menacingly at Big Hat. “If you throw another tantrum like you did earlier, it’ll be the last.”

            As the party approaches the village entrance, a guard dressed in chainmail and wielding a large spear walks up to them.

            “You people, state your business.”

            “Travellers,” Criollo says. “We are looking for a place to rest for the night.”

            “Then I’m afraid you’ll have to find somewhere else. We’ve been getting constant attacks in the night lately, and we just can’t afford to let outsiders in right now.”

            “Attacks?” Willington asks. “By what?”

            “Nobody knows. People just disappear in the night—blood and scratch marks everywhere. We think it might be some sort of beast.”

            Rognalad rubs his hands together. “How much gold would you offer someone to deal with this threat?”

            The guard shakes his head. “We don’t have much money to spare… but we could give you each at least 50 gold pieces, as well as any other favors we could afford you…”

            “Fair enough,” Criollo responds. “Now then, do you know anything else about this beast?”

            “The beast only ever attacks when it’s dark out, and it’s always very quiet. Nobody can ever seem to catch it in the act…”

            “Any targets it prefers?”

            “It seems to prefer non-humans. There have been very few human victims…”

            Criollo rubs his chin. “What would you say is the general population spread of this village, by race?”

            “It’s pretty mixed. Mostly human, but there are a good portion of elves and half-elves.”

            Ben turns to look at Big Hat, a maniacal grin spreading across his face. “You heard that guard, didn’t you? It prefers non-humans… wanna play bait?”

            Big Hat cowers in fear. “Please, just leave me alone! I lead you to the village!”

            Ben sighs, standing up and walking away. “You’re no fun…”

            “Wait…” The guard notices the commotion at the back of the party. “I recognize that hat. You there, you’re that kobold, aren’t you? The one who stole from Faelar.”

            “N-No, it wasn’t me,” Big Hat quivers. “It was just a mere misunderstanding!” He drops to his hands and knees before the guard.

            Willington raises an eyebrow. “Faelar?”

            “Faelar’s the elf who runs the alchemy store in town,” the guard begins, glaring down at Big Hat. “And I believe he has a word or two to speak with you.”

            Norixus picks up Big Hat. “If we get this beast, can you forgive this kobold?”

            “I will… consider it.”

            Big Hat begins whimpering, tears flowing from his eyes. “W-What is Faelar gonna do to me?!”

            “That’s between you and him.”

            Ben mutters beneath his breath. “I hope he beats the shit outta you.”

            James claps his hands loudly, trying to get the party’s attention. “Guys! For once in my life, I actually want to use my brain. What’s a plan we got here to own this beast?”

            “If you wish, I could show you to the sites of the most recent attacks…” the guard says.

            “Hm?” Norixus begins. “Oh, yes, that would be helpful.”


            The party continues through the town. It is a very rural and run-down place, with many houses and shops boarded up. The villagers gaze at the party through doorways and windows, eyeing them suspiciously. After a while, they arrive outside a house near the far end of the town.

            “This is the home of the Yesrel family,” the guard says. “Their son, Eylon, was the most recent victim of these attacks. These attacks have been going on for at least three months by now.”

            “Mind if we check the house?” Willington asks.

            “Go ahead. Toross and Katelyn Yesrel are both waiting inside.”

            Ben inhales deeply, stepping in front of the door. “James, Rognalad. Don’t say anything fucking stupid.”

            Rognalad shrugs. “I never say anything stupid.”

            “I’ll try.” James replies. “Once we get out of here though, I’m going to go off the hook.”

            Ben turns back to look at the pair. “If it helps, just stay silent. The last thing we need to do is upset these people. If everyone’s ready, let’s go.”


            Ben pushes the door open, and the party steps into the home. It is a standard country home by any regards, with quaint furnishings and a comfortable atmosphere—were it not for the commotion inside. Sitting in a rocking chair is a tall, grizzled-looking male elf. On the sofa nearby is a tired-looking human woman, crying softly.

            The elf man stands up and walks over to the party, shaking their hands. “You must be the people the guard sent to investigate our missing son, right? I’m Toross Yesrel.”

            “Pleased to meet you,” Criollo says. “If you are able to, could you recount the events of last night, and your son’s actions?”

            “Well,” Toross says, rubbing his eyes, “my son was sleeping in his room. This happened at around 3AM. I was downstairs when I heard some stomping around upstairs, so I went up and checked to see what was going on. When I arrived, I saw some sort of furred silhouette, about 8 feet tall, leaping from the upstairs window. My son’s room was covered in fur and blood—footprints and scratch marks everywhere. I’ve left it untouched in the hopes that investigators could find some sort of clue…”

            “Tch.” Rognalad comments. “Never wake up at 3AM.”

            “Hmm…” Norixus says, consulting his journal. “We could be dealing with a human…wolf…hybrid?”

