“But Orcs and Trolls spoke as they would, without love of words or things; and their language was actually more degraded and filthy than I have shown it. I do not suppose that any will wish for a closer rendering, though models are easy to find. Much the same sort of talk can still be heard among the orc-minded; dreary and repetitive with hatred and contempt, too long removed from good to retain even verbal vigour, save in the ears of those to whom only the squalid sounds strong.” – JRR Tolkien on Orcish.
23rd of Azura, TR 1050, Early Morning, Fardelver : Gathering the adventurers together in the early dawn at the Stonehill Inn, Ebron and Bran relate their encounters on the road with hobgoblin scouts, and the strange necromancer Harmon Kost, as well as the deal they struck. The group agrees to resolve the matter together, adn gather supplies while the two tired adventurers get in some rest.
The remaining adventurers gather supplies and inquire after the location known as Wyvern Tor, gaining a basic description on how to find it, located north-east of Fardelver. They also discover that several inaccuracies exist on their present map, and Daran Elderbreath marks the site, as well as various other important landmarks to look for on their journey. Talrich reinforces this information through his aunt, Mistress Quelline Alderleaf, though her knowledge is third-hand and she has never been there herself. Silverfrond and Moirin hash out a few personal details. Char and her goblin servant Droop discuss the philosophy of adventurers and trade; Droop remains surprisingly logical and very ungoblinlike.
24th of Azura : The adventurers head out early, well rested and restocked with food and sundries. They journey north-east, until they find themselves in the foothills near Icespire Peak, without incident. They discover that a pall of smoke, not clouds as previously thought, hangs about the peak even in the face of its high winds. Their camp is cold and in a hidden lee on the north side of the mountain. They do spy a small flock of what might be stirges flying nearby, but they do not spot the party.
25th of Azura : The adventurers quickly spot the peak of Wyvern Tor away to the north-east of them, and follow it without major incident, until they overlook the so-called “Golden Vale”, finding it a pleasant series of graggy dells and meadows tucked away from most everyone’s consideration. They travel down into its depths, following a distant firelight at the base of the Tor itself, and quickly encounter the swath of destruction marking an orcish war band.
With Talrich taking the lead, they scout the fringes of the devastated camp area, and eventually he returns to relate a small camp of a dozen tents with orcs and a small handful of human bandits conferring animatedly. The distant sounds of a war drum (?) and strange screeching is heard from within a walled-off cave near the camp, following a pattern of about ten minutes of ritualized chanting and ten minutes of screeching, over and over again.
Eventually, as they confer about their plans, the horse-equipped bandits leave the camp, heading quickly south-west, back the way the adventurers came, and pass out of the vale. Fearing they mean to attack Fardelver, they write a quick note and give it to Quoth, who grasps it and is ordered to bring it directly to Sir Sildar Hallwinter’s hand to warn of the possible bandit’s approach. Silverfrond quickly misses his constant companion.
When a small group of orcs head north out of the camp and begin hacking down several trees in the area, the adventurers slip around the camp to engage the orcs in a quick battle, discovering them to be of the local Rotting Eye Tribe. Char reveals the insidious nature of her strange tome, the Infinitium Codex, releasing its power of the Flensing Gaze upon the one orc she put to sleep early in the fight, and revealing that she might be in private conversation with the infernal book constantly. As per her previous agreement with the book, Char is rewarded for her efforts with access to the Speak w/ Animals spell which she can cast from the book as a ritual.
Within minutes, the combat attracts the remaining orcs in the camp, but with the first group defeated, the adventurers prepare themselves and draw the orcs to them with ranged fire and defending themselves among the trees. Leading this group is a tall orc wearing strange green armor, and the battle is engaged!
The fight proved difficult, with the brutal leader dealing devastating blows, though the adventurers manage to get in several of their own despite his terrific armor and shield work. Despite the fall of Bran in his defense of the others, the orcs are put to rest, and the battle ends in a few minutes. The bodies are quickly searched and stripped of their weapons, a dozen Orc War Cleavers, with a small collection of spades and axes for simple construction work, and curiously ten (10) coins on every orc warrior, each a coin of Blood Gold. The leader’s armor proves to be Orc Heavy Armor, which Ebron refuses to don, giving the opportunity to claim it to Bran. The orc’s battle axe and shield are of good quality, but otherwise seemingly of no consequence. Ebron takes the heads of all thirteen (13) of the orcs, and tosses them into a sack later taken from the orc camp.
Burying the arms of their conquest in the small woodland for retrieval later, the adventurers head into the camp and search it, finding it abandoned. The tents are crudely made, and only the leader’s contains a handful of poor gemstones, such as rock crystals and other fancy stones worth perhaps 50 gp total. A large store of meat is in stock, hinting at the richness of the local game in the Golden Vale, however.
Entering the barricaded cave, they find a small open area with a cleared sleeping space, and a crude drum made of a hollowed log with heavy padded sticks, covered in bloody runes hinting at its ritualistic value. Ebron quickly destroys the device. Deeper in the cave is a rough pen made from shaped logs that holds eight (8) fledgling hippogriffs.
Using the newly accessed ritual of Speak w/ Animals, Char talks with the creatures finding them amenable to discourse, though their limited intelligence limits them to simple two-or three-word answers and thoughts. Three (3) of the beasts are amenable to talking provided they are fed by the adventurers, while the remaining five (5) are very distrustful of all “two-legs”, though they too are hungry and trail after the adventurers once they leave the cave, having promised they can get fed by them if they do so. The two sides of hippogriffs bicker constantly back and forth, with hunger winning over the five hold-outs, though they do not allow the adventurers to approach too closely.
Now with a gaggle of young hippogriff fledgelings in tow, the adventurers settle in for the night among the orcs camp, realizing that the shaman likely fled after the fight ended in the woods, and will likely send word to his people of the adventurers victory. With a sack of heads to meet their obligation to Harmon Kost, they engage in a long rest, and discuss their plans for the morrow…