Crashing through the overgrown trail to Owlbear Lodge, we came upon the familiar smell of putrefaction and the slavering sounds of a feeding beast. With my blessing, Tolarin scouted stealthily ahead, and discovered a zombified bellboy, wearing the livery of the Lodge, covered in fungal spores and gore, feasting on a murdered brown bear. We expertly surrounded the living corpse. Captain Brick Hewed from one side, while Tegan rapiered from the other. Then, as the sun-hating wretch lashed back at Brick, Gunx came from behind and burst his undead head with his fist. Quick work.
After this, the trail opened up, and we came upon a dire porcupine, which we left alone, and finally a large wooden building with a front porch and double doors: Owlbear Lodge. Little Tolarin went in first, using his keen vision, but was soon joined by the torchbearers, Jorad and Gunx. Inside, they discovered a grand foyer with a large dais, and at the end of the room, a giant undead taxidermied eagle, pecking at a dead body. This, we learned, was Phoebe, one of Lord Neverember’s missing workers.
Captain Brick mounted the dais to view the battlefield, as Tolarin, Gunx, and Jorad charged ahead, raising clouds of spores. Jorad exchanged blows with the beast and suddenly, it burst into a blizzard of feathers and stuffing: Glasstaff Luvien defeated the undead eagle in single combat! My breath was literally taken away as I choked on the spore-laden air.
We continued to explore the lodge. The monks discovered a spore-contaminated kitchen, with a hatch leading to a cellar, and a door to outside. Jorad found an office, occupied by another zombie. This was Herka, one of the owners of the Lodge. I tried to Turn undead Herka away spiritually, but his cursed will was too potent. Brick charged into the fray, and ultimately put Herka down.
While Brick remained to search the office and Herka’s corpse, I left to search the cloakroom. Brick found a contract, signed between the Lodge owners and the Druid Reidoth, agreeing to the protected status of the Great White Ferret of Neverwinter Wood; and a letter signed by Tabor, the other Lodge owner, explicitly breaking this agreement. I found more evidence that a hunt for this controversial creature was widely publicized by the Lodge. It seems Reidoth discovered Herka and Tabor’s betrayal, and is enforcing a vendetta. But now, our fellowship of cunts have become the victims of the dusty Druid’s reckless revenge.
While the other cunts investigated elsewhere, Gunx joined me in the west wing, half-covered in spores, telling me about the cellar, possibly the source of the fungal contamination. Together, we continued to explore, finding a bunk room with dead bodies, and a luxurious private chamber. Adjacent to this was a private bathroom, occupied by a bloated undead bather. Magic Missles flew instantly from my fingers, but the poisonous stench of force blasts sizzling into her gelatinous flesh made my stomach heave. As Gunx came in swinging, I made my exit from the humid, cramped quarters, thoroughly nauseated, vomiting half-digested mule blood.
I found Tolarin back in the foyer, entirely caked in spores. He was babbling breathlessly about Brick and Jorad battling an undead stuffed owlbear, and something about a whimpering man, featherless birds, an emaciated boar… Tolarin sounded delirious, and looked very ill. I noticed that he did not mention Tegan in his rambling so I ran down the east corridor, in hopes of finding the missing bard. Sure enough, I found the pervert, laying on a bed with a female corpse, vines wrapped around his neck. He shuddered violently, and then – GOOSH – he was covered in “mushroom juice”… fucking guy!
Then, Tegan roused himself from where he lay, beside the corpse of a dwarven female in an Owlbear Lodge tunic embroidered with the name Lucy, and searched the moistened room. He found only a small piece of chalk, which he took as a souvenir of his encounter. Our fellowship regrouped outside the lodge for a short rest, while the lusty bard serenaded us all with his new Owlbear Lodge inspired verses.
We decided then to investigate the outbuilding that Tolarin had deliriously described. Brick and Jorad headed in first, finding the formerly hysterical man, Raoul, was now quiet and headless. The formerly aggressive undead boar was now placidly chomping on a human skull. Only the flapping featherless birds matched Tolarin’s earlier description. While Tegan and Gunx circled around to enter from the west, I fired force blasts from the doorway. Instantly killing the porcine ghoul, and confident that my fellows could handle the birds on their own, I carried on westward towards another outhouse. While Tolarin, Brick, and Gunx finished off their avian adversaries, Tegan nosed around the adjacent room, discovering ten gold coins in a small sack, and the leatherworking tools and taxidermist’s diploma formerly belonging to Lucy Hammerfist, his dwarf-corpse “girlfriend.”
I threw open the door to the outhouse, startling a zombified man inside, who lurched to attack. I smote the fiend with a Sacred Flame, but was myself overwhelmed again by a wave of nausea caused by the poisonous stench of this rotten encounter. Tolarin and Tegan came to fight by my side, and soon all three of us were belching bilious bubbles as we battled the bad guy. I blasted it with force and fire, and finally Tolarin felled it with Lightbringer.
When we regrouped, Brick told us that he, Jorad, and Gunx had found a dead half-orc, which they left behind, and a longsword, five copper, five silver, and three gold, which they took. Together, we decided to investigate the remaining outhouse to the east. Inside was a terrified woman: this was Lemon, the third of Neverember’s employees, and the only survivor. She had been hiding from the undead for days, starving and thirsty, but thanks to Beshaba, her life had been spared. While Gunx tended to her with food and water, the rest of our fellowship went back into the lodge to search the two remaining rooms.
Jorad entered the first room: a conference chamber with a large table, littered with more pamphlets for Herka and Tabor’s “Great White Ferret Hunt.” I entered the second room: a games parlour with billiards and a card table. On the billiards table was an undead rat, and at the card table were two undead gamblers with a stack of platinum coins between them! I foolishly tried to hastily exterminate the rat with poison, but naturally, being undead it was unnaturally immune. Tegan and Tolarin then joined me, but as the halfling monk entered, I saw his gaze glaze into a haze as he fell into a zombie daze. The bard, still clear-eyed, wasted not a moment, casting a powerful Thunderwave that instantly obliterated the undead gamblers.
Brick held Tolarin still, and forced a Vitality potion down his throat, instantly reviving the entranced little ninja, while Tegan exterminated the gruesome undead rat. Jorad scooped up the scattered platinum: twenty-five pieces in all.
We all needed a long rest, and decided the barn to the north might be the safest location. Inside, we found four starved, rotting horses: three dead, one undead. Strangely, the nightmarish mare did not exhibit an evil demeanor, so Tegan Ramigil saddled the fell steed and claimed it as an unholy mount. I dearly look forward to watching commoners cringe in terror at the sight of our baleful bard. No doubt, many of these souls will beg the Maid of Misfortune for mercy in their fearful nightly prayers, klaatu barada nikto amen!