Fangberries for Bokken…
After resting just a couple of days after our most recent encounter with the Kobolds, we (Poog, Zirul, Ganon, and I) set out in search of Bokken, a hermit of a man who lived just east of Oleg’s. It was this Bokken fellow whom Oleg recommended that we seek out because Bokken was known for making and selling potions. Considering that we had the daunting task of overcoming the fortress of The Stag Lord, we all thought it best to see Bokken’s wares.
Upon reaching the rather humble abode of Bokken, we were greeted by a rather eccentric, unkempt man. He informed us that he did in fact have potions that would help our assault of The Stag Lord’s Fort. Bokken also offered to give our group a 30% discount off of the top if we could get him some Fangberries. Potions are expensive in cost. If saving roughly a third of the cost meant this small chore, we all figured that it would be well worth our time.
Spiders, big and small…
Unfortunately for us, however, our trip to get to the Fangberry bush was not as peaceful as we otherwise would have preferred. We came upon a rather large, and very angry, Owlbear. We tried to avoid it by giving it a wide berth, but it was extremely territorial. This unavoidable fight was no easy encounter as it managed to bite into Ganon’s neck and also grab me in a bear hug. Thinking the end was near, Zirul saved me from being crushed to death in a feathery bear hug as his arrows sunk directly into the Owlbear’s back with a resounding double “THWUMP!” And, as my luck would have it, the Owlbear fell forward dead, and with me underneath. Shaking my head, spitting out a mouthful of feathers, I was thankful that Zirul’s sniping abilities have become far more accurate and deadly since we first encountered bandits together at Oleg’s Trading Post.
The very next day of our trip, we came upon a very large trapdoor spider’s lair. Fortunately for us, we could see it clear as day as it made a little bit too much noise as we happened by. Perhaps it was too eager for a meal. Deciding that it might be best to take care of this large vermin, rather than to leave it alive to make prey of unsuspecting travelers and merchants, I had Zirul fire a warning shot in its direction. If the Owlbear encounter were any indication that Zirul’s sniping prowess were vastly improved, then this very unlikely shot (which was meant to be more of a warning) hit the spider directly in its face, of which it was barely revealing any as it lay mostly hidden and concealed underground, barely peaking out of it’s trapdoor. Screeching in pain, the giant spider retreated back into its lair.
When we finally came upon the Fangberry bushes, it was completely covered in spiderwebs and crawling with spiders. The use of fire was my initial thought in getting rid of the spiderwebs and the spiders, but that would likely only result in the burning of the Fanberry bushes as well. This is where Ganon proved he could rectify a potentially dangerous situation through the simple use of one of Nature’s most powerful elements: water. He merely uttered a few prayers and there was a torrent of water that washed over the Fangberry bushes, completely flushing the spiders out altogether. We were then able to pick the Fangberries at our leisure.
On our return trip to Bokken’s to deliver his Fangberries, we encountered a lycanthrope. It was a werewolf.
During my watch, I was startled by the sounds of howling. Initially I had dismissed it as wolves simply being wolves, but when the howling became ever closer and more urgent, I thought it best to awake my companions. Zirul and Ganon noted that the howling sounded unlike any other wolf that had ever heard. Still, there could be no denying that something was howling and coming closer towards us.
As we scanned our surroundings, a werewolf did in fact get the jump on us. Well, it got the jump on Poog, to be more accurate. The cursed thing bit into Poog’s shoulder, causing our poor goblin friend to yell in anguished pain. Zirul and Ganon took to their positions while Ganon’s wolf companion and I met the lycanthrope toe-to-toe. Zirul had hit the werewolf with at least 10 arrows, and accurately too, but I could clearly see that the arrows were having very little effect as the werewolf showed no signs of being seriously injured.
What could it be? Do werewolves have naturally superior armor? This particular werewolf was already well-protected by a suit of mail, but such a thing seldom gave us this much trouble. Then it dawned on me. Werewolves, lycanthropes in general, had a weakness for silver. If trying to attack a lycanthrope with anything other than silver (or holy), such attacks would be largely ineffective.
Cursing my carelessness for being so ill-prepared for facing such a beast, I did my best to Smite him, but I missed completely. Had the heavens forsaken me? I landed a couple more blows with my blade, but the werewolf merely shrugged them off. After incapacitating Ganon’s wolf, it turned its entire attention on me. I didn’t last very long against its onslaught, as I could not hope to match the werewolf blow-for-blow. It would only be a matter of time before I fell. And fell I did, but not before seeing a woman heavily armed and armored (and bearing religious emblems similar to mine) burst out of the forest and come to our aid.
When I awoke, this mysterious woman was kneeling over me, saying a prayer, and healing my wounds. I stood up, wincing in pain, but noticed that the werewolf lay dead. Thanking our woman savior, I introduced myself. She in turn introduced herself and told me that she was a fellow worshiper of Iomedae and that she had a vision to come find me, and to follow me. Her name was Aurora, and she was an Oracle. I was completely taken aback by this revelation, but I welcomed her companionship no less. Once we actually started establishing a city, we would need all the trustworthy allies we could get.
The Stag Lord’s Fort…
After we had given Bokken his much desired Fangberries we set off towards the Stag Lord’s fort, with 1 invisibility potion purchased (using our new 30% discount of course). While Aurora said she had visions of following me, she decided to stay behind with Bokken for personal reasons.
