Norundra

Scouting out the Giants - Part 1

This place. The elves. The tree. The Kampestries. All familiar hallmarks of a home left behind yet alien at the same time. All of these people are warriors. Even the younglings train for battle. Willing to give up their lives to defend this place. This tree. These are noble people. This is a place worth defending. A people worth saving.

These are the thoughts that drift through Thakko's mind while he stands his usual vigil by his mistress as she studies ancient texts and converses with various wood elves in search of knowledge. 

A group of the younglings run past Thakko and Rivyre. One almost colliding with him as they were engaged in a game that Thakko can only sum up as "Chase the Troll." Their childish laughter and glee shadowed with the tales of the ice trolls that roam the outer borders of this "city". They stop not far away from them and draw short swords made of bone and wood. "I'm gonna eat you!" "No, you're not! I'm Haderai, master of the blade!. I'll kill you foul troll!" the children exclaim back and forth at one another before engaging in melee combat.

While there is still the joyous laughter of children playing, Thakko can see that they are really sparring. One of the children land a blow on the "troll" and draws blood. None of them stop but keep fighting. The "troll" winces but for a moment and continues deflecting their assaults… biding time for their own attack. Thakko continues watching for a moment until he interrupts their playing by issuing a sharp "Halt" which even startles Rivyre. The children, unsure of what is about to happen as the metal being steps forth and peers at them with his glowing red eyes, abide by the command. They stand there stunned for a moment as he strides up to them. One of the children lets their blade dip down from a ready position to let it rest in the dirt.

"First, never let your guard down. Keep that blade up. Always be ready for attack." Thakko points as the child quickly corrects themselves and pulls the blade up to their chest. "You're over extending on your attack. When you lunge, you expose your left side. Your opponent can side step and your whole back is open to them. Try it again. This time take only half of a step being mindful of your left." The children are still shocked as the words wash over them. "Again, snap snap." Thakko barks at the children as they snap out of their daze. They take up their positions and attack the "troll". Being mindful of the advice given and practicing as coached. Rivyre lets out a soft laugh as she recalls all of the times that she has heard the words "Again, snap snap." during her training.

This is a place worth defending. A people worth saving. That thought echos in Thakko's mind as he watches the children practicing. 

"Mistress, I feel that some reconnoiter is appropriate. We should go see what forces the giants have amassed in the north west. You seem safe under the canopy of this tree and with these people. I can go with some of our compatriots to scout it out. Maybe we can find some cold iron to aid our fight against the trolls you spoke of." Thakko says with his back to her, arms crossed behind him as he observes the children. "Indeed, I will be safe here." she replies trying to contain herself slightly that she would have some time alone without her ever vigilant guard and butler. "Very well then. I'm sure I overheard Myru and Cedeore talking about doing the same thing. I'll depart with them on the morrow."

 

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Fellowship of the Bear - Onward!
Moon 4, Day 10 - Day 12

Brin, Clay, Dolgrin, Zog, Arturia, and Bodolf continue on through the forest to fight the Ice King.

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Fellowship of the Bear - Journey continues
Moon 4 Day 7 - Day 10

Bodolf joins Clay, Dolgrin, Muzilius, Rael and Zog to lead the group through the forest on the way to fight the Ice King.

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From Stone's Throw to Iltheriand

As we leave the Ramparts and head west, I glance back to the east… towards the barely visible trees of the Emradi forest.  I'd told the Eladrin that we'd be helping with the orcs… and yet, I head west.  A Starfeon does not go back on her word… I had to hope I'd be back to address that threat.  I turn my head resolutely to the west… to another forest that needs to be saved.

The barrens, as always, breaks my heart.  I miss the Feywilds fiercely, but this desolation is simply an arrow to the heart.  Luckily, on horseback, my time here will pass quickly.  Thakko is silent, as always.  Ever alert, ever vigilant, his eyes scanning for trouble.  Erevan, too, always focused ahead, always intent on moving forward.  I pat Opal's neck fondly… at least she's good for a smile. I've never owned a more affectionate, more mischievous steed. Looks like it's up to Wren and I to amuse ourselves on this journey.  

