After a anarchic jaunt into the post-apocalyptia of Alpha Complex, we return to Eberron. Leaving Serafina and Mercutio behind to guard Master Yorel’s lockbox and stay with the Lighting Rail, Wycliffe, Zarna, Vistra, and Thierastra headed off into the hills to follow the tracks left by the bandits who presumably stole the Lightning Rail’s Conductor Stones.
The trail was easy to follow, but eventually split. One branch of the trail led further into the hills; the other towards a nearby ravine. Investigating the ravine, they found a rickety rope & wood bridge. They tested the strength of the bridge and determined it was unlikely that the gnolls rode horses and took the heavy Conductor Stones across it. Following the other branch of the trail, they eventually came to a hill that looked across a valley at a fort.
When they scouted the fort, our heroes only saw one gnoll wandering around initially. After some more reconnaissance, they noticed two more working on a cooking fire. Scaling the walls, Zarna, Vistra, and Thierastra made their plans to ambush the two gnolls, while Wycliffe checked out a nearby barn. As three of them attacked the gnolls, Wycliffe discovered an owlbear in the barn. It charged him, bursting through the door, though he shut it in his bid to make a hasty retreat. As the battle joined, another gnoll, the one they saw moving from building to building, appeared out of thin air and began summoning swarms of ravens and vermin to hinder the heroes.
The battle was long and bloody. Zarna and Wycliffe fell to the owlbear before the beast was finally defeated. Vistra and Thierastra were both nearly dead by the time the rest of the gnolls fell. Vistra found the purloined Conductor Stones inside one of the building, and they stripped a magical suit of armor off the gnoll beastcaller. As they gathered their dead, they heard a cry for help from one of the caged pits nearby….
Wow. Oops. I knew owlbears tended to be nasty, but they really got a power upgrade. Of course, I expected the group to deal with the two lone gnolls before having the owlbear sprung on them. That’ll teach me to joke about TPKs prior to running adventures. Now it looks like I actually planned for them to all end up in the belly of an owlbear. The group is discussing who wants to be resurrected and who wants to roll up new characters. We’ll see what happens at the next game.