Session #3: March 30th, 5:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Adam began by recapping the previous session’s events and suggesting that the adventure log be adopted as an official campaign record for players to consult between sessions. I accepted this responsibility with grateful humility, and promptly began taking notes.
While resting at the Setting Sun Inn after a hard day of helping the citizens of Westengard, the party decided to make Fort Horizon their next destination. Doing so would help raise their profile in the locals’ eyes, ensure regional stability, bring them a little closer to Lord Damien Rand, and possibly turn up some information about Lost Arathia.
“Why do we want to meet him again?” Himani asked when Lord Rand’s name was mentioned.
The next morning, the party gathered their supplies and left for Fort Horizon via the Windless Pass. They met a panicked, bloodied militiaman along the way, who told them that the fort had been assaulted by a horde of orcs. The militiamen had succeeded in repelling the attackers, but several of them were killed or captured in the conflict. The party continued at their original pace until they reached the fort, where they found the commander working diligently to care for the wounded and repair the damage done during the assault. While Ezzy helped the medics treat the injured militiamen, the commander told the rest of the party that the orcs had retreated into the Orcwood with their captives. He promised a reward for their safe return; Albricht said that no reward was necessary, but a “donation” would be greatly appreciated.
The party also ran into Aleric, who was now a full-fledged ranger and had reached Fort Horizon shortly before the party did. He didn’t know anything more about the assault than the commander did, but his tracking skills would prove invaluable for finding the captives, so the party decided to work with him again. Thus prepared, the five adventurers entered the Orcwood, a coniferous forest that was as dark and still as a midwinter night. The stillness was interrupted when a boar heard the party passing through a clearing and charged them, shrugging off one of Aleric’s arrows and savaging Himani’s leg with its powerful tusks. Albricht prepared to charge the boar while Ezzy healed her wounded companion, and Peter responded to a menacing roar from the boar by stabbing it with his rapier. Himani lost her grip on one knife and exhausted herself swinging the other, but Albricht ended the fight by skewering the boar with his charge.
After Aleric botched an attempt to remove the boar’s tusks, the party continued on their way. The ranger told Albricht about Lost Arathia as they walked, mentioning that the settlement stood for several decades before it was overrun by monsters. He also mentioned that the ruins were dangerous to approach, thanks in no small part to some highly aggressive gnoll tribes that lived in the surrounding area.
Himani spotted movement among the trees as the party closed in on the captives. The discussion of what to do about it was interrupted by a rain of arrows, two of which whizzed harmlessly by Himani and Peter. Aleric spotted and charged one of the orcs who fired them, and an orcish war hound charged the rest of the party. Peter moved to flank the war hound and dispatched it with his rapier, while Albricht closed the gap with an orc that Ezzy shot. A third orc leapt out from behind a tree and attacked him as he ran, and Himani closed in and cut the attacker with her knives. Ezzy shot the orc that Albricht was fighting a second time, and Peter dealt the orc that Aleric was fighting a mortal wound. One of the orcs landed a blow on Albricht with its falchion, after which Himani finished off the orc she had wounded. Ezzy sank a third arrow into the remaining orc, and Aleric dropped it with a sword strike.
Peter stripped the dying orcs of weapons, armor, and valuables, and the party decided to tie one of them up and revive it for questioning. Peter and Himani bound it tightly with silk rope, and Ezzy restored it to consciousness with her healing skills. Aleric was the only one in the party who could speak Orcish, so he was responsible for translating Albricht’s questions and the orc’s answers. The orc had no useful information to offer about the captives or their captors, though its answers suggested that the orcs were only trying to defend their homeland from the incursion of outsiders. The orc’s deep-seated sense of racial pride prevented it from accepting Albricht’s offer for a truce, and the paladin’s attempts to talk it down only angered it further, so Ezzy cast bleed on the orc and let him execute it.
Aleric continued to lead the party along the captives’ trail until he saw wisps of smoke rising above the treeline. Himani and Peter sneaked ahead to investigate, finding a clearing with a lean-to set up against a cliff wall and three orcs gathered around a cooking fire. The rogues communicated their findings to each other with thieves’ cant and reported back to the party, who decided to lure the orcs away from the camp and give Peter a chance to investigate the lean-to. Unfortunately, the orcs spotted the party before they had a chance to put their plan into action, but they managed to flank and dispatch the orcs in a short but messy melee. The party didn’t find the captive militiamen in the lean-to, but they did find some hides that they decided to sell once they returned to civilization. They discussed sending a message to the orcs by burning the lean-to, but ultimately decided not to do something that could cost them the element of surprise.
After a brief intermission, Aleric picked up the captives’ trail once again. It led northeast, out of the clearing and into some rocky foothills where the party discovered another orc camp. Peter once again took point to scout the camp, but was spotted by three orcs who were guarding a cave entrance. While Aleric moved toward the ledge on which the orcs were situated, the rest of the party took cover behind rocks and fired arrows. The orcs responded in kind, and one of them struck Ezzy, who was unable to find cover in time. A massive creature equipped with a morning star, a shield, and a chain shirt emerged from the cave, and it charged at Peter as Aleric continued his advance. The rest of the party continued trading missiles with the orcs, one of whom cut himself severely on his bowstring. Albricht drew his sword and rushed to Peter’s side, and Aleric chopped up the wounded orc as the others continued to fire on the party. Aleric slew a second orc, and Albricht landed a blow on the bugbear’s shield arm. Peter attempted to somersault between the bugbear’s legs and flank it, but the creature’s reflexes were faster than he anticipated. He avoided its counterattack and landed a crippling blow on its shield arm. A blow from Himani fueled the bugbear’s growing rage, and it struck Albricht with a wild swing. Aleric killed the last of the orcs, Himani dealt the bugbear another hard blow, and Peter finished the creature with a critical hit that put a new hole in its brain.
Ezzy healed Albricht’s and her wounds and called for a rest break while Peter investigated the cave. He found ten captive militiamen inside; two were dead, three were critically wounded, and the other five were delirious, but in decent physical health. In spite of Ezzy’s best efforts to heal their wounds, two of the critically wounded militiamen passed away, and the party loaned the survivors some orcish weapons and armor to use on the trek back to Fort Horizon. Thankfully, they managed to avoid encountering any orc patrols during the return trip and arrived at the fort by dusk. The commander was grateful for the captives’ safe return, and the party divided his reward money and the profits from their salvaged goods evenly between themselves and the party treasury. Albricht purchased himself a breastplate and led the brave militiamen in prayer, and the party decided to rest at Fort Horizon for the night.
We earned enough experience from winning the battles and saving the captives to advance everyone to 2nd level. We were told to finish leveling up our characters before the next session, which was tentatively scheduled for April 20th.