The Sword of Bothh

Game 8
Feather and Bone

—The Red Eagle, Moran and Thorax emerged from the basin of the waterfall, sputtering water out of their mouths, gasping for breath.
—Red Eagle was most happy to be free of the water, and he choked and gasped for air with a laugh of triumph before downing a swig of strong spirits to calm his nerves.
—As they pulled themselves onto the sun-baked stone encircling the basin, they cleared their eyes, and observed the Stormlands before them.
—A battlefield stretched far before them under the azure sky, covered in the dead. Orcs lay broken and burning in the sun, their bodies reeking of decay.
—The party members could clearly see that this battle was fought between Yatur’s forces and forces led by Wargoth’s army – the battle they had been headed toward just after the party had left to search for the sword. Banners fluttered in the wind over the dead.
—It became clear very quickly as the party members strode into the battlefield that the fight had ended over a day ago. There appeared to be no survivors.
—It was also very clear who had won the battle. The dead on the side of Grom numbered far more than those of Wargoth’s forces.
—Moran became puzzled by this, as did Thorax. Moran questioned aloud what had happened to cause such an imbalance of losses on their side.
—Just then, a hoarse voice called out. Moran strained to hear, and heard the voice call again. The voice was shouting Red Eagle’s name.
—Red Eagle heard it too, and immediately sprang into action, running forward and searching for the source of the voice.
—Moran and Thorax hung back, still assessing the aftermath of the battle around them.
—Red Eagle tore over the battlefield, looking desperately for the one who had called out, hoping desperately that it hadn’t been in his mind.
—Suddenly, he noticed that beneath him were familiar faces lying on the broken ground, eyes staring blankly at the sun.
—White feathers littered the ground around his clan members, the Cursed Dawn.
—Suddenly, a hand lifted and dropped, signalling to Red Eagle that he was alive.
—He ran forward, and heaved the body from beneath several others. The Orc that he pulled free from the pile of the dead was named Clutch, and had lost both of his legs in the battle.
—The Orc shivered, very pale in the sunlight. He looked very close to death, his blood staining his white feathers.
—Red Eagle shook with sorrow as he looked into the eyes of his companion.
—“…Our feathers are the same colour now…” Red Eagle said, almost in hysterics.
—Clutch looked up at him weakly. “…I fear my feathers will never be as red as yours, brother.”
—Red Eagle stifled a sob, but held his composure. “It is only a curse, brother. It shall pass.”
—Clutch coughed, sending droplets of blood down his chin. “That curse is on fewer shoulders now.”
—Red Eagle asked Clutch how many of the Cursed Dawn had survived.
—Clutch lifted an arm, and patted Red Eagle on his forearm, shaking his head. “You are the Cursed Dawn now, brother. You must carry this curse alone.”
—The news hit red Eagle hard. However, he knew that he had little time left with Clutch, and pressed him further for information. He asked how this had happened, how Yatur’s army had been defeated.
—Clutch coughed again. He told him that it had been a betrayal by the Chainspikes and the Stonesmashers. He revealed that they had attacked from within the ranks as soon as the battle with Wargoth’s forces started.
—Outraged, Red Eagle spat and said he would cut their heads from their shoulders.
—Clutch went on to say that that they had acted under a leader. Clutch said that Shamob the White Oracle had revealed himself a traitor, and led the army of Wargoth from within the ranks of Grom’s forces.
—With this, Red Eagle became enraged. He suppressed his fury to speak final words to Clutch, who began to gasp with the effort of staying alive.
—“The sun sets with me, brother…” Clutch said, his eyes fluttering.
—The Red Eagle became stoic and solemn as he stared into the eyes of his dying friend. “I am the true bird of prey.” He said. He then grasped Clutch by the head, and snapped his neck.
—Moran and Thorax stood a ways off, observing from afar. Red Eagle fell into despair, barely able to withstand the sorrow that overtook him. He kept whispering that he was the “true bird of prey”, and that he had “become the war”.
—Moran and Thorax knew these to be the ramblings of a man wracked with grief, and allowed him to feel his pain as they moved ahead to search for more survivors.
—They strode for over fifteen minutes across the battlefield and did not encounter another soul.
—They saw many banners erected flying Wargoth’s sigil – a green, feral hound with crab’s claws on a black background. As they walked, Red Eagle idly burned each banner he saw, reducing the symbol to cinders.
—They eventually came to a clearing. A circle had been left empty of bodies, and looked as though it had been wracked by a great wind from its centre point, radiating outwards.
—The group puzzled over it for a time before a voice uttered behind them.
—They turned to see General Yatur propped up against a banner close by. They rushed to his side, and saw that he had been beaten during the battle. He was missing a leg and an eye, and he had an ugly wound on his ribs. However, it appeared that Yatur would survive his injuries – he was clearly spared from death somehow.
—Moran approached, and looked at his former General with disgust.
—“I am sorry that you did not die in battle, Yatur.” Moran said with pity and disdain.
—Yatur looked up at him with shame. “I am sorry for this as well. I was robbed of my death by Shamob.” Yatur explained that Shamob intentionally left him alive, knowing full well that this would be a far worse fate than death for an Orc.
—Yatur had challenged him to single-combat and had lost. Moran asked what remained of Shamob, and Yatur told him that he had left after the battle had been won, the army in his wake.
—Moran made it very clear how little respect he had for Yatur and his decisions given the fact that Shamob had proven himself to be a traitor. Yatur seemed to accept these criticisms without defence. He understood that he had been robbed of his honour.
—Red Eagle approached at this, and told Yatur that he himself had lost his honour only days ago (in reference to the death of Gurshh). He told Yatur to stand and learn to live with his shame.
—Yatur seemed too defeated to respond in kind, however, and told them that he must live with the shame he had earned.
—Moran agreed, refusing even to provide Yatur with a quick death.
—They asked where Shamob had gone. Yatur told them that Shamob had cackled about using the Bloodspring to gain control over Orcish kind, and left for the mountains to the north.
—Yatur told them that with Shamob’s powers as an oracle, his powers using the Bloodspring would be incalculable. He told them that he needed to be stopped if the Orcs were to remain free. However, Yatur’s voice held no hope.
—Moran asked if they had sent word to Grom about Shamob’s betrayal. Yatur told them that they had attempted to send envoys as soon as the betrayal was apparent, but they could not tell whether any of them had made it, as the battle enclosed around them.
—Red Eagle approached, and told Yatur to observe the fact that they had recovered the Sword of Bothh.
—Incredulous, Yatur exclaimed that he had not thought it possible that they would have succeeded. Shamob had told Yatur before he had left for the Bloodspring that he had sent the party members to find the sword to rid Grom’s army of the strongest clan leaders and their prying eyes.
—Yatur told them that they must bring the sword to Grom immediately.
—However, Moran and Red Eagle disagreed. Red Eagle told Yatur outright that he had no intention of letting go of the sword. Moran told Yatur that he no longer gave orders to him, with the army defeated. Grom’s forces could do without the sword for long enough for them to confront Shamob about his atrocities.
—Yatur told them that Shamob would have an army with him, and would be difficult to defeat. However, Red Eagle showed him the sword again, and told him that they were capable of much more than he presumed.
—With that, they left Yatur to his shame, and strode away from the battlefield.
—Thorax, Red Eagle and Moran discussed what they had learned.
—They concluded that Grom’s forces in the south would not be aware of Shamob’s traitorous intent, and resolved that they must solve the issue themselves.
—Thorax brought up that he could bring the remaining White Wasps with him from their homeland which was not too far away. However he said it would take days for his army to reach them, especially since he would have to walk there.
—Red Eagle grabbed the small stone statue of the eagle , and threw it to the ground, where it became a giant eagle composed of red stone.
—He told Thorax to fly to his clan, allowing them to reach the Bloodspring more quickly. Thorax agreed, and bade them farewell as he climbed aboard and flew off into the distance.
—Red Eagle and Moran discussed what to do next. Moran calculated that Shamob’s forces would not yet have reached the Bloodspring, as the battle had ended a day ago, and the Bloodspring was two days away.
—Red Eagle and Moran agreed that they would cover more ground more quickly if they forced themselves to continue to run, and so they found the tracks of Shamob’s forces, and they took off at a sprint over the grassy hills and toward the mountains to the north of Drobaan.
—The first day went by with the two jogging under the baking sun. They covered a good amount of ground at the pace they ran, and needed to stop only once for a meal.
—They downed a gazelle that grazed on the plains using Red Eagle’s boomerang, and the two paused to feast and converse before travelling forward.
—The run seemed to be making Red Eagle hoarse, as his voice sounded more gravelly than normal. Moran began wistuflly laughing and joking, and brought up Red Eagle’s fear of water.
—Red Eagle was solemn and stoic, explaining that his first clan were drowned in water. He was the only one that survived, having gone on to join the Cursed Dawn.
—Moran had sympathy for his companion, and lamented the fact that Red Eagle was, once again, the last of his clan.
—The two finished their meal, and ran off after their quarry once again.
—They ran all through the night, and well into the next day before stopping. The sun baked particularly hot this day as they approached the hottest part of Drobaan.
—They were forced to stop due to their thirst, and plunged their faces into a stream. Moran drank deeply, gasping for air when he had drank his fill.
—Red Eagle had trouble with the water, his fears of it overtaking him slightly in his fatigue. Moran reassured him, and told him that he must drink if they are to continue. He then laughed, and splashed water at him, telling him that it wasn’t so much water.
—Red Eagle cooled his nerves, and drank deeply of the stream. He mentioned how cold he had gotten, and that the warmth from the sun did nothing.
—Moran became concerned at the tone of his voice and his darker demeanour. He closed his eyes allowing the stone in his forehead to see.
—He encountered nothing however, and opened his eyes normally.
—The two finished their drink, and then got to their feet to complete the journey.
—At long last they reached the foothills of the Bloodspring mountains. Night had just fallen, and in their fatigue they found a small cave and made camp. Red Eagle collapsed into sleep immediately, while Moran seemed intent on leaving the cave to scout ahead. However, he fell asleep immediately as well, unable to soldier on.
—They were awoken four hours later by the screeching of an eagle. Red Eagle was roused by the sound of his stone eagle alighting onto the floor of the cave. It scampered over to him, and stood on his arm as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
—The eagle spoke with him telepathically, and Red Eagle asked it a variety of questions. The eagle statue told him that The White Wasps were marching toward the Bloodspring, and that it would take them some time to reach them. It went on to tell him that Shamob was at the mountaintop, ready to perfom some ritual.
—Red Eagle allowed the stone eagle to return to its normal shape, and stowed it in his pack.
—Moran rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, and groggily stood, ready to move out. Red Eagle told him the information the eagle had given him, and the two decided that they must set out before Shamob was able to do any more to Orcish kind.
—The two left the cave, and started up the rough, dusty red mountain slope.
—Red Eagle marched proudly through the cliffs, while Moran took a more more hidden approach, staying low on the rocks overlooking the mountain pass.
—They walked for a long while, snaking their way up the pass toward the Bloodspring at the peak.
—After long hours of walking, they rounded a corner, and Red Eagle spotted a contingent of six Chainspikes standing ready near an archway.
—The Chainspikes saw him immediately as well, and the two paused for a moment before responding. Moran held his breath on the rocks above nearby, unseen by the soldiers guarding the arch.
—However, the Chainspikes made the first move. The six of them stood aside, and pulled their chains taut in attention. They then cried in unison “Warchief!” acknowledging Red Eagle.
—Stunned, Moran watched the scene below unfold. Red Eagle took a few steps forward. “Are you loyal to me?” He asked boldly, no trace of fear in his gravelly voice.
—“Yes, Warchief!” was the unified response from the Chainspikes.
—“And would you swear your loyalty to me?” Red Eagle enquired.
—The Chainspikes drew their spiked chains over their forearms in unison, drawing blood. “To the death, we swear your oath, Warchief!”
—Red Eagle nodded, and moved past them into the pass. The Chainspikes filed in rank behind him, leaving Moran on the cliffs, dumbfounded.
—As Moran followed behind up the cliffs, more Orcs filed in rank behind Red Eagle, or stood aside as he passed. Eventually, they came to the top of the mountain where the Bloodspring lay.
—Moran dropped down into the crowd, blending in with those around him, still observing Red Eagle as he moved ahead of them all.
—The Bloodspring was a dry, dusty basin carved into the earth, more than 40 feet in diameter, and ten feet deep at its deepest. All around the empty basin were gravestones, marking the resting places of fallen warchiefs.
—Moran closed his eyes to observe the ghosts of the warchiefs hovering over them. They noticed Moran do so, and each one pointed toward the basin of the Bloodspring.
—Around the Bloodspring were six specific stone grave markers. Five of them were large and grey, while one was small and jet black, engraved with a sword.
—All of the graves held the spirits of warchiefs, but the black grave was empty.
—Behind each of the graves stood priestesses, chanting with their arms outstretched. Their foreheads held symbols carved in red, which glowed in the firelight.
—In the centre of the basin was Shamob the White Oracle, who turned with his arms outstretched, garbed in red as Red Eagle approached the side of the Bloodspring. The Orcs encircled the basin, and fell silent as Shamob raised his hands up for quiet.
—“Welcome back, Bothh! Warchief of the Orcs!” Shamob uttered, pointing directly at the Red Eagle.
—The Orcs cheered and began chanting Bothh’s name.
—Red Eagle and Moran were equally stunned. Red Eagle became confused. “Half-Orc…I am here to make you answer…” He trailed off, his mind muddied.
—“You know me, my master, my Warchief. I am Shamob, and we are friends. We have always been friends, all through the great wars, all those years ago. Look upon me and know me, my master!” Shamob’s words seemed to awaken something in Red Eagle.
—“…You… Are… Shamob. You are my companion… I…”
—“…I am BOTHH!”
—Red Eagle shouted these last words, and he believed them to be true. Moran began forcing his way nearer to Red Eagle as the crowd around him surged and chanted his name.
—“Yes!” Shamob cried. “That sword you carry has bled into you, as I knew that it would! For you see, that sword was carried by Bothh himself so many years ago! It was passed on to the warchiefs that followed him until it was finally imprisoned away, and guarded by those vile Stormcallers!”
—He stepped toward Red Eagle “But now, it has found a new home, in you! And that is where my master will remain! I will use the energies of the Bloodspring to fully resurrect Bothh in your body, and my master will walk here once again – to lead us to our salvation!!!”
—The Orcs cheered again, and Shamob turned on the spot, his hand outstretched dramatically.
—Moran took this opportunity to run to Red Eagle’s side.
—“Red Eagle, you’re still in there! Remember who you are!!” Moran called to him desperately.
—The Red Eagle turned slowly, his eyes dark. “I… Am.. Bothh!! I am the Warchief! I am WAR!!”
—Moran shouted at him “That sword is what makes you think you are Bothh! If anyone carried it, they would feel the same effect! Fight it!”
—However, as he shouted, Shamob turned.
—“What is this?” Shamob said incredulously. “A friend come to save the Red Eagle? I am granting him a gift! He will be a god resurrected in body, and he will bring glory to Orcish kind!”
—Moran shook his head. “This is foolishness! If that sword were held by anyone, it would turn them into Bothh! So why must it be him?!”
—“It chose him! He was strong enough to claim it, and he is powerful enough to wield it. He has been selected, and the transformation has already begun!”
—Moran lunged forward toward Red Eagle, attempting to grab hold of him. “I’ll take it from you, and break the THING IN TWO!”
—However, the Red Eagle/Bothh stopped him, and shifted the grapple from Moran’s control to Bothh’s easily, forcing him to his knees before Shamob.
—Shamob chuckled and walked forward. “A non-believer? Before you stands the spirit of the first Warchief – the one true Warchief, and you spout blasphemy?”
—The Orcs around the clearing shouted cries of “Blasphemy!”. The priestesses began a low chant, which rose to a fever pitch as the Orcs joined in.
—“Any Orc could weild the sword, and become Bothh! I’ll shatter it into a thousand pieces so that every Orc might share this ‘glory’!”
—Shamob laughed again, and then bellowed “If you’re so sure, Ghostmarrow, then why don’t we make this attack official?”
—Suddenly, both Red Eagle/Bothh and Moran were lifted from the ground, and thrust on either side of the basin. Shamob walked into the air, hovering fifteen feet from the ground.
—“If you wish to challenge the greatest Warchief who ever lived, I will not stop you!” Bellowed Shamob, his eyes blazing. “Try it if you can, and you will die! Your death shall prove the might of Warchief Bothh!!”
—Red Eagle/Bothh stood facing Moran, drawing his twin flaming blades, the Sword of Bothh on his back.
—Moran shook his head, and stared straight into his opponent’s eyes. “You’re always asking me if I have the key, Red Eagle,” he said, tying a bandage over his eyes. He opened his third eye, and saw that Red Eagle was now engulfed by the spirit of Bothh, his ghostly body overlapping him.
—“Well, I’ve got the key. I’ll get you out of there, my friend.”
—The battle began with Moran running straight for Red Eagle/Bothh. Just as he closed in, he dodged to the right, and around to Red Eagle/Bothh’s back.
—As he ran, Moran attempted to attack the Sword of Bothh upon his opponent’s back, but was unable to hit as he moved.
—Red Eagle/Bothh attempted a strike as he moved past, and cut deeply into Moran with a heavy sword strike.
—Moran was wounded by the hit, and was therefore unable to get good enough aim on the sword for a second attack.
—Red Eagle/Bothh retaliated by spinning round and attmepting to grab Moran by the throat. Moran narrowly avoided his opponent’s grasp by ducking around him, reaching his back once more.
—He fired off a powerful strike with his fist, knowing that this one would strike true.
—However, when his fist collided with the Sword of Bothh, the sword turned black as night for an instant, and did not seem to bear any sign that it had been struck.
—Shamob laughed as he witnessed this. “Fool! The Sword of Bothh cannot be destroyed by anyone! Not even the spirits themselves could rend that sword apart!”
—Moran cursed and instead attempted to disarm Red Eagle/Bothh. He attempted twice to wrest the sword from his foe’s back, but he was shaken free by the powerful Orc.
—However, Shamob’s words jogged something in Moran’s mind. He looked with his spirit-seeing eye at the sword, and noticed that it seemed to have cords of ghostly energy running directly to the black grave that sat near the edge of the basin.
—Before Moran could act on his instincts, Red Eagle/Bothh grabbed him bodily from behind in an arm lock.
—“I am the true bird of prey…” Red Eagle/Bothh whispered in a saddened voice.
—Understanding that his friend was still in there, Moran broke free of the grapple, and ran full-tilt toward the black gravestone – Bothh’s gravestone.
—Red Eagle/Bothh let out a bellow, and drew the Sword of Bothh from his back. He pointed it at Moran, and charged at him, directly toward the grave.
—At the last moment, Red Eagle/Bothh swung the sword. Moran was ready, however, and leaped over the swinging blade.
—The Sword of Bothh collided with the black gravestone, and in that instant, the sword turned jet-black, and cracked. The gravestone cracked as well, white light spilling from it.
—Moran saw that he was right – the gravestone seemed to be the key to destroying the blade.
—In that moment, Red Eagle was freed from Bothh’s influence. “Kill me,” he begged Moran, knowing he only had so much time before the sword took him over again. “Kill me, or I’ll become him.”
—There’s another way! Let go of the sword!” Moran urged.
—Red Eagle felt the sword creep over him already. “I… I won’t… I can’t…”
—Moran looked at him sternly. “Then I’ll just have to take it from you!” He dove forward, and lunged for the sword held in Red Eagle’s hands. Red Eagle did all he could to loosen his grip as Moran grabbed hold and pulled it with all his might.
—Red Eagle’s fingers slipped, and the sword came free of his grip.
—Moran now held the Sword of Bothh in his hands, and felt Bothh sinking into his psyche.
—However, he forced himself to push the spirit in his mind away, and he watched as the ghost of Bothh was forced back into the sword in his hands.
—Freed of his curse, The Red Eagle turned towards Shamob, who hovered there in the air, watching with wrath in his eyes.
—Red Eagle ran around the side of the basin, whirling his grappling hook and rope in the air. He threw it with ease, and it struck into Shamob’s neck, digging deep.
—He then tied one end of the rope to his stone eagle figurine, and threw it in the air. The figurine transformed into the giant eagle once again. Red Eagle ordered it to pull Shamob with it closer to the ground where Red Eagle stood.
—Meanwhile, Moran stood over the black gravestone, the Sword of Bothh in his hands. He lifted the sword over his head, and stared down at his target.
—He swung the sword down in a massive arc, and struck the gravestone true.
—The sword turned black, and shatter-marks scattered down its length.
—Moran took this as a cue that the sword was close to destruction. With one final swing, he brought the sword down. It cracked the gravestone in two before it shattered into dust.
—In Moran’s mind’s eye, he stood on a plane of blackness. Before him ran Bothh, his sword raised high. Just as he brought it down toward him, Moran caught the blade between his hands, and snapped it in two.
—As he did this, he was jolted back to reality. Before him, the spirit of Bothh rose from the shattered sword and stared angrily into Moran’s eyes. Before he had a chance to speak a word, he was wrenched from reality in a burst of sound. The shock-wave rippled over the Orcs watching, and the spirit of Bothh was no more.
—Red Eagle pulled Shamob’s hanging face close to his. “I am the true bird of prey.” He whispered menacingly.
—Before Shamob had time to answer, he cut him down from his cord, and raised both his swords. Witha flurry of slashes, Red Eagle cut into the oracle, finally slicing his head from his shoulders.
—The head of Shamob rolled down the basin to the centre.
—The Orcs around the Bloodspring had fallen silent. Moran dusted off his palms, and rose to his full height. Red Eagle let the blood flow off of his blades as he turned toward the Orcs staring at the two of them.
—One of the Chainspikes stepped forward – the others all seemed too stunned at what they had seen to move. “…You killed Shamob… AND the spirit of the greatest Warchief who ever lived…”
—Red Eagle and Moran looked at each other, and then nodded at the Chainspike soldier.
—The soldier paused for a moment and then asked “Which side do you fight for?”
—Moran chuckled and shook his head. “We just saved us all from the downfall of Orcish kind. Are we not all Orcs? Let us shout victorious as Orcs!!”
—At this, the crowd shouted loud, bellowing a shared victory with Red Eagle and Moran. Evidently the old Orcish mantra still held strong – the strong hold the power, power rules the weak.
—“If only Grom could see what we did,” said Moran wistfully.
—“Perhaps he knows more than you think,” said a voice from behind them.
—The crowd grew silent as a figure moved up the pass, flanked by well-armoured elite guards.
—Warchief Grom stepped out of the darkness, his mighty beard flowing in the mountain wind. His face was covered in thorn-like scars, and he held a greatsword in each hand. His skin was a deep green, the colour of a forest of pines.
—“One of my scouts reported what was happening here as we approached. It appears that you needed no help after all.” Grom said, pride in his words.
—“Warchief,” said Moran, inclining his head. Red Eagle did the same.
—“Lift your heads. I will not have generals of my army pay reverence to me.” Grom said, tossing them the title of ‘generals’ without ceremony.
—Moran thanked Grom for the title, and Red Eagle seemed to be stunned.
—“We need no more words – all we need is ale. So, bring it forth! Victory to the Orcs!!”
—The crowd cheered, and the celebration began. Ale, spirits, and plenty of food were brought into the clearing of the Stormdrain.
—Red Eagle approached Grom. “While you are here, Warchief, would you care to take your crown?” Red Eagle motioned to the Bloodspring.
—“Not today,” Grom said. “The battle has not yet been won.”
—Moran nodded. “But a victory nonetheless, Warchief!”
—“Right you are,” Nodded Grom. “Feast and drink! You have earned my respect in your actions.”
—Red Eagle and Moran joined in the festivities, drinking heavily and enjoying the vitory with the rest of them. Even the once-mind-controlled priestesses came to their senses and joined in the revelry.
—At one point, Red Eagle charged at Grom and attempted a grapple with him. Grom easily overturned his action, and pinned him down under a massive foot. “If you hadn’t tried that, I would have stripped you of your title, general. Well done!” Grom laughed.
—Moran rushed forward as well, and Grom smiled as he held him back with an outstretched arm, chewing on a massive direboar leg.
—After a few hours, Red Eagle and Moran sat on the rubble of the black grave, driking spiritys merrily. They laughed and joked, and began to think of those they lost. Gurshh and Thurtog, and all the soldiers they had travelled with.
—When their minds turned to Thorax, they noticed that he stood nearby, having just arrived.
—They welcomed him to their side with open arms, and Thorax proudly thanked them for their courage and bravery.
—Red Eagle pointed to where Grom stood excitedly, telling him to go say hello (in a very drunken manner).
—Thorax patted his hand and told him that he had already spoken with Grom. He added that he had asked Grom to allow the White Wasps to be divided evenly between the armies of Feather and Bone.
—Red Eagle and Moran agreed, and forced a drink upon Thorax merrily. Thorax accepted it, smiling.
—The three of them laughed and drank until the sun rose in the sky, dawning a new day over the plains of Drobaan.

