Qelline Alderleaf, who commissioned the Butterskull Ranch job, briefed the group about the situation. A ranch hand had managed to escape before the orcs attacked to get help from Phandalin. The ranch owner, Alfonse Kalazorn, produced popular skull-shaped butter and is part of the Phandalin Agricultural Collective. She asked that they help any survivors or to bury the dead. Halia also summoned Oohye and tasked him to find the title deed to Butterskull Ranch for a reward.
It took them one and a half days to get there. On the way, they saw various domesticated animals stamped “BAK”. They pass vast cornfields. On approach to the ranch buildings, they saw that the smithy and barn was destroyed. They also stopped to cremate five dead ranch hands and two orcs. However, the fire alerted the orcs at the farmhouse to their presence and though they attempted to stealthily approach, they were taken by surprise. Fight:
- Archers occupied the west windows of the house. An orc with white hands whom Maree identified as a priest, attempted to cast spells against them.
- A few orcs, including one covered in boils and flowing with pus, confronted the frontliners Oohye and Rae. After a few strikes, the diseased orc exploded and caused Bree and Redspear to be poisoned.
- Rae bypassed the attackers and attempted to see into the building, however, four orcs had her surrounded. She did manage to misty step into the house.
- Seeing Rae in danger, Oohye barreled through the shuttered window and landed perfectly in the house. Between Oohye and Rae, they managed to take down the priest and an archer.
- Outside, the rest of the crew battled the the orcs. A second storey archer jumped down to attack with the others while another ran.
They heard someone calling for help from the cellars and discovered ‘Big Al’ aka Alfonse Kalazorn locked inside.
He was only persuaded to come out when Maree appeared, illuminated by the cellar doors, while invoking Lathander’s name (especially persuasive with the sound of an angelic choir by Bree and mysterious smoke by Rae using minor illusion). Rae calmed the rancher and helped him find his prized cow, Petunia.
Redspear inspected the dead priest and found that his white hands were actually gloves made of critin and sinew. He promptly put on the Living Gloves which bonded to his hands. Oohye attempted to find the ranch’s title deed but could not find it. Bree investigated the orcs followed behind by Maree who performed the last rites on the dead orcs. Maree noticed one of the orcs bore a talisman of Talos. Talos is worshipped by half-orcs and it was curious that the orc was holdin git. Kavier followed everyone around the house giving guidance.
When Rae returned with Big Al, he ran up the steps and brought down his old uniform, a mithral breastplate, and a bag of gold. He presented it to Rae (who returned her portion; ditto for Maree; Bree did the same on the promise that his butterskulls remain secular). Big Al extended his welcome to any follower of Lathander’s after he rebuilds. However, Rae persuaded him of the danger posed by the orcs if he remained by showing him the fight with minor illusion (Bree added sound effects, especially of the greataxe rending armour). Though frightened, he was so impressed by the illusions that he requested a second viewing of it. Oohye highlighted the dangers too and the need for security — perhaps something that can be provided by Halia, whom he could introduce. Big Al with Maree’s acolytes help rounded up whatever farm animals they can find.
The procession of the wagon and farm animals returned to Phandalin in almost four days. Big Al was received by Qelline and Maree offered the help hold the animals on the Town Green behind her temple. Oohye confided in Maree that Halia was interested in getting the Butterskull Ranch which she interpreted to be a place to reform criminals. They get an audience with Halia but are soon kicked out when she finds they do not have the title deed.
Rae confirms with Redspear they share a mother when she shows him her image using minor illusion. She tells him she found a trace of Tristen Moonflower while in Neverwinter and that she may be heading to the Shrine of Savras south of Conyberry. They agree to pursue this lead next.