Scales of War

In Moradin's Great Name
Kalad and the Hordebane secure the Nexus
Waterday, 26 Reaping, 1468 CY

The great doors to the Nexus lay before the Hordebane (and L and Kalad, currently honorary members), and who better to scout it than Irjan the Blind? “Looks clear!”

Hearing nothing, but smelling the foul stink of sulfur, the party opened the doors and looked up and up and up into the enormous chamber that had been built by dwarves so many ages ago. Skien’s light barely reached the ceiling, casting impressive shadows around the central steel pillar that stood as tall as the room with two pipes that jutted out near the base. A narrow stone walkway circled the room, with stairs leading up to the very top where a platform made of woven metal led up to the top of the steel pillar. Other metal platforms wrapped around the pillar in two other places, seeming out of place amongst so much stone.

L took one long look at the Nexus and shouted a few words of advice before heading back to the shrine so she could collect the tapestry—there was no way she’d be able to puzzle out the keys to the Nexus without some kind of written record.

The others began to climb at the half-orc’s urging, and soon realized that there were a number of tunnels carved into the rock. It wasn’t long before it became clear that these tunnels eventually led clear to the other side of the Stonehome Mountains, for orcs and orogs began swarming out of them and raced to attack the Hordebane. That Bitch and Kalad fought shoulder to shoulder as Grymm led the way with his axe, cutting through as many orcs as he could. For each one he cut down, it seemed that two more rushed to fill the gap. Tanner stuck with Grymm and the dwarves, using his bladespells to push orcs off of the stairs so they could advance inch by painful inch.

Irjan and Diony hung back a bit, using their range to their advantage when they could. The echoing in the chamber made it difficult for Irjan to hear, but he fought valiantly, shooting when he knew he had a sure shot. One of his attacks brought the dark, shadowy woman who had raced to the top of the Nexus to the very doorstep of death. Tanner’s quick shooting brought her down and the orcs’ leader, a very large orog with brutal tusks, bellowed his rage and plowed through his allies to kill those who had dared to hurt his beloved. Irjan’s ears were ringing after that, but he managed to regain his hearing in time to shank a few orcs who had managed to make it close.

The leader knocked down Grymm, but That Bitch was quick to get him back in the fight. A great sweep of his falchion would have taken Grymm’s head of had he been standing, but instead it brought That Bitch down. Showing a little athletic prowess, Grymm nearly fell from the walkway but managed to catch the edge, hurl an orc to its death, and slide over to where That Bitch lay and pull himself back up. He had a healing potion in his hand, and before Tanner could kill four more orcs, That Bitch was sputtering through his beard and hauling himself back to his feet.

The tide of the battle turned when Tanner used his magics to push the leader off of the walkway. He stumbled and missed his grip, falling some thirty feet and landing heavily even as he tucked into a roll and got back to his feet. The forward party advanced, hurrying to get to the top—the only objective they could think to go for—and the ranged members of the group (and Skien) took out the orcs’ ranged fighters in kind. However, the tide seemed fickle as the large leader climbed up onto the platform beside where Diony hung back and swung his mighty blade to fell the unlucky elf. Skien, who had climbed all the way to the top of the Nexus, reacted quickly and hurled himself from the top of the Nexus at the leader. His impact snapped the giant orog’s neck, in addition to breaking a number of his own bones and taking him into unconsciousness.

Unsure what had really happened, Irjan called out to the two he had been fighting alongside. At their lack of response, he felt his way over and managed to stabilize them. He stood over them, blades drawn, and protected his fallen companions for there was little else he could do with the rest of the group so far away he could hardly hear which direction they’d gone.

With the death of their leader, the orcs seemed to lose purpose. They’d come all this way, only to see the defeat of the greatest among them…they couldn’t exactly turn back, but they knew their deaths were not far away at the end of one of Irjan’s arrows, or beneath the arc of Grymm’s heavy axe. The forward party finally reached the top and That Bitch set about trying to decipher the ancient Dwarven scripts written on the control panel while the others either held off the orcs or let a rope down to Irjan.

Diony and Skien, limbs tangled and their bodies coated in blood, abruptly awoke gasping for breath! Diony tied himself to the rope so he could be hauled up, while Skien used a blade to splint his broken arm and began climbing the rope one-handed. Irjan grabbed the heavy falchion from the fallen orog leader in one hand, and groped for Diony’s outstretched arm with the other. Slowly, painfully, the group approached the top of the Nexus. They were only partway up when That Bitch and Tanner finally activated the control panel and the room began to fill quickly with boiling water. Irjan could feel the steam between his scales, and he shouted for the pulling ones to hurry it up.

Everyone managed to scramble up onto the top platform, and clamber up the ladder to freedom! Once on the other side, Kalad slammed the trapdoor closed (it surprisingly became very hard to see on the floor of the small storage room the Hordebane et al now found themselves in), and after a quick dwarven moment, he touched one of the stone in the floor and depressed it to make it flush with the floor. “They won’t be comin’ up after us,” he assured the group. Everyone wanted to take a moment to relax, but there remained the question of where they had emerged. Steeling themselves, they ventured out of the small door, received questioning looks from a few dwarves, and eventually realized that they were in Bordrin’s Watch, right on the front of the battle with the orcs!

Kalad gave minimal explanation as the group was led to healers’ camps that had been set up in the courtyard. Skien and Diony were immediately put to bed. Irjan managed to give a few pointers to the archers before exhaustion overtook him and had needed to be led to a bed of his own. Likewise, Tanner joined the fight from the wall, picking off the occasional breakthrough orc with his magic missiles…for about five minutes. Each missile drained him further, and it wasn’t long before he said, “You guys got this, you’re doing great!” and shuffled off to find a bed of his own. The others knew their limits, it seems, and they appreciated the welcome of a hard cot away from the fighting as they took their rest.

