The wilds of Varisia, near the ruins of Fair Haven village
The 12th day of Lamashan, 4713 AR – mid-morning
After discussing what is to be done next, Sanaya heads out with the rest of the party strung out behind her. The sky above is grey and ugly, and a cool wind howls in off Conqueror’s Bay. You slink along angling to approach the ruined village from the northeast. It is therefore a bit of a surprise when the first orc blunders in upon you from out of the tall grass.
There are three of them in total: the first you see is huge, simply massive, with impossibly broad shoulders and gnarled, bestial features. He is clad in chain armor, and his fists are covered by heavy, steel-studded gloves designed to pound human flesh into mush. Beside him stands another orc, this one half-human. He is clad all in grays and greens, and wields a fine-looking compound bow. The last orc is the drunkard Evelyn and Sanaya spied earlier. He clenches his massive two-handed sword and howls defiance as the three ready themselves for an all-out charge.
As one you begin to spread out, intent on flanking the orcs as they charge. Talathel channels arcane energy into his bow, and nocks an arrow. Igmar sidles off to one side, hoping to catch the orcs off guard. Kymrych and Omari immediately charge, ready to go toe to toe with the iron-fisted orc. Both Akorian and Sanaya fade from view, cloaked by magic. Only Evelyn holds her ground, and kneels on the grass. From her many pouches and pockets she withdraws a long cylindrical object, pointed on one end. Long fins decorate the other. She holds a burning taper to a fuse, and the rocket hisses and shrieks as it leaves her fingers. Moments later it screams downrange, and detonates with a hearty BOOOOMMMMMMMM.
The biggest of the orcs staggers as he is peppered with pieces of shrapnel. Then he and Omari and Kymrych meet in a flurry of steel, and an angry melee takes place. Even as the trio comes together in a tangle of flesh and blood, however, the half-orc draws his bow, and looses. That first shot hits Kymrych on the shoulder-armor with a stunning blow, and knocks him back a step. The half-orc’s second shot slams into Kymrych’s breast plate, driving him to one knee. The force of his shots are stunning! It is hard for the Varisian to catch his breath.
The big orc slams his fist into Omari, sending the quick-moving Garundi sprawling. Then Kymrych and Omari pull themselves together, and begin to circle the towering orc, intent upon finding a chink in his armor – as they do so, Kymrych’s orc-bane sword begins to shimmer and hum, as if sensing the blood of its foe. He thrusts out, and feels his blade sink deeply into the chest of the massive orc – the creature snarls and snaps his tusk-like teeth, and begins to pull itself forward, plunging the sword ever deeper into his rib cage. He grasps for Kymrych’s throat, but cannot quite reach it. Then Omari strikes out, and severs the big orc’s head from his shoulders, and the massive corpse collapses in a heap at the feet of the two warriors.
Meanwhile, Talathel, Akorian and Sanaya spy the other sword-wielding orc moving in to engage Igmar. Akorian sears the creature with lightning, while Sanaya turns invisible, and dashes in to engage him with her blade. Tal launches arrow after arrow, wounding the orc. Then he locks blades with Igmar, and the two begin to circle and parry, eager to find an opening in the other’s defenses. The orc grunts, however, as Sanaya suddenly appears beside him, and strikes a telling blow. Thusly wounded, the orc allows his defenses to suffer, and Igmar sneaks in the killing blow.
The enemy archer sees his companions fall, and turns to flee. Tal sends a few arrows chasing after him, but does not land a fatal shot.
“He’ll warn the others. We’d better move.” Kymrych has to wait, however, until Igmar has used his magic to stave off the worst of their many scratches and bruises. Then the group reforms, and continues on towards the ruined village. They do not get very far, however, before a new threat presents itself.
“Wait.” Sanaya holds up a hand to halt the group. “What is that?”
You pause, and listen. Then you hear it: a low, sibilant moaning sound. And the slow shuffle of many feet. You smell the stink of rotting flesh, and see the first of more than a dozen undead fiends stumble towards you from out of the tall grass. They are the simple undead; animated corpses, brought to life through foul necromancy. While not dangerous in small numbers, they can overwhelm even the strongest of groups if allowed to swarm. With this in mind Akorian calls worth one of his most potent spells, and sends a crackling ball of flame towards the center of the pack.
WHOOOOOSSHHHHHHH…….. A dozen emancipated stick men go up in flames, tottering, blazing, collapsing into smoldering piles of blackened bone. The rest continue to shuffle on, undaunted. The rest of the group begins to pick off the remainder of the undead with bow or spell, and more fall. But many remain. Soon they come into close range, and you switch to your hand to hand weaponry. Within seconds Sanaya is surrounded, cut off from the rest of you, and battles on bravely. More of the creatures fall, but not quickly enough. Talathel is forced to drop his bow and go to his sword, hacking, slicing. He guts one of the last undead, and then they are all down and you stand there, panting from your recent exertions.
“That wasn’t so hard.” Evelyn grins as she pokes a severed head with the tip of her dogslicer. “Stupid dead people.”
“They forced us to use up precious resources.” Omari scowls as he wipes rotting flesh from his sword. “Plus the orcs now have a pretty good idea that we’re coming. I’d say things just got a bit more interesting.”
Just then an orc war horn sounds, echoing far across the grassy plains. You pause in your labors, and quickly form a defensive square.
“Stay alert.” Kymrych’s eyes never pause in their searching of the tall grass. “They’ll be here any—”
The first orcs come at you screaming defiance. They explode from the tall grass at a full run with their weapons on high. Thrown javelins fill the air; a second wave follows moments later, and then their first ranks slam into you, howling and spitting. Steel clashes on steel, and gore spurts. Most of it it theirs, but not all. They fight with no elegance, and no thought of tactics. Just anger and blood-thirst, and a need to kill. Igmar and Omari are the first to slay, but the orcs get some licks in as well. Sanaya gasps as a thrown javelin pierces her in the thigh, and she sinks to one knee, nearly spent. Talathel stands firm, plying his bow with deadly accuracy. More orcs fall. Evelyn cuts loose with more of her whistling terror bombs, and the air is filled with acrid smoke and hellish cries. Chaos surrounds you as more blood is spilled.
Then, a third wave of orcs appears. Akorian scowls as he realizes your lines are in danger of collapse. He must use yet another precious spell, and raises his hands – there is a roar of flame, and more orcs are reduced to charred husks. Then, the sounds of combat drift away, and Igmar hurries to Sanaya’s side. He prays to the Dawnflower, and Evelyn helps him remove the javelin from her gore-smeared thigh. You watch as his magic burns away the tears in her flesh, and she is made whole once more, save for the memories of both terror and pain.
Igmar pauses a moment to examine the closest of the dead orcs. He sees a clan fetish attached to an armored hauberk, and grunts.
“These orcs belong to the Black Sun clan, out of Belkzen. They are landless mercenaries, keen to work for the highest bidder. We faced them when the Doom Child was nigh; I’d say this bunch is left over from that fight, and never went home.” Igmar eyes Kymrych with a lopsided grin. “Old business indeed.”
As the others talk Akorian and Talathel hustle over to the nearest hillock and scramble up, staying low. At the top they go to their bellies and peer over the lip, down into the ruined village. There they pause for a moment to watch for movement.
Moments later they find some – the archer you faced earlier is seen running at full tilt towards the tavern, carrying his bow in one hand and a fresh quiver of arrows in the other. He is visible for a matter of seconds before he reaches the rear door of the building. Seconds later he has dashed inside, and the ruins of Fair Haven go silent once more.