Ugh sat at a tavern table by the window, his hyena Fang II sat by his feet gnawing on a bone. ‘Fetch me a beer boy." The warrior ordered his faithful companion before letting out a sigh. He had forgotten Fang couldn’t understand him. He would need to go on a quest to speak dog. He watched the street eagerly for the arrival of his regular adventuring companion. Milgos would help him on his worthy dog whispering quest. Hours passed and the half orc became worried. Eventually an urchin, possibly an apprentice mage, approached with grim news, Milgos the wizard was detained and would not be accompanying him on his quest to West Wood, apparently he was washing his hair. Cursing under his breath Ugh rose to his feet and stormed out knocking the urchin to the floor in his haste to depart. He recruited Jana the cleric from the temple where she helped the poor between adventures and they departed the city striking west.
Two days of travel through the surrounding farmlands and villages saw Ugh arrive at a raging river. On the other side lay the West Wood, wherein was rumoured to live a hermit who could teach the warrior to speak with dogs. The river looked perilous and so Ugh was relieved to see a cabin up ahead. There he negotiated passage across the river with a talkative fisherman who warned Ugh of the great danger he faced in the forest. Ugh yawned at the man’s prattle, questioned his constantly changing accent and finally ordered him be silent for the remainder of the trip across the river. Ugh needed no help, least of all from babbling fishermen. Search the forest for the hermit, how hard could it be?
Upon being dropped off at the closest clearing Ugh pondered his options, hike through the tangled undergrowth or follow an overgrown path. The path looked easiest and so he hoisted his pack and set forth ordering Fang, his faithful hound, to range ahead. Trees towered overhead, their canopy casting deep shadows in the forest, the sounds of furtive fauna mixed with the sighing breeze and the creaking of the ancient swaying pines. After several hours of pleasant hiking Ugh was beginning to wonder what the fuss was with the West Wood, nothing had attacked him yet and he hadn’t seen anything more dangerous than a hare. Things were about to change.
His recently acquired helmet, liberated from a wight’s treasure horde, warned him of danger on the path ahead. It did so through telepathically sending feelings of dread which ensured Ugh could never be surprised. Not far ahead was a band of Neanderthals out hunting. Ugh skirted the band warily and the groups shared angry greetings. Much of what the cavemen had to say consisted of grunts that sounded much like Ugh’s own name. This noise they repeated till Ugh had moved out of sight.
Later Ugh was to discover a crystal clear lake stocked with gold and silver fish as well as a bush covered in odd yet delicious looking raspberries. Ugh picked and tried one and suffered no ill effects. He kept two for later. The place looked like a good point to rest but with a few hours of daylight to spare, Ugh pressed on. Again his helmet warned him of danger, this time a pair of hobgoblins perched in trees watched the trail with bows at the ready. With daylight fading Ugh left the hobgoblins to their own devices and returned to the lake to camp.
Ugh pondered how best to have his dog Fang keep watch for the night. Unfortunately without the ability to speak to the beast he could not communicate his idea. This was the primary reason he was venturing into the West Wood, to learn the language of dogs. The half orc had to share the watch with Jana. During the first watch Ugh heard voices, soft goblin voices by the lake. He crept up on a bickering pair of goblins and grabbed them by the scruff of the neck. The scrawny creatures had been filling jugs of water for their hobgoblin masters. The pitiable goblins begged to be released. They whined for some time before one of them shrieked for Ugh to look behind him. Now normally Ugh would not normally fall for such obvious tricks yet his helmet geve him that ‘don’t be surprised’ feeling. The warrior spun about thrusting both goblins before him as makeshift shields.
Failing to surprise Ugh was a feral looking emaciated hobgoblin that reached for him with wicked clawed hands. The creature was faster than Ugh and sprang at him landing a blow that chilled and numbed the half orcs flesh. Fang lept to his masters rescue as Jana stirred herself from her slumber. Together Ugh and his hound drove the creature back before Fang fell the creature with a gut tearing bite. The goblins ran for the forest and Ugh and Fang gave chase but quickly lost heart as the goblins headed into the dense undergrowth. They returned to camp to see the hobgoblin like creature had risen from the dead and now had Janna paralysed and was about to bite her face off. Fearing the loss of his henchwoman Ugh flew into a rage and put the creature down a second time. This time he dismembered the corpse before dousing it in oil and setting it ablaze. With the nights drama past the group tried their best to get some rest.
The next day saw Ugh ventured further west where we came across a camp of a dozen hobgoblins. They were not amicable to negotiation and had to be put to the sword. They put up strong resistance at one point filling Fang with spears and sending him scampering to the back rank. The hobgoblins lost heart however when their leader was decapitated by Ugh’s blade. Fang ran down one of the brutes as he fled and threatened to bite the creature’s throat. “No wait!” Ugh ordered but sadly Fang couldn’t understand his master and shredded the hobgoblins neck.
Midday arrived and Ugh found the path he was following twisted up a hill towards a derelict tower. As he climbed the hill he heard music. A female was singing beautifully though the effect was ruined by the terrible harp playing which accompanied it. Soon Ugh could see the source of this noise. A young girl chained to a rock sang a song about forests and trees while a two headed giant, or Ettin if you prefer, plucked clumsily at a harp several sizes too small. The Ettin noticed it’s audience and rose to its feet. “Ere clear off, or better yet give us your stuff. I’ll take that fancy sword of yours for starters.” Ugh tried to talk to the brute but the Ettin was surly and uncooperative. Eventually the conversation broke down, though Ugh did learn that the Ettin had eaten the hermit he hunted and enslaved the hermits daughter. The giant hurled a spear at the half orc that embedded itself deep in the warriors arm. Ugh was determined not to show fear and so gritted his teeth and pulled the bloody spear loose. The Ettin shrugged and charged. Ugh fled into the wilderness. Cursing the Ettin retrieved his spear and returned to his music.
Ugh swilled a healing potion from the safety of the woods and ended up feeling much better. He then recalled that he carried on his person a potion of giant strength. Waiting till nightfall Ugh swilled the giant strength potion and went to rescue the girl. He lifted the rock to which she was chained and urged her to flee to the tree line. The noise awoke the Ettin who grabbed his spears and bellowed a challenge. Ugh hurled the boulder at the brute but missed and so the giant and the warrior with giant strength went toe to toe exchanging brutal blows. Ugh was to prove triumphant with the timely assistance of Fang who was able to land the killing blow.
The young girl whom they had rescued knew much about nature that her father had taught her before his untimely end at the hands of the Ettin. She told Ugh of a tribe which lived in the grasslands adjoining the city who would assist him in a spirit quest during which he would learn the secrets of speaking with animals. This seemed good enough for Ugh who chose to rest in the Ettins tower before seeking out the tribe. It would not be long now before he and Fang would be regaling each other with tales of their adventures down at the tavern.