Combat continued. Our heroes are battle-hardened and used to fighting difficult opponents, but even so they were outnumbered and hard pressed to win the day.
Even though the renegade elves had been surprised by our heroes appearing in their midst, they showed that they were well disciplined as they quickly leapt to the defense.
While the party did their best to attack their mages, the elves used their warriors to protect them and fend off the attackers. One of the mages was able to cast a Geyser, causing it to erupt between Bo and Nwalme, knocking both of them painfully on their asses.
But two unforeseen factors turned the tide in the party’s favor: Strongwülf was able to tap into his inner berserker, attacking with a heretofore unseen ferocity. And Bo, to his surprise, found the shock of the damage from the geyser triggering an ability that he didn’t know he had. He transformed into an enormous bear and rushed to protect his friends.
Unfortunately, other than Nwalme, no one else realized that Bo was the bear that was attacking elves in their midst. Strongwülf, in particular, was prepared to attack the bear. Luckily, cooler heads (most notably Araphor) prevailed — especially when it was pointed out to him that Araphor had the ability to control animals with his magics.
Some of the warrior elves surrendered, while off a ways Guthwyn cut down an escaping mage that she and Nwalme had caught, despite his plea for quarter.
After the combat, our heroes regrouped. Nwalme explained to the others that the bear was actually Bo. Once the stress of the combat was over, Bo started to revert to his human form. Bo and Strongwülf were both grievously wounded, and though Nwalme was able to stop them from immediately dying, they would need time to recover.
Araphor felt that the geysers blasting in the area could have been seen by any of the nearby enemy patrols and recommended that everyone bivouac out of there and retreat back to the castle and their reinforcements. Guthwyn organized the surviving seven prisoners and set the party marching castleward. They soon reached an approaching battalion of the Empress’ troops , and they were able to retreat without any further trouble.
They returned to the castle to find that their mission was successful: the moat had calmed to its normal state. The Empress and her retinue left for the field command center, leaving the party to heal over the next day or so. As she left, she formally relieved Guthwyn of her duty as commander-in-theater, riding off to take that position herself.