The Dead of Winter - Chronicle Part 4

Brightstone Keep, February 1043TA - More Orcish Reinforcements.

The party keep their eyes open for the orcish couriers they are expecting and three days later, a guard spots a wyvern attacking something in a nearby valley. Wyvern, Will, Tarquin and Jewels head off to investigate. They enter the next valley and find that the wyvern is attacking three orcs. They wade in, killing the wyvern and two of the orcs. The third they take prisoner back to the keep. Back at the keep Ranan intimidates the orc with a flash of his claws and frightens him into speaking. He reveals that his message to the orcs was 'At the dark of the moons, the Seven will meet at Jorgol's Teeth. Youmust hold till Gothak arrives in one month'. The orc tells them that Gothak is the leader of a large warband of the Black Mountain orc clan. Jorgol's Teeth is the orcish name for a circle of standing stones deep in the Gethen Barrens and 'the Dark of the Moons' refers to the time when all three moons are new. The next occurrence of this is on the 26th May.

The party begin to prepare for another attack. Wyvern and Tarquin begin to scout the area while WIll travels to Midwinter to hire some mercenaries. He returns a week later with a company of ~40 men. Over the next few days Tibid sends his bat familiar out scoulting to look for the approaching orcs. Three days later the bat returns, it has spotted some orcish outriders.

Wyvern, Jewels, Tarquin and WIll set off to find orcs and they soon come across the outriders mounted on wargs. After a fierce battle they kill the scouts before they can escape with word of their location. They continue on further into the hills but before they can get near to the orcish camp they are ambushed by some more orcs. An orcish shaman fireballs the party as a number of heavy orcs attack from cover. They defeat the attackers but get badly mauled in the process, using up a large portion of their healing potions to recover. After a brief rest they set off, following the orc's tracks back to their camp.

They reach the camp and start to recce the place. They spot several orcs guarding the dozen or so tents. They hatch a plan to assault the camp. Will, Wyvern and Tarquin will take out the sentries at a distance while Jewels fireballs the campsite. After a moment of preparation they attack the camp. Three sentries are dropped and several tents are incinerated. Expecting an attack the heroes ready their weapons, but rather than attacking the sentries quickly jog away from the camp site. Smelling a rat the party decide to beat a hasty retreat bu they soon realise they are being folowed.

Brightstone Keep, February 1043TA - The Orcs Retaliate.

The fleeing party head towards a previously identified bolt-hole, followed ever closer by a group of orcs. They reach the bolt-hole just as the orcs catch up with them. A fierce battle ensues with the orcs who are led by Gothak Eagle-eye, their leader. Again, they are able to defeat the orcs, but completely use up their supply of potions and Will's Cure spells. Taking stock of their situation, they realise that the orces knew what they were planning. They rush back to Brightstone fearing the worst.

As fast as they can they return to the Keep, only to find that the main force of forty orcs are assaulting the keep's postern gate. Jewels identifies two orcs bearing magic, one a fighter type and the other a mage-type. Tarquin, Jewels and Will begin to shoot arrows and spells into the orcs while Wyvern charges a mass of orcish warriors around the wizard. Wyvern soon finds himself in trouble as his initial charge was unable to make a large impression. Will abandons his bow and charged in but finds himself intercepted by the orc leader and some more orcs. Things hang on a knife edge, Wyvern mamages to carve many of the Orcs into pieces while Jewels deals with the orc-wizard. Will finds himself in deep trouble after taking several mighty blows from the orc leader and begins to retreat.

Tarquin sends Petra, his wolf companion, to attack the orc leader, but the orc swipes her aside chases WIll down, cleaving a mighty blow into his chest and killing him outright. Tarquin and Jewels launch arrows and spells at the orc, taking him down but not quickly enough to save Will. Wyvern finishes off the last orc warriors and then the orc mage, ending the orcish threat. With heavy hearts, the remaining party clear the battlefield and tke Will's body into the keep. They know that's WIll's mother is dead and that he ran away from his family in Midwinter to escape his father. They bury him at the junction with the Old Road in keeping with his Goddess's practices.

After searching through the orcish effects they find no messages or letters to indicate that another warband will be soming at any time in the near future. They send their scouts out into the surrounding area while the rest of the party rest and train. Several days later they get word that a new chaplain will be arriving at the keep and a few days later Helena Blackwood arrives at the keep with her two assistants. A few days after that, a party of dwarves arrives from Kundrukhar wi their monthly rent. They inform the party that the forge was attacked by a group of orcs but they were able to drive them off.

Wyvern and Ranan decide go out scouting to find out what the orcs are doing. They first come across another runied keep that has also been occupied by orcs. As they return to Brightstone, they find that the orcs are fortifying the trails leading to the Black Mountain. They also spot a strang construction 3/4 of the way up the western flank of the mountain. They decide to investigate and attack one of the orc redoubts to clear a path to the mountain. Wyvern scales the mountain and discovers that the orcs are building a stone tower across a cave entrance in the mountain. He scales the tower and kills several orc workers before returning to Ranan in the valley below.

Brightstone Keep, March 1043TA - Assault on Black Mountain.

Ranan and Wyvern gather the rest of the adventurers and they return to Black Mountain. Wyvern scales the mountain and enters the watch-tower again. After killing the guards there he lets down a rope to help the others climb up. They battle their way through tunnels and caverns, killing twenty or so orc warriors as they go.

They rescue some prisoners and kill a shaman and his bodyguard. One of the prisoners is Callan Blacklake – he asks to join the party and help kill the orcs who have held him captive for three years. He also wants to find his sister who was captured with him. They clear out another two levels filled with warriors, orc artisans, women and children. Many of the women and children scatter, alerting the rest of the orcs.

At the next level, Callan tells them that there is a small sub-level where the chieftain lives. They go down and fight through more warriors, heading for the chief’s quarters. They head down more passages and they are confronted by the chief, his head shaman and three of his bodyguards. After a fierce battle they defeat the chief and his henchmen. Battered and weary they press on to the last set of caverns in the complex. They clear out the rest of the living areas, freeing more slaves.

The last section is a large open cavern. They see orc women and children fleeing through the massive door’s of the complex and a rear-guard of orcs and ogres left to defend them. They defeat the rear-guard and follow the remnants of the fleeing orc tribe.

The orcs flee west with Wyvern, Callan & Tarquin following their trail. They finally approach the ruined Blacklake Keep. Callan said that he lived in the keep for many years and would be able to direct them around. Jewels Dimension-Doors himself, Wyvern and Callan on to the top of the keep, while the rest return to the Black Mountain to find any loot and kit.

Wyvern, Callan & Jewels take out the scouts on the roof and head down into the keep. They fight through some orcs before surprising and killing the orc war-leader and his officers. In the next room they find Callan’s sister and another prisoner who have been abused by the orcs. They continue down the keep, killing more orcs, before coming out of the keep into the courtyard.

There they fight the remainder of the orc warriors and a hill-giant who has been helping them. The rest of the orcs and the refugees from Black Mountain flee west into the Barrens.

Ranan, Tibidee and Tarquin go through the Chieftain’s belongings in Black Mountain. They find many letters from a mage called Vettori and another orc. They return to Brightstone. Tibidee and Jewels return to the AcadSoc and research the names and places found in the letters. They discover that Vettori has been corresponding with various orc and hobgoblin chieftains in the area.

Knowing that the gathering at Jorgol’s teeth is less than two months away, Ranan, Wyvern and Callan go off to explore the route north.

On to Part 5 of the Chronicle.

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