After a few days of truly rotten travel, we hear hoofbeats behind us.  Erevan's eagle eyes recognize Myru, so we relax. Words cannot express how happy I am to see those who have come to answer the elves' plea…. Kindle and Nook, Athao, Mump, Myru and Cedeore, even little Gwen.  … and is that, a gnome? He is introduced as Bolivar, though I don't catch his reason for coming with us. The journey west is much more convivial now, though Erevan keeps us moving swiftly.

The journey is peaceful, until Moon 4, day 6.  

That night we meet our foe for the first time.  As we prepared to swap watch, we heard the unmistakable sound of clumsy giants in the forest.  Thakko readies to meet the onslaught, while Nook, Kindle and Athao hide. There's only so much room behind that tree, and Nook claimed the rock, so I duck behind the tents to see what's coming.

Two giants burst out of the forest and head strait for Thakko. With a flurry of ranged attacks we bring one to it's knees but still it fights, while four half-ogre and four orcs swarm around the giants and head towards us. Thakko gets the attention of some, but for us it's dodge and shoot, dodge and shoot.  We whittle the numbers some, but the battle is still fierce.  Thakko takes a mighty blow, I see him stagger from the ferocity of it… and I'm infuriated. No conscious though moves me as I aim for the giant's head, the power just flows through me and… his head explodes.  There's no time for wonder as the second giant takes Thakko down and heads strait into our camp!

There's an orc chasing me, but I have to get to Thakko. Kindle gets to him first, and get a potion into him. I have but a moment of relief, as he stands and immediately engages the half-ogre next to Kindle, and down he goes again.  I cast invisibility and dart to his side.  I know Thakko has my potion in his pack, but he's laying on it and I don't want to draw attention to him. But Kindle is still right there, so I pluck one from his pack and get it into Thakko. I'm a little fuzzy on how the second giant went down, but he landed on our tents. The rest of the rabble is disposed of quickly.  While I meditate for a short while, and Kindle and Nook resume their rest, Thakko hacks up the giant so we can retrieve our somewhat.. icky… belongings.  

The next day we come to the river… it's wide and swift, and not all the horses are willing to cross it.  I'm not actually sure I'm willing to cross, as a middling swimmer at best, I'd be no match for the cold or the current.

It's late, our mounts are exhausted from the cold (and less than restful night), so we camp and consider our options.  Erevan sends word that we are near, and we turn it. 

At second watch, Thakko and I hear the gnolls. I hoped they were passing us by, but Thakko knew they'd catch our scent and we woke the others.  The attackers were many… 12 gnolls and 9 hyenas… but weak, and were easily dispatched.  

Erevan receives a word in the morning – there is a great battle to the north.  He asks if we are needed, and while we wait they start building a raft.  When the word returns that we are needed, we turn swiftly to the north.

The other group, with Mump, Cedeore, Myru, Gwen and Bolivar catch up.  They'd lagged a bit, exploring a bit of this or that along the way.  Mump grants us water walking and we meet the elves and discuss our plan of attack.  Haderai, of the two swords, and Kaylen, with her bow, seem friendly and willing to trust us. The third, I didn't quite catch his name.. he with the great sword and unfriendly sneer.. he clearly thought little of us.   

With foresight and planning, and a little luck, we held our section of the river, and when we heard the sounds of orcs and gnolls retreating from the north and the south, we returned to our camp and rested, while the elves decided what to do with us.

Knowing how little they trusted me, an Eladrin and once their ally, I turned my attention to the giant great sword we'd fished from the river.  Clearly, it was too large for any of us to weild. Clearly, we could not leave it for the giants to reclaim.  It also seems unwise to drag it through the forest… A moment's thought more, and I make the decision.  I would claim it as mine, which would ensure no evil hand would ever again touch this blade.

