The glistening orange of the disappearing sunset matched the beautiful fire engulfing the blazing fort. it was a work of art. As the adrenaline from my body dissipated, I realized we have accomplished the daunting task of escaping the fort with the Arsenal to ensure the future of our kingdom. Maybe we should have a little bit of celebration on our horse-drawn carriage traveling towards Avendale.
In all of our adventures so far, they've been pretty weird and unique, but even this time, I have been bizzared by spotting a flying pegasus. Soaring in all of its majestic flight. What I thought was the pegasus' shadow, was actually getting bigger and bigger and realized they were falling items that soon landed on my hands, revealing three items: An extremely shiny armour which seems to be made of crystal, a longsword seemingly forged with gold and a hint of dragon, and a hardy-looking explorer's garb that seems to be suitable for any kind of adventure. I felt a tingling sensation in the back of my head, and came to the conclusion that this may be a reward for me, it's as if a powerful omnipotent being has been watching and recording my adventures as well and protecting me for surely I would have died eons ago if it weren't the being. I thanked... whoever that being is, put on the shiny crystal armour, store the garb and longsword and pretend it never happened.
We must haste to our destination, Avendale, as we have knowledge that the invading army is advancing, and if they get there first, what will surely follow is total annihilation, as they first demonstrated this at Redstone. Dragons that are part of the invading are also working towards Avendale as we spot them in the distance. Hastily, we shove our cart with all of our might off the main road and into the surrounding forest with our two horses and my donkey. We all know that dragons never sleep with two eyes closed, and are very perceptible creatures, and the one in the distance may know that we are its next meal. The only option left now, is to bolt! As we group ourselves on the two horses with the arsenal, the half-orc wizard yelled to remind us to: "Never split up!". I start to remember all of the unfortunate events of splitting up, and decide not to split up. But what can we do? Especially after the half-orc wizard yelled. We take the chance of hiding, ditch our cart behind, and sneak even deeper and deeper, into the dense green forest.
Our instincts to choose the hiding option were life saving, as the blur of a dragon flying at its maximum speed, with I think something, or someone riding it luckily buzzed by, not even detecting or glancing at us. We're still traveling to Avendale by the main road, though quite aways from it as we're in the green tone of the surrounding forest. Suddenly, both the Monk and Hunter look down at the brown soil ground that is covered with the fallen leaves of the trees towering over us, and then spread their arms to prevent us from moving any further. They turn around, with their faces plastered with fear, panic, anxiety and like they just crapped their pants. Simultaneously, both whisper, "Owlbear..."
Those mere words are enough to make our entire group shudder, even I particularly paid attention in class back in the citadel. Owlbears are capable and willing to ruin you and everybody's day. They are savage, bloodthirsty monsters that attack anything without provocation, and physically hardwired to have a pathological need to literally kill and attack everybody. It would be pretty cool to have one as a pet though.
I heard everybody's movements, mine included, stop at the sound of the owlbear's threatening growl. The only movements are now of the forest, and the Owlbear, but it doesn't last for long when everyone starts to enact their plan to escape. The monk and the thief leap as quickly as they can onto one horse, and me and the hunter do the same as well to the other horse. I think about how the others would escape from the horror called Owlbear, but really only care about my self. But of course, with the half-orc wizard's magic, he and cleric start to float above the ground higher and higher until they start to touch the highest branches of the trees, I hope owlbears can't jump... It seems that Oreo, the only one who doesn't have a plan, in frantic frenzy, starts to climb the nearest tree with a speed I've never seen in him, I hope owlbears can't climb...
It felt like all of these actions took forever to do from my view, but it has probably been only five seconds, and the Owlbear has run out of patience. The Owlbear charges, its brown paws violently shaking the ground and us every time it stomps forward, its body leaning to run faster than I can yell "OWLBEAR!", and its hideous face contorted into one of pure sadistic joy. Everyone is in a frenzied panic to escape, but Oreo is the most terrified since he lost his grip on a branch, and started tumbling out with the grace of a fish out of water. There is a sickening crack as he lands directly on his head, but it doesn't phase him at all, climbing with renewed energy until the very top of the tree. Even though he's temporarily safe from the owlbear, he has a terrified face. He looks down at us and whispers loudly that there is a dragon coming, but it is going to be a while until it comes. That fact does not calm me at all, now we have to deal with a savage Owlbear AND a dragon!
Unexpectedly, the hunter, saddled in front of me asked for some of my oil. Despite my confusion, I oblige and hand it over, I become even more perplexed when he proceeds to pour all of it onto the bush below Oreo's tree and proceeds to set it on fire by the sparks of my flint and steel, which I have finally noticed he took without my permission. The bush immediately goes up in flames, an beautiful orange inferno erupts as the bush shrinks and shrinks, and the thick grey smoke rises higher than the height of Oreo. I think there are only two possible reasons why the hunter set the bush on fire, one, the flames and the smoke would be scary enough to deter the owlbear from climbing Oreo's tree, or two, the hunter wants smoked Oreo.
