The robed orcs ran into Norgrug’s room, slamming the door behind them. The pounding of footsteps echoing through the halls indicated to the players that they didn’t have much time before orc backup arrived from upstairs. Working quickly, Magus and Arkan dashed back to the stairs leading upward from the current level. Magus detached and tossed a couple of orc heads up the stairs, while Arkan used his command over stone to seal off the bottom of the staircase by pulling a thin wall of rock out of the floor and into the cieling. Meanwhile, Darak noticed a subtly hidden lever in the corner of the corridor where he was standing: pulling it opened a previously hidden door into a disused library of some kind.
The party decided leave the library for the time being, and instead check out the room across from Norgrug’s. Inside, they found a makeshift temple, dominated by a hideous statue: an enormous stone orc, with two heads and four arms, eyes glittering with the red of rubies. Donavan, playing up his greediness, immediately tried to pry the rubies out. A critical failure caused the statue to topple onto him instead. The statue broke loudly, stone arms and heads cracking off and rolling across the floor, while the main body pinned Donavan to the ground. As the crash faded, a wailing shriek from the Norgrug’s room indicated that the shamans had heard the noise and guessed what it meant.
The party considered the possibility of simply sealing Norgrug in his room, but ultimately decided to go with the simple and straightforward plan: put Gyth in front, with everyone else supporting, and smash down the door. The battle was over quickly: although Norgrug was well equipped, and the shamans had contributed their magic to increasing his armor and adding a flame to his weapon, some great rolls led to Norgrug and his shamans falling within seconds. (The GM forgetting to use his bennies didn’t help either). Norgrug “the unslayable” was slain, and the party took his head as proof and as a trophy.
Meanwhile, orcs continued to pound at the barrier at the bottom of the stairs, while the party searched and sorted loot. Between Norgrug’s treasure room, fallen orc bodies, the thoroughly defiled orc idol, and a later perusal of the library, here is all of the loot:
Norgrug’s Armor (plate + 1, total + 4): Gyth (wearing)
Norgrug’s Gladius – Short sword, Armor-piercing 1: Donavan
Double crossbow (ROF2, + 2 attack if firing both barrels at one target): Gyth holding for now
Archer’s Gloves (+ 1 Shooting): Darak (wearing)
4 Blue potions (unidentified): Gyth
Pink potion (unidentified): Gyth
1041 gold: Gyth
runed Map & staff: Gyth
4 small rubies: Arkan
Ornate gold helmet: Gyth (not wearing)
Norgrug’s Head: Gyth
Runed golden bracelets: Gyth
Ancient tome on Amnor military tactics: Donavan
(details on some specific items and what’s known about them can be found here: Items)
The runed map and staff were of particular interest.
After loot processing, half of the party decided to check out the library for anything interesting, while Arkan and Magus decided to take care of the orcs trying to break through the stone barrier at the bottom of the stairs. Magus had the clever idea: executed by Arkan: turn the stone steps the orcs were standing on into a slide. It worked, and resulted in a satisfying series of yelps and crashes as a bunch of orcs slid and smashed into each other at the bottom of the former-stairs slide.
The next idea was to try some slightly more ambitious magic to collapse the cieling on top of those orcs. This partially worked: stone came down on top of them, but the extra weight and vibration caused the barrier at the bottom of the stairs to break. An avalanche of orcs and stone tumbled into the guard room at the base of the stairs: Magus pulled Arkan out of the way just in time. What was left of the orcs picked themselves up out of the rubble and set in to attack. The rest of the party ran to help, and another short skirmish ended with the orcs getting quickly cleaned up and killed.
Between the battle with Norgrug and the orcs, Arkan had taken a couple of wounds, which Darak was able to heal: however, some unlucky rolls (using the new power system) left him fatigued. The party had hoped to hole up in the library and rest for a while, but it was not to be: somewhere up stairs, someone smart had gotten his act together, and was putting pressure on the party. A goblin scouting from floors of the library above spotted them, and although an arrow from Donavan quickly dispatched him, his death alerted whoever was above that the party was below.
The party readied themselves for another fight with favorable bottlenecks: but this time, the enemy changed tactics. A series of torches came flying down the stairs, followed by a bottle of oil, splashing fire into the dusty library stacks. As the flames started to spread, the party decided it was time to retreat, and headed back towards the secret cave entrance.
There were a few goblins scouting the cave, but they were dispatched in seconds. As they navigated the cramped underground corridor, the party debated over the next course of action: Check out the rune on the map? Head back to Feldvale, to present Norgrug’s head and collect their reward? Or return to Norgrug’s base, clean out the rest of the orcs, and loot the place thoroughly?
The last option ultimately won out. After reaching the exit to the cave, the party looked out into the night air, verified that nobody was around, then looked towards the building on the cliff. They could see a lot of activity, and what looked like “platoon-strength” numbers (12-50). Confident they could handle that many more orcs if they needed to, they settled down for the night in the middle of the tunnel.
Meanwhile, Samus, the captive they had freed, had taken the opportunity to quietly slip out of the cave and run off into the night. Magus noticed this, mentioned he was going to go “take a leak,” and set off after him, alone. He never found Samus… but he did find a small patrol of goblins, which he ambushed and dispatched quickly. He then administered first aid to the last goblin, and decided to spend the rest of the night “keeping him company.” None of the players particularly wanted to know about the details. Their characters remained blissfully ignorant of whatever deeds Magus was doing… as the sun started to rise, he finally finished whatever it was and headed
Come morning, the party returned to check out the cave entrance. A large force stood arrayed around it, watching and waiting. Someone had not spent the night idle, and had deduced where the party had gone… probably by following the various tracks leading in and out of the cave. The party retreated back inside before they were seen.
Meanwhile, Magus was picking his way back towards the cave, as-yet unaware that he was probably being tracked too…