Game 7
A Watery Grave

—Red Eagle, Moran, Thorax and Thurtog awoke in the musty pit of bones, having slept restlessly upon the dank stone floor.
—Their wounds had been tended overnight, and they felt refreshed enough to face whatever challenge would arise next.
—Thorax donned his armour, and looked at it sadly. The acid from the ooze had melted it considerably, warping it so that its shape was nearly indistinguishable. His helm was particularly effected, and he stowed it under his arm rather than donning it.
—Moran decided to waste no time after waking up, and strode to the small terminal set into the alcove on the north wall. In his hand he held the iron bar he had retrieved from inside the black ooze.
—He twisted the bar into the small wall terminal, creating a lever from the two parts. He was about to yank it down before he was stopped by cautionary words from Red Eagle, warning that they did not know what dangers could lie ahead.
—Thorax agreed, saying that they must be on the ready for whatever could happen should the lever spring some sort of trap – or worse.
—Moran thought this over, and paused as the others readied their weapons as a precautionary measure.
—With that, Moran pulled the lever, and they heard a familiar twisting of gears. The pillar platform that had carried them down to the bottom of the atrium began to move.
—The entire thing twisted clockwise, and then the handle that they had twisted to move the pillar downward extended a second pair of handles, making four in total.
—The group stared at this new development, and decided to go and stand on the pillar once again.
—The four of them took a deep breath, and each one of them took hold of the handles.
—They turned the handles, pushing round and round. The small portion of the platform on which they stood began to sink downward, suspended by another set of four chains.
—As they sank, they emerged into a wide chasm, too dark to see very far ahead. The clinking of chains echoed around the rough stone walls.
—The platform sank further and further down until it landed on a bed of stone far below.
—The party members stepped off of the platform and onto an outcropping of rock on the southwestern side of the catacomb.
—As they stepped onto this outcropping, a bluish light erupted on the wall behind them as a torch lit on its own. On the far end of the chasm two more pinpricks of light emerged from the darkness, marking an area that seemed to be constructed of worked stone.
—The eerie blue light partially illuminated the room around them. The ceiling was dark, and extremely high up. Only the tips of stalactites were visible through the palpable gloom.
—A light mist hovered far down below the outcropping, clinging to a layer of water filling the lower level of the catacomb. Stalagmites could be seen poking out of the mist, which combined with the eighty-foot fall down to the water would mean certain death for anyone foolish enough to trip.
—Directly in front of the party was a rickety wooden bridge that led to another outcropping closer to the centre of the chamber.
—The group quickly surmised that they must get closer to the torches on the northern end of the room in order to progress any further. The entire place game them all a very foreboding feeling, as though they were on the edge of a great wave that was about to break.
—The four of them looked at the bridge with trepidation. Red Eagle elected to go first, stepping across with ease. He secured his grappling hook and rope to the post holding the bridge up, and threw the rope end to the other side for the others to use to bear their weight (rather than putting their weight on the bridge itself).
—Thurtog was next, and grasped the rope as he walked. On his third step onto the bridge, a plank beneath him broke, and he fell through the rungs, clutching to the rope as a safety line.
—Red Eagle pulled him up quickly, and dragged him the length of the rest of the bridge.
—Thurtog stood rather sheepishly, and waited for the others to come across as well.
—Moran stared at the rickety bridge, and mustered his strength. He leaped across the gap and deftly landed on the ledge, far from harm, still trailing a bluish light.
—Thurtog looked determinedly in another direction as Moran smugly turned his gaze toward the hobgoblin’s sour expression.
—Thorax decided to take a different approach to the bridge. Throwing caution to the wind, he got down on his haunches, and tore, full tilt toward it.
—He ran, his footfalls landing upon the wooden planks of the bridge. More than half his footfalls broke the wood beneath his stride, and by the time he had reached the other side, the bridge had been rendered unusable.
—Thorax looked back toward it before facing the party.
—Moran remarked that their exit had now been destroyed, to which Thorax stared determinedly forward.
—They looked toward the blue torches ahead a second time, still unable to quite see what lay beyond due to the distance. They could, however, see that a little ways beyond the torches was another pillar of rock on which to stand. They could just make out the platform’s edge in the flickering blue light.
—They decided that they needed to move toward that location, and assessed what was before them.
—Between the party and the torches were three small pillars of rock that could be reached with well-timed jumps. They could see that they would be able to make it all the way across if they were careful and acrobatic enough.
—Red Eagle decided to go first, but did not trust Thurtog to go on his own after the bridge incident. He scooped Thurtog up, and despite his protests leaped straight across to the first rock.
—He and Thurtog made it, keeping balanced.
—Moran was next, who jumped directly across to a different pillar which was somewhat further away than the first.
—Thorax followed Red Eagle and Thurtog, joining them on the small rock.
—Red Eagle and Thurtog attempted to jump to the unoccupied rock that was closest to the torches, but Thurtog slipped out of Red Eagle’s grip.
—Red Eagle immediately threw a hand down for Thurtog to grasp, but the two of them missed each other by inches.
—Thurtog plummeted down toward the rocks and the water. It seemed sure that he would be killed when the others heard a resounding “sploosh” that reverberated around the walls of the cavern.
—Apparently Thurtog had survived the fall, missing the rocks and landing safely in the water below.
—Red Eagle tossed him a rope, and he and Thorax pulled him back up, sputtering onto the rocks.
—He sheepishly said “thanks” to the two of them before the others proceeded, Moran chuckling nearby.
—Thorax ventured a leap to the rock closest to the torches, and Moran did the same so that they were all standing atop the same rock, overlooking the pair of torches and the pillar beyond.
—As soon as they all assembled on the rock, more torches lit up inside of what seemed to be a cylindrical, worked stone chamber set into the surrounding stone of the cavern.
—The two torches that had lit first marked the entrance to this chamber, which seemed open except for a ragged pillar of rock in its centre. There was about ten feet of space separating the pillar from the cylindrical walls around, meaning anyone who stepped idly could fall down to the rocks and water below.
—Atop the pillar was a set of stone steps, leading up to a raised platform. Atop this platform was a large stone throne. They could clearly see that the throne was not empty.
—A figure sat there, dark and shadowy, hands clasped over a massive mace. The figure was fully armoured from head to foot, and sat motionless as the party observed.
—All around the stepped platform were bones and partially decomposed corpses.
—The party members began discussing their next move. They knew they must reach the platform to progress, but they did not like the look of the thing sitting in the throne. Somehow it did not seem quite dead.
—Moran inspected it from his vantage point at the front of the stone they were standing on. He remarked that the thing sitting there was what was known as a Graveknight. He mentioned that this particular Graveknight had the markings of a Stormcaller leader named Valguar Nimbosa.
—As he described this to the others, they were startled to hear an unfamiliar voice.
—“Baron Valguar Nimbosa, in fact. The Warden of the Vault of the Tempest. Keeper of the imprisoned.”
—The figure sitting on the throne arose, standing imposingly at the top of his platform. The voice had come from within the Graveknight’s helm.
—The group froze, contemplating what to do next. Moran was the first to speak, enquiring as to why such an important Stormcaller wasn’t in a more elaborate tomb elsewhere.
—Nimbosa told them that he had requested this as his final resting place so that he could continue to guard something he had gained from the Orcs during the war.
—He then pulled a shining, white-bladed sword from his back, and held it aloft.
—He revealed it to be the Sword of Bothh, and sheathed it on his back once again.
—Nimbosa told them that he knew that they had come for it, else they would not have risked so much to get as far as they had.
—He told them that the Vault had been designed with protective measures should the Stormcallers fall to the Orcs. Nimbosa said that he had been entombed with the sword and had extended his life beyond death to continue keeping the blade from ever returning from Orcish hands.
—Moran remarked that they had gone through Nimbosa’s “little zoo” with little trouble, to which Nimbosa seemed to brighten. He told them that he had arranged for the keys that would lead to this chamber to be implanted in prisoners of the Vault.
—This meant that the prisoners would have to be killed or at least fought to secure the keys. When Moran pointed this out, Nimbosa chuckled saying that he was pleased that the remaining prisoners were dead, particularly since the hands of the Stormcallers were not bloodied in the process.
—He told them that Stormcallers were above such executions in the general sense, although he had no problem with ‘savages’ sorting them out.
—Moran loathed this skewed outlook and the group shared his disdain for Nimbosa’s perceived Stormcaller superiority.
—Nimbosa therefore got straight to the point. He told them that they had one final chance to leave, letting the sword remain entombed. He told them that he would defend the sword until he had been eradicated from existence.
—However, Nimbosa mentioned that he knew that they had no intention of backing down, being Orcs. He invited them to join him on the platform in order to finish them once and for all.
—The Red Eagle was first to respond. He scooped up Thurtog once again, and leaped mightily across the gap to the pillar ahead.
—However, as Red Eagle soared through the air, Nimbosa snapped his gauntleted fingers. At once, almost as if time were passing slowly before their eyes, Red Eagle saw one of the masses of bone and flesh coalesce into a large creature with a roughly humanoid shape.
—This mass of rotting muscle and sinew extended a huge, clawed arm, swinging over it’s head at it leaped toward Red Eagle and Thurtog.
—The clawed hand collided with Thurtog as Red Eagle found his footing on the edge of the Pillar.
—Thurtog was knocked clean out of red Eagle’s arms, and cascaded down toward the rocks below.
—This time there was no splash.
—Red Eagle cast his eyes down toward the water, and spotted Thurtog, impaled upon three stalagmites that jutted out of the earth.
—Enraged, Red Eagle turned toward Nimbosa, who spread his arms wide, extending his vile aura. Hi mace crackled with lightning as he faced down his foes.
—Red Eagle’s swords lit with flame, and he lunged forward. However, as he did, Nimbosa laughed, and raised his arms.
—At once, two skeletons soldiers rose from their resting places around the platform, as did an additional flesh creature. Before acting, Moran pointed out these hulking flesh beasts as Flesh Golems, remarking that they would be hard to harm with magic.
—The battle began with Thorax launching an arrow at the nearest Flesh Golem, striking it hard in the throat.
—This Flesh Golem, which stood very close to Red Eagle attempted to swing its claws down upon him. However, Red Eagle was too quick for the beast, and dodged out of the way of each strike with ease.
—Valguar Nimbosa the Graveknight raised a hand toward Red Eagle, and a bolt of electricity fired between his outstretched fingers before launching in a wide spread toward his enemies.
—Red Eagle was harmed by the blast, but stood strong against the current. The nearest Flesh Golem seemed invigorated by the lightning, and the bolt that had stuck into its neck was pushed free as its wound closed.
—Moran dove from the small stone toward the pillar. As he did, he moved straight past the Flesh Golem Red Eagle was engaged with, firing a few strikes at it as he went.
—The Golem was struck soundly by Moran’s blows, its bones cracking with the weight of his fists. However, it seemed to take little notice, and raised its fists for another strike.
—Red Eagle spun and cut down the nearest Stormcaller skeleton in one fell swoop. He then lunged at Nimbosa, his swords flashing.
—Nimbosa blocked two of the hits, but the other two struck true. Fire burned across his armour and he bellowed in anger.
—Nearby, the second Flesh Golem swung its arm at Moran, and then the other, clawing into him.
—The final skeletal soldier stood and fired an arrow that went wide, harming no one.
—Thorax fired another arrow which missed its target as well, clanking against the stone.
—The first Flesh Golem swung its arms in an attack at Moran again, and one of its claws struck, digging deep.
—Nimbosa took a few steps backward toward an open space on the platform. He then raised his hands saying “Let’s tip the scales.” The cylindrical walls slid closed on the south side of the chamber, locking them in.
—As they rolled together, Thorax took a mighty leap from the other side, landing just fast enough to avoid being crushed by the closing walls.
—However, that was not the only effect Nimbosa’s magic had upon their surroundings. The walls of the cylindrical chamber were lined with eight stone-carved giant heads, their mouths open above their sculpted beards.
—Water poured from these heads, threatening to fill the chamber with water.
—Nimbosa then kept his hand raised, firing another blast of electricity, this time towards Moran as well as red Eagle. The electricity arced toward them, but both were able to avoid the damage dealt by the blast.
—Moran spun out of the way of the lightning, and ran around the side of the throne to face Nimbosa head-on. Nimbosa laughed and taunted Moran into attacking him.
—Moran simply smiled, and rushed in for a strike. He skirted around Nimbosa, and attacked with a few blows. These strikes were unsuccessful, however, with Nimbosa blocking each one with ease. Nimbosa managed to strike at Moran as he passed by, hitting him hard with the strike of his mace.
—However, Moran manoeuvred himself around to Nimbosa’s back in the process, and thrust his arms out to grab the Sword of Bothh still lashed to his back.
—Moran yanked it free, the straps breaking.
—“No Orc shall ever hold the Sword of Bothh again, you said?” Moran chuckled as he brandished the sword.
—Nimbosa’s growl of fury could be heard beneath his helm as he threatened his life once again.
—“You have no idea the damage that can be wrought with that sword.” Nimbosa growled in warning. However, Moran wasn’t listening.
—With Nimbosa further away, and Moran closing in on the Graveknight, Red Eagle turned his attention on the Flesh Golem, mustering his strength. He threw his arms around the beast, attempting to force it toward the edge of the cliff.
—Try as it might, the flesh creature could not seem to break free of the Orc’s mighty grip.
—In one fell swoop, Red Eagle pushed the Golem off of the edge of the pillar, and it fell, impaled upon the rocks.
—The other Golem attempted another strike, this time at Thorax. Thorax was struck twice, and fell to his knees from the severe hits. It did not appear that Thorax could take many more of those strikes and live to talk about it.
—The second skeleton raced forward, challenging Moran. Moran evaded the sword strike with ease as he continued to face down Nimbosa.
—Thorax then lifted his spear to stab at the Flesh Golem. He struck hard twice, and the Golem was forced back a few steps.
—Meanwhile, Nimbosa took his mace and lifted it high. At once, electricity crackled through it, and he slammed it down into Moran, wounding him severely.
—However, Moran was ready. He punched hard at the mace that Nimbosa held, and watched as it bent under the weight of the strike. Then, with a bold move he thrust his hands into the chest of the Graveknight, twisting the metal away from its skeleton. A bluish-white light emanated from the hole he had left.
—Moran got an idea, staring into the strange, ghostly light. He turned his head and lifted the Sword of Bothh. “Red Eagle! The Sword!” he shouted, brandishing it high.
—Red Eagle spun around, and spotted Moran and Valguar Nimbosa across the pillar.
—His swords still sheathed, the red Eagle ran toward the stone throne, kicked off of it, and caught the sword in his hands as he twisted through the air.
—He landed in front of the Graveknight, and held the greatsword in both hands. With a cry of fury, Red Eagle swing the sword, cutting a huge gash through the front of Nimbosa’s armour.
—More light spilled from the wound, and Valguar staggered backwards.
—The last Flesh Golem attempted to strike at Thorax again, but missed, allowing Thorax the chance for another strike. He jabbed his spear into the creature, and pulled and tore at its guts. The Golem fell to the ground, the life drained from it.
—Nimbosa raised his mace for another strike. He swung it round, and it collided directly with Red Eagle. The lightning burst from it and into the Orc, wracking his body with spasms of pain.
—However, Moran was still close by. With a punch, he lifted Nimbosa’s guard away from his wounded chest. He then plunged his hands into the hole, and tore with all his might, rending the armour apart.
—Nimbosa let out a scream of rage and pain before he collapsed to the ground, finally defeated.
—The water pouring from the giant mouths ceased as soon as the final blow was struck, the water having just reached the edge of the platform.
—Moran proceeded to tear the creature’s armour to shreds as Red Eagle swung his sword one last time, killing the remaining skeleton in one strike.
—The battlefield cleared, Red Eagle held the Sword of Bothh aloft, the prize won.
—Moran discovered a few other items held by Nimbosa in the rubble of the armour he had just destroyed.
—First, he found a small red stone statue of an eagle, which he tossed to Red Eagle immediately. Red Eagle took it, and tossed it into the air. It transformed into a full-sized eagle, and flew over head a few laps before returning to its tiny figurine size, landing in Red Eagle’s palm.
—Looking further, Moran found a pair of wrapped leather shoes. He looked at his bare feet, and put them on, feeling the comfortable leather on his toes.
—As he slipped them on, he began hearing strange, faint whispers that were indistinct. It became clear that the others couldn’t hear these whispers, and so he dismissed them, wearily.
—The last item he found was a strange stone that looked vaguely like an eye.
—He held it in his palm for awhile, staring at it.
—Suddenly, the stone zipped from his palm and stuck direct into his forehead, burrowing itself in.
—Moran cried out, hands scrabbling at his forehead in fright.
—Then, the pain stopped, and he blinked – not two eyes, but with three. The stone had affixed itself to his forehead, and embedded itself there, a third eye, blue as the sea.
—He closed his normal eyes to test this new one, and what he saw made him jump backward.
—Standing in the gloom were ghostly apparitions. Two of them were indistinct, but one stood close by, and stepped lightly into view.
—The ghost of Thurtog stood there, grinning sheepishly still, looking directly at Moran.
—Evidently the eye and the shoes had something to do with summoning and communicating with the dead.
—In light of this, Thurtog said goodbye to Moran, and congratulated him for a job well done. He also told him to tell Red Eagle not to blame himself and that he forgave him for his death.
—Moran assured him that he would pass on the gist, and did so to a bewildered Red Eagle, who stood off to the side with Thorax.
—The two of them only saw Moran, talking to himself with his eyes closed.
—Thurtog then stepped away, revealing the General of the Hobgoblins they had bet before. The General proudly told Moran that they had again honourably defended the memory of the fallen. He seemed to lament the fact that with Thurtog dead, the relations with the Hobgoblins and Orcs would likely never come to fruition.
—Without saying much more, the two Hobgoblins disappeared into nothingness, revealing the third figure.
—Moran’s father stepped forward, a powerful-looking, wizened soldier covered in bones.
—He greeted Moran and expressed his pride for what he had done. Moran gruffly accepted, asking if his ancestors were proud of him as well. Moran’s father said that he still had much to do in order to gain their full approval.
—Moran was not sure what he meant, but his father told him he could not say much more – only that Moran must be careful, as he could face his biggest challenge yet.
—With that, he told Moran to work to his strength and continue upon the path he walked.
—He disappeared as well, and Moran opened his eyes to look at his confused companions.
—After explaining a little about what had happened, the three of them started looking for a way out of the chamber.
—Red Eagle stepped forward, and holding the sword in one hand told Thorax and Moran to uncover an exit of some sort. Strangely enough, Thorax and Moran felt compelled to obey his words, even calling him “master” without really thinking about it.
—They had heard of the powers of the Sword of Bothh, but were not aware of it working subconsciously.
—Moran rushed to Valguar’s throne on a hunch. He pulled open one of the armrests and revealed a switch that opened a portion of the wall on the north side of the cylindrical room.
—Water spilled out of it in a torrent, clearly showing that this was a way of draining the room once it was filled.
—They stared at the long tunnel of rock that led out of the chamber. Thorax and Moran asked Red Eagle what to do next.
—Red Eagle was nervous looking at the water. He seemed to want nothing more than to stay as far away from it as possible.
—However, Thorax and Moran knew that they had this only way to go to leave this place once and for all – the water had to flow somewhere, and likely led out of the Vault.
—Before Red Eagle could protest, Thorax swung Red Eagle’s grappling hook up to the top of the opening, and grabbed hold of him.
—The three jumped and swung on the rope in a high arc over the churning water-filled tunnel.
—The grappling hook gave way, and the three of them dropped into the water with a loud splash.
—They were buffeted and knocked against stones, shoved underwater, and nearly drowned before emerging suddenly into the brilliant sun outside.
—They found themselves falling over the edge of a massive waterfall that terminated far below in a watery basin.
—They plunged down deep into the crystal-clear water, finally free of the stifling vault…

