The two Orc assassins lay dead in the dark. Elroy Wick, Goa Finnbjorn, Magnus, and Corun Dum’man finish their search of the bodies and return to the shelter of the burnt-out house. Armst and Kulich are there waiting by the fire.
Magnus no longer trusts this site as a safe place to camp. He is sure more Orcs are coming. None of his friends want to venture into the highlands at this hour. It is about 11PM, dark, and the wind blows steadily down the valley. Even in the shelter of the house walls, their campfire struggles in the gusts. They would be far worse off out in the open.
Wizard Corun re-examines the Divine wand (Spellcraft = 21) and senses an air of Necromancy about it. He shows it to Kulich but the Cleric doesn’t have time to confirm the suspicion.
While waiting for Kulich to bestow healing upon him, Bard Elroy laments his injuries (Perform : Sing = 25) and tallies another 1d6 gold owed from his friends for this memorable performance. Wick gets thinking about the Orc attackers and their affiliation with “The Fist”. By reputation he knows “The Fist” is a mid-sized clan of Orcs that roams only a small territory – a region along the northern border of the party’s home kingdom. Encountering “The Fist” must mean the party is close to their destination.
Kulich the Cleric heals his friends. Corun wishes to sleep all night and recover spells, so Wick agrees to take over the Wizard’s shift on first watch. The Bard climbs the wall and assumes Corun Dum’man’s guard post while his friends bed down close to the fire.
Alone on watch in the dark night, Elroy Wick does three Listen checks, and a Spot check, followed by another Listen check. These happen over the course of an hour. The Bard doesn’t sense anything is amiss.
The party makes a Listen check; Elroy hears movement, close to the house. Peering over the side, Wick spies four shapes skulking close to the house ! He shouts a warning at his friends, firing his crossbow at the leader but missing.
Most of the party dashes out of their bedrolls, snatching up weapons. Corun Dum’man kicks snoozing Kulich to rouse him. Goa Finnbjorn already has her crossbow loaded. Armst and Magnus are alert and ready.
Wick fires another bolt, misses, and gives up on this ‘ranged attack’ concept. The Bard drops down inside the walls, quickly informing his friends of what he saw. Magnus feels it time to send a message to these attackers regarding the inappropriate nature of mid-night assaults on sleeping persons. He chooses his magic bronze Greatsword to get the point across, and moves to the doorway.
These attackers are motivated. Two Orcs rush the house door. The others jump into the ruins through the window hole in the south wall. The Orcs all carry shields, and a long sword or battle axe.
Two Orcs, one tall and one shorter, are in their camp. Armst engages with his spear. Corun steps back out of melee range, pulls the Arcane wand and blasts the taller Orc with a Lesser Orb of Sound. Kulich tries to attack the same one but misses. Crossbows now impractical, Goa opts for her new short-sword and stabs the shorter Orc.
Elroy Wick brings another memorable performance (Perform : Oratory = 31). His stirring words are worth 1d6 gold, added to the tab, to Inspire Courage. He donates the Inspirational Boost free of charge. Drawing his new short sword, “Homestead Avenger“, Wick slashes at the tall Orc, catching its cloak and nothing else.
As two burly Orcs charge into range, Magnus steps from the doorway and Critically Hits to deliver 44 points of damage, ending one Orc’s life. The Fighter nearly hits the second Orc with a Cleave attack. That surviving Orc hacks Magnus with his axe.
Armst keeps thrusting his spear, unable to get past the Orcs’ shields. Corun slams the tall Orc again with another Lesser Orb of Sound. Kulich, trying his best, has no luck on his next attack. The frustrated Cleric will spend the rest of the fight stubbornly unable to beg, borrow, or steal a successful hit against the Orcs.
The Rogue, Bard, and Fighter all get digs in against their Orc foes. Out of the darkness, two more Orcs vault in through the gaping window hole in the north wall. Magnus notices a pair of Orcs coming his way, also from the north side.
The first wave of Orcs attack, hitting Magnus and Wick. Armst casts Shocking Grasp on the tall Orc. Corun wounds one of the new Orcs with a Lesser Orb of Sound. Rogue Goa ducks under the short Orc’s flashing sword and jabs her blade up into his midriff; the Orc falls dead in a crash of armor and gear.
Magnus kills the remaining Orc at the door, then steps back to let the two newcomers jam up at the threshold. One of them slashes him with a long sword. Armst is in a handy mood; Burning Hands incinerates and kills the taller Orc. Now only the two new Orcs threaten them inside the ruined house.
The Wizard fires from his wand. Wick hurries over, lunges with his blade, but is blocked by a shield. Goa’s pet Lörydyr, barking furiously at an axe-bearing Orc, takes a hit for his effort and drops. Holding the doorway, Magnus is struck by a lucky axe cut. With little room to maneuver, the Fighter still manages to make his Greatsword dance and cut deep.
Armst has a sense that his Fighter friend could use a change in the weather. The Warmage casts Hail of Stone, centered behind the two hefty Orcs outside the house. The one Orc that Magnus just hit falls dead. His partner is a fair target for Corun; the Wizard had moved to gain line-of-sight and now unleashes a Lesser Orb of Sound.
