"Ugly boobie balls!"
In which the party befriends Bullywugs

Two giant spiders erupted from the grass. One remained in the ground while one climbed into wooden scaffolding. Magic missiles continued to rain down. Molly and Daerik launched projectiles at the spider in the scaffolding as Walker and Frank smashed into the spider on the ground.

Fergus, magically magnifying his voice, shouted “Hey, you with the missiles! We’re helping to kill the spiders. Please don’t shoot us. Thanks.” The party heard muffled voices from the rustling in the grass.

One spider webbed Daerik and the second viciously tore into Walker’s flesh. Suddenly, a Bullywug emerged from the grass, jumped up into the scaffolding, and swiped at the spider. Molly cut Daerik free of the spider’s web. Frank viciously smashed his greatclub into one spider, splattered its head and sending its legs twitching. Smaller spiders emerged from the grass.

Fergus, recalling the few curse words he learned from a fellow Bullywug at the academy, bellowed out “ugly boobie balls” in their native language. The Bullywugs laughed. One emerged from the grass holding a captive Drow. At the same time, the captured Drow, still tied up, tumbled from the cart.

Tabitha dispatched a small spider, while the giant spider from the scaffolding webbed up Fergus. Walker stomped on spider with his boot. Fergus dispatched the final spider with holy flame. The Bullywugs turned to him and called out “ugly boobie balls” in their native language.

“Uggglly boooobbiieee baaalls” Fergus responded slowly in Bullywi. Molly played an accompaniment behind him on the accordion as Daerik danced a slow jig. Fergus punched both Drow in the stomach, and the Bullywugs celebrated and hand over their captive Drow to Fergus. Daerik attempted the Iron Guard secret handshake, and it went badly.

“I’m not like him,” the Drow said, gesturing to the first captive Drow. Daerik asked Ronny to explain. Ronny and the Bullywug’s Drow began to bicker and fight.

Molly set down her accordion and touched the grassland, her favorite terrain, communing with. It alerted her of the location and the closing of the portal.

The Bullywug’s Drow, named Fae’qrris (pronounced “Ferris”), accused Ronny of betraying the circle, as he explained that not all Drow were alike. Some, like him, wanted to get to surface and worship surface gods. He explained how he was a member of something called “The Circus,” “the rich and rare rambling rompers,” an acting company that served as the contact for the portal operation. When Fae’qrris learned the party worked for Warwick, he expressed his excitement.

Holding Fae’qrris captive with their first Drow, the party made their way back to Breckton. The two Bullywugs tagged along. At Lord Breckton’s office, they hand over custody of Ronny and the first Drow, and learn that the lord possessed a small collection of magical stones. Fergus agreed to help him study the magical properties of those stones.

The party introduced Fae’qrris to Warwick, as well as the one of the Bullywugs, whom Fergus had adopted as a son and named Craig Fergussson. With these introductions made, Warwick led the party back to his grand hall.

“Do you like pretty things like rings?”
In which the party gains an opal and a Drow captive.

As the Drow charged toward them, Walker steadied his feet, drew his bow, and fired an arrow at the first rushing Drow, planting it deep between his eyes and dropping him dead. “One shot. One kill,” Walker declared.

Seeing his comrade fall, a second Drow drew a silvery talisman engraved in the shape of a spider from his robe. A shadowy aura emerged from the talisman and enveloped another Drow. The leader, the female who had threatened Ronny, remained behind the rest of the Drow.

Molly and Fergus launched ranged attacks against the leader, causing her to stumble and fall to her knees. Frank transformed into a bull, and bellowing, lowered his head and charged for the fallen leader. She managed to dodge out of his way just in the nick of time, but inadvertently dodged into the path of Daerik, who dug his blade deep into her back.

Seeing their leader fall, the remaining two Drow turned to retreat toward the portal. Molly grappled one, tripping him up and slowing his run, while Frank the bull moved to block their path to the portal. Daerik drew a javelin, turned it around, and launched it butt first at the retreating Drow. It smacked him in the side, dropping him unconscious. Walker fired an arrow at the second retreating Drow, causing him to fall down and bleed out.

As the dust settled over the two dead and two unconscious Drow, Ronny and the Willow Men emerged from their hiding places in the bushes to cheer the victorious party members. The humanoid party members began to loot the pockets of the Drow as Frank joined Bessie in chomping on some grass.

