Diamond Cascade: The Great Owlbear Fiasco

Hammer 5: The Great Owlbear Fiasco

Even with the ‘blessing’ of the foul fiend that was the lich-king, Diamond Cascade and his companions still faced many perils in crossing the Haunted Wood, from such mundane creatures as snakes and mischievous pixies to the horror of a MONSTROUS OWLBEAR…

Snakes. I hate snakes. I hate these woods. What sort of dumb snake drops down on a man from up in the trees and tries to eat them in front of their friends. It wasn’t like they were that hard to skewer, but… EW! And then there was the whole trouble of trying to put an arrow through a snake while it was wrapped around someone who, as things go, is as close to a friend as you can be with someone who regularly steals stuff of you.

No, scratch that, actually I don’t think I tried that hard not to put the arrow through the snake and through whoever it was strangling. I can’t even remember who the snake was trying to eat now, but I think from my lack of concern about whether I shot them at the same time as the snake, I can narrow it down to… to… to being anyone I haven’t slept with. Not including The Gnome. OK, so not Wolfgirl.

Now look, here’s a little tale that tells you all you need to know about gnomes. Think about this next one, and then remember that their ENTIRE RACE is like this. Then ask yourself whether we were acting for the greater good by trying to save them from annihilation. Y’see, we found this cart, blocking the trail we were following across the forest. One cart, one broken axle, one chest, no owner. We call out, being good-spirited folks and not wanting to be caught red-handed in any looting that might follow. No answer. So, hey, finders-keepers we figure, and Shifty sets to opening up the chest (locked of course). I don’t know what we’re expecting, but something worth having, for sure. Not a cloud of gas that did nothing more than make everyone nearby fall about helpless with laughter. In the middle of nowhere. WHAT, EXACTLY, WAS THE POINT OF THAT?  That’s a sane question, right? To a gnome, though, it’s a dumb question with an obvious answer. What do you mean what was the point? The point was obvious. Or else what do you mean there has to be a point of some sort? Yeah. Gnomes. Why are we saving them, again?

Maybe the answer is in the owlbear fiasco. Yes, we fought an owlbear. Yes, I largely took it down. Me, largely on my own, keeping well away and sticking it with arrows. Of course, we had no idea what the hell it was at the time, just some great massive bear thing with an enormous beak the size of my arm, waving its arms and squawking and hooting and acting all leery. I suppose you would, if you were the relic of some mad wizard experiment to mix an owl and a bear together. What next? The mosquito-wolf, who hunts in packs and sucks your blood and kills you with strange tropical diseases? No wait, whoever brought us the Stirge probably already did that? OK, the stoat-bat? The ant-fox? A cross between a caterpillar and a cheetah, vastly over-engineered for the lettuce it calls its prey?

Anyway, it come shambling through the woods at us making a fuss and clearly means to eat us, and we all fly into a panic. Scatter and run away is the first thing that comes to my mind, on the grounds that all these short stumpy non-humans and Stalker in his heavy armour are more likely to get caught that fleet-footed me, and maybe by the time this horror has finished eating them it’ll be full and fancy an afternoon nap. What’s it doing out here anyway? It’s the middle of the day and the middle of winter. Bears hibernate! Owls are nocturnal! Shouting its contradictions at merely seemed to enrage the beast, and I was all for riding away, until the Gnome did possibly the cleverest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do. She threw a spell at the monster, turning the ground underneath it into thick mud, miring it down. Bogged down as it was, and with me being the expert archer that I am, you’d think it’s fate was sealed. You’d think that everyone else would have the sense to stand back and pepper it with arrows too until it fell. That or run like buggery and be gone before it hauled itself out. You’d really think that no one would be SO STUPID as to throw themselves into the mud in an attempt to go toe-to-toe with a nine-foot bear armed with a two foot hooked beaked while up to their waist in heavy mud. Or, if you’re a dwarf, up to your neck. But no. Its first one dwarf, then the other, then even the blind elf (sweet gods, how did he ever live even this long) are throwing themselves at the monster, getting stuck, smashed to bits and, in the case of the Blind Elf, nearly drowning. In fact, if I remember rightly, Blind Elf threw his sword at the Owlbear first. I am, truly, at a loss to explain the behaviour of non-human races sometimes. All we humans did the sensible thing and stood back.

So maybe that’s why we’re saving the gnomes. Because, daft as they are, they’re no worse than any other non-humans. And for being, for once, the only other person with any sense, I shall try to remember that The Gnome has an actual name. Holli. Which is probably short for something with about twenty syllables, but it’ll do.


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