After farewelling the Mayoral Heavies (we’ll get back to crossing the bridge one day), we made our way unobtrusively around Bridgeford and headed for ogre country.
On the road, Chirreep cheerfully told us about the value of Arabella’s impending Heroic Deed™ in setting her on the path to knighthood, as well as the importance of achieving knighthood for Arabella’s family. It seems that her family needed someone to become a knight: they are trying to run a piggery, but keep getting screwed over by what amount to zoning regulations, and having someone in the family with Influence could be instrumental to the long-term prospects of the family business. Arabella’s brothers are busy running the piggeries, so it’s up to Arabella… and she’s also better than they are at hitting things.
With varying degrees of brightness, the peculiar circumstances of Isabella’s ogre abduction, the mayor’s reaction to news of his son’s broken leg, and his bizarre aversion to the idea that someone else might rescue his daughter, began to dawn on our party: it seems the entire thing was a setup for Galahain (having almost certainly failed at the Aspirant’s Parade) to then perform a Heroic Deed™ and thus make himself worthy of being squired.
This resulted in some differing reactions from the party, as to what should be done about it: whether to embarrass the mayor, or to exploit him, or find a way to make everything work out nicely for everyone.
While trying to figure out the best course of action, our course across country soon brought us to an encounter with none other than Isabella and her ogre host, Mick (but please, call him “Gnashtooth”). Gnashtooth was surprised to see us, and exclaimed with disappointment that we were not “that other guy”, but stopped to listen when we told him that we were from the mayor, and that “the other guy” would not be coming. This was a cause of great confusion (due only in part to the ogre’s capacity for complex reasoning). Normally, it turned out, his friend Jaryd (a bard and all-round dodgy dealer, from the sound of it) handled all such details. However, while we were negotiating with him to get him to come to town with us – a couple of ideas regarding mock-fights were mooted – two other ogres, definitely not in on the act, came wandering over the hillside. Angered to discover Gnashtooth in their territory – and with a hungry look at Isabella – they attacked.
Sending Gnashtooth and Isabella somewhat out of harm’s way, the battle was joined. Arabella, Maul and Mel took up positions at the front, Cog and Al behind. Arabella took a serious hit from one of the ogres, whom Maul was then successful in Frightening. Al’s trusty Sleep spell sent the other into a slumber, from which he never awoke. He never awoke, because it is difficult to wake up when you no longer have a head. No sooner had ogre 1 recovered from his magical frightening than he looked back, saw Arabella and a now-enlarged Maul in hot pursuit, and behind them a headless version of his friend (do ogres have “friends”?). He then seamlessly replaced the magical version of fear with a hefty dose the real thing, and thundered away over the hills, never to be seen again (or so we thought).
This was more than enough for Gnashtooth, who decided this was all getting too scary, and also ran away. Before he was out of sight, we assured him that we bore him no ill will, and indeed Cog left him 50gp for his trouble.
We looted the body of the now-headless ogre, to find a haversack (potentially a Handy one), containing a lot of junk (now discarded), and a much less junk-looking glass bottle: securely stoppered, filled with green liquid with speckles in it.
With that, we collected Isabella, picked up our grisly (and also somewhat grizzly) proof of victory over “the ogre”, and headed (geddit‽) back to town. Our plan was to publicly announce Arabella’s Heroic Deed™, with a certain amount of head-brandishing, and let the mayor squirm over being presented with an ogre head that he couldn’t possibly point out was the wrong ogre, as doing so would have proven him to have orchestrated the whole kidnapping.
But we never had the chance to see how that plan worked. Instead, on our way back to town, we ran into into a party “led” (for a very stretched interpretation of the word) by none other than Galahain, heading out to where we had just battled. It seems that Jaryd intended to turn adversity to advantage, and arrange for Galahain to “defeat” the ogre despite having a broken leg, thereby making the Deed™ even more Heroic. After some debate with Cog and Maul, we ended up joining their party (or, given how useless most of them proved, letting them join us), and set out after the other ogre, in order to get a second ogre head, so that Galahain and Arabella might both receive credit for Heroic Deeds™ worthy of Songs.
It didn’t take long: we found the ogre… or I suppose, were alerted to his presence by the boulders pelted upon the party from the top of a shallow ravine. This time, it was Cog who copped the most substantial hit (and was downed, if not quite out), but not before he assisted Isabella in delivering as much damage to the ogre as our hero Galahain managed to do (at least until the very last moment). With very little we could do to damage the ogre from below, the fighters climbed the ravine to get to flanking positions beside the ogre atop the ravine. Meanwhile, after shrugging off two of Al’s trusty sleep spells, the ogre finally succumbed to a third… and it was a matter of great satisfaction to Al that she saw him come crashing down on top of Jaryd. Galahain – who was still quite badly concussed – now managed to fall of his horse, deliver a final blow to the ogre, and perhaps also a final blow to his chances of becoming a knight, as his already-broken leg shattered beneath him.
Arabella did the honours of ogre decapitation, and with its head we all went gallumphing back. En route, the two bards (Jaryd and Chirreep) set about working the Song of Arabella and Galahain into a duel… at least, I think that’s what the thing they were singing is called. And the result seems sure to be a winner at firesides all over the Principalities, which should give Arabella a decent chance of being squired.
On our arrival at Bridgeford, we met with the mayor who, it turns out, is still an arsehole. Nevertheless, he recognised that he had little to complain about our conduct, and so we were at least not evicted from town a second time before the opportunity to recuperate. Despite Galahain being so badly injured he may never be squired, the mayor was not on board with our suggestions that Isabella might become a knight instead.
Jaryd made his excuses, and set off to wherever it is bards go. Only after his departure did it occur to Al that he might have a lead on where to find Argenias Lat. She has a score to settle…
Oh, and we still don’t know what’s in that bottle we found in the ogre’s haversack.