By Carey Sauerbrun
The small group, as prepared as they're going to get, heads off into the surrounding forest. The pace is slow and easy, set by the foot-bound members of the party.
For much of the day, the going is easy and pleasant. Nothing more dangerous than a fox crosses the party's path for the entire morning, and the group is regaled by the calls of birds and beasts. The surrounding foliage, at first shrubby and deciduous, is soon gone, strangled out by the larger fir trees and pines. The proliferant pine needles blanketing the ground do much to limit undergrowth, and the party's vision is actually rather decent between the tall trees. At one point, the trail that Corin is following crosses a small stream, easily forded, and it's gurgling cry continues with hearing distance for another couple hours.
The path Corin is following, at least initially and for much of the day, is the one that has obviously been created by the previous groups to depart Hardoak Pass in the last few days. So far, the young man has had very little difficulty in keeping on the path.
After a brief luncheon, which is a mix of the trail rations and a brace of rabbits that Corin managed to take, the company moves on.
After about an hour, the trail becomes indistinct, and Corin loses track of it.
After about an hour of searching the area, during which Authari lends a hand in trying to find the trail (with little luck), the rest of the company take their ease at the 'crossroad', the area where the paths diverge.
An hour or so into his search, Corin once more picks up the trails of not one group, but three, once more recognizing the signs. He has enough experience to tell that the paths diverge here and head in various directions, all within about a thirty degree arc of the original direction...
Even as the young ranger relates this news to the others, everyone else about the area perks up, having percieved movement behind Corin, and, even at this distance, seeing that there are a number of figures making their way through the forest. The figures are about one hundred and twenty feet away through the trees, upslope from the party's current position.
The figures, whom from their gait can only be assumed to be orcs, are completely oblivious to the party, for while Corin and the four-footed members are standing, the others are all sitting with backs against trees or lying on their sides on the carpet of pine needles, resting.
Amber looks around at the group around her and whispers "What now, my guts tells me to get the hell out of here. Besides I don't see any good reason picking off a few orcs if we might get hurt in the process"
Corin's brows knit almost together in a frown at the reaction of the group and Amber's whispered words. Without moving he checks the area in front of him. “Don't make any sudden or unnecessary movements!” He hisses to the others. “How many do you see Amber?” The Tethyrian asks quietly while slowly and deliberately reaching for his bow.
Corin does not make out anything that might threaten the group, though he does see a pair of squirrels scampering around one of the trunks of the great fir trees.
[OOC - by the way, upon reviewing my post, I realize I didn't note the orcs' direction of movement. They are coming from the left, and crossing to the right. They are facing slightly toward the group (which means as they move, they will be closing the distance slightly.) If undisturbed (and if they don't notice anything) then they will pass beyond any visual area while they are still a good eighty feet away.]
Amber strain her eyes to make an accurate count of the orcs and says in a low voice "I can see five of them, they are at an slight angle behind your right shoulder." She points with her hand in the direction of the orcs.
Quiet and white-knuckled, the priestess remains silent throughout the conversation between Amber and Corin. While they engage in wild number speculation, Mililani glides her hand quietly to her waist. She tightly grips the handle of her morning star in preparation for the confrontation that may come. Her sapphire blue eyes shining with the sun, she stops and closes them, concentrating on the sounds of the wild around her. Her ears remain vigilant for any sounds behind them. She turns her eyes and slowly turns her head to the left and to the right, watching for anything, anything that may be creeping slowly and silently behind them.
Authari eases to the left, so that Corin's horse blocks the line of sight to the orcs, then quietly eases his pack to the ground. He then removes his crossbow, and prepares it to be cocked, but does not yet draw a bolt or cock the weapon.
Brianna watches the orcs with an air of anticipation as she reaches into one of her pouches and retrieves a pinch of sand. With a quick scan of the sky she whispers, "Zat damn stupid bird should have given us some varning. He is probably off chasing insects." Turning to her companions she adds, "If ve are forced to fight then ve must hit zem hard and fast, not letting any escape to find reinforcements. I vill try to put as many as I can to magical sleep if zey spot us."
