Chapter #14

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*****
*
*  The characters and events contained in this writing are copyright
*  1991 by Thomas Miller...copying and distribution of these stories
*  is permissible only under the condition that no part of them will
*  be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.
*
*****


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THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 4th level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 3rd/3rd/4th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 4th/3rd level grey elf priest/mage (NG)
Halbarad, 4th level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 4th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 5th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 3rd/3rd level half-elf fighter/druid (N)
Rob, 5th level human priest (LG)
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                        XIV.  The Orc Keep



  When last we saw the party, they had fled from the hostile town of
Drek, near the Pomarj-Ulek border.  Spurring their mounts to great
speeds, they made haste, and soon the cursed place was long behind.

Ged:  Whew!  What a fiasco!
Mongo:  Yeah.  It sure was.
Peldor:  It wasn't THAT bad.  I got this fine bottle of liquor out
  of the deal.  (doesn't bother to mention the barkeep's stash of
  money which he appropriated)  Let's go back sometime.
Peyote:  Not a chance, man.  Bad, bad karma.
Halbarad:  Best to be gone and _stay_ gone.
Alindyar:  Verily.
Rob:  Do you think that we saved any of the...err...ladies of the
  night back there?  Saved them from their worldly sins, I mean?
Ged:  Doubtful.  Their kind seldom, if ever, changes.  But they
  will always remember the day that we came to town, that's for
  sure.
Belphanior:  Hell, the death toll inflicted by me alone was pretty
  high.  I for one would just _love_ to go back and get the rest
  of them...
Ged:  Boccob help us all.  (starts to study his spellbook and his
  magical scroll, picked up quite some time ago but not yet read)

  And so the group rode on for the whole day.  Ged was now at a
sufficient level to copy the scroll's spell into his spellbook,
and spent some time during the day doing so.  The spell he had
added to his book was one to open sealed portals and other such
things, the knock spell.  Surely it would come in handy at some
point in the future.
  Near dusk, the party spotted a keep in the distance, about one
quarter of a mile off of the old road.  They set up a camp in the
grass, away from the road, and Halbarad and Peyote went to scout
out the fort.  It couldn't hurt, since the group was still well
within the Pomarj.

DM:  As you get closer to the place, you see that it is made up
  of large wooden logs, jutting about 15' into the air.  Their
  ends are sharpened to points.  The keep is about a hundred and
  fifty feet on each side.
Halbarad:  Where is the main gate or entrance or whatever?
DM:  On the east side of the place.  It is a separate group of
  logs, probably hinged so it will open smoothly.
Peyote:  What about guards?  Can we see what sort of dudes are
  in control of the keep?
DM:  There are a few guards manning the walls here and there.
  They are medium in height, you would guess, and have short
  tusks and pig-like faces...
Halbarad:  Orcs!  I knew there was something about this place!
Peyote:  What should we do?  Do we try to get in?
DM:  You hear screams from inside the keep...
Halbarad:  I know what _I_ want to do, but let us go ask the rest
  for their opinions.  (the pair make their way back to the camp)

  Hushed discussion ensued...

Mongo:  Well if they have prisoners, and it sounds like they DO,
  then we really ought to help out.
Ged:  Yep.  That's what Boccob would want.
Belphanior:  Rubbish.  I say we attack them, but because we want
  to, not for someone else's sake.
Peldor:  Yeah.  They might have treasure in there, too.
Halbarad:  It was a fairly good-sized place.  We would need much
  magical power to help the attack.
Ged:  Which we can provide in sizable amounts, I am sure.  Their
  prisoners must be freed.
Peyote:  Aye.  An eye for an eye.
Rob:  What was that?
Peyote:  Nothing, forget it.
Alindyar:  Well, we certainly have nothing better to do right at
  this time...and they _are_ orcs...
Mongo:  Let's do it.  Free the prisoners, before they wind up as
  dinner, and get rid of a few orcs and a keep.  Who's gonna
  notice?
Halbarad:  A vote, then.

Alindyar: AYE
Belphanior: AYE
Ged: AYE
Halbarad: AYE
Mongo: AYE
Peldor: (abstain)
Peyote: AYE
Rob: NAY

Alindyar:  'Tis settled then.  What plan of attack shall we use?
Halbarad:  (drawing in the dirt now)  Well, look here...

  A plan was then drawn up, and implementation began.  Peldor was
to borrow Peyote's ring of invisibility (the half-elf didn't much
care for this idea, so it was decided to let him hold on to the
thief's pouch of accessibility to insure that he wouldn't just
leave) and climb the wall, and then find a way to open the gate.
This would be facilitated by a flame sphere, courtesy of the elf
Belphanior, made to roll along the western rampart.  This magical
distraction would be timed to occur about a minute after Peldor
got over the wall.  Meanwhile, Alindyar and Ged were to hover
over the keep on the drow's flying carpet, providing air support
as appropriate for those on the ground.  To illustrate:



ORCISH KEEP:

