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Day 5, continued...

Ghelt’s Journal

Dearest Grun,

Well, today has been a sad day.

I forgot to tell you about a then-funny incident when Four Feather showed up. She asked who was the leader of the party, and Drusilia pointed at me. I thought it was a joke! Next thing I knew, people started taking it rather seriously, so I guessed I had better, too.

Which makes the rest of this a little harder to write.

We muzzled the mule with a feedbag to keep him quiet, and moved into the valley with Trap scouting ahead for trouble on the trail, and Four Feather sneaking down to the village to see what was going on there. Four Feather quickly returned with the news that the village was actually a mining encampment, led by orcs using slave labor!

We immediately abandoned our original plan to just sneak around the village, and concentrated on exactly how to liberate the poor miners (and kill the orcs!). We decided to sneak up to the edge of the woods and wait for darkness, and on my signal, Four Feather would shoot the guard in the watchtower, Trap would try to free the slaves from their chains, and the rest of us would charge into the fray with surprise on our side.

I also wanted to discuss ways to distract the orcs, sow some confusion (after all, there were only six of us!), but when I suggested using lighted arrows to set fire to the roofs of the houses in the village, Four Feather hollered something about “how would I like to be set on fire??” and stalked off into the woods. She didn’t return, and I was left to wonder how to signal her at dusk, presuming she was even in position!

We worked our way up to the edge of the woods by the village, which had been cleared for a good space that we’d have to run across. I wanted to see more, and tried to sneak up, but was loud enough to make the orc in the watchtower turn for a good look. Thank Moradin someone had put the elven cloak on me - I stayed still, and he didn’t see me. We did get the chance to observe that the orcs were living in the caves above the mine, and the slaves in the houses in the village. Made the firing plan a moot point!

Darkness fell, finally, and as they began to light torches, we walked up to the edge of the woods. Drusilia blessed us all, and Trap got ready to sprint for the houses. I stepped into the light, raised my arm, dropped it down and we all began to run, hoping Four Feather would understand. As we charged, I saw her break from the trees and head for the watchtower - our first mistake, as I had thought she was close enough to shoot the orc right away!

The orc, therefore, had a chance to sound the alarm. We ran through a hail of arrows and javelins, and finally, into hand-to-hand combat. Four Feather did shoot the watchtower orc, which got rid of one sniper. I saw Drusilia drop another with one arrow. I managed to kill my first orc when two together dropped me.

Drusilia healed me enough to wake me up, and I healed myself some more as I staggered to my feet to meet a charge of orcs! Three big ones had appeared from the caves, apparently the leaders, and Drusilia was shooting arrows at them as Fafnir, Valon (singing), Four Feather, and I were fighting up close. There was still nothing from the slave cabins, but I saw orcs hunting over in the village and had to assume that Trap had been discovered. Fafnir used his wand of colorspray, causing several orcs to fall stunned, and I managed to charge up and kill the one looming over him before he got smashed.

At this point things got very bad. I saw Four Feather go down, even as I took some serious blows. Valon was badly hurt, yet lying on the ground singing to raise our spirits, and I heard a scream from Trap, which let me know he was alive, at least, but I couldn’t know for how long. Fafnir and I were hacking away and Drusilia was reduced to shooting the orcs right on top of her as she tried to protect Valon. The last orc I fought managed to drop me, again.

So much for the carefully argued out plan and surprise attack. Oh, Grun, some leader I make, to get everyone into such trouble!

Drusilia healed me again, and I woke to a much quieter scene. There was one big orc left, running for the mine entrance, with a manic halfling behind him. I decided to follow, worried about Trap, though I needn’t have been! I caught up with them in the mine, as the orc turned and snarled something quite rude at the halfling, who promptly shot him to death! We asked the slaves if there were any more orcs, but they said that all had run outside at the sound of the alarm. I checked the quarters above quickly, while Trap told me how he’d been attacked in the village, and fought back with just his bow and arrow, killing every one of his attackers as they chased him around the buildings. I’m really impressed - he must have a lot of natural talent to do that with the little training I’d managed to give him so far.

Trap went off with some keys to free the rest of the slaves, and I went to see how everyone else had fared during the battle. Everyone was back on their feet. Except.. for Four Feather. She was too far gone for even Drusilia to save. I feel just terrible. I didn’t get a chance to find out why she was so upset, I didn’t get a chance to tell her she was right not to fire the houses, and I didn’t try hard enough to contact her before the battle, to settle where she was and how to signal. I just let it slide and hoped for the best, and got her killed, not to mention the close calls that the rest of us had.

I prayed over her body, and Valon decided to take her back to town for proper burial. I can’t blame him - he’s been too close to death himself several times, with this party!

The slaves told us that they were mining iron ore for a witch-lord over the mountain. They can’t leave the valley, due to magical iron collars he made to keep them there. We need to save these people and whomever else this “lord” is exploiting. Our map will have to wait.

Unexpectedly, one of the slaves is able to go with us - and is eager for it! He’s a halfling - apparently has some of Trap’s talents, as he’d been able to either keep the collar from activating properly, or fiddled with it enough to break it, I don’t know which. He’s pretty angry about being stuck as slave labor, however, and I hope he can somewhat replace our double loss of Valon and Four Feather.

So, we’re resting here for the night, and going on in the morning, I for one am sadder and wiser - I hope! May Moradin forgive and assist me!

With love,

Posted by Kate on January 23, 2003, 13:15 | Ghelt’s Journal