When last I wrote, we'd just disposed of a small but nevertheless vicious dragon polluting the water supply of Haut-Mouton.
On our return to the town, Thonk (who, you may recall, is a paladin of Bahamut) decided to settle down there and found a church. In the normal order of things I would be delighted by his devotion to our god, but to be honest I am not sure that Thonk's vision of Bahamut's wishes is quite the same as my own.
Thonk: “I'm not 'taking over', I'm cleansing.”
While we were there, Thonk talked at length with one Councillor Cordwainer, who provided documents that appeared to implicate the mayor in embezzlement from the town funds. Thonk announced that in the interests of the town's moral purity, he and the town guards would be sealing its gates indefinitely, and that those who wanted to leave had two days' grace in which to do so.
Imbezi: “If nobody's allowed to leave the town... what will they eat?”
Thonk: “Details, details.”
Now unlike Thonk (and our own esteemed parents, to whom I have also sent my love), I hold no official position in Bahamut's following, and so I am reluctant to challenge his decisions. For that reason I decided to leave quietly. However, I am sure he would want his church to enjoy close relations with the rest of Bahamut's faithful, and so I have written to several of the churches of Our Platinum Guardian on this island, notifying them of the founding of a new
It has also occurred to me that building an ornate, expensively-decorated temple to the Father of Good Dragons on the slopes of a mountain that we believe to be the home of an ancient red dragon may prove to be rather a courageous decision, and Thonk may well need the support of the rest of the faith sooner or later...
Not wanting to be caught in the town after the gates closed, we gathered our belongings together and said our goodbyes. Many of the townsfolk were also leaving (I gave some financial assistance to those who wanted to leave but could not afford to do so) and we considered escorting them back to Haut-Chevre. But there were enough of them that it seemed unnecessary, and we decided to continue around to the north, having come almost full-circle from where our exploration of the mountain began. We were joined by one of the townsfolk, a half-elf by the name of Grott LuNob who “wants to see the trees” because, according to his mother, that's where his father lives. Grott seems to be something of a jack-of-all-trades who sings, dances, and knows a little magic; he also has both a semi-tame wolf and a hawk, which to my relief seem to get along with Ilde's dog Lightning.
We set off to the north; the grass near Haut-Mouton was green and thick, but as we walked on it got thinner and thinner, and the path led us into a great black wasteland, quite desolate (although still beautiful in its own way) and almost bereft of life. Often the only sound to be heard was the crunch of our boots on rock, a soft rumbling from the ground, and Ilde singing some cheery dwarvish marching songs.
Around midday, we saw a cloud of dust up ahead. As we got closer, we saw a largish creature with several smaller ones following it; closer again, and we saw it was a rather well-dressed orc leading several kobolds in rags, bound with ropes. We talked to both the orc and the kobolds (Osh, of course, speaks Orcish), and learned that the kobolds had been sentenced to seven years of indentured labour for a series of thefts and other larcenies. I was not entirely comfortable with this – it seems a little too like slavery for my liking – but I reluctantly let it pass, especially since most of my companions seemed more likely to take the orc's part than the kobolds'. We were also interested in what the orc had to tell us: he had seen a war party of ogres and other creatures heading towards Haut-Mouton, and wanted to stay ahead of them.
We had no interest in returning to Haut-Mouton, so we continued along the path, arguing about what to do about these ogres. Some of my companions were in favour of leaving them for Thonk to deal with, but for all that his style of government bothers me, I felt this might be rather hard on the townsfolk (at least, those who remained). This discussion became all the more pressing as we saw a larger cloud of dust up ahead; eventually we decided to get off the path and see how many there were before we formed a plan. Uphill of the road (and indeed downhill too), the landscape was heavily strewn with rocky rubble and the occasional volcanic vent, and we spread out in cover overlooking the road. Borgun was forwards – perhaps a little too far forwards – with myself about thirty feet back, then Norton behind me, and then the others clustered behind some large boulders.
Ilde: “Do ogres wear straw hats?”
Osh: “Yes, they all go to private schools.”
We counted around a dozen creatures approaching on the road, half of them roughly human-sized and half a fair bit bigger. As we soon discovered the hard way, they also had a few kobolds scouting ahead through the rubble; I heard something whizz past my ear and an angry yelp from Norton as a stone struck him.
The ogres and orcs (for such they were) were still clustered close together, but Norton was inexplicably reluctant to unleash his fireballs at them. Given his eagerness some days earlier to hit just one or two foes when I was in amongst them, I was a little baffled by this. I had my crossbow handy and skewered the kobold, and Ilde shot another (at much longer range) with her longbow.
Up ahead, I heard Borgun moving deeper into the rubble, and then there was an ominous 'squish' noise followed by the sight of a startled-looking kobold head rolling down the slope until it reached the path. Downhill we saw the last of the kobolds fleeing amongst the rocks, but Ilde fired again at a barely-visible target – perhaps a hundred and fifty feet away – and from the fountain of blood that resulted, I'm fairly sure she managed to hit him.
