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February 2, 2004

Two Eyes are Better Than One

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 11, 1373, Everlund

...and found ourselves face-to-face with four one-eyed orcs standing around a fire in the middle of a cavernous room. Before we’d even assessed the situation, Tassar ran headlong towards them, only to fall into a pit trap. He was obviously unhurt, as we would occasionally see an arrow fly out into the flank of a passing orc.

There were a lot of orcs, some undead, some just binocularly challenged. I took out several with my crossbow, and saw my companions making use of their various fighting skills. Deitricha spent her time between dusting the skeletal orcs and reviving Antonio, and one time had to quickly search for Areon’s wand to revive him. One orcish adept said, apparently (as Deitricha was the only one that could understand the guttural language), “This is how you cast a spell!” — an insult meant for Antonio, who had collapsed while attempting to cast one fiery spell. Of course, the orc’s spell had no effect on us, so it was an odd threat. I replied for Antonio with, “This is how you use a crossbow!” and sunk a bolt into the surprised (and now dead) orc’s brow.

The last orc standing bolted out of the cavern, and by the looks of it, out of the Nether Mountains entirely. We hauled our halfling out of the pit, and searched the bodies in the area— I of course grabbed the crossbow off the orc that had obviously not known the quality of the weapon he carried— it’s at least as nice as the one I’d just purchased in Silverymoon. I did a quick look around for more traps (I guess Tassar managed to find the only one), and we followed one of two paths out of the cavern. Finding it lead to the outside of the mountain, and led to dozens of orc tracks, we realized we could not fight an entire mountain full of orcs. We could see way markers (skulls on pikes) indicating whatever it is that orcs feel they need to mark to show who is in charge of an area. Areon was obviously disappointed, but we can come back to finish them off at some other time. Tassar scurried ahead of us to the other tunnel leading out of the cavern— it split into a Y— he took the left and I the right. He found nothing but foul smelling pelts in a small room, while I found— Dante! Dante D’mato, who was quite possibly the friendliest person I’ve ever met next to Antonio, was standing alone at the end of a corridor, behind a set of bars— a crude but effective prison cell. The only reason he wasn’t immediately shot was his eyes— there were two of them. For all Dante’s politeness and obvious happiness at seeing me, he was quite definitely an orc. While my curious friends caught up to me, I gave him a quick quiz, and discovered he was a bard from Waterdeep who had met with mishap that resulted in his human appearance being altered to its current orcish state.

Now, maybe it was the contrast of the friendly, cultured voice with the hideous visage, but I was immediately intrigued, even fascinated, by this creature. A few more questions convinced me that, looks aside, he at least didn’t have the temperament or inclinations of an orc, and before Areon could say anything, I found the keys and released Dante from the cell— Tassar pointed out we could “kill him later” if he turned out to be a follower of Gruumsh.

Dante assured us he was not, but did give us some information on his captors (who apparently didn’t find him orcish enough either)— this particular band of orcs is led by Grom, a necromancer said to be blessed by Gruumsh himself, who has a stronghold in the Nether Mountains. As we walked along, he told us of his time with these orcs (most of which was against his will), We found some barrels of wine and some water stained silks— not much in the way of treasure, but no one in our group would dream of leaving a drop of alcohol behind, so we lugged those back to the caravan with our new companion. Dante showed his gratitude by healing Areon and Antonio of their remaining injuries from our earlier battle. Our caravan group didn’t seem to be disturbed Dante’s presence, though we did agree not to give him a weapon till we knew his intentions better. He took it all in stride. Within seconds of arriving back with the caravan, we heard drums in the distance, no doubt an orcish call to arms or a ritual we’d prefer not to witness. So, we left in the 30” of snow (thankfully the wagons’ wheels were tall enough to allow the horses to pull them), Dante in the last wagon with Antonio and the rest of us ranging a short distance away.

We continued on at a rather slow pace due to the sheer amount of snow, and eventually had to stop when two of our horses gave up trying to pull the wagons. There were no sheltered areas to be found, so we opted to keep the river at our backs, hoping anything that chose to attack us would do so from the landward side. We just finished setting up camp when the howls of wolves, which we’d been hearing off in the distance, evolved into actual wolves, keen on tearing us apart. One of the crossbowmen had his throat ripped out by one. Dante was able to peg one with my borrowed crossbow, while shouting an inspiring tale over the howls, and he managed to survive being hit himself— not by a wolf, but by an arrow from Tassar! Assured it was an accident, he never the less gave Tassar a wider berth after that. He moved just in time too, since some stray fire spell of Antonio’s passed through, hitting only Tassar.

There was nothing to be done for the lost caravan crossbowman. We did skin the wolves and use the meat— not the best eating, but there was plenty.

It took us two more days to reach Everlund, but thankfully things were easier with no more attacks. We agreed to meet up with Drake again in five days— we are hoping that the snow will have melted off by then.

We were able to sell off our haul (old orc weapons, the wine and the skins) for about 350 gp. We’ll have to buy Dante a rapier and some travel gear, as he had none when we found him and he’s interested in traveling with us. I was relieved to see that he actually knew people in town who were able to verify he really was a human transformed into an orc.

We are staying in an inn called the Stone Griffin, which has a large petrified griffin in its center. We let Antonio do the haggling for our rooms— I was surprised to see that he put Tassar in with Deitricha, and Dante in with me! I know Antonio is young and apparently not wise in the way of certain things, but he’s just asking for trouble by pairing people up in that fashion. I was also surprised to see that he and Areon each got a single room, though Tassar and Deitricha have been giggling about remedying that. Here’s hoping whatever remedy they’ve chosen doesn’t result in the inn being burned to the ground.

Posted by Kristin at 15:36 | Theona’s Journal