As the party trudged along in the darkness, they suddenly heard the sounds of something(s) breaking through the underbrush. They had just enough time to ready themselves and for Brandt to hurl a torch into the trees to see several humanoid shapes charging them: more “Tuskers”! One of the creatures seemed to be the leader. It was somewhat bulkier and wielded an actual sword, as opposed to the crude clubs and knives of his allies.
The creatures chanted, stamped and grunted in a complex rhythm as they fought. The beat was oddly compelling and Mengali found herself fighting in time to the beat even though doing so was making her moves predictable to her foe.
The fight was hectic as the PCs and the tuskers seemed to struggle to deal effective blows to one another. More than once, a combatant fumbled with his weapon or lost his footing. Ox managed to land an attack that knocked the leader down and caused him to drop his sword. That wasn’t all that it caused, though.
The leader let out a bellow of rage and his skin seemed to ripple. His skin split apart and exploded in a shower of bloody gobbets, revealing a towering “man-boar” form underneath.
As the fight progressed, several of the “normal” tuskers were felled. However, it became apparent that the shapeshifting berserker was shrugging off blows that otherwise solidly connected. Mengali cast a paralysis spell and a magical grey mist swirled up around her sword blade. When she struck the boar creature, it was frozen like a statue! Ox smashed it in the head with the flat of his blade, stunning it and apparently snapping it out of its rage. The creature began to morph back into a normal looking example of its breed. Brandt ran it through and this time his blade struck home.
The party found little besides the sword on the creatures, but a search of the trees revealed a pile of gear that looked to have been dropped before the fight. In addition to a shield emblazoned with a barley sheaf, the PCs found gnawed pieces of a human in some sacks. Collecting the grisly remains, Mengali insisted they take them to the shrine at Tambrake and inter them with a proper burial, as they were almost certainly Sir Dugar’s remains.
The party pressed on and managed to return to Tambrake some hours before dawn. They rested in the town square until the village began to wake up. The party went to the little shrine and wrapped what remains they had in a blanket, then visited the friar. He showed them a space in the little cemetery to use. The PCs dug the grave and paid the man a few coins to say the words and bless the ground with a few drops of holy water. They also asked for a small stone to be carved with his name. Thus Sir Dugar of the Barley Knights was laid to rest.
After resting for a short break, and making sure they had rations, the party pressed on the the east, toward Lem. It took two and a half days of walking, but they reached the walls of Lem and entered the city shortly after midday.
Brandt bought some meat pies for the group to lunch upon and asked for directions to the Duke’s keep. It was easy enough to find, right in the center of the city on a low hill.