The next morning at dawn the group reassembled at the church. Trask and Magda arrived first, soon followed by Brother Michael, Bottoni and two townsmen, Blanke and Gruber. Trask shared the information he had learned the previous day in the marketplace. Blanke and Gruber wanted to delay the expedition for a few days. They felt sure they could persuade more of the townsmen to join them, but Brother Michael pointed out that the moon was waxing and would be full in a few days. At that time the werewolves would be at their most powerful. It was imperative, he said that the monsters be found and destroyed soon. Bottoni and Trask agreed, and so it was the group departed Eppstein for the forest that morning. Each man had a musket and a long hunting knife except Brother Michael whose religious vows would not allow weapons. He carried a stout club which he cheerfully insisted was a walking stick. He had also provided Trask and Bottoni with silver bullets and a clump wolfsbane each. Given the short distance they had to travel it seemed reasonable that they would be able to take care of the business and return to town by nightfall.
The stream leading into the forest was located without difficulty, but the forest itself gave even a hardened campaigner like Trask pause. It was dark and brooding and very old. He had a strong feeling that, somehow, the land itself didn't want him here. Bottoni had already started walking toward the forest so Trask shook off such foolish notions and fell in with him. Within ten minutes of entering the woods it was almost as if the sunlit meadow they had stood in so recently didn't exist. They were in an alien world lit only by what little sunlight filtered through the trees. They followed the stream that would lead them to the mayors lair until it branched into two. Knowing not what to do they chose to follow the right hand branch and pressed on. After an hour of of following the twists and turns of the stream over very rough ground the group was feeling lost. Blanke, standing apart from the others and smoking his pipe called back to the group "There is a cabin over there!".
The group prepared their weapons and then advanced cautiously on the cabin. It was small and neat with a well thatched roof, and looked completely out of place in this grim landscape. To one side stood what looked like a small beekeeping and honey processing operation. "Careful lads, anything goes" said Trask. He advanced and pounded on the door while the others covered him. The door opened and the captain was completely taken aback. There stood a young lady with a most striking mane of golden curls. Trask could think of nothing to say but "What are you doing here?"
"Why, I live here." She replied.
Recovering somewhat from his suprise, Trask asked "Where are your parents".
"Oh, they're back in town. I live here with a family of three bears."
Trask wasn't sure if the girl was mocking him or if she was mad. Anything could happen in a place like this. Uncertainly he asked "What would bears want with a young girl like you?"
She smiled sweetly and said "I help them to gather and process the honey."
"Can't they do that for themselves?" he said, not believing he was still talking to her.
She held up her hands, shrugged and said "Bears have no thumbs".
Sensing it was time to move on, Trask ventured a last question "Have you heard of any brigands living in this forest?" "Or werewolves?" said Brother Michael.
"There are no such thing as werewolves, silly" said the young girl as Trask bid her a hasty good day and backed away from the door.
It was too late in the day to return to the fork in the stream so the group pressed on deeper into the forest. As they walked into a glade they noted the sun was going down. Gruber started whistling "Anything Goes", a popular tune of the day. Trask turned on him and hissed "Stop that!" between clenched teeth. Just then Brother Michael scanning a dense grove of trees ahead said "There! There 's the beast!" Blanke leveled his musket, fired and missed. The werewolf, for such it was, sprang from cover and ran straight at Brother Michael. Gruber fired his musket and struck the beast full in the chest. It stumbled and rolled on the ground but sprang up as quickly as it had fallen and lunged at Gruber.
Brother Michael was blocking Bottoni's line of fire so the little Italian drew his long knife and waded into the melee. An unearthly howl was heard from the woods beyond the glade answered by another from the woods behind them. There was no time to lose, so Trask and Blank drew their knives and attacked while Brother Michael looked for an opportunity to strike with his club. The men struck the monster repeatedly to no effect while Gruber died under it's fangs and claws.
Bottoni fighting heroically and with great skill lasted but a few moments longer. Brother Michael, a saintly man but no warrior, gasped for breath as he flailed away at the monsters to no effect. They cornered him and as he prepared to meet his end yet another werewolf bounded out of the woods and finished him.
Having heard nothing from Trask for months, the Elector sent a man to the district to check on his progress. During his search the man rode through the countryside near the great forest. The farms in that area were abandoned and there was no commerce on the roads. He stayed a night in the town of Eppstein at an inn called the Slaughtered Ox. It was a dismal place, and noone there had heard of the man Trask.
Note: Mike and I played this game using a new (to us) set of rules for Gothic Horror called Chaos in Carpathia. Mike was the werewolves and I was .....lunch. Fifty odd years of watching monster movies should have helped me understand that attacking a werewolf with a hunting knife was not a recipe for success. Still, lots of fun and I suspect there will be similar adventures from time to time in this troubled corner of Holstein.