It’s funny how the mind works. You seem to remember firsts more than lasts. I was just thinking “I can’t remember the last time I saw a cliff” when we stumbled upon a dead end; a cliff underground. No, that’s not some fancy Dwarfish dance troupe, although the though did make me glance at Kok and giggle, I will admit. No, there literally was a cliff as our path came to an end. Luckily all our progress was not in vein since as soon as we began to backtrack the Duerger attacked.
Duerger you ask? Surprised us as well! Must have been following and they knew where we were going so they waited. Why’d they wait, you ask? Well this spot looks like it might, quite possibly, the worst place in the entire known and unknown world to have a fight. The ground is all slippery in some spots with a cave slime substance, and there’s enormous stalagmites elsewhere casting shadows and providing cover for their crossbowmen in the back. Crossbowmen you exclaim? Me too! And don’t forget the cliff. It seems I made a mistake in a past life and I am being punished.
But back to firsts; as the saying goes, “I’ll never forget the first time I saw an Umber Ravager.” Reason being is that the bugger nearly killed Kok with all his sound attacks and magic stuff. Well, I mean he didn’t nearly kill Kok. All the other Duerger with hammers bashing on him like some Harvest Fair strength contest did that part. Man that looked bad. Kok was brave enough to run into the middle of them and get their attention right off the bat. This left the rest of us to encircle and do our things. It was a surprisingly noble gesture, I mean, if you had never met the Dwarf. I knew he was trying to steal all the glory and I was not going to let that happen.
There was one among them who was a hocus-pocus type and maybe a female. While Kok charged the biggest thing on the field, she began to fire magiks toward the rest of the group; classic error. I fired two arrows with additional force, pushing her away from the flank and into the hands of Kok and Benji. What happened next was not pretty, I can only assume. I was working on the crossbowmen at that time, with the help of Eammon’s wit and fire. Benji said he had a “fiery wit” with ear to ear grin once, but it took me until now to understand why Eammon and stifled the halfman with the reply, “I appreciate the effort, lad, I really do, but please leave the word craft to me and I’ll leave the emaciated, terrifyingly efficient, disemboweling craft to you.”
Roland and Eammon were focused on the main body of the Duerger, with Kok in the middle of them and Benji slicing at their flanks. I was firing from cover and being ignored for the most part. We were turning the tide steadily and aside from Kok taking a bit of a dirt nap, our band was very efficient. There was a setback when we finally hurt one of the Duerger with a hammer enough to notice, he transformed into a large version of himself. All three of them did the same after enough punishment. Oh yeah, there was three of them. One took a liking to me and I had to draw him around a bit to rejoin the group. Problem was that he had gotten in a few hits and I went down. I don’t remember the specifics, but next thing I knew I was back in the fight with renewed vigor. The rest of the part glanced at me like I was a ghost, and from what I learned later, it was because no one had healed me. Put that in your ridiculous hat, Dwarf!
The big ones were the last to go down and we really had to team together and concentrate fire to make a dent. Umber no circumstance was this an easy fight. Things then took a turn for the worse after the battle. Kok was looking on edge, his eyes bloodshot with frustration, when he caught sight of Benji pocketing something off a corpse. I’ve seen the little bugger do it before, but I always assumed the band looked the other way since he is a bit of a charity case. Boy was I wrong. Kok leapt off of the rock he was sitting on and charged the little fellow. Still recovering from the fight, there was little chance for Benji to dodge. Lord Kokurl was benevolent enough to only knock the bugger unconscious. He then proceeded to lecture the motionless figure about “I’ve warned ya, peck” and “You knew this would happen, peck.” No one felt like pointing out the obvious flaw to his method, nor shooting the dumb bugger in his big dumb head to shut his righteous ass the fuck up. Okay, maybe I felt a twinge of the latter, but it passed quickly.
Because of our little family quarrel, we had to camp until the halfman’s wounds could be properly tended. As bad of a place to fight this made, it proved to be an easily defendable place to take a rest. Benji awoke from his deep sleep mostly oblivious to what had transpired. Kok lectured the lad again and Benji quietly accepted responsibility for what had occurred. He flashed Kok an innocent grin that hid a cold rage which gave me a shiver. That Dwarf should watch his pints, I think.
Finally we were able to proceed and eventually stumbled upon an exit of this blasted cave. “I can’t remember the last time I saw snow” was on the tip of my tongue as we found ourselves in some mountainous terrain. We were not outfitted for this type of terrain so we quickly descended the mountain. As night approached we were able to make camp and I was actually able to catch us some meat for dinner. “I can’t remember the last time I had rabbit stew” I thought as I quickly devoured my meal. We were set in a field of boulders to block the wind and I had pulled first watch. I did not get an opportunity to begin my watch as we were attacked while finishing our meal.
Belarus has the strange ability to show up right when needed. He must have been of in the woods rutting his horns against a tree like a deer or something. As the Orcs began to charge he muttered something and several fell. I don’t know if he knows, but the group seems to know he’s a hocus-pocus fellow. That’s the impression I get, at least.
Riding the wave of victory from our encounter with the Duerger the band fought with intensity that seemed to catch the Orcs off guard. They were soundly defeated and we set our camp. While doing so the Dwarf watched Benji like a hawk. Roland pointed out that the armor on the Orcs was too similar than what we were used to fighting. Listen to me, “used to fighting” like I’m some kind of professional Orc hunter. Boy I need a different profession.
