The Death of Valek.
I watch the orc step forward and swing his axe down at me, as I see this, a small, utterly detached part of my mind looks back and examines the steps that brought me to this.
Time slows down….
Word has spread quickly through town that a band of orcs has ambushed and captured a trade caravan. The battle was doubtless very bloody and very quick. The orcs have demanded almost the whole year’s harvest as ransom, if the townspeople accept this offer, they’re liable to starve. Sounds to me like its time to skip town, but a group of foolish optimists have approached me. They’re an alright bunch, for a bunch o elves, an’ I’ve worked with ‘em before.
They sent Tarik to come talk to me, don’t take a half brained grobii to figure out that sending their dwarf companion to talk to me is more likely to get me to take the job. Tarik seems fairly on the level, even if he does travel with them woodsy folk. He tells me that the town leadership has offered to pay their little band 225 gold pieces to rescue the merchants. TWO TWENTY FIVE!? Being ever happy to part people from the weight of their purse, I was more than happy to tag along. Tarik also told me that the party had engaged the services of that hulking barbarian that had been sittin’ round the tavern of late, evil lookin’ sumbitch if I ever saw one. Towers over everyone in the villiage, and his arms’ thicker than the blacksmiths!
I agree to accompany this madman’s quest for my usual fee, an even split of any goods found, + my own share of what the town pays them. (I’m fond of the guy, so I let him off easy) Tarik quickly agrees and I go pack up my things
Ammo? Oh aye!
We head out and proceed towards the orc lair, its in the midst of winding canyons, and it takes the better part of a day to find it. When we get there, and its obvious that this is there, the entrance to the lair is a mere hole in the side of the canyon, with an iron portcullis covering it and a crude sign stuck in the ground, it reads “HUMIEZ KEEP OUT” …. I think,
The portcullis is made of sturdy iron, and its spikes dig into the ground. Inside, just out of reach, I spot a (very shoddily made) winch. Within the cave, I see the remains of a cook fire and along the back wall is a grisly collection of skulls, some animal and human, but a few elf skulls as well.
Tarik’s group begins discussing amongst themselves how they want to get the door open. I cross my arms and wait, keeping an eye on the hulking barbarian they’ve brought along, and the entrance to the cave. As I observe them shooting down each other’s plans and overhear something about a ‘magazine subscription’ whatever that is, the barbarian, obviously fed up, stomps over to the portcullis, grabs it by its base and HEAVES! Pulling it up over his head and holding it. “its open.” The barbarian deadpans.
I hear several surprised grunts just inside the cave and yell out a warning as I see an orc step out from beside the doorway and raise its axe.
Before it can swing, tarik rushes in and plants his shoulder into the Orc’s gut, shoving it back and following him into the cave. As Tarik and the orc fly through the entry in a tangled heap of limbs, weapons, and a beard, two more orcs take swings at them as they fly by, but they both miss and instead turn to look at the barbarian still holding the portcullis up.
Quicker than I can get my axe out, I see the party Tracker, Lan I think his name is, rush in and engage one of the orcs, either oblivious or over confident of his skill and ignoring the other. Just as I’m starting to head towards the fray (my axe hasn’t tasted swinekin in a long! Time) the barbarian heaves up the portcullis with a grunt and rushes in before it clangs back into place, hammering blow after blow at the last orc I can see.
Unfortunately for the idiots inside, the portcullis slams back into place, leaving me and the druid and her pet dog outside, the druid, Lawesse, rushes forward and tries to lift the portcullis but its obviously way to heavy for her. I draw my crossbow and step up to the portcullis and take a peak inside, all I see is a swirling melee, theres no way I can get a shot off without hitting one of my employers, so I put my crossbow away and lend my strength to helpming move the portcullis, after a few moments I hear the sound of an axe crashing into flesh followed by a human grunt of pain. I look up and see that Lan has taken a blow across the chest and has collapsed, two orcs standing over him. I can’t see Tarik or the barbarian.
