A Good Run of Bad Luck

Damir has gathered enough information from various hunters to narrow down to a small region where the owlbears' nest might be. Damir asks Peregrine to help him look for the nest; Peregrine does not agree immediately, asking Damir to sneak over to the edge of the forest as a test. Damir quickly manages to lose Peregrine in the woods, making it to the designated "meeting tree" and climbing up into it before Peregrine reaches it. Peregrine sees him in the tree as Damir spots Peregrine approaching. Peregrine agrees to go with Damir to recon the place, but they don't have any plans to attack the owlbears - they just want to know how many there are and thus how many hunters they should bring along to help. Peregrine speaks to Mist and she agrees to go along as well. They sneak out into the woods and after a while find this grove of trees that looks like an owlbear nest. They sneak around the nest, trying to get a good look inside, but no one can see anything through the dense growth in the grove. Damir whispers his Puff and Gone spell and sneaks up closer to get a better look, inadvertantly waking the owlbears that were sleeping in the grove. Damir counts them quickly and sneaks back, reappearing near Mist. He signals her, and she signals Peregrine; they know there are three adult owlbears at least, and they are not prepared to fight. They begin to sneak away as the owlbears are sniffing around, trying to smell for the intruders; when they hear Peregrin's whistle-alert, two of the owlbears head out of the grove to attack. Damir, Peregrine, and Mist freeze in the woods, trying to hide, but the owlbears spot them; the three let loose with a barrage of arrows, and Damir manages to hamstring one, slowing it. The two rush to attack; Damir, Mist, and Peregrine manage to fight them off, despite Mist losing a short sword and Peregrin snapping his bowstring. Damir managed to stay away and fire arrows into them; Mist and Peregrine were attacked, but managed to fend off the owlbears. Peregrine was badly injured after the first owlbear was killed, however, so Damir dropped his bow and charged the owlbear with his halfspear. The owlbear died shortly thereafter, and Damir quickly healed what he could of Peregrine's wounds (9 HP worth, leaving him down 13 HP from 31). The party began to clean up quickly, Damir gathering arrows while Mist looked for her sword and Peregrine attempted to behead the dead owlbears. During this, the third owlbear came out and attacked. Thankfully, Peregrine had restrung his longbow. In the first round, Damir critically hit the owlbear and Peregrine put two feathers into it; Mist missed with her shot. The owlbear closed but was quickly cut down by a barrage of arrows and sword slashes. The three quickly beheaded the owlbears and searched the grove for treasure; they found 4 young owlbears, which Damir grabbed and put into sacks. They also found some silver and a couple gems as well as a potion of some sort. The group took the heads and young back to town; they gathered the bounty for the heads, sold the young for a large collection of gems, and split the loot. Mist was originally against selling the owlbears, but Damir convinced her that it was the humane thing to do. The group took some people out to gather the meat and threw another feast. The next day, Damir healed the rest of Peregrine's wounds and spoke to Peregrine about bodyguarding him for pay in the "anti-raider raid" he was setting up. Damir talks to Dagger and convinces her to hurry up and help hook him up with the launderer. Dagger and Damir take a few days arranging things, but they finally manage to arrange the meet. Damir talks to Peregrine and Mist about guarding him, then talks to a priest about what he's going to do. The priest sends a priest of St. Cuthbert along with him to help. Damir convinces the group to hang back until he gives the signal, then attack to disable but not kill; they should only be killed if they put up a fight and lives are in danger. At the end of this session, there are two days left until the meet with the bandits' goods launderer. Damir spends the first of those two days looking for a buyer for his white diamond; he wants to exchange it for some items of lesser value so that he has more… liquid funds. He finds a "salvage expert" who is willing to trade a ring worth 200 gp, 5 pearls worth 50 gp each, and a silver locket worth 70 gp for the diamond. Damir makes the trade.
Damir notices that both the locket and the ring are decorated with a skull and horn motif and are eerily anatomocally accurate. He compares these objects to his gnomish skull belt; it seems similar enough to make the reasonable conclusion that the belt probably came from the Old Capital, aka the Necromancer's Castle. Damir begins to discreetly inquire about the belt, asking if it might've come from there; when the priests acknowledge that it sounds similar to the guy's motif, Damir asks if they've found anything dangerous. They tell him about the checkpoint they have set up where they clear items and how the priests of St. Cuthbert have been trying to clear the place out, but he is still uneasy about the belt. He goes off to inspect it for any odd markings or engravings. The belt is pitted and rusted, so Damir casts mending on it to look at it more carefully. It's got a small "scratch" over the right eye that didn't mend all the way or is meant to be there. When looking at it more carefully, Damir notices it's much to shallow to be a "keyhole," so he checks to see if he can feel it. He can. Damir decides to take it to the priests for safety's sake. He is taken to see Brother Tom, the magical gear expert. Brother Tom takes the belt and mutters some detection spells over it to check it out; he doesn't find anything. Damir thinks about it and decides he should look out for similar merchandise to compare the belt to.
Next, Damir pulls out the odd gnomish metal thing that he got from the same gnome that had the belt. He is checking it with some spells to see if he can figure anything out; Open/Close flips some latches around but doesn't really do much, and Mending repairs its worn bits. It clicks a bit when Mending is cast on it; that might be the parts settling, but Damir's not sure. He decides to poke at it some more and see if he can figure out what any of the latches do. It's stiffer and harder to operate now, and it clicks more loudly.
Damir keeps an eye out for more skulls with scratches over the right eye. He notices that they always seem to have the same dimensional ratios. Some of the other types he sees are more stylized, including a carved quartz depicting a split-open skull. The artistic skill involved in creating some of them, for instance a dignified-skull wood-handled fire poker, are quite impressive. The skull on his belt, in comparison, is very factual and "practical." Damir is now making a mental note to look for a gnome mastertinkerer to help figure out the gadget. He also wants to find someone who was there fighting against the Necromancer or a tome regarding the various skull designs to provide some insight into the significance of the specific style of skull on the belt; since there is more than one example of that kind of skull, he feels it must mean or represent something. He has seen the same type of skull as the catch on a scroll case, a buckle ornament on a pair of boots, and decorating a brass doorknob. Damir wonders if it perhaps denoted a particular regiment or unit within the Necromancer's army.

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