Needless to say this was a bad sign. Those more familiar with history and whatnot informed us that Orcs are very rarely organized. I think Eammon said the last time they were was for that Bulls-eye fellow. He’s a bit indirect that half-elf, and the way words seem to linger in his moustache always gives me a headache. Summation – bad news. If they are being outfitted by someone, that means shit is going down.
With this newfound information we headed further down the mountain. Judging by the flora and terrain I estimated we were well into mountains north and east of Boldstone. How far we traveled underground is impossible to say. That aside we needed to get to some civilization. Our rations were running low, I was nearly out of arrows, and everyone could use a bath, except the Dwarf, who could use a boil. Like the inside of a pig that’s ate nothing but sardines, pickled in onion water and urine. Wrap that in some bacon and bake it and you’re close to his stench.
Arguing the finer points of geography and fauna with the band to pass the time, I did not notice the change in the terrain as a sign of trouble. It was unlikely that this area should be trampled, but hey, I don’t know where we are to begin with! Luckily we were able to stop a bit short of another ambush. “I’ll never forget the first time I saw an Ogre.” Lords above them are disgusting. Blubber, for lack of a better word, covered this beast as well as an assortment of weaponry sheathed in his own skin. Yuck. We set up a decent plan and engaged him and this rather nutty looking Orc. As we closed the distance some more Orcs appeared from the tree line to engage our flanks. We all did our best and were able to avoid the flankers only to find the Ogre and crazy Orc meant business.
After getting into it with the Orc, he threw himself into a frenzy, lashing out with vicious attacks. I kept my distance, smartly I may add, as he was bashing others quite well. The Ogre was no slouch as well, with an unbelievable stamina and ability to shrug off damage. I would have been more helpful except for these arrows that the Dwarf gave me. I swear they are made out of dried rope. I couldn’t hit a thing with them and was nearly shooting the others. I guess the band can survive without me as they cleaned up the two opponents and we went about our way.
Despite Kok’s watchful glare, Benji managed to pocket something off of an Orc corpse. I resisted pointing that out, primarily because we can use the bugger more with his hands intact. I did, however, pull him aside and washed my hands of the situation, letting him know I’d not stop the Dwarf if he’s caught again. I won’t get myself involved in his little pissing match with the Dwarf and risk the psychopath attacking me. Keep the peace and watch your junk, I always say.
The terrain continued to change as we headed further south and there were more signs of travelers. This put me more on edge and I kept a sharper lookout. Luckily for me this paid off. Well, kinda. I noticed in a large clearing someone hiding in a bush. To me that screams ambush, but to the Dwarf that screams charge. Well we can guess how that was resolved. After Kok charged the one that I pointed out, several more appeared and dammit, they’re elves.
“I’ll never forget the first time an elf shot me.” Of course it wasn’t some regular arrow like the kind I get. No, elves get special arrows for their fancy bows, the buggers. A thunderclap sounded its arrival in my arm, ringing my ears and solidifying my hatred of elves. The rest of the band was getting an earful as well. The elves were practiced in their ambush, popping from bushes and behind trees and then using some weird hand gesture mojo to help them slink away. I had to admire their discipline, primarily because our band has so little. Kok charged their back line, being peppered with arrows the whole way. Cedric and Benji followed begrudgingly to provide some support while Eammon, Belarus and I remained in cover, or at least tried to. They were still hitting us from afar and we were unable to counter as they’d disappear shortly after each shot.
“Fuck cowardly Duerger and fuck cowardly Elves…” Eammon muttered from behind his rock. The raspy coughs spoke of his state but the lack of eloquence was more to the point. Last time we had a fight like this, we nearly died. This looked like it might be the case as well. Kok was looking very bad and his belligerent curses were getting more strained, a testament to the Elves skirmish warfare. Benji was attempting to be everywhere at once in order to bring the fight to them, with varied success. Cedric was trying to issue commands, but the battlefield was reshaping too quickly and we were taking too much damage. I was able to get the occasional shot in on a few of their number and made solid contact with a more effeminate looking one. Belarus followed suit, but he and I were being peppered as we attempted to flank and had to move from cover. The band looked in a bad way and the pulse pounding in my ears was begging for retreat. Can’t we just not be heroes for once?
“Stand down! They’ll let us pass!” exclaimed Cedric. Did I just get mind powers? Or worse, he’s lost it?! Either way this can’t be good. We don’t stop fighting! Hell, we fight each other after we fight! It’s how we roll, bitches! I’ve been with these guys too long. Strangely enough Cedric said it again, this time more hurried and ran towards the rest of the party. The elves had stopped attacking and one of them seemed to be blabbering the same thing in elven. Eammon muttered something about measuring penises which I didn’t quite catch and Belarus’ glare seemed ready to ignite the elven leader for our trouble. Turns out they thought our goal was quite different. They had heard of the rampaging the Orcs had been up to and assumed we were connected to them. Once it was explained that we eat little shit Orcs for breakfast, all was well. Or something like that.
For most of the discussion after that I was busy glaring at Irristia, the female archer among them, who I had peppered quite well. She wouldn’t give me the time of day, although my archery skills were at least on par with her’s, considering the shape she was in versus me. Never mind we had them outnumbered, I was all ice eyes. The chicks dig that. Looking like you’re all pissed off when really you want to just try on their shoes. I mean, that’s what you mentally project in order to get their favor. Not that I’d do that, just that’s how it works. Well, not with her because, primarily the severe wounds I had afflicted, I guess. “I can’t remember the last time I got laid…”