Chapter 16 - "Terrigrim D'Haney's Pupil"
The scene shifts from the sight of the group enjoying their breakfast and Magricks fine tea, to that of a Half Elf and a Dwarf, who have just found employment on a barge. Both find that coincidentally they have journeyed from afar to this area on news of a band of demi-humans doing good deeds, though the Dwarf's main priority regards Dwarven accoylites that have gone missing whilst in this very area.
They talk of their backgrounds, and hear that the group has based themselves around Palfreys keep, and so to save the walk, and to earn some coin, they take the barge, accompanying its precious cargo of wood down river. Now to the present, the pair have found themselves moored at an old jetty, deep with the woods, far from the supposed destination of Thurmaster. Their previous night had been worrying to say the least as upon waking in the morn, they found themselves adrift down river with the crew no where to be seen. After tying up the barge, the pair light a fire, and it is then that the dwarf decides that he will scout the area, and will return shortly..
Night comes, and it is now nearly ten hours since the dwarf left the jetty, and the half elf, although at home in the woods, still feels a bit wary of his surroundings. Some movement and noise upriver make him pause in his eating, and he listens quietly before realising that the noise does not come from a solitary dwarf. Drawing his two short swords, he moves away from the fire and towards the shelter of one of the ramshackle huts nearby, hunkering behind a wall. As he watches, he sees three elves and hears another dwarf, not yet seen as he is hidden from sight within the low bushes. Assuming that this must be the group that he has come to see, he steps into the doorway of the hut, swords still drawn, just in case.
A gruff voice cries out that he should come towards the fire, and in that slight distraction, one of the elves fades from sight. Moving closer to the fire, he spies the originator of the voice, which is confirmed to be another dwarf. The conversation soon begins to warm, and the Half Elf realises that this is indeed the adventurers for whom he seeks, and sits down with the rest of them, telling them of his travels, and the strange events that have befallen him thus far. Just as he gets to the part of his story regarding the missing dwarf, one of the elves, the ugly one with but one ear, leaps up and begins to perform a dance of mystical bafflement, arms outstretched and 'pushing' at thin air. This performance is punctuated by the dwarf's encore of assaulting the ground with his axe, blindly striking again at thin air.
The Half Elf steps back from the fire, hand straying to his sword hilt, wondering anew at his ability to find complete idiot's or mentally deficient people among the demi-human race, originating with his last tutor - Terrigrim D'Haney, who had thought that the trees where going to eat him, and to top it off, was the only Ranger in the whole continent who was agoraphobic. Trying to explain to the frightened Half Elf that his purse has tampered with proves exceedingly difficult, and the notion of invisible beasts in the night seems beyond his comprehension. We call out to our own invisible beast Magrick, who calls out from over by the huts from where the Half Elf appeared. Realisation finally breaks on the Half Elf, who looks down at his purse, which is now empty of coins. Coins begin to appear from thin air at the Half Elf's feet, coins he informs us that he found over in the doorway yonder.
With things now settled down, we camp for the night, with myself and the Half elven Ranger taking first watch. A slight noise disturbs the Ranger not an hour into the watch, warning me as we notice a small group of goblins all armed with cudgels. Waking the camp, we take on the goblins, but some of us (No names mentioned Magrick,) just turn over and go back to slumberland.
The goblins do not last long - Where I (as Quinton later pointed out to me,) take my mandatory battle scar per battle, although this is more a broken nose than a scar.
The rest of the night passes without incident, and in the morning we continue to follow the path deeper into the forest, which was found just behind the ramshackle huts. The path leads into denser forest, with the light fading because of the rapidly thickening trees. Stopping for a bite to eat at lunchtime, Magrick pauses during his chicken wing and indicates that we are being watched.
The sudden standing and excited pointing of the group cause the 6 or so humaniod creatures to dissapear from sight. Magrick again fades from sight and slopes into the trees, (well that's what we are told - he probably just sat on the path stiffling giggles as we praised his abilities,) returning to say that they are orcs. Debating for a while, I shout a battlecry and run in the direction of my ancestoral enemies, the Half Elf at my side, although his face was set more angrily than my own. Magrick had just got back into position, but as they run off, I halt the Half Elf as I believe that they ran just that little bit too quickly.