The light of the portal diminished, as if losing sustenance after the incapacitation of the Drow. In an effort to understand more, Fergus performed a ritual to detect magic. Both of his rock, the black and the orange, glowed with faint magical light, as did Molly’s arrows and daggers. Studying further, Fergus discerned the types of magic emanating from these objects. The orange rock glowed with conjuration magic. The black opal with transmutation. The spider talisman had a religious aura about it, and a divine symbol carved into it. Fergus also detected magic coming from a second piece of opal jewelry – a ring on the leader of the Drow. The portal spewed and sucked in energy like a solar flare, drawing it from the opals into the portal.

Fergus gave this ring to Molly: “Here’s a ring I found. Do you like pretty things like rings?
“No really” Molly replied, “but I’ll take it. Where did it come from?”
“A corpse,” answered Fergus.

The party questioned Ronny further, and he explained how he fell in with the Drow. “We just wanted to mine iron, but the portal worked better in the cavern. And the Drow were really interested in those dark rocks.” While Ronny dismissed the rest of the Willow Men for Party City, he remained with the adventurers.

“Should we like tie them up or something?” Molly asked, gesturing toward the two unconscious Drow.
The party tied them up and prepared to wake them. Walker and Daerik took on the roles of good cop and bad cop in order to get information out of them. The Drow begrudgingly revealed that they use the portal for travel, and that the opals have a role in controlling them.

Fergus asked Molly to go to the portal and ask it to go to the underdark, to see if it does anything. Molly, approaching the portal, held up her new ring and said “I want to go to Party City,” while gesturing in a vaguely magical way. The portal gained some of its form back but does not return to its full strength. “I’m doing magic, y’all!” Molly declared.

One of the Drow began to bargain for his freedom: “I could show you how to use this if you let me go.” He promised. “I work for very powerful people.” The party responded that they two work for powerful people – Warwick. The Drow expressed his disgust for that half-breed, and Walker, decalring “we’re done here,” drew his sword. The Drow gritted his teach and glared as Walker sliced his throat; dark purple blood spewed out. The party gagged the second Drow, and tied him up in the back of Ronny’s cart.

The party travels easily back to Breckton. While at an Iron Guard checkpoint (where Daerik got chummy with his bros), Walker noticed off in the distance a purple light flash and disappear, followed by a low bass noise. The grass rustled as a creature ran from the portal towards the Iron Guard checkpoint. Walker warned the group, and suddenly magical bolts rained down, striking a member of the Iron Guard, the wagon, and the trees around the party…

“You Guys Have Gotta Get Me Out of Here!"
In which Ronny is in over his head.

Frank, with his knowledge of the natural world, determined that this giant creature emerging from the portal was an aberration not of this plane. As the Drow held the monster back, the party exchanged pleasantries with Ronny the Bear. Molly exclaimed “I’m glad to meet a fellow feminist,” indicating the flaming bras that lit the cavern. Ronny recognized Tabitha as he was a friend of her father’s.

As the party got to know Ronny a bit better, the Drow finally pushed the aberration back into the portal. Multicolored sparks erupted as the creature struggled against them, but the portal finally closed, catching and cutting off one purple tentacle as it did. The tentacle, writhing on the ground, sprouted a few smaller tentacles – and launched itself, face-sucker style, at Jeremy the Willow Man.

Daerik grappled with the tentacle, pulling it from Jeremy’s face. The party attempted to hit the tentacle with ranged attacks, but Daerik’s constant struggle with the squirming tentacle meant they danced around any bolt or arrow cast its way.

Finally, Molly shot an arrow through a flaming bra and into the tentacle, scorching it. Frank smashed it with his greatclub, and Fergus finally brought the writhing to a halt, killing the tentacle for good.

At the conclusion of the battle, a female Drow turned to Ronny: “You heard what I said,” she told him. “We need it soon.” She and her fellow Drow retreated into the portal, and its light diminishes as it became inactive.

Ronny commanded the surviving Willow Men to leave the cavern, and he looked at Tabitha. “You guys have gotta get me out of here!” he told her. Ronny explained how he fell in with the Drow but rapidly got in over his head. He told the party they needed a stone, something dark like the night.

