With the death of Gorgamel, the two suits of armour, filled with living flame, floated over the centre of the bridge and slowly regenerated.
Gaston was restored to life by Davidian, using the “Revivify” scroll they found on the red orc. In the religion of the Kingdom, raising the dead is a deadly sin, but the Church of Mortus has ruled that “Revivify”, which has to be cast within a minute of death, does not break the Law. There is even a loophole using “Gentle Repose” that puts the corpse into a sort of stasis and can extend the period to a few days.
They were badly injured and running short of spells – the two rangers had no “Pass without Trace” spells left and the two priests used their last few spells hastily healing Mulan, Jock and Gaston, as best they could. The two Skeletal Warriors remaining were badly injured too. With help from the priests, Jock was able to shake off the Contagion that had blinded him.
They left Mooshoo hidden on the roof of the hut, watching the bridge and decided to head for the nearest patch of mushroom forest, half a mile down-stream, to hide and at least rest for an hour. Clayton and Jock managed to hide their tracks and Davidian dumped the body of Gorgamel into the lava where it was devoured by a pack of magma mephitis.
The forest had a pool of clean, warm water and had no wild life at all. Some of the towering mushrooms were larger versions of the red and yellow shrooms, Abraham had in his pocket – the ones they were warned about by Agraven’s Journal. They carefully made their way around these and lay down to rest.
Gaston (in a bid to get mentioned!) dived into the pool still wearing his plate mail. He sank like a stone and Mulan dived in to pull him out. As he scrambled out, treading on her head in a panic, they noticed a clump of seaweed was stretching out a tendril to grab them, but they managed to evade it.
They rested an hour and were then able to recover some of their strength. Abraham felt a stinging sensation in his leg and found that tendrils from the Shrooms in his pouch had forced their way through the leather seams and were trying to infect him. He carefully washed them off in the pool and dumped the two shrooms into the water.
Mooshoo reported telepathically that six orcs had arrived at the far side of the bridge and were shouting for Gorgamel. They sent two wolf-mounted orcs back down the road.
A half hour later an orc priestess in white, riding a snow-tiger, arrived with the two wolf-riders and pulled out a scroll which she read aloud in common.
“Gog and Magog, I hereby take command of the Bridge of Norrimass, Gog and Magog”
The floating monsters bowed and when she told them to let her and the orcs pass – they floated down into the lava beneath the bridge.
The orcs examined the scene around the hut and then she sent one rider back over the bridge the way they had come and the other one off in the other direction. The tiger kept sniffing around and mooshoo sneaked back to join them in the shrooms.
Mulan crept to the hut and used her Charm Person (from the faerie circlet) to charm the priestess. She managed to convince Skeksis, the favoured of Lillith, that she was a mercenary serving Lord Stagmork (at the mention of whose name all the orcs said “Praise his Name!”). The orcs and the tiger seemed very suspicious of Mulan, but she easily seduced Skeksis and the priestess told her servants to shut up and leave them alone.
Skeksis was in charge of the Gate of Norrimass, a small fortification a few miles to the east, blocking the only path to the Great Stair of Shar Gazoth (the way down to the Citadel). There were so many orcs out searching for a gang of pesky adventurers, that there were only about 20 orcs left, and 4 gargoyles.
Gorgamel was one of the Red Orc elders, but he had been exiled by Lord Stagmork (“Praise his Name!”) and was bitter and twisted – did not like the White Orcs – he worshipped Torkas the Storm God, not Lillith the Winter Queen. Skeksis had hated him and was glad he was dead.
Mulan convinced her to let the companions cross the bridge and as soon as they were all out of sight, they started running towards the Fort. Clayton got them all off the road just in time for half the remaining orcs to come running past, heading for the bridge with the wolf-rider. If Mulan’s girlfriend was to be believed, this left just 10 orcs and 4 gargoyles.
The Gate of Norrimass was a big brick wall with no windows but a few arrow slits near the top. There were no battlements as it reached the roof of the cave. There were two orcs lounging about at the single entrance, both portcullises were up. Four gargoyles perched in alcoves near the top of the four-storey wall.
Our heroes snuck as close as they could and then Davidian used a scroll of Confusion on the Orcs (catching a few more who were in rooms just inside). They ran in, easily overwhelming the Orcs. Abraham was attacked from behind by the gargoyles who swooped down and one of his Skeletal Warriors was torn apart.
They managed to kill the Orc Sergeant before he could do much and slaughtered the rest. They dropped the portcullises, trapping one gargoyle and keeping the other three outside. Mulan tinkered with the winches, jamming them in a way that would take at least a couple of hours to fix, but also setting them so that even when they were fixed, the first time they were raised, they would crash down again.
In the Sergeant’s room, they found a hidden pouch with a half-written letter, the ink still wet…
Dear Lord Stagmork
I wish to report that Skeksis is failing in her duty. We have had reports of a group of adventurers loose in the Forest. They have killed some of the mushroom men and Skeksis has sent almost all our troops into the forest to hunt them. It has been three days since the first incursion and she has not reported it to the Citadel as she is meant to.
I humbly beg permission to replace her as Captain of the Gate of Norrimass. She should be posted permanently to the Bridge (after flogging), replacing Gorgamel who is missing, presumed dead.
They passed through the Gate and into the wide sloping tunnel that forms the Great Stair.