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Full Moon

Legends of the adventures

Full Moon: Autumn Expedition (The Keep)

<our head is nearly dropping into the book on your desk, the words on the page beginning to swim. With a sigh, you turn the page, hoping the next section won’t be as boring as the first. You’re unsure if that’s even possible. Outside the window of your room, a V marks a flock of Osath heading south for winter, and a rush of wind sends a sudden cold draft seeping inside. You shiver and lean further over your book. You need to know this information for the exam taking place in two days.
     
      An enormous thud makes your ears pop and the door rattle, sending adrenalin arcing through your veins to chase away the late autumn fatigue. A series of similar thumps follow, as though every student in your hallway is slamming their doors closed in quick succession. Heart now pounding, you stand up from your desk, magic shimmering under your skin and ready to be called upon. Your upcoming exam is forgotten as you move toward the door and fling it open.
     
      You see nothing but ordinary gray rocks littering the hallway, and a laughing youth in long robes at the end of the hall. This young magi has an amagnae by her side and a squirming direwolf puppy in her arms. You roll your eyes as others emerge from their rooms, mutters of anger and annoyance reaching your ears. You’ve seen this girl around the keep before—Gwendolyn, a first year mage who loves to make mischief.
     
      “What are you all studying for?!” Gwendolyn shouts. “It’s almost Halloween!” She throws her own free hand in the air. “Someone, come outside with me!”
     
      You shake your head, and the other magi in the hall do the same. One by one, doors begin to close, and you turn to do the same, swinging it so that it will shut loudly. As you do, Gwendolyn’s face falls. “I guess I’ll go on my own, then,” you hear her mutter.
     
      You catch the door before it clicks. “Wait,” you say. “Go where?" It’s probably nothing special, but you have to admit, you felt bad for her. And who knows, she might have something intriguing planned.
     
      “Do you want to come?” her eyes widen, and the amagnae by her side ruffles its wings. The puppy in her arms wags its tail at you, still trying to get free. “I’m going to show Pip here,” the direwolf puppy nearly falls out of her arms with the force of its happy wiggling, “Silva forest, where Remy said his egg came from.”
     
      “Well…” the wind outside howls, and you shiver even thinking about it. You could retreat back into your room, build a large fire and settle in for the evening.
      “Please?” Gwen’s eyes turn big and pleading. “Everyone is studying for exams, and no one is enjoying the season! Just for a little bit? I'll even throw in a surprise for you!"

Full Moon: Autumn Expedition (Silva Forest)

“What are you doing here?” Gwen asks, peering around. “I told you to bring three direwolves. We can’t go until you bring them. Hurry up, don’t you want the surprise I have for you?” She turns away, pulling up her cloak against the cold, and you rush back to The Keep.
Your direwolves twitch their noses at the red and yellow leaves that litter the ground, and an orange farir leaps overhead, disappearing into the foliage and causing the wolves look up, ears pricked forward.
     
      A cold wind cuts through the robes you wear, and you sigh. You should be indoors in the humid warmth of the kitchens or studying by a roaring fire, not out here by the huge trees of the forest where the wind blows the fiercest. Why did you listen to Gwen?
     
      "Hey!" The girl in question emerges from the trees, her puppy snuggled up warm in a large shoulder bag strapped across her chest. "You came!"
     
      "I said I would." Your direwolves wag their tails, their tongues lolling out of their mouths when you speak. They seem in usually good spirits for such a cold day. "So...what did you want to show me?"
     
      "Great!" Gwen says. "Come on, follow me!" Maybe she didn't hear your question, but you don't push it as you follow her deeper into the forest, the thinning trees spreading over you like a patchwork blanket. Leaves rustle against branches, and goosebumps travel up your neck.
     
      At least your direwolves seem happy. They seem to have established their hierarchy, with the largest, a female, at the head of the other two, her nose to the air. She sniffs toward the puppy in Gwen's pouch from time to time, but other than that takes no notice of it. Direwolves are complicated, and entire papers could be written on their behavior, so you don't think too hard about it.
     
      The leaves crunch more loudly under your feet as you head deeper into the forest, and Gwen nods at you. "C'mon," she says. "Why don't we have a race? We won't see anything at this pace. Besides, I think your wolves probably want a run."
     
      You shrug. At least a run will help warm you. "Alright then. Where to?"
     
      She taps her chin. "Why not let your wolves lead? It's autumn, after all." Weird that it being autumn would matter to the direwolves, but you nod.
     
      "Alright, go on!" You raise your arms, and the pack leader barks happily and begins to run. Gwen follows even before you can act, hot on the wolves' heels, and you follow after them, breathing quickly to keep up. Pouring a bit of magic into a spell, you're able to keep up with the quick-running wolves, and the pale, skeletal trees turn into a blur of white and gray. Leaves swirl under your dashing feet.
     
