After taking just a day to discover the extent of damage to their beloved town, the party chooses to trust in the resilience of Stagsheart, and prepares to wage war on whatever manner of birdbeast caused this mayhem.
The hunter and others track the obvious trail back to a gaping hole in the side of a hillock. Investigating, they set off the mushroom alarms, bring a plant creature, with its inhabitant centipedes, to investigate. The Baroness engulfed in the plant creature, suffering the ill effects of the hungry centipedes. The others pummel it with their magic, claws and arrows until it falls. A weary, but unbeaten Eric emerges.
The party decides the cave may be too dangerous to further explore, depleted of its resources. It chooses to rest to regain its strength.
The PCs venture in the next day, with a singular goal – confront what wrought devastation on Ashhaven. Going deeper into the earth, the party passes piles of carrion and offal, eventually staring down an enormous, armor-wearing owlbear. It’s bloodshot eyes terrorize the PCs, and its piercing screech-grunts echo through the chamber. It charges Sleestak, hammering him back against a wall, where he collapses. Khumbu, seeing its friend fall, leaps to the attack, in turn, getting hammered down. Sparks fly, and the baroness’ shield deflects some of the attack, while Alarah inspires the group and attempts to keep everyone alive, long enough to let blade and fiery spells to eventually drop the massive beast.
A sigh of relief passes between the PCs. The spine-breaking slam did not slay Khumbu, contrary to what was witnessed. Alarah and the Baroness knit bones and cat-flesh together, and Khumbu’s wide eyes pop open warily.
The party discovers a corpse with some valuable gear. Alarah notes the habiliments of the corpse remind her of an Iobarian barbarian, from the northeast. A tainted magical ring was also found on the corpse. Did the barbarian try to tame the owlbear? Was it successful? The armor indicates something of success. A map on the corpse shows the owlbear lair, and Ashhaven, circled…