The party clearly thought they’d had enough of ogres because in the next session, they decided to try another direction in the dungeon. They reasoned that the ogres had probably prepared for another attack. So at the t-junction after the bridge with the iron bars at the windows, they turned north instead and headed up the passageway. There was an encounter with a band of wandering kobolds who were given the sword treatment and the survivors fled. The party encountered a door in the side of the passage and, having opened it gingerly, discovered a flight of steps leading downwards. At the bottom was another door through which they gained access to the wide passageway that they had seen from the iron-barred windows.
They chose to go south and for a good few hundred feet, followed the very wide passage, under the barred-window bridge. Ahead were some stairs that descended into the darkness. As the party approached, they were fired on with arrows. Ferros the cleric slumped to the ground, an arrow sticking out of him. The party returned fire and battle was joined. The arrow stocks were dwindling but eventually three of the four attackers were killed and the fourth one fled. The party entered the room from which the attacks had taken place and found the dead bodies of their assailants, riddled with arrows.
At that point, I revealed their assailants to be orcs, which they had not encountered before, which is why I was being cagey about naming them before or during the combat itself.
Across the far side of the room was an archway that was inscribed with a language that nobody recognised. Elysia cast Comprehend Languages (nice to see that particular spell getting an outing) and revealed that the writing read as follows
Beyond the Yellow Tongues
You find the way but wary
As you go; the tongues cannot
Be stilled in any order so
The way to quench them needs
To be done aright or dead you’ll be
The party peered through the archway and saw, down another flight of stairs, a wide square pit in the floor of a room, along the edges of which were pillared cloisters. At the far side of the room were a band of orcs, ten strong, standing there and waiting for the party to make its move. Nobody wanted to commit to more combat; eventually, they party moved in and battle was joined. Elysia cast Sleep and managed to take out five orcs, whilst the party’s fighters, thief and clerics set about reducing the odds against them. Just as they thought that they were gaining the upper hand, more orcs armed with bows stepped out of the shadows of the cloisters and started firing. It was a tense and risky combat and only by skill and good luck were the party finally able to overcome their foes and emerge victorious. Several characters were down and the clerics had their work cut out to bring them back up to fighting fitness. More importantly, the question of what to do with the slept orcs who were now bound and disarmed was preying on everyone’s mind.
We took a session break here; in a development that really made me happy, the mother of one of the players had turned up to take him home and he pleaded with her to be allowed to stay until the end of the combat. She agreed and stayed to watch the game play out. Quite what she thought of it, I'm not sure, but the player keeps coming back, so I'm doing something right.
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