Game 6
The Final Key

—The battle began with Moran aiming a kick at the Aboleth, mustering his energy and plunging under the murky water toward the giant white-skinned fish.
—As he sank through the water, Moran noticed a cloud of clear mucous surrounding his foe. Without thinking, he plunged through this cloud, and felt the mucous begin to alter him. However, he was able to shake off these effects, regaining his composure.
—It seemed that Thorax was under this effect as well, and it became clear quickly that he was not so lucky in evading the Aboleth’s effect. His head still above water, Thorax began to sputter and cough as though he was unable to breathe.
—Moran caught this out of the corner of his eye, but pushed it to the back of his mind as he urged his body forward toward the fish.
—However, as he moved swiftly through the water, Moran felt something try to enclose upon his mind. He shook it off, and he heard a chuckle in Delaroghani’s voice. “I am impressed. I would have thought an Orc’s mind easier to penetrate…”
—The terrifying thought that the fish could engulf one’s senses filled Moran’s thoughts as he tore through the water toward the creature.
—Meanwhile, above the water, Red Eagle tried to decide what to do. He did not like the idea of going into the water, and so instead jumped atop the nearest cage that hung from the ceiling. He lifted one of his swords and easily cut through the chain holding it up.
—The cage fell to the ground, cracking the stone beneath it. Red Eagle remained atop it, his balance not swayed.
—Below the grated floor, Moran struck into his target, his foot slamming hard against the bony fish.
—Thorax plunged his head below the water as well, and found that he was able to breathe. The mucous seemed to have robbed him of the ability to breathe air. Nevertheless, Thorax swam forward in an attempt to stab the Aboleth with his spear. He struck true, cutting into the creature’s flesh.
—However, the Aboleth seemed to have a few tricks up its sleeve. As Moran treaded water, he turned in time to see a change come over Thorax. His eyes glowed red, and he turned to face Moran in the water, his spear at the ready.
—Red Eagle called Gurshh over to the cage. Together the two of them lifted the cage over their heads, throwing it down onto the grate, breaking open a large hole, and plunging the cage toward the fish beneath.
—The cage struck the Aboleth, dealing more damage, causing it great pain.
—Moran decided to ignore Thorax’s strange new demeanour, and attempted to grab hold of one of the creature’s tentacles. He managed to wrap his arms around it, pinning the tentacle to his side. However, Throax thrust his longspear into Moran’s side, drawing blood, and making him lose his focus slightly due to the shock.
—It appeared that Thorax had been controlled by the creature, and made to believe Moran was his enemy.
—Blackmane lifted his sword high above his head and got ready to attack the great fish, now that its back was exposed through the hole in the floor. However, his strike missed as the fish lashed about beneath the waves.
—Sensing that its back had become vulnerable, the Aboleth turned its red eyes upon Red Eagle. At once, Red Eagle felt tentacled hands enclose around his mind.
—Red Eagle’s eyes burned red, and he turned his swords upon Gurshh, unable to control himself.
—Gurshh backed away, sword in hand, telling Red Eagle that he did not want to do this.
—However, Red Eagle would not (or could not) listen to reason, and instead lunged at his friend, his swords drawn. He slashed at Gurshh fiercely, striking again and again.
—Gurshh was left bloodied with a look of fear in his eyes.
—Moran held as fast as he could to the tentacle of the Aboleth, but it was no use. The creature hrew him off its tentacle with ease.
—Moran turned toward Thorax, seeing him as an additional threat. He decided to ensure that Thorax could do no more damage to him, and struck at Thorax’s longspear.
—The spear broke in half leaving Thorax staring at both ends, a puzzled look in his eyes.
—Thorax was undaunted, and instead attempted to grab Moran in order to pull him down into the depths of the water.
—Moran was able to evade this grapple, tossing Thorax’s arms aside.
—Blackmane lunged at Red Eagle, hoping to wrestle his friend into submission to prevent any more attacks. However, Red Eagle had no intention of being pinned down, and threw off his attacker with a resounding slash of one of his swords.
—Gurshh could not withstand another blow, and fell to his knees in pain.
—The Aboleth turned his eyes back toward Moran, and lashed out at him with its four tentacles.
—The first three struck him, hard, cutting deep into Moran’s skin. Blood filled the water as the tendrils came from all sides.
—However, Moran was prepared for the final strike. With a solid punch he was able to ricochet the tentacle away from him, and it slammed through the grate above. The tentacle became entangled in the grate, and the creature writhed in anguish.
—Red Eagle stood over Gurshh, who could barely stand due to being so bloodied.
—Gurshh’s eyes were stern, resolved. “I did not want things to end like this between us. You are a good soldier, Red Eagle. Fight back!”
—But Red Eagle could not shake off the power of the Aboleth’s ancient mind. He slashed at Gurshh twice, blood spurting from his wounds. He then dropped each of his swords, and put his shaking hands around Blackmane’s neck.
—As he squeezed the last of Blackmane’s life out of him, Gurshh repeated his last words “…I …Did not want it to end this way…”
—He fell lifeless to the grate beneath, Red Eagle standing over his fallen body, blood dripping from his hands.
—Moran, still beneath the water noticed an opportunity with the Aboleth’s tentacle trapped in the grate. He mustered his strength for a strike, and punched hard at the writhing tendril.
—With the tentacle pulled taut against the grate, it split from the force of Moran’s strike, spilling a murky ooze of blood into the pool.
—The tentacle writhed, severed from its host and fell limp.
—Seeing that he would be no further use against Moran, Thorax lunged out of the water, and grasped the edges of the trapdoor in the grated floor.
—Thorax pulled himself up, and began heading for the other side of the room.
—At that moment, Thurtog burst from a door up a flight of stairs on the south end of the chamber. He ran down the stairs and toward the grate, taking in the battle before him before making any action.
—The Aboleth lashed out with its three remaining tentacles at Moran, and two of these tentacles hit, reducing Moran to a severely weakened condition.
—Red Eagle moved as swiftly as he could to the west side of the chamber into a small alcove set into the wall. Guided by the Aboleth’s thoughts, he reached for a lever that he knew would open the iron bars, freeing the fish from its prison.
—Moran attempted another strike at the creature, but his attacks went astray due to his crippling injuries. He attempted to muster his fortitude and felt some of the pain of his wounds ease.
—Thorax followed Red Eagle to the lever, and put his hands upon it as well. It appeared that both were ready to pull it and free Delaroghani once and for all.
—However, Thurtog stood at the ready. He pulled the prepared bear trap from his back that Red Eagle had handed him earlier, and tossed it onto the Aboleth’s back.
—The trap snapped, and the fish screeched in their minds with horrible pain.
—In response, the Aboleth lashed out with each of its limbs. It struck Thurtog, knocking him down, and slashed at Moran once again.
—Moran was reduced to a weakened state once again, despite focusing his energy to heal his wounds.
—Red Eagle and Thorax pulled the lever down, and the bars slid open. The Aboleth laughed maniacally in the backs of their minds, freedom finally within its grasp.
—However, Moran had had enough. He focused all of his might upon one single strike, and kicked directly through the eyes of the beast.
—The Aboleth died in an instant, blood making the water even murkier. As the creature died, its body was swept toward the exit – which was just small enough to keep it from flowing through without being able to exert the effort to do so.
—Delaroghani’s body was lodged in the opening, and could scheme of freedom no longer.
—Red Eagle and Thorax regained their minds immediately, and Red Eagle turned and saw what he had done. He went over to Gurshh’s body, and fell to his knees before it. He could scarcely believe what he had done.
—Meanwhile, Thorax sputtered for breath, clearly still under the effects of the Aboleth’s air-preventing mucous. He dove straight back into the water in order to breathe easily again.
—Moran was searching with his head below the water, and finally caught sight of the silver key. He swam down to retrieve it from the Aboleth’s tentacle, and saw that it had been surgically implanted to a key ring hanging from it. He pulled it free, and stowed it in a fold of his robes.
—Thurtog strode over to Red Eagle as Moran got himself out of the water.
—Thurtog offered words of reassurance, and Moran stared at the body, thinking of what to do with it in regards to the death practices of the Lionkill Clan.
—In the end, Red Eagle took the body, and floated it out of the waterfall, allowing it to return to nature.
—The group decided to remain in the chamber to rest, as Moran had been heavily injured, and Thorax required more time for the effects of the mucous to wear off.
—After a few hours, they took a final look round the chamber that had claimed Gurshh’s life, and exited the room.
—They returned to the main atrium, and the four of them went to the four terminals of the room, and inserted the silver keys they had retrieved.
—After the final key had been turned, they heard a loud turning of gears, and watched as the central pillar of the atrium began to descend. The chains supporting the pillar fed it slack from within the walls as it revealed a flat platform on its top, with a handle at its centre. The platform was large enough for all of them to stand upon it comfortably.
—They looked to each other, and hopped onto the platform. Red Eagle and Moran each took hold of one side of the handle in the centre of the pillar, and turned it. The chains fed more slack, and the pillar was slowly lowered down further into the chasm in the centre of the atrium.
—The pillar descended deep down into the darkness beneath them. It seemed to go on forever, until finally the pillar connected with something below.
—Parts of the pillar seemed to rotate, and then sink down into the floor beneath. Finally, the stone set into place, and torches burst into life high on the flat stone walls, revealing a square chamber littered with bones.
—The bottom of the atrium was dim in the torchlight. They party members were wary of danger in the lack of light, and were hesitant to move from where they stood. The bones covering the floor of the chamber made them particularly uneasy.
—They each drew their weapons instinctively, and Moran decided to begin beating the Goblin Drum. The light of the torches brightened significantly, and they could now see the room more clearly.
—The chamber had no exits, but the party spotted a small alcove on the wall with a blunt, squarish piece of metal sticking out of it.
—However, before they could get anywhere close to it, they noticed some of the bones move.
—It appeared that something beneath the bones was snaking its way along.
—Suddenly, from beneath the pile of bones a shape emerged, black, gigantic and amorphous.
—The pile of goo quivered and piled up on top of itself, drawing itself to its full height.
—The group prepared themselves for battle, and faced this mass of blackness that loomed threatening in the torchlight.
—However, they soon found that this was not the only threat. Three skeletal snakes, each the size of a human with humanoid skulls burst from the bones, and slithered their way onto the stone of the centre of the room. They reared up and bared their sharp, dripping fangs.
—Moran acted first, but looked upon his foe cautiously. He did not much like the idea of striking something that could not be bruised, and that wore no armour.
—However, he noticed something within the ooze, suspended. He squinted for a closer look, and saw a pair of brown leather gloves, seemingly holding onto a metal rod.
—Moran mustered his courage, and he plunged his arms into the ooze. The instant he did, he felt his arms burn with acid, and he pulled them free in pain. However as he did, he noticed that his adamantine knuckles were left behind, floating in the jelly.
—Thurtog was next to act, and faced off against one of the skeletal snake creatures. He swung his word against the nearest one, dealing considerable damage to it.
—However, the creature seemed ready for him. It lunged in an attack, landing a solid bite through Thurtog’s armour. He found that he couldn’t move, paralysed by the creature’s venom.
—Another of the snakelike things lunged at Thorax, but missed as he dodged out of the way.
—Red Eagle was not so lucky, as the final snake-like horror bit hard into his wrist, paralysing him as well.
—Thorax swung his broken spear at one of the creatures, dealing a considerable blow.
—The black ooze rose up and extended a pseudopod composed of jelly. It swung down hard, missing Moran by inches.
—Moran took this as a cue, and plunged his hands once again into the creature. This time, he was able to retrieve both his knuckles and the gloves that hovered inside.
—He found that his knuckles had melted slightly, losing the engravings that had been carved into them. However, the gloves he retrieved seemed completely unharmed, the acid of the ooze beading off of them.
—He put the gloves on, and the knuckles as well, ready for his next move.
—Thurtog remained paralysed, and the snake reared back to attack him once again. However, the bony snake missed, plunging its fangs into the bones nearby.
—The other skeletal snakes attacked at Red Eagle and Thorax, dealing damage to each of them.
—Thorax swung his spear again, and killed the nearest snake creature, reducing it to dust.
—Red Eagle managed to fight off the paralytic effects of the venom, and decided to take immediate revenge on the snake-like horrors that had attacked him. He grabbed the nearest one, and grappled it, forcing it to his will. He then turned toward the nearest snake-thing, and swung the one he held down onto it, hard like a weapon. He killed it easily, the other skeletal snake writhing in his grip.
—Meanwhile, the black ooze ventured another strike, this time at Thorax. It lunged at him, striking him hard with a blackish pseudopod. Acid burned at him, wounding him deeply. The thing began to engulf him, pulling him into itself, and soon Thorax was completely consumed by the creature..
—Moran witnessed this attack, and swung his fists into the creature, pummelling it hard. The gloves seemed to protect his hands, and the creature swayed under the strikes, however it did not let go of its prize.
—Thurtog regained his composure, and swung his sword once again at the snake-thing held by Red Eagle. He missed, dealing no damage to it whatsoever.
—The snake that Red Eagle held writhed in his grip, but could not free itself.
—Thorax attempted to free himself from the ooze, but the acid burned him, and he could not move against the thick goo.
—Red Eagle saw this, and dropped the snake he held, drawing his swords. He lunged at the black ooze, slashing repeatedly with his swords.
—While the fire seemed to burn into the creature, wounding it, the actual sword strikes did nothing to damage it – on the contrary, in fact. He sliced and sliced in an attempt to free Thorax, and as he did, he split the creature into two halves.
—Luckily, Thorax was freed in this method as the one ooze became two, lying on the cold stone, covered in scalding acid.
—Each of the ooze creatures attempted an attack, but the party members were ready, evading their every move.
—Moran let his fists fly, striking into the one on the left.
—Thurtog attacked and finally killed the last skeletal snake, its body falling lifeless among the bones.
—Thorax, near death from the acid burns swung his spear to no avail.
—Red Eagle looked at his swords as they burned with acid. He picked up the corpse of one of the skeleton snakes, and lashed it against the black pudding until it collapsed into nothingness.
—The final black ooze lunged at Moran, burning him with its strike, nearly rendering him unconscious.
—However, Moran was ready. He raised his fists, and with a final, resounding blow beat the creature down into the bones.
—The ooze lost control of its shape, and became ordinary blackened sludge, lifeless.
—The party slumped down onto the stone floor, exhausted and victorious. They took one final look around the chamber before deciding to rest up for the night – the day had been long, and extremely arduous.
—And the next day was sure to be a dangerous one.