      You have to admit, maybe Gwen was right about enjoying the outdoors in autumn. Not everything needs to be about studying for exams. The chill air is refreshing at this speed, and the scent of crisp leaves and fresh loam is everywhere. Your wolves keep running, showing no sign of slowing down, and the sheer pleasure of running lasts for a while.
     
      Its only when you realize the afternoon sky has gone further on toward evening do you wonder how long Gwen planned to run. The forest, even in autumn, grows dark early under all the trees.
     
      Before you can say something, the lead wolf stops, leaves tumbling around her feet, and begins nosing at the ground. The other two copy her, and even the small direwolf pup begins squirming in Gwen's makeshift carrier.
     
      "Yes!" Gwen says, kneeling down among the wolves. When she stands, she's holding up a small mushroom. "I got it!"
     
      You stare for a moment. Then it hits you. Autumn. Final exams. First year. Direwolves. "Why didn't you tell me this was for Professor Knickel?" you ask. "You needed the mushrooms, and you needed my direwolves to find them, right? Yours isn't old enough." You shake your head. The professor would be furious if she knew her student had gotten so much help, both with Gwen and with you.
     
      Gwen winks and pulls out a flask, downing it in one gulp. "I said you'd get a surprise, right? Thanks for the help! I need to run now or this type of mushroom will go bad, but I’ll see ya!" With that, she turns and runs, the speed potion making her far faster than you could ever catch without another potion like hers. You watch her leave, mouth agape.
     
      "She just ditched us," you tell your wolves. The leader raises her head and whines.
     
      Then Gwen's scream cuts through the forest.

Full Moon: Leave Gwen behind (Silva Forest)

You shake your head. Gwen can deal with it herself for just a minute. You're not happy being tricked. But as you keep moving, you hear another scream, louder than the first, and can’t help but take off in that direction. Whatever mischief Gwen has committed, you can’t ignore someone in danger.
     
      Before the scream has even died down, you’re racing off in the direction of the sound. You curse your slowness as you trip over a few branches, but right yourself and continue sprinting, trying not to think about what could be happening to Gwen.
     
      ---
     
      The scream chills your blood, and your direwolves stop snuffling at the leaves. The leader steps forward and howls.
     
      An answering howl echoes among the trees, the sound ear splittingly loud. You wince, and your wolves cower, their tails between their legs. Whatever that is, its no creature you've heard before, and the sound sends your stomach twisting into knots. Magic, obviously a fear spell, crawls over your skin like worms.
     
      But you can't just leave Gwen alone. "C'mon," you urge your direwolves, wishing you felt as brave as you sounded. The leader, at least, begins to follow, and the other two come shortly after.
     
      Heart pounding, you follow the source of the scream and the howl. Your stomach churns at the sight of the slashed trees you pass, claw marks that look to have been made by something the size of a Nandi bear defacing the trunks and tufts of gray fur among the branches. You've never seen a gray Nandi bear before, and you can't think of anything else in Silva that would leave claw marks that large.
     
      The mystery is answered when you find Gwen, who is sitting on the forest floor, staring at a creature in front of her. Her direwolf pup is curled up by her side, cowering as your wolves had before.
     
      No, its not a creature. It meets your eyes, its face a wolf's muzzle and its eyes a glowing yellow, like your direwolf's. Long fangs jut from its upper lip. It nods at you, obviously intelligent, its tail a wolf's brush and its hands ending in long, vicious claws. It lets out another, lower howl.
     
      The sound freezes you in place. The thing steps forward, looming over Gwen. Magic hums in your body, and you prepare a defensive spell as it opens its jaw. Gwen whimpers, shutting her eyes. The thing's claws could take her head off with ease.
     
      Before you can speak the spell, the wolf-man thing growls. "You shouldn't play pranks on your elders."
     
      Gwen slumps over, her fear taking over. You blink.
     
      A low, stuttered growling emanates from the thing's chest, and its only when your direwolves begin wagging their tails that you realize its laughing.
     
      Adrenalin drains out of you like air from a punctured balloon. You can’t quite bring yourself to smile as the human-wolf steps forward towards you, Gwen’s direwolf puppy toddling along by its enormous lupine, clawed feet.
     
      “You are a mage, yes?” its speech is garbled and deep, but understandable. “Did you come for the mushrooms also, or were just led here by her?” it pointed a clawed finger at Gwen.
     
      “I…”
     
      The human-wolf flicks its ears, nodding. Maybe it read your body language.
     
      “She has done this before. Leading other mages here and leaving them, getting help for her work. Hilda told me to teach her a lesson.” Hilda. Right.
     
      “You know Professor Knickel?” you ask.
     
