Library of Howling

12.A Parting and Meeting

Having decided that Switches and Brand will need to return to Tail with a selected book and also return with supplies and more bodies, the group begins working towards this end. Bill scouts out Whistler’s Island where the boat should be but, on the first day of searching, finds no boat. Work on the wall continues as normal until it is noticed that a trail of blood is leading to the tower walls outside. The group decides to wash away the trail of blood as best they can in case something is being led in their direction, but continues work as normal afterward.

Bill, Red, and Ox decide to take a trip to visit the ruins they can spot in the distance across the river. This goal leads them back down to the mouth of the river where Red attempts to use rocks to build a bridge to the first major rock. This rock has the rope which Bill had cut in an attempt to isolate their position from the men they ran out of the tower. After a few tries it seems the rock will not be raised high enough to form a true bridge, so tying a rope onto himself and with Red and Ox holding it, Bill manages to forge across the treacherous water which reaches up to his chest and grabs the cut rope. After reattaching the rope, the group makes its way carefully across the rock via a series of rope bridges and makes landfall on the other side. Old tracks can be seen near the rocks, but nothing which seems fresh.

Traveling upriver, the group comes across what appears to be unfinished canoes. None of the four canoes looks sturdy enough to hold a man upright, but Bill pushes one out into the river to see how they float. It floats well enough, but deciding the canoes aren’t usable by them, the group continues north.

Getting to within sight of the ruins, Red uses his magic and is able to identify many bodies within the area of the ruins. Bill takes control of a bird to get a closer look and discovers what seems to be a camp of the dog men throughout the ruins area. Deciding the numbers are far from in their favor, the group turns south again but decides to push all of the would-be canoes into the river to prevent the dog men from crossing (assuming that was their method at all).

Crossing back over the mouth of the river, the last line to shore is once again cut, but another rope is tied to it and tied down at the shoreline so that the bridge can be repaired only from the one direction. The group returns to camp.

The next day Bill once again scouts Whistler’s Island with a bird, and this time sees their boat docked there. A fire is lit near the mouth of the river, and Bill is able to verify the crew looks to be packing back up and heading back out to sea. Bill decides they should wait a few days to let the boat get back into position, and then he and Brand will accompany Switches back to the boat and then back to Tail itself. This plan is put to action, and Bill manages to signal to the rest of the group that they are safely aboard the ship and headed to Tail using a bird jumping from one corner of the wall to the other in a pre-arranged pattern.

Shortly after Switches, Brand, and Bill leave, the camp is hailed by three humans outside the gate. Moon seems unsure how to deal with or answer the visitors, who turn out to be lead by the armored man the group met at the last stop before they came to the island. The man is here looking for men he had sent ahead of him to the island (presumably the men who had been inhabiting this tower). He asks for word of the men and details are given about bodies found nearby, but nothing else. When asked what might have killed them, Moon points the visitors at the ruins full of dog men. Repeatedly asking entrance to the camp, the visitors are finally shooed away, but with the promise they will return the next day to continue talking. Also revealed in the discussion is the fact that the man is here looking for treasure, and that he perhaps knows some of the secrets of the island itself.

Sure enough, the man returns the next day, but with a large group of men in tow this time. Talks continue and the man reveals he is going to attack the dog-men camp and invites the party along. Initially, they are wary, but finally Moon and Ox, those of true barbarian traditions, decide to leave with the visitors to both direct and keep an eye on them.