                                              Z
          ________________________________
         |__|          |____|          |__|                    N
         |                                |                   W+E
         |                  ________      |                    N
         |           ______|        |     |
         |          |      %        |     |
         |      ____|      |________|   __|P
         |__   |    %_            |    |__|
         |  |  |      |#           \      \
         |__|  |      |#   ________/    __/
         |     |____  |__       |      |__|    A = Alindyar/Ged (in air)
         |     |         |      |         |    B = Belphanior
         |     |         |______|         |    P = Peldor (climbing)
         |     |_________%                |    Z = others (waiting)
         |                         A      |    % = DOOR
         |__            ____            __|    # = STAIRS UP
         |__|__________|____|__________|__|

        B




Peldor:  (invisible, climbing the wall near the gate without any
  problem)  I'm at the top now...what do I see?
DM:  You're right next to a watch tower.  A sleepy orc stands on
  the ledge very close to you, looking out into the darkness.
Peldor:  Not for long.  I sneak up and backstab him, catching the
  body so it doesn't hit the walkway.
DM:  (checking, rolling)  Okay, he's dead.  Now what?
Peldor:  Well, my minute's running out.  I find the ladder going
  down from the ledge, and climb down to this side of the gate.
  Then I start looking for a means of opening the gate.  Oh, yeah,
  before all that I slip the ring off, then on again, so I can be
  invisible for a bit longer.
DM:  Okay.  As you are climbing down the ladder, a blazing ball of
  fire appears on the far side of the keep.  It starts to roll
  along the ledge, above the ground.  Shouts ensue, and some orcs
  start running from here toward the commotion.
Peldor:  Hmm.  Time to hustle.

Belphanior:  (not satisfied with staying on the outside, he had
  climbed up the outer wall before casting his spell.  This gave
  him much more accurate control over its direction.)  I get over
  the wall and move east along it, looking for orcs to backstab or
  else push off the ledge.  I send the flaming sphere rolling along
  to the north and then cease to worry about it.

Alindyar:  (about 50' up, on the carpet with Ged)  The plan flows
  smoothly thus far.  (casts a magic missile from his wand at an
  orc below, knocking it over)
Ged:  (deciding which spell to use)

Peldor:  (has found the thick wooden beam barring the locked and
  double outer doors of the keep)  I unlock the doors and then
  lift the bar up.
orc guard:  Hey!  What is you doing there?  (rushes to attack)
Peldor:  (door is unlocked; ceases trying to lift the bar and
  draws his sword again)  Come on, little orc.
orc:  (swings wildly at the thief, misses)  Dammit, hold still,
  ya crapper!
Peldor:  (slices the orc, slaying it)  Now where was I?  Oh, the
  bar.  (proceeds to lift the heavy beam up - the thief is quite
  strong - and pushes it out of the brackets; it lands on the
  dirt-covered ground)  Hah!  I push the doors open.
DM:  Okay, but another pair of orcs has spotted the doors opening
  and they are rushing toward you.
Peldor:  Oh, yeah, I'm still invisible.  I step out of the way,
  and after they run by, I backstab one of them.

Halbarad:  (he and the other three have rushed up to the northwest
  corner of the keep since the commotion started)  There!  The
  gate is open!  The thief did it!
Mongo:  Let's go kick some ass! (they run for the open gates)
Peyote:  (draws his sword)
Rob:  I still don't think this is a good idea...

  Meanwhile, Belphanior's fireball had stopped when it hit the
northwestern guardtower, crashing into the wooden tower and
setting it ablaze.  The guards all along the western wall were
gone, either flaming corpses on the ledge or broken bodies who
jumped off to avoid being burned.  As a side effect of the spell,
the ledge had a number of small flaming spots, some of which were
growing into large flaming spots very quickly.  The elf, pleased
with this result, was slinking along the southern wall, slaying
every orcish guard he found.  He was almost at the southeastern
corner of the small fortress.
  And in the air...

Ged:  (to Alindyar)  Take us lower!  I need to see what I'm aiming
  at down there.
Alindyar:  By the looks of things, I would venture that the crazed
  elf has sufficiently illuminated the situation.  Besides, we need
  to stay out of their sight range, in case of missile fire.
Ged:  Bah!  They have better things to worry about right now than
  who's in the air above their heads.  Come on, fly us lower!
Alindyar:  (resignedly lowers the carpet somewhat, to about 30' over
  the ground)  Whatever.
Ged:  (casts a sleep spell at some orcs, putting 6 to sleep)  Yes!
Alindyar:  Not bad.

  And on the ground...