Stopping, I grab the Half Elf, before he ran off into the (suspected) ambush, and notice that his blood lust would have carried him on into the midst of them, and also the fact that froth and spittle covered his moustache. Returning to the road, we wait for Magrick, and then when he does return, he informs us that possibly 30+ Orcs are heading this way.
After being warned of the impending attack by Magrick, I decide to prepare a camp for us to defend. Not a small boys (Hmmm, jumpers for goalposts, eh?..) camp, but a camp of Roman specifications. The path crumbles as the grund around us erupts in a perfect square, rising to the height of five feet, complete with walkways of earth and stone. Bushes and dead wood strengthen the structure and brambles and stinging nettles line the base and form additional defence for the ramparts. With the centre of the camp represented by our lunch - a large family sized bucket of chicken, we are all set.
The orcs are then heard running through the woods towards us and appear as the camp is blessed with a Prayer of Gorm. The orcs, suddenly confused with the appearance of a small fort on a path mill about at the base until Magrick angers them by blasting the nearest with a small glowing point of light. The fight goes very well in our favour, with only slight cuts and bruises being taken during the fight, although nearing the end, Magrick falls with a particular vicious cut to the neck, but there where not enough orcs to take advantage of this turn of events.
With the fight over, we drag the bodies off the fort (and one or two that had managed to be thrown into the chicken bucket) and into the nearby trees, when suddenly a high pitched scream is heard, shattering the peace of the camp. Turning with swords and axes drawn we come face to face with Agador, looking at a small spider that has scurried on to his hand. The half elf, now looking a lot more composed than he was, the anger at the orcs slowing fading, cleans the blood from his sword and sits, eyes shut in the middle of the fort.
though he is obviously inexperienced in the ways of the warrior, the orcs
where shown the raw power that comes from channeled anger. Night comes and
goes, and we bid farewell to the camp in the morning and continue down the
ruined path until we came to an unnaturally quiet area, an eire feeling
lurking like an Elf at the docks. Moving on more cautiously, we come across
a very large skeleton, part covered in moss - possibly that of a giant.
Passing on by, we travel for only a little way further until the trees thin to a clearing, and there, surrounded by a ring of trees, is the old keep. The sky has began to darken, and so we move back the way we came and set up another fort. Sleep is restful, but we are uninterrupted. Morning comes and Magrick volunteers for scouting duty, and we agree to give him 2hrs before going to look for him. Fading from view, Magrick slopes off towards
Moving silently himself, he realises that there is an absence of nearly all noise associated with the forest, with no bird or animal callings at all.. The keep has a tower and possibly had a spire, but rubble remains there instead. The walls being 15' high would pose no problem to him, but he chuckled at the thought of the Dwarf trying to climb the wall, although the idiot would probably just knock on the door and politely ask to kill the evil man. Moving silently off to the left of the keep (at a tangent?) he makes his way round the side, passing a large tree bent out of shape. The sudden 'wrong feeling' comes a split second too late as the world tumbles for Magrick and he curses himself as he finds that he has been caught by a simple snare trap.
Twisting to look towards the keep, in case someone was watching, saves him from being gutted by a secondary part of the trap, as a sharpened stake creases his side. Suddenly a bell is heard, and Magrick curses again as a figure looks out from atop the battlements. Slicing the rope and tumbling to the floor in one expert movemnet, he moves to the bushes and hunkers down. He dose'nt have to wait long before a small group of mercanary type people come to investigate.
The cut rope is spotted immediately, and they move back to the entrance of the keep, silently followed by Magrick. The name 'Ranchefass' is uttered, possibly the leader of the old keep, and Magrick makes to slip inside the keep as the door opens. A barking dog pauses Magrick in his tracks, and so he reports back to us at the fort. (10am)