The scouts have selected a sheltered forest grove to camp for the night. They secure the horses then prepare dinner from their generous store of rations. The party is a day closer to the faction city of Tannis. Yorgenson Uberson and Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn dole out healing spells to Elroy Wick, Goa Finnbjorn, Corun Dum’man, and Armst.
Sitting around the fire pit, Wick and his friends engage Frederick’s mounted warriors in conversation. The North Point residents want to know the state of affairs in the former kingdom lands of Kohn. The scouts are very open about it. Their outlook is resigned, yet practical.
Politically, there are no alliances between factions. At most there are tenuous truces. Distrust is endemic. Over the years, some Houses of the old kingdom have dissolved. These families and their vassals blended into other factions, or became soldiers for hire. There are a lot of mercenaries active in this civil war, solitary fighters and companies of capable agents.
Between the major Orc armies that raid the land, there are no affiliations. Occasionally, small clans or gangs found working together, but generally not for long. To the question of Stone Giants – the scouts have not seen many of them. There is a belief that the Stone Giants may have been early targets of the Orc hordes, shortly before the fall of Kohn. This may account for their scarcity.
Corun Dum’man asks the scouts’ opinion of the Orc problem, and their faction’s success at holding back the tide. The Wizard accepts the lead scout’s answer that the situation is under control, but Corun does not Sense Motive to intuit the deeper truth they hold back.
The campfire wanes. The scouts keep vigil overnight. The party lends one of their own for each watch. Early the next day the motivated riders are packed up and ready, waiting on Armst’s party to hurry up. They continue on towards Tannis, the second-largest city in the fraction’s control after KING’S CROSS. Or at least the party believes they are headed for Tannis – between the close trails and the constant side routes and switchbacks under the dense green forest canopy, even the Druidbarian finds his sense of direction baffled.
The second day ends, a brief encampment is set for the night, and travel resumes on the third day. As always, two scouts ride well ahead while the remaining four escort Goa and associates. The party is not long into their journey when they require a Listen check. Bard Wick and Druidbarian Røgnvaldurarsøn hear the sound of something crashing through underbrush, off to the south-west.
The group halts their mounts and Listens again. Wick has lost the sound but Øskur, Yorgenson, Goa, and Armst do hear it, distinctly. It is not one large creature, but many people in armor, running recklessly in the party’s general direction. Rogue Goa is the only one who Spots the source. It’s getting kind of close.
The party quickly dismounts. The scouts remain on horseback. Goa commands Lörydyr to lay flat as the Halfling heaps evergreen boughs onto the dog to Hide him. Lörydyr thinks it’s a game. Corun Dum’man dives into the bushes to Hide, followed soon after by Goa herself.
Standing out in the open, beside their horses and with no practical way to disguise themselves or their mounts, Elroy Wick and Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn exchange looks and agree that trying to Hide is pointless. They’ll just wait here on the pathway for whatever is charging through the forest. Druid Uberson casts Bull’s Strength on Røgnvaldurarsøn. Under cover, Corun casts Mage Armor on himself.
A horde of humanoids swarms over the crest of a low ridge, within a hundred feet of the party. The Bard’s lousy Spot check and the Druid’s non-effort (with a Natural 1 rolled for Spot for a total skill check of 6) give the impression that the onrushing mass is Bugbears. All who made their Spot check see an unruly mix of Goblins and Orcs. The Goblins wear chain shirts and clutch morningstars; the Orcs are clad in scale-mail, with half wielding longswords and the other half battleaxes. These foes are battered and bloodied from recent combat. Nine Goblins, and a dozen Orcs. They do not seem to have noticed the Humans and Halfling.
The scouts spur their mounts, the four horsemen splitting up left and right in a containment-flanking move. From behind a wall of green, Corun casts Mage Armor on Elroy Wick. The invisible but tangible armor provides more protection than the Bard’s leather.
Armst targets a cluster of enemies with Hail of Stone. He intended to hit four but may only have actually struck two, a Goblin and an Orc. Goa stays hidden. So does the front, non-wagging, half of Lörydyr.