"Orcsies..." Brendan says as the hairs on his arms stand up in his excitement. Dwarves don't like most to begin with, but they hate orcs even more and never turn down an opportunity to give them a good squishing. He tightens his grip on his large club and turns to the others. "If'n ye want, I kin cuz a dibergin. Yer all set up an ambush an I bring em tuskers to ya's." he says with a wide grin on his face.
To Brianna, Amber says, "hmm, good idea." She whispers as she watches the approach of the orcs. Her eyes grow large as something hits her, "What about the animals they will be seen for sure, perhaps we can get them into a more favorable posistion" she whispers in a hars voice.
With a strange look at the dwarf which turns into something that could be called understanding she whispers back,"Hey that might just work, I have heard that suprise plays a good factor when trying to outmanouver an enemy on the field of battle. But are you sure, I have been told orcs can be pretty rough, I hope they don't carry crossbows or such like" She waits to see what the others might have to say about it all.
As the small group remains still, softly discussing their options, The orcs continue on their rambling way. The humanoids are obviously not trying to be stealthy, and now that they know the orcs are there, each of the group can hear the sounds that the orcs are making, even at this distance – the griping and complaining are obvious, whatever language they might be spoken in.
As Brendan eagerly offers to divert the orcs so the others can ambush them, and Authari focuses his will, one of the prospective ambushees let out a whoop of eager bloodlust and the others take up the call in a heartbeat.
As the orcs shout their battle cries Brianna starts her incantation that finishes with the toss of some sand that is quickly consumed by the magic.
At the most extreme range that she's capable of, the spell takes effect...
One orc, practically dead center in the area of effect, crumples to the earth. The one a few steps past him does likewise. The other three are uneffected... [OOC orcs at I5 and I4 are asleep]
Almost as quickly as the Rashemen woman, Authari raises his loaded crossbow and fires...
The crossbow flashes between Corin and his mount, arcing slightly as it crosses the distance between the group of orcs, to slam with a visible release of energy, into the chest of the foremost orc. Authari's target is flung backward to land bonelessly next to the sleeping orc behind that was behind it. [OOC Orc is D-E-A-D. Max damage with the Psionic Weapon effect, and almost as much with the crossbow]
With blood boiling anticipation, Brendan lets out a hoot and hollers in orcish, "Come'on ye pig faces! Ye're mudder was a sow an ye're fodder were a jackass!" He tightens his grip on his club and charges forward, straight toward the oncoming band of orcs. "Come'n here so that I kin smack dat pea brain o' yers outta youin heads." he continues in orcish as he rushes to do battle with the group. The running dwarf covers a good forty feet between the two groups...
One of the two remaining orcs (H5), rage burning in his eyes, raises a nasty falchion and also begins a charge, howling as it covers a good sixty feet, leaving only about fifteen feet between it and the charging dwarf... [Both Brendan and the orc are still charging, but neither reach anyone to attack]
Quickly pulling an arrow out of the quiver on his hip, Corin simultaneously spins around, setting the arrow on his bow. Moving quickly, he covers the ten feet to the nearest tree, draws back and lets a shaft fly at the advancing tuskers. [OOC - JP, the nearest tree was a good ten plus feet to Corin's left (move action). By the way, the character sheet doesn't actually tell me what his Favored Enemy is, so I'm assuming it's not orcs.]
The arrow, targeted on the orc that has yet to react, dips into a shallow dive and vanishes into the turf to the orc's front.
"Well," Mililani says wryly, "that bloody did it. They know we're here."
The priestess hastily slings her light crossbow from her back. As her veil and robes flow with the rush of air and the motions of her body, she brings the weapon to the ground and cocks it. Raising it then taking a bolt from her quiver, she whispers a prayer in haste in the name of the Lady of the Weave. [OOC - Jeff, getting the crossbow ready is a Move Equiv action. Casting the spell is a Standard Action. That's as far as she gets this round...]
