Session 07 – Here they come!
I cannot believe it is still the same night. The fire, smoke and confusion of battle have ruined all sense of time, so I know not how late or how early it might be. We have battled our way to the lower gate and found Frum defending it alone. Along the way we have slain numerous orcs, a fell beast (I think Rorin may have surprised it when he was at the burnt church), and found the traitorous Daktani and Ursel. Daktani could easily have been Griffin and Ackrin both.
The way behind us is mostly clear, and I’d rather count the barkeep Rabius and that lone Abadarian that we saved than the number of orcs, ½ orcs and now dogs that we have slain. But the night is not yet over. The gatehouse stands before us and the Orcs are thundering upon it with their ram, demanding to be let in. Frum has given us orders to form-up; and so we do. Training takes over and battles back the ache and pain of weariness from our already long struggles.
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Sunday, 19th of Gozrun 471 (continued…)
The gatehouse before us has two portcullis. One is raised, but the inner one is down. Six orcs with a battering ram have been working at it for a while. Four are working at the ram, while the other two are trying to pull wood out of the way to enlarge the hole. It is only a matter of moments before they get through. We’re standing in the centre of a short barricade made of fence bits. Facing the gate are two large bundles of lumber so they can be released upon the attackers.
As the orcs break through, we take pot shots at them. It takes two arrows and a crossbow bolt to bring one down. The remaining 5 continue forward as they shoulder through the broken splinters of the door. They drop the ram and start running up the hill to the barricade, pulling out weapons as they run.
Stinna steps up and pulls the logs free. With a rumbling sound, the topmost logs rolls down the pile, and soon there’s a cascading stream of logs tumbling down. And they do an arc with the larger ends tumbling one over the other, pummelling the orcs as they bounce down, over the open ground and crash up against the gatehouse’s walls. Three orcs go down under the weight of the logs, while the other two are crushed up against the walls and pinned there.
Sif takes a shot at one of the orcs that’s pinned against the wall, anchoring his shoulder firmly. Tiva takes a shot at one of the orcs who’s fallen, but misses. Frum takes a shot with his crossbow; threading his bolt through the eye of an orc, killing him instantly. Tova unties her side of the second set of logs.
Shamus is ordered by Frum to see what the heck that low rumbling sound that came from behind us, and along the cliff. Shamus heads out at once, taking care to move quickly but as quietly as possible.
Three of the four orcs stand up, pulling themselves out from beneath the logs. The fourth comes forward from inside the gatehouse, scrambling over the logs.
I step into a gap in the logs and, as orc #1 is clambering over the barricade, I smack him in the side of the head with my hammer. He falls over and impales himself on the pickets of the fencepost.
Everyone else switches out their weapons and waits. Unfortunately, they don’t have to wait long.
We hear another mighty roar followed by several loud blows. Just off the edge of the cliff, Shamus sees two horse sized lupin creatures wandering back and forth along the edge of the Sanctuary. A giant, with large tusks and muscular arms, climbs the cliff. He has two large iron bands rolled around his fingers. He’s manacled at wrist and ankle. Each chain is held by an orc. The giant climbs until he is holding onto the centre of the giant red cross. The giant pounds into the rock beneath, over and over again. Some parts of the cliff break off and tumble a way. A few sheets of rock cascade loose.
Back at the gatehouse, Sif strikes orc #2 as he comes over the barricade, beheading him with a clean blow. The head rolls off and the body falls onto the barricade’s pickets. Tiva steps up and swings at orc #3, killing him quickly. Tova snaps her chain over Tiva’s head and takes out orc #4.
As Shamus crawls back, he sees to the left that there are 2 groups of 5 armoured orcs heading towards the Dwarven gate. One orc leads a large thin quadruped on a leash.
Stinna and Frum push corpses off the barricade, further fouling the path to the barricade. Tiva gets back into position near the remaining timber pile.
Shamus rejoins us and tells us what’s coming.
Orcs run up through the hole in the gate, weapons bared.One stops, pulls out something and lights a fuse.
As they approach, Sif swings at one and misses. Tiva and Tova manages to hit the same orc, but Frum misses him, as do I.
Shamus takes a shot at the orc that stopped and nails him with a crossbow bolt. He then ducks down behind the pickets. Orc #1 throws its bomb and it lands right behind Tova’s left foot.
Orc #2 comes in swinging his double-axe and strikes Sif in the elbow on the backswing. Orc #3 swipes at Sif too.
Sif gets under Orc #3’s guard and slices deeply, and the axe goes through his abdomen and out the other side, dividing Orc #3 in two. Sif’s arm is numb and she’s finding it hard to breath.