It will take an hour, but they're busy talking.  We need a breather after that battle anyway.  The green energies of the feywild reach out in tendrils, to explore the blade, infuse the blade, and wrap it with softly glowing green energy.  Then, in an instant, it shrinks to a single point and disappears with an all but inaudible pop.  I summon it back, in the form of my trusty bow, which I sense is just a little stronger.  Kaylen clearly doesn't know what to think of what she just saw, but I worry not. 

 

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What Thunk Saw

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The tale of Thunk’s arrival in the company of Stone’s Throw.  In which many good knights were slain by dark deeds, and was given perchance the means to deliver a gentle feline into safety.

 

On the meeting of kind strangers, and the setting forth to do justice for knights laid low by treachery.

Then when Thunk had removed to the hold of Mump, he called at the door and it was opened unto him and mercies granted by strangers therein.  And by the while when Thunk was amended, the strangers were made known to him and he marveled at their kindness.  

There was there the friar Apoc, whose eyes did leme with a holy light; whose words held thunder, and whose mind was turned to order.  There also was the bard Clay, quick of wit and sharp of tongue, bearing a mighty hammer and a fae attendant whom set Thunk aback, tho he was assured of the creature’s good nature.  Also there was Shaguay, a saxon warrior, but of passing good character and temperament as was witnessed by all who were there in attendance.  Also resting there with them was a feline companion, called of Benedetto, small in stature and having of a marvelous collection of stones, tho they be much too small for throwing.

And when they had rested there awhile, and had their slumber, Thunk’s heart was heavy and he sorrowed greatly for the woe that had befallen his mighty companions.  And he entreated unto his gentle hosts that they may have pity for these fallen knights and aid his need in putting them to their rest with dignity.  And at the telling of his sorrow the host of strangers lept up, to a man, and said, let us tarry not, and seek this place that we might set aright the evil that was done upon them.

And when Thunk heard this, he was glad, but feared at once for their gentle feline friend, wist so well as he did the great peril that may visit them there.  And he resolved to stand watch upon him such that none who would do harm unto him shall be made to know their triumph.

Then the band removed into the forest of Emradi, and with great resolve and prowess did find their way and followed the signs of passage back to the place where was the task they found most urgent.  

And within a litle space the band came unto the doomed caravan of Sir Bedivere’s company, and when Thunk saw the great damage of the Saxon treachery, he was wroth, and sware in his heart that these good knights should soon be revenged.  Then the band set about to construct a pyre, such that the honorable knights should be delivered unto death with proper respects befitting their station.

 

Of fell magick, and the regrettable defilement of honorable men.

And when the band had waited there a little while; before their task was finished, there did stir a fell fae magick, and ferly the slain knights raised from their sleep to a man, excepting Sir Bedevere yet he lay as he fell.  And the raised knights set upon the companions with mighty blows.  And when the friar saw this, he raised his holy icon and his eyes leme bright and he rebuked the abomination with such authority that even the lately dead did waver in their advance and were made ‘ware the nearness of their second end.  At their pause the companions lept forward into the melee striking about them, and bringing such injury to them as they would flee were they fitted to reason.

Then the foe bearing the likeness of Sir Lucan turned towards dear Benedetto and smote him soundly as he made his escape.  When Thunk saw this, he was filled with torment at his duty, and he cried, Forgive me Sir Lucan, for thou knowest not thy folly!  And he smote him on the head with such a furious blow that it was removed from his shoulders, but the abomination was not swayed, and pressed on with his attack.  Presently through the fray came Shaguay, his great axe raised to cleave the firmament.  And with his axe, he smote the abomination through and through, flesh and bone, even in two pieces, that the axe felt the earth.

And when the quarrel was ended, the companions again set about their righteous work.

 

On the defeat of the saxon horde, and the marvelous deeds of arms displayed there.

Soon thereafter the sound of their battle had reached into the wood and from there emerged a horde of saxons seuen-fold and armored in the livery of these martyred knights.  They entered the croft there and made a mighty charge on the companions, that they might grow their wicked plunder anon.  But the five companions made their party strong against the saxon advance, and made great war against them.