The party huddled and decided they needed Ronny to evacuate the caverns and cooperate with the Iron Guard as an informant. Ronny ordered the evacuation, encountering much disappointment from Kit and others as they pack up their homes to depart. Molly entertained the youths with a rendition of “The Three Headed Dragon and the Big Red Worm” on her accordion. While she played, Ronny approached Frank to ask him to help escape rather than work with the Iron Guard. Frank refused his request, assuring him that all will be well working with the guard.

As evening descended, the party and the Willow Men made camp along the road. The party pointed the path toward Tent City (Party City, Ronny called it), and Ronny instructed the Willow Men to make their way there in the morning.

At morning’s light, the party awaken to realize they felt stronger and more knowledgeable. Their experiences on the adventure have surely increased minds and hearts.

As they sat over a humble breakfast, a portal emerged midair down the path, and Drow emerged from it. “Ronny, Ronny, we said you couldn’t get away,” the female Drow explained as they rushed the party…

Running through Willow Men
In which our heroes start to get a little too murder-happy

As Daerik sent dirt and debris going down the cliff edge into the cavern below, all ten figures heard the noise and went on alert, but the party pulled back from the edge before they could be spotted. The cavern has a portal in the center, with robed figures around them. Light flickers off the stone walls, emanating from flaming brassieres. One robed figure gestured at two others: “You go check that out!” he said.

The party began to quietly retreat further into the tunnel, but Frank and Tabitha slip on sand, and many members pile up around them. Molly dodges and ran into a room with a large columnar stalactites and stalagmites in the center. Four doors exit this room – one from the cavern overlook from which they came, from the water they had just swam through, and two other exits. Molly drew her dagger and crouched in the room, blending in by posing her body as a stalactite. The rest of the party ducked into the path that returned to the water.

A human male and a female half-orc walked through the room to investigate the noise. Molly pursued them sneakily. The two Willow Men fail to see the source of the noise at the cavern’s edge, and return to the central room. Molly quietly sneaked back to the group, and they listened intently as the pair of Willow Men began to track closer to their hiding location.
Frank attempted to distract the Willow Men by approaching the half-orc, K’al, and discussing her parentage. The Willow Men were confused and not quite sure of what to do with Frank. They entertained his babbling on his genealogy for a while, before apprehending him. Using the distraction Frank provided, Molly launched her dagger square into K’al’s back. Daerik grappled with her, ripping her greatclub from her hands, and Walker launched an arrow through her neck. Blood gurgled in her throat as K’al dropped to the ground gasping.

Fergus and Frank subdued the second Willow Man by conjuring fire and thorn whips. The party interrogating him, learning that the Drow Robinthon Curthoe made the portal. They also found him reaching for an enchanted opal pendant, which Fergus snatches from him and places in his pocket. The Willow Man promised to curry favor for the party with Ronny the Bear, and so they allow him to live.

Frank looked down at the lifeless body of K’al, and picks up her greatclub and a pendant containing an image of her mother. A single tear fell down his cheek in honor of his fellow half-orc as Frank promised to himself to find out the truth of his heritage.
Walker attempted to draw out a few more of the Willow Men by disguising his voice and calling out “Hey we need two more guys out here…one to three men. Five is wide out!”

Several Willow Men follow his call, but then the party hears a roar from the portal. They encountered five Willow Men who had gone to investigate them and began to struggle with them. Among them is a Drow. Frank clubs this Drow as others attack and dispatch him. They convinced the remaining Willow Men that they might need their help to encounter whatever has emerged from the portal, and ran into the cavern lit with the flaming bras. They saw emerged from the portal a monstrosity: an elephant sized creature covered in tentacles, fur, and spines. The remaining Drow encircled this beast, blue energy emulating from their hands and beaming toward the creature.

In which the party tries to uncover old man Ronny the Bear’s hijinks.

After successfully defeating a group of Willow Men, the gang cuts Fergus loose from the trap that suspended him in the ceiling. Fergus fell into the waiting arms of Walker and Frank, embarrassed but unharmed. As the warlock tended to the dying, the gang faced a choice: go through a door, or down the glowing hallway? After some discussion, they took the hallway, progressing deeper into the mine and passing by several locked side-tunnels. The hallway led into a large cavern filled with an orange glow emanating from a river of molten iron. The cavern contained an ore processing center, purifying the iron ore and preparing it for shipment. Raena noticed a rope hanging over a trap door with a nearby lever, and pulled the lever, revealing a large vat of water.

