The Ravenloft Files

The Ravenloft Files, Vol. 19, Chapter 11

Tales of the Mistborne: Dark of the Moon
Chapter Seven – Finale & Epilogue

In the midst of a small clearing, growing from the side of a small hill, was a great, rotten oak. Beneath its roots a dark cave awaited, just as Antonina said it would. There were no tracks leading to or away from the lair. Suddenly, the snow-filled entrance exploded outward and a huge, powerful wolf bounded into the middle of the party, snapping and snarling!…

Excerpts From the

Journal of Waylan
Mage of the Mistborne

(Continued from) Day 15, July 7th, Year 1127 of the Patriarch’s Calendar:

Keeping to the woods just to the east of the village of Vorostokov, we continued in a southerly direction until we found ourselves well south of the village, where we veered off towards the southwest and neared the frozen Trau River. As usual our progress was slowed by the deep snow but the situation would have been much worse if not for the snowshoes which had been provided to us by the two witches, Natalya and Elena.

All the while, we could hear behind us the howling of wolves which seemed to draw closer with every passing minute. We assumed these wolves to actually be the boyarsky who had transformed into their wolf forms soon after we fled from the Boyar’s Hall. No doubt the boyar’s men had found the slain body of Dmitri Dneprov and were now pursuing us with the thought of punishing us for our attack on the boyar.

But because the body of Gregor Zolnik had vanished, along with his sword and wolf pelt, they could not have known with any certainty that we had killed him. Not that this would have made much difference, for it was rumored that Gregor had miraculously returned from the dead on more than one occasion.

To add to our concerns was the fact that the forest had become pitch black with a cover of clouds obscuring any starlight. This left us with no choice but to use a light source in order to make it through the thick woods. Realizing that this would make it easier for the wolves to find us, we were forced to accept the fact that without a light source we would get nowhere and would only be delaying the inevitable.

However, shortly after locating the Trau River and turning once again in a more southerly direction, a cold wind, colder than normal, began to beat upon our backs. Soon, the howling wind grew in intensity and quickly drowned out the taunts of the pursuing wolves, bringing with it a thick shower of snow and ice. Though it did not appear to be a black-ice-storm, known locally as a zilinya neshka, it was nevertheless a blizzard that was now descending upon us, and it became clear that we would need to hurry and find shelter where we could wait out the storm.

Fortunately, we soon located a small overhanging cliff along the river bank that provided a good deal of cover from the harsh winds. In addition, there was an abundance of firewood in the area and with a burning hands spell from Vadolus, we quickly had a blazing fire going.

At this point, as we now huddle before the fire under a ledge, I am taking this opportunity to update my journal. Here, we feel relatively safe from the both storm and the pursuing werewolves which we feel certain will have to retreat back to the village. The storm will also make it more difficult for the boyarsky to find us once it has blown over. Unfortunately, it also means that we will not be able to travel until the storm has passed, and time is quickly running out on us. Soon, the dark of the moon will rise in the sky, and with its arrival so goes our last chance of defeating Gregor Zolnik and ridding ourselves of his curse of lycanthropy.

Day 16, July 8th:

As it turned out, the blizzard lasted throughout the night, dumping more than a foot of snow on the ground and much more than that in the snow drifts. The good news though was that we got enough rest for the spellcasters to regain our spells.

Once again I had to cast a sleep spell on Baldo due to his nightmares. When we emerged from under the ledge we were pleased to see the sunlight as the clouds overhead began to disperse. But there was little else to be cheerful about, for the daylight also served as a reminder that the time was rapidly running short. Soon, the new moon would rise, and though we would not be able to see it, we would certainly become aware of its presence when some of us would begin transforming into wolves. To add to our concerns, we had no idea how much time we had left – it could be hours, or it could be just a matter of minutes. So with this thought in mind, we set out to find Gregor’s cave as soon as we were ready to go.

