Chapter 2: Bovine Behovment
The next morning the party got up from their prospective rooms and headed downstairs. The tavern owner had prepared a morning ham and eggs meal for the adventurers which they accepted with a grunt. After gathering together I listened in to hear their plan of attack, or at least I would have if there had been any discussion at all as to what they were going to do once they got to the ranch. After everyone had eaten they checked their gear and headed out in search of the ranch from the prior evening.
They wandered around the country side for close to 2 hours passing through corn fields and wheat fields aplenty until they finally stumbled upon a cattle ranch. “I zhall do zeh talking!” the doctor proclaimed as he lead the group to the front door of the ranch. He knocked thrice and waited for a response from inside. After around 5 minutes of waiting a human man answered the door. He was around 45 in age and his thick build made it obvious he had worked the ranch for most of his life.
“Can I help ya?” he asked with a very long draw on each word. You could tell he was sizing up this rather peculiar looking band of adventurers at his door. Could it be he had not heard of their feats? Or is it rather he just doesn’t recognize them yet? Not to mention why is this great party of adventurers wasting their time on an ogre bandit problem? Shouldn’t they be killing dragons?
Before the doctor could speak super mutant shoved his way to the door and began introducing himself. “I am super mutant, I here to solve cow thief problem.” He announced only to be pushed out of the way by the doctor.
“I said I would do zeh talking!” He said in annoyed tone as he once again stood at the front of the group. “As my overly large companion did state we are here to solve zis bounty.” He proclaimed as he pulled the rolled up parchment from his belt pouch.
“That be my bounty alright. The buggers yer be lookin for go in the field e’ery ‘ight.” He said in his long country draw. “You lot can go sit in them fields and catch em red handed! I wanna see their bleedin heads on my door step when yer done!”
“This is my kind of job, messy and fun.” Lazuli said with a grin as she pocketed a small book she was reading.
The party began making their way to the field with the exception of Noctys who requested use of the rancher’s barn. Happy to oblige the rancher led the way directing the rogue and his small orphan girl to the building. Meanwhile the rest of the party had made it to the field and began preparations for their ambush. I was excited to see what they had in store, maybe a fireball trap rigged to an alarm spell? So many possibilities!
It was then I finally got to hear the doctor’s plan. Nothing in all of my training had prepared me for the words I am writing here. Years of bard school and months of tracking this party all for the events that are about to unfold.
“I require… a COWstume…” the Doctor said to his party. “I propose we dress up as the cattle and fool the thieves into stealing us, that way we can ambush them right in their own camp!” he chuckled with a mad grin on his orchish face. On that note Shardin slipped away into the woods. I am assuming it was to scout ahead but with what I have witnessed I could not be sure.
“This good plan, I find paint” Super Mutant said as he wandered off. No one is really sure where he went but when he returned he was painted white with black spots. It was simultaneously the best and worst costume I have ever seen in my entire bardic career. The Doctor on the other hand had finished his new cow suit and was getting dressed up for their upcoming stake out.
Lazuli at this point had enough and with an audible sigh she flew off on her broom and began placing alarm spells on the parameter of the ranch. Flying dead center and 200 feet up she pulled out a small book and scribbled into it.
“Marvelous COWstume Mutant, would you mind helping me adjust my horns?” the Doctor asked as he dropped down on all fours. Super Mutant had already entered his cow mode and adjusted the horns with his mouth. He then sauntered off lazily and began to eat grass. After a few minutes of regretting that decision he spat it out quickly then resumed his cow posture.
Sandy at least acted half normal as he began to scan the surrounding cows. He seemed to be counting the spots on each cow and when he found one with exactly 7 spots he began his watch. Locking eyes with the cow he stared intently at it, watching its every move. “Oooo, What have we got here? A thassilonian cow huh!?! I see through you! Through your simple charade! I know who you are and where you live cow!?!” he began as he started into one of his famous speeches. He continued to talk down to the cow for 10 solid minutes until he finally decided to sit upon his weapon, the folding chair called pain, and wait for the cow to break its ‘charade’.
Richard Miz had at least a normalish plan. He hid behind the largest cow he could find, careful to avoid the dung that the rest of the party seemed to just ignore, and prepared his magic missiles. Waiting patiently he murmured to himself the incantation all the while hiding behind a cow.
It was hours before anything changed. The two fake cows were still keeping up their act and it appeared that Sandy has not blinked since he found his target. Then in a flash I saw Lazuli move quickly, a flare went up and running across the field was an ogre. He was carrying two cows and running franticly back towards the ranch. Lazuli tailed him quickly but did not attack. There is no doubt that she was instructed by the party for this was very odd ogre behavior.
When the ogre reached the cows he placed the two under his arms down. Scanning he searched for the biggest cow he could find. He charged and picked up Super Mutant under his arm and a nearby dairy cow under the other. Without another thought he ran through the field back towards the woods completely unaware of both the flare and the shocked party observing him.
