The sun rose slowly on this somber morning. The last embers in the fire pit died away, releasing small wisps of smoke into the cool air. Finlore, Vatuu, and Rurick rose wearily; they had been forced to bury their friend only hours before. Finlore sat in a melancholy silence, blaming himself in his mind. If only he had run a little faster or noticed a little sooner then this morning might have been cheerful instead.
If Finlore could have read the minds of his companions, he would have known that they shared his feelings. As a paladin, Vatuu felt responsible to protect the group. He knew that Hilda was the weakest of the group, and as such she needed the most protection. Rurick didn't tell the others, but he had seen the javelin travel in the Hag's direction during the battle. At the time he had assumed that the halfling dodged the projectile and he continued his onslaught against the orcs. He never even looked back to see if she was alright.
After packing up camp, the group discussed their next plan of action. Their original quest had sent them looking for a whimsical banshee to ask about a spell book. However, when the adventurers were in town, they had heard rumors about blood-thirsty orcs raiding caravans in the area. The orcs were rumored to have made base only one day of travel away from where the adventurers currently were. There were no arguments or disputes on what should be done. The three adventurers unanimously decided that the orcs should be eradicated for their wicked deeds.
The sun shone down brightly as the adventurers traveled along the gravel road. They had been walking most of the morning making only a few short stops. The party seemed to move more sluggishly than their normal pace. Moral was down across the whole group. Their only driving force was revenge.
Vatuu noticed a figure in the distance sitting under a tree. A battle-worn fighter sat lazily in the shade of the large oak tree, admiring the intricate designs on his great axe. As the group approached, the fighter's eyes shifted in their direction for a moment before returning to his leisurely task.
"I don't know if you gentlemen noticed, but the trail goes in the other direction." said the warrior, running one of his thumbs up the blade of the axe.
"We know the direction of the road." Rurick said curtely. "We are looking for an orc post." At hearing this, the fighter's eyes shot back up to the band of travelers as if to assess their motives. Without warning, the warrior hopped up and began to walk down the road. Vatuu turned toward the stranger.
" Hey! We aren't finished with..."
"You said that you were searching for an orc camp." The fighter interrupted as he walked down the road. "I will take you there."
"I don't trust anyone taller than me," Rurick rudely blurted, his dwarven beard glistening in the sun, "and you are no exception."
"What my partner means to say is what importance does this orc post hold to you? Also, we don't know who you are. We don't even know your name." Finlore said in his eloquent elven accent.
"I am sure you have your reasons for finding the orcs, and I have mine as well. Let's just leave it at that." The fighter said Tersely. "And the name's Zell." With no other way of finding the location of the orc camp, the group decided to follow Zell, who was already traveled several yards down the dusty trail.
It wasn't until the next morning that the group reached the post, which was nothing more than a small cave. A single orc stood outside of the cave. A fly landed on the upper lip of the beast. With a loud snort, the orc sent the fly into his dark nasal void, never to be seen again. The adventurers decided that avoiding detection was the best plan of action. That plan was quickly foiled when they heard a loud horn come from the trees where a sentry orc was posted. The orc just outside of the cave quickly ran in to warn his clan mates.
The sentry orc sent a javelin flying at Vatuu. The javelin ricocheted off of Vatuu's gleaming armor and stuck forcefully into the ground. Vatuu pulled the javelin from the earth and hurled back at the orc. The orc roared as the javelin pierced his shoulder. Finlore shot a bolt of fire from his wand and struck the orc in his side. Some of the embers from the bolt landed on the dry, wooden platform, setting it ablaze almost immediately. As the orc attempted to snuff the flame, a fierce creature climbed up to the platform and prowl toward the orc. Between the fire and the beast, the sentry failed to notice how close to the edge he had come. The orc fell to his death with a thick thud. The monster in the tree evaporated from existence and Finlore smirked. The illusion had done its job quite well.
The group all stood outside of the mouth of the cave waiting to ambush the orcs. But no orcs came. Finlore suggested that the group enter stealthily, but Vatuu had had enough stealth for one day. He charged into the dark cave brandishing his weapon and proclaiming the name of the hag. Without hesitation, Rurick and Zell followed suit. Finlore let out an exasperated sigh as he cast an invisibility spell on himself and entered the cave as well.
The cave was pitch- black, leaving Vatuu and Zell blind. Vatuu lit a torch to see several orcs standing around him in the cave, each wielding a crude great axe. The orc in the center stood two feet taller than his counter parts. Vatuu, a large dragonborn, targeted the large orc and charged right at him. As he charged, Vatuu called upon his deity. The symbol of Tiamat engraved on his weapon began to radiate. The glow quickly consumed the entire weapon. Vatuu leaped into the air, raising his weapon high over his head. He came down hard onto the beastly orc. Had it not been for his armor, the orc would have been cleaved in half. The mighty blow brought the large orc to his knees, but to the surprise of the entire party the orc stood back up and delivered a powerful blow of his own to Vatuu. The other orcs let out gurgling laughs as Vatuu tumbled across the cold cave floor. The large orc pointed at the intruders and let out a fierce war cry. The intense battle had begun.
Vatuu managed to raise to his feet just as two of the orcs swung at him with their mangled axes. He managed to parry the first blow, but the second blow bored itself into his shoulder. Vatuu screeched in pain. Another orc flung a javelin at Rurick, who easily knocked the projectile aside with his axe. He charged at the barbaric beast and struck him with a swift blow to the thigh, knocking the orc prone. Zell attempted to cleave another orc, but missed and was thrown off balance. The orc seized the opportunity to attempt to strike Zell in the back. Just as the axe came swinging down, Finlore revealed himself and sent a ball of freezing energy at the orc. The orc's movement slowed to a stop. Frozen solid, the orc fell to the floor and shattered like a fragile clay pot.
Vatuu, enraged by the humiliation that he had been dealt by the orc leader, charged once again at the giant. The dragonborn made a precise strike at the orc's unprotected neck. The orc's smile faded as Vatuu made his strike. The monster's body fell forward, and his head fell back. Upon seeing their captain murdered, all but one of the orc's decided that the escape was the best course of action. The two orcs quickly ran toward the light that shined dimly through the mouth of the cave. Finlore and Rurick followed closely in pursuit. Zell made quick work of the remaining orc in the cave. Finlore and Rurick were successful in bringing down one of the orc's, but the last orc ran swiftly and managed to escape. The party decided that living a life haunted by cowardice and isolation was worse than death itself.
Zell thanked the party and revealed his true motives. Just like the party, Zell had lost someone very dear to him at the hands of the orcs. His only son had been captured and killed by the orcs. When they had found him under the tree, he was planning to take on the orcs alone, fulfilling his death wish. Now that his son had been avenged Zell decided to continue fighting with the party. Even though they were new friends, they were the only friends that he had left in the world.
The four adventurers looked into the clear, blue sky. The Hag had been avenged, and the party had made a new friend. With moral slowly returning to the group, the four friends headed back out to the road from whence they came. Tomorrow would bring a new day with new adventures.
I truly hope that you enjoyed our group's most recent D&D session. We have decided to finish our current campaign before we start a new campaign to save the Hag from the clutches of death. One of our members has already started planning the campaign. Go out and enjoy your adventures. Happy adventuring!