Friday, February 27, 2015

Westmist Session #90 - Bears, Birds and Bodies

Pickets had detected the Bear barbarians moving through the forest and towards the vulnerable Ram tribe. While Tzarn the High Ram organized his men to guard the main body, the party (Kern, Bjorn, Erijay, Jasper, Lomar and Guy) prepared to receive the attack at the head of the column. There seemed to be some time before their attackers emerged from the thick forest, so Bjorn began the process of summoning the air elemental with his censor. Meanwhile, Lomar called down the blessing of Salue on those about to fight, and also took the opportunity to cast animal growth on one of the barbarian ram-riders nearby, thereby increasing the size of the already giant ram to gargantuan proportions. Everyone else spread out to prepare for what may come.  After several minutes, a skirmish line of Bear barbarians approached the edge of the wood. There they halted and loosed a volley of spears, one of which dinged Kern in the side of the head. Jasper and Guy responded with bolts and spears, taking out two of the skirmishers. Erijay tossed a fireball at one end of the line, crisping half the remaining attackers and setting the forest alight. Then followed a charge by the giant-giant ram and the rest of the party to finish off the last few.
The party proceeded to loot the bodies while Kern stood guard in case there were more attackers. The sounds of battle could still be heard to the rear, but suddenly a much closer bellowing sound was heard coming from the north. Kern turned to see three large black bears, two sporting barbarian riders, followed by a small group of tribesmen on foot, charging down on the party. Calling everyone out of the forest, Kern turned invisible with his cloak and slipped forward to make a surprise attack. Meanwhile, everyone else emerged from the smoking forest to engage the new foes. Erijay cast a slow spell on the bears and riders, Jasper and Guy flicked more bolts and spears, and Lomar sent the giant-giant ram and rider into combat. A flurry of spells and stabbing ensued, but the bear riders held their ground. At least until Bjorn finished summoning the elemental, which he promptly dropped into the midst of the bear riders. That, coupled with a few magic missiles, back stabbings and other shenanigans was enough to clear the field and for looting to proceed again.

The sounds of battle died behind them as well, and when the party met with the High Ram later in the day, he reported some losses to the tribe's warriors, but otherwise all went well. Tzarn was anxious, however, to put their enemies behind them and cross the Great River. He was therefore not interested in Kern's plan to turn the tribe around to go looking for the "Hanging Tree", about which the party had learned from an old journal in the wyvern hoard looted some time earlier. "The Hanging Tree" is a massive fir tree in the Forest of the Bear, where  the Bear Tribe barbarians disposed of  and display the bodies of those who trespass their territory. The diary described the branches of the tree hanging with numerous human and humanoid corpses, many still  dressed and equip as in life and with obvious wealth. Kern insisted to the party that such a treasure so near by could not be ignored, and in the end they agreed. Tzarn meanwhile agreed to take the tribe across the river and await the party no more than 4 days before moving on and turning his tribe loose on civilized lands.

With little time to spare, the party moved deeper into the dark, wintry forest. They found their path led them back along the route taken by the attacking barbarians, at least until the falling snow hid the tracks. However, the two day march was uneventful, and in the afternoon of the second day they approached their goal. Ahead could be seen a massive fir tree breaking through the forest cover. Around the top flew several dozen dark shapes, ravens as far as could be seen.  Kern slipped forward invisibly to scout, and found  a large clearing below the tree. Above he could see the bodies hanging, but nothing else seemed to be present. He called the rest of the party forward, and they gathered below the fir and tried to figure out the best way to get all the loot. In the end, Guy was given Erijay's potion of flying, and the henchman sent up the tree to cut down the bodies for the rest of the party to loot once they hit the ground. This seemed to work at first, until someone noticed the ravens were descending, circling the tree and approaching the party. Guy tried to get above them, hoping to smash a few to the ground with falling bodies, but he was intercepted on the way and had to fight for his life. The rest of the birds fell on the rest of the party. Jasper immediately shouted "close your eyes!", and whipped out the preserved medusa head to turn the flying things to stone. Alas, the head not being fresh, it did no such thing this time. The ravens descended and began to peck at everyone's eye's and heads. Casting blindly, Bjorn loosed some magic missiles, Erijay a blast from her wand of cold,  and Lomar called down a curse on the flock. To the distress of them all, no birds fell in this onslaught. However, another blast from the wand, a web to pin one lot of ravens to the tree, and a few bolts from Jasper and Kern took down about half the birds. The rest flew back up the tree and out of range, leaving the party alone. Who proceeded (after some first aid and healing of course), to get on with the "cut down corpse and loot" process. In this they were successful, gathering a fine collection of coin, gems and jewelry, as well as a few possible magical items (a mace, potion and a huge tome). Kern also collected the desiccated remains of one body, obviously a lady of some importance based on the cornet and signet ring she wore. The merchant figured someone might pay handsomely for the remains, assuming he could figure out who she was and from whence she came.
With evening falling, the party restrained Lomar form igniting the giant tree and quickly headed back east, to put as much distance between them and the tree before they made camp for the night.

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