10th Thrimidge, 2949 SR
The stream running along the gully spills over the edge of the pit, the water cascading down the slope and splashing onto stone below. A pair of dark-skinned, red-eyed draft horses stand close, eyeing the Company as they stop at a safe distance. The early morning light filters through the rising mist, and aside from the sound of water falling, birds twittering away unseen, and the soft snorts of the horses, all is quiet.
Wilibald stealthily approaches the pit, where a spear has been plunged into the ground, a frayed rope hanging down. The horses snort a little as he approaches, but otherwise ignore the Hobbit. He peers down, seeing a 30’ shaft ending in stairs descending into darkness. He can’t see or hear anything, but the prints of Orcs are easily seen in the mud, and scuff marks on the mossy sides of the shaft tell of climbers heading down.
A plan is formed. Dafydd and Alberic both try to shoo the horses away, but it takes a lit torch to actually get them moving. They herd them further into the marshes, out of sight of the pit. Then they spend a couple of hours digging away at the slope, diverting the stream so that it starts to flow down into the pit instead. Then the Company and Storr back off to wait, making camp on the bank of the gully, guards keeping watch. Nothing happens after an hour, so Alberic ties a lit torch to the rope, and dangles it down: that gets a reaction, and an arrow speeds out of the dark, striking the torch and sending it crashing into the side, doused immediately by the waterfall. As the Company continue to wait, hoping to draw the Orcs out, Gilthannas looks around for more tracks or other ways in: he finds no other entrance, but does find the tracks of Marsh-dwellers, that they fought a couple of years back, the first time they ventured into these marshes.
The hours pass by and the day wears on. Late in the afternoon the toll of a bell echoes from the pit: the sound reverberates in the minds of the companions and they have to shake off the impulse to stride to the pit, heading to the bell. In fact, Wilibald, Storr and Gilthannas all find themselves suddenly pulling off their blankets and begin heading to the shaft. Alberic moves in front of the Elf and with a hearty slaps brings him to his senses; Dafydd does the same with the Hobbit, but Storr gets past them; but a las-second dive by Dafydd tackles the guide to the floor, and a slight struggle later, Storr finds himself free of the impulse.
And from below, they can all hear the sound of fighting: Orc voices, hissing voices, the clash of iron against stone and wet slaps of flesh being cleaved. It is over quickly, and in the silence Alberic drops another torch down. They heard Orcs cursing and the shuffle of feet as they retreat from the pit. Voices call out, then it goes silent again. Wanting to waste no more time, with evening coming on, the companions make a move: they secure two more ropes to trees, then rappel down the pit: Dafydd and Alberic go first, followed by Storr and Gilthannas, the Hobbit last. Storr and Wilibald light torches, and they start down the steps.
The stairs end at a vaulted chamber, the floor damp and a pool of water forming; water gushes down more steps to their left, tunnels lead off on either side, and at the far end an alcove holds a broken statue. Columns line the room, some fallen and lying broken on their side. The shadows dance in their torchlight. Some of the shadows move, and Orcs are revealed as the light falls on them: before the Orcs can react, the companions are already moving.
Gilthannas brings up his bow and lets fly a couple of arrows in quick succession, taking out an Orc archer that pops up from behind a fallen column. Alberic charges into a pair of Orcs, his axe landing a heavy blow, and his own mail coat taking the brunt of a spear that hurls his way. The others move past, engaging Orcs coming out of the tunnels: Storr runs one through with his sword, the others swiftly fall to axe and spear and sword, arrows flying from the Elf’s bow taking out another. The last Orc falls to Wilibald’s King’s Blade. Dafydd quietly explores the nearest tunnel, finding dead Orcs and Marsh-dwellers, a nest where the marsh monsters laired, and an old hall with a dented bell hanging from the fireplace. Further tunnels leading off are blocked by ancient cave-ins.
Slowly they explore the ruins, finding empty rooms, collapsed tunnels, a crypt and a locked door that opens into a room with a chest that holds coins and gems. There is also a flight of stairs leading further down, water flowing over the steps. From down there is a flicker of torchlight, and the sound of things moving. Gilthannas hears the sound of grunting, of exertion, faint curses in the Black Tongue of Orcs. He stealthily descends, but Dafydd follows, splashing loudly; the sound of swords being drawn is clearly heard, and with a shout for the others to follow, the Barding and the Elf charge down the stairs…
End of Session
XP Awarded: 1 each.