Earthday, 27 Reaping, 1468 CY

The next day, all but Diony and Skien awoke, for they required a little more recovery time. The others were called in along with Kalad to report to the high commander at Bordrin’s Watch: Durkik Forgeheart

Tanner, Grymm, That Bitch, and Irjan awoke feeling refreshed in the late afternoon of Earthday, 27 Reaping, 1468 CY. The healers are bustling around, and the cots you slept on are quickly taken up with more injured from the front. You see that Diony and Skien are still recovering from their injuries—Skien in particular looks like he has been wrapped in a full-body cast after the craziness he pulled yesterday. One of the healers notices you are awake and speaks to you while washing someone’s blood from his hands. “That paladin who was with you, Kalad I think…he came looking for you this morning. I’ll send a message boy to let him know you’re awake now.”

True to his word, he walks over and calls out the door and speaks to an eager young dwarven boy with a wooden axe tucked in his belt. The boy nods and grins before running off, and the healer returns to the next priority injured soldier.

A few minutes later, Kalad enters sporting a few fresh bandages. He slaps away the ministrations of any healers that look up from their work and takes a direct path to meet with the group. “Good to see ye up and about agin, lads.” He says in his gruff manner. “Seems the lot of ye had a harrowin’ few days.”

He nods, almost to himself, as he trails off…his eyes taking in the still-asleep members of the group. The paladin clears his throat and visibly shakes himself back to the task at hand. “High Priest Forgeheart has asked for a full report, and implored me to bring you to him as soon as the healers released you. We should go speak to him, and quickly.”

Irjan recalls hearing the name, probably back in Overlook, but can’t quite place where he heard it before. That Bitch remembers Durkik Forgeheart from his time in the area as the High Priest of Moradin in Overlook, only the dwarf who is closest to the god in the whole civilized region…though “closest to the god” in the middle of a city like Overlook could mean many, many things.

Beaming, Tanner springs up from his cot, his hair bouncing about his shoulders. “That’s great news! I wanted to make sure we reported all the goings on as soon as possible. I just felt that they would want to know all of the details! Did you tell the High Priest anything yet, Kalad?” He stoops to grab his rapier, which he fastens to his belt. It’s clear that he’s ready to go.

Kalad shook his head, somewhat sadly. “I’ve had a bit o’ restin’ to do meself. I just made certain they knew no orcs would be comin’ up after us, and figured I’ll let ye tell the rest.” Once everyone was ready, he led the way through Bordrin’s Watch, walking briskly past columns of troops constantly prepared to refresh or relieve the front; adventurers worked alongside dwarven soldiers, helping them stand strong in the face of the orcish onslaught.

At the edge of the courtyard stood a stone guard tower which overshadowed where the troops prepared for battle. Kalad nodded to the guards who flanked the heavy stone door, and they acknowledged him and stood back so the group could pass. Inside, it took mere moments before High Priest Forgeheart granted the group an audience.

“I see the Hordebane has returned, thank Moradin!” Durkik Forgeheart began. He glanced at Kalad with gruff sympathy before starting at the beginning: “Please tell me what has become of our other brothers at the Monastery, and how you came to be here” -he gestured to indicate the whole of Bordrin’s Watch- “just as the first waves of orcs charged to attack our walls.”

Tanner stepped enthusiastically forward. “Yes, it’s true! We have returned! We managed to find ourselves here after sealing the Nexus — which, by the way, has always secretly been right under this fortress. We came out of a storage closet, it was quite confusing! But to return to your original question, sadly, Kalad was the only surviving dwarf at the Monastery. We arrived too late. Hordes of orcs were streaming up from the tunnels. We slowed their advance and were able to rescue Kalad just as he sealed the tunnels. Unfortunately, the Great Hall of the Monastery was destroyed in the advance of the orcs and orogs, it collapsed on our way out. That’s where we met L…”

Tanner’s telling was a quick succession of events, summing up their long ordeal. When he got to the part where L came in, he trailed off, then abruptly interrupted his monologue. “The only other survivor of the massacre at the Monastery was a scholarly half-orc woman named L, which might be short for something else or may be her entire name. She was completely unrelated to the attack and she joined us and helped us seal the Nexus, which we’ll tell you about in a minute. The main reason I bring her up is because she is missing! We were separated in the Nexus and hopefully she wasn’t boiled alive. I suspect she may arrive at some point, possibly with a very heavy tapestry, so I just wanted to let you know that she’s with the Hordebane and to please not confuse her with the attacking hordes of orcs!”

At word of the Nexus, the high priest shoots a sharp look at Kalad, who merely nods grimly. He returns his attention to the tiefling, sorrowed to hear what befell the Monastery, and raising one bushy gray eyebrow as Tanner derails himself. “A scholarly half-orc?” Forgeheart guffaws, unable to contain himself—but it is Kalad’s turn to look sternly at the high priest.

“L is an admirable lass,” the paladin rumbled quietly, “and I’d face any odds no matter how fierce if I’d her at me back.”

Fortunately for High Priest Durkik Forgeheart, his thick, bushy mustashe and braided beard masked the way his jaw dropped at Kalad’s firm affirmation of this half-orc’s character. “Very well, I’ll let the lads know. What happened next?” He turns back to the party quickly, escaping the brunt of the paladin’s angry stare. “Speak up, the rest of ye!”

“We fought our way over the great staircases in the cliffs,” added Grymm. “The orcs just kept coming. There was no end to them.”

“As it seems out there,” Forgeheart grunted. “No end to them.”