With all of this pandemonium, it was expected that some of us would put a palm to their face and go to avoid embarrassment, and it was the monk and the thief, together on the horse they started to gallop away, yelling that we'll all meet at Redstone. It was at the perfect moment however, for the Owlbear leaps off its four limbs in a mad frenzied dash towards Oreo, the cleric and wizard with a bellowing roar that had angry little bits of spittle coming out his teeth ready to sink into anyone of them without warning.
In a desperate attempt to save my friends from becoming the owlbear's next plaything I look towards the mossy ground and spot a grey, course fist-sized rock that has seen its fair share of being thrown. With great haste, the rock was immediately relocated from the ground to my palm, and relocated even quicker from my palm to the torso of the owlbear with a hurl of my arm. The rock harmlessly rolls off the jiggling thick brown fur of the owlbear. The owlbear stops in its tracks for a moment, slowly turning its head towards me, its something I regret looking at. Its face has wide bloodshot eyes staring at me that have seen the deaths of hundreds of creatures, a twitching black nose fuming steam that has a fetish for freshly killed meat, and the sharp, serrated teeth shown through the mouth in a position of acrimony. Nope, nope and nope, I paid the price of momentarily preventing my friends mauling by being intimidated and losing my dignity...
But the act of tossing the rock at the owlbear was not in vain, as the wizard and cleric have slowly elevated towards the evening sky as high as the treetops, it was hard to tell though, as the leaves far up the trees casting silhouette contrasted with the garish tangerine sun. Abruptly, all of the others, and myself, quickly stop focusing on our surroundings when we hear the unmistakable sounds; WHOOOSH....WHOOOSH...WHOOOSH. A dragon. Really close. Whelp. I swear, I could feel the rushing air ruffle everything in sight, the leaves, my hair, and even the owlbear, who seems oddly uncaring about the precarious situation. We all wait for the next WHOOOSH, but it never comes, I sigh, due to relief, and also because I held my breath for quite a while.
It is calm for only a very short moment however, as I hear some less-than-polite swear words, the ruffling of leaves and the snapping of several branches. I glance up, and glance quickly down as the cleric falls uncharismatically, landing hard and spreading leaves everywhere. The cleric has a panicked look on his face, realizing that he must follow the laws of gravity, and the fact the owlbear is on the ground too. But the attention of the owlbear is shifted quickly to Oreo, I spot him midway on a tree, focusing on a different tree, and preparing to jump. He hastily jumps, for Oreo fears that the owlbear would catch him midair, Oreo claws and hugs the tree as if it was his missing father.
Remembering our original plan to quietly retreat, the hunter and me stealthily move away from the owlbear, making great care to not step on any of the twigs and rocks that litter the ground. The hunter also asks me to borrow one of my trusty rocks, I gladly hand one to him without hesitation, to be without a rock is to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. After it feels like we're out of the owlbear's field of perception, we bolt it and run faster than man who has the runs. I turn my head for moment to look at the owlbear one last time, the owlbear does too, with an angry scowl, directed both at me and the cleric, desperately trying to float up faster, but now it takes its attention to a much closer target, Oreo.
As we run further and further from the furry monstrosity, I spot Donkey, as loyal as ever staying in the spot where we left him since we encountered the owlbear. Donkey greated me with a saluting ugly-but-endearing face... If it was possible for him to salute, it matched well with his grizzled grey fur with some tufts sticking out, showing how battle-hardened and devoted he was to me. I know that his ardent allegiance to me will be the greatest weapon I will ever wield, and so I command him: "Go forth Donkey! Go and fight the owlbear with vim, vigor and valour! Fight, kick, roar and bite with no mercy and leave him covered in his own blood and tears! You must go with courage! You must do it for your loyalty! You must do it for me! GO!!!".
My relentless speech filled Donkey to the brim with courage and a seething fury to destroy the owlbear with his bare hooves. He charges faster than someone terrified by an owlbear right towards the same owlbear. The owlbear takes a curious glance at Donkey and immediately laughs a hearty laugh with its deep vocal cords. This does not deter Donkey at all and is still just as determined to dominate the owlbear charges, as Donkey makes contact with the owlbear, he just bounces off the fur, doing absolutely no harm whatsoever to the owlbear. As Donkey is dazzled from headbutting the immovable creature, the owlbear proceeds to sit on Donkey, squeezing the poor daylights out him, while laughing like a crazed owlbear. But the owlbear isn't too cruel, since he starts to pet Donkey on the head like it's his own "pet"...
As we move a little bit further ahead, we spot the monk and the thief stopped on their horse, with the Arsenal secure in the horse's cargo carrier. When we immediately reach them, the monk proceeds to take the Arsenal and shove it to the hunter who is surprised to be suddenly carrying such a powerful box. Right after that, both of them leap off the horse, and the thief slaps the horse's arse, spooking it and making it gallop away, much to our confusion.
