Well, we’ve dealt with most of the outstanding problems. I rather feel that we have come to the end of a chapter, of sorts, what with His Lordship’s imminent elevation. But first I’ll tell you what happened with the owlbear.
The city was in an uproar, of course. After a brief discussion amongst ourselves, we decided that nothing was to be gained by waiting around. I gave His Lordship a little boost in the Lordliness [Eagle’s Splendour] as usual, and he addressed the crowd. We would pursue the monster forthwith and – of course – bring back its head. The crowd were much cheered: we judged that we could depart and leave them for a few days, at least. If we should return reasonably promptly, then we should not have to face unrest and discontent.
More exactly: we had six days.
Tracking the beast proved no difficulty whatever – a trail of destruction led back to what was unmistakably its lair. We cast our spells, and ventured in.
The first chamber had exits in three directions – the exit ahead of us clearly being the primary one. We decided to clear out whatever might be lurking beyond the two smaller ones so that we might not be attacked from the rear. But among the fungi in the cave, we spotted a pair of shriekers. We decided to shoot them from outside the cave mouth so as to be out of the range of the effect of their noise. Rainor dealt with the first quite handily – it let out only a peep before expiring. I shot the second, but did not dispatch it, and it let out its alarm. Rainor dealt with it immediately, but the damage was done.
In retrospect, I utterly screwed the pooch in this encounter. a) we could have just left them alone while we dealt with what was in each side chamber, and b) if I hadn’t shot that second one with a measly 1d8+1 damage and instead waited for Brett’s/Rainor’s next turn, we could have gakked it quietly.
We entered the cave again, and His Lordship proceeded to the smaller entrance to the right. Within was a Shambling Mound, and they commenced to do battle. But as they did, a half-dozen giant spiders emerged from the entrance to the left. And among the mushrooms in the chamber itself were a few myconid – violet fungi. We were attacked on two fronts – His Lordship and Rainor battling the mound, while the rest of us were picking off spiders and fungi with magic and weapons. We were making progress, when finally the monster itself – the giant owlbear, 15 foot high at the shoulder [about a storey and a half, maybe two] – emerged from the central passage.
And I was standing in exactly the wrong spot.
It swiped me with its enormous claws and flung me aside. I cast Vanish and side-stepped, but it tracked me by smell. Meanwhile, His Lordship had fallen, or nearly so, dealing with the shambling mound. But Morgana saved the day, for the nonce, using her slumberous hex on the owlbear. Someone gave a potion of healing to His Lordship, the last of the spiders was dealt with, and finally the shambling mound slain. But as it was, a nest of spiders emerged from it and proceeded to attack – going after the ranger’s wolf. We decided to flee before the monster awoke (Morgana’s hex lasts only a brief time), for His Lordship was still badly hurt. We would run from the owlbear on our horses, the respite allowing us to use Morgana’s wand of healing.
I screwed the pooch again with how I played Morgana. Luckily, didn’t get her killed.
Once outside, Morgana immediately took to the air. The rest of us ran for the horses and proceeded to gallop away, Rainor firing at the monster as he rode, hitting it as often as not. But Morgana cannot fly as fast as a horse can gallop, and began to fall behind. Nevertheless, she again saved the day, cursing the owlbear as it thundered past. We reined in somewhat so as not to abandon her. But this allowed the owlbear to catch up with us, and … and it caught up with Dobby and clawed her terribly, flinging her to the side. Poor Dobby! No battlehorse, she! She died almost immediately, I but managed to keep my feet falling from her.
Then the monster came for me! It swiped at me, but blessedly missed – I think solely because of my Blur spell. I cast Invisibility from a scroll, and tried to follow Morgana’s lead, using Levitation to get out of the thing’s reach, but flubbed the spell badly for fear [Rolled a 1 on the concentration check.] as the thing sniffed me out and followed the sound of my spellcasting. Rainor continued to fill the monster full of arrows from a sensible distance, and His Lordship – restored at the price of many potions and spells – rejoined the fray.
Eventually it monster went down, I believe to a final shot fired by Rainor, cursed by Morgana, covered with rents from His Lordship’s sword and skewered by a score of war arrows. I did nothing but distract it for a little while, but I am content simply to be alive.
A search of the cave uncovered a thing or two. In the shambling mound’s room, we found a wand of Lightning Bolt wielded, no doubt, by some poor fool who did not know that lightning heals such things rather than harms them. In the beast’s chamber, we uncovered a Ring of Animal Friendship. On close inspection, there was a curse on it: after a while, an animal that you befriend with its power will turn upon you in a rage.
But there are deeper mysteries. Owlbears – of any size – do not take it upon themselves to attack cities with walled castles. And those shriekers were in such a perfect place to act as sentinels that I have no doubt they were planted specifically. Come to that, trolls do not generally settle in dwarf ruins and wear armour, and we know from interrogation that the goblin army and the bard were specifically sent by an enemy of our little steading.
On second thought, no mystery at all, really. The only question is whether we face one enemy or several working independently. And who that enemy might be. And why they oppose our civilising of the Stolen Lands. Okay, so that’s three mysteries.
We returned to Fort Tuskwater with – of course – the monster’s head, and there was much rejoicing. We organised the reconstruction of the ruined buildings, and the annexation of a little more land, and then His Lordship and his privvy council (us) were called to Restov. The word is that His Lordship will be created a duke, and our lands a duchy. We shall have to rename our capital: Port Tuskwater, or Tuskwater City, perhaps.
Rainor’s vision quest calls him onwards, and Morgana, too, has had some kind of vision. For my part, Mother has written me with regard to certain family business. She prepared a scroll or two for me, I think as much as anything to remind me of what I have abandoned by choosing the path I have chosen – works of art and power that I doubt I will ever attain.
No doubt the Swordlords will lay another mission on His Lordship, and so we each go our separate ways. But I am loath to break our party – I still feel that we are fated to travel together. And I doubt that I can run mother’s little errand on my own.
I will spend a few days collecting supplies for the wands I intend to make. And tomorrow I will find out what tomorrow has in store.