Dabashi+PCs discuss Mamdani’s blackmail, make vague alliance
PCs battle various forms of terrifying nature and kill it all
PCs spot cyclops+wolf leaving a cave shaped like a petrified purple worm
XP: 2800 each
2000 gp worth of magic materials (from the giant beetles)
5000 gp worth of magic materials (from the owlbears – claws, eyes, spleen)
and hopefully the following detail
Investigate the missing Azin scouts: incomplete
Stop the poaching for the Azin: incomplete
Delivery Bondini to Faaz: incomplete
Return Parda Pardo’s lost shield to him: complete/sold to Mario Tasso in Pitax
Find the location of the Cyclop+wolf: incomplete (is that their lair of a temporary stop?)
Loose ends regarding Abelie’s attack on the Irovetti warehouse: incomplete
As the party exits Mamdani’s Dabashi angrily challenges Kor, accusing him of stealing a Halouk heirloom (the newly received axe from Mamdani) and then threatens Mamdani with “action by the council at the next convocation.” Mamdani, in his typically diplomatic way, tells Dabashi that his junior status means he is totally out of line in challenging him and that he will do as he pleases.
Dabashi angrily escorts the PCs out of Il’Halouk, and at a distance from the city pauses to explain to the PCs that they should not do business with Mamdani, that he is breaking traditions and possibly laws that they don’t understand. The PCs decide to tell Dabashi some of their secret dealings with Mamdani – he is blackmailing them, using them as errand boys. The party keeps the specific details of the blackmail secret from Dabashi, however. Dabashi tells them that until he has more specific understanding of Mamdani’s greater goals, and evidence of his lawbreaking, he will abstain from confronting him at the council.
The PCs travel through Azin lands towards Hungerdark. At night Jurik has a recurring dream where he stands on a hill on the edge of a forest, looking down at terrain that closely resembles the Hippogriff’s hill. On the other side of the hill, Jurik sees a wandering greenwood, one of the menacing, traveling stands of trees that drift through the Uplands. In the greenwood is a 5 or 6 hexagonal story tower, made entirely of bone. It is not tall enough to be the tower the observed a few days back at a distance.
In the Azin lands, the PCs encounter the huntsinger Antellia Azini and briefly chat with her. She confirms evidence of a cyclops and a very large wolf in the Mt Branthlend foothills, near the last location poacher’s traps. The PCs report that they killed some, but not all of the poachers and Antellia confirms that most of the traps are no longer in evidence. However, a week ago she sent two Azin scouts, Robiya and Fazul further the foothills to make sure the poachers hadn’t simply moved their operations, and neither scout has been heard from since. The PCs tell her they’ll keep an eye open, but that they must hurry along.
The party opts to make another trip into the poacher’s operating area, adding a few days to their trip back to Hungerdark.
As the foothills begin, Desi spots a number of felled trees, in what appears to be the beginning of a structure. The party takes up defensive positions as Desi searches around the ground for tracks, eventually finding plenty of evidence of some gigantic beetle, numbers uncertain. The number of beetles becomes more certain when, over the course of a few seconds, the party is rushed by four 800 lb, flying slicer beetles. Kor is, at one point, downed by the gigantic beasts, but judicious application of Jurik’s healing wand keeps him in the fight and in the hands of the fierce barbarian, the Halouk axe inflicts terrible wounds. The party snips and takes the mandibles from the beetles, as they are on Mamdani’s list of ingredients for magic weapons+armor, etc.
While watching the camp that night, Desi spots the eyes of a lynx in the darkness of the woods and moves to approach, but the eyes disappear. The following morning she decides to lead the party along the tracks of the cat, with the murmured justification of “kitty!” Luckily, the tracks seem to be headed in the direction of the poacher’s operating grounds, so it’s not a big deal.
What is a big deal is as the party travels, they encounter some petrified animals, with the scratched tracks of a large chicken around – sure signs of at least one cockatrice. Opting to not get turned into stone, the party detours, first southeast, and then back towards the northwest, moving up into the steeper foothills and lower edges of Mt Branthlend. As the party moves up a particularly difficult portion of the hills, Jurik spots an fearsome, 10 foot tall Owlbear a few hundred feet behind the party.
Moving as quickly as stealth will allow, the party attempts to get into cover and up the hill they’re climbing. The owlbears appear to be moving towards them, though. Setyiel and Kor spot a cave opening with large feathers around it, and correctly assume that the owlbears go in there. They decide it would probably be unsafe to go in, and keep moving up the hill.
As the owlbears speed up their charge towards the PCs, two juvenile owlbears burst from the cave and chase after Setyiel and Kor.
A debate erupts at this moment, about whether or not it is legal or right to destroy magical beasts such as the owlbear. A spirited debate erupts, with Kor strongly objecting and saying the party should flee rather than break the laws of Al’Halouk, and the rest of the party’s generally chaotic nature and solid argument that they are probably not on Halouk land and anyways, who is gonna ever know about it? finally winning the day.
The party fights the owlbears with great spirit and courage. The GM is genuinely afraid that he has made a mistake and that at least one PC is going to die, but the PCs are both aggressive and lucky once the fight begins. The owlbears claws miss time and time again, and Kor is able to singlehandedly stall the two mature owlbears long enough for Setyiel and Desi to kill the juveniles. Near the end of the fight, Jurik, inspired by Kor’s courage, remembers to inspire courage.
The owlbears are defeated and their lair is investigated. Near a dead end with a small (too small for any but tiny humanoids) watery tunnel, Setyiel hears distant voices echoeing through the tunnel. Jurik moves up and recognizes the language- giant.
He overhears two voices, presumably both Cyclops (later revealed to be a cyclops and a winter wolf) discussing their predicament. They have a few simple goals in life: find a way to free Ra and Orr (the Cyclops enslaved by the Kerrekk’Adarr at Hungerdark), then wreak havoc on the Kerrekk’Adarr in revenge, and also take some revenge on a few specific Manticore “betrayers”. They don’t know how they’ll accomplish the task, though the more dominant voice says that if they hadn’t killed and eaten all the spriggans, maybe they could have got those tricky fellows to free them. Or perhaps they could find some other spriggans and pay them with “spriggan stuff”. But they don’t trust spriggans, or the Azin, for that matter.
The PCs exit the owlbear lair and do some tracking, eventually spotting a curious sight:
out of the side of Mt Branthlend, concealed by years of vegetation, is the petrified front 20 feet of a gigantic worm (a purple worm, to be precise). The cyclops and the wolf are spotted, at about 1/2 mile (and upwind of the party), exiting the mouth of the worm. As the party watches the two of them, the giant duo heads into the woods as the sun begins to set. The wolf ranges ahead, moving stealthily. The cyclops clomps along behind at a short distance, massive crossbow at the ready and axe on his back.
The party returns to the owlbear’s cave, hauling the corpses inside and hacking off the valuable portions of the beasts and relying on the remaining smell of the owlbear to prevent monsters from wandering into the cave.