Ep. 3 – Forest Encounters

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Haytham isn’t particularly thrilled by the news that Glasstaff has escaped. He tells the party that he will be unable to give them the location of the supply cache but as a consolation he promises to grant them the deed to Tresendar Manor. After all, the Redbrand menace has been ended.
As the meeting is wrapping up a young dwarf bursts in and addresses Tomi. “Strongfoot, sir?” Tomi nods and the boy continues, “your uncle Len has been wounded while fighting off Orc raiders. I was told to come and get you, he’s at the Priory.”
Within a few minutes the heroes have reached Shale’s sole place of worship. The priory is a tall and narrow brick building with one side almost completely covered with creeping vines. Inside, sister Garaele leads Tomi to where his uncle lies in a deep sleep. Bandages cover what must have been a horrific wound on his right arm and chest. Garaele assures Tomi that Len is stable but reveals that due to the severity of his wound she will be unable to heal him. With the Shale relic still missing her ability to perform her spells is rather limited.

Only days before Len had told Tomi and Atticus about the band of Orcs that had been ranging out of Wyvern Tor, a nearby landmark that had once upon a time been a dangerous Wyvern nest. The old halfling had been worried about the vulnerability of the farmsteads outside of Shale and it seemed as though he had become a victim himself.
With vengeance on his mind Tomi asks the others to accompany him to Wyvern Tor. After considering the Orcs’ involvement with the raid on Shale they also surmise that finding them would bring them one step closer to tracking down the missing relic. With night settling in over Shale they decide to meet up in the morning to make the trek to Wyvern Tor.
Knowing that Wyvern Tor lies a full day’s journey to the south-west the heroes set out shortly after sunrise. The morning passes uneventfully and the forests are mostly quiet. At least until midday when Atticus comes back from scouting to report a goblin patrol up ahead. It seemed that the patrol was taking a quick break under the shade of a large apple tree in a clearing not far ahead. As the party draws closer they begin to hear the telltale squarking voices of the goblins. When the reach the treeline Granite spots two of the goblins relieving their bladders against the trunk of the tree and the barbarian flies into a rage, charging out of the bushes.

With his greataxe swinging and the goblins scrambling to react, one of Granite’s targets is beheaded before most of the greenskins have even drawn their weapons. The rest of the party is surprised but rushes into the clearing to support their half-dwarf companion. The lessons of the last few days have obviously changed the heroes and in stark contrast to their first encounters with goblins they emerge from the fight with barely a scratch. Granite even manages to regain his composure long enough to knock out one of the goblins instead of leaving him headless like the rest.
When the greenskin awakes he happily tells the party what they want to know including the location of the Orcs’ cave at Wyvern Tor and the location of Cragmaw castle, a ruin that the Goblin tribes have claimed as a base for their conjoint warparty. He even tells them that their leader has been seen conversing, in secret, with a human who sneaks into the castle via a secret entrance. Once their questions are answered Granite tasks the goblin with washing the goblin blood and filth off the tree but otherwise sets him free. Atticus also chimes in, telling the goblin of a fringe tribe in the northern island of Throm territory, where the greenskins live peacefully and sometimes even do trade with the other races.
It is nearing sunset when a lone Orc, perched on a rocky ridge, betrays the location of the Orcs’ cave. Atticus tries to put him down silently with an arrow but it only manages to peg him in the shoulder, as the party attempts to close the distance to the cave the sentry cries out, “Brughor!” and the camp is alerted.
The sentry is quickly dealt to but another six Orcs come marching out of the cavemouth, one of them standing a head taller than the others bears the scars of many battles. Behind them comes an even more fearsome sight, a huge Ogre stoops its head to exit the cave and hefts a massive club onto one shoulder.

The orcs don’t hesitate to charge in but as they hit the heroes frontline of Tomi, Granite and Fargrim they are ensnared by magical vines that spring from the ground. From his favoured spot on a tree branch Atticus completes his spell and draws his bow. A hefty swing from the lead orc leaves a tear in Granites armour and staggers the Barbarian. Tomi steps past the Orcs to slash at the Ogres belly with his longsword. Fargrim calls on Moradin to guide their strikes and exchanges blows with two Greenskins, his shield taking a beating. From a vantage point slightly up the Tor’s slope Valare leaps down into the flank of the Orcs and makes use of one of her favourite techniques, slashing at Brughor’s legs.
The lead Orc falls to his knees while beside him Tomi attempts to roll between the Ogres legs. Brughor lashes out and catches the halfling’s helmet, knocking him unconscious. Chad moves up to fill the space where Tomi once stood and lends his rapier to Fargrim’s aid. Together they end one Orc even as Granite takes advantage of the prone Brughor. Another greenskin is beheaded by his greataxe and the other Orcs turn to flee. Their sudden flight leaves them open to attack and Fargrim, Valare, Chad, and Granite all make them regret it. Only two orcs manage to break from the group and one of them soon falls to an arrow from Atticus.
The rest of the party focuses on the Ogre moving to flank the beast while Atticus fires another arrow at the escaping orc. This one lodges itself in the fleeing Orcs leg as he tries to climb a bank to safety and causes him to fall back down. From behind the Ogre Valare takes a run up and leaps onto it’s shoulders, slashing about its head and neck with her Chakram. The beast begins to stagger from the grave wounds and Granite notices that Tomi is still lying unconscious at is feet. As Valare drives her blade into the Ogres back for the final time Fargrim and Granite rush to it’s side in order to make sure it falls somewhere safe.
Atticus smiles casually at the others as he chases down the hobbled Orc and then everyone takes a moment to catch their breath while Tomi is roused. The sun begins to set and the party makes good use of the Cave to shelter them overnight. From the greenskin’s belongings they retrieve a small sum of gold pieces and an interesting note. It reads, “Stick around, I may have need of you soon.” and is signed with a crude drawing of a pair of reptilian eyes. Unfortunately, Shale’s relic is nowhere to be found.
The next morning the heroes awake with renewed purpose. The relic must be recovered and to do that they must venture to Cragmaw Castle. On the first day of their journey back to the north Atticus spots a troll up ahead. Using his knowledge of the wilds Granite is able to locate some Troll musk rubbed off on a nearby tree. By smearing themselves with the musk they beat the trolls remarkable sense of smell and pass unharmed.
That night, camping in the forest Valare spots the deer-shaped fey from before. It watches from the edge of the camp light and doesn’t balk when she approaches. She asks what it is doing following them to which it replies, “All depts must be repaid.” She asks if it knows the fey who raised her when she was a child and at that it hops away turning only to say, “I know of your guardian.”

Sleeping back by the fire Atticus has another strange dream. In the dream he awakes at the campsite, his companions nowhere to be seen, and the flames flicker blue and purple. A grinding noise draws his attention to the darkened forest where a gleaming black orb rolls into view. As he watches, Atticus’ head begins to fill with whispering voices and two reptilian eyes flick open on the orb. The voices get louder and louder and Atticus is filled with a sense of dread, unable to look away from the myriad eyes that begin to open all over the surface of the orb. When the voices reach their crescendo Atticus wakes up with a start. Cold sweat clings to his body and he is unable to find rest before dawn arrives.

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