Hearing someone shuffling ahead, Frank sought to disguise the noise of the party by causing a frog’s croak to echo from the water. Molly snuck up to investigate, and noticed two men bickering about the frog noise and walking toward the group. The party decided to quickly take out these two people, but a tackling pile-up occurred, as Daerik, Raena, and Frank all attempt to tackle but miss the first man. Molly grapples with him before Walker finally takes the first man down. The second man, hearing the tumultuous kerfuffle, retreated, firing a shot off his crossbow behind him. The bolt hit its mark, burying itself deep into Frank’s chest.

They party immobilized and began to interrogate the tackled man. He began to talk about the Drow he saw, but was immediately silenced by a crossbow bolt sniped in from afar. The party heard something drop from the ceiling and begin running. They gave chase, following the noise down a dark cavern which dead-ended into a sheer cliff over an underground lake.

Frank cannonballed into the lake and asked the fish for directions. Gesticulating as a school, the fish convey that the underwater tunnel leads them out, some fish believe there would be enough air in the tunnel for the journey, and that there is definitely danger in the tunnel. Armed with that knowledge, the party decided they would risk the underwater tunnel. The remaining members dove into the water as the school of fish scored their dives. To prepare for underwater danger, Daerik distributed javelins.

The fish led the party through the tunnel, guiding them to air pockets along the way. As they approached a drop off where the water got deeper, they shook their heads, planted a nibble on Frank’s cheek, and left. The party readied their javelins for danger, only to be surprised as silty matter coalesced into a net and captured the party by their ankles. They break away and reach open air, where they follow voices down a tunnel that overlooks a cavern.

Peering down into the cavern, the party views ornately carved walls, pillars and statues. In the center of a cavern, a portal glowed. Ten people, clad in dark robes, stand around the portal. One of them was Ronny the Bear. As Walker inched closer for a better view, he spilled dirt over the edge and into the cavern…

"Welcome to our House-Hole!"
In which our party mingled with the Willow Men

Molly returned from her scouting and reunited with the party. The narrow passageway leads into the mine, with only room for a single person at a time. The Iron Guard established a sentry at the entrance of the mine, as Daerik led the party into its depths. After traversing for single file into the path for a ways, Frank saw something in the distance and alerted the party. Molly crowdsurfed to the front of the line in order to sneak on the mysterious figure. “There’s someone here!” Molly stage-whispered back. Walker snuffed his torch and snuck up ahead to the figure. Frank conjured up the sound of a frog’s croak to cover Walker’s sneaking toward him. A little boy poked his head out, looking for the frog. He spied Walker and froze. Walker silently grappled this boy, covering his mouth to prevent him from screaming. Walker calmed the boy, named Kit, and conversed with him in hushed tones. Kit shared with them about life in their little house-hole. The party convinced Kit to lead them deeper into the cave. The cave opened into a large cavern, bustling with families cooking over fires and running in and out of wooden shacks. Kit led Raena, Frank, Daerik, and Tabitha to his family’s shack, while Molly broke off to scout and Fergus and Walker left to search for some sort of bar to nurse their hangovers.

Molly listened in as a couple argued. The man expressed his desire to work his way up into Ronny’s inner circle, so that he can better provide for his family and move them back out of the cave. Molly initiated a conversation with the couple, asking for directions to Ronny the Bear. The man told her about how high taxes and droughts had forced him from his farm and into the care of the Willow Men. He told her about some mysterious lights from deeper in the cave.

Raena, Frank, Daerik, and Tabitha briefly talk to Kit’s mother before determining they needed to go deeper into the mine.

Fergus and Walker found a make-shift bar in the center of the camp. Two old, long-bearded men offer to play a game of Oye with Fergus and Walker. Rather than test the fate with dice, the two walked in and grabbed a drink at the bar.

The party regrouped outside the bar and shared what they had learned before determining to go deeper. Uniformed and confident, they planned to bluff their way deeper into the mine. Tabitha pulled out her ledger to look the part. As they attempt to bluff their way in, one of the guards noticed the Iron Guard sigil on the ledger. He stared at it for a long time, but decided to let them continue anyway. They continued into the darkness.

