So after our little encounter, we worked out a strategy:
- Find the leader
- Follow him to see who he’s dealing with
We were undisturbed all night, and refreshed and wound-free the next day, thanks to Maul’s ministrations. So we quietly snuck up towards where we thought the bugbear camp was, and yours truly of the Special Sneaky sneakingly snuck up ahead of the others.
Sure enough, there were guards. Two big plug uglies, keeping a watch out. I hid behind a convenient rock, and signalled back to the others – I would move around to their left, and they should attack in 5 minutes.
Of course, what I should have done is agree beforehand on signals. They later told me they thought I meant “I’m running away, as there are 5 of them!"
And got sick of waiting, so I decided to do a little distraction. No, not with the pansy outfit. I threw a small stone to the south, past the bugbear there. Sure enough, he went to investigate while his mate watched out after him. I then proceeded to sneak around the other side of them.
Or at least that was the plan.
One rather drastic trip-and-crash-later, it seemed I had somewhat attracted their attention in a rather marked fashion. The others of our team then decided that that was their bloody signal. Idiots.
The others concentrated on the guy who’d fallen for my “hey, is that a stone clattering over there?” trick (well, that is, Mel fired at him while Al and Maul waved their hands around for a bit, but to be honest, Mel’s really improved with that bow of hers.) Her target took one shot, then decided to head back to the cave behind them, undoubtedly for reinforcements (or dance subscriptions. One of those two). Yelling as he goes, he clambers over the rough ground and we can only guess how many friends he’ll be bringing back.
The other guy headed towards the rather suspicious noise he’d heard in the rocks – only to come around a corner and find me, trying desperately to look innocent. That axe of his swung hard, but my Mithril was up to the job, and the blade just bounced off. (Those bruises take a while to heal, though. OUCH!)
Suddenly, it’s quiet.
So quiet, in fact, that we can’t even hear the yelling bugbear. Reason: Maul has cast a silence spell on him, which has really screwed up his “HEY THERE ARE BANDITS HERE COME HELP!” yell. Maul fired her crossbow at him, but the distance was a bit too far – although the bolt didn’t even clatter on the rocks. Nice spell! The guy on me swings again, but his axe must be a bit unbalanced – he only waved it above my head. I wave at the others to move your bloody arses and get over here, but they wave cheerily back, undoubtedly interpreting my drastic signals as “I’m fine – you kids just go off and have fun, ok?” sort of signal.
(Note to self – buy a nice red handkerchief, and settle with the others on a series of signals)
Al did her sleep thing, then sent a flaming sphere to go and play dodge again with the locals. (I swear those guys have some sort of flame-repellent underwear on). Then, as the fighting grew rather fierce, she used the Magic Missile wands – but she must have got it wet or something because rather than a bang and a boom, we got a phut and a fizzle. Slight bit of damage, but not that much. I think Mel was trying to yell, but as the silence was still working, all she did was the best version of the East Rookery Greeting of the Morning Light dance that I’ve seen since the Squitting Dragon’s Back Rooms. My opponent was swinging and missing more than a drunk goblin in a stand-up comedy night, so I used the Taunt of the Squirrel once more, then let loose a mighty shot and dropped him. Go me!
Some more confused flailings of weapons for a bit more, then Al got her sphere onto one guy, and then a second, in a perfectly placed two-sided radiant-heat-burst of DOOM! Talk about Crispy Critters! Mel and Roderick did their stuff, then Maul yelled “Hold on a moment!”
I was quite surprised – the sound had come back on rather suddenly – but I held back for a moment, and she cast a … sonic rainboom? This so confusled one of the bugbears that I was able to use my very best sneak attack on him, with the Bleeding Nuisance Add-on Extra, and hit the guy like a mûmak on a full charge. Double Go Me!
Then the Top Boss got his act together – and aimed his ire at the one who had caused all the trouble. There is, you see, a disadvantage to being the hard hitter in the party – you attract just the wrong sort of attention. I copped a big hit from the Boss Dude, prompting Maul to throw herself down in some sort of a grounding ritual. I threw a tanglefoot bag, but it bounced off a rock that I swear just jumped up in the way. Al sent a couple more magic missiles, this time with the sort of BANG we all love to hear.
Then Mel fired.
And I swear I’ll have that arrow scar on my back until my dying day. Not to mention the really nasty cut in the Mithril shirt.
Luckily, the bugbears’ accuracy was spotty at best, so when Maul taunted the big guy from the front, (I assume that “swing the axe but don’t hit” business was supposed to be a taunt of some sort), I came in from behind and dropped the bastard! 3 for me! Mel grabbed Roddy out, screamed a curse that I’m shocked that she knew, and slew the last one in front of us all, covering us all in a lovely shower of fresh bugbear guts.
So Maul and I tied the main guy up, as he wasn’t completely dead yet, and then Maul healed him so he wouldn’t go expiring on us while we checked out the cave.
And for all that hard work, sod all goodies. 30 gp for our Party Loot, a few more Alchemist Fire and Tanglefoot bags for my stash, a couple of masterwork weapons, and some lovely flatgoat of unknown age or … cleanliness.
Al used her lovely intimidate skill on the bastard, to the point where suddenly the smell got a lot worse – the guy had lost control of his guts and just let loose. Ew. Worse than Maul’s nightly farts. Or even Roderick’s. But we got the information we needed. Seems the Bugbears had been set up to rob those heading up over the mountain, passing the loot and such to their contact from town in exchange for supplies and weapons.
And their contact?
Vernon from the Inn that we stayed in two nights before.
This is going to be difficult.
Al offered the bugbear a clean death.
“Not interested in dying.”
“I wasn’t asking for expressions of interest.”
Then the bugbear started muttering something so low that not even I could hear it, so Al leaned in to hear what he had to say. Closer. Just a bit closer…
Yeah, I can hear you lot laughing from there. Needless to say, I slashed the bugbear’s throat and we still had to cut Al’s ear loose. Even while dead, that critter was hanging on like a pit bull with a grudge.
We decided to wait overnight, catching up on some sleep, but with strings tied from the person on watch to the others so we could wake the others quickly and quietly should the remaining bugbears return. No sign of them that night, so we spent the next day sticking the bodies around the side of the rocks so they wouldn’t stink the place up too much, then decided to sleep one more night before heading back down to the town to let them know what their lovely innkeeper had been up to.
Unfortunately, somehow Vernon got wind of what had happened, and turned up in the middle of Mel’s watch with a large group of unfriendly-looking townsfolk wielding pitchforks and torches. I tried reasoning with them (and showing them the Bugbear captain’s head on a stick, which we set up earlier), but Vernon was telling them that we had been in league with the Bugbears all along. It took a lot of persuading from the rest of us (and none of us too good at it, that time of night), to get them to at least question how we could possibly be responsible, seeing as how we’d only arrived 3 days before. Even using the Zone of Truth (which confirmed our innocence, but Vernon somehow avoided its powers) didn’t help.
It took a seriously nasty glare from Al to get them to leave us alone, and I don’t think we’ll be allowed back in Blackwater Port for a long, long time. If ever.
MM Used: 2 leaves 46.
CLW used: 3 leaves 45
XP: 1200 – takes Mel, Al and Cog from 10467 to 11667, Maul from 10194 to 11394