      It nods. “She is one of the few who know of us.” It points at you with a clawed finger. “And now you do. We guard the forest, protecting it from magi. Before The Keep came to be, our job was harder.” It flexes its claws. “Our appearance was our best weapon, fear of us driving away those who would use the forest’s power for harm. Even now, few know of us, and we like it that way.” You swallow hard. “But I do not mind being known by one who respects the direwolves as you do.” Your direwolves, and Gwen’s puppy, wag their tails.
     
      You nod. You can see the resemblance. It is as if this creature was a direwolf mixed with a human. The word “werewolf” flits through your mind, but you dismiss it.
     
      It laughs again, showing its teeth in a wide grin. “Autumn is a fun time of year. Magi stumble around the forest and always end up seeing one of our stupid pups who has not mastered stealth yet, and I always like to hear what sort of stories they come up with. Maybe this year, you can come back, and tell me how this one reacts when she wakes up?” he points once more to Gwen.
     
      “Sure. Let me get her back, and then I’ll return.” You smile, the last of your fear draining away. As strange as it looks, clearly you’ve found a friend.

Full Moon: Go after Gwen (Silva Forest)

Before the scream has even died down, you’re racing off in the direction of the sound. You curse your slowness as you trip over a few branches, but right yourself and continue sprinting, trying not to think about what could be happening to Gwen.
     
      ---
     
      The scream chills your blood, and your direwolves stop snuffling at the leaves. The leader steps forward and howls.
     
      An answering howl echoes among the trees, the sound ear splittingly loud. You wince, and your wolves cower, their tails between their legs. Whatever that is, its no creature you've heard before, and the sound sends your stomach twisting into knots. Magic, obviously a fear spell, crawls over your skin like worms.
     
      But you can't just leave Gwen alone. "C'mon," you urge your direwolves, wishing you felt as brave as you sounded. The leader, at least, begins to follow, and the other two come shortly after.
     
      Heart pounding, you follow the source of the scream and the howl. Your stomach churns at the sight of the slashed trees you pass, claw marks that look to have been made by something the size of a Nandi bear defacing the trunks and tufts of gray fur among the branches. You've never seen a gray Nandi bear before, and you can't think of anything else in Silva that would leave claw marks that large.
     
      The mystery is answered when you find Gwen, who is sitting on the forest floor, staring at a creature in front of her. Her direwolf pup is curled up by her side, cowering as your wolves had before.
     
      No, its not a creature. It meets your eyes, its face a wolf's muzzle and its eyes a glowing yellow, like your direwolf's. Long fangs jut from its upper lip. It nods at you, obviously intelligent, its tail a wolf's brush and its hands ending in long, vicious claws. It lets out another, lower howl.
     
      The sound freezes you in place. The thing steps forward, looming over Gwen. Magic hums in your body, and you prepare a defensive spell as it opens its jaw. Gwen whimpers, shutting her eyes. The thing's claws could take her head off with ease.
     
      Before you can speak the spell, the wolf-man thing growls. "You shouldn't play pranks on your elders."
     
      Gwen slumps over, her fear taking over. You blink.
     
      A low, stuttered growling emanates from the thing's chest, and its only when your direwolves begin wagging their tails that you realize its laughing.
     
      Adrenalin drains out of you like air from a punctured balloon. You can’t quite bring yourself to smile as the human-wolf steps forward towards you, Gwen’s direwolf puppy toddling along by its enormous lupine, clawed feet.
     
      “You are a mage, yes?” its speech is garbled and deep, but understandable. “Did you come for the mushrooms also, or were just led here by her?” it pointed a clawed finger at Gwen.
     
      “I…”
     
      The human-wolf flicks its ears, nodding. Maybe it read your body language.
     
      “She has done this before. Leading other mages here and leaving them, getting help for her work. Hilda told me to teach her a lesson.” Hilda. Right.
     
      “You know Professor Knickel?” you ask.
     
      It nods. “She is one of the few who know of us.” It points at you with a clawed finger. “And now you do. We guard the forest, protecting it from magi. Before The Keep came to be, our job was harder.” It flexes its claws. “Our appearance was our best weapon, fear of us driving away those who would use the forest’s power for harm. Even now, few know of us, and we like it that way.” You swallow hard. “But I do not mind being known by one who respects the direwolves as you do.” Your direwolves, and Gwen’s puppy, wag their tails.
     
      You nod. You can see the resemblance. It is as if this creature was a direwolf mixed with a human. The word “werewolf” flits through your mind, but you dismiss it.
     
      It laughs again, showing its teeth in a wide grin. “Autumn is a fun time of year. Magi stumble around the forest and always end up seeing one of our stupid pups who has not mastered stealth yet, and I always like to hear what sort of stories they come up with. Maybe this year, you can come back, and tell me how this one reacts when she wakes up?” he points once more to Gwen.
     
      “Sure. Let me get her back, and then I’ll return.” You smile, the last of your fear draining away. As strange as it looks, clearly you’ve found a friend.