The pathway split into a T, and the party took the right path. The pathway opened into a cavern with a deep pool of water in the center. A bridge had once crossed the pool, but had rotten away. Raena cast some magic lights into the pool’s center, illuminating something large and slithery within. The party took a quick U-turn to return to the left path.

They entered a cavern room with three wooden doors. A large padlock held one close. Molly dashed toward a second door, and immediately underneath her, triggered a switch in the tile floor. Molly froze, keeping the tile depressed. Walker noticed that across the way, the other door had a slew of arrows pointing at where Molly stood, ready to spring. Daerik noticed similar trap tiles in front of each of the other doors. The party turtled behind shields as Molly ducked and rolled off the trap tile and into the doorway. The party followed Molly into the left door. As they ascended deeper, the masonry became more intricate and Fergus identified it as dwarven work – a throne room of an ancient dwarf noble. Fergus walked into the center of the room, and gets caught by a noose on the group that pulls him up into the air. A door burst open, and seven Willow Men ran out, led by a dwarf. Fergus rained sacred flame down on the dwarf, knocking him unconscious. Daerik clocked out a Willow Man with the broadside of his sword, while Frank knocked one out with his quarterstaff. Fergus dropped another Willow Man while still suspended from the ceiling. Molly killed one with an ill-placed arrow and Tabitha dropped the last Willow Man.

The party makes it to the Stonehold Mines

As they party approached the Willow Men’s tollbooth, Molly and a group of the Iron Guard broke off from the group to scout the woods ahead. The rest of the party, plus Tabitha and two Iron Guard, continued on to the tollbooth. Two women and a lady dwarf sat around a table. Behind them, a giant redwood blocked the road. The path continued through a tunnel bore into the massive trunk, and deer antlers and intricate carvings adorned the tree’s ancient bark. Two Willow Men, armed with crossbows, stood to either side of the tree, while a hulking figure with a double handed battle axe blocked the way into the tree. From the redwood’s branches, a Halfling trained his crossbow down on the party. The Halfling extolled the virtues of the Willow Men band held for the common man, and Frank, bonding over his farming background, managed to talk his way into free passage past the toll. The rest of the party, however, needed more convincing. Raena challenged Oya, the lady dwarf, to the game of dice they were playing: gambling a conjured block of chocolate against free passage for the rest of the party. After winning best four out of nine, Raena earned passage for the party.

Continuing down the path, the party made it to the opening of the mine. Six Willow Men guarded the entrance to the mine, and as the party discussed the best way to sneak up on them, a sentry noted their presence. Running up the hill after them, he alerted the other Willow Men. Frank cast entangle on the group, ensnaring three of them. With the three entangled, the party made short work of the Willow Men. Walker shot two through the eye. Raena incinerated another with fire. Daerik stabbed one in the stomach. Soon, only a severely intoxicated man and a half-orc remained, both entangled in the vines. Frank stared into the eyes of the entangled half-orc and shared a moment – one that connected him to his orcish heritage, one that awoke deep memories from his childhood, and one that came to an abrupt halt as Daerik sprinted down the hill and lobbed off the half-orc’s head. A distraught Frank deducted five friendship points from Daerik as Fergus began to interrogate the remaining Willow Man. Through his slurred speech, the party gained a bit more information on Ronny, Billy, and the twenty or so Willow Men up to mysterious activity in the mine. Satisfied with his interrogation, Fergus knocked him unconscious.

They emptied the Willow Men’s inventories and donned their willow-branch capes before entering the mine. After a short walk into the darkness of the mine, they encountered a deep pit into the earth, with faint torchlight flickering from the bottom.

On the Road to Brekton, Part 2
In which our party earns all the friendship points

The party continued following the road to Brekton over several days, as gulch gave way to plains and finally thick coniferous woods. Frank continued to discuss his quest to discover his family, dutifully noting Walker’s suggestion that his parentage could have involved a three-fourths and a one-fourth orc pairing. By this point, Frank’s constant prattling about his family has nearly worn Fergus’s last nerve – but before the dwarf could smite the half-orc, a single woman on a horseback galloped up the road to reach them. Tabitha, of the Iron Guard, introduced herself with an exchange of the Iron Guard handshake with Daerik. She led them down a path off the main world to meet up with Lord Brekton.