The terrain off the path is rough and tangled. Elroy Wick slogs through with a double-move, drawing “Homestead Avenger” as he picks his way to a protective tree. The Druidbarian is right behind him. Uberson selects a clear spot and Summons Nature’s Ally to appear there in a few seconds.
Corun Dum’man eschews his leafy cover. He casts Detect Magic on himself, and stares hard at the oncoming wave of dirty, bloody humanoid creatures. From their masses he sees no magic in the form of weapons, armor, or auras. To his mild disappointment, this onrush is also not an illusion.
Still unaware of the party and the scouts, the Orcs and Goblins continue their mad dash away from some yet-unknown pursuer. Their injuries are even more evident at close range. Armst advances, introducing himself to a limping Orc with a Ray of Frost. Goa slings at a blood-soaked Orc, a square hit to the unarmored neck. The scouts navigate their way closer to the widest points on the rushing enemy line.
Sheltered behind a tree, Elroy Wick dives into song (Perform : Sing = 28), creating a memorable air of Inspire Courage and Inspirational Boost. The Bard considers asking the same 1d6 gold from the Orcs and Goblins as his friends will owe him for this song. But given the Orcs’ and Goblins’ probable end, Wick will donate this tune as a pro-bono funerary dirge.
Laddie is affixed firmly to Øskur’s back. The Druidbarian hears the ladder’s timely urging in his ear, mingled with the Bard’s battle chant. Røgnvaldurarsøn jumps out from behind the tree and swiftly kills the limping Orc with a single stroke of his greatsword. Laddie is pleased.
Right on schedule, Yorgenson Uberson’s Summoned black bear appears – coincidentally, right beside a portly Goblin. The ursine takes a swipe and misses, perhaps disoriented by mild summoning sickness. Corun Dum’man steps back and casts Light of Mercuria on himself, assuming his trademark golden glow. The mounted scouts weave between trees, at optimal flanking position.
The Orcs and Goblins startle, now noticing the scouts and the party through their madness. The portly Goblin and his lame-armed Goblin partner instinctively lash out at the black bear. Both hit it. Two Orcs, one already bruised up and the other half-blinded, discover a Druidbarian beside them and hack with battleaxes. Yorgenson Uberson sidesteps a morningstar from a wheezing Goblin while a second, barely wounded and exceptionally quick Goblin does spike the Druid.
Armst eyes the battle and sees an ideal spot for a Hail of Stone to shower down. The Warmage targets the quick Goblin on Uberson, the half-blind Orc on Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn, and a sneaky Goblin neither of the humans seemed to notice. A devastating spell – only the sneaky Goblin survives.
Goa reloads her sling and thumps the same blood-soaked Orc she hit before. Bard Elroy Wick notices his Rogue friend’s target and attempts to slash that Orc down; he misses. Igniting with Rage, Druidbarian Øskur neatly cleaves the bruised Orc across the middle with a killing blow. The wheezing Goblin irritates Uberson and is struck by the Druid’s mace. Yorgenson’s black bear dismantles the portly Goblin, slashing deep with one claw then the other, and killing with its bite.
Riding hard into the fray, the scouts finally engage the enemy in melee, slaying two Orcs and a Goblin on their first pass. Corun Dum’man has a line on a relatively fresh Goblin target. His first Ray of Mercuria severely wounds the Goblin, the second Ray kills it. The trees echo with the shouts and clash of combat.
Despite just under half their company dead, the enemy horde is not about to die easily. Better aware of their circumstances, the Orcs and Goblins find their fighting form. The lame-armed Goblin engaging the black bear crushes the beast’s skull with its morningstar. The Summoned Ally blinks out of existence. A snarling Orc and his crazy ally both cut chunks out of Yorgenson Uberson; the Druid is in a real bad way. The sneaky Goblin punctures enraged Røgnvaldurarsøn, not making the Druidbarian any happier. The blood-soaked Orc chops Elroy Wick, but as the Bard stumbles he manages to avoid a swing launched by an Orc riddled with arrows.
Armst takes no action when his opportunity comes; he waits for just the right moment. Goa Finnbjorn drives her hate for Orcs to a squeamishly painful level when she slashes on a Sneak Attack (with a Natural 20 confirmed with a 17) and castrates the arrow-riddled Orc. The Orc screams in tremendous pain and for a moment, enemies and allies alike feel their stomachs clench. Yet the Orc still lives, if one may call it “living”.
