The winter that followed the battle with werewolves was hard for Novak. Despite gainful employment as the head of the city militia, he suffered two setbacks. First, a charlatan bilked him of part of his hard-earned wealth. Second, he soon fell ill and was unable to work for four months. All winter he lay in bed, away from work and the tavern. Fortunately, his new wife provided comfort through the dark season and he was as good as new for the Spring snowmelt.
When he met with his companions for the first time in months, they told their own tales of adventure and misadventure. The elf picked up a job as a scribe. The priest fled town for some time and had just returned, having picked up a good friend who is now looking out for him. The little halfling kept to her painting. They all met a relic-hunting dwarf who they invited to come along with them on their next hunt for evil humanoids.
Novak convinced two militiamen, Barksdale and Brian, to come along with them as they headed towards Four Trails. He outfitted them with his collection of magic items. Barksdale took up the magic armor and sword. Brian wielded the powerful ranseur recovered from the mountain tomb.
Orcs on the Road
Marching along the road, they spied a group of orcs. Without hesitation, Novak lead a charge. With little trouble, they slaughtered them. And though the leader attempted an escape, the halfling chased him down. They piled the bodies in a pyramid next to the road as a warning to other humanoids.
Before the sun set beyond the western mountains, they reached Four Trails. In the morning, they found a path up into the mountains to the south. The map found the year before suggested another point of interest, though details were sparse.
Along the trail, they came upon a three-headed monster that failed to notice them. They left it alone, and it eventually flew away. Some time later, it seemed to come back and again they hid from it.
Presently, the rough trail through the foothills turned into a ledge cut into the mountain with some purposeful improvement. The halfling scouted ahead. She came upon a large rodent poking its head from a hole. Novak rushed up, stuck the beast with his trident and hurled it off the cliff.
Down a Hole
The halfling crawled into the two-foot hole, expecting to find treasure. Not long after, she cried out for help. The dwarf crawled in after her. Then, they both were calling for help. Novak set aside his shield and trident. He lit a torch and squeezed into the hole. He came upon tiny monster men harassing his comrades, so he tossed flaming oil. They fled from the light of the fire. They all retreated, giving up on the lair as a good source of treasure.
Down the path they came to a man-sized opening that allowed access to finished chambers. In the first, they found a workshop. They figured out the chest in the room was trapped, but avoided it by pulling the chest with a rope and a grappling hook. Acid splashed down harmlessly.
Inside the chest were several flasks. The halfling and the dwarf began sipping them in an effort to discover their properties. Perhaps the green pine-smelling liquid was poison. One flask held more acid. A blue potion perhaps was was for shrinking.
The most amusing potion was orange, but it was no potion at all. The dwarf found his lips glued together as soon as some of that viscous liquid touched his mouth. His lips would not part despite strong pulling or delicate cutting.
Oh, what a predicament!