He shook his head, his beard bristling with the motion. “So Kalad sealed the tunnels at the Monastery, you were unable to save our other brothers, and you found a surprising ally in a half-orc,” he summarized briefly. “How, then, did you come to be here.” His stern inflection made his words more of a demand than a question.

Grymm scratches his head forgetfully and looks to Tanner. “We fought through hordes of orcs across the cliff stairs and through tunnels. You must forgive me, my mind is hazed when in the heat of battle. I only know that we fought our way to the Nexus and found ourselves here.”

Tanner glanced hopefully at the others, waiting for them to speak up. He rocked on his heels for a few seconds, then spoke up. “You’ll have to forgive them for not speaking up, they’re a little shy. I usually end up doing most of the talking, not like they could stop me! Anyway, Kalad helped us make the way from the Monastery to the Vents. Wending our way through the noxious gases, we made it to the front doorstep of the Nexus, which had some clever traps, as well as some orcs. You probably recall that the Farstriders were sent to tend to the Vents, a superbly dangerous mission. Unfortunately, they weren’t successful at all. Their horses were starving outside the Vents, then we found the adventurers being munched on by a troll who was accompanying plenty of orcs. We sadly were much too late. But lucky for us we were able to burn the troll and we survived. (Really, why would a troll hang out with orcs that throw fire?) We turned on the power to the Nexus and began climbing our way around the rather impressive device. There’s a pattern here, and you can perhaps see why we got our name, because as we tried to make our way up, orcs spilled out ahead of us, behind us, boxing us in. A great big orog emerged and did a bunch of damage to us, but we slayed him. He must have been a commander because after that point the orcs were more disorganized. We eventually made it to the top (very harrowing, let me tell you!) and deciphered the controls. Once we had the Nexus running, steaming water began rushing in, sealing the lower levels. We climbed through a trapdoor at the top and sealed that, then found ourselves here!”

Relaying all of that made him feel tired all over again, so he glanced around to find something to lean on. Unfortunately, dwarves are stout and doughty and audiences were not made for making the petitioners comfortable so no chairs were to be found. Instead, he nonchalantly rested his elbow on That Bitch’s shoulder and smiled winningly.

Grymm pats Tanner on the back (perhaps a bit too hard but only in the best of intentions). “Tanner is a natural born talker. I wish I could be as brave, bold, and well spoken as he! You would not believe his prowess!” Grymm smiles admiringly at the tiefling. Tanner stumbles slightly as Grymm’s hand thumps his back and knocks his arm off of That Bitch’s shoulder. He quickly recovers himself, though, and tries to resettle himself as if nothing happened.

“The Farstriders were defeated,” Forgeheart repeated, somewhat stunned. He had heard of them before they came to Overlook to answer the call, and their list of deeds had preceded them by far. He shook himself sternly. “Well, the lot of you have done well, even if half of you are mute. On the behalf of the Council of Elders, I thank you for not only completing the tasks assigned to you, but for also looking out for the safety of all in the Elsir Vale.” He nodded to Kalad. “You did well to guide them to the Vents after their task was done.”

Turning back to the party he rose and clasped his hands behind his back. “We had not expected to see you here, but your help defending our walls would be most welcome. Though their attack seems haphazard and uncoordinated, deaths are still mounting up on our side. If, however, you would prefer to return to Overlook, the Council is fully prepared to provide the reward you were promised.”

“O’ course they’ll be stayin’!” Kalad said gruffly. “They are here to be helpin’ people, and just now the front is what needs the most help, like as not. They’re not the sort to be in it just fer the glory, or the wimmen, or the money,” he assured the High Priest.

The group glanced at each other, knowing that Diony would likely speak up if he were there. However, he was not, and instead Irjan commented, “Von can gets wimmen dis vay?”

After the conversation was over, they joined the fighting wherever they could do the most good. There was still no word of their half-orc friend, and after a long day of fighting Kalad spent much of the night in meditative prayer at Moradin’s shrine.

Freeday, 28 Reaping, 1468 CY

The next morning, Diony and Skien finally awoke, feeling much refreshed and less broken than they had before the healers drugged them to help them sleep. Skien was quick to join the fight, dashing out during lulls in battle under the covering fire of Diony and the other archers, finishing off the last orcs and then helping bring the wounded back to the healers. His affliction made him tire sooner than the others tasked with those duties, but he used the extra rest time to try and study the ritual he had found that might help him.

Around mid-day, there was a bit of commotion in Bordrin’s Watch on the side away from the fighting. Any member of the Hordebane who was not in the middle of fighting was summoned, and Kalad pushed his way to the front of them when he arrived a few moments later. At the gate from the Dwarfroad where it led to Overlook, there stood a tangle of dwarves arguing and blocking the path of a half-orc who stood thoughtfully and patiently as she waited for them to sort themselves out. She held the guide rope of a horse in one hand and stroked its head with the other. The horse was hitched to an interesting contraption, a small flat platform on wheels, no bigger than two by three sturdy dwarven boots lined up end to end. Lashed to the platform with ropes was a giant roll of fabric at least as big around as the torso of the biggest dwarf standing in her way, and longer than Grymm would be if he were to lay down next to it.

It took but a few moments (and some good diplomacy rolls) for the Hordebane—and Kalad, with his gruff approval—to explain that L was an important member of their team, and that she had brought with her something of great importance to dwarven history. Thus, the Hordebane were reunited with their “pet orc”—a term that Forgeheart may or may not have started among the troops—and though their distrust of L did not go away no matter what was said, they did not dare to disrespect her openly after the first day (a number of them got involved in some kind of brawl during their break, and Kalad returned from his prayers with a broken nose that night).

Death Toll

Wave after wave of orcs were slain, in addition to the orog leader of the orc horde and his shadar-kai lover.

