Although a very rudimentary lodging, the Orc bandits’ camp serves the party well enough. Magnus, Elroy Wick, Kulich, and Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn pass the night safely and wake to an overcast day. At this elevation and latitude, without direct sun the summer air is chilly.
With a sense of accomplishment and conquest over yesterday’s foes, the group rides forth from the valley. Barren land greets them. Eyes sharp, Øskur (Survival = 29) easily locates new tracks. These were made less than a day ago – a dozen Medium-sized humanoids passed here, headed east. There were no horses or Worgs with them. The immediate assumption is Orcs.
Kulich and his friends follow this trail for two hours. Druidbarian Øskur (Spot = 24) makes a discovery – additional Medium-sized humanoids have recently joined this path, headed in the same direction. The markings trace back to the treeline, a few hundred yards down slope.
The party stops to consider the find. It appears that survivors of the Orc army are converging on a common path. Magnus reiterates his idea to track the Orcs to their source. Elroy Wick realizes that he misunderstood the Fighter’s plan. Magnus only ever intended for their group to find the Orcs’ stronghold and report its position to Lieutenant Richard – not to assail it themselves. A sizeable military waits in House of Davis lands, a hammer waiting for a nail. Magnus wants to find the nail. Seeing the Fighter’s plan in this light, Bard Wick is now fully on board with it.
The sky is clearing and the noon sun pokes through the clouds. Time to move on. The party mounts up and resumes their easterly course. There are enough tracks in the dirt to easily maintain their quarry’s trail. Everyone fixates on nuances in the rocky ground, looking for more clues.
A short while later, almost without intending to, Magnus (Spot = 27) glances over to his left. Perhaps a hundred yards away, just inside the entrance to a narrow valley, there is a camp. The party was almost right beside it before the Fighter happened to notice four tents, a low defensive wall of dead wood, and four uncomfortable Orcs squinting in the brilliant sunlight. Magnus halts. His friends stop, and look at him. He gestures at the Orcs. The rest of the party now sees them, and curse their own ignorance.
Out of their nocturnal element, the Orcs haven’t spotted the Humans and their horses – even at this close range. Kulich, Øskur, and Wick slide off their horses, drawing weapons. Magnus remains on his light warhorse. The hushed party quickly agrees on a plan : the Cleric, Druidbarian, and Bard will advance toward the camp, and when the Orcs notice them, Magnus will ride in.
All seems to be going well for the element of surprise. The trio makes it halfway to the camp, drawing only vague squints from the Orc sentinels. Then, suddenly, the Orcs’ captain snaps a look in their direction and begins to shout orders at his cohorts. The gig is up. Magnus takes his cue.
Offering up a somatic gesture and praising a deity Magnus only calls “The Most Holy”, the Fighter spurs his mount to charge in along the east flank of the battlefield. The Orc captain brings a crossbow to bear and soundly hits Øskur. The Druidbarian feels unfairly singled out. A burly Orc rushes to collect a bundle of javelins. A nimble Orc and his nearsighted associate scramble over to the tents.
Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn sees a clump of weeds crowning a dirt pile ahead on his right. With his swift barbarian speed, Øskur covers the intervening distance and dives to the ground in the hillet’s shelter. Taking a center path, Cleric Kulich pushes against the encumbrance of his armor and double-moves closer to the Orcs. Along the left flank, Elroy Wick keeps pace with the Priest of Pelor. Magnus and his mount hurry to catch up.
A gap in the clouds spills radiant sunshine onto the slopes of the valley. The Orc captain is dazzled and fires his crossbow well wide of prone Røgnvaldurarsøn. His burly Orc subordinate lugs the javelins back to the front line and casts one wide of everybody. The other two Orcs rouse unseen occupants in the tents.
Elroy Wick, holding dagger “Orc Lullaby” with the intention of throwing it, estimates how much ground is between him and the Orcs at their wall. Wick changes his mind about how to attack as he advances on the left. Kulich holds his shield before him and moves up another forty feet, his pace not slacking. Repeating his strategy, Druidbarian Øskur gets to his feet, sprints hard at the Orc camp, and dives for cover behind another weedy outcropping. Magnus has caught up to his allies and looks for a path to curve around the end of the wood fence.
