Probing attacks against the defenses of the small town of Ldamven had halted the Group’s advance toward the elder druid Nilu and delayed the homeward journey of the rescued women escorted by academy students Jaren and Jiffar. Reportedly the work of the bloodthirsty Broken Fang orcs, the recent raids were stated as being a precursor to an invasion of the town itself, under the command of the brutish Black Orc known as Glormul.
Meanwhile, scouts and warriors from the human-friendly Iron Skulls tribe sought to tip the scales in the town’s favor, providing assistance and battling the rival orcs where possible. The Party, spurred onward by a successful trap and information obtained from a captured “Fang” warrior, had taken to the highlands nearing the Napalago Hills – discovering a small cave lair in their hunt for Glormul and taking the fight to the evil humanoids.
Diaday, Fifteenth of Replanting, 1044 Y.K.
Following a night of disquieted contemplation, Ellanelle Arbordawn emerged from her place in the shadows and stood before the Party. She proclaimed herself incapable of further aiding the Group in her current state, and informed them of her plans to return to the capital. There she would seek someone with the ability to restore her previous body, or modify her new form to mirror the old should a complete restoration be impossible.
Assuming its existence, the price of such a service was unknown to her, but she suspected that it might require more than simple gold. Experience had taught her that masters of the arcane arts rarely contented themselves with such “mundane” forms of payment. She would need to be free of obligation if such repayment was necessary or demanded. As such, she could give no estimation on when or if she would return. The Party would, for the time being, need to proceed without her.
Vowing to rejoin them at some point later if possible, the former Wood Elf left the Party’s company, heading north and west along the route the Group had taken to reach the cave. The loss of their most proficient tracker was certainly a detriment, but the Party was determined to press onward. Glormul needed to be located, to be neutralized, if the threat against Ldamven was to be eliminated. They had come too far to return empty handed.
Intending to move further into the hilly lands of the east, the Group instead turned westward, back toward human civilization, and a large plume of smoke spotted in the distance. Too far south to be Ldamven, the smoke was still likely to be the work of the Broken Fang, and would perhaps give them more information regarding the whereabouts of their quarry. They moved with haste, covering the large distance to the settlement by the mid-day hours.
The settlement, revealed to be the village of Vrehden upon the Group’s arrival, had indeed been attacked by orcs in the night. Locals who survived the assault spoke of one hundred or more Fang raiders attacking to the sound of strange drumming, and with the aid of a giant. Supplies, livestock and people were reportedly hauled off by the beasts, their current location unknown. Of those left in the village, only one was capable of aiding the Group in any meaningful way.
Purifier Alamir Artur, a traveling cleric of Brovadol, the Swift Sword, had been in Vrehden when the attack began, and had played a crucial role in saving the lives of those who now remained. On his mission of searching, the cleric was duty-bound to combat evil wherever he might find it – a requirement that quickly lead to talk of companionship with the Party. In exchange for their assistance in destroying this orc threat, the Purifier would aid the Group in bringing the “Dark Lady” Guldella Olmlor to justice.
With no clear word on the orcs’ direction, the Party elected to stay the night in Vrehden. The possibility of another attack on the village, or on one of the other two nearby population centers left the Group with the desire to be close at hand. A pair of mounted messengers were dispatched to give warning to the neighboring peoples, and the Party found shelter in a partially destroyed structure. Concerned about possible midnight assassins, Hilg encircled the Group’s site with a veritable mine field of spike stones.
Pelsday, Sixteenth of Replanting, 1044 Y.K.
Breaking the silence of the overnight predawn hours, a midnight rider entered the vicinity, rousing the Group with word of drums at the nearby village of Vlorden. A breakneck pace tested the limits of the Party’s mounts, but enabled them to arrive in time to be of assistance. Orc warriors were already descended upon the village, fighting to the thunderous sound of a single massive drum.
Pausing momentarily to take in the scene, the Party ascertained that the drum was clearly magical, and was augmenting the invading warriors greatly. Hilg, despite only being a Half-Orc discovered himself enhanced by the item as well; his orcish blood responding to the drum’s beat. The Group quickly concluded that the drum’s influence would need to be removed if the defending humans were to have any hope of victory.
Situated on a low hill far outside the battle, the monolithic drum stood guarded by only a small unit of enemy warriors. The Group charged forth on horseback, using their speed to avoid a volley of javelins and rush into battle, determined to silence the hellish instrument. A quick bolt of lightning struck the drum’s player down, ending the enchantment and sending additional orc warriors scurrying toward the hill to reclaim the lost power of percussion.
New banging on the drum was cut off by Maldus, as he encircled the item with a wall of thought, bottling up the sound and trapping a newly arrived, would-be drummer inside. Rarnok utilized the magic of wall spells as well, using his talents to conjure a formation of strength-draining walls of shadows. The approaching reinforcements rushed through the seemingly insignificant barriers, sapping their strength and greatly weakening them.
Newly recruited Alamir fought bravely, holding the onslaught of enemies at bay with his bastard sword, dubbed “The Civilizer”. As the orcish warriors were turned away by sword and spell, a new and far more deadly threat made itself known. The crash of a huge boulder shattered the typical clamor of battle and alerted the Party to the arrival of the enemy’s giant ally. The green-skinned monster stood better than forty feet tall and hurled boulders the size of small cottages in the Group’s direction, sending the remaining orcs running.
Using the landed boulders for cover, the Party concealed themselves while Rarnok created a new wall of shadows, placing it directly in the monster’s path. Nearing the barrier, the massive being paused momentarily before collapsing unconscious to the bewilderment of all. Wasting no time, Rarnok placed a final wall on top of the giant, sapping its strength while it slumbered. Unconscious and drained of strength, the colossal being then shrank, having apparently been the recipient of an enlarge spell.
Meanwhile, the village below was all but defeated. Despite the loss of the drum’s power, the invading warriors had simply been too many for the tiny settlement to repel, and the village was only moments away from total capture. Wagons secreted away from the outskirts of the settlement allowed the Party to aid a handful of fleeing villagers, and load the both the drum and captured giant up for travel. Hilg’s wild shape ability permitted him the strength to move the giant (albeit with much exertion) and the Group headed north toward Ldamven.
The remainder of the day was spent in arduous travel, half driving, half dragging the sagging, giant-and-drum-laden wagons along the road. The giant soon regained consciousness, but still weakened by the wall of shadows, was unable to move. It spoke of being confused and unclear of its location. As the Party bedded down for the night, Rarnok again created a wall of shadows, maintaining the creature’s weakened state as a precautionary measure.
Katarday, Seventeenth of Replanting, 1044 Y.K.
Arriving at long last to the safety of Ldamven, the Group was greeted by the army captain and a squad of his soldiers. They turned over custody of the captured giant to the soldiers and entered the town, seeking the comforts of civilization. The fate of the magical drum would still need to be decided, but not until after a discussion with the orcs of the Iron Skulls tribe.