“If there are Orcs there, it may prove ill for us, that is true.” - Gandalf the Grey.
28 Elient, Halv and the Orc Slavers’ Camp
The party agree that speed is of the essence if they want to have any chance of finding the missing Halvonians and so, they head to Quinntchik’s place, to ask the healer about the abductions. When they arrive, they find her treating a dog, one of the pack belonging to Tivvion the Goatherd. The dog has been injured by another animal. Jonathon helps her with the procedure. As they treat the dog Quinntchik explains that there wasn’t an excess of blood at the site, in fact the blood that was there was dark red, almost black. To Jonathon this just compounds his earlier hypothesis; it’s Orcs.
The team spend an hour resting and Anahita take the opportunity to communicate with the injured dog. It is able to tell her that it was attacked by a huge dog, that the dog was apparently with some “bad two legs” and that this all happened near the “old, two-leg stones”.
Tina, a tough young Halfling woman who acts as a scout for the village, and dreams of becoming an adventurer, tells the ‘Stoners that she thinks the dog must be describing some ancient ruins a few hours away in the wild terrain to the Northeast of Halv. The party decides that Jonathon will lead Maena and Anahita on a scouting mission immediately, while J’Wi rests and Connor and Remy stand watch over the hamlet.
Tina, clearly infatuated by all the ‘Stoners, but particularly taken with Anahita, leads the way out to the ruins which stand in the middle of a small, wooded area. The PCs head into the woods and sure enough, there they find an orc camp. In the dark it is difficult to tell exactly how many of the brutes there might be, but they do get eyes on two. They also see what they assume to be at least one of the carts that had been leaving tracks ahead of them as they travelled from Luskan.
They head back to Halv to find Connor and Remy engaged in an impromptu party with some of the younger Halflings.
The next morning the group is treated to a good breakfast and Tina begs them to let her accompany them to the site, as she had done some ten hours earlier; she promises to do the same again, to mind the horses from a ridge and be ready to bring them down or ride for help, if that should be necessary. The ‘Stoners consent, impressed by her determination and courage.
Some two hours later the whole party finds themselves at the camp. The fires burn and now, in the daylight, they can see that there is another cart resting next to a tent. Both carts are covered.
Remy, Connor and the ever plain-speaking Formyka approach from the North, creating a deliberately obvious amount of noise. To add to this, Remy uses his magic to create the silent, and deeply disturbing image of a Connor-look-alike burning alive! The plan is to draw as many of the orcs towards the Northern end of the clearing while Jonathon, Maena, Anhita and J’Wi creep into the Southern end and investigate the covered cart.
The plan works beautifully. Seven orcs move towards the illusion and noise, as does a striking, tall, gaunt figure which emerges from the tent. Dressed in ornate, somewhat ostentatious black and gold leather armour, the figure cuts an intimidating figure. This impression is only enhanced by the two viciously curved blades it holds, one in each hand.
It quickly determines that the illusion is just that and orders the Orcs to attack the now obvious Remy and Connor, stepping towards the giant Tortle itself. As it engages Remy it says in heavily accented Common tongue, “You will fetch a pretty penny!” Remy replies with a now-expected brilliant retort, “No, you’ll fetch a pretty penny!”
At that point all hell breaks loose, with J’Wi and Anahita offering support from behind the surprised Orcs.
In the meantime, Maena has found the missing Halvonians and others to boot, including a fellow Circlestone resident, Harrid Hanner-Gwaedd, the town’s gentle half-orc poet! He is clearly amazed to see Maena, and also relieved, and he says to her, “Maena, we must talk, I was looking for you …” She cuts him off with a firm whisper, “Yes, but not now!”
While the Orcs and their strange ally are distracted by the assault from the North, Maena smuggles the captive out of the cart and into the relative safety of the woods. Jonathon moves forward to offer ranged support with his bow and things look pretty desperate for the slavers, as the black-clad slaver, four orcs and a dire-badger all fall to the might of the ‘Stoners.
One Orc, substantially larger and more elaborately armoured than the others surges forward to Jonathon, apparently determined to shut down his ranged advantage. At the same time a previously unnoticed and diminutive figure with greenish skin clambers down from the second covered cart and starts to unlace the tarpaulin that obstructs any view of what might be on the cart …
And it is in this situation, with three Orcs still in the fray, the small figure doing it’s best to release something from the cart and a dire wolf still tethered to a tree, that we left our heroes.