Amber lets out a yelp of suprise as she hears the battle cry of the orcs. Closing her eyes for a heartbeat she opens them again and her hands begin to weave patterns in the air as she speaks out the words for casting her spell. A missile of energy darts out from her index finger to strike at the furthest orc to the right [J5].
The magical missile, scintillating brightly, dances and loops as it quickly covers the more than one hundred feet to punch into the orc's chest.
The orc, hissing in pain, clutches it's chest, looks around at three of it's companions, one with a crossbow bolt jutting from it's heart, and scuttles forward, taking cover behind a handy tree... [Moves to L8]
While drawing another arrow on his bow, Corin peers around the tree trunk to wait for an orc to appear. When he sees the charging orc, he steps around the tree [ooc: 5 ft move] and fires on the tusker.
Whether it's a trick of the shadows or maybe the distraction of the charging dwarf, the arrow hisses high and a bit to the right, eventually thudding solidly into the tree the second orc is cowering behind.
Almost immediately after the ranger fires, Mililani, pointing her crossbow at the on-coming orc, squeezes the trigger and lets the bolt sing across the landscape. Once finished, she moves behind the tree trunk and reloads the crossbow again. At the very same moment, Brianna moves forward, a bullet ready in her sling…
The Mystran, possibly also distracted by the charging dwarf, pulls the bolt to the right too, and the bolt is lost among the trees, hitting nothing. The bullet from Brianna, however, flies over the short dwarf's head to smack into the charging orc's head, staggering it and breaking it's stride.
Amber, eyes alight at the effectiveness of her first spell, casts again, and another scintillating missile flashes through the woods to strike the charging orc. The target of the spell, eyes rolling up in it's head, stumbles and crumples to the turf, tearing up a large swath of the carpet of pine needles. [Orc is down, well on it's way to dead]
Brendan, seeing his orc drop and unable to slow down, runs right over the fallen orc before he can bring his charge to a halt. The dwarf, unable to resist, smacks the downed orc in passing anyway.
Authari, axe at the ready, rushes out to give Brendan a hand, though there's little to do…
The field of battle falls silent…
Seeing the nearest threat has been brought down, Authari heads for the orc hiding behind the tree. He covers about thirty feet, battle axe at the ready...
"I said Mystra, not Beshaba," Mililani mutters aloud as her wasted spell and bolt speeds off into the calimshite wilderness. Wasting no time, she loads the crossbow again and points it at the tree covering the orc. This time using the tree trunk to balance her aim, she waits until he steps into her line of sight...
Brendan brains the quite dead orc one more time with his club. The dwarf hoots and hollers in orcish, "Come 'ere orcsie! I's wanna innerduce ye'n head to me club!" as he charges the orc that is behind the tree, covering forty feet toward his target...
Brianna puts her sling away and draws her dagger as she starts toward the sleeping orcs. After a heavy sigh she says, "It vould be a grave mistake to let zem live."
As the orcs fall down on the ground Amber grabs hold of her spear and also moves after Brendan and Authari...
With a third arrow on his bow, Corin once more steps from behind the tree, aiming in the general direction of the orcs. Seeing the dwarf and his fellow Tethyrian standing near the corpse of the fallen orc, Corin lowers his bow. He does not however loosen the pull on the bowstring by much as he warily scans the area for movement covering the two forward warriors.
With a howl, whether of rage or fear can't be determined, the orc from behind the tree suddenly appears, and with a savage jerk he hurls a javelin at the charging dwarf before turning to run...
The javelin punches into the dwarf's torso, piercing his leathers and ripping a nasty gash along his ribs, but not slowing him down.
The moment the orc appears, both Mililani and Corin fire...
Mililani's bolt hisses across the intervening distance and hits the orc low in the back as it turns to run, staggering it.
Corin's arrow comes within a hair's breath of tagging the orc as well, but slips past to lose itself in the forest.
The orc drops anyway, unable to run, or even walk.
Amber moves on towards the fleeing orc and his sleeping companions.
