Ulfbjorn, Lochlann, and Gwen had given up much hope of defeating Mother Meg, but they determined to go down fighting. They returned to Crow’s Roost and set fire to the western ramparts, then climbed over the walls on the east. They were stunned to find no-one in the castle. It was deserted, except for a note from Meg in her room at the summit. It read:
“To the humans.
You have won. You won long ago, if I am being honest. You won when you took our world, but I refused to give up, and I led my people into Dream. You won when your dreams proved more powerful than ours, and changed my people into caricatures of themselves. You won when I became Mother Meg, and began to wage war, something my people don’t believe in. You won even then, because you are all warriors. You slew my army. You won when you invaded my home and killed even my personal guard. And you have beaten me, or perhaps I defeated myself long ago when I did not follow the other Great Mothers into exile. No matter. I can fight no longer. I will seek the others and explain, and then die. It is all I hope for.
Syslsia of Crow’s Roost”
The comrades then undertook a room by room search of the castle. They found little in the goblin barracks and lower rooms, except for a locked room, known to Syslsia as the Hall of Wisdom. Inside was a room with the corners rounded with plaster, so it looked like the inside of an egg. There were two silver fonts in the room, which were retrieved a few weeks later by cart, along with an enormous alabaster wash basin in Syslsia’s room. Syslsia’s room featured extensive murals with gem-eyed lizards. Ulfbjorn and Lochlann disdained from gathering them, but Gwen carefully removed each emerald and ruby. The rooms just under Syslsia’s were of the Ratboys, who had been so ineffective in combat but who were favored and beloved by their mistress. In those plush rooms the party found short swords of quality and bottles of fine wine. And everywhere they found bags and trunks of teeth, the currency of the Seveysas, utterly useless without their former owners.
The three then journied to High Hold, where they learned of the victory over Meg’s army of giants and goblins. The party’s reputation went up two points; one for sending the elves to aid High Hold, and one for defeating Meg. Wintering at High Hold, they returned to the Gales in the spring and began to rebuild. A few people from High Hold followed, either married over the winter or entrepeneurs interested in opportunities offered by the stronghold.
The group rested, rebuilt, and trained for the next two years. Gwen took the opportunity to conduct a variety of random summonings in the hills. A droad nearly finished her, but she resisted its hypnotic stare and managed to banish it once more. She bound a living torch, a small fire elemental, a small air elemental, and a small water elemental. She chose not to bind the living comfy chair, though her comrades upbraided her for it afterwards. The thought of adventuring from a moving chair delighted them.
At the end of two years, they received a summons from the War Chief of Membec’s Falls, the western-most stronghold of the Strausa. A giant cat was preying on their livestock and people, and they requested the help of the heroes of the Gales. The party answered the call and discovered that the cat had been taken in a few years ago by Hartha, the chief’s daughter. Hartha was a dim but loving teenager, and wanted “Whiskers” returned to her. A collar created by Wennel the Wanderer had tamed the creature, but the loss of the collar (no-one knew where) had set it free, and it had now killed many goats and two herdsmen. Her doting father would return the party for returning the cat, or for killing it, which he thought would be necessary.
The party immediately set out to track the beast, using a giant hairball to gain its scent. Ulfbjorn chose the hairball over the blanket as the blanket was too large. Ulfbjorn’s hound was set loose and it found the creature, to its dismay. Ulfbjorn and Lochlann arrived at the edge of the clearing just as the last bit of the hound went into Whiskers. Mad with grief, Ulfbjorn fired an arrow at the cat, followed closely by Lochlann. Gwen arrived on the scene just in time to see an enraged housecat the size of a peasant’s hut charging the party. She tried to banish it but failed, then sent her fire elemental against it, but the hapless flame fumbled and got stuck in the branch of a tree instead. Ulfbjorn and Lochlann drew their blades and got initiative, but they did little to the hissing beast. In return, Whiskers smacked Ulfbjorn’s leg, and with a popping and tearing sound, his foot met the back of his head. He collapsed. The demise of all three seemed certain, but Lochlann managed to hit Whiskers in the hindquarters with a critical hit that was just enough to cause a major wound. Whiskers failed his morale roll and began to drag himself away, but Lochlann would have none of it and pursued. Whiskers missed his next attack, and Lochlann followed up with another critical hit, this time to its forequarters. Whiskers went into shock, and Gwen healed Ulfbjorn. Fifteen minutes later, Ulfbjorn grimly put his spear into its eye.
This illustration of a Cath Palug by Galaxsea is the closest representation I could find to the battle.
Returning to Membec’s Falls with the severed paw of Whiskers, they were rewarded with diamonds and thanks. Their reputation went up another point. Lochlann canvassed the locals and found a cat he could present to Hartha, who was thankful but still clueless as to the death of Whiskers when the party set off again for the Gales.
NOTE: If you are confused about Meg, you should know that Navah was originally populated by a lizard people called the Seveysas. When the humans arrived from the sky, they exterminated the original inhabitants, or at least that’s what they had thought. Now it seems the Seveysas were not all killed, but merely withdrew into “Dream,” the realm that humans have named “Faerie.”