All four of us turn our heads up towards the sky as we hear the screaming voice that belongs to Ted, the magical sword. Ted's tone of voice sounds disappointed, like a mother lecturing a disobedient son. The contents of Ted's lecture are calling the wizard such a coward for leaving his friends to fend themselves off a ravenous owlbear by just floating away and looking like a moron doing so. The wizard bursts into tears and starts to fly back towards us, showing Ted's powerful words that could move mountains.
Except for Oreo, who is currently in a tree while the owlbear focuses of him, all of us gather to unite our forces and decide what to do. It seems obvious that if we all ran away, the owlbear would would hunt us down and snap us as if we were weak little twigs. However, if all of us puny anemic twigs were to bundle together as one big stick, then the owlbear will never break us! We will combine forces and take down the terrorizing owlbear once and for all!
While we were trying to hype ourselves up and rally together to take down an insurmountable owlbear, we pause of our chanting to take a glance at Oreo, still glued to the tree as if his life depended on it, actually, it DID depend on his life how glued to the tree he was. He quickly lets go of the tree from his hands, twisting around to face another tall tree, and hastily pushing off the current tree with his feet. Leaping towards the targeted tree with his eyes closed, he does not spot the branch headed on a straight to his head, immediately his face meets the fury of a small branch, his face red with scratches. But this does not stop him from hugging his tree target, unfortunately, the hugging is not enough, as Oreo slowly slides down the tree, ripping bark off and making loud scratching noises, eventually touching ground. The owlbear's interest in Oreo is quickly piqued, as it turns to face him and move closer, less than a ten-feet gap between them.
The owlbear's front end leans closer to the ground, bending its front legs, before pushing them off the ground lightning fast. It's stature changed from that of a regular (but still terrifying) owlbear to a humongous towering 9-foot tall savage animal of pure seething hatred staring right at Oreo. Even at the far distance I'm currently at, I feel as if the owlbear has eyes at the back of its head, ready to turn and charge at a moment's notice. The owlbear however, is much more focused on Oreo, its eyes piercing at Oreo who is desperately trying not to make eye contact with the owlbear, instead finding refuge by staring at the ground, out of sight therefore out of mind.
"ATTAAAAAAAAACK!" a loud voice that is Ted screams We all turn to face the wizard to see what Ted has to say, but it is too late, as the talking sword has already leaped of the wizard's sheath, landing between the gap of the owlbear and Oreo in a whiplash. Ted stands valiantly straight, facing the owlbear without a hint of fear, ready to make owlbear shish-kabob. "Ted?" a grainy low voice asks, all of us look around to identify who said it, since it was not any of us questioning Ted. It all dawns at us as we all look at the owlbear one by one, its face not one of savage anger anymore, but one of confusion. "Bob?" responds Ted to the owlbear, whos ears peak and eyes raise after hearing the name.
As the owlbear apparently named "Bob" is distracted by Ted's recognition of it, we all take the opportunity to crouch down to the foliage and sneak back towards Oreo in a seemingly futile attempt to save him. The monk however, so focused on the situation of the owlbear and Ted goes right into the middle of a bush by surprise. It wouldn't have been much of a problem- except for the hundreds of mosquitoes who made it the bush their home. They all angrily buzz and hungry for fresh blood, go after the monk and make her scream in terror for a brief bit.
"Ted! What're you doing here?" a hoarse questioning yet non-threatening voice from the owlbear asks to Ted. The sword responds cheerfully-"I've been adventuring with these adventurers! And you should also greet them too!" All of us weren't too excited to introduce ourselves to a standing 9-foot tall owlbear and so our faces were of worried smiling."Oh, right! I'll make things a bit better for you guys!" Bob states, sincerely apologizing. Things become a lot more freaky when the owlbear somehow drops something it had in its paw to the ground. In an instant, the owlbear is shrouded in a cloud of grey smoke, obscuring the figure of the owlbear and everything around it. Coughing noises reach our ears from the smoke, but it did not sound like one of an animal such as a cat vomiting a hairball, but more human. A hand starts to appear out of the smoke, waving around to dissipate all of the lingering smoke. None of us believe our eyes when we see a man with a five o' clock shadow smirks back at us. His big black cloak and body, which seems to be a bit more on the heftier side due to a somewhat protruding belly gives me the impression for a bit that he was the kind of person to be in their mother's basement.
"Shh, shh. The name's Bob, but we have to be quiet, a dragon is patrolling this forest, which is attracted to magical items..." We all look at the Arsenal, it's probably the world's most dense location of magical items..."That big chest of magical stuff is really not helping... But anyways, we'll need to distract it." Distract it? we booked it dealing with Bob, how in the world are we going to distract a dragon?!?