Game 5
Chests, Eyes, and Silver Keys

—Moran, the Red Eagle, Thorax, Gurshh Blackmane and Thurtog all sat around a fire they had made, devouring hunks of Owlbear meat.
—They were in the antechamber they had entered into when first setting foot into the dungeon. Moran and Gurshh had set up a barricade, and they had just settled down for a rest.
—After a few moments of chewing, Red Eagle bit down onto something hard. He pulled from his mouth a silvery key, and threw it to the ground in disgust.
—Moran noticed that the key would probably be a match for the terminals which controlled the chained pillar in the main atrium, and made mention of the fact that they might want to keep it for future use.
—Red Eagle agreed, but did not wish to lift a finger to pick it up. Moran seemed to feel the same way, and the two turned to Gurshh, who did not move to pick it up either.
—Finally, Thurtog sighed and picked the key up, stowing it in his bag.
—Satisfied, and with their bellies full, the group turned in for the night.
—The next day, the group set out once again to explore the Vault of the Tempest.
—With a few doors to check on the top level, Gurshh and Thorax decided to explore the door that Gurshh had almost completely broken down. They kicked the door in fully, and stepped inside, saying that they would meet up later.
—Moran headed toward the terminal in the northeastern corner of the atrium, and inserted the key. It fit, and he turned the mechanism, hearing the sound of turning gears and a small bell chime.
—Satisfied, he followed Red Eagle and Thurtog, who were heading toward the bars blocking the way into the room up the steps on the northern side of the chamber.
—Red Eagle still could not make out what was inside the room, and so he hefted a bottle of oil with a flaming rag in it into the room. The bottle burst, spreading fire burning at the foot of a small set of steps.
—Moran began playing his drum, and the room beyond the bars was illuminated.
—They saw that a chest sat at the top of a raised platform in the centre of the room. The chest was about the size of a man, and the three of them imagined that it must be bursting with treasure.
—Red Eagle and Moran set to work immediately, and with their combined strength, managed to bend the bars enough to grant them entry into the room with the chest.
—Moran was quite excited at the prospect of opening the chest, and went at it at a dead run. He leaped into the air, hoping to use his knee to strike open the lock.
—However, as he soared toward the chest, the lid of the chest opened revealing a mouthful of teeth, and a long, sinewy tongue.
—Moran soared directly into the mouth of the Mimic, and was wrapped in the thing’s tongue. It pulled him in to its jaws, and slammed against him as it held him suspended by its tongue-like tendril in the air.
—The Mimic stood on tentacled legs, and as it did, it lifted the weight off of a pressure pad beneath it. As this happened, the wall on the north side of the room opened, revealing four Stormcaller Soldiers.
—The soldiers rushed in to attack, the first striking Moran with a resounding blow from its longsword, the other attacking Red Eagle, striking into him as well.
—Red Eagle moved in to strike down the skeleton that attacked him, but tripped on the side of the stairs, and tumbled toward him, swords out.
—As he fell, the swords plunged deep into the skeleton’s ribcage, and it fell back lifeless onto the stone floor.
—Red Eagle continued to tumble sideways, and knocked over Thurtog in the process.
—The Mimic pulled in Moran for another strike, slamming him against the floor with a snarl.
—One of the other skeletons fired an arrow at Moran, but did not hit due to the Mimic lashing him about.
—Moran found himself stuck fast by some strange adhesive to the creature beneath him. Mustering his strength, he pulled himself closer to the Mimic, attempting to gain the upper hand in the grapple. He managed to succeed in turning the tables, but the two were still locked together.
—The final skeleton rushed forward from its place near the far wall, aiming a sword strike at Thurtog, landing a glancing blow.
—Thurtog pushed himself up, and readied his guard against the advancing skeleton.
—The first skeleton near Moran attempted another strike, missing narrowly.
—Red Eagle freed his swords from the ribcage of the fallen Stormcaller, and lashed out with powerful strikes, defeating the two threatening Moran and Thurtog in only a few strikes.
—The Mimic saw an opportunity with Red Eagle so close and attacked at him, striking hard and pulling him into its sticky clutches. With both Red Eagle and Moran trapped, the odds of winning the battle waned.
—The remaining skeleton moved ahead, taking aim once again at Moran. It struck with an arrow, and chattered its teeth excitedly.
—Moran looked severely worse for wear, and began struggling to breathe. However, he spotted the stone gate that had lifted before, and got an idea. With Red Eagle’s help, the two managed to manoeuvre the Mimic beneath the gate, positioning themselves strategically out of the way as possible as the creature writhed and morphed around them.
—Moran gave the signal for Thurtog to step onto the platform which the Mimic had been on before the battle had started. Thurtog got the message, and obeyed, narrowly avoiding a strike from the nearby skeleton in the process.
—The gate rolled down quickly, slamming forcibly into the Mimic. The creature shifted and screeched, but still lived.
—“Again!” Shouted Moran. Thurtog let his weight off of the pressure pad, and stepped on it a second time.
—The gate rolled down, finally killing the creature. It oozed into a puddle on the ground, freeing them of it’s grip.
—Thurtog stepped toward the last remaining skeleton, and cut its head off with a single sowrd swipe, proudly grinning from atop the plinth.
—Red Eagle lifted himself free of the gooey creature, and spotted a glimmering piece of metal beneath him.
—The Red Eagle pulled a shining key from the Mimic’s remains, and tossed it at Thurtog. The key hit him in the eye, and he growled in protest as he stowed this key away in his bag.
—Suddenly, they heard a sound coming from the atrium – the sound of Gurshh bellowing with rage.
—Red Eagle ran immediately into the atrium to see what was the matter. Thurtog started to run, but hesitated seeing Moran’s weakened state. For a moment, it looked like Thurtog might help Moran to get into the central chamber, but he appeared to think better of it, running after Red Eagle instead.
—Moran got to his feet, and followed behind slowly.
—In the atrium, red Eagle emerged from the barred room to see Gurshh bursting into the chamber with a strange, purplish creature on his back.
—With one motion, he grabbed the creature bodily, and threw it against the central pillar. The creature’s bones cracked and it plummeted down to the bottom of the atrium with a crack.
—Thorax followed closely behind, his bow drawn. He put his arrow away when he noticed that the fight was over, and then he and Gurshh asked for the others to report what they had found.
—Moran relayed what had happened, and showed them the key they had found.
—Gurshh said that the door he and Thorax had broken own led to a series of rooms used by the Stormcallers as a base of operations for the prison. He said they had found barracks, offices, a mess hall, and other rooms of little consequence to them.
—He said that they had bumped into the ghouls during a search of the kitchens, and that they had found nothing of interest or use in any of these rooms.
—Moran pondered for a moment, and considered how they had found the first two keys – both inside of creatures.
—He brought this up, and asked if Gurshh and Thorax had taken the time to look inside of things they had found. Gurshh seemed puzzled until he realized what Moran meant, and when the realization dawned, they all glanced over the edge of the drop, where the ghoul had fell.
—Red Eagle got his grappling hook out, and was about to begin repelling down when the others warned that it was likely too far to climb down, given how far the ghoul had taken to fall.
—Red Eagle dropped a torch down, and agreed that it was indeed too far a drop.
—They decided that they would have to find a safer way down in order to check the corpse of the ghoul, and began exploring the rest of the atrium.
—Gurshh, Red Eagle and Thurtog inspected a wooden door on the southwestern corner of the room, and found it to be only a guard post with old tables and barrels.
—Finding nothing of use, they joined Moran and Thorax who had opened a door on the southeastern corner. They entered into a hall that was flanked by walls depicting mosaics of sorcerers and wizards casting spells, finally ending in a string of images of these same spell-casters behind bars.
—The hall opened into a sort of antechamber before a pair of double-doors. On the adjacent wall from the doors was a table with some chalk in a bowl, and some other wizard’s implements.
—The Orcs approached the doors, taking note of a strange circle that had been drawn in runes on the ground just in front of them.
—Gurshh was about to ask Moran to break the door down, but noticed that he still looked quite bloodied from the fight with the Mimic.
—Gurshh attempted to open the doors, and was struck by a lightning trap that was set into the flanking walls.
—Shaking off the effects, Gurshh attacked the doors with Moran, a second time, and they flew open, banging against the walls of the room beyond.
—The party now looked into a room with six cells, filled with skeletons of ornately-robed individuals. They spotted one with a tiger’s head and backwards hands, and one with a skull that could not even be identified.
—At the end of the room was a chest, flanked on either side by torches in brackets on the wall.
—Thurtog and Red Eagle were about to go towards the chest when Moran stopped them, pointing to the shadow of a strange orb-like thing he could see on the wall behind the chest.
—When he noticed this, they all heard a voice whisper inside their minds, telling them that they were wise to use caution.
—They whipped around looking for the source of the voice, but all they could see was what was before them.
—Red Eagle decided to address the speaker, trying to find out more about it.
—The creature revealed itself, rising in midair from behind the chest. The creature was an orb with a central eye, and four eyestalks. It had a wide mouth filled with teeth, and it smiled as it spoke.
—By the thing’s words, it seemed intent on killing them all, happy to have ‘visitors’ after centuries of being alone.
—However, Red Eagle would have none of this monster’s nonsense. He cried “I am the Red Eagle! And this is my beak!” And he hurled his boomerang at the beast.
—The creature could not move away in time, and was struck, right in the forehead by the sharp piece of wood.
—The boomerang became lodged in the creature’s head, quite deep. He thing writhed in the air, and smacked itself against the back wall. The boomerang clattered to the floor, and the creature righted itself, shaking from left to right.
—Suddenly, it caught sight of Red Eagle and flew towards him at breakneck speed. Before he could do anything, the beast had caught up with him and immediately began licking his face with a long tongue, like a hound.
—Red Eagle and the others were stunned. The creature seemed to have been knocked senseless by the boomerang strike, as it floated in midair, panting like a dog.
—Moran saw a chance to move past it toward the chest, but the creature moved in front of him, blocking his way. However, it was not imposing in the slightest, and seemed to even be confused itself by the action.
—This was enough to instill a warning in Moran’s mind, and he was wary that this strange thing might regain its mind and try to attack them. Not wanting to take the chance, he signalled to the others, and they all closed around it, preparing to strike.
—Suddenly, Moran plunged a fist deep into the skull of the thing. It died instantly, its eyestalks falling limply.
—Moran pulled his hand free, revealing a key in his fist.
—The threat gone, they moved toward the chest the creature was guarding, and counted themselves lucky for having overcome this obstacle so easily.
—Inside the chest they found two healing potions, a brown robe embroidered with gears and cogs, a silvery ring adorned with violet stones, a silken shirt, and a flat iron bar with a button on one end.
—Red Eagle stowed the potions away, and gave the silk shirt to Thurtog to wear. Red Eagle himself took the ring and put it on, and inspected the iron bar. He found that when he clicked the button, it remained in place in midair, immovable. He took it to use later.
—Moran donned the robe, and found that he felt far more confident with his abilities. His fists seemed stronger, and he even seemed to move faster as a result of simply wearing it.
—The items of the chest safely stowed away, the group decided to lay down for a rest. Moran’s wounds were extreme, and it was clear that they could have easily been killed had they not had so much luck.
—The group returned to their barricaded room, and feasted on more Owlbear meat. They rested for a few hours, recovering their strength and tending their wounds before deciding to head down into the lower chamber again to explore the second level a little further.
—They were still missing one of the keys, and they expected that since they had fully explored the top level, that they would find it lower down.
—They returned to the first basement, and walked to where they had killed the Owlbears. They noticed a grate in the floor for the first time, and inspected it a little.
—Thurtog came across a lever on the wall, and Red Eagle instructed him to pull it. At once, the circular grate in the floor opened, revealing a kind of chute that lead down to a room below.
—Not wanting to wait to find a safe way down, Moran leaped bodily into the chute. The chute ended abruptly, opening into a large room as Moran fell. Below him was a much larger grated floor with a hatched trapdoor set into it, apparently opened by the same mechanism.
—Moran fell straight toward the second open grate, and caught himself from falling with each limb stretched across the opening.
—Below him was a pool of water, dark and murky in the light of the room.
—Red Eagle readied his grappling hook and rope to help the others descend. Thorax attempted to climb down first, but his grip slipped, and he fell straight down, landing on Moran’s back. Both of them plunged into the water beneath the grate.
—Red Eagle and Gurshh went down after them, managing to climb down, landing safely on the grated floor.
—The room was large, and was hung with cages sporting the deceased corpses of long-dead prisoners. On the left wall was a barred opening that seemed to lead outside – daylight could be seen clearly just beyond the bars. Water seemed to be rushing from the right side of the room, through the pool beneath the grate, and out of the barred opening, like a waterfall.
—Red Eagle told Thurtog to throw the rope down after them, and he obeyed, wondering how he would get into the room.
—Just as Thorax reached up to try to get out of the pool beneath the grate, something brushed past Moran’s leg – and kept going. The strange tendril snaked over his leg for far too long to just be a normal fish.
—He plunged his head beneath the water, and witnessed a massive white-skinned fish with three red eyes. The fish looked ancient and evil, with long tentacles and a bony ridge along its back.
—Suddenly, they all heard a chuckling within the backs of their minds.
—The fish introduced itself as Delaroghani, and said that it was imprisoned by the Stormcallers long ago.
—The fish seemed to harbour no ill will toward them, and the Orcs decided to hear it out. It explained that all it wanted was its freedom, and that it would help them progress if they opened the iron bars, and allowed it to flow into the waterfall and out of the Vault.
—This seemed perfectly reasonable, and they asked what they would receive in return if they agreed.
—Delaroghani showed them a silver key that it seemed to keep tucked away on one of its tentacles. It offered them this as their prize should they free him.
—At first, Moran was about to agree, and almost asked the fish how to open the bars.
—However, Thorax had been listening, and he spoke, telling them all that Delaroghani was a creature known as an Aboleth. He said that these fish were ancient horrors from beyond the moon, and that tales told of these creatures enslaving entire civilizations, bringing them down to cyclopian ruins below the waves.
—After hearing this, Moran confronted Delaroghani about these facts.
—The giant fish simpered and said that what it did after it left the cell was no concern of theirs. It held the prize they required, and would give it freely should they allow him his freedom.
—However, Moran seemed unable to suffer a creature of slavery to live. The Orcish way dictated only freedom, and slavery flew in the face of all the things that Grom’s army fought against.
—Without warning, Moran kicked off hard against the grated floor above, and plunged through the water with a mighty kick, ready to attack the devilish creature.