There the saxon blows fell upon Clay like rain, but none could touch him.  And he smote with his hammer on the right and on the left and none did approach but were laid low by his marvelous display of arms.  And Clay was so bloody, that by his ears there might no man know him, for all was blood and brains on his hammer.

And on his right stood fast Shaguay, his great axe flashing to and fro amongst the throng.  At once approached a mighty foe, clad in filched mail, and seeking great harm upon him.  But Shaguay was well framed, and smote the saxon on the shoulder such that arm and shield were cast into the field.

And one amongst the saxons was a shaman of passing potency, who did conjure a fae spear which dashed about by no man’s hand, and set upon the friar Apoc with fair temptation, for to lay him low that was a bane unto them.  But the friar was keen, and at once grew wings whereupon he did take flight as possessed by a seraph.  And he did swoop and glide above the contest, bestowing blessings and cursings upon the combatants who were gathered there.

Then there arose fair fae magics in the midst of the fray afflicting only the saxons, and wrought upon them a mighty sleep that would not be denied even as the battle raged about them.  But also there was Shaguay, a saxon, but of the kind host, and tho he resisted mightily, was cast down to slumber.

Then from the melee came a saxon warrior of great sinew, and wielded his halberd with furious intent to do harm upon the peaceful feline who was Thunk’s ward.  And Thunk made fast his feet to take the saxon at his charge and smote at him to stop his advance.  But the saxon was cunning, and avoided the onslaught with a nimble grace belied of his stature.  Then the saxon returned to his attack, and did him passing great harm, and wounded him full sore, such that he was laid to ground for a time.

And upon this doing, the savage was again turned to gentle Benedetto and chas’d him to a tree, even high into the boughs.  Then when Thunk saw this, he was wroth with him, and followed on him fiercely, letting such a roar to draw his tent.  The saxon saw that and came forth to meet him.  Then Thunk smote at the saxon with great ire, and smote him on the helm that he fell to the earth.  By this was gentle Benedetto holpen from danger and delivered from horrible maims, even death, at the end of the saxon spear.

Then Thunk did turn his fury to the remnant of the saxon throng, and by his tilt, and a final flourish of marvelous battle by the noble companions were they made to take their end.

 

On the recovery of Sir Bedivere’s armor, and the completion of their task.

Presently as the fury of battle did subside, Thunk saw the armor of his paragon Sir Bedivere at hand, and weened that it should be restored and carried anon into honorable battle in his memory, against those who would threaten the good and gentle folk of this country, that they may be assuaged, and peace be recalled unto them.

And when the pyre was built, and the slain knights afforded their esteem, Thunk wist their honor restored, and was glad in his heart for these new companions whose stalwart courage hath brought justice from villany.  Also at that time the saxon remains were put to the torch ere they were raised again by the same fell fae magics seen in this place.  And with their noble task accomplished, the companions struck out again for Stone’s Throw where awaited comfort for their wounds and respite from the savage wilds.

 

Thus were these good knights avenged, and thus was delivered gentle Benedetto into sanctuary.

 

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Fellowship of the Bear - the 2nd departure

On day 27 of Moon 3, many of us left Stone’s Throw to aid the one called Bodolf, wielder of Ngamahu’s flame, in his quest to free his people.  We split into 2 groups: those of Tawhoa and Tukohama in the first, the rest of us in the latter….

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Thunk Thunk Thunk Went the Orc Skulls

Apoc’s Private Journal, Moon 3 Day 31

It was a strange but productive journey over the past 5 days, but there are now 8 fewer orcs roaming the north and 4 fewer zombies.  May the twin blessings of civilization and nature continue to progress.