"Yer a gonna pay fer dat puke guts!" Brendan shouts as he continues charging after the fleeing orc, his adrenaline overpowering the pain from the javelin. Even as the orc falls, a crossbow bolt sticking out of its back, the dwarf does not slow his pace. He rushes up to the prone orc and promptly brings his large club down on its head.
Brendan's club slams down, and the orc's head cracks nastily. The dwarf grins delightedly at the sound...
"I got him!" Mililani yells. "Thank ye Mystra." Then watches as the orc staggers to the ground. Taking her crossbow, she rushes towards the fallen orc hoping to get to him before the dwarf does his personal best (too late!). "We need one alive!" She yells. "He may have information about the area, about his activities."
The others slowly gather around the fallen orcs. Two are still alive, sleeping obliviously (for now).
Brianna continues on her way toward the sleeping orcs. When she comes upon the closest one she kneels beside the creature and places her dagger's sharp edge against it's neck. Forced to breath out of her mouth due to the creatures stench, Brianna holds the blade ready for a few moments before turning to the others and saying, "I don't zink I can kill zis creature in cold blood. Even zough I know it could do it to us vithout a second thought."
Authari nods sympathetically at the witch. "I feel the same, lady. Let's just take their weapons, armor, and boots - leave them in no position to attack others like they did to us." At this, the young warrior begins to strip the orcs of their belongings. "We'll have to strip them all...I guess we can haul anything we don't want to lug around away a bit and hide or bury it."
Amber looks down at the fallen orcs as Authari goes to work of stripping them. "I bring the mule over she says " so we can load anything we wan't to keep on it.
OOC: She will move over to the mule and lead it over to where the two sleeping orcs are.
Brendan hoots and raises his hand to wipe the blood splatter off of his face only to smear the crimson fluid around, turning his visage into that of a mad man. He grins and takes up his blood covered club and moves to the two that are sleeping. "Well now ye'n's jus step a back an I be a takin care o' dese 'ere." he says to Brianna and Authari as he moves to the orc that is currently not being stripped of its belongings and raises his large club up high over his head, fully intending on bringing the weapon down onto the head of the orc.
Vaulting back in the saddle after having retrieved the first arrow, the Tethyrian ranger addresses the dwarf, “Go ahead Brendan, we're better of having them permanently asleep. It would be a shame if they would come back the next night and not show the same restraint as our lady…” Corin clearly indicates Brianna with a nod of his head, “…here, and they might decide to put the business end of their daggers to good use.”
Amber stands at the side, clutching the lead rope of the mule tightly as she looks at the scene before here silently-
Brianna sheaths her dagger and turns away--not wanting to view the gruesome scene about to unfold. Raising her mask up slightly she takes a drink from her waterskin before moving to stand beside Amber and the pack animal.
Seeing that she is too late to stop the dwarf, Mililani slows her pace into a comfortable stride. She shakes her head at the dwarf's actions. "I agree with you Sir and Brianna. I'm trained shed blood and take life in defense only." She heavily emphasizes the last word in this sentence.
"There is no honor, no justice in this." She says then turns away and walks back to her pack mule.
The Mystran healer merely turns her head away from the unfolding carnage. "Mystra guide him," she mutters.
“I pray the she does not guide those enemies you leave behind you alive.” Corin shrugs his shoulders, “Or if she does, that she favors you when those enemies come to repay their gratitude for mercy by slaying you.” Guiding his horse with his knees, the Tethyrian moves to the tree where the other arrow is stuck and removes it from the trunk.
"You misunderstand me Sir. It's not the orcs I pray for," she says with firmly. "They chose their lot with their dark gods. It's the dwarf."
Brendan tenses his muscles and brings down his large club hard onto the head of the sleeping orc. And with an intensity in his eyes, he turns and moves to the next sleeping orc. Again he raises his club and after but a moment, brings it down in a killing blow to the head of the second sleeping orc.
Turning, Brendan moves directly toward Mililani and tosses his large club on the ground at her feet. "Looks ye ober dere..." he says in a gruff voice as he points to the orc near the tree, "...ain't dat yer'n bolt a stickin' out 'is back? Ye'n didn't kill em in defense, he was a runnin' from ye."
