I lost my twin sister today. She made the foolish mistake to align herself with a bunch of unlearned roughians, half of which don’t even seem to know what day it is much less where they are going, on a trip to deliver some goods to the south through evil-invested wilderness to some barely-inhabited ruins. About halfway there they encountered the two dead horses of the person who hired them staked to the middle of road and growing new evil in their bowels. Since turning around and taking the goods elsewhere to earn their profit would have been logical, they opted to investigate, searching for the malicious perpetrators. As I’m certain is obvious to anyone not within Treble’s, ‘adventuring’ party, it was an ambush. The orcs began firing their arrows. The mage hid, the barbarian ran, and the fighter and my sister, a well trained bard of the great Ortan college, shot their bows. Defying all odds, they defeated their attackers and burned the abominations growing in the horses.
So, of course, having learned their lesson and just how dangerous these lands are, the group packs up and heads to the nearest settlement to sell their ownerless goods for whatever they can get and forever praise the gods for sparing their lives. Of course not…they find a slight trail covered in orc prints and decide to follow it …Another Ambush!!! They again wipe out the evil-doers , but not without a near-deadly injury to Treble. Not at all frightened or deterred, she heals herself and they go into a cave! Just inside they see a large room filled with evil wolves chained to the floor. Clearly the way to deal with a large pack of guard dogs is to blow them up and expect no one will notice, because that is exactly what they did! A pack of smoking canines later, they find a hole leading up that is clearly being used as trash chute. I bet you can’t guess who lives at the top. That’s right! The boss lives up there with his dog and evil orc minions. The fighter goes first, without a torch or light of any kind. So, Treble, always so curious and helpful, follows with her lamp. After a few mishaps, they get the other two to the top. Now, they turn on the lights and looks around only to find they are in yet another ambush and naked bugbear-boss-guy is no stranger to a fight. It is quickly apparent the party stands no chance. Their barbarian is down and Treble is out of spells. The fighter should have been cleaved in two, but a unbelievable stoke of luck saved him from a double-critical hit. Seeing little hope, they begin to retreat. Treble bravely drags the barbarian back to the top of the chute and the fighter throws her down in a last ditch effort to save her life. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, she lands directly on her head bursting it like an over-ripe tomato on the stones below. The bugbear swings again, knocking Treble and the mage unconscious. Being the only one left standing, the fight jumps down the chute into the room below. Only mildly injured, he makes it out of the cave and back down to the road where he encounters me and that barbarian’s identical twin sister just moments too late to save our siblings.
Believing that the mage and possibly my sister could still be alive, we are left with little choice but to return to the death lair. Allowing the fighter only a brief rest, we head back into the cave fully anticipating another ambush. We notice a lonely orc standing twenty feet up on a rickety swinging bridge and are able to shoot it down without incident. Deducing that the bugbear’s cave is just beyond the bridge we must choose climbing directly up to the bridge to taking the cave in the opposite direction in the hope the it curves back around and onto the bridge. Fortuitously, we take the cave route and encounter our mage and one of the bugbear’s mutinous second in command. Heartbreakingly, we also learn that my sister did not survive her wounds. The second agrees to give us back our mage as well as share the a map of the cave with all traps marked if we will only eliminate his rival for him. He also agrees to return the friend of the person who hired my sister’s party who remains alive against all odds.
Emboldened with our new information and the addition of an ally, we cross the rope bridge and take aim at three orcs in the distance. Unfortunately, we are only able to down two of them with our first arrow strikes. The remaining one runs into the boss’ lair to warn them of the attack. First to round the bend is the bugbear’s favored dog. Two arrows are loosed and he is down. Next is the injured orc which I am able to finish with a single arrow. Finally, the naked boss with several orcs round the corner. Arrows are loosed, and he is hit but still advancing. Just then, his second rounds the corner and comes at us from behind double crossing us. Caught between two evils pack bent on our destruction, we divide our strength. The barbarian takes on the orcs crossing the bridge from behind while the fighter melees the boss. Finally, the bugbear falls and I curse the second in command with whispers that cause him to run in terror. The barbarian deftly cleaves the remaining orcs on the bridge while the mage and fighter down the lady of the bugbear’s party. It is now that the mage notices the backstabber approaching the bridge from the lower level. He looses a fire bolt narrowly missing but convincing the traitor to flee. The mage jumps over the side of bridge in pursuit nearly breaking his leg on the fall. He manages to recover and continue the chase as we eliminate the few remaining orcs on the bridge. With great agility, the fight leaps from the bridge, falling the twenty feet, lands on his feet, and is able to follow with only a bruised big toe. As I am already near death, I take the safe route down and follow at least a hundred feet behind. The traitor is hiding in the thick brush while running from the cave. The severely injured mage follows without a single thought for his own safety throwing fire bolts at every opportunity. Closing in, he lands a blow. The fighter nears and begins shooting arrows. Finally, we catch him in an opening and I see my know. Quickly taking aim, I loose the cross bolt. My heart sinks. I know I have missed and given the criminal yet another chance to make his escape. I quickly begin to reload when I notice he is no longer attacking or trying to escape. He collapses on himself, and he is down. I had not missed after all. I had in fact nailed him directly in the head and has fallen unconscious. After making certain he will not be getting another chance to run, we return to our barbarian ally. She has loosed the final prisoner and we are all now searching for both treasure and clues about this strange den of death.