I formed a company of adventurers:  

  • the valorous bard Clay, whose odd weapon belched blood and seemed possessed of foul magicks,
  • the drawling boomstick wielding Tabaxi known as Benedetto,
  • a great-axe wielding half-orc mercenary fighter named Shaguay.  I had my eye on this one, given the concerns that my Patron and my God have expressed about the foul orc, but his human side kept his worse impulses under control

At Mump’s Gud Food, we met the strangest of companions—a goliath who was near dead from wounds, carrying a huge bag of rocks, and whose brain seemed a bit… off.  He went by “Thunk”.  He told us of the slaughter of his knightly order by unknown forces, north along the edge of the Emarid forest.

We set out together to bury the dead, or rescue any survivors.  We encountered the sight of a slaughter, but the dead—Thunk’s former companions—rose up to attack us! 

We had barely dispatched them, and ugly battle full of limbs flying and much slurry of brain, when even greater foes emerged from the north.

Seven orcs, wearing some of the stolen armor from these human knights, charged out of the forest!  Clay bravely staked out a position in the center of the clearing, joined by the brave but probably outmatched Shaguay.  Benedetto took cover behind a tree, while Thunk… Thunk seemed to take orders from Benedetto, tried mainly to protect his new master, and generally acted very unusually.

I’m not sure that the benefits of civilization have fully touched this one.  He fights with no weapons, but instead draws from his meticulous collection of rocks to throw or smash people with.  Somehow, it works.

And then, a shaman wearing the distinctive Eye of Gromsch eyepatch emerged.  He blinded Clay immediately, and cast multiple foul magicks on me.  Things were not looking great in those early moments.

Clay used some weapon that seemed very foul indeed.  I try, oh lord with your guidance I try to work with everyone to civilize this land, but there were eyeballs splashing into mouths, fountains of blood erupting from the cursed weapon, and the weapon seemed possessed of a diabolical thirst for blood.  Still, all to a good purpose; these orcs must go.  Perhaps I can persuade Clay to see the one true light after he returns from his fellowship of the bear.

Benedetto was firing off a great canon from a distance, climbing trees with agility I’ve never seen before.  Thunk was dual-wielding rocks to barbaric effect. Shaguay was quite impressive as his axe rose and fell again and again.

I myself unleashed my radiant soul to soar above the battlefield, was chased by an accursed magic spear, and then I cast Sleep upon my foes.  But I misjudged the power that Firdangon had bestowed upon me.  Who knew it would affect Shaguay?  Not me, that’s for sure.  I had to slap him awake with a Mage hand from 15 feet up.  I got one great attack in on the great shaman though: I used all the inspiration I had into one powerful eldritch blast of pale moonlight that punched a hole thru the foul shaman and bloodied the beast.

Thunk was knocked unconscious at one point, but my powers were all expended, and so it fell to Clay to restore poor Thunk.

We finished them off, burned all the bodies, and hauled the loot back.  Thunk seemed very pre-occupied by the armor of his fallen comrades.  Of note to everyone else is that Eye of Gromsch orcs may be roaming in that area with the possibly superior weapons from Thunk’s knightly comrades.

Inside the eyepatch of the slain shaman was a small tear-shaped garnet.  It might be useful in some future ruse to infiltrate or destroy these orcs.  It has the unusual property of bleeding when touched.  This may come in handy some day.

So overall, it was not as dramatic as the sacking of Leen, but it was a productive few days of ridding this world of a few more orcs.

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Battle at the Frozen River

          The Fellowship of Iltheriand had a battle… the details of which are known only to them.

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The Fellowship of the Bear
Moon 3, Day 27 - ???

In an effort to aid Bodolf in freeing his people Arturia has gathered a large number of adventurers and plotted out a return trip to the Volani lands in the northeast. The Fellowship set out on Day 27 of Moon 3, Year 2 and will likely not return for many moons due to distance and difficulty in this endeavor.

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Assault on Leen
Moon 3, Days 19 - 22

Moon 3, Day 19

That morning, after half a moon’s journey to the south, Rekkar had returned to Stone’s Throw with his caravan. With him he brought some new faces and new wares, including several steeds. The newcomers included a beautiful dancer, a stout scholar, and a cartographer from lands far away. Each were quick to want to get out of the winter air and into the modest comforts of the Last Ale Inn. There was a lot of smoking and some strange new tobacco.