Disappearing back into the woods Super Mutant began mooing frantically hoping to give his party a direction to follow. The polite cow in the other arm followed suit in its sporadic mooing as it desperately hoped for freedom. The ogre returned to his camp and placed both Super Mutant and his fellow captive in a line with the other cows.
Meanwhile in the barn Noctys was trying desperately to train his orphan to stealth. Sitting at the bottom of the stairs he waited. The orphan had only the instructions of “don’t be heard” and was sent up the stairs. First attempt: CRASH! The orphan fell down the stairs making as much noise as humanely possible. The furious Noctys sent her back up the stairs to try again, and again, and again, and again to a total of 9 times before finally the Orphan managed to creep down the stairs silently.
The party followed the obvious trail of the ogre as stealthy as possible. Richard and Sandy stuck to the shadows while Lazuli took to the skies above in an aerial scouting position. The doctor on the other hand decided on a different route to infiltrate. Still in his COWstume he wandered into the camp pretending to be a lost calf. By some route of blind luck the ogre did not notice the origin of this cow and simply placed it in line, patted it on the head and returned back to his sitting spot.
There were five ogres in this camp. One ogre was milking the cows in the most unusual way I have ever seen a cow milked. With one hand on top and another on the bottom he pulled and pushed on the cow. Like some weird accordion player he was managing to milk the in a very efficient fashion. I had many questions I would have loved to ask them. The second ogre, the delivery boy, had taken a seat next to the line where he simply watched the cows, petting them every so often to show that he was in fact friend to cow. The third one was napping against a tree while the fourth was frantically looking around with a crossbow ready to shoot any intruders to the camp. The last ogre was sitting by the fire roasting what looked look an entire cow. Slow cooking it over the fire he seemed half asleep and bored out of his skull at this task.
Scattered around the camp were several barrels. Some were marked with elven branding, like rejected wine, while others were obviously filled with milk. There was a single chest in the corner of the camp under the napping ogre. The party seemed to look over the camp, no doubt coming up with an epic battle strategy. Slowly each cow was cycled out from the milked to non-milked pins. I saw Sandy and Richard whisper to each other but was unable to catch what was said.
It was then the party acted. I wish I could say it was an epic triumph between man and ogre but their strategy was unorthodox to say the least. 8 magic missiles were launched from behind super mutant at the ogre with the crossbow. BAM he was knocked down, crossbow thrown aside as he rubbed his eyes in an attempt at recovery from the attack. Turning towards the source all he saw was a cow staring at him.
“BIG BRO! THE COW SHOT SOMTHIN AT ME!” He shouted at the milker as he scrambled for his crossbow quickly. Pointing at Super Mutant he slowly approached the cows.
“Don’t be stupid Bork, Them just normal cows” The milker said with a laugh as the other ogres joined in poking fun at their younger brother.
I watched as Sandy murmured something and then Super Mutant began to glow. Like a demon from the abyss he glowed an evil purple hue. Lazuli cast down a thunder bolt and struck the ogre that was napping as a slowly amplifying mooing noise began. It grew slowly like a storm before growing way beyond normal volume. “MOOOOOOOOOOO” Super Mutant bellowed as he began to levitate, the result of clever casting from Lazuli. It was then that someone cast fire onto him and he was enflamed! Mooing and floating he looked like a demon that was just summoned.
The ogres approached cautiously as the wannabe cow bellowed its moo’s at them. They approached the Doktor who turned around presenting his bovine posterior at the ogres. I heard him mummer the words ‘Sacred Flame’ before he suddenly shot out fire from his behind. Simultaneously scorching and frightening the already panicked ogre. Two more lightning bolts dropped from the sky frying one of the ogres as Super Mutant drew his massive scythe and floated towards the ogres.
“FEAR ME FOR I AM SIR LOIN OF BEEF” the Doktor shouted using Thaumaturgy to amplify his voice. The illusion was in place and the ogres were frightened of this bovine deity that had manifested before their eyes. Super Mutant decapitated one with what they believed was a floating scythe, obviously summoned from the power of the cow. Another volley of Magic Missiles launched from behind him and blasted another ogre to death.
With two remaining Sandy decided it was his time to add more to the effect. “Puny ogres! Surely you have seen the power of the cow gods! We have already decimated 3 of your brethren! We shall spare you lives if you leave now and spread the word of the bovine dietys. Now witness the power of Behoovement!!! OHHH YEAHHHHHHHH!!!!!” He bellowed from the woods allowing it to echo through the trees. Lighting struck the ground around the few remaining ogres as they ran for their lives. The party allowed them to escape safely as they moved to loot the camp and return the cattle.
Pillaging the chest and taking the wine and milk they returned with the heads of three ogres and assured the ranch owner there would be no more trouble from them. Noctys joined the party shortly after, never really explaining why he was not in attendance to the battle. They gathered their things collected their reward and traveled north for adventures untold.
From what I understand their next destination is a hill giant strong hold known as “The Steep Steps”. How they will solve that one only time will tell.
Authors Note: Episode 2 was tons of fun to write and if you missed Episode 1 here is a LINK! We will return next week with another exciting adventure from Encounter Wednesday!