Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”
Ezekiel talked with the rescued prisoners some more on our way back to town. He figured out that the tiny elven cloak we found in the ogre’s bedding must belong to the gnome, so he returned it to him.
Apparently gnolls have been bothering the gnomes, so Mr. Prettypebbles went to spy on them…but they caught him. He couldn’t give us any hints about other hide-outs the gnolls might have, and he says the gnolls weren’t wearing the “burning eye”…so they might not even be directly related to the cult we’re hunting.
We put them up in rooms at the Welcome Wench, which is only fair since Mr. Osler is still holding rooms for us “on the house” thanks to Lydia scaring off Fernok of Ferd.
Ezekiel left Raven and me to deal with the room situation, while he and Lydia went to talk with the village elder. When they came back, all his rat-bites were completely healed – he says the Druid Master Geru was there when they visited.
Apparently nothing else exciting has happened while we were gone, except that Veluna is still looking for the Prince. They say he disappeared from inside the palace! so you can understand their consternation.
Sure hope it turns out…but also glad it’s over my head.
Ezekiel says that, since we decided to recover the armory from the Moat-house for the use of the Homlette militia, the elder will loan us a cart to make travel easier. It’s amazing what can happen when you have friends in high places, and greater resources!
When Mikael gets his Heal Light Wounds back in the morning, he’ll take care of my scratches and burns (ahem!) and we’ll get an early start.
Plenty of time before then to unload the bag of holding into our locked chest here in the room. I’m not Raven, after all…there’s a limit to how much I can lug around.
Where to start?
Yesterday dawned clear enough – cold and frosty, but no worse than to be expected for autumn. We collected the mule-cart the village elder provided and set out – Raven persuading the mules to cooperate whenever they got stubborn.
We reached the Moat-house just fine, but of course the mules couldn’t cross the draw-bridge…so we tied them up about where Kobort had left his horse.
We decided that, since the mules were borrowed and such, we might leave a guard to make sure nothing ate them – and so set Nori to take care of them.
That might have been our first mistake.
We returned to the basement, where Ezekiel tried to open the second door – the one we hadn’t been able to open yet, that Raven thought was trapped.
I think the plan was that Ezekiel would just “muscle through” whatever poison gas or something the trap gave off, while the rest of us stayed a safe distance back. But the lock was too good for Raven (he pointed out it looked new and well-oiled), so Ezekiel decided to break the door down.
That might have been our second mistake…
I’ve decided that my hatred for bugbears is very close to my hatred for goblins. They like to pad – pad – pad silently up behind you and –
Well, let’s just say that I hate them.
There were six of them. I think. I staggered under two blows while Lydia yelped as an arrow struck her.
Mikael threw out his hand to cast faery fire – slammed his staff into a bugbear so hard you could almost see the bones breaking.
I didn’t even get to attack…Just as I was about to, a rotten egg splatted across the floor, and a smell hit me like…
It was not a smell. It was a palpable manifestation of headache and nausea.
I heard Ezekiel shouting. I heard Mikael swinging his staff, and a bow twanging, and Ezekiel’s armor ringing…but nothing really registered until Raven tossed me over his shoulder out of the cloud and I found myself making friends with the floor behind the front line.
Moral: never make your magic user angry.
I felt a rush of energy as a few of my wounds closed. Lydia was waving her hands at Ezekiel to cast a spell, and while he and Raven beat on the groggy bugbears.
Mikael yelled something – I think I caught the word “Nori” – and disappeared up the basement stairs.
When I could get my feet under me without the floor rocking, I joined the others and took out two bugbears with jabs in what my old Master called “vital points.”
Like I said, I hate them.
They seemed to be coming from the ogre room (and there were more of them back there, too)…so Raven got the idea to use the door there as a choke point to funnel them to us. He must have been very excited by that idea, because he dropped his spear, and had to pick it up again before he could tell us.
I must have been excited, too, because I dropped my sword when he said that.
Ezekiel bashed a bugbear’s head in with his mace…and it was then that we started to see what was behind them.