The day was cold and the winds blew hard. Seemingly carried by the winds themselves came another traveler. A curious, veiled half elf raised by Shou came upon Stone’s Throw claiming a vision had brought her to this disparate outpost. Shivering and exhausted, Cedeor offered her both cloak and kindness, showing her to the Last Ale Inn. She appeared injured, with bandages covering her right arm and part of her hand. Once inside, the keen-eyed Myru offered the woman, who later introduced herself as Yuèguāng, some salve. She treated her wounds and was more at ease.

A short while later, yet another traveler came. His name was Archibald and he claimed to be a detective seeking to solve mysteries for both profit and the rights to publish such stories. He appeared quick-witted and generous, even offering to help the veiled half elf, Yuèguāng with a mystery she needed solved.

After much of the commotion regarding the new travelers had died down, the aasimar Apoc proclaimed to the residents of Stone’s Throw that he was to set out to parlay with the orcs to stop despoiling the forests. Apparently, Apoc had turned a new leaf and his god wished for him to repair civilization and he thought this an excellent way to start. This came about after he had divined truth from an artifact he had found in a previous journey. Requesting assistance from fellow adventurers, he conscripted the help of Cedeor the paladin, Myru the druid, and the newly-arrived Yuèguāng. Each had their own reasons for joining Apoc but they felt this to be a noble mission.

To help expedite the journey, Myru conjured several dire wolves for the group to ride. Myru shapeshifted into a direwolf to keep pace as well. Cedeor rode his new Baronian War Bird, a magnificent avian steed whom he named Goldwing.

Moon 3, Day 20

The adventurers rode through the night and in the early morning came upon Mump’s Shack. The large tree with two large scratches across its massive trunk gave away its location. Since they originally set out, it had snowed heavily, caking the land with half a foot of snow.

It was there that they met up Arturia, a horned druid with surprisingly well-groomed hair. The group gathered inside the shack to discuss their plan, as what Apoc had suggested would be no easy feat. Arturia knew a lot about the orcs and shared with them that the outpost of Artoc held about 500 orcs, 300 hobgoblins, and some odd orrags. The members of the group who had dealt with the orcs previously suggested that Lundar would be their best point of contact to suggest peaceful resolution with the orcs.

The group then set out toward Artoc, peaceful resolution but trepidation on their minds. The snow and biting cold was relentless, chilling them to the bone. The trees and dense undergrowth covered in mounds of snow eventually gave way to nothing but flat land. Even the animals dared not venture to this section of land. It seemed to stretch on forever with no noticeable landmarks visible amidst the ever-stretching horizon. This was the area known as The Barrens. It was a wholly new sight to the newcomer Yuèguāng, who had only ever heard of such places.

As this was the last crossroads before meeting with the orcs, the paladin Cedeor could no longer contain his social graces and demanded to know what Yuèguāng was capable of should there be conflict. The foreign half elf did not wish to reveal such information as it was considered quite rude to ask, much less reveal, in her culture. Cedeor was stubborn though and it seemed that they would stay there all evening if she did not budge. It was far too cold for that. Finding a large tree stump covered in thick snow, Yuèguāng extended a long, slender finger in its direction. A crack of thunder was heard and then lightning leaped from her finger to the stump, exploding it into chips of wood and snow. That seemed to lay to rest Cedeor’s concerns and the group continued silently into the barren lands.

 That night, Myru crafted the most exquisite igloo. It was a welcome respite from the harsh cold and the depressing landscape. The group had much on their minds but sleep came easy thanks to their expertly crafted accommodations.

Moon 3, Day 21

It was only one more day’s travel to the outpost of Artok. The bitter cold did not ease the minds or bodies of the traveling heroes. Arturia attempted to cheer the group up with small talk, though. She also conjured several large, snowy cats for them to ride.

