With the male Orcs gone, the players were given free reign of the rest of the keep.
After clearing out a few rooms, the party stumbled upon a cultivated underground garden near the river. Spotting an assassin vine, they feed a kobold to it, and watch with a mixture of horror and fascination as its wrapped in the vines and pushed into the ground to be used as fertilizer.
While watching, Nuada is mysteriously attacked from behind. Combat begins with an invisible creature lurking somewhere nearby. After a few practice swings and jabs in the direction of where they creature should be, the manage to come into contact with something solid. Finally its hit with a crossbow bolt, marking out is presence. Eventually its defeated, but even in death it takes several minutes for its corpse to appear. It turns out to be a Phantom Fungus.
Everyone proceeds into a makeshift alchemy, complete with several tools for making glass vials, as well as alchemical tools. A Carrion Crawler sits emaciated in a cage too small for its large body. The players stab it to death out of mercy. Severath manages to harvest some of its venom, but not before getting paralyzed for a moment.
Another room nearby has a grotesque-looking skeleton laying down on a table. Most of its bones appear to be Orcish, but the skull has been replaced with that of a boar. It looks like its back legs have boar bones mixed in as well, some dire and some normal.
Further down the next hallway, five books are found written in Orcish. One book is detailing experiments with making stronger Orc skeletons by attempting to combine boar bones. So far all experiments have failed but the author remains hopeful. Another book is all about Carrion Crawler care and poison. Another book is about cultivating underground plants for poisons and tinctures. A fourth book is a guide to breaking female orcs as wives or slaves. The final book is called “The Strength of Magic” and appears to be a spellbook.
Aside from this room, nothing else of value or interest is found in the keep. Between the residential rooms and cold forge, everything of further value was taken by the male orcs when they fled.
Except the baby dire boars… one of which is now being taken care of by Faenya.
Now its time to decide where the party wants to go next.
Uka offers to have everyone come with her and the women to her village, Gru ak Kapus – The Women who Slaughter. On the way there, Thorsun decides to take the mysterious axe home, and hopefully stop for a bone on the way. The bone token does appear to be pointing northward, almost in the same direction as Thorsun’s homeland. Maybe it wont be too far out of the way?
Uka’s village seems to be a peaceful one, despite their foreboding name. Uka herself is greeted by a small child, whom she boops on the nose and tells her “I told you I would come back.” She then picks up the child and walks away, leaving the party to wonder what to do next. A crowd of orc women have now gathered to help comfort the newcommers and stare at the party. Most of them have never seen a non-orc before, so everyone poses quite an interesting contrast. The crowd guides them to the front of a large central grass-woven hut. A middle-aged orc who appears to be their leader steps out and greets everyone.
She introduces herself as Sharog, and greets the party with enthusiasm. She thanks them for saving these women, and invites them inside the main hut. The party is seated close to the door and is served food out of baskets before everyone else. It seems that they are given a place of great honor. She shares stories of the tribe with everyone as they eat, and she hears some of yours. She’s eager and curious about the party, and cautiously curious about this strange god who could bring you all together.
After a time, she offers to give everyone a tour of the village. From the fishing huts to the blacksmiths hut, everything seems peaceful and almost normal. Until you realize there are very few boys here, and no men. When asked about the men, Sharog states that boys are given a chance to grow up in the peaceful company of women. Those who don’t like this, are exiled. When asked about how new children are produced, she shows you the mating hut, where two (poor?) males are trapped in stocks, and only ever released for mating. Seeing that sets a bad tone, and makes everyone question whether or not they did a good thing by escorting more women here.
The next morning everyone says their goodbyes and heads north for Dwarf country. Before leaving, Sharog is given two official statements proclaiming this tribe to be peaceful and protected – one by Thorsun Dragonaxe, and one from Nuada of the Temple of Whispers.
A few more days pass and the party enters the Giuthais Forest, whose edges mark the southern border of the Redspear Clan, or Deargsleagh. Only two days into this pine forest, the party is set on by a raging Owlbear. Luckily, the party roles well and its quickly defeated with minimal damage all around. Kuma is a bit bothered by this turn of events, as the Bear is a sacred animal to him. The party takes some time to properly bury the animal for Kuma’s sake, and Kuma gives a confession to Pe-Ling in order to pay a penance for his perceived misdeed.
Faenya points out that there must be a nest nearby. Severath goes off alone to try and find it, but can’t seem to locate the right trail. With Faenyas help, they discover it about 20 minutes away. Three eggs appear to be perfectly in tact. They rejoin the rest of the group, and decide what to do with the eggs. Faenya knows exactly how to take care of them until they hatch. The party figures they could sell them to an animal trainer, or maybe keep one as a pet or guard animal. A little nest is made for them in the treasure, and Severath comically places his owl familiar on one.
The party decides to bed down for the night with their new eggs.
DM: “What is your alignment?”
“True-annoyed” – Nuada