In addition to our already long list of items for which we had insufficient knowledge, was the fact that we did not know how long it would take for Gregor to recover from his death. Would it be instantaneous or would it take a matter of hours? For that matter, if his recovery was relatively quick, would he be forced to stay in his cave and wait out the blizzard as we had? And when we next met him, would he be in the form of a man or a wolf? We assumed he would be in his wolf form – in fact, we were counting on it. For in his wolf form he was practically invulnerable – or so he would think. But unknown to him, we had sprinkled a mixture of salt and wolfsbane on his pelt, which, according to the ghost Antonina, Gregor’s mother, this would make him vulnerable to our attacks. Gregor however, being unaware of this fact, would almost certainly want to attack and kill us at this point, and he would almost certainly attempt to do so in his wolf form. So, assuming we were correct in our theories, all we had to do was find Gregor before our time ran out and kill him – this time for good.

After leaving our shelter, we continued along the river’s edge a few miles, as Antonina had instructed us, until we came near a vast frozen lake. Here, believing we must be close to Gregor’s cave, we began looking for a black and rotten oak. Unfortunately, much to our dismay, we found that there were numerous oak trees in the area. So I cast a location spell in the hopes that it would lead us to Gregor. Almost immediately I could sense his presence. I pointed in the direction indicated by my spell and we set off. A short while later, we found what we had been looking for…

…With the great black wolf now suddenly in our midst, we attacked him with everything we had, and as our initial blows landed on him, we could sense a look of unexpected pain, concern and confusion in the wolf’s expressions and reactions. But despite this fact, the wolf turned and lunged at the foe he now knew could cause him the most harm – that being me.

Before I could react, the wolf was upon me, his huge fangs sinking into the flesh of my shoulder. He snapped once, then bit again, this time with his huge maw around my neck. I could feel as well as hear the sound of bones snapping, my throat being crushed and my lifeblood gushing out all around. Helpless to resist its attack, I was flung about like a ragdoll as the huge wolf sunk its fangs even deeper and shook its head all about. Then it spit me out, tossed me to the ground like a fowl tasting carcass and turned to find its next victim.

There I lay on the frozen ground with a broken neck, half buried in snow which was rapidly turning red. I could not feel my body though the pain in my head was immense. No doubt I was going into shock and I realized I was dying. It all happened so quickly and there was a part of me that felt certain this could not be real. In the background, I could barely sense the struggle that raged on as my companions continued to battle the huge black wolf. I could see the whirling of bodies, and the flashing of blades; and I could hear the sound of Clint’s guns being fired and the howling of the wolf as it yet again felt the unaccustomed pain of its adversary’s attacks.

Then, nearby, I heard the comforting sound of Garret’s reassuring voice, and suddenly the pain in my head began to ease. I realized then that Garret had channeled positive energy all around us, healing our injuries. The wounds in my shoulder and neck stopped bleeding and I knew that, for the time being, my life had been spared. But something was still wrong, for I still could not feel or move my body. It seemed that Garret’s magic could only do so much, and I remained paralyzed with a broken neck.

As discouraged as I was by this realization, I had little time to think about it. For soon afterwards, I became aware of another sensation – one that I had felt not so long before, and one that up to this moment, I had been dreading. I knew then that our time was about to expire and that somewhere up above us the new moon had arisen, for I and several of my companions suddenly began the involuntary transformation into wolves.

While Baldo, Clint and Mikhail continued to battle the great black wolf, the rest of us became preoccupied with our uncontrollable transfigurations, and I feel certain that many of us at this point, were assured of our imminent doom. I, on the other hand, became aware of something else – that during the midst of my alteration, I began to feel the pain associated with it, coursing throughout my body. And while the pain was almost unbearable, it was a clear indication that the transformation of my body into that of a wolf had miraculously healed my broken neck. But once again, I had little time in which to ponder this amazing development, as with the physical change also came the mental change – soon the animal instincts of a wolf had taken over my mind.