That evening, they were far less lucky with camp. Resources were bare and the air whistled fiercely as a heavy fog obscured the moon and stars. Between the uncertainty of the coming day and the unrelenting cold, sleep did not welcome any of the party that night.

Moon 3, Day 22

The day of reckoning arrived. The heroes were greeted by harsh western winds. The only boon was that the wind had dissipated the previous night’s fog, allowing for better visibility. Beyond them they could see Leen, the small fort that was the only physical marker on the barren wasteland before Artok.

The two druids, Myru and Arturia discussed the plan again over breakfast. They debated either conjuring a bird to fly over Artok or to turn into a bird themselves to deliver a message to the orc Lundar, requesting to come out alone to speak of peace. That all changed when Arturia perked up suddenly, a cryptic message of death and fear entering her mind.

The horned druid began weeping uncontrollably. The rest of the party tried to comfort her and figure out what was the matter. Through her tears, they could make out that the message had been from Mump, that Alaric’s horse had been killed, and several inhabitants of Stone’s Throw were surrounded in Leen. The situation seemed dire.

After some deliberation, the group decided to change course and head to Leen to rescue their friends. While Yuèguāng was new, she felt it noble to help the rag tag crew who had shown her so much kindness. However, all wondered if this might be suicide as they recalled Arturia’s telling of how heavily fortified Artok was.

Somber but determined, the group rode off on conjured war horses. They knew there was little time to waste if they expected to have any hope of rescuing their compatriots. En route they discussed strategy as they knew they would be heavily outnumbered. Knowing that Leen was a logging camp, it was decided that they would try to set fire to the lumber outside of the fort to make a distraction before sneaking in.

Arturia was more than a little excited to execute this portion of the plan as fire came naturally to her, a manifestation of her tiefling heritage. When they got within range, she turned herself into a horned rabbit and raced to the stacks of wood a few hundred feet from the gates of Leen. The rest of the crew stayed back, hoping to remain unseen.

Several minutes passed, then the saw the smoke rise. Turning their heels into their conjured steeds (and the one chicken), they rode hard towards the gate. In front of them they could hear panicked yells and a horn sounding the alarm that something was amiss. The group counted a couple dozen bodies heading towards the now burning logs.

Calling forth the power of the elements, Yuèguāng made a few gestures from her war horse and then their northern side was obscured by thick clouds. This gave them cover as they entered Leen directly through the north-facing gates.

Once inside Leen, the group took note of their surroundings amidst the chaos. They were quickly noticed as the rest of the barracks quickly formed defensive formations. Orcs and hobgoblins yelled what was assumed to be vile insults. Two giant ogres came barreling out as well, one of which did not have time to grab his club so instead grabbed a large wooden bench. The friends they had hoped to rescue were nowhere in sight but blood heavily caked the ground in front of them. The odds did not look good for the heroes.

Suddenly several bodies fell to the ground with a thud. The group wheeled around expecting to be overrun but they were relieved instead. Falling out from an extradimensional hole appeared Alaric, Athao, Kindle, Mump, Nook, and Talon. They were a sight for sore eyes.

Realizing they were surrounded and outnumbered, the group also formed into their own defensive position. Cedeore began to glow with divine light and charged ahead, hoping to gain the enemies’ attention. Alaric popped a potion and grew to super human height. Apoc sprouted angelic wings. Kindle and Athao quickly made their way to the closest guard tower. Myru called to the clouds above, summoning forth a massive thunderstorm. Mump readied for battle and pulled Talon close. Nook stood behind the towering figure of Alaric, ready to stab anything that got near and then slink back into the shadows. Yuèguāng drew her breath, certain this is where she would die.

A crash was heard at the guard tower where Kindle and Athao had just ran to. It was followed by several roars and commotion. The group knew then than Arturia had joined them in her infamous bear form. The orcs and hobgoblins who were still outside could only see a massive bear butt clawing its way into one of their towers.

