Caster's Cradle

Peter and Barry

The interrogation started off as expected, with the party taking turns shouting intimidating words at the chained bugbear. He looked like a juvenile, his fur still looked scruffy in patches and his tusks were a bit smaller than some of the others’ had been. At first he didn’t say much, either from lack of caring or lack of knowing.

“Who do you work for!” cried Kraown slamming a fist into the wall just behind the bugbear’s head. The bugbear glared up at the barbarian and snidely said, “Bale. I work for Bale.” The party recognized this as the name of the bugbear leader they had previously seen downstairs.

“Who does he work for?” Stromm asked, arms crossed with irritation.

“The Three.” The bug bear said, flexing against the manacles.

“And who are they then?” Thud asked from across the room.

“Elves,” the bugbear spoke again. These were likely the elves the party had just encountered. One of them said he was coming back.

Stromm rounded on the bugbear for another line of questioning when suddenly a group of 5 bugbears burst into the room. The party hadn’t thought to send someone as a lookout and the bugbears, used to sneaking through the forest, had got the drop on them. Bale was among the group. Entering with morningstar held high he growled, “Surrender or die!”

Just as he began to move toward the group, another voice rang out. It sounded human, male and quite jolly in fact, “I don’t think so!” Everyone in room froze as the bugbear nearest to the doorway screamed and fell to his knees. Protruding from his solar plexus was a long dirk, glistening and wet with his blood. A hooded figure stood behind him, face obscured by the thick ashen cloak he wore. “Hmm,” he clucked, pushing his hood back to his shoulders to reveal the visage of human with a rye smile. Bale turned to face the newcomer, eyes wide with fury.

“Barry,” the rogue called in a raised voice, “You can come in now!” A deep booming from the floor below ended with the appearance of a lumbering stone golem. Upon entering the room, he immediately made for the nearest bugbear. The rogue fell back to the wall as the others prepared for the fight ahead. Whoever these folk were, they seemed to be on the party’s side.

The bugbears launched their attacks, one succeeding in knocking Alhazred to the floor with one vicious blow. The chained bugbear began to pull and wrench at the chains hoping to break free and join the fight. Bale went for the fighter while Thud ducked out of harm’s way to try to save Alhazred from the grip of death. Witnessing the wizard crumple under a bugbear’s morningstar, the stone golem walked calmly over and flung the offending bugbear into the wall with such force that he didn’t get up again. In a moment, Alhazred was restored and set his sights on Bale who was in the midst of trading blows with Stromm. The rogue and the stone golem worked in unison to defeat several other bugbears.

On his third try, the chained juvenile bugbear broke free of his chains, and crashed towards Thud who was concentrating on the bugbear leader. His advance was stalled in an instant by Kraown’s axe. “By Dol Dorn’s hairless scrotum I shall slice you asunder!” he boomed, chopping at the beast.

Across the room, Thud and Alhazred used their arcane skills to distract Bale long enough for Stromm to land a gruesome blow against him, severing his paw at the wrist. Despite Bale’s continued retaliatory blows, his strength had left him with his blood. After a final morningstar swing sent him off balance, he fell heavily to the ground and bled out in a matter of moments.

“Well, I guess it’s time for introductions then?” The rogue said as he pulled an errant dagger from the body of a felled bugbear.

He flourished his hands in front of him before bowing low to the group, “My name’s Peter and I’m here to rescue you.” Popping up again he nodded cheerfully before adding, “You’re welcome.”

He continued, “Now then, which one of you is the Dragon anyway? You don’t look like old wizards.” He gasped, “Unless, of course, you killed the Dragon!”

He flourished his cloak again and drew a dagger from his belt, “Then I’ve just gone and killed the wrong folk, haven’t I?”

Kraown looked indignant at this accusation, “They put us bags.”

Stromm sheathed his sword and put out a hand, “We didn’t kill him. He was already dead when we got here, pretty much.”

Peter froze, dagger still raised, “The Academy will not be happy about this.” He sighed and cast a glance toward the stone golem.

“The Academy?” Alhazred asked. “I’m from the Academy, is that one of our stone golems?”

Peter nodded, “Why yes, this is Barry the golem. He lives outside the gates and serves the Academy of Arkanum. They sent me here after they received a distress call from the Dragon. Strange things have been happening in the Hart’s Wood of late.” The knowledge that one of the group was a member of the Academy seemed to put Peter at ease, and he flicked the dagger back into its place on his belt.

“But wait,” he hesitated, “Why are you out here then? Did the Academy send you too?”

“Not exactly,” Thud answered a bit sheepishly, remembering the incident there days before.

“We’re investigating the happenings in the Hart’s Wood for the town of Hindvale,” Stromm added.

“Someone put us in bags!” cried Kraown shaking his fist in outrage.

Peter looked quizzically at Kraown, “There have been disappearances. Do you know who took you?”

“It was a bugbear, I know…but I have no memory of being taken,” Kraown answered. Alhazred concurred.

“Well then,” Peter said with another sweep of his cloak, “Let’s return to the Academy. I’m sure they will be able to shed some light on the subject. They will want to know that the Dragon is dead. They will want to know everything you’ve told me.”

The party agreed to go with Peter and Barry back to the Academy, perhaps with the help of the rogue and Alhazred they would be able to learn more about what was happening here.



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