The fight against Orc scouts is over. Only one enemy remains alive. Magnus, Elroy Wick, and Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn tie up their unconscious Orc prisoner and lug him back to the horses.
Or at least, the group returns to the spot where they left their mounts – the horses and all the gear they carried have been stolen. Elroy Wick despairs at the loss of his survival gear; Magnus is angry at the theft of his precious light war-horse. Druidbarian Øskur is beside himself, furious and flustered at the loss of Laddie, his faithful and trusted ladder companion.
Just then, Corun Dum’man and Goa Finnbjorn ride up from the south; the Wizard and the Halfling Rogue had been a day behind the party. Elroy brings them up to speed on what has happened. A frantic Øskur (Survival = 23) and a sensible yet concerned Corun (Survival = 18) hunt for tracks. They find a set of humanoid prints leading horse tracks to the south-east – toward the Orc camp at the river. The invisible Orc leader must have come upon the horses and taken them, only minutes ago.
The culprit barely has a head start and they know which way he went. Instead of immediately following, the party decides to interrogate the unconscious Orc prisoner. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn gives the comatose Orc the very slightest healing of a Cure Minor Wounds. The Orc does not wake. Corun Dum’man tips an Orckish Draught into the prisoner. That brings him around.
The Orc, realizing his situation, immediately tries to burst his bindings. Øskur’s bonds (the DM secretly rolling Øskur’s Use Rope check) seem to hold. Elroy Wick tries Hypnotism on the Orc but the creature is too resilient. The attempt fails. The Druidbarian threatens the Orc; even Halfling Goa tries her hand at the tough-guy routine. The Orc is unaffected. He won’t give up any information about his scouting group, his scout leader, or what happened at the fort.
Taking a smarter approach, Wick asks the Orc, in Orckish, if he and his associates had been watching the abandoned fort to see if Grimlocks would return. The Orc hesitates very slightly before insisting it was Goblins they were watching for. Elroy Wick (Sense Motive = 15) buys the answer but Goa is more intuitive (Sense Motive = 18) and catches the Orc’s lie.
Approaching the helpless Orc with a sewing needle, unusually sinister Goa (Intimidate = 16) threatens to poke out the Orc’s eyes if he doesn’t co-operate. Before Wick can protest his friend’s questionable action, the Orc counter-Intimidates Goa, advising the Halfling to run away before he eats her. Goa is Shaken, and steps well away from the prisoner.
Magnus (Spot = 27), watching intently, sees that the Orc has worked his bindings loose enough to escape at will. Without a word, the Fighter suddenly punches the Orc in the face, knocking the prisoner out. Magnus explains to his friends why he did it. Unfortunately, healer Kulich is not present to take a look at the Fighter’s hand.
Elroy Wick (the DM secretly rolling Wick’s Use Rope check) re-ties the Orc’s bonds. Øskur is pacing, thoughts of Laddie falling back into Orc clutches wrenching his heart. Elroy Wick uses a Locate Object spell to pinpoint the nearest ladder, intending to track down Laddie. The Bard senses nothing – Øskur’s friend is not with 500 feet.
Magnus knows the time is overdue for action. They need to run down the Orc leader making off with their mounts. The Orc is obviously not riding the horses and therefore doesn’t have a significant advantage in speed. Between fits of cursing and fretting, Øskur (Spellcraft = 26) mentions that a Potion of Invisibility has a very short duration; its effect would have expired before the Orc even reached this spot.
The Fighter coup-de-grace’s the unconscious Orc; the evil creature has no foreseeable use. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn casts Embrace The Wild on himself, gaining Low-light Vision and the Scent ability. The smell of their horses is fresh and strong; by nose alone, Øskur can easily track them. Corun Dum’man expects combat and buffs up with Mage Armour.
The group follows the Druidbarian’s swift lead, running across the barren valley in pursuit of their stolen property. Twilight is upon them; the sun is behind the western ridge of the valley and soon the Orcs will be in their element.