His singing performance momentarily tweaked to a sympathetic soprano, Elroy Wick drives the blade of “Homestead Avenger” into his blood-soaked Orc’s leg. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn and Laddie dislike subtle espionage; the sneaky Goblin dies by Øskur’s massive sword.
Yorgenson Uberson is hideously wounded, and feels Death near to him. Out of necessity he disengages from combat and patches himself with a maximum-strength Cure Light Wounds. Armst’s optimal firing solution comes. The lanky Warmage smashes a Hail of Stone into a cluster of three foes. The wheezing Goblin dies from it, while the crazy and snarling Orcs reel from the arcane bludgeoning.
At the far side of the battle, the scouts have wheeled around on their mounts and made another pass, injuring several targets and killing two Goblins. Wizard Corun Dum’man is truly a man of many talents. Cracking the unorchidic Orc over the head with his quarter-staff, Corun gracefully silences the hollering creature forever. Goa will later collect what she cast…aside from it.
The snarling Orc charges Armst and cuts the Warmage with its longsword. Wick and injured Uberson dodge or parry the attacks directed their way. Halfling Finnbjorn is on a rampage – she gut-stabs the blood-soaked Orc and kills it, kicking the larger opponent aside as it falls before her. Wick swings wide of the snarling Orc’s head. Røgnvaldurarsøn’s rage gives him uncanny aim and the crazy Orc dies in a mess of gore.
Yorgenson Uberson is not yet in the clear, requiring another self-medicating Cure Light Wounds. Armst darts out his hand, choking the snarling Orc with a fatal Shocking Grasp. The mounted warriors crash through the carnage of the fight to assail and kill the last three Orcs. Now, only one enemy remains – the lame-armed Goblin. Far from fleeing, this last foe rushes Druid Uberson but fails to strike.
Laddie is right – the party needs to capture this Goblin and find out what it was running from. Øskur lunges to grab the Goblin but the wily creature slips from his grasp, making an Attack of Opportunity but raking only the Druidbarian’s armor.
Yorgenson Uberson and Armst evidently did not hear Laddie. The Druid nearly crushes the Goblin and the Warmage’s Acid Splash spell painfully burns its Draconic target. One of the mounted scouts, obviously a keener, charges the Goblin and guts the overwhelmed creature with his spear, ending the fight.
Calming from his Rage, Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn is annoyed that everyone else ignored sage advice from his ladder. The Druidbarian casts a Cure Minor Wounds on the comatose, lame-armed Goblin. The creature stabilizes but does not wake up. Øskur then casts Dawn, which fails because the spell’s target is comatose, not asleep. Unsure how comatose this Goblin is, he then tries another Cure Minor Wounds. This rouses the Goblin.
While the Druidbarian ties up his captive, the rest of the group loots the Orc and Goblin corpses. From the Orcs they recover six battleaxes, six longswords, twelve suits of scale mail, 55 gold pieces and 110 silver pieces, 25 gems of about 10-gp value each, and eight gems of roughly 50-gp value each.
The Goblins all wore masterwork chain shirts, Small-sized. Goa Finnbjorn finds one shirt that is neither wet with goblin guts nor punctured in a dozen places, and takes it as her own. They find nine Small-sized masterwork morningstars, 400 gold pieces, 44 silver pieces, and eight gems of approximately 50-gp value per stone. Among the horde was found eight Potions of Cure Light Wounds; Elroy Wick takes four to carry, as will Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn when his business is finished.
As the corpses are left to ravens and wolves, the two forward scouts return to the group. Both are injured. They stumbled across another cluster of injured, panicked Orcs and Goblins two miles away. Investigating further on, the scouts found an army of their faction’s cavalry and foot soldiers, mopping up after a major offensive.
The Orc army that Armst and his friends had been following in the valley was surprised and overwhelmed by a waiting faction battalion. Half of the Orc invaders were killed, and the rest are being chased down and slain. The rout of the Orc army is a significant victory. The scouts are excited; they had known that a secret, decisive attack was coming soon, and this was it.
At Tannis, a day’s travel from here, the group can get more information.
(end of the session)