[GM: Three new players appeared unexpectedly – so we spent time building and introducing new characters. I decided to have them play the Red Orc allies, led by Magnus Hammerhand (and dropped the plan to have Hammerhand try to seize control of the Ship and kill the player characters!)]
When nightfall came, the Lich’s teleport spell brought them all back to the Tomb, burned and battered from the battle in the Gate of Norimass. Even Davidian returned from his solo mission to try and gain control of the Helmed Horrors at the bridge. It had not gone well for the half-elf priest. He had sent a fire elemental to fight the guardians of the bridge while he struggled with the control phrases. But there were too many orcs and wolves and his every command to the Horrors was countermanded by the “Favoured of Lillith” (another of the albino priestesses, similar to their enemy Skeksis). When the spell pulled him back, he arrived unconscious and naked and bound with manacles that Mulan quickly unlocked.
They rested an hour and recovered as best they could. Mulan slipped out into the night to await the red orcs and used her familiar, Mooshoo, to communicate with the others, when the small procession of robed figures approached.
As they opened the Tomb door, the two parties faced each other and did quick introductions.
[GM: Apologies if I get some names wrong]
Magnus Hammerhand was the red orc priest they had parlayed with a few hours before. He had spent the day gathering a few loyal followers who should be able to crew the ship. Some of those would meet them at the Ship. He hated the White Orcs who now ruled the city. His people were far less numerous, and a century ago the alliance had seemed like a good deal – but now the White Orcs and their hated leader – Lord Stagmork, were openly contemptuous of the Red Orcs and their religion. Hammerhand wants to fly the Great Ship and reach the stars in search of his god – Torkas, Lord of Storms.
Rakk, a burly warrior, always in trouble with the white orcs, seemingly unable to compromise. He could have been a captain of his own ship if he hadn’t argued so much – and if Lord Stagmork had not diverted all work on ships into equipment for his armies.
Raef, a warlock, shrouded in shadow. Like the others, he had been an officer on the Tempest, one of the iron ships lost to the war against the dragon cult a few years ago. He was unpopular with the “Favoured of Lillith” (worshippers of the Winter Queen) because of his strong faith in the Lord of Storms and some incident where he cast darkness on a group of enemies and friends alike. He could see through the darkness but the priestesses couldn’t. While he won the battle, the two priestesses caught in the spell were badly wounded.
The ranger, Anon [GM: no name on the character sheet!] was the last of the group. A scimitar-wielding warrior – another whose faith in the Lord of Storms made him unpopular with the White Orcs.
The red orcs had brought priestly robes to disguise the humans for the journey (approximately a 30 minute trek) across the night time city and through gates in two of the city walls. Davidian the half-elf and Mulan were too lightly-built to pass for orcs and Gaston and Abraham were in heavy plate mail so would not pass as priests. The red-orc warlock made the four of them invisible. They robed-up the rest of the group and the red orc ranger cast Pass without Trace to help with any sneaking and to shroud the humans’ faces, and slowly made their way out of the tomb, across the graveyard and through the small temple built-into the city wall.
The city was cut from ancient rock, had wide streets and was well-lit by gas lamposts. Despite the huge number of white orcs living here now, at night-time the streets were almost deserted.
When Shar Gazoth was first built there had been many thousands of red-orcs, but over the generations their numbers had shrunk. A hundred years earlier their Captains Council had agreed to accept a truce with the White Orcs and allowed them to use the Citadel as a base for their military conquest of Ustergard. More recently the Death Knight, Lord Stagmork (first servant of the winter goddess – Lillith) had assumed overall command,
The intruders had started to re-populate the city, re-purposed many of the Storm God’s ancient temples. For the red-orcs, things had slowly got worse and worse.
The events of the previous night – the loss of the Magical Mirror and the white orc’s plans to use it to make war on the nearby Kingdom, had made relations between White and Red even more difficult.
The Great Ship was in the Industrial Quarter – among the forges and warehouses and smelting works that belch out thick smoke all day. They had to cross the open centre of the cavern, skirting a huge shaft of lava. One of Lord Stagmork’s three wyverns flew out on patrol overhead, swooping low to examine the troop of robed figures. Fortunately, it did not penetrate their disguise and flew on. The wyvern patrols had been more frequent today – perhaps in case any of the humans were still in the city.
At the 25-foot-high wall on the other side, they arrived at a Gate Post where two Ogres and two white orcs lounged about on guard. The massive portcullis was down and Magnus told them the winch was inside the towers. He tried to bluff his way past the guards.
“Open the gate, we have to get through”.
But the white-orc in command was openly belligerent and scornful.
[GM: the red-orc rolled a 1 on his persuasion check!].
The guard began to prod Magnus and shout at him “You’ll get through when I say you get through and not before”.
Enraged by this disrespect for the priest, Rakk tried to intimidate the guard, stepping up close. The guard punched him and spat, Rakk drew his blade and then all hell broke loose.
Mulan suddenly appeared and crossbowed an orc, Clayton dodged into the shadows and fired his bow too. The other two invisible heroes (Gaston and Abraham) appeared and joined the fight. Then the two Ogres smashed into them and the remaining guard sounded his hunting horn to summon reinforcements. Davidian cast Blindness on the two Ogres and soon they were hacked down too.
The red orc ranger leapt in close, whirling his scimitar to attack multiple foes and
Magnus smashed into the orc captain with both hammers and he went down.
Raef teleported to the top of the guard tower, flung open the trapdoor and saw two more white orcs leaping to their feet and drawing weapons. He cast darkness on them and swarmed sown the ladder to attack them – he could see in the darkness because of his Devil’s Sight.
The guard who rasied the alarm tried to flee but Mulan stepped out of the shadows and gutted him.
[GM: we ran out of time so will re-start from there next time. The horn will have summoned reinforcements who will arrive in about 5 rounds from a nearby barracks in the Industrial area. More orcs, possibly ogres and possibly dire wolves – maybe even one of the albino orc priestesses. The heroes have to get past the massive portcullis – or clamber over the wall. It’s only a hundred yards or so further to the Shipyard.]