New Acquisitions
  • 377 XP to all players (Total: 5575). Everyone becomes Level 5!
  • 45 lb falchion with the black arrow emblem on its hilt picked up by Irjan
  • Dagger and rod picked up from the warlock by Grymm
  • Diony realized his burn gave the same benefit as a Fireheart Tattoo

Character Journals

Click your character’s link below to create your journal entry on a new wiki page:
Diony – Session 12
Skien – Session 12
Tanner – Session 12
Irjan – Session 12
Grymm – Session 12
Lilac – Session 12
That Bitch – Session 12

Alternatively, you each may pose a scenario by email or on facebook to foster PC interaction. A transcript of this character development will be copy-pasted in lieu of your journal entry.

A Dwarf's Tale
The Beginning of the End

Kalad grew more silent and purposeful as the group came closer to the Nexus. He took the time to show everyone the tapestry—a primitive blueprint of how the Nexus works—after Diony’s fiery defeat of the troll. The dwarf, like That Bitch took the time to utter a quick prayer to Moradin before the next fight. It was only after Grymm severed the tentacle that was choking him that Diony realized he must have sustained a serious burn from the encounter with the troll—he sought out That Bitch’s help, and soon was feeling much better and quite ecstatic about it too.

L pondered what she had learned from Kalad to this point, soaking in as much information as she could while Tanner spent their short resting period tending his own wounds and wishing the dagger they’d found was a rapier instead. Irjan poked around in the supply room with Skien, but only long enough to realize that anything of value was removed or used up long ago.

With everyone feeling a bit better—Diony especially so!—and rested, they set off to the Nexus to see what would be required to seal it and prevent the orcs from coming under the mountains to flank Bordrin’s Watch.

The Nearer the Goal...
The Higher the Death Toll
Waterday, 26 Reaping, 1468 CY

coming soon

Death Toll

Countless orcs, some fire beetles, a cave troll, and a cavern choker were murtilized during the production of this session. Also likely confirmed dead include the entire Farstriders adventuring party, including their sour-faced leader, Edgar Sommerfield.

New Acquisitions
  • 383 XP to all players (Total: 5198).
  • Fey Strike Dagger +1 taken by Tanner
  • Marauder’s Hide Armor +2 taken by Grymm
  • 2 Potions of Healing taken by ???
  • Moradin idol (art object) taken by That Bitch
  • 130gp added to Party Coin Purse

Character Journals

Click your character’s link below to create your journal entry on a new wiki page:
Diony – Session 11
Skien – Session 11
Tanner – Session 11
Irjan – Session 11
Grymm – Session 11
Lilac – Session 11
That Bitch – Session 11

Alternatively, you may pose a scenario by email or on facebook to foster PC interaction. A transcript of this character development will be copy-pasted in lieu of your journal entry.

Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Waterday, 26 Reaping, 1468 CY

Irjan blindly fumbled for a way to jam the door shut against the pounding feet and blood-thirsty snarls of still more orcs. Skien had just taken a breath from deactivating the traps in the hallway while Grymm, Tanner, and L lowered their weapons. Diony turned away from the crossbow turret he’d thoroughly jammed as That Bitch and Kalad walked casually down the gauntlet the others had fought through, deep in conversation about Moradin after having held their own against some orcs attacking from the rear. When they heard the orcs slamming into the door, nearly knocking Irjan off his feet, they rushed forward to see if they could buy the group a few minutes to rest before the next attack…

The Paladin's Purpose
and the timely arrival Moradin's messengers
Godsday, 25 Reaping, 1468 CY

The group got to know their newest addition, L, a little more while they waited for Irjan to return from scouting, and Skien spent some time fashioning a harness/leash with L to put around the drake he was trying to foster. When Irjan returned and mentioned a surviving dwarf, Tanner urged the others to hurry so they could save at least one of the Monastery’s dwarves—it was such a sad story to this point.

The others followed, and they ventured back down the tunnels (though the drake had to be left outside because it wasn’t accustomed to enclosed spaces), following Irjan’s lead. As they came closer to the brightly lit cavern before them, the roaring of flame and the anger of an orc made clear to Diony and a few others that the biggest orc—rather orog—was beating a dwarf senseless. It looked like a passage to this cavern had been collapsed, and a large fire blazed, blocking much of the rubble from view.

A magic missile hit the big brute in the back of the head, and he whirled, urging his soldiers to attack as he backhanded the dwarf and knocked the savagely-beaten paladin down in an unconscious heap. Grymm led the charge, savagely cutting down a soldier as Irjan and Diony loosed arrows and bolts alike. Some orcs heard the commotion from back in the tunnels and they came to attack the party from behind, but That Bitch told the others to fight onward and held them off single-handed, his hammer glowing with divine power.

Skien fought his way into the midst of battle, dealing increasing damage with his fullblade, but then the blazing fire started to spread. The shifter was the only one who could disengage from the fight, and he sprinted to the unconscious dwarf and pulled him away from the fire, stabilizing him and careful to also keep him away from the blazing-hot forges that burned along the sides of the cavern. L kept Diony and Grymm on their feet, and in a white-hot rage the berserker brought his axe down between the feet of the towering orog, embedding it deep in the floor. With a grunt of effort, he freed it from the stone, slicing the orog down the middle and disemboweling him.

The fight ended soon after, and the party searched for treasure and made their way back through the tunnels before the fire could spread much farther. They got a good look at the dwarf, seeing that his beard had been cut roughly from his face and he was covered with massive contusions and blood. Finally he awakened, croaking an oath to Moradin, and saw the party (except L who hung back for a little bit) for perhaps the first time. He introduced himself as Kalad, a paladin of Moradin, and expressed his thanks to the group for their timely arrival. He told Irjan he would have followed him, but he knew that the tunnel had to be closed before still more orcs could come through.

