It was a long, drawn-out nightmare. The first night’s combat was encouraging; driving away the pack with no casualties. The next few days were tense. Wolves attacked every night, but were driven away with steel and spell. The only casualty was one of the drafthorses. The dead wolves revealed no more shapeshifters, for better or worse.
Anton fled during the night one night before the full moon without warning anyone, his training in stealth proving effective.
The night of the full moon, like every night, was filled with the howls of wolves near and far. The remaining horse panicked and the stupid beast managed to break a leg struggling to get free of its picket. Now being much lighter on supplies than when they left town, the party decided after much debate to abandon the wagon here rather than bother pulling it themselves.
The worst part wasn’t the nightly harassment by the wolf pack, which seemed infinite in number at this point. It was the fog, and the unending path to nowhere.
The path appeared after the first full moon and the party followed it in unspoken consensus. It was pocked with black pools of water and overgrown in places from disuse. It wound to and fro, in some places seeming to make a complete circle, but always continued on into the forest, and always contained tracks of wolves and humans, moving side by side.
The fog swallowed everything more than thirty feet away. Regardless of the time of day the cloying mist was there and incredibly thick. At first, the sounds in the fog put everyone on alert. Footsteps, disturbed underbrush, heavy panting. Investigation would always yield no answers. Even at midday, shadows would flit around just out of sight. Whether it was imagination, sorcery, or infuriatingly evasive enemies, no one could tell.
At least another week passed. It was hard to tell; even when the sun should’ve been directly overhead it was eerily dim in the forest. Meager rations, fitful sleep, and constant stress took their toll. Everyone seemed so different than when they had left… however long ago that was.
Finally, ahead, jutting from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the road, are high stone buttresses looming gray in the fog. Huge iron gates hang on the stonework. Dew clings to the rusted bars. Two headless statues of armed guardians flank the gate, their heads now lying among the weeds at their feet. They greet you only with silence.
The silence is shattered as the gates noisily swing open, rusty hinges screeching.
Without a second thought you walk in through the gate, which slams shut, waking you from your reverie.