As before, I was filled with the irresistible need to hunt, kill and feast upon raw flesh. My mind was consumed with this desire and all other thoughts were pushed aside and obscured by this single purpose. There was however a subtle difference in these thoughts when compared to the first time I had transformed into a wolf. This time, though it was not immediately understood, I could somehow sense that some of those around me were allies, perhaps members of my own pack, while the great black wolf appeared to be an enemy. No longer did I feel the compulsion to fight in defense of the black wolf. So upon the completion of my transformation, it was towards the black wolf that I sprang.

As I would later discover, among those of us who had transformed into wolves, there were some who recognized the black wolf as a threat, and some who did not. Those who did not attacked whatever was nearest. But in the end, it mattered very little, because once Gregor, the black wolf, realized that he could no longer control the werewolves under him and that he was now vulnerable to our attacks, he turned and fled. Already at this point, he was very badly wounded and on the verge of defeat. For the first time in a very long time, he now feared for his life.

Clint took a shot at him as he ran away, but whether he hit or not, it was not enough to

bring him down. So we were forced to chase after him. This meant that everyone followed, including those of us who had become wolves and were still under Gregor’s influence.

The great black wolf struggled in the deep snow, trying to escape his pursuers, and yet unable to gain any distance, while bright blood stained the snow as he ran. Bursting through the trees, the black wolf sped out onto the frozen lake, and somewhat hesitantly we followed. The ice creaked and snapped as we moved over its surface, but for the moment it seemed to be holding under our weight. We were not about to let him get away. So in desperation, the black wolf turned, its fangs bared as it snarled savagely.

Sensing that the black wolf was near death, we quickly closed on it and renewed our attacks. It did not take long. As the killing blow struck home, the wolf let out a human-sounding howl of rage and pain before collapsing. He shuddered once, and where the wolf had been lying there was now a man – the boyar, Gregor – wrapped in a bloody wolfskin. The battlefield fell silent as the boyar breathed his last.

Suddenly, there was an ear-shattering crack. Black fissures in the ice opened like gunshots, radiating from the place where Gregor laid. In the space of a heartbeat, the ice splintered into nothingness, spilling everyone into the dark, cold waters beneath!

We struggled with all our might in the icy cold water, but the water seemed to drag us down and paralyze our limbs. Baldo even attempted to gulp down a potion of gaseous form, but the shock of the cold water caused him to fumble with the vial and before he could gulp down its contents it became diluted with the water thus rendering it inert. Further and further, into the depths of the lake we were pulled until the light up above was gone and we were surrounded by black, numbing cold.

In the grayness that followed we saw a vision. The land of Vorostokov, beneath its silver blanket of winter, began to turn green. Then a young man stepped forward from the shadows of the dark forest. It was Alexei, first-born son of Gregor Zolnik. He knelt down before him and picked up a wolfskin – but it was not gray like his own. Instead it was the black wolfskin of his father’s. A look of anguish passed over his face, which quickly turned to that of pure rage, and with it, he leaned back his head and howled at the moon.

Suddenly, the white wolf of the mists appeared before us. It too howled, then twisted about and dissipated, surrounding us and bearing us away from the dark waters of the lake. As the mists quickly dispersed, we found ourselves back at the camp we had made some two weeks before – though it appeared as if no time at all had passed at the camp.

Those of us who had transformed into wolves, now reverted to our normal selves, though naturally we were bereft of any clothing. Fortunately, all of our clothes and possessions had reappeared beside us, even though they had been shed at the lakeside where we had become wolves. Even more curious was the fact that the body of Brother Quinn also reappeared, looking as though he had died only a short time before.

We were certainly glad for all of this. Unfortunately, we were also soaking wet with lake water and now freezing in the cold, dark night. So our immediate concern was to find some dry clothes and rekindle the fire. Once this was done, only then were we able to stop and consider the ramifications of the adventure we had just experienced. One thing that we soon agreed upon was the apparent meaning of the vision we had witnessed only a short while before – it would seem that while we had vanquished one Darklord, another would soon arise to take his place. And though I sympathize with the people of Vorostokov, I have little desire to return and aid them anytime soon.

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arkhemedes

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