Pour me ‘nother one.
So, we tried musterin’ up what help we could, given that th’great an’mighty council weren’ innerested. Atrius in particular, since he knew the territory, but precious few wanted anythin’ t’do with it. Even the over-clever wolves we saved from their pens in a hole in th’mournlands buggered off, despite all th’druid could say, an’ I could see he took that hard. In the end, though, we managed t’find five more fools with axes an’ a stray jaguar. Which with the four of us, an’ the six pretty unimpressive fellows we had t’help before, put us at abou’ 15, plus 2 jaguars an’ one horse, against maybe 50 orcs plus who knows what else.
I was pretty happy abou’ all this at th’time, min’ you. My firs’ proper battle, a chance t’see what my dad’s old stories o’scoutin’ in th’woods migh’ really be like… an’ maybe t’make a name fer myself.
So, we talked an’talked ‘bout plans, an’ finally reckoned we had t’get these orcs outta the fortifications they’d put up aroun’ th’stolen temple, an’ draw them out inter th’woods t’ground of our choosin’. But first, we reckoned, we could maybe hunt down some o’their hunters as they went out for food. And so me, Atrius, an’ a few o’the help went out and bagged us some hunters. I took down the first three we met with arrows nice’n’quick, but the next three spotted us from further off an’ got away; after that, there were no more.
So then it was time t’see about drawin’ em into our trap. I put a good case t’bein’ th’guy t’draw them out, knowin’ I could run fastest an’ make myself fel’ at a distance pretty well. So I snuck off toward th’orc camp, shinnied up a tree, an’ had a look inside their camp. Seemed like they had plenty o’tents, enough so’s t’make our guess o’50 not so bad… a couple huts too, an’ one larger tent, an’ a horrible lookin’ totem at th’middle that was just barely recognisable as somethin’ that was once a tree, an’ still alive. After watchin’ fer a bit, an’ not seein’ anyone clearly in charge, I decided t’get things started. A fire arrow t’set light t’the big tent, maybe, an’ another arrow ter bring down one a the easier orcs t’get a line on. That went fine, and I carried on; firin’ arrows an’hurlin’ abuse bagged me a few more, specially a couple that were brave enough t’come out an’ meet me. Although I felt all sortsa bad abou’ one preggers orc gettin’ carried outta th’burning tent. But then a line formed up at the barricades an’loads of arrows came back my way, so’s I cleared off, after some jumpin’ aroun’ in the trees ter tempt some more out brought me nothin’ more but more arrows comin’ my way.
An’ so I went back ter the others, an’Aleyn magicked away where a coupl’a arrows had sorta found their mark, before I went out t’hassle ‘em some more. I tried a few times, sometimes alone, sometimes w’backup t’ambush anyone who tried t’catch me, after I got almost bagged m’self… but nothin’ doin’. Th’orcs even figgured out a way ter protect their camp from m’arrows, so huntin’ them from the trees seemed t’be out.
An’ so, feelin’ frustrated, an’knowin’ that th’clock was tickin’ before other unfriendly parties mebbe came lookin’ fer the schema, an’ with th’open gate of th’orc’s stockade tauntin’ us, we got reckless. With only a half-arsed attempt at a diversion w’oil on th’stockade, we went fer the frontal assault we’d rejected from the get go. I led the way, mebbe because I felt a little responsible fer failin’ ter get th’orcs out. Th’rest followed, an’then th’orcs charged out too. Loads of them, their boss n’their shaman ridin’ great wolves, an’a couple others whippin’ four bears along towards us. Their boss was howlin’ up a storm an’ragin’, an’ a few o’the help ran away from the start. Then they hit us. I yanked the shaman outta his saddle, stabbed him after he fell, an’ the help had a good go at stickin’ the knives in, but he had good armour, an’ just wouldn’ stay down, so’s I had t’keep makin’ him bite the dirt, even while I fel’ his dark sorceries try t’take th’light from me eyes an’ the strength from me arms. Ter the lefta me I saw Mawfrey go down, clawed by a bear, an’ Rokar then take down that bear an’his mate while th’orc boss ragin’ like a madman sliced away at our men on all sides an’ the two jaguars, while Yaguara in her turn tore the teeth from the wolf carryin’ him, although that barely slowed him down. Ter my righ’, Aleyn sent th’orcs tumblin’ with a gust o’wind but they just charged righ’ back in again, an’ Atrius drove off th’other coupla bears somehow before joinin’ us in tryin’ ter take down the shaman permanent, like.
Then th’shaman ran, an’ I looked ter my left, an’figgured there was only one way t’end this fight. So’s I stepped back t’see clear, pulled out m’fire lance, and aimed it straight at th’orc leader. He looked puzzled fer a momen’, as if wonderin’ what I was carryin’, before I launched m’firework an’ his whole fron’ exploded in flame. Away he ran, roarin’ in agony, an’ figgurin’ m’friends could handle the rest, I went after the shaman.
Seein’ which hut he’d gone ter, I chased after him, kicked down th’door, an’ there in fronta me I saw th’pregnant orc from the tent earlier, screamin’ in pain, an’ him chantin’ away at some dark purpose. I tried t’interrupt him with a fire arrow, but then the floor lurched from under me, an’ I fell away t’the dirt outside while th’hut went an hopped righ’ over the stockade. Nobody felt much like chasin’ it.
After that, there weren’t much t’do, save fer us t’bury the fallen among th’fools who’d follered us, Aleyn t’fix up th’wounded, Atrius t’get back his axe from th’hideously burnt body o’that orc leader, an’ me t’rustle up what loot I could, although I couldn’ muster much enthusiasm fer the task, an’ even suggested we give away a fortune in basic orc weaponry t’the village where the fools with axes came from, seein’ as how we’d got a coupla them killed an’ all. Also, we couldn’ find the schema, an’ reckoned that Shaman – Blackjaw, his name was – musta taken it away in his damn leapin’ hut. Atrius an’ his druidic friends then fixed up their holy tree with a great ceremony, an’ then there wasn’ much more t’do there.
But anyways, I learned me a few things. Mebbe I unnerstan’ the times m’old man would fall quiet a bit more, an mebbe I learned, also, that I don’ ever want t’use m’fire lance against anyone I can hear scream as they burn again. I’ll keep it by me, fer monsters an’ worforged, but otherwise I’ll stick t’me bow an’ me blade, an’ keep any killin’ I have ter do quick an’ clean. A man’s gotta sleep at night, when all’s said an’ done.