How many drunken barbarian princesses does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? I haven’t a clue! That’s not this story.
This story is about a group of friends, a keep on the borderlands, some bears, some trolls, and an annoying little woman’s Beary Bad Day. (I posted this to bring Jaevin/Ugrrha/Grant caught up to speed, but I decided it would make a good journal entry as well. It’s kind of from my characters’ point(s) of view, but that’s kind of expected, right? I’ll happily add in any specific events or words that others remember if they’ll just remind me of them.
That said, here it is again!
What did Jaeven/Uggrha miss? Buy me a drink to wet my throat and I’ll tell you, mate…
=====Our Tale Begins=======
Lobelia’s idea of involving the local forest bears in the fight against the trolls was deemed “Too likely to get us all horribly killed”, and over her shrill objections it was discarded.
(OOC: I don’t disagree with that decision, that was just the best idea I could get out of Lobelia OR Mort – he’s been busy setting up a sick room in one of the towers, along with whatever alchemical apparatus he was able to put together and bring on the journey to the keep, and he keeps telling me “I’m a doctor, not a strategist!” whenever I asked him about the problem.)
So Lobelia’s bearbrained plan was nixed, and it was instead decided that we’d try to use the trappers/werebears to help with the fight – the full moon was just a few days away. We set up a plan to meet near the cave that night, and then to do a frontal assault. Before then, Fashannen would watch the cave and alert us to any singles or pairs who left the cave so we could try to ambush them and thin their still-unknown number a bit before the main showdown.
A day later, she reported a pair of trolls had left the cave, and off we set to ambush them. Unfortunately the terrain was bad for stealth, much less ambush. They were in a clearing and digging in a fallen log. – You know, it might have been a beehive, so it’s probably good that Uggrha missed it! ;p
However, Lobelia wanted to see if trolls would avoid a skunk, in hopes of scouting their cave unmolested in that form. – So she transformed into one and waddled right past the trolls to see if they’d avoid her.
Did. Not. Work!
It turns out that trolls really will eat anything, including live skunks – they’ll even bite into one after they spray! /shudder/
…especially skunks with a hidden halfling center, as it turns out. Painful for poor Lobelia, but just the distraction needed for the others to get into range and save her s(t/k)anky butt from ingestion.
A major downside of Lobelia’s time as a skunk was soon noted by Alfaren; No, not the smell, although several sets of clothing were fit only for burning afterward. No, it was that no matter how long she spent as a skunk, the skunk always turned back into Lobelia afterward. ;p
She tried to bear up under the pain and help with the fight, but didn’t manage to lay a claw on either one of the trolls with any of her roundhouse smacks. Maybe the change in size or wei.. well, in size anyway – was throwing her aim off? Fortunately Raffolk was in fine form, and his larger bearform had no trouble getting his blows to connect. He was unbearably proud of himself afterward, but with good reason I suppose…
The two trolls were finally killed, but it was a grizzly battle, and both nearly escaped at different points. All of us had bruises. If not for Charlene’s help, (Alex’s wife, she sat in on Saturday’s session), we might not have been anywhere near as lucky.
We went back to our camp to bind up our wounds, burn our clothes, and prepare for the morrow. The next day, Fashannen again rushed into camp to inform us of another single troll out of the cave – in exactly the same place that we ambushed and killed the other two.
Sound a little hinky? It was! The lone troll was their shaman, and he had several other trolls hidden in the woods all around us.(And here I’d spent some minutes deciding whether or not to wear my “It’s a trap!” T-shirt to this weekend’s game. Rats! I should’ve gone with it!)
And then, the unexpected! Charlene’s “barbarian noble” (who was drunk enough to be friendly with Lobelia at this point) managed to start a pantomimed dialogue with the shaman! It was eventually ascertained (after much gesticulating and corny faces) that the trolls were immigrants to the area, and had been driven from their own caves by… Morlocks? Wights? Something with white faces and big claws.
The shaman’s original Onyx Claw (or was it ebony? It was black either way!) was lost/abandoned/stolen then, which is why they took Ursul’s Claw when they discovered it.
While the slow work of pantomimed communication went on, someone (Sorry, forget who, I’ll gladly write in names if anyone wants to fill in blanks!) suggested that the troll caves might be unguarded, leaving an opening for someone to sneak in and out with the Claw unopposed.
Lobelia thought that was a great idea, aannd since she doesn’t generally spend much time thinking over her decisions, (and also because “unattended claw” may also mean “unattended valuables”!), she took the first moment of inattention and scurried off as fast as her short legs and new magic boots would carry her.
I don’t think the trolls had even spotted her before she ran off, and I think everyone in OUR party breathed a sigh of relief when they realized she’d scarpered – our chances of a successful parley were greatly improved, even with our spokesman being a drunken barbarian palavering in charades!
