The Carrion Crown
Secured from his library, the journal led to some incriminating evidence against Estovion and brought to light his former association with the Whispering Way.
Just Over Two Weeks Prior to the PCs’ arrival:
It appears that my past has come back to haunt me, in the form of unexpected visitors who arrived last night. Ostensibly nobles from Courtaud, they bore invitations from Adivion Adrissant in Caliphas, and Belik admitted them to see me. Their leader, a disturbing man named Auren Vrood who carried a sinister-looking, twisted homunculus on his shoulder, confided to me that they were agents of the Whispering Way, come to finally collect the debt I owe them for helping me with the spirit I discovered at the Stairs so long ago. Vrood “requested” that I arrange a meeting between him and one of the werewolves of the wood. Though I would prefer to have nothing more to do with them (for my youthful indiscretions were just that), I saw no choice but to acquiesce to their demands, lest they reveal my secrets to the Palatine Council. As Mathus is my sole ally among the packs, I will speak to him and arrange a meeting, and hopefully I can wash my hands of this whole sordid affair.
Two Weeks Prior to the PCs’ arrival:
Vrood and his fellows have returned. Though I made my office available to them, they declined and requested a meeting with Madame Ivanja instead. Mathus arrived shortly after and went straight to Ivanja’s tower as well. I was somewhat surprised by their choice of location, but I suppose even necromancers and werewolves have their needs. I spoke briefly with Mathus after the meeting, but he was unusually withdrawn and gave no hint of what was said at the meeting.
Two Days Prior to the PCs’ arrival:
A grave threat has befallen the Shudderwood, and I fear its origins lie at Ascanor. Unknown forces, almost certainly agents of Vrood and the Whispering Way, have attacked the Stairs, butchered Kvalca Sain, and stolen her heart for some dark purpose. Although their motives remain a mystery, this single act has thrown the entire hierarchy of the Shudderwood’s packs into disarray and violence.
I know that it is customary when a packlord dies for her successor to consume the fallen packlord’s heart. With Sain’s heart gone, the position of packlord shall fall to whoever can claim the title, either by recovering the lost heart, or more likely through force, by slaying the leaders of the four rival tribes and adopting the surviving wolves into his own pack.
bq). Mathus has spoken with me before of his desire to become packlord, and I now wonder if his secret meeting with Vrood was the impetus behind these events. Without Sain’s heart, however, I doubt the other tribes will accept Mathus as their leader. He might find allies with the Sczarni or the Broken Ones, but the Vollensag and Jezeldans will never bow to his rule.
bq). Mathus’s concerns doubtlessly lie with his pack, not with me, however, and I worry my alliance with the Mordrinacht shall soon be forfeit. I fear greatly for the safety of the lodge, for if Mathus moves to take Highthrone without Sain’s heart, or if it becomes known that his ascendance is due to the Whispering Way’s interference, civil war will soon erupt among the packs of the wood, with Ascanor caught in the middle.