It is late evening and a light fog settles down over the Northwood forest. A group of adventurous folk had settled down for the evening at an oft used camp site a short distance from the forest-bisecting road. The warm coals were all that remained of their camp fire and all but two of the group were a sleep in their bed rolls.
The newly formed team had been hoping to run across some goblins and collect the bounty bounty on their ears set in the City of Kalis. Having had no luck in the past three days of hunting they had eaten their dried meat and travel bread whilst discussing heading back to the town of east bridge or possibly following the road the rest of the way to Kalis.
A firely explosion, maybe half a mile distant woke the adventurers not on watch. Gathering their gear and deciding quickly what to do they sent their stealth specialists, Xylia Fae and Mardis Riverfin ahead of the group to scout in the foggy darkness. Grum Heckstream hefted his great axe with familiarity leading Aiza Haan with her twin long swords at the read, Mula Bandah hands gripping her gnomish quarterstaff, and Elgeiros Aleviir in the rear as he mentally prepared to unleash his arcane power at a moment’s notice.
Walking stealthily ahead, Xylia and Mardis were the first to spot a squad of four goblins walking down the road. Barely able to signal each other with the fog enshrouded road separating them, they stopped and watched as the patrol passed them heading toward the main group. Following from behind they let the goblins come up to their less than stealthy comrades. The goblins, scimitars already at hand muttered in their raspy native tongue as they prepared to rush the team ahead.
The goblins where quickly outmatched, half their number cut down before they could act. The other two ran away from the road in opposite directions. The team was able slay one through the fog with an arrow, but the final goblin provide surprisingly quick and was able to escape into the trees.
Barely pausing the group immediately started harvesting the ears of their prey. They stuffed all the disgusting, but valuable ears into a saddle bag on their mule Boots. They resumed travel down the road in a tighter formation, approaching the earlier explosion. Then they heard the sound of heavy boots on the hard packed road ahead.
A squad of thick-armed, broad-headed orcs wielding large two-handed axes approached. Neither the party, nor the orcs had bothered with stealth and the orcs yelled war cries as battle ensued.
The orcs proved much tougher than the goblins, as the entire team was forced to bring their best effort. As the rogues sought to strike from sneaky angles, Grum charged to the fore front to take on the lead orcs.
The team fought hard, but the orcs were relentless accepting grievous wounds in an effort to spill the group’s blood. During the battle, one orc was placed under a sleep spell at the outset to achieve a strong tactical advantage. The fight was over quickly however with Mula healing Grum’s well earned wounds.
They bent over to loot the bodies and take their ears which they tossed into Boots’ saddle bags. A scant minute passed for them to catch their breath before a dark haired woman dashed toward the group and through them yelling, “Run! They’re coming.”
Deep voiced orcan voices shouted in the darkness ahead as the group turned to follow the fleeing woman. They dashed into the Northwood side of the road seeking the cover of the fog enshrouded trees. As they ran, a haunting howling sound could be heard as something not-quite-wolf started the pursuit as well.
The group came up to the edge of a deep gorge. Scrambling to find someway across, they spotted a large dead tree leaning out partially over the babbling water below. As they reclaimed their breath, Grum looked down at Mula the gnome and Mardis the halfling. With a grunt from Mardis and a hesitant nod from Mula, Grum picked them up each in turn and hurled them across the narrowest near-by part of the ravine.
Clearing the 20 ft. gap, the smallest members of the team were thrown a rope coil, Grum having forgotten to hold onto one end. A sense of panic was settling over the group as the wolf-like howls grew closer. Another rope was thrown across to the group, this time with a hold on both sides, but they realized they didn’t have time to get across using the rope.
The small folk switched gears and started bashing at the foot of the leaning deadwood. The tree crashed to the ground forming an impromptu bridge as hoped. The team scrambled across the slippery mossy wood as they could hear a dual growling menace approaching.
Aiza urging Boots across the gap behind her found that the beast of burden’s hooves were simply not up to the task and it lost purchase, tubling over the side.
In a near suicidal last ditch effort Xylia grabbed a branch and caught the rear hoof of the mule. For a moment she held onto Boots, feeling like her arms were going to tear out of their sockets.
Aiza watched in horror as her long time friend fell from Xylia’s grasp, Xylia herself nearly losing her grip as well until Grum hauled her back up onto the log. Then two Goblins riding huge wolf-like mounts arrived.
Grum, not yet recovered from his earlier exertions could not summon his barbarian rage and fought the first beast and goblin as it lept onto the log behind him. Summoning magical fire, Elgeiros and Mula both hurled flames at the beast as the rogues fired arrows at its thick hide.
The team defeated both powerful beasts and their riders, but just barely with an exhausted Grum attempting to complete the crossing, but slipping on some blood soaked moss and plummeting from the log into the water below.
Aiza steeled her self against physical and emotional pain, she climbed down the ravine, ignoring scratches and a bite wound, she found Grum’s body pushed up against that of one of the worgs.
Sighing about the loss of an ally, but ever pragmatic, she took out a dagger and grab his half-orcan ear. A quick slice added an ear to their collection, or at least it would have if the bags of ears had not disappeared with Boots.
Unexpectedly, Grum groaned and some water gurgled out of his lungs. Aiza dragged grum’s heavy body out of the water onto the shore, yelling up to her companions, “He’s alive!”
[End of Part One]