Episode 14: ?/?/09
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve Floret, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5
Xikar, human cleric/5
[Note: It’s been a long time since we’ve run this campaign, and a new player has joined the group. Since it’s been so long, we just dropped his new character right into the story as though he’d been there all along.]
As we finish exploring the small tomb, we’re set upon by more orcs and goblins. Some of these orc leaders are incredibly strong, and this is a really tough and lengthy fight. After the battle, we return to check on our convicts and Astrid. One of the convicts managed to kill an escaping goblin, and they all start complaining about being taken, shackled and unarmed, through goblin-infested forests. Led by a man called Black Bart, they start to raise a ruckus, but we manage to quell the mutinous dogs.
It’s now evening, so we camp at the shrine for the night. We spend half of the next day reinterring the exhumed remains and directing the convicts to bury the bodies of the orcs and goblins. Around mid-afternoon, we head in the direction of the hunting lodge.
Before long, we hear the distant sounds of woodcutting. Wary of what me way find in this orc-infested territory, I scout ahead and discover an orc, goblin and ogre logging operation. They appear to be erecting a roadblock on a part of the trail that leads through a gorge. I report back to the group and we prepare to crash their party.
Sarek sneaks up to the top of the gorge and kicks things off with a Fireball. We all scramble up the roadblock (eventually). Tamclar maims the ogre erecting the roadblock, but he eventually escapes, limping off into the woods as we turn our attention to the veritable swarm of orcs that’s threatening to overcome us. It’s a very tough fight, but at last, the final orc falls.
Victorious, we press on and come to a clearing in the forest. It seems quiet. Too quiet. As we’re looking around, we notice blood on the grass. Upon closer inspection, I recognize the tracks of a limping ogre! Buoyed by the prospect of finishing off the wounded ogre, we walk right into a trap – literally! Tamclar steps right into a bear trap and can’t move.
Suddenly, goblin archers appear in the woods nearby. I work on freeing Tamclar while the others battle the goblin menace. Through the confusion, I hear several orcs and an ogre running through the forest towards our convicts! I shout a warning and Xikar, Nineve and I take off to help. Sarek (who doesn’t care about convicts), Haroldur and Tamclar(who don’t run very fast) stay behind to finish off the goblins.
While we rescue the convicts, Haroldur steps into another bear trap! Fortunately, Tamclar mightily pries it open and frees the unlucky cleric. We manage to save all but one of the convicts. During the fight, Black Bart helped us out by strangling an orc with his bare hands. After this, I seriously consider lending Bart my longsword, Aernin, Rite of Law, but after much deliberation, and dissenting opinions from the party, I decide against. We bury the bodies of the deceased and set up camp for the night. That evening, we use up the last of the food for the prisoners…
In the morning, we press on to the hunting lodge, hoping to at least find supplies. As we approach the lodge, we hear the steady sound of wood chopping coming from the barn. The path leading up to the lodge is littered with bear traps, and Nineve almost steps in one! We approach cautiously and are set upon by 2 goblin wolf riders and some orcs. We’re in a bad spot – all spread out, so this fight is tougher and longer than it needs to be. The wolf riders escape into the woods, but instead of being angry, we’re just glad to be rid of them. We’ve really got our hands full with the orcs.
Suddenly, we notice the chopping noises coming from the barn begin to be punctuated by cries for mercy, and we all have a sick feeling that whoever’s in there isn’t cutting up firewood. We finish off the last of the orcs and hurry over to the barn.
The area is littered with body parts, strung up or nailed to trees, the building, anything convenient. The outside of the barn is covered in orc graffiti, written in blood. The front of the barn has doors which open out from a second story hayloft. Haroldur decides to use his clockwork wings to try to jump through the doors into the loft. The rest of us quite sensibly elect to go around to the other side of the barn, where the doors are on the ground floor.
We burst onto a grotesque scene. In the corner are crudely constructed cages. Some are empty. One contains a terrified human teenage boy and a man with a dirty, bandaged stump where his left foot should have been. Another contains a strange looking dog, which seems very upset. The interior of the barn is littered with body parts. Bits of several dismembered corpses are everywhere, and I do mean bits – it appears the ogres have been taking their victims’ limbs off a few inches at a time. In the center of the barn is a bloody chopping block. A recently-deceased human is tied to it, surrounded by three ogres. One of them holds a bloody cleaver.
Both parties spend a silent moment staring open-mouthed at each other in shock (and for us, revulsion). The sound of Haroldur futilely flinging himself against the closed hayloft doors (again) snaps us out of it, and we wade in. The ogres are brutal, but we fight savagely, enraged and horrified by the gristly things which have happened here.
Sarek throws down a fireball, which drives the ogres into a frenzy. In retaliation, the ogre with the cleaver attempts to hurl it at us, but misses! The cleaver sails from the ogre’s hand and somehow boomerangs directly into his stomach! He promptly starts bleeding to death. We capitalize on this opportunity to finish one of the ogres off quickly. As we’re cutting down the accidental seppuku-ist, Sarek casts Tasha’s Hideous Laughter on one of the remaining ogre threats. What Sarek lacks in cross-cultural understanding he makes up for in obscene gestures, and the ogre collapses to the floor in gales of laughter. I rush in and tickle his kidneys with my swords while the rest of the party deals with the last ogre, who has decided to leave the barn all of a sudden.
As he’s making his exit, he receives some parting shots from Tamclar and Nineve. They’re not enough to take him down, however, and he runs outside the barn… calling for his ‘mammy’? Our curiosity piqued, we all peer outside the barn. We look on in horror as “Mammy”, aka the most grotesque, obscene and unnatural creature we have ever seen, erupts from the lodge.
Her thin, stringy hair is pasted to her head and face in sweaty black mats. She is wearing a dirty, ratty red sarong, which, although it must’ve been fashioned from a giant’s bedsheets, is woefully inadequate to cover her enormous bulk. Purple scars and boils mar her dull, blubbery flesh. She looks as if she smells like week-old dead fish. I am suddenly glad that we are upwind.
She begins to loudly berate her son in a voice that is somewhere between a belch and a raspy cackle. Terrified, the wounded ogre starts to run off. Around this time, she notices us. Tamclar very sensibly takes the opportunity to shoot the fleeing ogre in the back with his trusty crossbow, which finishes him off.
She lurches towards us, vomiting zombies in a spray of sticky spittle. Xikar bravely wades in, and casts Bleeding Touch out the foul she-beast. Unfortunately, she takes exception to this assault, and chomps him! As she munches thoughtfully on her bite of cleric flesh, the hapless victim wriggles away and escapes to a safe distance. Sarek Webs the ogre matron just as her zombie minions close in on Haroldur, who has stopped jumping at the hay loft doors and re-joined the action. Haroldur and Sarek handle the zombies while the rest of us shoot at the trapped ogre matron from a distance. She struggles futilely in the Web while we pepper her with arrows. Drawing on her impressive size and strength, she eventually breaks free of the Web, but to no avail. Weakened by her struggle, she finally collapses under our onslaught. Victory is ours!