Due to various obligations in Silverdelf, Yllgrad, Blum, and Earn remained behind, but along with their hirelings and henchmen, Bryni, Caleb, and Varian set off to explore the heretofore unknown eastern path up the spur to Fellhold. They found that the path petered out in a heavily wooded and gently sloping portion of mountain, with crags and boulders suggesting caves. On further exploration, they found a large cave opening, and an initial scan of the cave revealed a heavy bed of pine needles as well as the grisly remains of creatures large and small, accompanied by a horrible smell. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, our explorers prudently set the pine needles alight to smoke out whatever may lair in the cave, taking up positions to meet whatever fled the cave.
They were confronted by an enraged Owlbear! This massive and ill tempered brute charged straight for Varian on his horse, as the most direct target, and landed a moderately injurious blow with its talons, but Varian's shield and plate deflected the beast's other attacks. The party engaged in a vicious melee, killing the monster without suffering any casualties. They drained the monster of its blood and stowed the carcass in the cart, hoping to turn some sort of profit, or at least have an impressive trophy for their now under construction home base.
After allowing the fire to burn down, they entered and found nothing of interest except for a small gem and scorched longsword and helmet (now beneath their well armed notice) on an unfortunate skeleton. Moving on to the other obvious cave opening, they sent a hireling in to investigate, who came fleeing out when he heard growls and smelled wet dog. Sure enough, a pack of 8 wolves came surging out of their den to fight viciously. The alpha charged straight for Varian (again the most obvious target) while the rest of the wolves spread out to harry as many of the human intruders as they could. Erna was severely wounded, but quick action by Aelfsigr saved the remaining sister soldier. Varian once again sustained a moderate wound, but Caleb magically cured his wounds so that he could finish the fight with the diminishing wolf pack. Sir Braxton, Caleb's trusty war hound, personally tore out the throat of the alpha wolf, but the pack was too frenzied to acknowledge what would normally be clear sign of dominance to wolves.
After a hard fought battle, all eight of the wolves were killed, and the party carefully inspected their den, finding a fairly large cave complex. In the rearmost chamber, they found a litter of four wolf pups, which they took back to the cart to sort out later, though there was talk of either vicious pets or sale to specialty merchants. During their careful inspection, they found a knob that opened a secret entrance to what appears to be a worked passageway. Peaking around the corner, they heard an exclamation of surprise in Goblinic (the language of trollkin). They retreated to regroup and plan at the wagon, and in our next episode they plan to push in to the mountain.