Brendan takes a couple steps back and regards all of his new companions. "Looks 'ere ye'n's. I's a good dwarf an I done't be a startin' no troubles. But I ain'ts a gonna be a leavin' none o' dese evil scum behind so's dey can be a killin' someone's else." With that said, he walks forward, scoops up his club and walks a short distance away.
As he finishes gathering the belongings of the slain orcs, Authari replies, "I'm sure you are more knowledgable in the ways of the things than I, but still, it is a task not to my liking." Having said his piece, the young warrior pokes through the gathered items to see if anything might be salvagable and of use to the party.
The Mystran nudges not a muscle when the club slumps before her feet. "We missed a chance to interrogate one and find out why they are here. This could be a hunting party or a scouting patrol for all we know. They may have to report back." She looks annoyed at Brendan's poor choice of words. Her voice thickining with disgust. "Ugghhh. I'm not going to argue the semantics of combat." she grunts again to Brendan. Turning away from the dwarf and ignoring him, she advances towards Authari.
Turning to Authari, she says, "That's makes two of us," she says. "Do they have anything useful? A map or a log book maybe."
Brendan takes out both of the sleeping orcs with nary a twitch from either.
Upon checking over their gear, the group finds that the one that was taken down first, the one with Authari's bolt buried deep in it's chest, was carrying a well-crafted longsword. The weapon is not what one would expect to find on an orc. Tucked away in their packs is a good 400 silver coins. Gathering the coins and making sure there wasn't a map or something tucked away takes several more minutes...
During this time, Corin is able to see that the orcs were pretty much on the same path as the western-most trail that branches off from the tri-corner branch. They'd been moving on an east-south-east heading, he is able to tell, and backtracking (going in the direction of the western most branch) would take the party in a definate west-north-west direction. The orcs, to Corin, would be rather simple to backtrack. Where they were going however, isn't as apparent, as the previously existing trails came up from the south, and the orcs were definitely not heading that way...
The other two trails lead off to the North-west-north and the north-east respectively.
[OOC - There's a masterwork longsword here, and 400 silver. The masterwork blade is sheathed in a finely crafted scabbard.]
"An orc with a well-crafted blade," exasperates the Mystran with one eyebrow arched up. "May I see the sword? I wish to examine it and its scabbard."
"Sure," replies Authari. "I'll just stick to my axe."
Amber's smile broadens as she sees all the loot that the group has gathered. "I didn't know orcs carried around on this much" she says.
Having collected two out of the three expended arrows, Corin dismounts next to the dwarf. Giving Brendan a ‘job-well-done' pat on the shoulder, he says smiling, “Isn't it great to have team members very concerned with the lives of our enemies, but not showing even a moment hesitation to pilfer their belongings – whether they are dead or alive?”
Giving a wink to the gruff companion, the Tethyrian ranger says, “Well, at least between you and I, we don't have to worry about that for the next time. We'll do the dirty work and let the crows do the feasting.”
"I have NO wish to keep it myself," she says in turn. "Besides I prefer my mace."
Accepting the sword graciously, the Mystran unsheathes the blade half-way from its scabbard. She examines the naked blade and its hilt for any signs of history and lore.
Brendan winches ever so slightly as Corin pats him on the back and he looks down at the gash in his side made by the javelin as if noticing it for the first time. "Aye! Someone's a gotta do da dirty work an I ain't be a complain'n 'bout doin it neither." the dwarf says as he finds something to wipe the blood off of his club and himself.
“Here, take this.” The ranger offers Brendan a small flask from his belt, “This should patch you up. Seeing you've taken the worst beating, and the priestesses might want to save some of their divine favors. No sense in keeping it for later when the need is now.”
When Brendan takes the potion [ooc: cure moderate wounds] Corin drapes the reins carefully across the saddle and walks down the path, seeking further clues from the trails.
As he moves off to collect his dropped crossbow and backpack, the young Tethyrian replies, "Perhaps they were part of that Darkhope's army Corin mentioned back at the Pig and Whistle. Or they could have looted some caravan passing nearby."