Dashing back to the front line, the nearsighted Orc flings a javelin at no-one in particular. The nimble Orc now has a crossbow; he tracks and hits Magnus as the Fighter veers wide to set up a charge. The Orc captain is intent on Øskur. The Orc fires another shot at the Druidbarian, and this time the bolt strikes the ground a few inches from Øskur’s head. Røgnvaldurarsøn plucks the bolt from the ground and holds onto it for later. From the tents, four more Orcs emerge and rush the line. These new Orcs are not armed or armored, but thankfully they are dressed.
Magnus smarts from the crossbow hit. He pulls his composite bow and, scanning the Orc line (Spot = 15), the Fighter identifies the nimble Orc as the sniper. Guiding his mount with his knees (Ride = 23), Magnus looses an arrow, winging wide of the mark. The party members on foot are rapidly closing in. Kulich is struck with a javelin but ignores the pain, rushing the center of the line, still a few seconds away. Elroy Wick gets himself to a prime patch of earth, drawing no ranged attacks from the Orcs. Øskur makes a zigzagging rush to the next viable spot of cover, but the Orc captain’s eyes adjust slightly to the light and he hits the Druidbarian through the new cover.
Halting level with the Orc line, Magnus punches an arrow into one of the Orcs from the tent. Wick tucks his dagger away and unslings his crossbow. Kulich is nearly in melee; he casts Protection From Evil on himself. It’s almost killing-time for Owlbear-helmed Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn, who boosts himself with Bull’s Strength.
Kulich’s Protection From Evil pays off – two javelins fall wide of him by only the slightest of margins. Crossbow bolts, and the narrow spears of four other Orcs, all miss their targets. Daylight has sapped all trace of skill from these Orcs. Their captain roars his displeasure.
Magnus fires again but his second arrow against the sleepy Orc is a miss. Elroy Wick begins a song, a truly extraordinary shanty (Perform : Sing = 30) about how generally terrible Orcs are at everything, including but not limited to combat, personal grooming, and cursive writing. Extraplanar beings on a neighbouring Plane must be in rapturous awe of this Bard’s sublime song. Mortal beings on this Plane allied with Wick gain the benefit of Inspire Courage, for a reasonable performance fee of 3d6 gold. The nearsighted Orc holds the left-hand end of the defensive line; it takes a bolt from Wick’s crossbow.
Invoking Pelor’s name, Kulich charges up to the waist-height wood wall and swings his morningstar at the Orc captain, catching only the Orcs’ attention. At close range, the Cleric notices that the Orcs are injured from a previous fight. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn’s last sprint takes him around the right-hand end of the crude fence, almost into hand-to-hand combat. He eyes the tents and wonders if more Orcs hide within.
Magnus is hurt by a crossbow bolt. He does not see from whom, as he is busy switching to his Heavy Pick. A javelin sails past Øskur’s bony Owlbear helm. That shaft was the last one in the Orcs’ arsenal. Six of the Orc defenders take up battleaxes to engage their attackers; the other two Orcs step to rearguard positions with their crossbows. A tired Orc slashes Kulich; the Cleric is parried on counterattack.
Elroy Wick adds Inspirational Boost to his song, and buries a bolt into the nimble Orc crossbowman in the back ranks. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn alters himself with Bite of the Were-Rat. He peeks into a tent and is sure they are all empty.
The groggy Orc fresh from the tents cannot hold back; he jumps the barricade and presses Kulich in close combat, distracting the Cleric so that the tired Orc can land a surprising blow. A crossbow shot from the Orc captain whistles past Wick. The sluggish Orc charges Were-barian Øskur and his axe swings wide.