Tiva steps up to the edge of the barricade and eviscerates orc #2 with her claymore. He’s still on his feet and growling at us. Orcs always seem to growl when they get hurt. Maybe it means ouch in orcish?
Tova picks up the grenade and throws it back at orc #1. It takes a weird left and smacks the orc in the chest to fall beneath his feet. It’s a magical unerring grenade.
Frum attacks orc #4, killing him.
Shamus fires a crossbow and I my bow at Orc #1, but despite our combined effort, he’s still on his feet. Orc #1 reaches down, picks up the grenade and it goes off. There’s not much of him left.
The constant pounding and the roar stopped sometime during the last few seconds. Everything’s gone quiet from the other side of the wall.
As we wait for the next wave, Tiva moves to release the next tumble of logs.
Frum works to clear the barricade of the dead. The bodies are tossed in the open path between the spilled logs.
Bauxite runs out to examine the remains of Orc #1. Once there, he manages to undo a belt buckle with his mouth, undoes the leather strap and pulls a bandolier off the body and brings it back to Shamus. He drops the bandolier. It’s gory and it has some scorch marks and licks of flame still burn along its length. There are two clay flasks (most likely some kind of grenade, no fuse) and two smokesticks on it. Bauxite is quite proud of himself.
Shamus. Picks up a clay flask off the bandolier and whips it at the incoming orcs. It shatters as it hits an orc (#7), and the liquid burst into flames. Everyone in the front rank of orcs is splattered with it.
The next wave of orcs come marching two by two through the hole in the gate. Once they’re all in, Tiva releases the logs! The five through the gate go down, and the sixth behind gets smacked into the portcullis by the bouncing logs.
I get a shot at one orc in the distance (#6), as does Tova. The shots pin the Orc to the portcullis, killing him. Sif fires her bow at the burning female (orc #7).
Shamus lobs an alchemist’s fire at orc #8 as he gets from beneath the logs. The rest of them stand up. The three in back clamber over their friends and run towards us.
Tiva fires her crossbow at the burning female orc (#7).
I fire my bow at orc #8, hitting him, but he seems to just shrug it off. Tova picks up her chain and starts swinging it in small arcs as the orcs draw nearer. Sif shoots orc #8 with her bow.
Shamus shoots his crossbow at orc #9, but the bolt flies wild.
Orc #9 charges at Shamus, but Shamus manages to dodge out of the way. Bauxite jumps onto Orc #9’s leg and nips at his ankles. The Orc tries to brush Bauxite off, but misses.
Tova strikes at orc #10 as he clambers over the dead to the barricade. She hits him square in the chest, and his ribs shatter. Frum connects, driving his blade square into Orc #10’s chest, killing him.
The three in back slowly make their way forward, staggering over the bodies and the logs.
We see that the sky is illuminated bright white, the light is from the opposite side of the wall. A split second later there’s a rolling thunder clap. Something screams in pain. Out focus is not on the distant action, but everyone briefly pauses until the thunder rolls away.
Tiva fires her bow at orc #11. The bolt strikes him in the shoulder, and he topples over. I miss, but Sif’s bow shot hits orc #11!
Shamus shoots his crossbow at orc #12, working his way across the clearing towards him.
Orc #11 ignores Bauxite and tries to get over the barricade. Bauxite follows him and bites him hard. Bauxite ducks away from the orc’s grip, dashing through the fence pickets to turn quickly and bit the same orc again.
Orc #12 moves forward and gets in position to attack Shamus. Tova rushes forwards as Frum turns on the last orc near the barricade. He misses, but Tiva and Sif are still able to hit. Shamus’ crossbow bolt goes wide. The orc stumbles forward and falls over, dead.
Frum starts yelling taunts at the remaining orcs. They (#11 & 12) both turn on Frum and swinging wildly at him with their orcish double-axes. He manages to deflect three of the four blows. The fourth gets through his guard, and wounds him lightly. In the exchange, Frum gets an opening and he runs orc #11 through. Puts his foot on the Orc’s chest and pulls out his blade.
Another flash of light comes from outside the wall. It makes us all see stars.
The creature on a leash and the female orc (#14) leading it move forward. We try to shoot at them with bow and crossbow but we either miss or (in one case) the shot sides off the lizard’s tough hide.
More orcs (15, 16, & 17) come through the gate and take cover behind the broken gate doors. They hurl spears. One goes wild, but one passes over Sif’s shoulder. It bounces off my armour. One hits Shamus, running him through!
Shamus manages to raise and fire a crossbow bolt at the orc (#15). The bolt sinks deep into the orc’s chest.
