—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.
The Sword of Bothh
Battle of the Stormdrain
—The party made camp for the night, and Thorax sent a few of the White Wasps out on watch duty.