Critters. . . .

As the party continued into the foothills, they noticed a figure approaching them from behind; as it came closer, they realized it was none other than the gnome Damir calls Sparkles and the others call Guilbo. Sparkles joined the party as they rode on toward Bastion. As they were setting up camp that evening, Guilbo went out to gather firewood; just after that, a group of odd panther-creatures pounced out of the woods. The party would've been quickly overwhelmed had they not quickly disappeared into the woods with the help of some invisibility spells. Guilbo made himself and Emby invisible, and Damir cast Puff and Gone on Peregrine, then on himself. Peregrine then went into hiding, and Damir tried to draw the displacer beasts off. Peregrine began firing at them, but his arrows seemed to pass through without effect all too often; when Damir could manage, he would try to draw one out in front of the others so that he could attack it without being outflanked. Three followed Damir in this manner, and one stayed to attack the rest of the party, who had climbed up into some trees. Another broke off to keep Peregrine in his tree while the fourth kept Emby and Guilbo in theirs. These two began to try to climb up into the tree high enough to smack the PCs with their tentacles; when one hit Emby, Damir broke off from his distraction techniques to slaughter it in revenge. In doing so, he opened himself up to a massive attack by two of the other beasts and was wounded most grievously. Damir cast a CLW on himself and continued to fight, but the end was nigh for the beasts; a flurry of arrows, magic missiles, and sword strokes brought down the beast on the ground, while the two that still remained alive were distracted by new targets in the form of dancing lights. The beast that had Peregrine treed started to snap at the will-o-wisps surrouding him; the man-shaped light led the other astray for long enough that the party could bring it down with some arrows. Damir then lit a torch and burned the last beast out of the tree; it was then set upon by the whole party and quickly killed. After this encounter, Emby lost her composure; panicking, she clung to the tree as Guilbo tried to settle her down. Peregrine began to drag carcasses off to the other side of the roadway, and Damir lept up the tree to help Emby down. Guilbo then left to help Peregrine as Damir cast his last healing spells on Emby and set up camp. He quickly put her to bed, as she was beginning to look shocky and he wanted to keep her warm; then he sat with her, keeping his hand on her shoulder to try to reassure her. When she began to come back to her senses, she started to thank him, then realized how injured he was. He admitted that he could not cast again tonight and that he'd used his last spell on her. He assured her that he would have Peregrine bind his wounds for tonight, then would take care of himself in the morning. When Peregrine returned (with a bag full of heads), he made Damir drink a potion to partially heal himself; he then bound Damir's wounds. Damir took his watch, and Emby stayed up for a while trying to learn an attack spell because of her ineffectiveness using her short bow. Damir was impressed by her dedication and thought that she just plain looked cute, so he stopped writing his song and sketched her. Emby then went to sleep, and Damir followed soon after, first waking Guilbo for his turn at watch. The next morning, they broke camp and headed out after Damir healed his wounds. A short distance down the road, they came upon the bodies of two more displacer beasts who had apparently been killed a day or two previously by some wild animal.
A few days later, the party found themselves in the mountain pass not two days from Bastion. Unfortunately, between them and Bastion stood two Howlers. Peregrine tried to fire from horseback, spooking his horse and being knocked to the ground; one of the howlers attacked him. Damir and Emby then dismounted; Damir tried to distract the howlers, but one went after Emby, nearly killing her when it slammed into her. Damir ran over to her and dragged her off to shelter behind a rock so that the howlers could not charge him again. Guilbo, who had turned himself and his pony invisible, then came by with another horse; Damir threw Emby onto it and asked Guilbo to take her to safety, and just in time. Peregrine had just stood to nock an arrow as the howlers rounded the boulder and saw Damir. Damir drew his sword and soaked a wound to land a grievous injury on one of the howlers. The other was quickly brought low by precise shots from Peregrine, and Damir ran all-out to reach Emby, who lay dying. Damir quickly cast all the healing he could muster on her and Peregrine, then had Peregrine bind his wounds. The group decided to move a short way down the road, then camp for the night; with the howler heads in the same sack as the displacer beasts', Peregrine planned to make a grand entrance upon reaching Bastion. Thankfully, the rest of the journey was rather uneventful, and they reached Bastion only a day behind schedule.

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