After twenty minutes of the chase, the party catches sight of their horses far ahead, led by a single humanoid. The party is making slightly better speed than the Orc and his spoils. Elroy Wick suggests that Magnus take Corun’s horse and ride down the Orc scout leader. One-on-one, the Orc should be no match for their Fighter. Magnus assumes the mount, with his Halfling friend Goa along for the ride in his backpack. The Fighter and Rogue tear away from the others at top speed. The Wizard, Bard, Druidbarian, and Goa’s riding dog Lörydyr continue their pursuit.
The Orc leader must have suspected his theft would be discovered and kept watch over his shoulder. He sees Magnus and Goa riding hard on his tail. Dangerously skilled with a crossbow, the Orc leader pauses briefly to fire at Corun’s horse. He hits twice in the time it takes Magnus to close half of the intervening distance.
Goa, standing in Magnus’s backpack, jostling around on a horse at full gallop over uneven terrain, manages to load her crossbow. Sighting past the Fighter’s ear and accounting for the bounce of Corun’s horse and Magnus’s own erratic movements, the Rogue fires a shot – and actually hits the Orc leader beyond her crossbow’s normal recommended range.
The Orc leader is surprised, though not impressed by the Halfling’s unlikely feat. Abandoning his spoils of battle, the Orc leaves the horses and runs away toward the Orc camp now just within sight. Corun’s horse and its riders easily overtake him.
Dismounting at speed, Magnus leaps at the Orc, swinging his Heavy Pick but missing on the charge. Goa, however, executes a completely awesome leap (Jump = 21) and mid-air flip (Tumble = 27) over the bewildered Orc’s head, sticking a perfect landing in a flanking position behind the Orc. She lashes out with her sword but misses the Sneak Attack.
The Orc recovers from his wonder at the sight, dumping his crossbow for a halberd and cutting the Halfling. Magnus executes a full Power Attack but his Natural 20 is only a normal hit and not a Critical – but still painful. Goa sees her chance and, flanking the Orc with Magnus, sticks her foe on a hurtful Sneak Attack.
The Orc scout leader is barely standing. He breaks out of his flanking trap with a side-step and hits Magnus, then evades strikes from Goa and Magnus as they step back into flanking position. The Rogue cannot find a spot to hit. Fighter Magnus has his first swing parried, but connects on the second to kill the Orc.
The rest of the group catches up as Magnus and Goa quickly loot the Orc’s body. A Masterwork chain shirt; a Masterwork light crossbow and 12 unused bolts; a halberd no-one will want; a Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds; two gems of 50-gp value, two gems of 40-gp value, 40 gold pieces and 9 silver. Corun takes the Potion and the crossbow. Elroy collects the rest for Party Treasure. Then the Bard casts Cure Light Wounds on the Wizard’s horse to undo the damage done by the encounter.
Eyes turn to the large, dangerously close Orc encampment. Goa (Spot = 25), Øskur and Magnus (Spot = 18, 18) see figures moving out of the camp in their direction.
Everyone recovers their stolen mounts and gear. Øskur’s touching reunion with Laddie is cut short – they have to ride, and ride now. The party has the advantage of speed over the Orcs. Racing three-quarters of a mile to the west, the group turns north and gallops hard for a half-hour. This is as far as they can go. Darkness is upon them, and the running and fighting have worn even the hardiest among them down to near exhaustion.
Barely awake, Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn (Survival = 24) digs a concealed fire-pit and arranges a low-visibility camp as best possible in the wide-open valley floor. Corun Dum’man puts an Alarm spell on the perimeter of their site. Fortunately, the night passes without a problem.
In the morning, the party is rested and ready to explore further north. First, they ride back to the river and south, until spotting the Orc camp. It has not moved. The Orcs did not travel under their preferred cover of darkness. Presumption is that the Orcs will stay there for a while.
Discussion in the group finds interest in riding to the site of the Orc army’s major encampment north of here. Then, to investigate the mountain pass that leads out of the valley.
(end of the session)