The local forest has been plagued with animal attacks and few venture far off the path. Because of the interruption in trade, the magistrate of the town is willing to pay adventurers who wander into town a small reward if they will venture into the forest. They must also uncover the state of three merchants, the strawmiller, the woodsman, and a brickmaker, and kill whatever is causing the attacks. He will inform the party that the town gates will close behind them when they leave but will give them some provisions and a bit of equipment, including a net, at a reduced cost. They are on their own out in the forest and shouldn’t come back without some news.
Before leaving, a small girl and her mother will try to catch the group, asking if they can take some medicine and food to her grandmother who lives just beyond the forest. She has been sick from an animal attack, and they fear she may already be dead if the creature in the woods is indeed clearing the area of life. They cannot pay much (but if there is a cleric in the group, they are of a congregation of that god) but will give them a place to rest if they come back.
Rather quiet except for a bird or two, the path to town is deserted and flanked by forest, if they were to take this path further they would be out of the woods to the west and could be on their way, but then the story would be over.
Further up, a cart has been deserted, a wheel broken and bloodied, the forest has a distinct path of destruction, something large was through here and attacked the cart and whomever was driving it. Further in, if they are looking they can find the reins of the donkey from the cart, but no donkey. The path of the destruction ends here.
As they travel they will find no large tracks of any kind, except for the animals of the forest, which seem scarce, but some game may be spotted quickly leaving on the approach of the party. Soon they will come to a large field of straw, untended and crushed in places, as if a great wind flattened them, the barn and small house lie in ruin, the farmer is nowhere to be seen.
Next they come upon the house of the woodcutter, the door is wide open, insides are strewn about the place, and a swathe of blood on the floor. Blood can be followed that path will disappear soon.
Finally the group comes to a fat, brick fort built hastily and showing signs of damage and blood upon the wall, but the iron door is intact, the windows have also been bricked up recently. If they come into range, the mason will hold them at bay with his bow (gun). He will come down and unlock the metal door, and talk to the PCs, if they make their intentions known.
“It was huge, I saw it crash through the forest, and then I saw what it was chasing. The straw merchant was slightly ahead of it, but it was gaining fast. He was almost at my door, when the paw of the great beast cut him down, he flew against the wall and I couldn’t see anything from my window but the creature eating, and the screams.
The creature stood and looked through my window with its yellow eyes and howled, my windows breaking with the force, but it did not attempt to climb through the window if it could have fit. I aimed and shot it, I swear I hit it, because it fled back into the forest.”
If the PCs tell him about the fate of the woodsman, he will ask if they found the old woman just north, he had visited her with food 3 days past and worries she is already dead, but the family should at least be told. He will give them some of his ammo and allow them to rest here, if they agree to stand guard through the night.
Whomever is awake, will hear the howl of a group of wolves and then a yipe and the snap of bone. The next day, they can continue on or leave if they are scared.
The house of the grandmother is still standing but her flower garden has been tread on by an animal, and her gate has been destroyed. The door is unlocked and the house is quiet.
“Hello, is someone there?”
The PCs have found the grandmother alive, but she is weak, and with fever, a small kettle is heating on the stove.
“My daughter sent you? oh aren’t you a dear?”
She has large eyes, large nose, and gray hair that covers her back. She immediately begins to change before the PCs eyes, transforming into a large dire wolf, that quickly outgrows the room, the PCs can attack while she is transforming but it would be wiser to get out, as they may get crushed as the roof gives way.
Outside she is taller than her small cottage, over 8 feet tall, her yellow eyes zoom in on one member of the party, and she will attack with ferocious speed and accuracy. Turning fast she can whip up a powerful gust of wind with her tail, as well as using the tail for straight offense. Her teeth and claws are sharp, “The better to eat you” she growls.
If she is defeated, she reverts back to the corpse of a little old lady, with no proof of demise of a dire wolf but the word of the PCs. The Mayor will not pay based on the word of a PC, and if the body of the grandmother is brought back questions will arise concerning her death by the PCs.
Expanding the scenario
A. She is a victim of a very old dire wolf with a lycanthropic bite, and it is still out there somewhere?
B. She is the victim of a powerful witch, bitten by her familiar and used as a tool to destroy those in the forest and the town. The Witch is hidden somewhere in the forest, her house moves, and has stayed ahead of the PCs?
C. The PCs are arrested for the death of the little old woman, can they prove their innocence?