Game 4
Whispers of the Dead

—The group made camp inside the tower at the end of the dam’s walkway. They lit a fire that crackled warmly against the cold stone. Outside a rainstorm squalled against the tower, the sound of water slapping hard against it echoing about the circular room.
—Thorax stationed two guards on watch duty of the five members of his clan that were left with him.
—As the party sat around the fire, they began discussing what they would do once they reached Cliffden.
—Blackmane’s outlook seemed bleak in light of the battle they just fought. He told them that though his resolve was no weaker than before, he was beginning to doubt that they would make it to the sword alive.
—The others seemed to agree that if they faced a similar or stronger resistance to the one they met earlier that day, then their chances of progressing were grim indeed.
—They thought for a time about devising a strategy, but without even knowing the layout of Cliffden, they didn’t even know where to start.
—Moran asked Gurshh to tell them all he knew about their location, but he did not know much beyond the fact that the place they were looking for was called The Vault of the Tempest, and that it was situated somewhere in the ruined city.
—With that, the group turned in for the night, resting their wounds.
—Their sleep proved to be fretful and uncomfortable, for they could still feel that nagging feeling that they were being watched by unseen eyes.
—It was only an hour or two before Moran and Red Eagle were awakened by this feeling of watchfulness intensifying drastically.
—The rain had stopped, and the air was whipping with cold wind. Moran decided to climb to the top of the tower to survey the surroundings, while Red Eagle stayed below, keeping watch over the others.
—Moran stood with the White Wasp who was on watch, who had evidently seen and felt nothing out of the ordinary.
—As they stood, Moran noticed a strange, blue-white mist begin to appear down the path, near the bodies of the dead Hobgoblin army.
—The mist moved rapidly, engulfing the gatehouse, and creeping steadily toward the tower – against the wind. As they watched, footsteps could be hard, like steel clanging onto stone as the mist crept ever closer.
—Moran tore down the steps to rejoin the others just as Red Eagle was waking the others. They spotted something moving toward them through the broken doorway, and down the dam’s walkway.
—One hundred Hobgoblin spectres in full battle regalia marched their way forward, blue-white against the stone. The ghostly apparitions moved with the determination of their living counterparts, and swiftly moved into the tower in perfect formation to surround them all.
—The Orcs were frozen by this sudden appearance of the dead amongst them, not daring to say a word.
—Then, the Hobgoblins moved aside, parting the way for an impressive, statuesque Hobgoblin with a black-dragon helm to glide his way forward through the ranks toward the Orcs.
—He stopped in front of them, drew his greatsword from his back, and lifted it with two hands above his spectral head.
—He plunged the sword down into the stone, and took a knee. With a ghostly voice, he expressed his gratitude to the Orcs for having freed them from their tether to the material plane.
—The other Hobgoblins plunged their swords into the dam as well, kneeling in respect like their leader.
—The leader introduced himself as General Bastikhal, and explained that the army had died fighting the undead which guarded the dam. Due to the nature of their gruesome deaths, they were not able to cross over to the land of the dead until their deaths had been avenged.
—He went on to say that the Orcs had destroyed the undead that killed them, and thus they were freed from the material plane.
—As thanks, Bastikhal offered to provide the last of their power to assist the Orcs in gaining access to Cliffden.
—The Hobgoblin general raised his hands, and the Hobgoblins were absorbed into balls of light, cradled by the spectral leader’s fingers.
—Bastikhal then pressed his hands together, compressing the light into a large pearl, glowing with blue-white light.
—He offered the pearl, saying that it would allow them to join the dead for a short time, allowing them to get by the defences of Cliffden.
—The Orcs seemed very nervous about this, particularly Moran who looked positively mortified at the idea.
—However, Gurshh accepted that the group might have dire need of this gift, and agreed to take it.
—None of the Orcs seemed keen on taking the item from the supernatural being, and so Red Eagle suggested that Thurtog go and take it for them.
—Thurtog agreed, and the general greeted him by name, thanking him for his service and duty. He handed Thurtog the pearl, and he stowed it in a sack for safekeeping.
—With that, the general said that he had given them what little power the Hobgoblins had left. Before he departed for the outer planes, he considered aloud that were the circumstances slightly different, the Orcs and Hobgoblins could have formed an alliance that day.
—He faded into the night, leaving his ghastly sword in its place where he thrust it into the dam. The other spectral swords remained as well, one hundred of them plunged in different spots along the walkway.
—The party took some time to absorb what they had learned. They then considered their fight in the morning, and attempted to rest once again.
—Luckily, the eerie feeling of being watched had passed, leaving behind only a sense of peace behind. The Orcs slept more soundly that night than they had ever before.
—The next morning, they packed to leave. They decided to leave the boars behind, as they would have difficulty trying to get them into the city.
—Gurshh had no idea what to expect once they reached the gates, and said that the strategy would have to be stealth this time. He openly hoped that whatever the gift that the general had given them did, it would facilitate their needs covertly.
—The group made for the pass, and continued toward their goal.
—It was hours of travelling along the winding cliffside road before they spotted their destination.
—Before them the city of Cliffden stood, its towers clinging to the mountainside.
—The Orcs took note that the city was no longer in ruins. The undead had erected scaffolding, and seemed to be repairing the damage slowly.
—What’s more, the walls crawled with soldiers holding torches. In front of the portcullis of a massive gatehouse, a fire giant skeleton plodded back and forth, guarding. Two more sat nearby, staring off into nothingness.
—The group hunkered down behind a nearby cliff, keeping just out of sight. They assessed the situation, and concluded that they had no choice but to use the pearl, and see what effects it would bring.
—Moran made it clear his trepidation at using the item to enter the land of the dead. Culturally, he feared it would interfere with his connection to his ancestors.
—Despite his reluctance, he knew that they did not have any other way to get through, and so he braced himself for what came next.
—Thurtog lifted the pearl, and threw it to the ground. Immediately, blue-white smoke erupted from the orb, floating in midair for a few moments before rushing into the mouths and eyes of the Orcs surrounding it.
—Each of the Orcs expressed that they felt cold, but did not feel much different beyond that.
—Just when they were starting to think that the pearl hadn’t worked, they noticed that their skin had become transparent. Within moments, the sin had faded away, revealing only a skeleton. What was more, when they looked around, the Orcs saw that they had all assumed the form of Stormcaller skeletons, in perfect battle gear resembling their foes.
—They looked at each other, and decided to waste no more time, knowing that they would only have a short duration before the spell wore off.
—They turned the corner, and marched toward the gatehouse of Cliffden.
—As they approached, the guards eyed them. However, the undead seemed fooled by their appearance, and immediately raised the portcullis, granting them entry into the dead city.
—The Orcs made good use of their time, making their way into the city itself. They had no idea where they would find the Vault, or even how they would recognize it when they saw it.
—They passed by a few doors, and encountered skeletal guards stationed at various points within the city. Every now and then, the group would spot a landmark that seemed to lead them ahead.
—Red Eagle laid bear traps down whenever he spotted a guard. Luckily the undead took no notice of this, convinced that the Orcs were their own kind.
—The group took so much time, however, that they reverted back to their true forms before reaching the Vault. They became less cautious, hoping now to reach their destination quickly, before being seen.
—At last, they rounded a corner and came upon a pair of reinforced, wooden double-doors, barred with steel. The doors were flanked by a pillar on each side, with sconces that held torches.
—Thorax and Gurshh kept watch with the Wasps at the exits, ensuring that their backs were protected as Moran and red Eagle set to work inspecting the doors.
—Moran discovered that the bars parted down the middle, suggesting that they could be moved by some mechanism. He inspected his surroundings further, and noticed a large mosaic set into the ground beneath them. The tiles depicted a large, swirling circular storm, with a white eye in the centre.
—Upon inspecting the fist-sized black pupil of this eye, Moran saw that it was some sort of keyhole. He traced his finger along a groove running from this eye all the way to the pillars on each side.
—He thought about this for a moment before lifting his arms to strike the pillar. He paused, and received confirmation from Gurshh that he should indeed try this. However, Gurshh warned them all that the sound of breaking brick would surely heard by the Stormcallers.
—Understanding this, Moran plunged his fists into the pillar, ripping the bricks out to reveal a hollow. Inside the hollow was a weighted mechanism, controlled by chains.
—In the distance, the group herd the sound of a battle horn being blown – The Stormcallers were coming.
—With haste, Moran attacked the chain holding the largest weight. The mechanism broke, and the bar holding the door was released.
—Before he could reach the other pillar, Moran and the others turned and saw their enemy approaching. A large group of Stormcaller soldiers marched toward them, swords drawn.
—The Wasps began firing their arrows, led by Thorax. Nearby, Gurshh steadied his sword for combat.
—Moran lunged toward the other pillar, and landed a devastating blow, shattering the brick, revealing the mechanism inside.
—The skeletons started advancing, closing the distance quickly to the Wasps. As the Red Eagle watched, one of the Wasps fell, killed by a longsword strike to the chest.
—The Red Eagle began tossing some explosive bottles of oil to into the crowd of undead swarming toward them. Though effective in striking their targets, the bombs did little to hinder the mass of creatures pushing forward.
—Moran made short work of the other door’s mechanism, and watched as the other bar clattered to the ground. He quickly ran for the doors, and pulled them open, revealing a dark passage inside.
—Red Eagle and Thurtog ran inside quickly, sparing no time. Before going in himself, Moran turned to Blackmane, motioning for him to go inside.
—However, Gurshh stood his ground, telling him that once they were inside, there would be nothing to stop the undead from following them. He urged Thorax, Red Eagle, Thurtog and Moran to go in alone.
—Moran was aghast at Blackmane’s stance, and told him how foolish he thought he was being. He knew that there would be no stopping the undead from following, whether or not Blackmane laid down his life for the others.
—Moran turned to Thorax, telling him to run in as well. Thorax held fast as well, knocking the slaying arrow in his bow, shaking his head. Evidently he wanted to stay with his men. Under the circumstances, Moran seemed to understand.
—Red Eagle did not.
—Moran turned his attention to Gurshh once again,saying that all they would have to do to secure their safety would be to block the entrance after they ran inside.
—Thorax asked if Gurshh could do anything about that once the others had gotten inside, and he told them that he could do his best.
—Moran did not accept this as an answer.
—He mustered a mighty leap, telling Gurshh to run inside. He landed atop a massive statue, weathered and cracking from years of disrepair.
—Moran thrust his hands into the base of it, intensifying the cracks. The statue did not break. Below, another of the White Wasps died under the might of the undead army. On the other side, a huge fire giant skeleton emerged from behind a corner, threatening one of the other Wasps.
—Moran mustered all his strength for another blow, and thrust his hands into one of the cracks. The statue gave way at its base, high above the doorway below. The statue began to fall forwards, and Moran dove downward, running along its length, landing on the ground before it. He pushed Gurshh inside, leaving Thorax outside.
—As the statue plummeted toward him, Thorax readied to fire the arrow at the giant skeleton.
—However, Red Eagle was not about to let his friend die. He threw his grappling hook, landing a hit on Thorax’s armour. The teeth of the hook gripped the back of his chestpiece, and Red Eagle gave a mighty yank.
—As he was pulled backward, Thorax fired his slaying arrow. It hit its mark, landing square between the eyes of the fire giant skeleton, killing it instantly.
—Thorax flew bodily backwards, landing inside the mouth of the dungeon just as the statue smashed to the ground.
—Silence immediately fell over them all, the passage blocked, the threat nullified.
—They all stood for a few moments, not saying a word, letting the silence wash over them along with the smell of decay from the passage beyond.
—Suddenly, Red Eagle let out a shout of triumph, laughing hard, his voice echoing along the stone walls of the chamber.
—Gurshh joined in, letting out a hearty belly-laugh and then a lion-like roar of victory.
—Moran removed his mask for the first time in memory, wiping the sweat from his brow.
—Thurtog smiled and told the group that he had a feeling that he now understood why their superiors had sent them to complete such a mission.
—They all settled down before noticing Thorax. He stood with his hands on the stone blockage, not saying a word. He waited a few moments before pushing off of it, and striding briskly down the corridor, down some dark steps, and out of sight.
—The others knew this must be due to the fact that he had lost all of his men. They were a little ore solemn as they followed him down the steps.
—To provide light, Red Eagle lit his swords aflame, and led the way forward on Gurshh’s command.
—They found Thorax in a chamber down several flights of stairs, and determined that this spot might be a good place to make camp. They reasoned that they could likely fall back to this position, and arrange for some defences to barricade entry.
—Gurshh and the others seemed to like this plan, so Moran set to work, breaking off a few rocks from the walls, and assembling them nearby the opening for later use.
—The group then decided to plunge further into the dungeon, their work just beginning.
—They went down another flight of stairs, and Red Eagle lit a torch sitting in a sconce on a nearby wall.
—Instantly, torches in identical sconces all along the chamber lit up, illuminating the place with flickering light.
—The room was large and square. It appeared that they had walked into a cell block with an atrium situated in the centre of the chamber. Hanging from the ceiling and into this atrium was a massive pillar, suspended by giant, thick chains. These chains ran from four points on the pillar’s circumference into structures situated in the four corners of the room.
—The atrium was deep, the floor the group now stood upon was little more than a wide, stone walkway that ran along each of the four walls. One could look over the railing of this walkway, and look down into the black expanse below. It seemed that the atrium was a sort of pit, whose depth could not yet be determined due to poor lighting.
—Red Eagle was concerned that they could not clearly see what was in the high ceilings, 20 feet above them. He asked Moran to begin playing his drum to intensify the light. Moran obliged, and the corners of the ceiling were illuminated at last.
—The group set to work without much ado. Moran went to inspect the terminals which ran from where the chains met the walls in the corners of the room down to the floor.
—He found that these terminals required a key to operate.
—Red Eagle went to inspect an opening on the north side of the chamber. A row of steps led up to an iron gate, through which a darkened room could be seen. In the torchlight, Red Eagle could just barely make out a set of steps in the centre of the room.
—He also spotted a terminal on the side wall, likely a keyhole to open or close the gate.
—Thurtog stayed by Red Eagle, and was given a torch to hold to provide light. Thorax stood idly, not saying or doing anything in particular.
—Gurshh reported that he had looked through one of the doors, and found what lay beyond to be a sort of processing room for prisoners, noting nothing else of interest.
—Moran decided to press forward, and found a wooden door between a few cells that seemed to lead out of the chamber.
—He found it to be locked, and broke the door down with his fists. The door splintered, revealing another dark passage. He went inside without hesitation, and felt his way along the adjacent wall, having no light of his own to bring with him.
—Meanwhile, Gurshh decided to inspect one of the other doors, readying his sword to break into it.
—Moran continued to feel his way down the chamber, until suddenly he felt his feet give way. He tumbled down half a flight of stairs before righting himself, letting out a mighty yell in the process.
—Gurshh and the others heard this racket, and their heads snapped around curious as to where their companion could have gone.
—Red Eagle told Thurtog to go and see what had happened to Moran, and he went, somewhat grudgingly down into the dark expanse of the stairwell, torch in hand.
—Thurtog caught up with Moran, and they stood surveying the bottom of the stairs in front of them. They seemed to have entered another cell block, and the atrium was visible through the bars of the cells on one side.
—Red Eagle followed down shortly afterwards, hearing Gurshh attempt to break through the door upstairs as he found them.
—The three went down the corridor to the east, and found that it was blocked by a cave-in. They moved down the southern path instead, cells on either side of them.
—Moran strode forward, ignoring Red Eagle’s protests at him going ahead alone without light.
—Moran found himself in the centre of a junction of sorts – a corner that had paths down four sides.
—As Moran stood, marvelling at the dark surroundings, Red Eagle told him to at least stop so that he could lay down a bear trap or two for anything that might approached
—Moran just said “a bear trap? What for?” when his question was suddenly answered.
—Thurtog’s eyes widened as a pair of red eyes gleamed from the nearby passage which led into southeastern end of the cell block.
—A creature stepped from the shadows revealing an eight-foot beast, half bear, half owl.
—The Owlbear shrieked loudly, and another of its kind stepped from the adjacent path.
—The two beasts screamed their cries at the fresh meat in front of them, and combat began.
—Moran wasted no time at all, and lunged forward towards the mouth of the southeastern path.
—The Owlbear ventured a strike, but Moran was ready, hitting the beast hard with a solid punch.
—The claws of the Owlbear still found their target, hitting Moran soundly in the chest.
—Moran then fired another punch at the beast, driving his fist into the creature. The Owlbear screeched in pain, it’s high-pitched shriek transforming into a roar.
—Nearby, Thurtog fired an arrow at the Owlbear emerging from a doorway to the south. The arrow clattered against the back wall, harmlessly falling to the stone floor.
—The Owlbear let out a cry, and ran forward, blood spurting from its eyes in rage. It struck Thurtog with its claws, scooping him up into a firm hold.
—Red Eagle moved forward, and cut the Owlbear to shreds, slicing off the arm that held Thurtog, pinning its other arm and a leg to the stone with his short swords, then drew his greatsword and cut its body in half, spilling guts everywhere.
—Moran was not finished with the Owlbear he faced on the other side of the junction. Moran looked around him quickly, and spotted chains hanging from the walls on either side of the archway leading into the southeastern passage. He grabbed the chain on each side, and was struck in the face by the Owlbear for his trouble.
—Shrugging off the hit, Moran got to his feet, and pulled on the chains. The stone on the right-hand side refused to budge, but the stones supporting the archway on the left gave way to his pull, and the arch partially collapsed, pinning the Owlbear down.
—Thurtog stood nearby, and asked Moran if he still wanted the kill. Moran shrugged and gestured allowing Thurtog to pass.
—Thurtog silenced the screeching Owlbear with his longsword, spilling blood on the cold, hard stone.
—Just as the final blow was struck, Gurshh came running into the junction, his sword drawn. He remarked at how quickly they took the Owlbears down, and grinned in spite of himself.
—Thorax walked slowly from the shadows, following Grushh, saying nothing.
—The group began carving the Owlbears up for meat, admitting that each of them had eater worse, and decided to head back to their fortified position in order to eat and rest for the night.
—As they walked, Thorax took Red Eagle aside. He told him that he forgave him for what he had done.
—Red Eagle was offended, saying that he had saved Thorax from his death. Thorax lamented that he could not die with his men, but said that he had new friends to die beside, which was at least a small comfort.
—The two parted, and moments later, Thorax sought to speak with Moran as well. Thorax told Moran that he had been thinking about the fact that the Wasps do not have death rituals, and said he had discovered why.
—The White Wasps die together. In battle, if the Wasps die, none remain for such ceremonies.
—Moran, Thorax, Thurtog, The Red Eagle and Blackmane made their way back to their camp in silence.

