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February 15, 2004

Of Orcs and Arrows…

Tassar's Journal

The party tightened together as we traveled up the path towards the voices, soon we would be upon them. As we get closer we were bathed in the light of the Orcs camp fire, yet for all of our encounters in this cave, the four orcs around the fire seemed unaware of our presence.

A resounding cracking sound went up the hall as someone behind me kicked a loose stone into the wall, the orcs were immediately alarmed. With me and Areon in front and the others following close behind I was confident we had the upper hand. I yelled for Areon to follow me and ran at the orcs. It is here that things went a little astray. It seems for all the hatred that had been twisting up inside Areon no longer drove him to want to wade into the fights with sword drawn. No, a new Areon is emerging, an archer. I came to this conclusion as I raced toward the orcs alone.

It was strange, the orcs stood their ground. As I neared them I discovered my folly, cursing myself as I fell through a trap door slamming myself into the floor of the 10 foot pit.

The party took up a defensive stand in the hall, and launched a volley of arrows at the orcs. I think I heard Deitricha yelling for me, her voice sounded a little different. The orcs screamed out, both in pain and for help which soon arrived. As the cobwebs cleared from my head and I realized my position, I decided that climbing out was impossible, so why not just fight from here? I quickly pulled by bow out and examined it for damage from the fall, I could not hold back the smile when I saw it was unharmed.

As I nocked the first arrow one of the orcs tried to run past the pit and attack my friends, well he did get by but the arrow it put in his shoulder would surely hinder him in the fight with my friends. Soon another tried to pass the pit, this one seemed to be one of the undead orcs. No matter; I shot my arrow and removed its life. “ONE!” Yes I may be in the pit, but they will sting of my bow if they think they can pass me to get at my friends.

Soon a group came up to the pit, three passed me on the left as one on the right tried to run me through with his gisarme. After barely avoiding that well-aimed attack I returned it with my own, soon the orc with the gisarme was falling over backward with two arrows through his heart. “TWO!” I turned my head for a second listening to the roar of the battle as the three that had gotten by me were met by the party. I heard some weapons clink, the sound of sword on flesh and some bodies hit the floor. It is strange, but one of the noises, a “flumping” sound of wind leaving lungs seemed familiar. Then I realized that Antonio must be down again; I can’t believe I have learned the sound of him hitting the floor.

Another group passed me as again, one orc came at me with its long weapons to distract me. This orc too found the error of his ways as he hit the floor and the life drifted away from him through the arrow in his neck. “THREE!”

Chants, this is bad, one of the orcs must be a cleric. I look up and see a small ball of fire go past, harmlessly into a wall. Antonio is awake again. The orc cleric is standing above the pit, between the party and me. As he starts another chant I teach him the folly of forgetting the halfling in the pit. My aim was perfect, through the lower back of his skull and out his forehead. Tempus will be pleased.

The orc still stands? I do not understand. Then it begins to chant once more, and I realize how strong the evil of this place is. Before I can nock another arrow my face is sprayed with a mist of blood. Looking up I see the cleric orc has found one of Theona’s bolts, and it is through his eye, then the cleric finally dropped.

The battle was over and soon Deitricha and Antonio were helping me out of the pit. The group seemed to be not too bad off from the fight. I was relived to see them in such good shape. Areon said that one of the orcs got away, and he pointed to a tunnel off to our side. That was all he needed to say as the fire from the battle still raged in us both, we ran up the hall looking for more fuel to settle our lust for battle. Unfortunately all we found was an exit from the cave out into the mountains.

I was all for chasing the last orc down but the party argued until I too could see the foolishness of the chase. I hate when they do that. Anyway, we went back in and destroyed the orc bodies; the one-eyed god will not use these orcs against anyone again. Then we set off to examine the other halls we had not gone through; we had grown tired of being attacked from behind and it seemed a good idea to check every corner for future trouble.

Of Orcs and Lust……

We traveled to one hall that split in two. Theona had begun to search for traps. A good thing I guess, but her thoroughness bordered on insanity so I walked past and went into the hall on the left. I find barrels, and bags of moldy grain. As I turn to go and check out the other path I hear voices, and one of them is not from my party. I run, sword drawn, into the next room to find Theona talking to an orc. An orc in a small cell. An orc that talks common. As I look around I notice that only me and Areon have weapons out— this is getting weird.

“Dante” is his name. The talking orc says he was once human and was changed into this shape by an angry wizard. Dante says he was a bard from Waterdeep and that this was the result of a tryst with a magic user’s daughter. Antonio and Deitricha talk Areon and me into lowering our weapons, they believe him and want to let him out. Theona too says this opinion, but the look on her face is not of concern for saving a bard, no she seems to intent on something else, lust. I have seen it on the faces of elves before, the tall freaks couldn’t hide it if their lives depended on it. Forget weird this is getting sickening.

Theona claims personal responsibility for Dante and we let him out. Dante tells us this is just the forward guard post of a huge orc army. He tells us of a new orc leader who is uniting all the clans into one massive army. He tells us more, but I am distracted by the bile rising in my throat at the thought of such a large force attacking Silverymoon. The city could be wiped out by such a force.

