Dragons of Blackminster

Shar Gazoth 01 - Across the River

For his destruction of the mirror, Gaston was volunteered for what seemed like a suicide mission. As Mulan failed to prevent him smashing it, she was similarly invited to undertake the quest.

Father Abraham looked like he might not face the same doom, but was asked by the local Inquisitor Captain (his superior in the Church of Mortus) to tag along. The Inquisition are particularly keen to learn about the so-called “Keepers of the Dead” – rumoured to be a sect of Necromancers that live in the mountain that contains the Citadel of Shar Gazoth.

Sapphire (the wizardess who knows the most about the Orc’s Portal Mirror), offered the services of a friend of hers – a half-elf called Davidian. Davidian is a Priest of “The Goddess”, the Elven deity who created Jade as a playground for the Fae. Davidian knows a great deal about the magic mirror and magic in general (being an arcana domain priest) and is “far better suited to a trek across orc-infested wilderness than I am” she said.

As they wouldn’t have a “snowball’s chance in hell” of even finding the place without a guide, one of the Rangers of Eastmark, was volunteered to go with them. Clayton had been across the River into Ustergard before on scouting missions and should be able to get them there without becoming lost or starving to death on the journey.

The adventurers were given various gifts to help them on the quest…
Davidian was given five magical scrolls by the College Of Art.
Abraham was given a couple of magical scrolls by the Inquistor Captain. He also used his new-found powers to animate a Skeletal Warhorse as his own steed.
The rest of the party was equipped with horses, ropes for climbing and other essentials for the trip.
They all got a chance to read the three volumes of Agraven’s Journal about his journey to Shar Gazoth. Davidian knows how to reproduce Agraven’s trick of re-directing the Mirror to one in Sapphire’s house.

They debated trying to sail round the coast to reach Shar Gazoth more quickly, but the threat of Red Orc Pirate ships was thought to be too high. [GM: The Red Orcs are actually Hobgoblins – like red-skinned Klingons with access to advanced pirate ships – Galleons compared to the medieval clippers and longships available to the heroes].

There was much debate on how to cross the great River Stone without being immediately spotted by Orcish patrols. If they weren’t taking horses, they might slip across on low barges or canoes. To get horses across, they needed some magical help and the Inquisitor Captain – Septimus Kreed, accompanied them with the magical horn they had found on Beacon Isle.
As night fell, he blew the Horn of Torkas (the Dark God of Storms) and a vast area of fog rolled across the river.

Under cover of the fog a squad of Rangers rowed them and their horses across and dropped them off. Mulan (through her familiar’s eyes), Clayton (through his Darkvision spell) and Davidian (through his own Darkvision) were able to lead the horses and their companions through the forest. Behind them an Orc patrol attacked the boat. Several men died and the boat was destroyed by fire, but they were across, had slipped by the first line of Orcish patrols and the Quest was on.

They travelled on across the grasslands (once cultivated plains) through the moonless night stopping before dawn and out of sight in some low hills. Ahead they could see a ruined village where a small camp fire was burning.

They decided to hide from the Orcs at the village. As the light improved, Mooshoo spotted that people were working in the fields around the village with scythes and that the half a dozen orcs in the village had a few horses. Eventually they realised the “people” must be zombies as they never seemed to tire or stop. They were gathering corn and also clearing a road.

Our heroes rested until afternoon and then set off through the hills trying to bypass the Orcs. Despite his best efforts, Clayton struggled to find a way that kept them in valleys and away from crossing the skyline. At one point they became so skittish that they shot a “suspicious-looking crow”. [GM: to be fair, I had mentioned that the Orcs sometimes used Giant Crows as scouts]

Late afternoon they were edging back to the grasslands and had to hide as two orcs rode past arguing loudly in Orcish (which nobody speaks). One was a “Red Orc” and seemed to be in charge. The other was one of the horde of “white” orcs from the distant north – part of the invading army who conquered Ustergard more than a 100 years before.

As night fell, these two orcs stopped at the next village and lit a camp fire. They were right in the way! Our heroes tried to skirt past but leading horses in the dark and keeping Gaston quiet in his heavy armour was just too difficult. Some night-time beast caused a horse to whiney and the two Orcs wandered into the hills to investigate.

red_orc.png

They were only two, but they were pretty tough – especially the hobgoblin, who was some kind of Warlord. Davidian blasted the leader with a powerful Guiding Bolt, a searingly-bright blast! Clayton shot from cover, Abraham and Gaston hacked down the orc (taking his head off and spraying the clearing with blood) and Mulan brought down the hobgoblin with a shot through the head.

They found a couple of potion flasks on the hobgoblin – Davidian identified them as healing potions. They dragged the bodies into the bushes and considered what to do next. There were still a couple of orc ponies in the village about half a mile away. It was about 9 miles back to the previous encampment.

Hopefully nobody saw the sky light up as the Guiding Bolt struck home.
Hopefully the two orcs won’t be missed straightaway.

Despite a few setbacks, they have made good time so far. If their luck continues it might take as little as 15 days – maybe 20, depending on the terrain.
[GM: we won’t play out every step of the way – just the days with interesting encounters]

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MickH666

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