I redouble my efforts to lift, encouraging Lawesse to do the same.
As I keep an eye on the orcs, I see them step out of sight, axes raised and evil grins upon their hateful faces, I hear the staccato ringing of axes against axes followed by a sickening crunch… then, a roar, more in common with the sound of an animal than a man, there are words within the roar. Words that, if he were here, would have the paladin sick with disgust and fear…. The words are BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE! My head snaps up at this, and I see an orc fly across the entry way to land out of sight.
With a grunt of effort I say to Lawesse ‘ye hired a NORSEMAN!?”
She ignores me, smart lass.
The rhythm of steel on steel picks up again, this time with the barbarian’s incoherent bellows providing a bass counterpoint to the high pitched squeal and ting of metal on metal.
… by the time we get the portcullis up, the battle is over, Lan lies on the ground, covered in blood (I’m not sure how much of it is his, the barbarian was very messy) Tarik is busy pouring a healing potion down his throat, he coughs, gags, and wakes up with a painful gasp.
Panting heavily from his exertion, the barbarian – Cog! That’s his name! – walks up and assesses the party for injury, he has a huge cut in his side, it looks deep, but it doesn’t seem to be troubling him.
I believe its time for a little valekian brand pick me up.
“so.” I say with a bemused grin, “what shall we do next??”
Lawesse ignores me again, smart lass.
There’s only one door in the room, and the party moves towards it, as the only one in the group with half a brain, I put my ear to the door and listen … I don’t hear a thing and I give the all clear to open the door.
This time, instead of arguing, they simply gesture for Cog to do his thing. Good, they’re learning. Cog steps up to the door and it bursts off its hinges as his foot connects with it.
“once smacked an orc boss in the face like that” Cog remarks as he steps back, allowing tarik and Lan in the room. Lan points with his sword at the far corner and exclaims “what is THAT?!” I follow his point and see a huge … cube… of … jello…
The cube begins to slide towards us, making a .. very unpleasant noise. “ I recommend we NOT let that touch us” I announce, and back away from the door.
They must agree with me for once, as they follow me out quickly as well. The cube reaches the doorway and begins to try and squeeze through it.
“it’s coming in! DO SOMETHING” … I think that was Lan, but I’m not sure. Tarik, Lan, and Lawesse all produce bows and open fire on the cube. Their projectiles sink into it, causin ripples along its surface. And then they begin to dissolve….
I pull out my crossbow and add to the barrage.
Heh, barrage, I kill me.
Okay… this is dull, I mean, I know I don’t exactly sign up for being maimed and harmed, (course not, I sign up for the gold) but this is dull, the Cube obviously can’t get in here, but our missles don’t seem to be affecting it.
As I load my crossbow again, watching the previous missles disappear, I can’t help but sigh in exasperation, but I shrug and raise my crossbow to fire at the beast.
To my utter surprise, as Lan looses another arrow into the jello, it… pops? It begins to ripple and sizzle and deflate, losing its shape and spreading all over the floor.
“well… that was anti-climatic” I state.
The party moves on to the door on the opposite side of the room…
Ugh, man this room stinks!
I give the door the once over and open it, nothing on the other side, nothing dangerous at least, there’s an orc over in the corner collapsed in front of a treasure chest. He’s still breathing (a problem I rectify with my ax) and then give the chest a once over, unfortunately, in my haste, I set off the trap inside it, spraying some foul smoke into my face… man, that stuff is nasty.
The chest is mostly empty, and I leave it to be collected later.
As I head back to where the party is waiting, I notice something about the wall opposite the door… it looks, odd, it doesn’t match up to the rest of the wall.
Upon closer inspection, I find what seems to be a key hole, but we have no key for it, so I go abouts opening it ‘the hard way’
After a few tries, the door clicks open.
With the low rumble of stone on stone, the secret door swivels open. Behind it are three orcs, who are apparently very happy to see me…
I watch the orc step forward and swing his axe down at me in a lethal arc...
Time slows down….