Nevertheless, Elysia did manage to sleep one group of four; two other groups opened fire with arrows and would have hit her had it not been for her Shield. She used her Wand of Illumination to cast more light so that those in the party not gifted with infravision could keep track of the attackers. Zanurax darted out to knife the sleeping orcs and became a target for the orc archers, being hit by an arrow as he headed back towards the gate.
Now, the orcs were moving up towards the gate en masse; Zanurax diverted to take them on but unfortunately, his leather armour and low capacity for damage combined with some very lucky blows from the orcs led to him ending up face down in the dust a lot sooner than he had expected. Four orcs made it to the top of the stairs unscathed and came face to face with Elysia; she readied a Sleep spell but the orcs were quicker and tried to hit her with their swords; none of them succeeded and moments later, they were unconscious in the gateway.
Ferros, who had been standing over the gateway had fired into the darkness and managed to hit several orcs, although the number stopped was impossible to tell. Gullhar, Alurax and Alagon were letting fly with arrows at the approaching orcs, who were following the example of their fellows at the front gate and splitting into smaller squads. They returned fire but nobody was hit. It was not long until the orcs reached the walls and began to scramble up and over.
Having used up one of her Magic Missile attacks to bring down two orcs and wound two others, Elysia ducked for cover inside the gatehouse. She could not get to Zanurax and had no healing magic to use even if she could have done. She decided to cast Fly and ascend to the roof where she could be of help to her beleaguered fellows.
When she arrived at the rooftop, she found that Ferros was faced by four orcs who had scaled the wall while he was busy searching for arrow targets. Before she could get off a Sleep spell, the orcs had attacked the cleric but he took no damage and moments later, the four orcs were lying comatose on the ground. Elysia finished them off whilst Ferros scrambled down to administer healing to Zanurax.
Meanwhile, Alurax, Alagon and Gullhar were whittling down the opposition. Gullhar had been hit several times but his comrades were unscathed. With the arrival of the revived Zanurax and Ferros, the remaining orcs were soon overwhelmed and slaughtered.
The party rested overnight to lick its wounds and in the morning, set off eastwards but not before tipping the orc bodies down the stairs and into the waiting maw of the owlbear who was still there from the occasion when the party had liberated the fort from its former troll owners.
It was now 6th August; the weather was fine and the party made good time out of the rough country and into the forest again. About midday, there was the sound of a screeching cry from the sky above them. They glanced up to see a creature flying down towards them. It had the body of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle and the front claws of a bird of prey. The horses were getting very skittish but Ferros cast Speak with Animals and found out that it was a Griffon and a hungry one at that; it wanted their horses and seemed very keen on getting what it wanted. However, the party was in no mood for a lengthy debate on the subject and put on a display of their martial power in order to convince the griffon to go elsewhere for its meal. Somewhat miffed, but nevertheless a pragmatist at heart, the griffon screeched angrily and rose up into the air, disappearing into the blue.
|Horses! Nice horses! Go well with a full-bodied Merlot|
The party decide to prepare and various members climbed various trees to get into position. The heavy footsteps got louder and louder and finally Zanurax found himself staring at a huge, woody, moss-covered and leafy face. Yes, it was Ashbone, the treant. He turned and called over his shoulder and through the trees came riding a man in a green and brown cloak, a bow slung over his back and a sword at his side.
Ashbone introduced the newcomer as Galadeus, a ranger from the north. The treant told him that the party could give him the help he needed and then suggested that they leave as a large gang of ogres were heading their way. This friendly warning fell on deaf ears and the party readied for battle. Ashbone melted into the woods while Galadeus joined the party; once again, several members took up positions in trees and awaited the onslaught. Ferros and Gullhar were on the flanks, their bows ready.
The ogres came at them and the team gave as good as they got. Three were killed by Ferros; Elysia killed two with her Magic Missiles, sharing one of the kills with Galadeus, who also chalked up another himself; it had swung at him with a huge spiked club and missed by a whisker whereupon he ducked under its guard and ran it through with a single thrust of his longsword. Alurax managed to finish off one and for his next attempt, tried the trick he had used in their previous encounter with ogres, swinging out of the tree on a rope. He actually managed it and landed on the back of one of the ogres, but the impact meant he failed to run it through with his trident. He tossed it to one side, being unable to use it whilst clinging to the back of the ogre and instead finished the job with his sword instead.
The melee finally ended with the last ogre fleeing the scene of slaughter. Both Alurax and Galadeus gave chase and tried to shoot at it but failed to bring it down. Ashbone had managed to finish off a couple of the ogres on his own and now checked to make sure the party was well before striding off into the forest and vanishing into the twilit gloom.
It was unlikely that anything would be bothering them that night; the presence of the treant was deterrent enough and the next morning, they set off again through the woods, reaching the river about midday on the 7th. Across on the far side, the Moat House stood, seemingly untouched since the last time they had been there.
As they got settled in, Galadeus told his story. He was part of a small group of rangers and their dependants who had settled several days’ ride further up the valley through which the river flowed. Recently, they had come under attack from a large band of hill giants. Escaping from the attack, Galadeus had ridden for help and also had some information to relate; the giants seemed to be more precise and organised than might be expected for such dim-witted creatures. Some reports had said that outsiders had been seen directing and orchestrating the attacks. It was clear that something was going on, something that required attention. Would the party ride north to find out what was happening?
DG Note - today was the thirtieth session and saw the introduction of a new player at the table, taking the role of Galadeus. I also noted that I have forgotten to post the pictures of Gullhar's miniature as painted by Brian from Lead Legion so to rectify that without further ado