Four days after we left the troglodytes, we’ve returned to the swampy canyon. This time we’ve defeated their priestess and secured the cave system.
But I fear we are travelling in circles. Over the past several days, we’ve killed scores of orcs, gnolls and troglodytes, yet it feels we are barely closer to our goal.
What is our goal, exactly?
Aramil would say it’s to kill orcs (“the only good orc is a dead orc”) and Dixxon would say it’s to seek adventure and find treasure (“as long as I don’t die”). I’m not too sure of Alek’s motives — he’s still very closed off.
Meanwhile, poor Brosia remains a stone statue, waiting for us to secure a path to the pool of Labelas and heal them. It seems defeating the orcs may be necessary to achieve (and afford) that.
To make matters more complicated, we’ve uncovered a plot involving the southern orcs of the Yeti clan that may have far-reaching effects for the Parnians… (It’s something to take back to our Watch Commander, should we ever need to account for ourselves.)
At least we found TJ. Finding him was my primary objective in coming here. The poor boy is still recovering from his stint as a slave, and his nightmares are worsening, but he continues to seek his parents with courage and fortitude. And now, thankfully, we’ve met up with Thomas, his grandfather, as well.
Party of ten
Our numbers have, in fact, expanded to ten. In addition to TJ, we helped liberate two other slaves from the troglodytes. (That is, two survived the night of blood under the mountain.) Taz is a young, resourceful human woman from somewhere called Ernfels. Banyon is a strapping farmer boy who lost all his friends and family in the orc raid at Gable View.
Then there’s the long lost Aramina Kudurri, last known heir of the Fedulian ruling clan, who we’ve liberated from more than a decade’s servitude to the orcs. Her reemergence could have interesting political ramifications for the humans. There’s already some friction between her and Alek, whose father is one of two powerful Fedulian barons.
Finally, there’s Drystan, who met up with Thomas in the wilderness somewhere. He is one of Taz’s companions from Ernfels, although managed not to get enslaved (probably because he can turn into an eagle). He and Taz are both keen to find their remaining two companions, who we believe are still within the orc stronghold. Along with TJ’s parents.
So, another major objective would (still) have to be freeing the orc slaves.
We know that some slaves recently departed with the orcs of the Yeti clan — carted off through the Black Tower to the high road through the mountains. Thomas and Drystan watched them leave, but saw no sign of Taz and Drystan’s companions or TJ’s parents.
Aramina tells us the orcs of the Yeti clan accompanied two emissaries from a mountain fortress far to the south. The emissaries are smallish humanoids, always concealed by cloaks with hoods and ghostly quiet. They come in pairs every new moon, take tribute in the form of treasure, slaves and livestock. Thrull, the orc chieftain, used to deal with them behind closed doors, Aramina says. He claimed the emissaries would elevate the orcs when the new empire is in power.
It all appears to be a plot to overthrow the Parnians and retake the Riverlands.
As far as we can make out, the emissaries are still within the stronghold somewhere. Half their guard has departed, and we killed most of the other half. Are the emissaries dealing with the remaining orcs, or in hiding — or perhaps captured or killed?
I find myself most interested in finding these mysterious creatures and asking them a few questions.
Into the orc stronghold?
So, it seems we must brave the orc stronghold. Again.
Our initial foray inside proved futile and not a little farcical. We fought our way into the tunnel behind the waterfall, battling the forces of Nazlog, chieftain of the orc village. In the lower tunnels of the stronghold we encountered a force of blond orcs we now know were the other half of the emissaries’ guard.
After that skirmish, we weren’t in very good shape. (Nor were they, it must be said.) We barricaded ourselves into a temple and ended up parlaying with the rest of the orcs, led by Vazror and a cleric, for safe passage out of there… only to be forced to fight our way out past Nazlog’s forces again.
Fortunately Thomas and Drystan (who can throw lightning bolts!) came to our aid and we escaped down the valley. But it was not a glorious adventure.
Since then (which was a couple of days ago), we advanced on the Black Tower for the second time. The gnolls resisted for a while, then decided they wanted to parlay, having suffered a recent attack by the troglodytes. We ended up healing several of their wounded (who would have thought?) and hunkered down in the Black Tower for the night.
This morning, we descended upon the troglodytes. They’d barricaded themselves into their cave system, but we overcame them easily enough. Their priestess turned into an eagle and flew off with her treasure — but then Drystan also turned himself into an eagle and chased her across the skies.
Drystan, despite being a taciturn fellow, is proving a most excellent companion. He returned in eagle shape with the corpse of the troglodyte priestess and her sack of presumed treasure.
Alas, all our hopes of reclaiming the gold we’d handed over to the troglodytes (a significant amount!) were dashed. It seems the orcs recently stole it all from them, along with Thrull’s mighty war hammer, leaving only some silver pieces.
Further reason to infiltrate the orc fortress.
Our plan is to infiltrate using the tunnel from the troglodyte caves. It sounds like we’ll need to dismantle a host of traps and barriers, but if we can somehow prevail without alerting the orcs (yeah, right) we could sneak in and continue where we left off. I’d like to further explore that tunnel where we met the orcs of the Yeti clan.
I’m sure it won’t be that simple…
There’s been quite a lot happening in the game, with lots of leads and subplots being discovered, not to mention new companions as NPCs. We still have a lot to do…
Meanwhile, some of us have had our miniatures painted! (Not by us.) I adore how Sariel turned out.