            “I’ve heard about werewolves before,” Toross says, “but as far as I know there aren’t any in this part of Yomi.”

            Big Hat climbs up onto Criollo’s shoulder and waves his hand at Toross. “I know about this giant monster!”

            Toross turns to him. “You, the kobold. What do you know?”

            “I was attacked by it last night! It happened around the woods but… I found myself being tied up. I don’t remember what else happened, but I swear it happened!”

            “That’s… strange. Mostly the attacks have been against half-elves and elves in this village.”

            “Half-elves, you say?” Ben grins wickedly, a plan formulating in his head. “Oi, gang. What do you say about me playing bait?”

            Norixus looks at him wide-eyed. “You serious?”

            “Dead serious.”

            “The beast hasn’t ever attacked visitors before,” Toross explains. “But at this point, my wife and I will try anything to get our son back…”

            “I think it’s a better idea we investigated the room first,” Willington says, placing a hand on Ben’s shoulder. “I hope you don’t mind, sir?”

            “Please,” Toross replies. “Go ahead.”


            The party moves to the upstairs bedroom. It is adorned with modest furnishings—a small desk with a chair, a wardrobe, and a bed in the middle. The pillows and blankets are all torn up, blood staining the bedsheets. Fur is scattered everywhere, with scratch markings on the floor and bedpost. Ben picks up some of the fur and sniffs it…

            “Blegh!” Ben drops the fur unceremoniously. “This shit smells like someone’s grandma. And by that, I mean it smells old.”

            “How old?” Rognalad asks.

            Ben gives Rognalad a coy smile. “If I could determine age from scent, I would’ve found out that my long time girlfriend was actually an old hag.” He chuckles slightly. “Kidding on that last bit.”

            “Disappointing.” Rognalad deadpans.

            Willington picks up the fur that Ben discarded, eyeing it closely. “Hmm… it appears the fur is lupine in nature… perhaps some sort of wolf?”

            “Alright,” Rognalad states. “It’s a werewolf.”

            “But I thought they don’t come near here,” Norixus says.”

            “Who cares?” Rognalad replies. “Someone got turned into one—also explains the night business.”

            “Good point. Well… wait—could someone in this village be a werewolf?”

            “Maybe it’s one of the couple,” Rognalad says. “Hopefully.”

            Ben turns to Toross. “Odd question, but… what phase was the moon in the night of the attack?”

            Toross thinks. “The moon was… crescent, I believe.”

            “Alright,” Criollo says. “How long would you say until the next crescent moon emerges?”

            “Uh… it should still be crescent tonight. But I don’t think it has anything to do with the moon. We’ve had attacks during all phases.”

            “Toross!” Rognalad says, charging an Eldritch Blast spell in the palm of his hand. “Are you a werewolf?!”

            Toross goes pale. “No! How could you accuse me of doing this to my own son?”

            Ben turns and punches Rognalad in anger. “Could you shut the fuck up?”

            Willington shrugs. “Guess it isn’t a werewolf. It does seem to live around forests or whatnot.”

            “Well,” Norixus says, jotting down notes in his journal, “it seems we need to investigate more. So far we know that this beast has fur, claws or talons, is eight feet tall, can only come out at night, and attacks the locals—not the travelers. Non-human locals, that is.”

            “Hm…” the gears start to turn in Ben’s head, putting information together. “Maybe…” he looks at the group, with a gleam in his eye. “While I can’t account for everything, with the smell of fur, along with the frequencies of the attacks—it may be that some freak has thrown on a type of wolfskin and begun attacking people.”

            Big Hat shouts from Criollo’s shoulder. “I think it’s racist!”

            “Yes, Big Hat,” James comments. “I agree that racism is the answer.”

            “Please, kobold,” Toross says. “Everyone’s racist in some way.”

            Ben walks over to the scratch marks and takes a look. They seem to have more serrations in them than what claws would normally leave.

            “The hell?” Ben mutters. “These don’t seem like they came from a normal animal. If it is an animal. Toross, how good of a look did you get at this beast?”

            “I saw its silhouette, at least. Couldn’t get a look at its face, but it had the outline of some sort of humanoid furred creature. It landed in the yard and scampered off into the woods. I tried to chase it, but it was too fast for me.”

            “Hey,” Ben begins, turning to the party, “you guys want to check their yard? Something is very off about this.”

            “My thoughts are that we should get a good idea of what normal fingernails of different races look like,” James replies.

            “James… I’m starting to think these aren’t claws at all.”


            The party moves out into the backyard of the Yesrel house. Ben turns to Norixus and asks him a question. “Hey, Norixus, can I look at your claws?”

            “Uh, sure.”

            Ben looks over Norixus’s hands. Three scaled fingers and a thumb on each, with sharp claws at the ends.

            “I see. If it’s not big of an issue, can you scratch that tree over there?”

