A challenging battle (at last)

Peeking outside the cave, the party could tell they were in trouble: A large group of orcs, backed up by ogres, were arrayed in battle formation outside the cave. Charging was clearly suicide.

While the party conferred about what to do next, Magus was having his own problems. A pair of goblin wolf-riders had been tracking his scent, and were catching up quickly. Rather than flee, he elected to hide in the bushes and wait for them. Once found, he sprung forward out of the bushes, tearing into the scouts like some sort of unreal nightmare. Although wounded slightly, he emerged victorious… then skinned the goblins and wore their hides on his body, as a gambit to hide his scent and throw any other trackers off. He continued prowling the woods looking for things to kill, while moving generally in the direction of the cave…

The party ultimately decided on a plan proposed by Arkan: use his earth magic to create an avalanche, sealing the cave. With any luck, they could hopefully convince the army outside that they had accidentally killed themselves, and at the very least seal off a passage behind them while they raced back up to the castle to fight out that way. The operation was successful, and a rumbling avalanche closed the cave behind them while the party sped back up the subterranean passage once again.

Magus saw and heard the avalanche. Going to investigate, he found that the orc troops had split up: a majority were moving on back up to the castle, while a dozen or so of them remained behind to guard the area while a shaman investigated the rubble. He decided to wait until “nature called” for one of the guarding orcs… then snuck up on him and mutilated him horribly while he was occupied. The screams brought other orcs: Magus hid in the bushes and watched. After a brief conference, and a lot of angry shouting and cursing, one of the orcs took off running, presumably to warn the remainder of the army. Magus followed, caught him, attempted (and failed) to interrogate him, then decided to add some orc to the horrible bloody pile of skins he was already wearing.

Knowing that the bulk of the army was probably returning to the castle, and that they didn’t have much time before they got there, the party charged straight in. Opening the secret door from the cave tunnel, they found a handful of orcs busy searching the walls. They dispatched them quickly, but two of them escaped up the stairs. The party followed, charging up the stairs and into a large entrance hall full of orcs and another ogre.

What followed was the toughest battle yet: the orcs knew some sound tactics, and used them. Several orcs grabbed swords and lined up in front of the ogre, while others pulled back further and started firing arrows at the Defilers. Gyth made a legendary charge straight towards the line of orcs and the ogre, sweeping two of their legs out from under them. Arkan backed him up, while the archers traded fire with Donavan and Darak. Towards the end of the battle, Magus arrived through the front doors as well, a ghastly apparition covered in several kinds of bloody hides cut from fallen foes. The battle eventually ended, nearly every benny spent and most of the party wounded one way or another. Arkan narrowly escaped death: a lucky blow from an orc scimitar had him bleeding out onto the stone floor, but Darak was able to administer enough healing to stabilize him.

The players decided to make a gamble based on gaming conventions and guessed that the blue potions (of which they had acquired several) were probably for healing. Arkan took one, confirming this guess, to everyone’s relief.

It remains to be seen exactly how close the rest of the orcs are… Magus presumably passed them on the way up, and might have something to say about that.


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