Goa seeks the Orc who hurt Lörydyr. Revenge is good motivation. She sets her erstwhile-Orc blade to a most painful purpose, burying the blade hilt-deep and puncturing the Orc’s very soul. The surprised Orc warrior falls aside heavily, very much dead.
Elroy Wick hastily attempts a Heal check on Lörydyr. The Bard fails to improve the dog’s condition. The last Orc is outside, trying to chop through Magnus. The Fighter slashes but his long bronze blade rakes only shield. Armst angles around Corun and casts a dead-accurate Ray of Frost, catching the Orc square in the chest and ending its life.
The party is victorious. Lörydyr is healed and returns to consciousness. Goa’s joy at her little friend’s recovery turns to anger when Magnus suggests that the dog would have made a decent meal had it not survived the fight. The Halfling gets as close to up-in-the-Fighter’s-face as she can. It takes both Elroy Wick and Armst to drag her back and smooth over the situation.
There is an amazing quantity of loot on these attackers. All eight Orcs were wearing suits of chainmail; half of which are mundane quality, the other half Masterwork. Only Magnus wears armor of this type, so he takes a Masterwork suit. There were eight heavy steel shields – a surprising find. Kulich takes one, and announces he will burn his old light wooden shield for warmth tonight.
As to weapons – four long swords, half of which are Masterwork. Four battle axes, two are Masterwork. Twenty-four javelins. Each Orc carried a dagger, less a weapon than a poorly-maintained eating utensil. Elroy Wick takes all of them as throwing-daggers. He gives them each a name : “Fish Knife“, “Cheese Blade“, “Soup Spoon“, “One-Tine Fork“, “Good Silverware“, “Spork“, “Turkey Carver“, and “Butter Knife“.
This trove, plus the remaining shields and chainmail, are of great value but far too heavy to be carried by the party as spoils. Any gear not claimed is abandoned.
There were 130 gold pieces, many of which are coins from the party’s home kingdom, 30 silver pieces, and four gems. Four Potions of Cure Light Wounds; Magnus takes two and Goa takes two. There are four horrible-looking potions that have an unsettling hint of mint when uncorked. These are notorious potions called Orckish Draughts. Vile but not fatally so, on a successful Fortitude Save these potions will Cure Light Wounds. If one fails the Save, the Hit Points gained are only temporary.
Corun Dum’man finds black fist emblems on patches of fabric on the dead Orcs’ bodies. These he takes, intending to sew the symbolic patches onto the sleeve of his robe and make what he calls “fist-y cuffs”. The pun is as bad as the dead Orcs smell. Elroy Wick gives a great performance (Perform : Sing = 23), a song of their triumph in battle. Whether or not it helps the party forget Corun’s cringe-worthy joke, they unwittingly owe Wick 3d10 silver pieces for this solo.
The rest of the night passes. Corun makes another Spellcraft check on the Divine wand, and a Knowledge : Arcana check. He is still no closer to the identity of the spell it contains. Armst, however, handles the wand and recognizes some minute detailing (Knowledge : Arcana = 31). The Warmage recognizes the wand as one of Inflict Moderate Wounds.
Sunrise this far north and so near summer comes shortly after 3AM. The party scans the dawn-lit valley slopes but sees no sign of caves or caverns. Elroy Wick suggests it might be a good idea to locate the Orcs’ base of operations, on the strong possibility there may be prisoners from these homesteads kept there. Corun is not interested. Magnus still smarts over the party’s decision not to help him exterminate Grimlocks. Armst, Goa, and Kulich recognize the moral imperative but remain indifferent.
Following the stream, the party hikes south for three hours. They come upon another pair of houses and outbuildings, in the same condition as found before. It is Day Nine and the party’s food supply grows dangerously low. Cutting their pace, those skilled in Survival forage in the stream-side foliage and test the waters for fish. They come up with enough edible plants and brook trout to feed the party for the day.
Six hours later, the group comes upon another ruined settlement. It will do as shelter, as the group is tired and would like to make it a longer and more restful night tonight than last night. Those on watch have nothing to do but let the campfire’s yellow flames mesmerize them until their turn comes to sleep.
The next day is much the same; travel at a reduced pace to allow trained eyes to spot roots, mushrooms, and small game to boil into a soup or stew. Tributary creeks feed the main glacial stream; this is now a wide, swift-flowing river. Silvery trout dart in pools and under the banks, easy prey for good Survival checks. The party is happy to have something fresh and hot to eat.
The night of Day Ten. On first watch, Kulich and Corun Dum’man hear an odd sound off in the darkness. It is a single, percussive sound – a broad, heavy thud. A minute later, it repeats. After that, it comes again and again, sustained almost like a drum beat. Corun puts his ear to the ground; there is no vibration. The rumble continues for half a minute, then falls silent. It does not return that night.
No subsequent Watches hear it, or Spot anything of concern. With the daylight of Day Eleven, nothing is visible to suggest what caused the noise.
(end of the session)
[Elroy Wick, Goa Finnbjorn, Corun Dum’man achieve Level 4]
[Kulich achieves Level 3]