The ogres and orcs had begun to scatter, and (after being yelled at by the rest of us) Norton finally released his fireball, catching some of the ogres. All kept coming, but some of them looked a little singed. With the kobolds no longer threatening us, I was able to get a better count of our enemies: half a dozen orcs, five ogres, and one large blue-skinned ogre who seemed to be the leader.
They had all taken cover and were working through the debris towards us, but Ilde nevertheless killed an orc at long range when he stuck his head out from behind a rock (I am beginning to suspect she might be an elf in disguise), and as Norton picked off a couple of orcs with magic Ilde winged one of the ogres.
Osh: “Who do you think I am, Sisyphus?”
Osh, who had been standing in cover waiting patiently for the enemy to close (and trying to work out whether he could roll a giant rock on them – sadly the answer was no), suddenly remembered the crossbow he'd been carrying around and started firing. I was still sniping at the ogres with mine, but hadn't managed to hit anything since the first kobold.
I was probably the most visible of us all – I was wearing my bright yellow shirt, the one with the blue rings on it – and the ogre leader drew a bow taller than me and took a shot in my direction, but I sidestepped and the arrow smashed into the rocks behind me; he tried some form of enchantment, but I shrugged that off too. Meanwhile, Norton had downed an ogre, and Ilde had skewered another orc.
Borgun had been skirting around, uphill of the ogres, trying to flank them. I don't want to speak ill of him, but this was perhaps not the best strategy. We had the high ground, and the same rocks that gave the ogres some cover were also slowing them down, giving us plenty of time to pick them off before they got near us. (Having seen the size and power of those creatures, keeping our distance seemed like a perfectly good strategy to me.) Evidently they had noticed him, and an orc started uphill towards him (falling almost immediately with one of Ilde's arrows in his chest), followed by an ogre.
Looking for the blue ogre, I lost him for a moment, and then realised there was a cloud of fog moving uphill that looked suspiciously ogre-shaped. I shot at it unsuccessfully, but Norton hit it with a bolt of acid that was able to harm it even in that dispersed state. The ogre solidified again, and attempted more magic, but seemed too distracted by the acid to complete its spell. To my left, two of the ogres were getting near our position, but Osh (who had finally figured out how to work his crossbow) shot one down, and as the other moved closer to me Grott caught him with a spell that sent him into paroxysms of uncontrollable laughter. As he lay on the ground, Bimp finished him off with a burst of bright light.
With the immediate threats gone, I looked to my right again and was alarmed at what I saw. Borgun had broken cover, and charged the nearest ogre. The ogre whacked him with a club the sise of a small tree, sending him reeling, and I knew Borgun was in a lot of trouble – out in the open, all alone, and with both the ogre and their leader nearby. I dropped my crossbow and ran as fast as I could through the broken terrain, ducking inside the ogre's guard, and was able to knock it out with a solid kick (I won't say where).
I thought I'd managed to save Borgun's bacon, but I think the ogre's club must have caught him on the head and addle his senses. As I turned to face the approaching ogre leader – thinking we could probably fall back and hold him off until our friends were able to come to our aid - Borgun yelled incoherently and charged him. Last time, he had been clubbed for his pains, but the blue ogre was carrying a greatsword, and when I saw the blow knock Borgun down I knew he would not be getting up again.
Behind me, Osh had confronted the other remaining ogre with his axe; Osh suffered some broken ribs, but the ogre came out much worse, and Ilde picked off the last orc as he fled. I was unaware of any of this at the time, since with Borgun down the ogre chief turned his attention to me and charged. He swung his sword low, and I had to jump to avoid losing my feet at the ankles.
Norton had been preparing a spell, and while it came too late to help Borgun, I was glad of the backup: a giant beetle appeared behind the ogre, and as he swiped at me again – this time, I ducked – it squirted a foul-smelling goo at him. I don't think it got through the creature's thick skin – I kicked the ogre in the kneecap, with no noticeable result – but the distraction was welcome all the same.
At around the same time, Grott cast another spell that coated the ground under the ogre with a slick grease; he floundered a bit for footing, scrabbled, and tripped. As he tried to stand, I kicked him hard in the throat and then slammed my elbow into the back of his head, leaving him unconscious.
I ran over to Borgun, but it was clear that he was beyond our help; I very much wish he had not charged that second ogre (or, indeed, the first one). Even as we looked, we saw the blue ogre's wounds beginning to heal, and he began to stir; Norton hit him with a jet of flame to keep him down, and then we pitched him into one of the nearby vents, where the fires of the earth finished the job for us.
Bimp was carrying a necromantic scroll that let us speak with Borgun's departed spirit and ascertain his wishes. He told us that he wanted to be cremated, along with his equipment (Bimp seemed rather disappointed at this), and then the spell ended.
There remained the question of what to do with his gold. Ilde was insistent that since Borgun was a dwarf, he would want his money to go to the benefit of his fellow dwarves – she seemed to have rather forgotten her usual dislike of her own people – and I agreed that we would donate it to some reputable dwarvish charity.
We cast Borgun into the vent, and then did the same with our fallen enemies before setting up camp for the night.
Osh: “A kobold sling?”
Imbezi: “That sounds like a mocktail.”
Osh: “Better than a long slow kobold against the wall.”