Sorry for the late post everyone…Jay
After asking some of the same questions of the captured goblin and getting somewhat similar responses, the party decided to set up camp for the night and get a fresh look at everything in the morning. Watches were decided on, camp set up, and everyone relaxed for the night.
Apparently the day was very exhausting because “everyone relaxed” included first watch members, Portick and Erowin. About two hours into the night, and unnoticed by the assigned watchers, a faint metallic sound in the distance woke Phlarr from his light sleep. Phlarr roused the rest of the team then he and Lud moved out into the forest’s dark night searching for the source of the sound.
As they approached the path they noticed a grouping of lights travelling at a steady clip toward the east. Phlarr laid low keeping an eye on the advancing mounted group while Lud moved quietly through the forest to get a better look at who or what was approaching. Before Lud had moved very far away from Phlarr, he made an accidental misstep which caught the attention of a previously unseen humanoid shadow creeping through the woods nearby. Phlarr spotted the dark figure as it moved between himself and Lud. It was silently advancing on Lud with its bow drawn. In an attempt to distract the bowman and protect his friend, Phlarr picked up a stone and threw it across the road at a distant tree. The rock arced through the air miraculously missing all intervening branches and striking the intended tree with a distinct “Thwack”.
The sudden sound attracted the attention of the mounted group and their leader called out quietly that they would handle the ones across the road and for persons unknown to deal with the previous threat. Lud recognized the leader’s voice as that of his friend and trainer Commander Tynne. Lud called out from the bushes to the commander and identified himself, reliving most the tension from what was quickly becoming a dangerous situation.
The group escorted Commander Tynne, the two Knights Verdoyant, and a very stealthy member of the Ranger Corpsback to their camp where the party brought the small group of warriors up to speed on their findings and concerns. There was a heated discussion between some of the party and Commander Tynne as to what had been done, what was known, who should be doing what, and what should happen next. During the discussion the commander sent the ranger to look at the orc camp and its wagon to gather some additional intelligence. After a long wait the ranger returned with the requested information and the startling fact that the wagon had metal cages hanging from it with what appeared to be human heads in them.
In the end, the commander decided that he had to uphold his duties and return to protect the town of Rivergate from possible invasion. The knights agreed to return with him to the town and the ranger agreed to return to town but only after verifying the identity of a few of the wagon’s gruesome decorations.
The rest of the night was used to rest and recover and shortly after the sun rose, the Ranger set out with the party to completely scout the orc war party, try to identify the dead humans, and validate the destination of the wagon. To accomplish this they continued to follow the wagon all during the day and decided to use the cover of night to get closer to gather the specifics of the what was contained in the cages.
Under the cover of night the Ranger, Lud, and Phlarr approached the orc camp while the remaining party members stood out of sight and downwind from the camp. Phlarr and Lud took a cover position and the ranger moved up to open one of the cages. After the Ranger got a good look, he and Phlarr moved back to the party’s position. While the party was discussing the implications of the new information, a ruckus started in the orc camp and Portick moved forward to determine what is causing the commotion, since he speaks orc. Portick overheard a conversation in orc between an orc and a non-orc, regarding the fact that the orcs are being watched, the non-orc voice stated that he would take the heads, and the orc voice made it clear that the orcs were subordinate to other voice. As the voices stopped talking and Lud began to return to the party, his wolf scented something leaving the camp to the east.
As Portick explains that they have been spotted and an orc priest exits the wagon. The camp of orcs watch a brutal sacrifice of two of its own to the orc god Gruumsh One-Eye. The party decided that they need to get away before they are caught, so they tried to sneak away from the area back to the east. The orcs broke their huddle of evil and death with murder on their minds, spreading out from the wagon looking for the interlopers.
The party made it a good distance from the orc camp, when a ghostly floating eye of Gruumsh is spotted following the party. They reached their own camp and the ghost eye vanished. The party grabbed all of their belongings and headed south, into the woods, and shortly thereafter a dozen orcs arrived at the camp with blood lust in their hearts.
The focused pursuit began in earnest by the dozen bloodthirsty orcs..
Xyphus and Erowin apply creative use of their cantrips, and the ranger makes use of his body and a couple of his feathered to draw the orcs toward the sprinting ranger and away from the party. The party used the confusion to skirt their old camp and head east down the road. When they approach the orc’s camp there are still a large number of orcs in camp so the party decided to skirt that area also, continuing their eastward march. As they swing back toward the road, on the east side of the orc camp, the party takes a few minutes to look for any tracks that could belong to the whatever or whoever was smelled by the wolf. Phlarr found the trail and the group decided to follow.
Following the trail lead the party to a battered keep that the group assume to be the orc keep. The trail followed the tree line around the keep’s kill zone to the north and east. It seemed to end at a large debris pile on a wide creek a couple of hundred yards from the keep. In the debris pile, Phlarr found an entrance to an underground tunnel which the tracks entered. The party decided to take a break to rest and regroup before they entered the tunnels, so they moved a few hundred yards further away from the keep a make camp.
After their rest the party moved down into the tunnel. Using the wizards’ light and mage hand spells, the party begins its exploration of the tunnels. They located a tunnel whose sloping floor and widening walls led to a resting Drow shadowhunter. The hunter quickly engaged the party shouting for his dark mistress to escape while he held off the invaders and proceeding to lay into Biri with two massive blows from his long hunting knives. The party made quick work of him and spread out looking for the mistress he had called out to. As they let their guards down just a bit, a shadow streaked from behind the statue of the goddess Lolth , past the floor to ceiling dark purple divider, past Biri, through the decaying bodies of the Duergar miners, past Lud’s wolf, past Portick, Damillia, and Xyphus. Each of the startled party members took a wild swing at the cold dark streak that rushed past them but none of their blows struck home.
They searched the two spaces and found some trinkets of value in the drow priestess’ storage chest. They then chained the Drow shadowhunter to the wall and began questioning it. Seemingly unfazed by the parties threats and intimidation, the Drow held his tongue with only a few snide comments thrown out to frustrate his captors.
Will the party continue the exploration of the underground passages? Will they attempt to explore the keep? Why and how are the Drow involved with the orcs? How do the Drow and orcs relate to the goblins and giants with the flame hand tattoos?