Aeron and the Wrekin Border

Into the Barrow Downs Session #3

Bugbears sir, thousands of them…

Settling down for the night, the Blades arranged a watch, hobbled the horses in one of the barrow chambers and cleared out the beetle carcasses while blocking up various sources of entrance and egress. Their careful preparations paid off. During the third watch, the Nightblade’s keen elven ears detected the muffled sound of beetle carcasses and incomprehensible language on the other side of the barrow’s entrance stone. He woke the Corsair, seeking to allow the spell casters as much rest time as possible. Listening more carefully, the aware members of the Blades prepared a counter-ambush.
When all was ready the Nightblade pushed out the stone covering the barrow entrance on top of two bugbears. In the night-time gloom another eight or nine of the beastmen were visible. With a strange, raspy battle cry and mention of eight pieces the Corsair leapt at the nearest bugbear that wasn’t resting under a couple of hundredweight of stone. The Nightblade swiftly despatched the trapped bugbears and before most of the rest of the Ashen Blades were ready, the bugbears morale broke and they fled back up the vale. Keen eyed, the Nightblade noted that they appeared to be heading to a higher roughly shaped cave or barrow entrance further up the side of the valley.
After some preparation, some astute scouting by the Nightblade and hench-thief and a carefully laid plan the Ashen Blades undertook a counter-attack on the bugbear’s lair. A half dozen of the creatures were guarding the lair entrance but failed to spot the Nightblade until it was too late and all the Blade’s with missile weapons had taken at least a shot. The party then formed a shield wall with the Spellsword and Corsair in the front rank, the Bladedancer, hench-thief and Nightblade in the second. The warriors and Bladedancer stabbed at combatant bugbears, while the Thief and Nightblade took shots at targets of opportunity. The combat was hard fought but the Ashen Blades definitely had the advantage. In the end, the bugbear champion stepped into the fray and sent a minion back into the lair to summon reinforcements. It was at this point that the most memorable of all combat actions occurred. After seventeen campaign sessions and an estimated forty or fifty combat encounters the Nightblade passed an Acrobatics roll, slipped between the legs of the bugbear champion and delivered a crippling surprise backstab. There was cheering, there was applauding, there was a realisation that the shiny sword was in fact a magical sword. Congratulations were short-lived because it was painfully obvious that more bugbears were coming and the Blades best warriors were sorely wounded and nearly exhausted. Plans were set and the Blades prepared.
It wasn’t long before the rest of the bugbear warband arrived with their remaining champions and chieftain. The fighting now became even more brutal, but two Sleep spells and some deft blade work resulted in two bugbears, a champion and the chieftain surrendering after eight of their compatriots had been permanently put to sleep with extreme prejudice (and a serrated two handed sword). Offering all their wealth and some information about the remaining barrow, the Blades extracted promises of future service, although the bugbears refused to enter the last barrow with its living metal men and numerous ghosts…

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