At mention of other groups—particularly the Farstriders—being sent to close other tunnels, he gathered himself up and demanded that all of them venture there to make sure the tunnels got closed. “The fate of all the people in Elsir Vale can’t be left in the hands of only one group!” he exclaimed. The Hordebane told him that rest was more important right now, but that they could venture out after resting to make sure the tunnels at the Vents had been sealed. Once his axe and armor had been retrieved from the Chamber of Works, Kalad was more than happy to collapse in a disarrayed heap, and he immediately began snoring.

The others made camp at the base of the stairs in the rocky valley between mountains, setting up an alarm ritual. Kalad was the first to rise, and for a dwarf he was remarkably stealthy. Only Diony heard him and tailed the dwarf the short distance to the stairs where the paladin knelt, hands resting heavily on the haft of his axe. He remained motionless for some time, and gave no appearance of noticing if he knew Diony had followed or quietly slipped away afterward.

As the others began to awaken, Kalad returned with a haunted look about him. He expressed the importance of moving on quickly, and urged haste in making ready for travel to the Vents. The climb up the stairs was longer going up than it seemed coming down, but Kalad’s plodding footsteps were as steady as the stone he walked upon, regardless of the orc bodies strewn across his path.

Reaching the Hall of Heroes, Kalad seemed even more shaken. The great hall had partially collapsed, with the ceiling on one side having fallen to thirty or forty foot height, the other closer to sixty. Rubble and pillars were strewn about, hiding dead ends and blocking obvious paths across to reach the stairs up to the sanctuary. All of that was forgotten was Kalad saw his fallen brothers. He strode forward purposefully and began removing the rubble that had fallen to partially bury his comrades.

Diony expressed impatience: “Isn’t it urgent that we get to the vents?” and this spurred an argument between Skien and Diony that the others couldn’t help but get caught up in as the dwarf tirelessly unveiled the dwarves. He offered only a simple explanation once he had finished, “They will return to stone,” and added that the ceiling would collapse in 5 minutes so they had better hurry.

L led Irjan along the side of the hall, finding slow passage through the rubble that didn’t require much climbing. The others used rope to clamber over fallen pillars and heaps of rubble to find their way to the stairs. Kalad shouted over his shoulder for the others to hurry as he reached the stairs, having seen the climbers safely up. Sure enough, the ceiling began to fall just as L pushed Irjan the last ten feet to get him onto the staircase. They hurried up the stairs as a cloud of dust billowed up behind them, just reaching the blood-soaked floor of the sanctuary as the thick cloud overtook them and dispersed in the less-confined room.

Though Kalad wasn’t one for navigating in the dark, Irjan proved useful in guiding the party through the night toward where they hoped to find the Vents.

Waterday, 26 Reaping, 1468 CY

In the early dawn, noxious, sulfurous fumes met Irjan’s senses, and as the sky lightened the others could see faint pillars of vapors rising into the sky. The party continued to approach, and soon came upon the remains of an extinguished campfire with a handful of horses tied up with empty feed bags hanging from their necks. They pawed anxiously at the ground but otherwise showed no reaction as the party approached and looked around the area. Diony found some tracks that led down into the vents, and soon—after tying the drake up outside to keep it from being poisoned by the sulfur fumes—the group ventured down into the maze of tunnels hazy with colored smoke.

Navigating the vents took some trial and error (with all the noxious fumes to go with it) but eventually the forward scouts heard some orcs arguing up ahead. Creeping closer, elf and dragonborn discovered a small band of orcs with one trying to urge the others into the yellow-green fumes in the tunnels while the others pointed back the way they had come. Irjan and Diony wasted no time, and the orcs didn’t know what had hit them: from the hazy tunnels, two projectiles took out the leader in one fell swoop, and then the others raced out to avoid being bottle-necked in the tunnels—particularly once some orcs came up from behind: Kalad and That Bitch served as rear guard to protect their flank. The orcs fought hard, albeit poorly. In the midst of battle, Diony went down a few steps for better position, and realized that he was standing next to two pressure plates. When the orcs fell, he pointed them out to the others.

They discovered a familiar face on one of the orcs—well, familiar to everyone except L—one orc had the head of Jen, the charismatic warlock from the Farstriders, hanging from his belt. Though the group as a whole was pretty elitist and obnoxious, she had been nice enough to wish the Hordebane luck. After gathering the rest of the orcs belongings that were of interest, they proceeded to examine the long hallway that was before them. Diony continued looking for pressure plates—though he didn’t more than four—and L took a look at the constructs that stood motionless two-thirds of the way down the corridor.

The artificer determined that these constructs were guarding something, and with many pairs of eyes (not including Irjan’s), they spotted a control panel at the end of the hall that likely controlled all of the defenses. Slowly, with care to avoid any pressure plates, the group advanced toward the control panel. However, when they came within thirty feet of one of the constructs, the iron dogs charged to attack, and crossbow turrets emerged from the walls to fire barbed bolts at anyone within range.

Thinking quickly, Diony tried to jam one of the crossbow turrets with one of his own bolts, particularly once he discovered how painful the traps’ attacks were. Skien raced past the fight to reach the control panel, and received a lot of painful attention as ranged weapons turned to fire on him. Eventually, L made it past the skirmish to assist him with disabling the defenses, and the Hordebane survived the gauntlet.

Irjan felt his way up to the doors at the end of the large hallway, and discovered that they were not locked. Before anyone realized what he was doing, he opened the door slightly and heard an orc shout from beyond and then pounding feet. The dragonborn swiftly closed the door and attempted to jam it closed with the glaive he had picked up to serve as a walking stick. He braced himself to hold the doors as the others scrambled awkwardly to help him, and the orcs pounding feet came ever closer…

Death Toll

Orcs and the great orog hero, Og, were killed. The Farstrider’s warlock, Jen, is presumed dead after her head was found in the possession of an orc. Also some dwarven defenses in the Gauntlet were disabled.