"Or mayhap both," chirps the Mystran. "The sword is Tethyrian in manufacture." She points to where the blade is marked. "You're Tethyrian, are you? Maybe you can identify the smithy and where it came from?" She hands the blade to Authari half-sheathed.
"T'ank ye. It be jus a scratch." Brendan says as he lifts the flask up to his lips and slowly drinks the liquid. When Corin leaves and walks down further down the path, the dwarf stays to himself, away from the others.
Authari inspects the blade quizzically for a minute, then places it with the coins on the mule as he says, "Sorry, my upbringing would lend more to knowing which vintner pressed a bottle of wine."
The Mystran arches a single eyebrow at his response, "I'm a bit farther North myself," she says calmly, but with a smile noticeable under her veil.
The ransacking of the dead orcs is soon complete. Brendan takes the potion and feels the dire wound of the javelin heal over completely, leaving no more than a rent in his leathers, and a pretty impressive bloodstain.
In a short bit, the group is reorganized, and once again on the move. Following the western-most trail (and backtracking the orcs), the companions spend another couple hours making their way higher into the mountains.
As the sun dips toward the horizon, Corin spots something curious about the trail signs ahead...
At the same time, Mililani, Authari and Amber all notice something not quite right...
"I .. I think there is somone lying over there" Amber says and points towards the corpse with a shaky hand.
Leaving Amber's comment for the others, Corin dismounts from his horse. Keeping the reins in one hand, he kneels and starts examining the forest floor.
"Eh?" Brendan questions, finally speaking up. During the entire part of the journey after leaving the scene with the orcs the dwarf has been quiet. He looks in the direction that the woman is pointing and without hesitation, moves toward the corpse to check it out.
Grasping his battleaxe, Authari silently follows the ranger about, peering about for more orcs, or other trouble.
The priestess places a bolt in the shaft of her crossbow and cocks the draw string. Prepping for trouble, Mililani looks at the dead body with a pang of regret.
"Could this be one of the party that proceeded us?" Mililani asks Corin.
“Could be…” The Tethyrian ranger says as he looks over his shoulder to the priestess and the others gathered near the discovered corpse. “…there was some sort of a struggle here. Difficult to tell, too much jumble.”
Rising to his feet, Corin drapes the reins over his saddle and moves towards the others while drawing a sharp, curved dagger. “Careful! Don't get too close to the body, you might disturb signs that could help us understand what happened.” As the ranger draws nearer, he starts to pay attention to the forest floor as well as to the vegetation for any signs.
Amber follows the rangers advice as she closes in on the corpse and stops a way short of it, hopefully not messing anything important up or so she hopes. "I sure don't want to end up tha way, out in no where, no one to bury you and your close ones may never find out what really happend to you."
Corin, examining the turf, is able to determine that there was definitely a battle in this area of the forest. The others gathering around the corpse can see that it's a young man, lying on his stomach. The man wears torn and rent chain mail armor, revealing equally torn flesh beneath. Simply looking at the man, those about can see that he was hit at least twice with what look like piercing wounds (similar to the one Brendan sustained).
Authari, trailing after Corin as the ranger eventually moves over to the corpse to check the signs, catches something odd about forty feet away - an odd fold in in the land with a tiny... something... that seems too regular... Focusing on it again, he sees that it can only be another body.
Mililani, stepping to the side and out of Corin's way, gets a new angle on one of the trees about fifty feet away and stops cold. The body tied to the trunk is grusomely obvious, and just as grusomely dead.
[OOC - From Corin's examination, it can be told that the man in front of the group did not die from the wounds to his back, but from a series of hacking wounds to his front. The wounds to his back are fairly dry - he'd bled out from the front. Authari can see another jumble from where he stands, but can't tell exactly what type of body is there - it's 40 feet away. Mililani has an excellent view of the body that she can see - there's a young woman bound to a tree trunk 50 feet away, and she's been cut over and over again. Since she's literally drenched in blood, she was likely alive for most of the process.]
