We decided to do some nice quiet exploring on the way to the Caves. Famous last words. Somewhere in the first day of travel, the kid “lost” the bloodthirsty spear while hunting. Kinda think he did it on purpose, and I don’t blame him a bit. On one day, we got up and noticed our waterskins were empty. All of them. And Feverborne and Barbarian Boy have a lot of waterskins between them. They were empty one day after we got out of the barrow too. So, whatever was pulling pranks in the barrow followed us out. I’ll burn the bastard alive when I catch it.
Then we encountered owl bears happily scratching their backs against trees. We backed away slowly, Feverborne holding his hands and bow above his head to make himself look bigger. They followed us. We kept going, and eventually they lost interest. Phew. I got a sudden premonition of a coming wind storm. When it hit, it was going right over us. Oops. Probably should have said something right when I got the premonition. There wasn’t any shelter to be had, but it wasn’t a bad wind storm. It seemed quite playful. Feverborne and the kid were mad that the wind made a hole in a tent and a bedroll, and took some things with it that they had on the outside of their packs. It just swirled around me, like a hug. Wind is almost as nice as fire.
After a storm went through, we saw a red glow ahead. We investigated, and lightning had struck a tree. It was burning from the inside out. I was fascinated. I got another premonition that if left alone, this would become one of the portals Zuul uses to connect the world to the chaos plane. I could go through one in the future, if he favors me enough to give me special fire protection. Since I really want to do that someday, I made Barbarian Boy drop the rock he wanted to throw at the tree. The premonition was quite specific that the tree had to be left alone.
The worst thing was the centaurs. We met a group of nine very drunk centaurs. I’ve never seen centaurs. They don’t wear pants. They immediately made comments about taking us as slaves. I saw the kid vanish into the bushes, so I tried to do the same thing. I felt sort of bad leaving Feverborne there facing them, but if he couldn’t con his way out of a fight, at least the kid and I could get a sneak attack on a couple of the centaurs. But it was going to be long odds, being so outnumbered. The leader was especially interested in Feverborne’s magic sword. They charged at Feverborne, and several hit him with clubs. I tensed, ready to get into the fight. Feverborne yelled out that if he fell, he hoped that the fey blade would avenge him. He meant that if they knocked him out and one of them grabbed the sword, that they would fight each other. I stayed where I was, since that was as good a plan as any.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. They did knock Feverborne unconscious, but the leader grabbed the sword with no ill effects. Damn. They tied him to the leader’s back and stumbled off. I found the kid and we followed them at a safe distance to their camp. The centaurs tied Feverborne to a tree on the edge of the camp. He tried to taunt the leader into fighting one of the others, but they just knocked him unconscious again. I had to smack the kid, who got distracted by a pair of female centaurs. They don’t wear shirts either. Then he had to smack me when I got distracted by the lovely big bonfire the centaurs built. We whispered plans. The kid wants to gather ingredients to make the centaurs sick, follow them for a few days, poison their kegs of whatever vile fermented crap they’re drinking, then free Feverborne and loot them blind when they get sick. It seemed like an awfully complex plan where lots could go wrong. I was all for freeing Feverborne right then, and going back for the sword later. Or leaving the damned sword. I imagine he’d object to that, despite the sword taking control of him. We have to decide what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to free Feverborne.
The plan was to explore the territory around the caves of chaos. Just a big circle to understand the terrain before we resupplied and came out with some mercenaries. Didn’t exactly go according to plan.
Last time the rain ate my tarp, this time the wind stole the blanket I had been carrying around to cover an enchanted mirror with. I let it go, figuring it wasn’t much use anymore. The kid lost his bedroll, and I lost one of my spares, so I tossed the kid the remaining spare and we traveled on. Those had been meant for our hires, but those hires died and we never got new ones.
We saw a giant preying mantis from a lot closer up than we wanted to, but managed to evade it after tossing rations to slow it down. Close one. I remember Bern mentioned it stole a deer from him when he was up this way.
We kept losing water from our waterskins. I thought it was the spear, but the kid went hunting and “lost” the spear, and we still kept losing water. I’m not sure what’s going on there. I have a lot of spare waterskins – for the henchmen, again, that we don’t have any of at the moment – so it hasn’t been life threatening. But we need to figure it out before we go anywhere water is hard to find.
We managed to de-escalate an encounter with a trio of owlbears. Not likely to have treasure, so no thank you. Ygnas met a burning tree that she took as a sign from Zuul. Yup, uh-huh, right, whatever you say, blondie. Just keep with the free healing and I’ll nod along with whatever the burning tree says to you.
We met with some centaurs after that. The leader opened negotiations by threatening to take me as his personal slave. I wasn’t impressed, but I think that was the moment when both Ygnas and u-Heury hid in the underbrush or ran away or something. They certainly weren’t backing me up. I think I made a mistake when I called the leader a “fine piece of horseflesh I would love to ride sometime.” He charged, I swung and missed, and his underlings basically trampled me – but I got up and the fae blade bit deep into the leader’s flesh. I figured there was no way I could win a straight up fight with all of them, but maybe if I killed the leader it would break their morale. And, they were using saps, so they didn’t want to actually kill me. I had an ace in the hole; they didn’t know about the downside of the fae blade. I figured, if they took my sword, it would force them to fight each other.
Turns out it doesn’t work that way. Let me make a note of that for when I wake up from the beating I am about to receive…
I woke up later, tied to the back of the lead centaur, so I got my wish. I’ll remind him of that when I kill him. The centaurs were basically partying in camp, the very image of drunk and disorderly conduct. If only their sergeant was here, he would kill all of them for me. The leader still has my sword, and I tried to goad him into dueling his second in command, but it didn’t work well. Still, they don’t know what it does; I just have to wait for my chance. Maybe they will run into the preying mantis or something.