Game 3
Battle of the Stormdrain

—The party made camp for the night, and Thorax sent a few of the White Wasps out on watch duty.
—The rest of the White Wasps and Lionkill soldiers cleaned up the partially-ruined camp while Thorax, Blackmane, and Moran tended to their wounds.
—After the camp was cleaned, they lit a large bonfire, and began eating some food they had found in nearby barrels. The Lionkills had a few drinks of ale, which they downed in one go.
—As they settled in, Moran asked Thorax about the dead members of the White Wasps, and if there were any burial rites that should be done. Puzzled, Thorax asked what Moran meant.
—Moran explained that the Ghostmarrow Clan harvest the bones of their dead families in order to become stronger, and learn from their history. He motioned to the bones that he wore, stating that each set came from a different relative, going all the way back to his great-great grandfather.
—Blackmane seemed surprised that the bones that Moran wore were from his dead ancestors. He stated that the Lionkills simply leave their dead where they lay in order to stain the earth. He said that the glory a Lionkill gained in life lives on in story and song, not in his bones.
—He also said that the bodies left to mark the death of a warrior decompose and feed the creatures the Lionkills hunt.
—Thorax said that his clan had no need for such rites, as members of his clan work as a single number. With one or two gone, others fill their place. He said that the sum is smaller, but the group is no weaker.
—As for learning and becoming stronger using the bones of the dead, Thorax told Moran that members of the White Wasps learn all that they are from their training with one another. Their hearts beat as one, and they know all they need to about the hive through the process of becoming soldiers.
—Meanwhile, Hatchling showed The Red Eagle to a small cave that was filled with treasure.
—Red Eagle had already began drinking in victory, and was fairly belligerent to Hatchling, who seemed to grow more annoying with every moment that passed in his presence.
—The Red Eagle counted a crate of assorted swords, a full-plate, a barrel of assorted adventurer’s gear, and a large chest in the centre of the room.
—The Red Eagle tried to pick the chest up, but he was too exhausted from the fight and the drink, and he collapsed. Hatchling suggested that he take some things out of the chest, and Red Eagle agreed that this was a good idea.
—He spent a few moments trying to break the chest open before Hatchling revealed that the chest was not locked.
—Red Eagle sheepishly opened it, revealing some gold, a few gems, a suit of mithral rings adorned with a goblinoid skull, a black arrow with a skull drawn on the fletching, two green potions of healing, and a small drum depicting a humanoid head on fire.
—With the help of Hatchling, Red Eagle managed to bring the spoils to the bonfire to show the others.
—He arrived unceremoniously dropping what he had found on the ground, Hatchling grumbling as he dragged the chest behind him on their approach.
—Moran found the potions straight away, and tossed one to Red Eagle. Despite being drunk, Red Eagle’s reflexes were good enough that he was able to catch it with one hand. This caused one of the Lionkills to drunkenly start clapping earnestly, very impressed.
—Moran then discovered the black arrow, and seeing the skull, handed it to Thorax, who took it and nodded silently.
—Moran then pulled out the drum, and looking at it curiously, struck it a few times. The bonfire erupted into an intense, large flame, much bigger than before. Moran smiled, and stowed the drum around his shoulder.
—Red Eagle took the suit of Hobgoblin Chain, and said that even though it wasn’t really his style, he would wear it. He immediately disrobed drunkenly, and donned the armour.
—After he had the armour on, Red Eagle said that it could use a cape. He then ordered Hatchling to go and fetch him one. Hatchling obeyed, but went about the camp grumbling, looking for anything resembling a cape.
—Moran spotted this, and he asked Red Eagle to join him away from the fireside. Red Eagle obliged, and stumbled along behind him.
—Moran told him that the way he was treating Hatchling was beginning to look like slavery – one of the things that the army of Grom were fighting against.
—Red Eagle understood suddenly what he had been doing, and confessed that his attitude was merely due to his drunkenness. He stated that were he sober, he would treat Hatchling more like an equal, though still hold him in suspicion, and consider him expendable.
—Moran greed that this outlook was better, and offered to kill Hatchling himself if things became too difficult to maintain.
—Red Eagle assured him that if things got that way, he would kill Hatchling himself.
—The group spent the rest of the night drinking, eating, and resting. Moran relieved one of the Wasps that had been sent on watch, and Red Eagle spent some time talking at Thorax about how impressed he was by his ability in battle.
—Eventually the group went to sleep, resting their wounds for the coming day.
—The party awoke and packed up the camp. When they had assembled at the foot of the cliffside pass, Blackmane addressed them.
—He told them that this territory was known to be filled with undead, and that they all must use caution while travelling. He told them to be the brave men that he knew them to be, and to hold fast to their strengths.
—At this point, Red Eagle piped up, saying that Hatchling would surely know what was ahead of them, at least with regards to the rest of the Hobgoblins who had gone ahead into the mountains.
—Red Eagle added that the Hobgoblin would surely be an asset in negotiating with the rest of his band, to which Hatchling said “…Well get to that when we come to it” in a somewhat surreptitious manner.
—Blackmane was unconvinced, and unimpressed, and told Hatchling to tell them everything he knew.
—Hatchling saw little alternative, and told them that the Hobgoblin army was about 100 soldiers strong. They had entered the cliffside pass to try and take over Stormcaller lands, hoping to rid the cliffs of the undead and to usurp the fallen empire.
—Blackmane suggested that they be cautious of any ambushes that might be set for them by the Hobgoblins as well, stressing again the need for vigilance. He then told Red Eagle that Hatchling was his responsibility, and to watch him to ensure that he wasn’t trying to lead them into a trap.
—The party then ventured into the cliffside pass, the two high, grey walls high above them on each side, keeping them in shadow as they walked. The skies were grey, as the Stormlands were usually covered by a thick blanket of clouds.
—As the party walked, they could not shake the eerie feeling that they were being watched by some unseen force. They could spot nothing, but still felt uneasy as they walked.
—Thorax sent two of his White Wasps ahead to scout, leaving the rest to tread uneasily up the pass.
—Moran kept his keen eyes peeled the entire trip, taking great pains to pay strict attention to the surroundings. It looked as though the ground had seen over a hundred feet pass over it in the past four days, affirming the number that Hatchling had given them of the Hobgoblin army.
—Meanwhile, as Red Eagle walked, he noticed Hactchling steal glances at him every so often out of the corner of his eye. This made Red Eagle suspicious, but said nothing and continued forward.
—At last, after hours of walking, the party were called to a rest by Blackmane. The group settled down for food and drink, and to rest their legs.
—As they sat, The White Wasps who had gone on patrol returned, and provided a report to Thorax nearby.
—In the meantime, Red Eagle went to Hatchling, and attempted to uncover the source of all the glances he was given during the walk.
—Hatchling resisted at first, but when Red Eagle became more aggressively persuasive, he told him that knowing his band of Hobgoblins, if they knew that the Orcs were coming, they would be setting an ambush for them.
—Red Eagle considered this for a moment, and then decided that it would be a good idea to send Hatchling out in front, to try and negotiate safe passage through to Cliffden for the Orcs.
—Hatchling said that his leader would never do such a thing to the Orcs, and that they would accept no matter of convincing, not with their superior numbers.
—Red Eagle thought about this point, and told Hatchling that if he valued his life, he would at least attempt it. Hatchling became angry, saying that he would die anyway once his men discovered the deception, and that he would not cooperate.
—Red Eagle became more aggressive, saying that they would make it through the mountains, and he would help whether they like it or not. Fearful of incurring Red Eagle’s wrath any further, Hatchling finally agreed to ride one of the direboars to the Hobgoblins out in front. He noticed that the direboar that Red Eagle had chosen for him was laden with explosive bottles of oil, and he cringed as he mounted the beast, resolved to his fate.
—Meanwhile, Thorax finished speaking with his Wasps, and approached Blackmane and Moran solemnly, removing his wasp-head helm.
—When Blackmane asked what they had found, Thorax told him that his scouts had found the Hobgoblins. When Moran asked how many soldiers there were, Thorax replied with “Alive or dead?”
—Gurshh and Moran both paused a few moments, wary of the answer. Moran finally asked how many were alive
—Thorax replied with one word. “None.”
—Gurshh and Moran exchanged glances, wondering what force waited ahead for them that could kill 100 Hobgoblin Soldiers.
—Blackmane asked Thorax what was up ahead, and Thorax relayed the information the others had gathered.
—Up ahead, the scouts reported that the pass opened on the left side into a deep gorge. 200 feet down was a churning river, fall that would surely kill anyone. The Hobgoblins lay dead on a stretch of ground that ran toward a massive dam that blocked the river. Attached to the dam was a gatehouse, blocking the way up the rest of the pass.
—Two iron gates were shut tight, barring entry. On the other side of the dam’s walkway was a tower, 40 feet up.
—Guarding these structures were undead soldiers of the Stormcaller Empire, armed with bows and swords. However, the largest threat facing them were the fire giant skeletons that guarded the gate and the dam walkway, standing like awful sentinels with blue fire beards and hair.
—The Orcs marvelled at the description of the strategic design of the structure, and it was clear that this had been built to keep Orcs out.
—Blackmane immediately said that he had no intention of striding straight into combat again, and that he would look to the others to help think up a decent strategy.
—Moran, Gurshh and Thorax stood as the others rested, trying to come up with a plan.
—At that moment, Red Eagle approached with the news that he had convinced Hatchling to ride forward as an advance unit to try and reason with the Hobgoblin army.
—However, upon hearing about the death of Hatchling’s entire clan, Red Eagle became solemn, and left them again to speak to Hatchling about what had happened.
—Appearing to show remorse for his behaviour in light of recent developments, Red Eagle asked Hatchling to get off of the direboar and to listen to him. At this point, Hatchling was very defeated, and angry at what he was being forced into, and was reluctant, but agreed after a moment.
—Red Eagle broke the news to Hatchling that his people had been killed, and offered to make him a member of the Cursed Dawn clan.
—Hatchling seemed confused, and so Red Eagle explained that his clan were a made up of discarded members of other clans, and had found their strength together. He offered Hatchling a place in this clan, offering to protect and fight alongside him.
—Hatchling still seemed reluctant, and said he would agree only if Red Eagle agreed to start treating him like an equal.
—Red Eagle agreed. Hatchling became quiet, and pondered over the fact that everyone he once knew was dead.
—Red Eagle left him to his musings, and went around to the other Orcs, telling them all that Hatchling was a member of his clan, and that any harm that came to him as a result of the Orcs would be grounds for retribution from Red Eagle.
—Red Eagle joined Moran, Gurshh and Thorax, telling them about Hatchling’s introduction into the Cursed Dawn. Moran and Gurshh seemed not to think highly of this, and Blackmane demanded that Red Eagle keep a close watch on the Hobgoblin, making him his responsibility. Red Eagle agreed.
—Though they thought for some time about creating a decent strategy to make their way through the pass, the Orcs could think of no better way of approaching the situation than by simply moving forward to attack.
—Gurshh suggested that Moran try to use his skills of breaking things to his advantage, and for him to try to get over to the walkway if possible. He told Red Eagle that he would be needed on the front line to attack the giant in front of the gate.
—With that, Blackmane went before the group at large, and informed them all of the situation. He told them all that they would likely go to their doom, but that if they died, they would die in the name of Grom. He told them that they would receive the greatest honour, dying for their people in glorious battle. The Orcs let out a yell, and they surged forward up the pass.
—The group emerged onto the scene, the Hobgoblin army lying sprawled everywhere. The bodies were broken, twisted, mangled, and mutilated against the rocks and ground, blood trickling down the pass.
—Ahead were the undead, their eyes and mouths pouring out a strange, blue mist. The fire giant skeleton was enormous, and as it saw them approach, it drew a huge greatsword, and charged ahead.
—The Orcs only just had time to form rank before the giant started running. Red Eagle moved in front of the others, his swords drawn resolutely.
—The giant arced his sword back, and swung a resounding blow into Red Eagle, throwing him almost off his feet.
—Seeing his new friend struck by the giant roused the Hobgoblin into action. Considering his deceased companions, he roared, and attempted a strike at the giant’s leg. His sword rebounded off the bone, and he was burned in the process by the fire that surrounded the creature.
—The Lionkill Soldiers moved in next, moving in to strike the giant.
—The first soldier attacked, and stuck a minor blow to the giant.
—The second Lionkill soldier moved too slowly, and the giant spotted his approach. The giant swung its greatsword, and killed the Lionkill in one strike. The soldier crumpled against the force of the sword, and was thrust against the cliff wall, broken, crumpling to the ground in a bloody heap.
—The two skeleton archers atop the gatehouse fired a volley of arrows which each missed their mark due to the distance.
—The seven White Wasp soldiers that remained had formed rank, and fired arrows of their own. The first group struck with their volley, firing into the bones of the giant. The others missed with their shots, and were lucky that no arrows struck any of the Orcs that fought nearby.
—Thorax attempted to fire an arrow at the giant before him, but missed, the arrow flying harmlessly through the flames.
—Blackmane ran forward to join his companions, and swung at the giant, landing a resounding blow.
—Moran saw that the fiery beast would likely harm his fist should he attempt to strike it, so he turned his attention on the gatehouse, running toward it. In the process, Moran grabbed hold of the healing potion at his belt, and threw it mid-run at the giant.
—The potion bottle shattered on the beast’s front, showering it with the glowing green liquid within. The giant seemed to burn with the positive energy contained within the potion, causing it serious damage.
—Some of the potion splashed onto Red Eagle, who found his wounds close and heal instantaneously.
—The Red Eagle attempted to make many strikes against the beast, landing two solid hits.
—However, the giant still stood, angrier than ever. It swung its sword at the other Lionkill soldier, cutting him clean in half. The Lionkill’s body soared through the air, split, and plummeted down into the gorge below.
—Hatchling saw that he could do very little good from where he stood, and decided to follow Moran further up the field toward the tower.
—The skeletal archers atop the gatehouse fired their arrows again. One fired at the White Wasps, and killed one of their number. The other archer shot at Moran, who was struck as well.
—The White Wasps re-formed their rank, and fired once again at the giant. None struck true this time, and one archer even managed to hit Red Eagle with his miss – a byproduct of firing into melee.
—Thorax ran forward, and Moran shouted at him, telling him to fire at the other giant which walked the walkway of the dam. Thorax nodded, knocked an arrow, and fired, striking it in the clavicle.
—Blackmane yelled in a bloody rage, swinging his sword for another strike on the giant. His swing landed home, but did not kill the awful creature.
—Meanwhile, Moran got to the foot of the gatehouse, and mustered his ki. He perormed an amazing leap, landing in front of the Stormcaller archer. Without hesitating, he thrust his arms at the skeleton’s breastplate, denting it with a single punch.
—Below, The Red Eagle attempted another attack at the giant. He swung with his swords, attacking frantically, but the beast had thick defences. He dealt damage to the beast, and mustered his courage for whatever came next.
—But the giant wasn’t finished with Red Eagle. Swinging the sword again mechanically, it struck him hard, almost knocking him back. It moved in for a second swing, hitting Red Eagle once again with a devastating blow.
—Hatchling fired an arrow at the adjacent gatehouse tower, striking his enemy.
—The Stormcaller Archer standing in front of Moran attacked, dropping its bow, and drawing its sword. However, this was enough to provoke an attack from Moran, and he attacked with a strike that broke the skeleton’s armour.
—The archer still managed to hit Moran with its blade, cutting deeply into his Orcish flesh.
—The other archer fired at the White Wasps again, but missed.
—The Wasps fired another volley at the giant, both forward groups hitting their target. The fire went out of the giant, leaving a smoking husk. It collapsed on itself as it fell, dead, shaking the earth.
—Thorax took careful aim at the giant striding the walkway. He knocked the jet black arrow, and fired. The arrow flew perfectly towards its target, the white skull painted on the fletching leaving a white streak in the air as it soared. It struck the giant right in the skull, and embedded itself there. The giant survived the resounding hit, but just barely.
—Lionkill let out a bellow of fury, and charged toward the gatehouse towers. He hefted a javelin in one hand, and threw it toward one of the archers. The javelin missed, and he roared again in rage.
—Moran sneered at the skeleton before him. He lifted his fist, and broke its sword with a single punch, damaging its arm in the process. The skeleton looked at its broken sword in confusion a moment before opening its mouth in a whispering scream of malice.
—Red Eagle, the giant now dead decided to move up the field. He got out of the way of the archers, and moved just below the tower where Moran fought the skeleton.
—Hatchling attempted another shot at the archer atop the other tower, and struck again.
—The skeleton fighting Moran attempted a swing with its broken sword, missing horribly.
—The other undead Stormcaller archer fired at the White Wasps, killing yet another of their number, leaving only five alive.
—The White Wasps moved ahead, and re-formed rank, firing their arrows at the archers on the towers. No hits struck home this time as they closed the distance slowly.
—Thorax fired an arrow at the archer atop the tower, and struck the archer soundly.
—Lionkill attempted to climb the tower with his bare hands, but could not get a firm grip on the smooth stone bricks. His rage fuelled another bellowing lion’s roar, echoing off the cliffsides.
—Moran swung an arm back to attack the skeleton one last time, but lost his footing mid-stride. The skeleton anticipated this, and thrust at him with both arms, pushing him bodily off the tower. Moran fell thirty feet, directly onto Red Eagle. Both were wounded by this, though they kept their feet.
—The Red Eagle decided to try something drastic. He lifted his rope in his hands, with his new grappling hook attached. He ran along the gatehouse, dodging arrows as he went from the archer above. With a mighty throw, he thrust the grappling hook in the air. It landed soundly on the ledge of the tower above, holding fast. The rope still in hand, The Red Eagle mustered his rage, and made a mighty push with his legs off of the tower.
—He spiralled with ease through the air, clinging to the rope as he flew around the side of the tower, and over the walkway of the dam. He jumped off, landing directly in front of the giant. He drew his swords before the enormous beast, readying himself with a manic grin.
—However, the giant was already swinging its sword as Red Eagle landed before him. Almost as if it moved in slow-motion, the giant struck the Red Eagle with its sword, knocking him to one side. Just as swiftly, the second strike came, hitting him yet again.
—The red Eagle was bloodied by this, and collapsed to one knee, barely able to move from the pain of his wounds. He looked the giant dead in the eye, and spat blood to the ground.
—The skeleton that Moran had fought lifted his bow, and attempted to fire another shot down at him. However, the bowstring snapped, the arrow wafting like a stick harmlessly to the ground below.
—The other archer fired at Thorax, who was struck hard.
—The Wasps fired and killed the archer atop the other tower.
—Thorax, seeing Red Eagle in danger mustered his courage, and ran, full-tilt to where the rope hung from the tower. He grabbed hold, and swung across, landing with ease.
—Gurshh did the same, kicking hard, and finding his feet on the walkway as well.
—Meanwhile, Moran mustered his ki again to heal, running toward the rope himself to join the others on the dam’s walkway.
—The Red Eagle pulled his potion from his bag, and drank it back in one swig. Far from being fully healed, Red Eagle was able to stand, and lifted his sword once again.
—Hatchling ran ahead, and spotted Moran about to cross with the rope. He asked Moran to move for a moment so he could cross. Moran glowered, and told him to make himself useful by the gatehouse.
—Hatchling looked like he had been struck. However, he nodded to Moran sternly, and took a few steps back. He ran forward and leaped across the gap to the walkway himself, catching himself on the ledge, and pulling himself up on the other side. He stood in front of the door to the gatehouse, getting ready to open it.
—The Stormcaller still atop the gatehouse tower looked at his broken weapons, and then moved across the structure, down the steps, and to the door, preparing to open it as well.
—The giant took his sword in both hands, baring its gruesome teeth. It lifted its sword, and swung down, attempting to hit Red Eagle once again. The sword missed him by inches, striking into the stone.
—The White Wasps had no other targets to shoot, and moved forward to try to climb the gatehouse. They stood on the shoulders of one another, attempting to reach the top.
—Meanwhile, Thorax stood beneath the giant, and fired an arrow past him to the Stormcaller on the tower at the other end of the dam’s walkway.
—Blackmane let out a cry for his fallen commerades, and swung his sword forcibly into the giant, knocking him dead. The giant fell backwards, landing with half of its body on the walkway, its flaming head extinguishing in the river as it did.
—Blackmane gave Red Eagle an encouraging and approving thump on the back at they now faced down yet another Stormcaller guard.
—The skeletal archer atop the dam’s tower fired an arrow down at Thorax, striking him, dealing yet more damage.
—Moran took the rope, and swung across himself, landing nearby Hatchling. He glared as he landed.
—Red Eagle moved ahead to face the skeleton before him. His rage filled him to the brim as he lifted his swords, and ignited them with flame. He lurched forward, and mustering all of his power, he struck. He landed each hit that he swung, dancing in perfect form to the tune of death. He thrust both swords into the skull of the skeleton from beneath, thrust it into the air, plunged the swords into its ribcage and tore it apart. Its body flew in all directions as the blue smoke vanished from its lifeless skill.
—Hatchling the Hobgoblin checked the doorknob of the gatehouse, and found that it was unlocked. He swung it open, and was greeted by the sight of the Stormcaller soldier standing before him.
—Though he was given quite a fright at the sudden appearance of the enemy, Hatchling swung his sword, striking a solid blow at the creature.
—The second giant now dead, Thorax dove into the water of the river, and swam to where the giant’s skull lay, submerged. He yanked the black arrow out of its head, and put it back into his quiver.
—Meanwhile, Blackmane roared, and charged bodily at the door to the tower. He broke through it with ease, reducing the wood to splinters.
—The remaining skeleton atop the tower fired an arrow down at Thorax in the water, hitting him in the back.
—Standing by the open doorway of the gatehouse, Moran told Hatchling to move out of the way. Hatchling turned his head and said “Why don’t you make yourself useful by the tower”. Moran understood the joke, but pushed Hatchling aside. In one resounding blow, he thrust his arms through the ribcage of the skeleton. Mustering all his strength, he pulled its spine out through its ribcage, the creature’s ribs shattering as the skull was forced through. He lashed the Stormcaller guard with its own spine and skull until it was no more than a pile of rubble.
—The door now out of the way, and seeing his final enemy above, The Red Eagle lifted his swords, and went into a dead sprint. He rand across the length of the walkway of the dam, and into the tower. He ran up the stairs swiftly, dragging his flaming swords upon the walls, lighting the torches in sconces at various lengths as he went.
—Outside, standing over the corpse of the Stormcaller, Moran began beating the Goblin Drum in triumph.
—As The Red Eagle ran, the drumbeats filled his ears. The fires he lit erupted soundly, each like bonfires in their sconces. It became so hot that The Red Eagle’s brow dripped with sweat.
—He reached the top, and his enemy turned to face him, its face splitting in a silent scream of rage.
—The skeleton fired an arrow, striking The Red Eagle with a minor blow.
—Bloodied and bruised, The Red Eagle did not fall.
—He strode forward, and thrust his swords into the skeleton’s ribs. With supreme power, he tore the skeleton apart, and thrust its bones down to the walkway below.
—With a final battle cry, The Red Eagle back-flipped off of the tower, landing firmly on his feet atop the bones of his defeated foe, shattering them into dust.
—The battle completed, the group reconvened, and considered the loss of the dead. Blackmane was the most effected, lamenting his fallen brothers.
—However he congratulated Red Eagle on his perseverance, and determination in the face of death.
—He did the same for Moran who had fought bravely as well.
—The wounded group decided to make camp at the battle site for the night, as they were in definite need of rest.
—Before they made camp, The Red Eagle approached Hatchling the Hobgoblin. He congratulated him on his bravery, and Hatchling proudly said that he felt his brothers had been avenged soundly.
—Red Eagle decided that Hatchling was deserving of a new name. He tore some feathers from his headdress, handing them to the Hobgoblin. He named him Thurtog – The Grey Sparrow.
—The group tended their wounds, and settled in for the night ahead.