Uncharacteristically, Mililani lifts her veil and keels forward. At the site of the flayed woman, the Mystran quickly passes her hand in front of her mouth as to hide what's about to happen next. What the other companions hear after that is a gurgling sensation followed by a spray of vomit from behind her veil. Dropping her crossbow, she kneels onto the floor and again vomits. Obviously, she has never seen anyone, not even a scourged Ilmaterite, brutalized in such a fashion.
Once finished, she rises again. Her face pale, haggard, he speaks. "There's another one, ...tied to a tree, fifty free that way," she points. Taking her crossbow again, she stand warily.
"Be on your guard."
Slowly getting back on his feet, the ranger steps away from the first body. “Your caution is well placed priestess…” Corin says in Mililani's direction, “…but I'm afraid that the perpetrators are long gone.” Carefully the Tethyrian moves towards the corpse tied to the tree, watching the forest floor for any tell-tale signs of the fight and the subsequent slaughter. “Looks like we have less competition going forward, but I don't like the feel of this.”
“Authari…” Corin addresses his countryman, “…I wouldn't be surprised if the finds on the tuskers were previously belongings of this group. It might make sense to check the bodies still, but please do so after I had a chance to look around them.”
Soon it becomes clear to the ranger what did occur on the scene and he returns to the others, a thoughtful expression on his youthful face. “From what I can tell, there was a rather large group of orcs involved, somewhere between twenty and thirty of the tuskers were involved in an ambush.”
As Corin reaches his horse he puts his curved dagger away and steps up to the animal ready to mount, “The group that was massacred here early morning was four to six strong, one or two might have survived – or not – and the orcs have taken them along. The tuskers we fought were part of the larger force, probably backtracking the slaughtered group for stragglers or more likely scouting for subsequent groups…”
“Brendan, you might want to check over there…” The ranger points at a spot roughly forty feet from the dwarf, “I believe one of the victims might be a kinsmen. He died worthy he seems to have taken down at least two of the enemy.”
“The main body of the orcs is ahead of us, moving in the same directions as we are headed.” Mounting his horse, Corin nudges the animal around so he is facing the others again, he concludes, “I recommend extreme caution…”
Brendan stands back up from where he was checking out the body of the young man. When he hears Mililani relay what she has found, the dwarf walks up to the woman only to stop and listen to Corin. The dwarf nods his head and turns to go investigate the fallen dwarf only to stop and look up at Mililani. "Ye see lass, dis be wut a happens when ye let'm tuskers live. Dey be a vicious critters." he says with a hint of sadness to his voice. He reaches up and pats her on the shoulder before moving off and to the fallen dwarf.
As the others move about the recent battlefield, they can see that what Corin has told them is likely accurate. The dwarven corpse, the one that rests about forty feet away from the original body, has literally been hacked to pieces. In addition to the dismembered dwarf and the body tied to the tree, there are three more corpses in a small gully just to the east (the other side of the torture tree). One is a man in torn and bloody robes, while the other two are orcs, obvious hacked down by an axe.
Several minutes pass as the group examines the area. None of the bodies reveal anything useful - the orcs seem to have stripped them clean of anything worthwhile.
The young Tethyrian remains silent as the group examines the bodies. Once having seen the extent of the the slaughter, he walks to the tree, and slashes the bindings holding the woman's body to the tree. Looking at the others, he says, "I think we should give them a decent burial. This could be us come next ride."
The Mystran just shakes her head in disbelief. "I've met orcs and half-orcs in Amn and none were as brutal as this." She can't understand the butchery that was placed squarely before her eyes. "This is an injustice," She says openly, "expect no mercy when we find these "tuskers"
Disgusted, she wipes away the vomit from her chin again.
"We should bury them, if not cremate them," she says with a pang of sadness.
Amber looks with horrified astonishment on the carnage around her. Fighting hard to go the same way as Mililani as her face gets paler and paler. With a gasp of air she says "Would that be verey wise" and looks on the fallen bodies. "The orcs will probably begin looking when their little scouting patrol dosn't return and a fire will only raise supision from their side and I don't want to stay here longer then necessary."
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