New Acquisitions
  • 515 XP to all players (Total: 4815).
  • Kalad the dwarven paladin was rescued in the Chamber of Works where he sealed the tunnel
  • Bracers of Archery taken by Diony
  • Flensing Spear +1 taken by Grymm
  • 2 Potions of Healing taken by ???
  • 2 gems and 80gp added to Party Coin Purse

Character Journals

Click your character’s link below to create your journal entry on a new wiki page:
Diony – Session 10
Skien – Session 10
Tanner – Session 10
Irjan – Session 10
Grymm – Session 10
Lilac – Session 10

That Bitch – Session 10

Thoughtful Moments
They happen between battles...sometimes.
Godsday, 25 Reaping, 1468 CY

While Irjan trailed the archers and Skien cared for the drake he’d managed to acquire, the others had a moment to reflect. That Bitch noticed that his beard had returned to its former state of glory (perhaps even better than before), and Tanner, Grymm, and Diony could take the time to get to know L better. After all, it seemed that this half-orc was firmly dedicated to the cause of helping them against the orc horde…

When the dragonborn returned with news of still more orcs (and a dwarf: we mustn’t forget that!), it became clear that the Hordebane had a lot more work ahead of them if they wanted to stay true to their name.

Recovering Lost Ground
Sleepless nights make for better killing--really brings down the house.
Godsday, 25 Reaping, 1468 CY

The party descended the stairs to the Hall of Heroes where—just hours earlier—they had found nearly two dozen dwarves slain before they could don their armor. It was barely dawn, but they all shook off sleep like a flea-infested blanket and hurried faster.

Downstairs, they met the horde as they charged through the Hall, trampling dwarven bodies as they came. Irjan stood back and fired into the fray while Grymm and That Bitch quickly got into the thick of things. Tanner and Diony were a little more cautious as they entered battle, and Skien appeared to join the fight more decorously—at least for a few moments. After running through the shadows on the side of the battle, he leaped in to fight the orcs threatening Grymm’s flank, setting one of them and himself ablaze with radiant auras. The newcomer, L, was a great deal of help as she laid her traps for the orcs, and healed the others as the larger orcs and orogs beat at her new-found allies.

A witch doctor who urged the orcs horde onward dashed forward when the leader fell with discouraging expedience and snatched the silver hunting horn from his belt. She let out thunderous blasts that left Irjan’s ears ringing painfully, and rattled the pillars of the room. After a few more blasts like that and the sounds of cracking stone, one of the pillars by Tanner toppled over, pinning down all in its path. Tanner had to wriggle his way free, but Skien merely pushed the heavy pillar over onto an orc, crushing him instead. That Bitch let out words of his faith and heaved with all his strength…and found more strength than he new was there. Moradin’s grace filled him, and he lifted the entire pillar, saving others the trouble of freeing themselves, and plunked it down on more orcs. He would notice later that his beard had fully grown in, and he no longer had need to fear that his daughter would not recognize him.

And maybe everyone can let that pitch incident drop. Maybe. ;)

The witch doctor with the horn managed to escape to the long stairs, and when the Skien peeked over the edge he was rewarded with a number of arrows flying at him. The next fight began as the orcs rushed up the stairs at the crone’s urging. The group worked together, picking off weaker orcs and setting up traps for the stronger ones. While some of the others hung back in the collapsing Hall of Heroes checking the bodies, Skien dumped burning braziers down on the orcs climbing the stairs, creating fiery zones that seared the life out of many an orc. Finally Irjan joined the others and began firing back at the orcs’ artillery. The last big brute was knocked from the top landing by That Bitch (after much encouragement from Grymm’s attempts), but somehow he caught himself on the stairs far below and began climbing again. As Irjan’s arrow decapitated him, the archers turned and ran. They would not soon forget the Hordebane’s ranged prowess.

Irjan turned himself invisible and trailed the archers into the next set of tunnels. He overheard some orcs talking, saying words that he later learned from L meant “dwarf” and “emissary,” and another repeated word, possibly a name: “og.” On his way out of the tunnels, he heard someone trying to be sneaksie who wasn’t very good at it. After a bit of listening, he realized that it was a dwarf! He tried to tell the dwarf to follow him, as he had friends who were there to help, but the dwarf chose not to follow when Irjan left to return to his companions by the stairs.

Meanwhile, Skien went looking for the spiretop drake he’d been feeding, and discovered that it had followed the trail of bodies, nibbling here and there. It had found one of the dwarven bodies in the Hall of Heroes, and he quickly lured it away with offers of tastier jerky. Though the beast had only had one day to get to know the shifter, it’d had more salted meat in those 24 hours than in the rest of its life…apparently it has a taste for such things.

Once back together—and once the drake stopped nipping to get more food—the group had rested up and prepared descend the stairs to fight the orcs again, and maybe save the dwarf Irjan heard.

Death Toll

A large number of orcs were slain during the production of today’s session…only 5 escaped death at the hands of the Hordebane. For now.

New Acquisitions
  • 343 XP to all players (Total: 4300).
  • A half-orc artificer named “L”, Ell, or Elle officially joined the party. Yay!!
  • A spiretop drake is still hanging around, presumably looking for food.
  • Lots of mundane weapons and armor with black arrow sigils on the hilts, and a fur cloak.

Character Journals

Click your character’s link below to create your journal entry on a new wiki page:
Diony – Session 9
Skien – Session 9
Tanner – Session 9
Irjan – Session 9
Grymm – Session 9
That Bitch – Session 9
Lilac – Session 9

Did I Leave the Gas On?
And other less-than-optimal ways to wake up from an extended rest.