As they walked down the path, the horses became skittish, and Raena met up with the party on the trail. As she eyed up the motley party before her, an arrow whizzed past, clipping Tabitha’s armor. Suddenly, a band of Willow Men emerged from the woods. A second arrow embedded itself deep into Raena’s thigh, dropping her to the ground in pain. She launched a firebolt back, setting some nearby evergreens ablaze. Frank cast thornwhip on one, wrapping a thorny vine around his neck and dragging him into the clearing. As he pulled him past Molly, she swung her sword and cleaved the Willow Man’s head. Walker sliced a second man across the chest, and Daerik clocked a third in the head with the broadside of his sword, crumpling his body to the ground; from across the clearing, Fergus incinerated his body with holy flame. Molly used his fists to knock the last Willow Man unconscious. Frank attempted to put out the flaming trees, only to have Fergus stymie that attempt (losing Fergus one-half of a friendship point). Daerik smothered the flames with his shield (gaining him one-half of a friendship point).

Tabitha tied the surviving Willow Man to a tree and splashed water in his face to wake him up. The orc, Morc Morcmanson, explained that before he joined the Willow Man to help the little guys, he led the life of a simple farmer. In a round of good cop/bad cop interrogations, Daerik and Frank extracted from Morc the location of Ronny the Bear’s hideout in the mines, and the paths to get there. Frank then chattered away with Morc in broken orcish to learn more about his heritage. Morc explained to Frank that he most likely descended from the Gray Orcs. After the interrogation, the party argued over whether to kill Morc or let him live. During the ensuing debate, Morc snuck off and sprinted away down the path.

Then, Lord Brekton and his retinue of Iron Guard arrived. Ever the consummate politician, Lord Brekton flattered the party, and recruited them to rid his city of Ronny the Bear and his bandits. The Lord brought them back to Brekton, where he provided for them with only the highest-class of lodgings. Bessie feasted on lemon-grass timothy hay and cucumber water in a posh stable, while the rest of the party proceeded to get drunk in a pompous cocktail lounge. Fergus, already several mugs of whiskey in, began to project his racism on others, while Walker drunkenly hit on Lily, the Halfling barmaid (“Say, what’s a Halfling like you doing in a bar like this?”). The party’s slurred revelry offended the sensibilities of the pretentious patrons, all drinking classy martinis of blue snuff on their way through a city-wide juice cleanse. By the end of the night, only the party and Lily remained. Frank awarded all present three friendship points before they created a pillow fort and passed out on the lounge floor for the night.

The next day, the party gathered and made their way down the path toward the mines and Ronny’s bandits. Molly led at the fore while Fergus and Walker, nursing hangovers, fell to the rear. In the distance, they could spy a wooden toll bridge, manned by several of the Willow Men.

On the Road to Brekton, Part 1
In which our heroes get into tent shenanigans and kill a wolf

In the carnival of Tent City, Molly found herself entered into an archery contest – and Daerik and Frank found themselves betting heavily on her to win that contest.

Meanwhile, Walker caught up with the suspicious man and discovered a fellow traveler in the realm of the culinary arts. Raoulfoph, however, lacked Walker’s skills in the kitchen, and had displeased his master. Walker resolved to assist him, teaching him the art of creating the perfect fried potato.

Determined to swing the archery contest in Molly’s favor, Frank slyly lit the arrow of Jeremy Hoodrobin, the favored archer, on fire with a well-timed cantrip. Despite this, Hoodrobin managed to recover on his next two shots for the victory, and an angry Frank lit his hat aflame. The judges, however, impressed with Molly’s archery acumen, declared her an honorary second. Molly, not content with an honorary second, challenged Hoodrobin to a face-off to determine the true winner.

Agreeing to this challenge, Hoodrobin suffered through both the attempts of Frank and Fergus to get into his head through distracting cantrips, and Molly landed a clear bull’s eye for the win. Daerik and Frank collected their winnings and shared their newfound wealth with Molly – Daerik gifting her fifty gold pieces and Frank gifting fifty gold pieces and one copper piece. Frank’s obvious one-upmanship caught him the stinkeye from Daerik, which in turn caused Frank to subtract one-half a friendship point from his secret chart of friendship.

All the while, Walker and Raoulfoph had been cooking up a storm in the food tent. Walker had just put the finishing touches on a beautiful ham bouquet and shared it with the rest of the party to celebrate Molly’s victory over Hoodrobin. The party then spend the night in tent city.

