Dienstag, Juni 13, 2006

The Battle of Three Arms

Hello again!

After having brought back the bandit prisoners inn the village, imprisoning them in the cellar of the village elder, Don, Fendor, Llewellyn and Marvin sought the help of a local healer. The wonders of magical healing are really easing the lives of warriors. But usually there's at least a monetary fee, if not more, involved. Of course it also depends on the skill of the healer. Some can only tend successfully to minor wounds.

With help from nature's apothecary the local druid was able to lessen some of the damage inflicted on Llewellyn's leg. It was much better, but still he was not able to use it properly. The druid stated that it probably would take a week or so to really heal over as he examined it a couple of hours after having tended earlier to it.

Asking around in the local tavern the party got hints that a traveling healer took off towards the border early today. After a short discussion we decided to saddle our horses and pursue that Fendwick as he was one of the best ways to ensure that I, Llewellyn, would be rather using my left leg earlier than later. Following the road and the tracks of Fendwick's wagon was pretty easy. Don and Fendor both can read tracks left by others good enough that they stated that we were gaining ground on Fendwick.

We were rather surprised to find the wagon abandoned on the road. Neither of his horse nor of Fendwick was there more to be found than tracks in the earth. We found the place where the horse changed it's gait into a much faster one. We similarly found a place not far from the position of the wagon where blood was found on the ground. That coincided, like Fendor pointed out, with some tracks which could only be explained by the horse staggering as it ran. Not far away from that the horse must have fallen. Further tracks suggested that Fendwick's ambushers took something heavy with them, most likely Fendwick, and dragged something huge and bleeding along. Intelligent deduction let's us propose here the horse as the object of the bandits efforts.

The tracks led directly into the swamp! Most disturbing was the fact that instead of the way the bandits took being winding and twisting, the way they took was leading straight to a widely visible landmark. Expecting to encounter a straight way in a swamp is like hoping for a snow storm during summer...

That flagpost with a curiously dirty grey-green sign on it had catched our eye on our previous visit at the old fort. Don and Fendor were reading the tracks on the ground from time to time, it seemed we neither lost nor gained ground on the bandits. They had a head start of a couple of hours on us. But if their target was the fort we would catch up with them there. At least that was our intention. Leaving our horses outside the fort we sneaked into it and surprisingly were able to free Fendwick in one of the upper rooms. He was not guarded, just bound and gagged in a room. We freed him and as the dusk approached decided to head back to the village. Fendwick was both very grateful for being freed and pissed at the bandits for them abducting him, as well as for the loss of some enchanted items they took away before locking him in the trophy room on the ground floor of the fort.

The information Fendwick gave us indicated that he was abducted on purpose by the bandits who were seemingly in need of another healer, their principal healer was fed up with his current duties as a healer, or rather, him being a higher ranking follower of the cult directing the bandits, had other more important duties. How they would have persuaded Fendwick to join them was a mystery both to Fendwick and to us. Maybe some charms would be involved, those weaving spells can achieve great success with these. But usually and volunteer mind is better suited for spell casting as both Fendwick and my own humble experience with the magic realm stated.

So there must have been an informant in the village forwarding the information of Fendwicks arrival to the bandit leaders in the fort. We wonder if that information source was someone passing through or someone with at least a semi-permanent residence in the hamlet?

As Fendwick lost his most prized possessions and was eager to get them back he reinforced our party of four to a complement of five now. We agreed to share any spoils of battle equally, loot and plunder being such a base word. In the end much will have to be returned to the rightful owners anyway, but lacking substantial official funding we have to finance the undertaking somehow.

Anyway, Fendwick was able to get some equipment for services rendered in the village. If there is still an active information source for the bandits on hand, then they will learn that we are responsible for Fendwick's rescue. I wonder what we can do about it. Hmm.

With Llewellyn's leg restored to full functionality by Fendwick's magical skills the party took once again off toward the fort. That was the third time we approached it now. It still did not feel like routine. This time we left our horses behind, the fate Fendwick's horse endured being a reminder for us not to waste our resources. The shortcut past the strange flagpole led us quickly to the fort ruins. Instead of the four hours or so we needed the first time, we were there in an hour or so, measured from the beginning of the swamp.

There we again. We entered the entrance hall of the fort unopposed and were about to scramble down the stairs leading down in a room adjacent to it when one of us noticed voices coming from the room where we had defeated some human bandits two days before. The voices were different now, the unmistakable guttural grunts only the foul orcish folk liked to utter could be heard faintly through the closed door.

We prepared ourselves for a new engagement. Llewellyn handed his cocked crossbow to Fendwick who had stated before that he actually was proficient with that kind of war implement. He was to guard the rear of the party and intercept any bandits which wanted to escape or get reinforcements. The group approached the door slowly and arrayed themselves in a semicircle. Fednor opened the door while Llewellyn was ideally positioned to look into he room should that happen. His shield was raised so that any blow or tempted shot could be foiled. Marvin and Don stand ready to rush forward after both Llewellyn and Fendor.

The door is opened by Fendor and Llewellyn sees some orcs in the room. The furniture has been piled in the far corner, so this time there are not that many obstacles in the way. The abrupt opening of the door alerts some of the orcs and so the surprise is not total for those in the room. Llewellyn storms into the room and slams running with his shield into the orc nearest the door, sending the orc staggering back and falling to the floor while stopping Llewellyn's advance. A moment later Fendor storms into the room, followed shortly by Marvin and Don.

There are some seven orcs in the room, half of which are equipped in cloth armor and the other half has hard leather protection. Some are equipped with javelins and spears, others wield light clubs and the obvious leader actually has a broadsword as his armament. Roughly half if the orcs has small shields ( those with the clubs ) and the leader has a medium shield.

The blow exchange is pretty one sided, the orcs not being able to penetrate the defenses of the party members effectively, the only one suffering a mild bruise is Don who is smacked by a swung light club squarely in the chest at one moment, but his chain armor absorbs most of the impact and the pain angers him more than actually hindering him in his actions.

To an outside observer one thing to note was that Llewellyn at one time dropped his battle axe as the number of foes he was facing forced him to reconsider tactics and opt for a weapon with some better defensive capabilities. He drew his broadsword, not as fierce a weapon as the axe, but being balanced it allows for better defense when used to parry the opponents blows. Using a similar technique with the axe is less effective as this usually means forfeiting many attacks with it. Having changed his weapons one of the next blows at one of the unfortunate orcs landed so poorly that the broadsword was actually wrested from Llewellyn's grip. So he had to draw another weapon, the third Weapon! This time Llewellyn drew a hatchet from his belt, this weapon being light enough to be similarly effective offensively as well as defensively. The damage inflicted by the hatchet is usually slightly lower than what can be dealt to a foe with a broadsword, but enough for the purpose of defeating the orcs.

The engagement was over pretty fast and Fendwick could only congratulate the other four on their skill. Llewellyn knew that they had been lucky, and that only next time they should actually be even more careful as luck might run out sometime. Especially since there were rumors that an man eating ogre was among the bandits. And these are truly impressive foes, not so much their intellect but sheer size and strength are what makes them hard to overcome.

Thus ended The Battle of Three Arms.
Time will tell what happens next.