Skien cast his alarm ritual and quickly ushered the others up the stairs to open air where they could breathe more easily. Tanner followed, the spring leeched from his step by all the carnage and the bitter taste of arriving moments too late. Irjan saw nothing, but he did not need to see to know that terrible things surrounded him…in some ways it was worse because he could only smell it, feel it ripple through his allies’ hearts, touch it with the end of his walking stick…and his imagination ran rampant with what information it had. Diony kept his distance from the half-orc newcomer, “L,” choosing not to trust her as he was wont to do, but Grymm had no such qualms and the two talked in quiet voices much of the night as neither could rightly sleep. That Bitch couldn’t sleep either. He gazed past his hammer where it lay just within reach to stare into the banked campfire from his bedroll.

Finally something happened.

Skein bolted upright, and raised the alarm that some orcs had passed through the alarm zone he’d set up. Hastily gathering their things, the bleary-eyed adventurers rushed back into the monastery to meet the horde head on.

Late for Evening Mass
The massacre the Hordebane couldn't prevent
Moonday, 24 Reaping, 1468 CY

After picking up some healing potions and other supplies at the Elsir Consortium, the party headed out toward the mountains. At the gate, they managed to leave just before the Farstriders, and Jen wished the Hordebane luck in their tasks. But her kindness could not make up for the sour expressions of the Farstrider’s leader as he pointedly ignored the warlock’s diplomatic discourse with a rival group. The large fighter, looking none too bright, seemed oblivious as he followed on toward the gate; likewise, the twin elves armed with bows seemed either blissfully unaware of the tension, or well practiced at avoiding involvement.

Heartened by the fact that not all of the Farstriders were overconfident to the point of stand-offish arrogance, the Hordebane marched onward into the mountains to attend to the Council’s mission. Finding the monastery shouldn’t have been difficult, but with all the twisting paths and sheer cliffs along the way, the journey was taxing for everyone. Diony and Irjan managed to keep the group quiet enough to avoid detection as they climbed higher and higher into the Stonehome Mountains, but wrong turns were still fatiguing even without a hungry griffon or cavebear coming to call. As the sun went down, from a higher outcropping Skien spotted the monastery under the spire shaped like a down-turned hammer—it looked like a few torches were lit in the courtyard—and he led the group down the path toward the tall stone walls that surrounded the large building.

When they approached the fifty-foot stone walls, even though they could see the shape of the domed, red-tiled roof of the monastery beyond, they could not see evidence of the torches they’d thought were lit earlier—but Irjan and Diony both smelled the smoke from a cooking fire on the night air.

The two stealthy ones pushed the doors open (or at least tried to), while Tanner, Grymm, and Skien crowed behind to get a good look. The cooking fires were in the courtyard, and sitting around them were orcs! Taking advantage of the orcs’ inattention, everyone got into position and began taking down the orcs one by one.

The Hordebane quickly moves inside of the monastery where they find the Hall of Moradin overrun and in the process of being defaced. The brilliant mural of dwarves fighting giants depicted on the dome of the massive chamber seemed at odds with the remains of brave dwarf priests and paladins littering the floor, their blood cooling on the stone in viscous pools. Four archers stood on the balcony overhead, and their bellybows fired bolts at least as lethal as Irjan’s arrows. While Grymm rushed forward to attack the orc crone smearing filth on the altar, Skien clambered up to take down one of the archers. Diony also crept up to ambush another archer, and he went down in one hit. Tanner pointed out targets to Irjan since the size of the chamber made it difficult to sense where the enemies were. Another archer shot Skien in the shoulder and threw him over the balcony’s railing. He flailed and caught the edge, still clinging to his sword. Another bolt from Diony took out another archer as Skien flipped back up to take his revenge on the archer who had knocked him over. Tanner and Irjan finally hurried in to help Grymm as orc reinforcements burst up from a secret staircase beneath the dais, and with their teamwork all of the orcs fell to blade, bolt, and arrow.

Skien immediately began gathering the bodies of the slain, ignoring his own condition to separate the dwarven and orcish dead. The others took a breather and looked up in surprise (or perked up in the case of Irjan), when a secret door at the back of the hall opened to reveal a half-orc woman. She peered out cautiously, and asked if all the orcs had gone. Diony stated, “Apparently not,” but despite his sarcasm the party managed to talk with her and learn that she was not associated with the attacking orcs. She had hidden herself in the “library” (little more than a few books on shelves with barely room to turn around in) when the orcs bubbled up and took the dwarves by surprise.

Her information about more orcs and possibly more dwarves below led Skien to abandon his preparation of the dead and the group moved on down the long spiral stair cast that had been revealed when the orc reinforcements had arrived.

Godsday, 25 Reaping, 1468 CY

The night progressed as the party continued onward, descending the stone spiral staircase for what seemed like an eternity. Skien felt different somehow, as though a fog was settling around him, but he had little time to analyze this new feeling before the end of the staircase finally came and another dozen orcs charged into the the attack. Some of these were different, half-orc and half-ogre, and the largest of them nearly divorced Diony from his limbs. Grymm rushed to the elf’s aid—as did L, for she was a healer of sorts. Plagued by a splitting headache and bizarre cramps in his hands, shoulders, and calves, Skien planted his Battle Standard of Might before wading into the fray. Eventually they took down all of the orcs and half-orc-ogres (orogs?), and Skien once again set about arranging the bodies of the fallen dwarves in this grand Hall of Heroes. The carnage was obscene: dead dwarves had littered the floor—some still in their nightclothes—blood painting the gray stone tiles, walls, columns…Everyone was glad That Bitch had stayed upstairs to watch over Moradin’s fallen followers up top.