The next day, they continued on the road to Brekton, following it into the narrow gulch of a dry riverbed. Hearing a noise ahead, Fergus warned the party and they readied themselves for trouble. A Bugbear, still bearing the open wounds of a recent battled, trudged past them headed in the opposite direction, warning them they did not want to continue down the path. Nevertheless, the party continued onward until the came to another portal, completely blocking their progress.

After a few false-starts, Daerik attempted to toss a roped javelin through the portal – only to have a direwolf emerge from the portal and intercept the javelin in the shoulder. The party battled the angered beast. Daerik and Walker dashed to the fore to take it out with sword and shield. Molly climbed to the top of the cart to sling arrows from the high ground, while Frank used thorn whips and slings to assault the direwolf from a distance. Fergus called down the blessing of his god on the party, boosting their attacks.

The direwolf landed a mighty blow on Daerik, falling upon his shield and viciously slashing the half-elf, who fell to the ground. Determined to save her compatriot, Molly landed an impressive shot, embedding an arrow into the direwolf’s left eye. As the creature reared back in pain, Walker took advantage and drove a sword through it’s throat, ending the beast’s life. Behind where the direwolf fell, Fergus noticed an odd orange rock, which he picked up and added to his pack. Tending to their wounds, the party rested for the night, determined to continue their journey to Brekton in the morning.

In Search of Bessie
In which three heroes search for a missing cow

As part of Captain Archibald Tramley‘s personal retinue, Daerik patrolled the grounds of Warwick’s Manor when the bellows of a distraught half-orc brought him to the stables.

A panicked Frans “Frank” Boer, Jr. could not find his beloved bovine Bessie. While Frank frantically searched the courtyard, Daerik met with his captain to secure leave from his evening rounds and assist the half-orc in his search for the missing cow. Walker Texas, who had entered the courtyard to wash his cookware at an outdoor spigot, joined the two. The party of three exited the manor’s grounds, following a curious trail of cow prints, mysterious tracks, and scorched earth.

Frank called down a flock of birds to aid in his quest to find Bessie. After exchanging some twitters and whistles, a blue jay waddled forward, carrying in his arms a fire-scorched baby robin. Frank healed the bird as best he could, and learned from him that something big, something black, and something the robin had never seen before had taken Bessie out of the stables.

Frank tucked the robin, now named Lil Frank, safely into his kit before dashing after the tracks, with Daerik and Walker reluctantly in tow. He stopped at a farm, where they interrogated a man and his two cows (named Porkchop 1, or Buttermilk, and Porkchop 2). The farmer told the party that something in the woods had spooked the cows in an unusual manner, and with that information, Frank rushed down the path into the forest.

As the trail went deeper into the forest, the foliage nearly enclosed the sky overhead. Suddenly, a goblin, maimed and bleeding, dropped down from trees and onto the trail. Daerik, fluent in the speech of goblins, tended to his wounds as the goblin told him of a terrible creature who had attacked him and his brothers. He pointed the party deeper in the woods before he fled in the opposite direction.

The dense brush opened up into a clearing, where the party saw three goblins locked in battle with a hideous aberration of a beast. Black, tentacled, clawed, with a gelatinous body and cruel spikes poking off its back, the aberration already bore the wounds of the goblins’ arrows. Behind the beast, Bessie sat, chewing her cud. Behind Bessie, a shimmering purple-black portal the led, apparently, to another dimension.

The heroes lobbed slings, arrows, and javelins at the aberration, as the goblins continued to strike with their own weapons. Wounded, the beast wrapped a tentacle around Bessie and began to retreat toward the portal. Daerik and Frank dashed up to the beast and grappled with its tentacle as Walker slew arrows from a distance. Daerik lobbed off the tentacle with his sword, as Frank wrestled the beast’s lifeless body to the ground.

The goblins retreated into the safety of the trees as the heroes surveyed the carnage. Daerik tossed a rock into the portal, which quickly closed around it and vanished. They would certainly have to tell Warwick of the mysterious aberration and the disappearing portal it guarded. Loading the severed tentacle onto Bessie’s back as evidence for the Archmage, the three heroes slowly made the trek back to the safety of Warwick’s Manor.


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