(This is to explain my absence during the Summer War event)
“How much farther?” I called to my companion, the necromancer Geth Kelemvor.
“Oh, we’re close” he replied. “Very close…”
For the past few days we’ve been tracking an Orc party through the southland, partially since we were paid to, but mainly due to curiosity. After the letter from the puzzle box was transcribed I made a copy for myself in my journal, to study on my own and ask the locals questions on it. So far, all parties asked were either unknowing or unwilling. Our only other option was to try to cooperate with some Orcs, which was impossible.
This was when Geth had an idea, though not an orthodox one. “Why don’t we just catch a few and make them tell us?"
It was soon after that we took the job. This particular group has been harassing a small village weekly for food, mainly at night, where they would sneak into granaries and butcher livestock, just to be gone by morning. The innkeeper didn't have much, but offered food and coin for their ears as proof of kill. Witnesses told us that there were five or six of them, and are not as clumsy as most Orcs. This held true, for we did not find a trace of them for the first few hours of our investigation. We decided the best strategy would be to lay a trap.
The plan was to wait for them in the barn, and upon their entry villagers would close the doors on the orcs. The few hunters in the village would wait in the hayloft with their bows while Geth and I hid in the pens below, attacking simultaneously when the doors shut. Geth was skeptical of the plan, but I thought it would work. It would’ve, too, if one of the villagers at the door held in a sneeze. All six Orcs were right at the entrance, too, but spun and ran at the sudden noise. So Geth and I ran, too.
That was a few nights ago. In their haste the Orcs abandoned their stealth for speed, giving us a nice trail to follow. We almost lost sight of them at a riverbed, but Geth’s eyes are good at a distance, and spotted them through a mess of bramble bushes. After three days on the run they were tired and hungry, so they started setting up camp, thinking they were safe in their thicket.
They were not.
(Violence and gore warning)
At full speed, wielding his wicked bone and steel blade, Geth charged through the alcove's entrance towards the first Orc on the left. With a lunge his blade went through the Orc's gut, stopping as the guard hit the ribcage. While the other four were stunned at the surprise attack, I rushed the first one on the right, mace in hand. With a swift sideways blow, the flanges sent pieces of skull and gore into the brambles. The other three gained composure and attacked. Geth sidestepped a clumsy overhead swing of a sword, and shifted his own blade to his left hand. While the enemy’s sword was lowered, Geth quickly removed the Orc’s arm and kicked him into the thorny bushes. The thorns dug deeper as the Orc struggled. Geth then brought his sword up to block the next one’s strike. Trading blows and parries, Geth backed himself towards the fire pit in the middle of the clearing.
The one I fought was big, a hulking mass of black and green muscle. Too slow to dodge, the Orc simply shrugged off many of my hits. With a quick step and a very careful aim I managed to swing for his wrist, making him drop his massive cleaver-axe and at least fracturing the bone. I made the mistake of swinging on his good side, and he caught my mace by the shaft. He snarled in triumph, thinking he had me. But I've fought bigger. So I pulled my dagger from the back of my belt and gave it to him, through the chin and into his brain. With a grunt and a wet gurgle, he was dead. I looked over at Geth, who was inching closer and closer to the pit. I ran behind the last Orc and shattered his knee from the side. When he howled in pain, Geth lifted the Orc's sword arm with his free hand, stabbed him in the chest, and threw him chest first into the fire. The smell was awful, but somewhat better than when he was alive.
We both sheathed our weapons and pulled the armless Orc from the thorns, yelping like a dog the entire time. Forcing him on his knees, the Orc grew silent.
“You Orcs certainly can run!” exclaimed Geth. “I wonder how fast you can run with no feet?”
“Focus, Geth,” I said. Kneeling in front of the Orc, I asked “what do you know of Shagrash’s location?”
The Orc chuckled. “So eager to die, humes? If you know that name, Death's all you’ll find.”
“I am accustomed to Death, and in many cases its not permanent” the necromancer replied. “But yours, however…” he digs the tip of his sword slowly into the creature’s shoulder.
“Ah, no! No no no no I don’t know anything, I swear I swear!” He cried.
“Then what of his master, the one who wants the orbs?” I roared over his screams.
“You’ll all die, filthy humes! The EverWar is coming and there’s no way to -“
“Useless!” cried Geth in anger, and with a swift movement beheaded their captive.
Dammit, I thought to myself. There were other questions I wanted to ask, about their plans, about the magics of this realm, but even I could tell this Orc wasn’t the brightest of the lot. I sighed and stood up, looking over the scene. This group was too small, probably living on their own after splitting from a larger group. What now? I thought. I turned to Geth and said “let’s search the corpses, burn the rest of the bodies, collect the ears, and go collect our coin. There's nothing left here"
Geth was just as annoyed. “Killed all five for nothing…”
As soon as I turned towards the entrance of the alcove, I saw him. There he was, the sixth Orc, nocking an arrow and aiming towards Geth.
“Move!” I shouted, and with a lunge pushed Geth out of the way. The arrow hit my right pec, and I fell to the ground.
Geth recovered, realizing what had happened. “No you don’t!” He shouted at the Orc. “I’ll add your bones to my collection!” And gave chase to him.
I felt a sick chill as I laid there, a chill I’ve only felt once before. It was poison, the same that was used in the ambush during the Rites. I tried my best to move, but it quickly became too difficult to.
No, not like this…I need to…
I closed my eyes... — — — — —
I shuddered awake, confused and bandaged around my chest. I was in a small room with only a single bed and a nightside table with a wash bin atop. I recognized it as the village inn. How'd I get here? Sitting up, I checked my bandages, but there was no sign of where the arrow struck. Odd, I know I was hit here...
I scanned the room. To my right was a window, to my left a door. In the doorway was a cloaked figure. The cloak was trimmed with red, and they're face was covered with a mask made of a deer skull. Panicking I searched for a weapon, but all of my gear was out of reach. There was only a scrap of parchment on my lap. The cloaked figure started towards me.
“Stay back!” I yelled, and to my surprise the figure stopped.
"You just woke up?” asked the figure. “You didn’t even get a chance to read my note. Left it a week ago! Last time I leave a note...”
Confused, I looked down at the piece of parchment. In neat letters, it said;
Off to do some things. McKragg and company are meeting again, and I don’t feel like carrying you around like dead weight. If you live, stay put. If you die, I’ll still come back. You’ll still be useful - G
I looked up from the note to see Geth, mask now removed.
With a grin, Geth said “let me tell you what I’ve learned…"