En route to the Stag Lord’s fort, we came across a dilapidated bridge with a sign that read, “Nettle’s Crossing”. The sign further instructed that the bell be rung in order to gain services for crossing the bridge, albeit at a cost of 4 coppers. Seeing no ferryman of any sort nearby, we decided to ring the bell anyway. What we did see came as completely unexpected as a zombie-like man emerged from the river, and made his way towards us. Readying ourselves for a fight, the zombie man showed no desire for combat but instead proclaimed that the body of the Stag Lord be thrown into his river, that his suffering come to an end. And with that, he disappeared back into the rivers depths.
Finally approaching the Stag Lord’s fort, the situation remained the same – zombies mindless guarding the front gates, while archers were positioned in the three towers of the fort itself. We had Zirul consume the invisibility potion. Ganon then cast Spider Climb onto Zirul as well. Zirul was to sneak up and deal with the Archers while the rest of the main body, comprised of the rest of us, attacked in a frontal assault. Ganon would case a cloud that he and Poog would use as cover, while I veered off obliquely, dispatching as many zombies as I could while also drawing the attention of the archers.
Execution of our battle plan went quite smoothly as I was able to dispatch two zombies, Zirul was able to scale the fortress walls and open the main gate from the inside, and all the while Ganon and Poog were able to get inside the fort completely unscathed from the zombies and archers. I was the last one inside, and once I was past the thresh hold of the main gate, I closed it behind me, leaving the zombies isolated outside and us having just the fort’s inhabitants to deal with.
The Stag Lord Himself…
Now that we were inside, secured from the zombies outside, we could focus our attention on the Stag Lord and his henchmen. With Zirul above still dealing with the remaining archers (as well as whomever else was up there), that left us with a caged Owlbear. As luck would have it, the Owlbear was released to meet us, and on no friendly terms either. I spotted towards the rear of the fort a sinister looking man who quickly disappeared around the corner. Charging forward to meet the Owlbear head on, no sooner had I connected with my first blow, another man, armed and armored quite similarly to me came out to meet us in combat.
While engaging the Owlbear and the other knight, the sinister looking man I had seen earlier revealed himself again, this time on our rear, attacking Poog from behind. Amidst fighting the Owlbear and the knight, I tried to reason with the knight because I could sense no evil emanating from him. He refused any form of reason I had presented and simply fought on.
We took the Owlbear down, but Ganon and his wolf suffered serious injuries. Fortunately, it was at this time Zirul was able to join the fight and help us, shooting his deadly arrows from above. No sooner had we dispatched the knight, the Stag Lord himself showed up, shooting arrows directly my way, striking me directly in the chest. I faltered and fell, my body weak from the many injuries it had sustained, but I was still conscious, albeit somewhat. Shortly after, I could see from the corner of my eye, Ganon falling and his wolf running away. We were in desparate straights indeed.
The world was becoming dim to me and just when I thought I would succumb to the cold blackness completely, Poog rushed over to my side and forced one of his potions down my gullet. I could feel the strength restoring itself to my muscles. Getting up, I muttered a few prayers, calling upon Iomedae to grant me the strength necessary to see this battle through. Stepping forward to the Stag Lord, I rushed him with all of my might, arrows sailing past my ear as Zirul continued to keep firing. He must have taken care of that sinister fellow. That meant it was just the Stag Lord and us. With numbers alone, we were certain to win.
After a bitter final battle, we won the day, but not without being completely exhausted and injured. We saw that there was a door leading further down, but we decided to rest a bit before continuing further. After all, we were secure and safe within the confines of the fort.
Resting for a few hours, we regained our strength and descended to the tunnels underneath the fort. This area seemed to be where the bandits stored their ill-gotten goods. As we explored this underground area, a goblin of some sort ambushed us from above. Somehow able to cling to the ceiling, it called forth a giant ant to attack us on the ground while it fired at us from above. These two proved little problems for us as we dispatched of both of them rather quickly.
Confident that we had finally secured the fort in its entirety, we opened the gates and vanquished what zombies remained outside. Shortly after, we decided to take the Stag Lord’s body to Nettle’s Crossing where we were able to lay the angry spirit to rest, and it left us with a magical polearm – a Guisarme.
Searching the bodies and the fort itself, we came upon a plethora of coin, gems, arms & armor, potions, jewelry, horses, supplies, and just about everything that the Stag Lord and his minions had accumulated during their reign of terror.
Their reign of terror ceased, we decided that we would start the beginnings of a settlement using the late Stag Lord’s fort as our base of operations. It is a very defensible structure that has many geographical advantages – it lays atop a hill, is adjacent to a ready source of water, and is near a forest, which would satiate our needs for lumber and wild game.
Maybe we could get Oleg, Svetlana, and Kessen & his guard company to help us stabilize the region. Restoring the Temple of the Elk could also be a future project as it is in a very defensible location as well. Utilizing our newly acquired fort, in conjunction with Oleg’s Trading Post, which in its own right is a fort, as well as The Temple of the Elk, we have unlimited potential!
Connecting the 3 points and getting them to work together will be the first goal towards region stabilization.