Mongo:  (splattering an orc who is in his way)  Sorry, chump.
Peyote:  (dodges an orc's sword, dispatches the humanoid)
Peldor:  (backstabs some orc, turns visible again)  Hah.  Nothing
  can stop Peldor when he is on the move.
Peyote:  Hey, dude!  Give me my ring back!  (finds a lull in the melee
  to swap Peldor's pouch and his ring)
orc:  (nicks Mongo's helmet)
Mongo:  Ow!  (smashes the orc with his hammer)
other orc:  (hits Peyote for a minor wound)
Rob:  (trying to get in on the action, but misses a rushing orc)
orc:  (hits Rob, injuring him)
Rob:  Maybe I should have used a spell instead...
orc:  (misses Halbarad)
Halbarad:  (slays the orc)  Methinks we should try to get inside
  their buildings there, before they think to lock them...
Mongo:  Good idea!  (the party runs for the nearest door into one
  of the buildings in the complex, not coincidentally the double
  doors directly west of the main gates)

Peldor:  Is it locked?
DM:  No.
Peldor:  Good.  Then let one of the warriors go in first.
Mongo:  Out of the way, puny thief.  Fighting is best left to the
  fighters, after all.  (Mongo, Halbarad, Peyote, Peldor, and Rob
  enter, in that order)

  Beyond the doors were five orcs, arguing about what they ought
to be doing right now.  The fighters made mincemeat out of them
in no time, and spotted two exits, a storage area to the south
(which contained no orcs), and a stairway up.  They chose the
door to the north and east, and Mongo kicked it down.  Beyond
were the orc chief and two sub-chiefs...

chief:  Hey yous bastards!  What yer doin' in me room?  Kill 'em!
Mongo:  Heh.  Fat chance.
Halbarad:  (melees the chief)  (in orcish)  Speak!  Where are the
  prisoners?  (hits the chief, wounding him)
chief:  Go to hell!  (misses the ranger)
sub-chief:  (hits Mongo a glancing blow)
Peldor:  (slashes other sub-chief)  Who cares about prisoners?
  Ask them where their treasure is!
Rob:  (using spiritual hammer, bashes Peldor's subchief, killing
  it)  Justice is done!
Mongo:  (smashes sub-chief)  You won't be raiding any more wagons
  or towns after this!  (smashes sub-chief again, slaying him)

Halbarad:  (slays the chief)  I guess we'll just find whatever
  prisoners there are on our own.
Peldor:  Hey, these guys don't have any treasure.  Well, almost
  no treasure.  (pockets some coins)  Where's the main stash?
Mongo:  We'll find it.  And give me that gold, I saw you.
Rob:  Where now?  (they go through the northwest door, finding
  first one, then another barracks.  Both of the large rooms are
  empty, having emptied their troops into the fray outside)
Halbarad:  That leaves the stairs, then.  What's that noise?
Belphanior:  (suddenly appears from the main room)  Here I am!
  What's going on?  Oh.
Mongo:  To the stairs!

  The six adventurers ascended the stairs.  Just a moment before,
Belphanior had finished clearing off the walkway up to the point
where it met the main gate.  He also torched a webful of orcs he
found on the ground.  There were a few orcs left, here and there;
those who did not immediately flee were subject to the attacks of
the two airborne magi.

Mongo:  (at the top of the stairs)  Uh-oh!
Halbarad:  What is it?  (beyond the stairs, on this second floor,
  are four ogres in their barracks.  The monsters are now fully
  armed and armored.)  Oh.
Ogre#1:  Get them!  (charges)
Halbarad:  (slashes ogre#1, wounding it)
Peyote:  (stabs ogre#2 with his bastard sword, dealing it a mortal
  wound)  Yeah.  Good sword, man.
Ogre#1:  (nicks Halbarad with its blade)
Ogre#2:  (hits Peyote, injuring him)
Ogre#3:  (hits Rob, fortunately not too hard)
Ogre#4:  (hits Mongo)
Mongo:  Ouch!  Shit!  (smashes ogre#4's knee with his hammer)
Rob:  (tries to hit ogre#3 with his morningstar, but misses)
Belphanior:  (slashes ogre#1)
Peldor:  I find some ogre's back.  (sneaking about)
Mongo:  (hammer crunches into ogre#4 again, dispatching it)

Halbarad:  (chops ogre#1 with axe)
Peldor:  (backstabs ogre#3, but misses...)  Damn!
ogre#3:  (swats Peldor, inflicting a serious wound)  Har har!
Belphanior:  (slashes ogre#1)
Ged:  (magic missiles ogre#1, finishing it off)  Boccob smiles
  this day!
Peldor:  Bah.
ogre#3:  (unwounded as yet, laughing at party)  Heh heh.
Mongo:  (misses ogre#4)  Damn.  Damn!

  No one else was near enough to the ogre to attack it right now.
Combat was suddenly punctuated by the arrival of two more, larger
ogres from an adjacent room.  These new combatants were also fully
armored and bore huge pikes; their skin was a light shade of blue.

new ogre:  What is this?
Halbarad:  (attacks one of the new ogres, misses)
Belphanior:  (slashes at same ogre, nicks it for a minor wound)
Peyote:  (swings at other new ogre, misses)  What's the deal here?
ogre#4:  (hits Mongo)  Har!
new ogre:  (regards the situation, then abruptly breathes a cone of
  frosty cold all over Halbarad and Belphanior)
Halbarad:  (goes down, covered with frost)
Belphanior:  (likewise)
Rob:  Aaa!  They're not just ogres, they're...
Peyote:  Ogre Magi!





next time:  conclusion of the battle; rescue

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