Game 2
The Sword of Bothh

—As the Orcs began to disperse, Moran remembered what his clan leader had told him – to bring any magical or suspicious items they found to General Yatur.
—Moran took this opportunity to further inspect the book, asking Red Eagle to pull it from his bag.
—The two decided that this should be shown to Yatur, but perhaps not with so many other Orcs around (who might try to steal credit for finding something that looked so valuable)
—Red Eagle quickly nodded and stowed the book back in the bag. However, it was not fast enough to avoid the gaze of an onlooking member of the Stonesmasher Clan, who stupidly pointed to the bag and said “…Shiny.”
—This led Moran and Red Eagle to defend themselves by viciously responding to the brutish Orc. Moran let out a rough growl, which made the Stonesmasher recoil slightly. Red Eagle finished the job by imbibing a mouthful of lantern oil, and spitting it out over the flame of one of his magical swords.
—As the flame shot forth from his mouth in a spurt, the Stonesmasher became shaken, and hurried off, regretting his choice to intervene.
—The two of them agreed that it was wise to conceal the book until they could be assured privacy when displaying it to Yatur.
—Each of them parted ways temporarily in order to reconvene whit their respective clans,a nd pack for the twelve-hour journey to the meeting place at the cliffs.
—As Red Eagle finished packing up, he noticed a strange-looking Orc he had not met before.
—The Orc sat atop a boar, and was garbed in red robes, wearing no armour. He was flanked by two Lionkill Clan members, making him seem all the more important.
—The Orc was shorter, slighter, and much paler than any Orc he had ever seen. In fact, Red Eagle was almost positive that whoever he was looking at had at least a little human blood in him.
—The Orc had whitish, cloudy eyes, and a scarred mouth. He additionally seemed to have faint designs etched into his bald, white skull.
—Red Eagle quickly looked away from the Orc upon meeting his gaze, but it was too late. The Orc seemed to take interest in him and got off of the boar, limping his way closer.
—He immediately spoke to Red Eagle upon his approach, and asked him what he had concealed in his bag.
—Knowing that the Orc likely referred to the codex they had found, Red Eagle pretended as though he carried nothing.
—When the pale Orc questioned him further, Red Eagle countered by remarking upon the Orc’s odd appearance and stature.
—However, the pale Orc seemed used to these sorts of allegations, and freely admitted that he was different than other Orcs, though still very formidable an opponent should one fall on his bad side.
—In the end, the pale Orc decided to relent, leaving Red Eagle to ponder the odd encounter as he limped back to his mount, Lionkill Clansmen in tow.
—Moments later, Red Eagle and Moran reunited, and Red Eagle suggested that their clans travel together, to provide strength in numbers for the Cursed Dawn.
—Moran grudgingly agreed, and the two clans set of for the cliffs.
—They arrived at the encampment the next evening, where festivities were already well underway.
—The two wasted no time engaging in revelry, and instead, Moran asked to take the codex from Red Eagle to show to Yatur.
—However, Red Eagle protested politely, and said that if the codex was to be shown to Yatur, he wanted them both to present it. Moran agreed sullenly, and the two set off for the clifftop plateau where the officers tents were located.
—The clifftop bonfire was nearly deserted when they arrived. Around the fire were many spaces to sit, and near each seat were the banners of the various Boar Clans.
—Under one of the banners sat an important-looking Stonesmasher Orc, idly picking skull and brain out of the end of a heavy maul.
—Standing off to the side, his arms behind his back was a strange Orc wearing ornately-designed black leather armour with white markings. The armour was crafted to resemble a wasp’s carapace, complete with a wasp-head helm that completely covered the wearer’s face.
—The wearer of the wasp armour stood stock still, and said nothing.
—Yatur stood near the edge of the cliff, overlooking the large encampment below, observing his men revel in their spoils.
—When Moran tried to approach, the wasp-headed Orc blocked his path. Moran sidestepped, but the Orc moved with him. When Moran protested vocally, Yatur addressed the Orc as “Thorax”, and told him to let them pass. The Orc obliged silently, and stepped to the side as Moran pushed past.
—Moran and Red Eagle introduced themselves to Yatur, and showed him the strange codex.
—Yatur inspected it, remarking that it was indeed an interesting find. He asked Moran to open it, and he obliged, deftly breaking the metal bonds, and handing it back.
—Yatur admitted that the book was not his sort of thing, but that it seemed too important not to have value. He thanked them for finding it, and ventured off elsewhere to investigate it.
—In the meantime, Moran and Red Eagle decided to part ways temporarily in order to enjoy their time in the encampment as they waited to hear more about the book.
—Moran stayed behind on the cliffside, taking up a position to watch the revelry below, much as Yatur had.
—Meanwhile, Red Eagle headed down the cliffside to the camp below to find his clan members. They bumped into him quickly, happily handing him a severed arm they had acquired.
—Red Eagle asked them if anything else interesting had happened in his absence. Pex mentioned that a clan had arrived that no one had seen before, and led Red Eagle to where they were standing.
—They arrived on a very tense scene near a large bonfire. All around different clans were drinking, eating and carousing, watching the events before them unfold.
—Near one side of the bonfire were three Lionkill Clan members standing facing a group of black-skinned Orcs each painted with white wasp-like markings. They each carried bows and spears, and all stood at attention identically, like soldiers forming rank. One stood in front, who had a pair of giant wasp wings strapped to his back.
—The lead Lionkill was shouting threats at the other clan, calling them cowards for remaining so still and silent in presence of their challenge.
—When Red Eagle asked who the clan was, Pex replied that they were known as the White Wasps, a group that had only just recently joined Grom’s army.
—Red Eagle soon grew annoyed at the behaviour of the Lionkills, and stepped forward, a flask of lantern oil in one hand.
—He feigned a stumble, spilling the oil all over the lead Lionkill member.
—The Lionkill grabbed hold of Red Eagle by the front, and hoisted him off the ground angrily. Red Eagle responded not by breaking free, but by pulling himself closer to the Lionkill’s face, staring him dead in the eye.
—The two exchanged a few tense words. The Lionkill told Red Eagle to stay out of his business, to which Red Eagle encouraged the challenge.
—Eventually the Lionkill let him go telling him that he would deal with him later. He returned his attention to the White Wasps threatening them once more.
—However, The Red Eagle stepped between him and the Wasps, and began openly criticizing the Lionkill Clan and their lawful attitudes. At one point, he turned to the crowd and asked them to join him in shouting to be freed from the scrutinizing eyes of the Lionkills, to which the crowd replied with fervour.
—At the insult to his clan, the Lionkill swung his sword in an upward arc, ready to bring it down on Red Eagle’s neck.
—However, Red Eagle was ready, and drew his flaming sword lightly across the Lionkill’s chest.
—At once, the Lionkill erupted in flames, the lantern oil igniting violently. The Lionkill raised his sword for another strike as he raged against the fire, but was instantly struck by twenty arrows, each of them reaching their target.
—The Lionkill fell – dead before he struck the earth. The other two Lionkills glanced at each other and fled.
—The crowd erupted in a frenzied howl of delight.
—The Red Eagle turned to see the twenty White Wasps standing with their bows still raised, having just loosed the killing volley. Silently and in unison, they saddled their bows, and inclined their heads.
—The Wasp wearing the wings lifted a hand, and placed it upon The Red Eagle’s shoulder. He said nothing. He nodded and went with his commerades to have a drink.
—The Red Eagle’s clan bounded to his side in triumph, and they all joined the Wasps in celebration.
—From the cliffs above, Moran watched the whole scene unfold.
—As he sat quietly observing the encampment, he heard Yatur’s voice enter the tent behind him.
—Yatur seemed to be speaking to another Orc, one who called himself “Shamob”. Moran listened closely, and heard the two speaking of the codex.
—Shamob seemed very excited, and said that the book might contain something he had been looking for.
—Yatur seemed apprehensive about this. He mentioned to Shamob that the Orcs disliked him, and that they spoke often of his tendency to read. Shamob responded with venom in his voice, saying that he did not care for the opinions of the Orcs, and that he had far more power and status than they could dream of obtaining.
—With that, he told Yatur that he had reading to do, and that Yatur should make himself useful elsewhere.
—Yatur stormed out of the tent, and up the cliffside.
—Curious about what he had just heard, Moran stood, and was immediately met with the sight of the man Yatur had called Thorax, who must have been standing behind him.
—Moran acknowledged him, and Thorax inclined his head. Moran seemed unsure of Thorax’s intentions, and began asking questions, none of which Thorax answered with more than a movement of his head.
—Before Moran could leave, Thorax stopped him. Thorax pointed to the tent sternly. He then motioned to his ear with one finger, and then to his head, which he tapped slightly.
—Moran seemed to miss the message, but nodded and set off to find Yatur.
—He soon heard the sound of an Orc bellowing, followed by a large crack.
—He followed the sound until he spotted Yatur at the top of the cliffs on a plateau, splitting rocks with his greatsword.
—Moran made his presence known, and Yatur made a sour comment about soldiers sneaking up on their generals. Moran countered by mentioning Shamob, and how different he was from normal Orcs.
—Yatur acknowledged that Moran must have heard the two of them speaking, and told him that while Shamob had strange methods, Grom trusted him, and therefore would have to Yatur trust him as well.
—When Moran asked about the details of Shamob’s oddity, Yatur told him that Shamob was known as an oracle, which is why he was so close to Grom.
—He told Moran that Shamob’s power was quite formidable, and that his services have shown nothing but loyalty to Grom and Krotusk.
—This did nothing to instill Moran with confidence, to which Yatur admitted he agreed wholeheartedly.
—In spite of all this, Yatur seemed less angered after speaking of this with Moran, and told him that Yatur would inform Moran and Red Eagle should any developments arise.
—Moran mentioned that he might like to have a word with Shamob personally, to which Yatur told him to avoid doing so whilst Shamob was reading.
—Moran agreed that this was wise, and left the plateau to join the revelry int he encampment.
—Moran and Red Eagle met up once Moran reached the encampment, and the two swapped details of the last hour. They spent the next few hours talking, drinking and carousing with the other Orcs, enjoying what the feast had to offer.
—As the two were just discussing paying Shamob an unscheduled visit, they were interrupted by an envoy of Yatur, who told them that both of them had been invited to join Yatur and the clan leaders for a meeting on the officer’s plateau.
—Moran hastily fetched his clan’s banner from one of the other Ghostmarrow Orcs, and he and Red Eagle followed the envoy to the cliffs.
—Once there, Moran and Red Eagle saw that some (but not all) of the clan leaders had been assembled around the bonfire, under their respective banners.
—Thorax of the White Wasps stood with his hands behind his back, waiting.
—An important-looking Lionkill clan member paced back and forth like an animal in front of his blood-red banner.
—The Stonesmasher from before idly picked more blood, skull and brain fragments of the end his maul, and even began eating what he found.
—One of the Chainspikes flexed and relaxed a length of chain between his hands impatiently as he sat near the fire.
—When they arrived, Moran wasted no time in planting his clan’s banner firmly in front of the fire. He made a point to plant it closer to the fire than the other banners.
—The Lionkill seemed insulted, and turned his nose up, while the Chainspiker smiled and nodded.
—Yatur stepped out of his tent, and addressed the group, welcoming them all.
—He got straight to the point, telling the group of the codex that was found during the raid on Velore, and that the information contained within was very important.
—Shamob emerged from the tent, the boom in hand, and Yatur allowed him to present his findings.
—Shamob told them that the book was from the ancient Stormcaller Empire, which had been wiped out by the Orcs centuries ago. He said that long ago, the Boar Clans were united for the first time by a warchief known to the Orcs as Bothh. Bothh wielded tremendous power, and carried a sword that the Orcs said allowed him the power to more easily unite his armies.
—Shamob went on to say that the sword was handed down several generations before the war was won. Each Orc that carried it carried the power of Bothh himself. However, the sword was lost on the warchief’s final raid on the Stormlands.
—The Orcs swept through shortly after, and destroyed the humans of the Stormlands once and for all. However, they went through too quickly, and did not think to look for the lost sword. Ever since, the Sword has remained lost, and no attempts have been made to find or recover it.
—Shamob said that this was why he had called them all there – the codex revealed the location of The Sword of Bothh, saying that it was hidden deep in an ancient Stormcaller keep in the Thunderhead mountains.
—Shamob said that in order to recover the sword, he wanted to send an infiltration force to enter the Stormlands to retrieve it. He went on to say that the sword could play an important role in turing the tide of the war, for in Grom’s hands, the sword could be an invaluable tool.
—At this, the Lionkill piped up and stated that the reason that no Orc has set foot into the Stormlands is that they now crawl with undead.
—Shamob stated that he understood this, which was why he had invited the clan leaders of the Boar Clans best known for their bravery to accomplish the task.
—However, at this Yatur spoke up angrily, stating that the Orcs were marching to war the next day, and that he could not spare so many clan members to accomplish such a feat to bring back the weapon.
—Shamob agreed, saying that they would not need to send a large force. He offered that to accomplish the goal, they would need only to send 4 clan leaders. If each clan leader brought 3 warriors from their clan with them, they would have enough soldiers to make a decent force to bring the sword back.
—Yatur pondered this, and agreed that this was reasonable.
—Shamob then asked for volunteers to begin the mission on the morrow.
—Red Eagle seemed to still have his doubts, and said to Shamob that he would join only if it was to Grom that the sword would go.
—Shamob looked him square in the eye, and vowed that if they recovered the sword, whomsoever brought the sword back would present it to Grom personally, gaining glory and recognition for his clan.
—At this, the Orcs all seemed to agree that this was fair. Moran and Red Eagle volunteered first, but refused to bring any of their respective clan members with them.
—Shamob agreed that this was acceptable, and said they would compensate with additional members from another clan.
—The Stonesmasher named Bouldrr said that the thought of impending war was too great to ignore, and said he would remain with the horde to fight in it. Krakk Spinesplitter of the Chainspikes agreed with Bouldrr, and also said he would remain behind.
—The Lionkill introduced himself as Grushh Blackmane, and volunteered, saying that he would bring his three finest with him to help bring glory to Grom.
—Thorax sxtepped forward last and said quietly that he would join them as well, and that he would bring nine soldiers with him.
—Shamob appointed Blackmane of the Lionkills as the leader of the expedition, and said that they would all meet there the next morning before departing.
—The group dispersed to get some rest before the dawn.
—Though groggy from a night of drinking, the group reassembled at the plateau. Shamob and Yatur were both there to see them off. Yatur told them to do Grom proud, and to return with a mighty gift to present.
—The Orcs gathered their things, and Shamob sent them on their way.
—Blackmane led the party toward the Thunderhead mountains. Two dire boars travelled with them, laden with provisions.
—Moran spoke to Thorax as they walked, asking about the White Wasps. Moran asked if the White Wasps always use poison, to which Thorak replied “Only until the poison runs out”.
—He told Moran that they use the poison taken from the stingers of giant wasps.
—Thorax also told him that the Wasps rarely spoke because they all breathed as one.
—Satisfied by this, Moran returned to walking alongside the others.
—Meanwhile, Red Eagle began accosting Blackmane, making it clear how little he thought of the Orc’s leadership. The two drew blades at one point, Blackmane commenting that he hoped the two would not have to come to blows.
—The two parted from their quarrel, but the tension remained high as they trekked further toward their destination.
—Toward sunset, the Thunderhead mountains were visible. Thorax moved ahead to speak with Blackmane, who then suggested on Thorax’s behalf that they should scout ahead to the mountain pass to see if there was any danger before proceeding.
—Three Wasps rushed off to scout while the others waited patiently for their return.
—It was a long while before Thorax stated that they had been gone too long, and that they should move ahead with extreme caution.
—Blackmane agreed, and suggested that wahtever the foe, they meet it head-on, much to the chagrin of the others.
—They saw smoke as they approached the pass, and Red Eagle could smell cooking human flesh.
—As they got ever nearer, it became clear that they were approaching an partially-established encampment of some kind.
—There were grey-blue skinned creatures patrolling the pass, and a small wooden watchtower had been erected.
—Thorax informed them that the creatures were Hobgoblins, who normally took slaves.
—Instead of trying to prepare an ambush, Blackmane strode straight up to the leader of the Hobgoblins, who walked out to meet them as they approached.
—Blackmane claimed it would be cowardice not to meet their enemy head-on in battle.
—The lead hobgoblin was a sneering sort, wearing full-plate armour. The others seemed to wear studded leather, and all snickered as the Orcs approached.
—Blackmane spent some trying attempting to negotiate passage with the Hobgoblins, who merely challenged the Orcs with their superior numbers and tactical minds.
—When asked, the Hobgoblin leader said that they had come to the Thunderheads to take up ownership over the deserted Stormlands. They were guarding the pass to prevent interruptions in their takeover operation.
—After a time, it became clear that the Hobgoblins would not budge, and Blackmane got into a battle stance.
—However, before they began, as an extra deterrent, the Hobgoblins pointed to the tops of the cliffs, where two Hobgoblin Wyvern riders sat, poised to swoop down and attack.
—Smiling at the look on the faces of the Orcs, the Hobgoblin leader ordered his men to charge.
—The battle began with the Hobgoblin forces facing off against the White Wasps on either side of the battlefield.
—Guarding the entrance to the encampment were three Hobgoblins (including their leader) and the Wyvern riders still guarding from the clifftops.
—Moran opened the fight by rushing forward, fists raised. He moved to a strategic position, and ran straight across the three Hobgoblins guarding the gate, allowing each to attack him, but providing a counter for every blow. He tore the studded leather off of the first immediately in one move. He then moved to the leader, was struck, and moved in to break his sword with a punch. The third attacked him as well, dealing a solild blow. Moran struck him, nearly destroying his armour as well.
—Red Eagle mustered his rage, and took an immense leap, attempting to land between the three enemies. He could not close the distance, however, landing and dealing a heavy blow to the lead Hobgoblin instead.
—Thorax moved up the battlefield, drew his bow, and took aim at one of the Wyvern-riding Hobgoblin dragoons. He fired, and struck directly into the Dragoon’s neck, throwing it into a rage.
—The lead Hobgoblin took a look at his sword, and withdrew to a position further back into the encampment. “FALL BACK!” he called to his men in a panicked voice. However, they seemed not to hear him, as they had troubles of their own.
—The Hobgoblin nearest to Moran ventured a heavy strike, dealing further damage to him with a hearty sneer.
—Meanwhile, the Hobgoblin dragoon that Thorax struck with his arrow ordered his mount to charge down from its perch, soaring down to where the Wasp stood, attacking him with a devastating whip of its tail. The hooked stinger dug into Thorax’s gut, and a bluish liquid oozed from the wound as he clutched at it in pain.
—The other Wyvern rider followed suit, and soared down to where Red Eagle stood, lashing out at him as well, dealing solid damage to him with its tail. Red Eagle managed to throw off the effects of the poison, though Thorax did not appear so lucky.
—Seeing the nearby Wyvern-rider flapping ten feet above the ground, Blackmane hefted a javelin in one hand, and threw it at the beast. He missed, and the sharpened stick fell to the hard ground with a clatter.
—The Hobgoblin footman who had his armour torn off by Moran now stood in the midst of everything, not sure what to do next. He aimed a sword strike at Red Eagle, landing a blow and cutting deeply.
—Moran inspected the battlefield, and decided to try to kill the Hobgoblin leader who had tried to organize a strategic withdrawal. Moran ran to the base of the wooden watchtower, and landed a devastating strike to one of the legs. The support beam cracked, and the tower collapsed down, falling and crushing the Hobgoblin leader under its weight. Moran dodged out of the way in time to evade the strike, and admired the fact that the tower fell between the two cliffsides of the pass, barring any further retreat efforts into the camp or into the mountains.
—Red Eagle saw an opportunity with the Wyvern so close to the ground. He mustered a mighty leap, and landed on the back of the Wyvern. Wasting no time, he lunged at the Hobgoblin dragoon, and engaged him in a grapple.
—Thorax took a few steps backward away from the Wyvern, and fired another arrow at the rider. The arrow sang as it spun through the air, and sailed straight through the rider’s head, killing him instantly.
—Meanwhile, one of the remaining foot-soldiers ran forward to attack Moran, cutting his health down to size. Moran looked weakened form the hit, and the Hobgoblin sneered and cackled.
—The Wyvern whose rider was killed by Thorax wheeled out of control, and plunged down to strike at his killer. Thorax took many mighty hits, one after another. Se soon looked as though he could be close to death.
—As Red Eagle wrestled with the dragoon on the other Wyvern’s back, the Wyvern grew angry, and tried to strike at the Red Eagle. He landed two hits, stinger and wing. The wing attack partially damaged the dragoon in the process, but Red Eagle did not let go of his target.
—Blackmane took his greatsword in hand, and attacked at the Wyvern facing Thorax. Unfortunately, he missed, striking hard into the earth instead. He roared with rage in response.
—The other remaining Hobgoblin foot-soldier looked around, and then sneered, firing an arrow at Thorax, attempting to deal a killing blow. The arrow hit Thorax, but he remained standing, stalwart and resolute against the pain.
—Moran engaged the foot-soldier in front of him, and struck at him twice in quick succession. The first blow broke through his armour, and the second was enough to break his neck in two, killing him instantly.
—The Red Eagle manoeuvred himself into a pinning position, and tied up the dragoon on the Wyvern’s back. Then, keeping hold of the Hobgoblin’s head, he tumbled backwards off of the Wyvern. In doing so, in one swift motion, he struck the end of the grappling hook tied to the rope into the haunches of the Wyvern, causing it great pain. The Wyvern flew upwards in confusion. In doing so, the rope whipped taut, still connected to the Hobgoblin. The red Eagle reached the ground, still holding the dragoon, and the force of the Wyvern’s upward flight on the rope caused the dragoon’s head to come clean off his shoulders. The Wyvern then flew up and away from the battle.
—Thorax, near death inspected the Wyvern before him. Mustering all of his strength, he drew his longspear, vaulted off the earth, and plunged it deep into the Wyvern’s back. The Wyvern screeched and lashed violently as blood oozed from the wound.
—The creature struck out with everyhting it had, flailing both at Thorax and at Blackmane. Thorax took yet another hit, and braced himself against his spear, still buried in the beast’s back.
—Blackmane took two hard strikes, and bellowed a roaring challenge. With his greatsword, he lunged ahead, dealing a massive blow, cutting the neck of the Wyvern in a single strike. The beast fell dead at his feet, blood staining the ground.
—The final Hobgoblin looked around the battlefield. On the fringes of where the clan leaders had been fighting at the gates, he witnessed the White Wasp foot-soldiers and the Lionkill clan-members deal the final blows to the other Hobgoblin attackers.
—Having just witnessed the others deal the final blows to the remaining threats, the final Hobgoblin threw up his arms in surrender.
—Moran began cracking the skulls and bones of the remains of the Hobgoblins (to prevent any of their children returning and growing stronger with their ancestor’s bones), and looked at Red Eagle.
—Moran said that the Orcs do not take slaves, looking at the Hobgoblin sternly.
—The Hobgoblin replied that he would be as a servant then, serving willingly. Red Eagle accepted this, and promptly named him “Hatchling”, despite the Hobgoblin’s assertions that he was named Thurtog.
—Red Eagle ordered Hatchling the Hobgoblin to find them the encampment’s treasure stores, and to don the finest armour he could find. The Hobgoblin obliged willingly, and led him into the deserted encampment.
—Meanwhile, Moran approached Thorax and Blackmane, who still stood over the corpse of the Wyvern.
—Blackmane lifted a hand for Thorax to take. Thorax accepted it, and he was helped off the back of the beast, still clutching his spear.
—Moran removed some bandaged from his feet, and handed them to Thorax. He told him that the bandages would allow him to recover from his wounds more swiftly. Thorax thanked him.
—Blackmane smiled, and shoved Thorax onto his feet, telling him that an Orc needs no support to stand.
—Thorax smiled and nodded in agreement. The two shared a glance that seemed to contain mutual admiration and respect.
—Blackmane then shouted that they would be making camp there for the night – since the camp had already been made for them. The Orcs cheered in victory.
—From afar, Red Eagle shouted “I shall fix you a litterbox, then!” Moran chuckled and helped Thorax prepare to rest.

