They rested a week in Slateholm, waiting on Benabil to evaluate their loot. Novak spent heavily on drink. He and his two hirelings sampled many of the taverns. He heard something about elves causing trouble for halflings but couldn’t remember the context when he woke up the next day. The priest retreated to Abramsh’s cathedral and tried to keep a low profile when the dwarf showed up begging for help with his glued-shut mouth. The diminutive warrior who considered himself a paladin didn’t get far with the followers of the Anointed One, perhaps due to his devotion to an alien deity.
The halfling never saw such a tapestry like the one they left with him, and he offered a great price. The lamp was mundane but worth a good sum as well. They refused his offer to buy the magic glue, figuring it would be more useful than the gold. In the end, they each got 1,576 gp and 9 sp. Novak paid Brian and Barksdale 100 gp each for their services.
Of the ink and quill, the halfling told them something about the Veiled Archipelago, a name that sounded like nonsense to Novak, and their practice of magic and staining skin. Novak considered it degenerate to mar body, except in the case of acquiring the scars of battle. Never the less, the halfling thief, found a fellow artist who gave instruction in tattooing. She may have been called Tallerena. She painted the outline of of a snake on Cora’s right arm. The little artist planned to color it in later.
On the last day or revelry, they gathered in a tavern to address Yarrick’s stuck mouth. They gave him liquor to hold the pain at bay as the halfling made a skillful cut with an obsidian knife. A quick healing spell stopped the bleeding, and the dwarf looked as good as new–for the dwarf, that is.
The set off on foot for Malcolmsfort, the primary source of lumber for shipbuilding in the western lands, and the small place where Novak first began his adventuring career. They intended to visit the kooky druid across the river since they’d promised the other druid to do so. In town they met up with the merchant with the odd way of speaking. His business hadn’t done well in the past year. He had heard about more lights and a kid being lost, and he hoped Novak would bring in some loot again.
They rode the ferry over the river and met with the elf ranger who ran away from the big battle a year before, the one people sang about owing to his tendency to run away from trouble. His wife scolded him harshly and prevented him from running off on an adventure with his former crew. So, they walked on to find the druid called Nahir. He was angry and protested innocence for some unspoken crime. Queenie the elf felt bad for him and pushed her way into his place to ask questions. He ended up admitting to summoning demons that he assumes kidnapped his son. It sounded like a fishy story, and Novak thought to himself “not my problem“. Regardless, they planned to go out towards the old monastery, there was no harm in poking around for the lost boy.
They checked the camp where they first found the grubby, savage halflings. It was bare. They found many fresh berries at the lake. Novak filled a large sack for himself. Then they went to see the witches who were glad to see them. Suddenly they remembered the ogre problem and the chance to get potions of strength. They went directly to where they fought ogres before.
At the foot of the cliff there were several caves. They tried the one from which they’d run before, the one with fog inside. They walked around a big pool. In one direction a tunnel ended in another pool. No one wanted to swim, so they turned around. Another tunnel led to a room filled with steam. An ugly monster appeared and blew steam on them. Novak felt nothing since he wore a magic ring of resistance from fire and other hot things. He charged at the monster, but his trident could land no blows.
More monsters came out of the fog. Novak called for Barksdale to bring his magic sword. He heard Queenie cry out and begin sobbing. With his magic sword in hand, the monster began falling. A moment later, a monster killed Brian. The degenerate monster crushed his manhood. The monster was killed and Brian clung to life, but when he realize the nature of his wound, the took his own life. This being the third hireling of Novak’s to have died from a wound in this part of his body, it was beginning to seem like a curse was in effect.
In the cave was a skeleton wearing weird armor and a ring shaped with a tiger head. The priest pocketed the ring and they headed out, only to face an ogre coming down the tunnel. The priest pointed his lightning bolt ring at the ogre and blew him up with electricity. The halfling pounced on the ogre and gathered up its balls.
Presently, another ogre appeared. Novak took a big blow and returned one of equal power. The elf thief Domastaet killed the ogre with an arrow. Again, Cora greedily severed the ogre’s balls.
Queenie was hurt and dying. They carried her back to the witches who took pity on her. Though the injury seemed incurable except by a wish, they worked powerful magic to reverse the elf’s fate. They also converted the ogre balls to strength potions but noted there was but one pair. One of the ogres had been a female! It would have been an embarrassing mistake by Cora if her low intelligence hadn’t already been well known.