On the ground, orcs and hobgoblins marched towards the intruders. After closer inspection, they could tell that they were worse for wear, having already been in a battle prior. Not all the soldiers had their full armor and some looked bloody.

One formation moved towards the glowing Cedeore and his mighty avian steed, Goldwing. He expertly dodged most of their oncoming attacks, eventually drawing the attention of one of the massive ogres. Occasionally a loud crack of thunder was heard overhead as Myru commanded lightning to protect Cedeore and her companions.

The gigantic Alaric also commanded the attention of another formation of soldiers, hacking away at them as he moved. Meanwhile Nook deftly came out from behind him to stab the oncoming enemies, looking like she enjoyed their murder far more than anyone should. Apoc held position with Alaric, attacking any who came too near. Yuèguāng also shot out a few bolts of lightning but she was not as accustomed to this kind of battle as the rest of the seasoned adventurers.

Above them in the tower, the rangers set up their bows and whizzed arrows at their enemies below. Arturia kept the tower hobgoblins’ attention as she bit and swiped at them. She began taking heavy damage from the nasty creatures. Mump, hearing the cries from the bear above jumped up to the tower with massive strength, calling Talon to follow him. He healed Arturia’s wounds and jumped back down, also healing his grounded comrades before eventually turning to close the massive gates.

The soldiers marched closer and the group was threatened to be overtaken by the large number of foes. Myru and Yuèguāng hid beneath the guard tower that their comrades had taken over in the name of Stone’s Throw. The two would occasionally pop out from underneath to shoot of lightning bolts at their enemies, although Myru’s version was far more destructive. Every few seconds, arrows whizzed by overhead.

As Apoc was about to be overtaken by enemies, he flew up into the air with his angelic wings and called forth fel bolts to destroy those that would oppose him. He continued raining down destructive magic at the orcs and hobgoblins below. Once the front cavalry had been decimated, he turned to help Mump close the other door to the gate. The cries of the orcs outside could be heard and they were close.

A group of hobgoblins from the south of the camp made their way forward to take on the two women hiding underneath Stone’s Throw tower. Yuèguāng came out to meet them directly, calling the winds to her side. With elegant motion, she took hold of the wind like a whip. It hardened and lashed out, killing three and gravely wounding a fourth.

Ahead of them, Myru continued to call lightning down around Cedeore while he and his giant fowl bravely fought off their attackers. Arrows persisted to pelt the soldiers on all sides. After only a few of them remained, the enemies threw down their weapons and raised their hands up in defeat. Cedeore along with Goldwing moved to secure them with ropes.

Alaric fought ferociously, keeping the enemies in front of him occupied with his enormity. Nook viciously stabbed every enemy from behind Alaric with her sharp, bloody daggers. This was her element more than any other. Eventually they prevailed and Alaric moved north to help fortify the gates.

Apoc flew high above the gates, surveying the orcs and hobgoblins that were trapped outside. They looked weary and broken in spirit. A few tried to bang at the gate but quickly gave up. Alaric swung his sword from the other side of the gate, slashing any who remained at the entrance. The enemies knew that Leen had fallen and began running towards Artok as swiftly as they could.

Arturia delivered a final blow to the remaining hobgoblin in the tower and looked out from the rather large hole she had made in the side of the building. She growled, shifting back into her humanoid form. Then she conjured several hyenas and ordered them to lay chase to the fleeing enemies and tear them down.

The heroes inside of Leen began hunting for any other survivors. Nook was quite disappointed that the killing had stopped, barking frustrated retorts at Kindle who kept reminding her to stay her daggers and not to kill any of the prisoners.

The day was won but it spent the heroes. They interrogated the prisoners to find out what they could of the orcs and why it was that Kindle’s group had been attacked to begin with. Apoc proudly draped a banner of Erathis across the gates, claiming the fort in the name of his god. The group settled in as darkness overtook the lands, ushering in the night. Each knew that this victory was tenuous at best as no less than several hundred orcs and hobgoblins lay to the north in Artok. 

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