‘Follow the mooing my friends for that way lies our freedom.’ - Osric
|A cow. They become important to the story later.|
The dockside tavern teemed with people. The troubadour deftly navigated through the crowd till he reached a table upon which he leapt. He then removed his feathered cap that he waved in the air calling “Gather round good people. Come hear the latest exploits of the West Wood Warriors.” Folk looked up from their cups and a crowd quickly gathered eager to hear news.
“Will there be puppets?” asked an old crone. “I like puppets.”
“Alas fair maiden, there shall be no puppets, though my trained capuchin monkey shall accompany the tale with music.” At that the troubadour’s monkey produced a tiny mandolin that it strummed with a tuneless twang.
“The West Wood Warriors had returned Lord Winthrop’s son from the clutches of a saucy Verbeeg shamaness. And yet the slaying of the Verbeeg chieftain had not stopped their raids on our Northern trade routes. The Verbeeg continued to raid feeling safe in their mountain fortress. This would not stand. While the merchants begged the city to act it fell upon our brave heroes to once again venture forth and teach these hulking interlopers a lesson.”
The crowd that had gathered let out a resounding cheer. The exploits of the West Wood Warriors proved popular fodder for the bards of the city. Soon all eyes and ears in the tavern were turned towards the troubadour.
“Once more they ascended the mountain and entered through the entrance concealed by the blasphemous toad idol. Where once moving the malevolent stone toad had proved troublesome, now it was a simple task for Ugh.”
“Why’s that then?” asked the crone. “I heard Ugh aint got much in the way of muscles despite being a son of an orc.”
“It’s true my lady, that Ugh was once considered scrawny but no longer. For he possessed gauntlets of ogre strength, claimed as a reward for the rescue of Lord Winthrop’s son. And so he tossed aside the stone toad idol and descended into the Verbeeg lair.”
“Once again the sneak Milgos crept ahead like a stealthy alley cat. He approached a toad relief inscribed on which was mysterious script which the learned human deciphered with ease.”
“I heard Milgos was an elf. And a dark one at that.” again the crone called out.
“You are behind the times madam. Milgos perished in dragon fire but his soul found a new receptacle in the body of a human. As I was saying the scrawl about the toad relief instructed the reader worship the toad in some fashion, which Milgos did by flicking a coin of considerable worth at the portal. Much to his surprise the coin vanished within the portal never to be seen again, claimed by some dark god. Ugh, known for his impatience, approached the portal and began pushing and kicking it hoping to reveal a secret door. An ominous rumble saw his companions scramble away but not Ugh. The half orc continued to pound the wall till it amazingly vanished! In its place was a torrent of grey murky water that now rushed over Ugh sending him crashing into a shallow chasm. The torrent of water soon eased up and Ugh was fished out from the chasm only to find that he had no recollection of who he was or even why he was there.”
“He was there to fight Verbeeg!” called out the crone.
“Which the band pointed out to their amnesia struck companion. But it was for naught. The warrior was scared and confused and wanted to go home. Osric the half elf struck on the plan to fool the warrior into thinking that they would lead him out ‘back the way they had came.’ When in reality they would lead the fighter deeper into the dungeon.”
“They skirted the terrible room full of beetles both normal and fungal infected. These beetles waged an eternal battle on the walls, floor and ceiling of the chamber. Osric’s surviving war shrews took no interest in the feast before them knowing the insects to be poisonous.”
|Shrooms are both sentient and potentially tasty.|
“Later, while Ugh heaved aside a rusted portcullis, the group was assailed by mushroom men. Milgos the wise webbed the fleshy shroom folk in place through eldritch sorceries and the band set about peppering them with arrows. One by one the shroom men fell limp in the web till their leader was all that remained. Here the tale becomes confused as Ugh and Osric both swear that the final shroom offered an arrogant parley, which he relayed through telepathy. As Milgos’ henchwoman Betty had not heard the psychic treaty she continued to pepper the web creature with arrows till Ugh and Osric heard its anguished psionic death scream. Loot was acquired and Ugh had to be dissuaded from consuming the sentient shroom men.”
“While there were many unexplored tunnels the group returned to the area in which they felt the Verbeeg laired. Verbeeg guards soon met them. Once again Milgos tried to convince them of the presence of an invisible deity. These Verbeeg were not to be shaken from their rock worshipping faith and combat soon eventuated. In the narrow confines of the tunnels the Verbeeg countered the bands numbers and inflicted grievous wounds on Betty before falling. The bands priestess, Jana soon had the indomitable warrior woman patched up and ready for more.”
Not long after they chanced upon a lowing sound. Osric recognized it as cattle for he is a ranger and rangers now the call of all animals, cows just so happened to be a really easy to recognise. He relayed this critical information to the party ‘Follow the mooing my friends for that way lies our freedom.’ Ignoring other avenues of exploration the party pressed on towards the sound of cows and was rewarded for in a large hall they found the herd. A grand fireplace dominated the hall. It was shaped like a toad with its maw like hearth merrily blazing away. The toad’s eyes glistened in the firelight and appeared to be valuable gems.
Then there was a hue and cry ‘Thieves! They are stealing our cows!’ Which was rich coming from the Verbeeg seeing as they mercilessly raided the trade routes. Four fur-clad brutes came lumbering from an adjoining chamber and were quickly crushed by the heroes. Ugh then went on to have a rich conversation with the Verbeeg’s hounds but was unable to convince them to accompany him back down the mountain. Milgos saw through the illusion of the toad fireplaces glistening gem eyes. He then determined that the illusion was the trigger to an elaborate crushing trap.”
“Imagine, dear audience, that you were suddenly sealed in a room. Now initially there is plenty of room but you share the space with a herd of nervous cattle. Now imagine that the walls are slowly grinding their way inwards. The cattle become panicked and stampede in the limited space available. You have to begin cutting them down to avoid being trampled. While you do this space becomes more and more limited. Cramped, you struggle in vain to find a way out. But your avarice, your seizing the illusionary gem, has sealed your fate. The walls crash together crushing your bones to jelly, your flesh to paste. We are indeed fortunate dear listeners that our heroes did not trigger this trap.”
“Having inflicted another sound thrashing upon their Verbeeg foes the band set forth down the mountain, for indeed the grand cow hall had served as an entrance to the Verbeeg lair. Our heroes returned once more to our fair city.” And with the tale told the crowd returned to their cups though many a coin found its way into the troubadours feathered cap that the capuchin monkey proffered to the crowd while his master busied himself with a well-deserved ale.