Corvus was in no mood to deal with a new threat. He was exhausted, and Sildar was in no physical condition to engage in a fight. Diplomacy was the only option.
“Very well,” called the sinister voice as there was a rustling high in the nearest treetop. A nimble figure clothed in all green was barely visible among the foliage as it leapt from the heights. The masked figure taunted, “You are truly fucked, Corvus. Porcius placed a 100 gold bounty on your head. Every bounty hunter worth their salt is out to get you. Fortunately, for me, you’re shit at hiding.” He noticed Pekeporo moving his hand over his staff to cast Shilelagh. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Druid. I may be outnumbered, but you’ll not survive a fight with me.”
Pekeporo withdrew his hand as Corvus dropped his blades. If Corvus wasn’t ready to fight, Pekeporo knew this bounty hunter’s words were no idle threat. True to form, though, Corvus wouldn’t go down without a verbal fight. “Who is this Corvus you keep talking about? I’ve never heard of him.”
“Ha. You must take me for a fool from your backwoods village. I know very well who you are, and you’re coming with me. Unless you can make it worth my while.”
Pekeporo was dismayed. “We can’t just pay off every bounty hunter that comes calling.”
Corvus looked around, noting the windfall of valuable goods they were delivering to Phandalin. “No, Peke, we can’t. But we can pay this one.” He turned to the bounty hunter. “I can pay, but there’s no way I’m worth 100 gold to Porcius. He’s offering you 50 at the most, so I’ll give you 75 gold pieces to fuck off.”
“Very well.” The bounty hunter held out his hand for compensation. The moment the gold dropped in his hand, he started skipping off, laughing. “You fools,” he taunted, “the offered reward is only 25 gold.” And with that, he disappeared into the woods.
Corvus felt a bit foolish but was too relieved to be on his way to care too much. Pekeporo’s wolf sensed the alpha presence of K’ot and sat at her feet. This act of supplication greatly pleased K’ot as she loved Pekeporo but often missed her pack. Pekeporo came over and told the wolf, “I promised you freedom. You repaid me with your protection. There is no debt between us. Be free.” The wolf yipped in gratitude and bounded into the forest.
The crew uneventfully journeyed with the goods the rest of the way to Phandalin. On the journey, Corvus advised his friends to call him Markan to avoid such unpleasant encounters in the future. Upon entry in Phandalin, they made their way directly to Halia Thorton’s blacksmith shop, recognizing the symbol on her sign from some of the crates they transported. They delivered her goods to much gratitude and offers of even the most exclusive wares. Corvus and Pekeporo found an instant ally in this strange new town. She warned them of the presence of Redbrands, a group of ruffians casting the town into a state of fear and paranoia. They thanked her and moved on to deliver the rest of the goods.
At the inn that night, they drank, laughed and talked. They learned of many local problems and discoveries from the other patrons in the bar. Sildar told them of his true intentions. He made his way to Phandalin to seek answers regarding the disappearance of his friend, a sorcerer, who was last seen on the outskirts of town. They lost the night to friendship.
The next morning, Corvus and Pekeporo headed to the Townmaster’s Hall to seek more information on the commission of adventurers to rid the town of a nearby band of orcs descending upon unwary travelers. For some reason Pekeporo didn’t understand, Corvus was hellbent on seeking out these orcs. But he was in this for the adventure, and Corvus was the truest friend he had found since leaving the Wood of Sharp Teeth. When questioned about the Redbrands, the Townmaster grew nervous and undermined the word of the townsfolk as mere hyperbole. Before leaving, Corvus and Pekeporo promised Sildar they would return to assist him in his quest.
Corvus, Pekeporo and K’ot made their way on the trail but ducked into the woods as they approached the orc encampment. There were two watchorcs at the opening of the enclosure. Thanks to their stealthy tactics, they quickly dispatched of these guards in a flurry of arrows and direwolf teeth. After hiding the guards’ bodies, the pair slowly approached the entrance. Inside, they found three orcs and a massive ogre, all sleeping. Both adventurers felt a sense of being outmatched and quickly took advantage of their surprise position. They unleashed their arrows at the sleeping ogre as K’ot bounded down the opening at him. The ogre awoke with a cry of pain thereby arousing the orcs. They charged toward the opening, but Pekeporo called on the power of Rillifane Rallathil, elven god of nature. Barbed vines sprouted from the floor and walls and bound the orcs where they stood. Meanwhile, the ogre slowed in the face of Corvus’ relentless arrow strikes and K’ot’s persistent attacks.
As the battle seemed all but won, the ogre tossed K’ot against the wall and brought his massive club down in a crushing blow on her skull. Pekeporo cried out in fury as he witnessed his closest companion crumple to the ground.
Will our heroes overcome this, the greatest battle they have ever faced? Will Corvus find what he needs to be whole, and will it cost him his friendship with Pekeporo? Will our heroes ever stop ruining perfectly pleasant nights of sleep for their foes? Tune in next time to find out!