The group considered resting, but Diony, Irjan, and Grymm scouted ahead to see where the chamber let out…it looked like the far end of the chamber was open to the mountain air. Skien and Tanner put their heads together over what might be causing his migraines, and L pointed out that something was clinging to Skien, associated with aggression, like some sort of affliction or curse. After a few minutes, Skien was angry with Tanner and blamed his aunt for cursing him. They spoke (somewhat) quietly with each other as the other members of the Hordebane peered down into the chasm, seeing that a long staircase and series of landings led down to the bottom of the chasm over 100 feet below.

Diony pointed out some torches that were moving, and said that they were more orcs! They rounded up the others and set up an ambush to fire down at the orcs as they climbed the stairs. With Grymm and L spotting for Diony and Irjan (via bolt and arrow), and Tanner (via magic missiles), many of the orcs went down before they knew what had hit them. The scarred orog at the back of the orcish party shoved forward and began racing up the stairs while his archers returned fire. Diony took a bolt that grazed his side, tearing through cloth and armor with disturbing ease, but he still managed to put another bolt in an orc’s forehead. All of the shooting disturbed a nest of spiretop drakes, and they descended upon adventurers and orcs alike, looking to steal shiny objects. In absence of shiny objects, they settled for a toothy bite. Diony suffered one such bite, and the drake managed to get to his jugular. Grymm rushed down the stairs to help Diony as Skien moved to head off the orog charging up the stairs, and stopped the drake from doing further damage to the elf. L once again healed Diony, and he opened his eyes just as Grymm cleaved the drake in two. Skien took down the orog and attempted to tame the single spiretop drake that had not yet been attacked. He spent a lot of jerky to gain the little drake’s trust, but eventually the drake began following him around for food purposes if nothing else. Irjan picked up one of the bows the archers had been using, finding its heft to be similar to his usual walking stick. He decided it suited him well.

The group was exhausted by this time, so Skien set up an Alarm ritual on the bottom landing and the group looked for a place to rest—eventually settling on the courtyard upstairs, outside of the Hall of Moradin, because at least there was fresh air. And then they could fill That Bitch in on what they had learned.

Death Toll

At least 25 dwarves perished at the Monastery of the Sundered Chain at the hands of orcs. Many more orcs were slain during the production of this session.

New Acquisitions
  • 670 XP to all players (Total: 3957).
  • Duelist’s Bow +2
  • 130 gp, 700 sp added to Party Coin Purse
  • A half-orc artificer named “L”, Ell, or Elle was found in the hidden “library” of the Monastery of the Sundered Chain. She has joined the party for the time being.
  • Skien collected a number of holy symbols and personal effects/mementos from the fallen dwarves.

Character Journals

Click your character’s link below to create your journal entry on a new wiki page:
Diony – Session 8
Skien – Session 8
Tanner – Session 8
Irjan – Session 8
Grymm – Session 8

That Bitch – Session 8

The Mission
Should You Choose to Accept It...
Moonday, 24 Reaping, 1468 CY

Welcome to High Hall friends. I am Elder Cadrick. I don’t much see the point in bandying words, so I’ll lay it out for you. War is upon us. A great host of orcs comes from the west. Their intention is clear. They will come through the mountains bent on slaughter. Those they spare can look forward to a short life of slavery. Overlook, and Bordrin’s Watch in the mountains, have long held fast against these raids, but our scouts say never has such an army gathered. Thus, we turn to you brave souls to help defend not only Overlook, but also all the Elsir Vale.

When the orcs arrive, we’re certain they will come up through the pass. We know this because already there have been attacks from the tunnels below, compromising the fastness. The defenders have fought back the savages, but it’s clear the rest are coming and fast.

So here’s the plan. Durkik Forgeheart will lead the militias and most of you to bolster Bordrin’s Watch. Orc trailblazers infest the tunnels below, so we’ve tasked their security to the Farstriders. One more mission remains, though. We need a group to evacuate the monastery on the other side of the mountains. It’s dangerous work, what with the orcs and all, but priests need a warning of what’s coming if they don’t know already.

Do we have any volunteers?

That Bitch‘s hand shot up almost of its own volition, and finally Tanner spotted the Hordebane from across the enormous chamber packed wall to wall with adventurers. It’s only because he was headed in that direction that he saw a richly dressed gentleman step forward angrily to retort, “Should I remind the Council of our previous arrangement?” The dwarf on the dais nodded, hands gesturing for the man to remain calm. He dismissed the other adventurers and welcomed the Hordebane to the dais to give details about the mission. Tanner lost sight of his friends in the sea of adventurers, but the others saw the same man, Edgar Sommerfield, hold a heated conversation with the Elder before storming out, the rest of his adventuring party following behind him.

Diony was pleased to learn of the reward that awaited them upon completing the evacuation of the monastery, satisfied that the dwarves would indeed pay well for the Hordebane’s services. The minor details taken care of, they headed out of the High Hall, only to encounter a dragonborn with a look similar to Irjan. Their conversation was hard to follow—what with the heavy accents and all—but Irjan later said that was his brother, Danobre.

The ladies of The Green Hand took a moment to wish the party luck in their quest before heading off toward the Stone Anvil to meet with Forgeheart. A local adventuring group originally from Talar, the Freeriders, also stopped to give their regards. The dwarf among them shook hands with everyone, thanking them for lending their abilities to protect the followers of Moradin. Without another word, he headed off toward the cathedral as well with his companions.

The sun is high in the sky, and the city is bustling with activity—perhaps a little more anxiously with the looming threat in the back of everyone’s minds. There’s a little time to pick up some additional supplies, but there’s still a hike through the Stonehome Mountains to worry about…plus any orcs you might encounter along the way.


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