            Norixus pauses. “Well, okay?” He scratches the tree, leaving light markings in the bark. “Hi-yah! Is that good?”

            Ben approaches the scratch marks. “Yeah, this’ll work.”

            “Any similarities?” Willington asks.”

            Ben inspects the marks closely. “None at all—which just proves my point. The claws marks in the room were serrated—do you know of any creatures with serrated claws?”

            “Hmm…” Norixus says, consulting his journal. “Not that I remember.”

            “Have you ever seen a serrated knife, Norixus? They’re jagged, and it’s easy to tell by the marks they leave behind. The marks in the room were just like that.”

            Criollo begins investigating the yard for footprints. He finds a few and begins to investigate—the footprints are canine in nature, but they do not align with the footprints of any humanoids he knows. The indentation of the footprints also seems highly uneven… they are far deeper towards the center of the footprint than the edge.

            Willington, meanwhile, begins to investigate the fence. The fence is about 10 feet high and made of solid oak. There is a bit of fur snagged at the top, waving slightly in the wind.

            Norixus approaches. “I guess it jumped and got only some of its fur caught.”

            Ben rubs his chin. “Don’t you think there would be more than just a bit of fur left behind? If it got snagged on the fence and was torn off, shouldn’t there be some blood?”

            “Guess you’re trying to say that the culprit wore a coat,” Willington concludes.

            “That’s…right!” Norixus says, jotting furiously in his journal. “The fur was old also—could he be using a carpet of sorts?”

            “Perhaps…” Ben says, turning to Toross. “I just need one more thing to cement it. Toross, the night of the attack—what did you hear?”

            Toross scratches his head. “I mean… I heard some light commotion about half an hour before, but I didn’t think it was anything. By the time I heard footsteps upstairs, it was perhaps about half a minute before I went up. No screams of any sort.”

            “Bingo,” Ben comments. “If it was a wild animal, it wouldn’t have been quiet at all. It would’ve been apparent what was happening from the moment the attack began.”

            “So what you’re saying…” Norixus says, “is that we’re dealing with a killer in the town?”

            “Either that or a crime scene fabricator,” Willington states.

            “A cultist, or a religious member,” Criollo posits. “You saw what happened to Big Hat earlier?’

            “That is a good point.”

            “Whoever it is, they have something against non-humans,” Ben replies.

            “Ben, do you think the scratches are some sort of brand?” Willington asks.

            “No… I think they were there to throw off anyone investigating. To make them believe it was a wild animal who had attacked.”

            “If the kid didn’t scream, I’d assume the blood’s also fake.”

            “Let’s go check.”

            Norixus takes a sample of the blood at the crime scene and cross-references it with his clerical notes. “How odd… a mix of half-elf and elf blood.”

            “I knew it!” Rognalad says, charging up his spell again.

            “Rognalad, it wasn’t Toross,” Ben says, pushing Rognalad’s hand down. “We already checked him.”

            “Can you be sure?”

            “I can check again if you want.”

            Ben turns to Toross. “Toross, answer truthfully—what did you witness on the night of the attack?”

            Toross puts his hands up. “I’ve said everything as it is, I swear!”

            Rognalad points at Toross. “Take off your clothes.”

            “Excuse me?!”

            “We need to check for wounds?”

            Norixus pushes Rognalad aside. “So, were there no other attacks that night?”

            “I… believe there was another attack, yes. It happened across the village, in the home of the Venleths.”

            “And they’re non-humans as well?”

            “Yes. They’re both half-elves, and they have two half-elf children, both of whom are now missing.”

            “Toross, how old was your son?” Ben asks.

            “He was about 16.”

            “…I see. Hey guys, can we check with that guard real quick?”

            “About what?” Norixus replies.

            “The ages of the victims.”


            The party moves downstairs and confronts the guard outside the house.

            “Yo!” Ben says, motioning to the guard. “Of those attacked, what was the common age group?”

            “Hmm… they were mostly young, between 14 and 29. There were also a few older victims as well.”

            “Were they all half-elves?”

            “No, some were elves as well.”

            Norixus squints at the guard. “…I feel like you’re missing something. Are you sure you’re telling everything?”

            “I mean… there was also Johnson, a human… but he’s always been a bit of a character. Nobody in the village really likes him that much. He always kept complaining about everything.”

            “Would you say he likes fur?”

            “Nah, he was always more of a booksy kind of guy.”

            Big Hat jumps off Criollo’s head and walks up to the guard. “Hey! Did he have any bad blood with anyone?”

            “Only the entire village, yeah. He seemed to be alright with non-humans though.”

            “Hm…” Criollo says. “Where does he live, exactly?”

            “He lives in an old hut near the edge of the village.”

            “Alright, that’ll be our next top then. Thanks.”

            “Alright. Do report back to me if you find anything.”

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