Mission 2: Bugbear Stronghold
Party: Hilniflit, Franmar, Fledermaus, Ioelena, Callehalahath, Finial
Day 0: Settled up with the city taxes for Mission 1 loot: Tourmaline gem: 250GP, Gem shards from the walls: +100GP, Potion of cure moderate wounds (300GP, given to Finial), Bracers of Armor +1 (1000GP, given to Fledermaus), Masterwork cold iron dagger (306GP, given to Hilniflit).
Guild profit from Mission 1: 100GP, 15SP
(P) studied the map found in the Shunned Valley and found it marked a city called Khundrukar to the South of Dulwich. Ashryn sends (P) to meet with Yanos Fazumin at The Arcane Codex, Library of Knowledge and Scrolls to ask about it. (P) learned it is an old dwarven city, once home of Durgeddin, a dwarven smith that made powerful swords. The city has since fallen to goblins and hobgoblins and has been empty for centuries.
Yanos has heard rumors that the city of Newkeep is having an ettin (giant) problem with their bridge.
(P) restocked rations and left the city to explore the Bugbear Stronghold found in Mission 1. Nobody in Westmarch knows anything about it, either.
Day 1: Reach the edge of the forest outside the city, following the same trail as Mission 1. During the night watch in camp, (P) sees strange weather patterns that suddenly appear. The wind picked up and they could see weird clouds in the distance. Dissipates quickly. Nobody can determine what's causing the event.
Day 2: After setting off in the morning, (P) comes across a strange copse of bone white trees that seemed to have been poisoned. They have no leaves and there were no leaves on the ground, but there were small green buds growing on them despite the trees being desiccated and dry. Hil collects samples of branches and buds to bring back to town for further study.
Strange weather appears again in the afternoon. Still no clue what it is. There's a heavy mist on the lake that appears during the night watch in camp.
Day 3: Cloudy and warm. (P) comes across a pack of feral dogs attacking a dire wolf. (P) decides to help the wolf after Hil speaks with the wolf and determines it's hungry. (P) kills the dogs and offers them to the wolf. Calle and Sasha make dead dog overtures to the wolf. It decides (P) is its pack now.
That night in camp, Franmar and Ioelena find a trail of blood and follow it to a druid's grove (circle of trees) where a massive wolf (larger than a dire wolf) lies dying, pierced with arrows and covered in strange black wounds. They return to camp and wake (P) including the dire wolf who approach the dying creature to see if aid can be offered. Party is generally unsuccessful as the wounds seem magical and can't be healed. The wolf speaks telepathically to Die Fledermaus and Calle and says it can't be saved, but if they pray to their god, it might help. It is the Spirit of the Woods and it is succumbing to some unknown danger. Fledermaus tries pulling the arrows from its body. This doesn't seem to help, but the Spirit, who has bonded with the dire wolf by this point, suddenly takes the body of the dire wolf. This turns the dire wolf's fur white and the Spirit thanks us for giving it a new body. Promises a favor if it can ever repay us in the future. Then it disappears.
Hilniflit collects teeth, bone, fur and claws of the Spirit's former remains… just in case. Die Fledermaus and Calle bury the remains.
Day 4: Raining and muddy, travel is slow but uneventful. That night in camp, while Fledermaus and Callehalahath are on watch, they are approached by a well-armed human adventurer. (P) learns he is Valio Ilmonen of the Order of the Cockatrice. The Order is made up of wealthy sons of nobles that don't have birthright claims, so they go adventuring to prove themselves. Valio is incredibly charismatic and charming and has a war horse. He agrees to help when told about the Bugbear Stronghold and (P) negotiates his cut to be 30% of all loot if he helps. (P) is not as charmed by his aggressive negotiation, but they are generally trusting of him.
Day 5: (P) quietly approaches the stronghold and sends stealthy kitties out to go assess the situation. Valio suggests storming it outright, but (P) spots a party of goblins lead by a bugbear heading out of the drawbridge entrance (which is open when (P) arrives). (P) decides to set up an ambush in the woods, stringing a rope across their path in the hope of tripping them up. Valio is left to keep an eye on the stronghold and he says he'll come to help if we need it. (P) loses the element of surprise because being stealthy is hard.
The battle is relatively quick, but Fledermaus takes the brunt of the bugbear's wrath and is nearly killed before (P) kills it. Valio shows up at the last minute to "help" and doesn't really help much. Finial restores Fledermaus to full health and then (P) sets about looting the goblins.
Despite Valio basically being a useless tool, Hil settles up his share of the loot so we can send him on his way (Valio takes the agate and abalone shells). What Hil didn't mention is the unknown value of the mask and potion, so Valio basically got 30% of the known value of the loot as opposed to the full value of the loot… so that was kind of a silver lining.
Loot: 150SP, 18GP, carved ivory egg (40-50GP), Potion of endure elements, magical wooden mask that seems to alter the wearer's voice to be a couple octaves lower (not cursed), 1 pot of alchemist's fire (Hilniflit claimed this).
Valio's share: agate (9GP) and abalone shell (10-20GP)