Aaannd as we discovered a few minutes later, the shaman had the Claw with him the whole time, but there was no way to signal Lobelia to come back, and it was probably for the best anyway..
When she arrived at the cave, Lobelia transformed into a panther – pitch black, stealthy, good eyes in the dark – and slunk into the cave to search for the Claw. …Aaannd shortly thereafter she rolled a 1 on her stealth check. Only a hasty retreat saved her tail from the claws of the female trolls who’d been left behind in the caves!
She didn’t escape unharmed, and she’d be at a disadvantage in any physical activity until the bruising and strains healed, but she was alive at least. (What do you know, there IS more than one way to skin a cat! …eww.)
She’d spotted no sign of the Claw, however. Her mission was a failure – but the party made great progress with the trolls while she wasn’t there to “help”. (I am almost certain that her attempted charades alone would have gotten everyone horribly killed.)
So, uh.. Hooray?
Meanwhile, our exiled barbarian princess had come to an agreement with the trolls; We’d help them win back their original caves, and in return they’d give back Ursul’s Claw and leave us in peace. (the LEAVING being most important to us) Yay!
We went back to camp to celebrate/bathe/discuss/etc. Late in the afternoon someone remembered: The trappers!! They’re going to attack the caves tonight, and they’re expecting US to be there!
Everyone rushed to the meeting spot to await their arrival, but moonrise came and went with no sign. Best guess was that perhaps they weren’t sure of their control as beasts, so maybe they decided to attack the trolls directly rather than possibly attacking us, which made enough sense that we all rushed to the cave to try to stop them if we could!
We were bearly in time. The sounds of a bear-knuckles fisticuff were obvious from the mouth of the cave as we arrived; roars, crashes, bellows of trollish fury. (Bet you guys wished we had a bunch of extra bears after all, didn’t ya? :P)
We rushed down the passageway into the cavern, and there found 4 bears in a fight with several trolls, including the shaman.(We never did get his name, did we?) – Whups! make that 3 bears and one man unconscious on the ground. Now what?
To the surprise of many, (but not if you remember that bit about “doesn’t spend much time thinking over her decisions” a ways back!), it was Lobelia who leapt into action again, using a swampland-specific magic she’d just learned as part of her Circle of the Land: Swamp. She threw a sphere of magical darkness over several of the combatants, and after failing to communicate with the shaman, (thank goodness!), she transformed back into a black bear to physically get between the two remaining combatants to separate them. She may actually be telling the truth when she says she “knows all ’bout momma bears!”
At the very least, she was able to get them to stop fighting long enough for the shaman to get his trolls to back off as well.
A very tense moment! And in that moment, while we held the bears who were our own people off the trolls we’d made a bargain with, Ursul’s ghostly form manifested, peering into the cavern from the passageway.
Only a few eyes spotted Her, but one pair were the troll shaman’s – and seeing that, (and perhaps because he was a decent and honorable troll, but I don’t believe that for a second!), our new shaman friend gave over the Claw even before we’d held up our end of the bargain. At
that point, all the bears transformed back into men again, and appeared to be free of all signs of Ursul’s curse. Huzzah! Brownie points for everybody!
We returned to the keep, flushed with our success! (Though now we need to help the trolls ASAP to keep our end of the bargain.)
While there, we had a bit of downtime to work on projects. Alfaren began to fashion a rod of Healing, and Mort announced the first fruits of his alchemical studies – he’d worked out how to infuse healing magic into an herbal potion, and was pleased to announce that potions of Healing and even Greater Healing could be produced, though the cost was still prohibitive. (100-500gp respectively)
Alfaren’s rod also cost 500gp, covered by burning one <trade>. A rod of Healing is likely to pay for itself many times over, so it was worth the expense. Mort only spent 100gp or so, but he had to test the potion after it was brewed, so has little to show for his work for the moment, though his results are promising for future possibilities.
Then Adalone asked about Alchemist’s Fire. After some research, Mort said that he could collect all or nearly all of the ingredients for it locally, and the cost to produce should be low enough that we might even be able to sell it for profit to select customers!
However, he was extremely leery of brewing or storing more than a few vials at a time, (it’s dangerous stuff!), especially if he had to store it in the same tower as his workshop/living space/sickroom!
First thought was that we could store it in the small cavern beneath the keep, but it was reported that something was stealing supplies from our cache there. Further investigation revealed a small secret door that led into a veritable warren of twisty passages, the stone floors showing reptilian Kobold footprints in the dust.
Not having time or resources to explore the warren, we left the sign of an eye on the inside of the secret door so the kobolds would know we knew about and were watching them. The thefts ceased, but we still can’t store things like Alchemist’s Fire where they could get at it!
Whew! I may have left out a few details, but I think that was the gist of it. sleeepy..