Gnolls. They had longer weapons than the bugbears did, so while the others were killing the last bugbear, I fell back to quickly string my bow and take a shot.
One of my arrows took a gnoll right through the throat…but another quickly took his spot and gave Ezekiel a horrible cut.
Ezekiel stepped back to gulp a potion from his belt. We floundered for a moment until Raven speared one so hard he shoved it back into its companions.
I switched back to sword and cut down two more of them. Ezekiel had gotten his strength back, but the enemies seemed endless – whereas our health was not. I had plenty of cuts and bleeding wounds…and I think the gnolls hated us as much as we disliked them.
The gnolls’ outlines started to glimmer, like something in my brain was homing in on their vital organs. I realized it was faery fire…and then got a blow that sent me to the floor.
I heard Lydia swearing as she jumped up and down. I caught a glimpse of Nori leaping through the door to bite the head off a gnoll.
Ezekiel hit the ground with a yell and a clatter of armor. Mikael staunched the worst of my bleeding while Raven kept up with his high, wailing battle cries.
(Some of this is what the others tell me happened.)
Nori tackled another gnoll (possibly liquifying its innards and sucking them out…we didn’t check), and Mikael finished bandaging Ezekiel in time to finish off the last gnoll.
I think there were eight gnolls. I never bothered to count the bodies. I was focused on breathing without moving my rib cage…which is pretty complicated, especially when your arms are throbbing and don’t want to obey you.
Raven carried Ezekiel upstairs, while Lydia and Mikael handled me.
Ezekiel told me to stop being such a baby.
They set us up in the bandit room. Nori went to protect the mules again, while Raven borrowed the bag of holding to loot the gnolls (and recover my arrows if possible).
He found some coins, a lump of blue crystal, and a silver necklace with five gems that a bugbear was wearing on its arm.
Mikael cast detect magic…but none of the stuff was magical. Not even the iron ring that the gnome gave to Ezekiel.
I remember Lydia reading her spell-book by the firelight and patting my head. I wanted to tell her that made me uncomfortable, but Ezekiel would just tell me to stop whining.
I “slept” most of the rest of the day (such as I could with the pain) and watched Raven and Mikael playing knucklebones. I guess fighting for almost a half-hour straight makes you tired.
Well, thankfully nothing else exciting happened, and in the morning Mikael prayed for more healing spells…then used them on Ezekiel and me.
My cuts seemed to close, and I was at least able to carry my own weight again.
Ezekiel looked like he’d never been in battle at all. No wonder he calls me a whiner. Some people’s bodies just act differently.
Well, we checked out the armory…and it was cleared out. Not so much as a sinister cloak, or a dart forgotten behind a weapons rack.
Ezekiel said he could have guessed as much, and that was the risk we ran when we couldn’t remove the weapons right away.
I’m just frustrated that now we have to hunt down another secret hide-out…maybe there’s one on the other end of the passage in the crypts.
Whatever the case, it’s not going to get solved today. My right arm still doesn’t want to go above my shoulder, and helping to carry stuff up to the cart winded me.
Oh, yes – we did have some weapons to take back to town: nine long bows, nine battle axes, 170 arrows, and assorted morning stars – from the bugbears and gnolls. We also selected whatever bandit weapons looked to be in decent condition, and piled that onto the cart as well.
Then – since we (meaning I) still weren’t fighting fit, and the mules and cart were borrowed anyway – we returned to Homlette.
Ezekiel still looks pretty chipper. Why shouldn’t he? I guess he’ll come up with a plan for what to do next…and either way, there’s a band of gnolls and bugbears that will never pillage anybody ever again.
Lydia suggested that writing might be a calmer way to keep my arm fit, but I’m not sure she was right. The whole arm kinda hurts.
But remember: never, ever, ever make your spell casters mad at you.
Like spiders: give them treats and pats and make sure they always like you best. You’ll live longer that way.
Because, in all honesty, it takes all of us. And I think we’ve got a pretty good party right here.
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Read the start of the Homlette adventure here.
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