Game 1
The Siege of Velore

—The game began in the village of Velore, where the Orcs of Grom’s army commenced a massive raid.
—Everywhere buildings burned, humans screamed, and Orcs revelled in the mayhem and chaos of battle.
—Moran of the Ghostmarrow Clan paused in his actions to speak with Asanzi, his clan leader.
—Asansi reminded him of the mission to collect supplies for the war effort against the forces of Wargoth.
—He also reminded Moran that Geberal Yatur had stated that any objects of a magical nature, or anything “shiny” was to be brought before him personally for inspection.
—Moran grudgingly agreed to this, and proceeded with some of his men to go and find food further into the burning village.
—Meanwhile, The Red Eagle and his clan whirled around the battlefield, looking for more things to burn.
—The Black Eagle, leader of the Cursed Dawn addressed Red Eagle, reminding him to turn over anyhting of particular interest to Yatur.
—The Red Eagle agreed, and whisked off further into the village in an attempt to discover any buildings not currently ablaze.
—Nearby, Moran followed the sound of screaming livestock, and found a storehouse full of cattle.
—About to head inside, Moran spotted a strange, short Orc in a red-feathered headdress dancing atop the structure, spilling lantern oil all over it.
—With a sweep of his twin short swords, The Red Eagle lit the building ablaze, greeting Moran merrily from above.
—Moran returned the greeting and suggested that the two of them (along with one additional member of the Ghostmarrow Clan) run into the building and set the cattle loose for the Orcs to seize as part of their raid.
—Red Eagle agreed, and Moran broke the door down with a resounding punch, impressing the short, feathered Orc.
—They rand inside, and set to work freeing the cattle as the structure blazed from above.
—After the cattle were freed, Moran broke the neck of one, and began dragging it as a prize to devour later.
—The additional member of the Ghostmarrow decided to help guide the cattle to the fray, and ran off with them, away from the centre of town.
—As Moran and Red Eagle left the building and began walking further up the street, they heard the sound of steel being drawn behind them.
—They turned to see three city guards wearing full-plate armor, who addressed them aggressively.
—Moran and The Red Eagle looked at one another, amused.
—The Red Eagle ignited his magical blades with fire, surprising Moran.
—Moran in turn mustered the strength of his ancestors through the bones he wore, and his fists glowed with a bluish light, which surprised The Red Eagle right back.
—The two engaged the enemy, acting quickly. The Red Eagle sprang forward in a jump, landing between the three foes.
—The Red Eagle was attacked for his trouble, but landed a solid blow against the foremost guard in the group.
—Moran ran to greet the enemy, and began attempting to tear his foe’s armour to shreds. However, the armour proved too strong for his first blow, and so he prepared for a second strike.
—The guards attacked back fiercely, landing a few blows against the Orcs.
—Red Eagle, strategically positioned for his second attack, whirled, blaming blades in hand, cutting down one of the men with a bloody flourish, and severely wounding another.
—Moran ventured another attack, slamming his fists hard into the armoured guard. His armour showed signs of weakening, but it held strong against Moran’s mghty blows.
—However, as Moran struck the guard, the guard attempted a swing of his sword and was thrown off balance. The guard shrieked as he struck a nearby building, which caught his cloak on fire in the process.
—The other guard attacked at Red Eagle again, dealing significant damage with his strike.
—Red Eagle quickly counterattacked, shoving his blade through the man’s throat, and pushing him off, dead.
—With a final strike against the burning guard, Moran dealt a killing blow, knocking the body to the ground, his neck snapped.
—With all threats nullified, Moran and Red Eagle prepared to leave the village centre.
—However, at that precise moment, an explosion wracked the street as a nearby building burst with flame.
—Shortly after, an Orc was flung from the door of the structure, and fell dead against the adjacent wall. Following that, another Orc soared into the partially collapsed structure across from the building, just as dead as the first.
—Out of the black smoke that billowed from the doorway stepped an imposing figure – a Knight of Weldor in full battle regalia stepped heavily from the building, wearing gleaming full plate topped with a centurion-style crested helm, completely hiding his face.
—In his right hand he held a massive greatsword which dripped with Orcish blood. In his left, he held the handle of a standard size, ornately decorated chest, which he had slung over his shoulder, as though it weighed nothing.
—In the explosion, a structure down the eastern side of the road collapsed, preventing passage through. Seeing this, the Knight turned his helm to where Moran and Red Eagle stood nearby.
—The Knight told the Orcs (in common) to move aside to allow him to pass, but both held firm. Red Eagle, who didn’t understand the Knight’s native tongue spouted a veiled insult in Orcish.
—The Knight responded to Red Eagle in Orcish, displaying the fact that Weldorians are well-read.
—Red Eagle enquired as to the contents of the chest. The Knight told him that it was nothing that would interest the likes of them. He pressed Moran and Red Eagle to move once again.
—When the Orcs still refused to move, the Knight grew cross. He introduced himself as Halgoren De’Tueur, and said he had come for what he needed – the items contained within the chest. He further stated that he was not about to let two Orcs stand in his way.
—Pretending to be fearful of the Knight, Moran surreptitiously ducked into a nearby alley, attempting to prepare an ambush.
—However, Halgoren saw through the ruse, and made this fact known vocally.
—Without further ado, the Knight dropped the chest unceremoniously, and raised his sword to attack.
—The battle began with Moran mustering the strength of his ancestors, making a powerful leap to the top for the 40ft tall building that had been wracked by the explosion earlier.
—Meanwhile, Halgoren thrust his sword in the air, and swung it down hard, missing red Eagle by inches.
—The Red Eagle, close enough to the Knight to attack let loose a flurry of sword swings, striking his foe many times, dealing a considerable amount of damage.
—Moran watched this unfold from high above, and moved to a strategic position on the rooftop. With a solid strike, he attacked at a support beam, making it buckle under the blow. With a final resounding strike, the support cracked, dislodging a chunk of the already-damaged structure.
—Just as Halgoren prepared another swing, the side of the burning structure collapsed on top of him, crushing him beneath.
—Red Eagle dodged out of the way just in time, seeing Moran slide comfortably to safety alongside the rubble.
—The threat gone, the two of them inspected the chest. Red Eagle asked Moran if he happened to have the key. Moran responded by plunging his fists through the top of the chest, prying it open.
—Inside the two found roughly 600 gold, some gems, several tattered old books, a pair of gleaming brass knuckles inlaid with designs of eyes and clouds, a small brown bag with a violet eye symbol embroidered upon it, and a strange codex bound in iron bearing the same eye and swirling cloud motif on the cover.
—Moran took the knuckles, and Red Eagle took the bag. The two then inspect the books briefly before casting them into the flames.
—However, the two took particular interest in the shining steel tome, and noted its steel pages and ornate design. They decided to stow it away for the time-being, and to inspect it further later.
—When they were finished with the treasure, they were approached by one of the Cursed Dawn, who had come to warn The Red Eagle that Yatur was pulling the Orcs out of the city, signalling the end of the raid.
—After finishing up gathering supplies, Moran and Red Eagle assembled with the rest of the Orcish raiding party on a hillside overlooking the burning village.
—General Yatur stood atop a large stone, his grey skin and black eyes just visible against the night sky.
—Yatur congratulated his men on a successful raid, and stated that with the supplies they had acquired, Grom’s army would soon be marching upon Wargoth forces to the north.
—He further explained that the army would reconvene the next night at a range of well-known cliffs to the northwest of Velore. He expected them to enjoy the spoils they had gathered with a raucous feast of food and drink.
—This was met with a bellowing roar of approval by the Orcish horde.
—With that, Yatur stepped down of of his rock, and the Orcs began to disperse before riding off into the savannah…


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