A handkerchief comes out from Shamus’ pocket and winds around his wound. Bauxite coos gently at his master.
Tova switches weapons and shoots at orc #15 in the back.
As the lizard and its handler move up, Tiva attacks, striking the lizard hard in the muzzle. Frum and the lizard try lunging at each other and both manage to miss. The lizard handler levels a javelin over the beast’s back and throws it at point blank range at Tiva. It cuts into Tiva’s arm, through her armour.
I manage to shoot Orc #15 with my bow, but it doesn’t bring him down. Sif’s shot misses.
Orcs #16 and 17 step through and around the dead, pulling out flasks as they come. They toss them at us. When they land, they burst into fire. The burning liquid splashes over me, Sif and Tova, as well as Frum, the lizard, and even the lizard-handler.
There’s another overly-bright flash of light. It is not followed by a thunder-clap.
Shamus fires his crossbow at orc #15, finally killing him. Bauxite races in, but his bite misses Orc #16.
Tiva strikes the lizard. She pushes down on its neck, and forces it to impale itself on the barricade, killing it. The lizard-handler behind it screams in fury and spouts an orcish curse at her. Frum leaps over the barricade and slashes twice at the lizard-handler; both times, his blade cuts deeply into her, parting her armour easily.
The lizard handler drops her javelin and pulls out her double axe, and comes in swinging.
I fire my bow at orc#16.
Sif fires her bow at the lizard-handler, dropping her before she can get to the barricade.
Orc #16 ignores Bauxite, so Bauxite tries to bite him again. #17 throws a potion, but it falls short and burns the ground. Orc #16 throws his flask, shattering it on Tiva’s armour, where it explodes into fire. As she struggles to put out the fire and heal herself, Tiva and I strike Orc #16 as he races forward. The combination of blows kills him.
Orc #17 drinks from a flask as Bauxite charges him and nips his ankles. Tova gets him in the throat with a crossbow bolt, and Bauxite steps atop the corpse, claiming the kill.
We search the bodies and find four flasks that radiate magic. From behind us we hear a call, and reinforcements arrive. Frum begins organizing the newcomers to try and get into the towers. The entrance has collapsed. We slowly clamber through the dead and make our way through the dwarf gate and out into the lower quarter’s water reservoir.
There are a series of bloody scorch marks along the beach. Three wargs are on the shore, and a giant with tusks is pummeling the red cross. He seems to be pulling rocks from the hole, enlarging it.
Stone encases my ankle. Looking down, I see the crystal that eluded me during Rorin’s bier. The crystal speaks in Terran, saying: the defenders of the earth requires my aid. When I ask how, it grabs my ankle, lifts me up 6-7" and carries me away. I think I said something in common to the group, but at that point, I was too preoccupied.
A diminutive voice calls out “Wargs to me”, and the beasts bound across the reservoir and follow two shadowy shapes into the hole. The giant with the mighty tusks stays outside, guarding the hole.
The party elects to follow me. I’m carried to a natural circle of stone. On the ground is Silver-beard. He’s been ferociously bitten by lupine teeth.
The creature speaks anew, saying: “The heart of the earth is timeless.” It raises up out of the ground, and as it does so, the speaker takes on more and more definition. Its face grows smoother as it forms contours and brows. As a body takes shape, it seems covered in armour. The body takes on feminine definition and the stone plates that make up the body take on the semblance of plate armour. The face is that of a dwarven woman of advanced years. It opens its mouth and it continues to speak.
“The earth offers sanctuary to those who honour its sacrifices. Please, save my son. The heart of the earth is a sacred place. It is timeless. Don’t venture beyond the doors.”
She reaches through her chest, and pulls out a crystal. It is pulsing with light. “The earth shelters those who are of its blood.” She says.
She embraces me, and flows around and reforms on my back. The face flows away and looks like my face. My own eyes go from blue to crystal. I feel a weight an my arm is pushed forward so that I touch one of the standing stones. The surface ripples like water and I flow into the stone.
Shamus recognizes this as a ritual. He though the woman was a stone elemental, but he didn’t know that stone elementals could change their form. He believes that Stinna was sucked through a magical portal.
He steps through the portal after her, followed closely by Bauxite.
Tova heals Silverbeard, then picks him up and goes through the portal as well, followed closely by Tiva and Sif.
As each of us emerge through the opposite side, we come into a spherical cavern (50’ across). The walls are made up of light blue shards of crystal. It is the interior of a giant geode. The earth elemental stops moving. After a few seconds, there’s cracking sounds all over her body. It’s heavy, and I stagger from the weight.