Now the Fighter’s turn – Magnus rides down the sleepy Orc and Picks him into permanent slumber. Bard Wick switches targets, shooting the burly Orc safely outside melee combat with Wick’s allies. The tired Orc is too slow on his feet; Kulich kills him with a Critical Hit. Going into a Rage, Were-barian Øskur’s reflexes and toughness boost to horrifying heights. His greatsword fatally cleaves the sluggish Orc in two. When Øskur scurries to another target, he is slashed by the burly Orc on an Attack of Opportunity.
Cleric Kulich has a problem – the Orc captain and his nearsighted and groggy minions have encircled him. The Captain swings to behead but Kulich ducks under with room to spare. The nimble Orc fires his crossbow at Elroy Wick and hits. For this violent heckling of the Bard’s performance, Magnus’s horse kicks the nimble Orc and Magnus kills the foe with his Heavy Pick. The Fighter’s subsequent Cleave attack against the burly Orc is devastating.
The odds are now even; four party members against four Orcs. Wick sights and shoots the Orc captain, still mindful of his friends in melee. Kulich smashes and kills the groggy Orc, leading onlookers to wonder if the Cleric’s chosen deity is Pelor or Erythnul. With a clear path to the Orc captain and that Orc’s attention, Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn shows off the bolt that fell just short of hitting him in the face earlier. Then, brushing off a deep cut from the burly Orc’s Attack of Opportunity, the Were-barian rushes the Orc captain and kills the hated foe with a colossal strike.
The burly Orc focuses on the Were-barian, chopping Øskur again. Magnus’s horse kicks and then bites that Orc, slaying the foe. Hurling his Pick end-over-end with a mighty two-handed heave while mounted, Magnus actually hits his nearsighted Orc target – surprising everyone.
Only the nearsighted Orc is still alive, and he can’t see what trouble he’s in. Kulich steps out of combat range and casts Cure Moderate Wounds to self-heal. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn’s Rage and ratcanthropy fuel his fury – his next attack viciously cuts down the Orc, ending the battle.
Elroy Wick ends his exceptional song. Magnus dismounts, woozy from his injuries, and sets to coup-de-gracing the Orcs littered all around. The Bard follows the Fighter as he goes about his work, casting Cure Moderate Wounds and Cure Light Wounds on him.
For the next hour, the party rests to recover strength. They collect up the Orcs’ possessions. There are two Masterwork light crossbows; Wick takes one to replace his mundane-quality version. Two halberds, of no interest to anyone. Six battleaxes, four of Masterwork quality. Two Masterwork chain-shirts, one of which Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn decides to wear. Six suits of ordinary chainmail, and eight daggers. Elroy Wick takes two daggers; one he names “Sorry 2 Wake You” and the other, “Sorry 2 Wake You 2”. There was 190-gp and 50-sp, and six gems of 50-gp quality. The Bard collects up all unclaimed Masterwork gear, either for other party members to claim later, or as party treasure to sell.
Too early in the day to stop and camp; the party returns to their horses. More tracks continue east than are found leading to this camp – more Orcs are somewhere up ahead. After a half-hour of riding, Elroy (Spot = 16) and Magnus (Spot = 16) notice more footprints joining the trail from the forest. Øskur (Survival = 31) determines that a pack of eight humanoids on the trail was swelled by ten more – likely last night or early this morning. Øskur’s party must be getting close to the rendezvous point confessed by the Goblin prisoner.
Three hours pass. The party rides at a slowed pace, not wanting to overtake any Orcs. A Spot check – Elroy Wick barely notices the ground (with a Natural 1 rolled for Spot for a total skill check of 6) but Magnus (Spot = 24) distinctly makes out movement on the hilly trail far ahead.
The party restrains its pace even more, keeping the moving figures visible. Then Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn (Spot = 22) cautions the group to stop. He sees what may be a large encampment. The party will scout from high ground. They backtrack into the last valley.
Leading their horses up the severe incline, Kulich and friends prowl along the ridge until they have eyes on the camp Øskur spotted. Sure enough, it is Orcs – perhaps forty of them. And late in the day, Magnus (Spot = 27) can tell that the Orcs are breaking down their temporary settlement and preparing to move on.
Unseen up above, the party crouches low and watches.
(end of the session)