We get back to the cave with the wagons and inform our companions of the dilemma, the orc that got away would be bringing back help, lots of help. If we stay here we will have to defend the cave from hundreds of orcs. If we travel out now, we battle the weather and possibly hundreds of orcs. The decision is made to run for it. We load up the wagons and head out. We put Dante in our wagon and asked him to drive while me and Otto sit in the back. Neither Otto or I could travel very fast through three foot high snow, so we stood watch at the back of the wagon.

Of Flames and Arrows …..

The party was soon underway into the snow and driving wind. The going was slow even though each man driving the carts was yelling and whipping the horses in a furry. It wasn’t long before we heard howls and yelps behind us. Something was coming, either wolf or worse, we all feared it could be the howls of worgs. We traveled as far as we could in the storm, but finally we realized that we would be caught from behind, so we took the wagons to the water’s edge and made a defensive position.

We made a nice little fortification with the wagons. Antonio made a fire in middle to help keep us warm. Theona and Deitricha insisted that we arm Dante. I only agreed to give him a crossbow if he was in the front and I was behind him. We took up positions and waited as the howls got closer. Theona and Antonio were walking around giving encouragement and coffee. If I didn’t know better I would say that I saw Theona give Dante a kiss for luck. I am not sure because at that moment Antonio was giving me the coffee.

Coffee, this is the vile liquid that Antonio discovered and was always handing us. While it is warm and seems to help me stay awake, it has an acrid smell and taste that brings pains to my stomach when I drink it. None of us have had the heart to tell Antonio that we don’t like it, it is an expensive and hard to get item that he shares with us out of friendship. I thank Antonio for the coffee and turn back to watch for the enemy. It is then that I spilled some on the one wagon, and watched the paint be eaten away. I hear the howls again, they are very close, so I put the coffee down next to me, I will use it as a weapon if I have the chance.

Soon we see the wolves, a large pack coming right at us. Just as we began to tighten up our muscles I heard Dante. Dante was telling jokes, and his humor is relieving the tension in the party. Maybe this fellow is really the bard he says he is. When the wolves get about a hundred feet away we open fire and cut a few down, but soon they are upon us. I hear a yell of pain and smell burnt flesh. I look over to see Areon fighting a wolf, Areon seems pissed. A closer look and I see a large burn mark on his back, then I look to Antonio who is trying to apologize for it while Deitricha is smacking him in the head.

My attention is returned to the front of me as a large wolf leaps at Dante. I fire two arrows which make solid contact, the wolf and Dante howl in pain. It was an accident but deep inside I was laughing at the irony of it. It was enough for Dante though— he backed away from the wolf with a slight limp from my arrow stuck in his thigh.

I drew my sword and charged into the wolf, slicing its underbelly open as the heat hit me. Yep, Antonio hit me with a fire spell again. If he doesn’t learn to aim those damned things soon, someone is going to kill him. As I look over my shoulder at the once again apologizing Antonio, I notice that one of the caravan guards has his crossbow aimed at Antonio and his eyes are looking at me for permission to fire it. I shake my head no and return my attention to helping finish off the last of the wolves.

Of Rooms and Company ….

We rested for a while and then the caravan got back on the journey. We found the town a day later and told them of the new orc army that was growing. Drake said we will wait for the snow to melt and told us to meet him in five days to go back to Silverymoon. We went to the Stone Griffin for rooms. Antonio arranged for the room— he told us he got one for Deitricha and me. I looked to her and was pleased to see that she had no objection. Then Antonio announced that he had gotten one room for Dante and Theona, neither of them seemed to mind, in fact Theona took the key and Dante’s hand and went right up to the room. It was noon and we didn’t see them until the next day.

That night was very nice, the only disturbance was the banging on the wall near morning when Theona, who was in the next room, was yelling at us for our bed had apparently been banging on the wall all night and she couldn’t sleep. This only brought a gleam of challenge to Deitricha and I am sorry to say, we had to pay for a new bed the next day. That poor bed didn’t have a chance.

Over the next couple of days there seemed to be a bit of competition, as who could stay up longer, ummm, I mean stay awake and busy longer. Each morning Deitricha arrived for breakfast having won that nights competition. Dante was looking worse for wear, poor fellow must be having a tough time with the elf’s endurance. Not that five hours should ever be thought of as not able to do enough, but that seemed to be the poor fellow’s limit.

Before the last night Deitricha and I agreed to get to sleep early, to be ready for the trip. But we had a surprise for Antonio, he had mentioned his complete lack of experience during one of the conversations the day before, so Deitricha suggested that I go and find him some company. I did, a ravishing red head named Lirna, who was a finer, higher-priced companion. I told her to wait for Antonio in his room and surprise him.

That night Deitricha and I went to sleep early. About two hours before dawn she woke me with a giggle and a thought. She mentioned that it would be a shame to let Theona and Dante go to breakfast thinking they outlasted us. So we spent the rest of the night jumping up and down on the bed and making noises. It was well worth it when the familiar knock on the wall came from next door.

The next morning we were all down stairs before Antonio. When he finally came to sit and eat I asked how everyone slept last night. Antonio was just starting to drink his coffee when I said it, which was a problem because he looked up at me and tried to gasp, only to find the coffee coming out of his nose and spilling all over his plate of breakfast.

We all laughed. Antonio didn’t say another word all morning.

Posted by Jim at 15:38 | Tassar’s Journal