Everyone is seriously on board for keeping the owlbear baby alive, and not just to sell on the open market, proving that they do have hearts after all! Monstrous but domesticated youngsters may be the new fashion trend to hit Brevic markets if this keeps up. The young beast is christened ‘Mordu’, and strapped to Papa Brand’s chest for safekeeping while they continue their investigation of the cave.
Large spiderwebs are of particular concern as they climb up the slope at the back towards a new room where light is streaming in, although instead of simply the giant spiders they expected, they are attacked as well by a pair of ettercaps returning to their nest. The battle was fierce, but brief, with one ettercap having fled the scene still alive, deciding that the housing market was better the next cave over. Aside from a blood-drained corpse bearing a large jewel and some fine gloves, there is little else of interest remaining.
Upon attempting to leave back the way they came, they take a northern juncture for a change and discover an entire room filled with giant spiders, and Mason finds a use for his Stone to Mud spell, caving in the entrance so that the spiders are sealed in. Spying an as of yet untrod southern juncture, hidden partially by a large pool of water with the entrance being in the corner of the nest room, they move single file with Brand in the lead. The slender passage has a trap, however, as a weak section of earth collapses beneath Brand, who falls unceremoniously into the pit, somehow managing to twist enough so that he did not crush Mordu on the way down. His allies lower down a rope to get them out, Mordu first, followed by Brand, who screams for them to hurry, as some kind of carnivorous mold is searing his armor and otherwise spreading. Managing to get out of the hole in time to remove his armor, they spend a time cursing as they help wash and cleanse his armor with water from the pool, leaving his armor somewhat acid scarred but functional. Having had enough of this, they finally manage to leave, making sure to take some giant owlbear claws on the way out so that they have proof of their deed.
Several days later, they arrive back in Redemption, tired and ready for some rest and relaxation after their long ride and hard battles. The townsfolk are quite relieved to hear of their deed, and business is good at the Nest as Finch rings in a small party, as well as coin, with General Reeves to soothe her physical tensions afterwards. Brand and Mason are sure to share a drink, and Brand later spends some quality time with young Mordu who has a whole pen to himself in the castle stables. Ideas are hatching regarding the possibilities of a trained and full grown owlbear.
Sarthaal does not have as good a night, however, as he returns to his bedchambers to find Kanaan waiting there in extremely suggestive leatherwear, and none of it particularly suited as armor. She is being uncharacteristically sexual with him, as Sarthaal moves to the bed with the lure of consummating their relationship. He is momentarily unsure of this happening as after some light petting she grips him by the neck and begins to strangle him powerfully. He is quite sure soon after this that the act is not meant to be sexual, but a means to a violent, quiet end, as being choked is an ingenious way to silence his ability to call out a spell. Despite being physically overpowered by the more muscular orc, and fighting blackness at the edge of his vision, he manages to worm out of her grasp and roll off the bed with a burst of adrenaline, gasping as he uses his magic to advantage, rendering her unconcious but still alive. Calling the guard, he has her carried down to the basement laboratory and strapped to one of the test tables, at which point he privately administers his sole bottle of truth telling potion before interrogating her as she awakens. The potion is not absolute, and she can manage to willfully not answer a question, and what little he can get out of her of worth is follows.
The why? Dissatisfaction with his creepy treatment of her, and the addition of having had a better offer to take out Sarthaal instead of be bound to him by marriage.
The who? She was remarkably tight lipped on this insistent question, saying it was only a ‘big man who was missing a tooth’. This information makes him think of Corax, the logging master, but on its own applies to far too many people in the region (high quality dentistry not being prevalent).
As the potion wears off, and she curses his name, Sarthaal spits at her, and draws his bow, firing several arrows into her to end her life. He is still for a long time after, before raging, and destroying or throwing into disarray most of his laboratory, having only scratched at the secret of lizard-human crossbreeding with as of yet no major breakthroughs.
The next day, reports filter in of more troll attacks in the south western reaches of the woods. Trappers and hunters are not safe, and neither is Redemption. The gears of war begin moving, as both a wall begins to be built around their fair city, and Reeves summons men and women of the guard and new blood to defend their home. A militia slowly but surely forms, with Reeves, Brand, and Mason training them in the arts of war. Far to the southwest, Hragulka’s trolls become allied with the Bloodscale kobolds. Autumn leaves, already red, are made more so as the raids to Solace’s borders grow more frequent. Finch’s scouts do their best to keep track of their movements, and in his castle, Baron Sarthaal pines for love.
-1700xp for spiders, ettercaps, Mason shutting a cave, and Sarthaal defeating/interrogating Kanaan.
-Gloves of swimming and climbing.
-Large amethyst (worth 100gp).
-Mordu the owlbear cub.