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Some Darokin Soldiers get tangled up

by Greywolf-ELM

Rhgl finds a small building on the eastern edge of town and scurries up the wall, to peer in the window. A lone figure is sleeping in the room, with a glass bottle lying on the floor near his hand. He appears to have drunk himself into a deep sleep. He comes back and reports this to Gorga. "A man, he is sleeping the sleep of the drunk in that hut" as he points back to the rundown one roomed building.

Gorga pokes father Gilthen in the shoulder, "Who is this Cleric? Why does he live so far from the town?"

Rather deflated the Cleric gives his answer "That would be Milton, he is supposed to warn the soldiers up the road when he hears the town bell."

Gorga and the warband start to laugh at this and mocks him. "Your defences have served you well Cleric."

They bypass the hut, and continue to head east for almost 2 hours. Sharraxtharkhul and the wolf return to report a fortification around the bend in the road. Gorga gags the Cleric, and emphasises the need to remain quiet by pulling a finger across his neck with a certainty the Cleric does not miss. Quietly the group moves off the road, to follow Sharraxtharkhul through the bushes and scrub trees in the area. At the top of a small hill, the fortification can be seen through the bushes.

The "Roadside Keep" has a central tower between 40 and 50 feet high. The first level has an attached 10 foot building, about 30 x 50 foot connected to the back. This section, and the roof of the keep are both crenulated. A narrow path winds from the main road up to the large wooden gate. There is an Earth barrier surrounding the small tower at the centre. Spaced periodically around the top of the Barrier, are large torches. The barricade is Twenty feet high along the outside. This is due to a ten foot deep ditch, which looks like it was emptied to the inside of the ring to form the barrier. Trees and brush have been cleared for 100 feet in all directions from the outpost.

Daylight is fast approaching, and two soldiers walking the barrier are extinguishing the Torches. Gorga begins questioning the captive "How many soldiers in the keep Cleric?" with an aside to Rhgl "Keep an eye out for pinkskins." Father Gilthen is on his knees, with hands bound behind his back, Gorga pulls out the gag.

Father Gilthen takes too long to answer, and gets a solid backhanded smack from the angry Orc. "Understand me pinkskin I will know about these soldiers, one way or another."

With a defeated sob father Gilthen says what he knows in hopes of discouraging the Orc's murderous intent "There must be 10 to 15 at any time, with patrols out during the day."

"Where do the patrols run?"

"East and West along the main road here, they check in with the closest towns." His thanks from Gorga is a kick in the chest sending him sprawling.

Gorga's mind starts working, and splitting forces to take out patrol's both directions, is dropped from the list of options quickly, as is, storming the keep outright. "We can take out one patrol and reduce the numbers in the tower, and get some weapons from them. If we have time we can circle around and get the patrol headed East. Rhgl you stay here and watch what happens. The rest of you Orcs we go to set a trap for this patrol. Scrag; bring the Cleric with us. We can gag him again to keep quiet."

The rest is postponed with the sun coming up, and a good ambush site is picked about a mile back down the road, with a hill on the south side giving cover for the Orcs. There are plenty of grasses, brush and scrub trees on both sides of the road for concealment. They get in some shade, some crawling under bushes, and wait for the patrol to come along.

Throughout the morning hours, Rhgl struggles with the daylight to keep track of the two sentries, he is watching, on the barrier. A couple hours after the sun has begun to rise, a change of guard takes place on the walls, and 2 replacement sentries come out to begin the rounds. More activity from the door of the tower draws Rhgl's attention there. 8 more soldiers file out, and form up into two sets, with a line of three and the forth off to the side of them. These differ from the Longbow wielding guardsmen on the wall in a couple of ways. The foot soldiers each have a 12' Long spear. All of the soldiers also carry a sword, and wear padded armour of some kind, with a metal breastplate over the chest. The foot soldiers also carry a light buckler-type shield strapped to one arm. As they march towards the gate, the 2 sentries open the gates for them. Rhgl considers returning to Gorga to notify him of this occurrence, but decides to wait it out here. Besides, there's no need to go back, and possibly get injured by those long spears. He decides to wait until Gorga returns with further orders. If Gorga is killed, then so much the better, maybe he can assert some kind of will over the Half-Ogre and achieve leader status in his place. These evil thoughts continue, as a set of four soldiers march East and West along the main road. The two sentries close the gates, and return to their rounds.

A few minutes later Sharraxtharkhul's wolf companion tells him that something is coming up the road. He signal's to Gorga, and crawls to the top of the hill to see the 4 soldiers coming.

Quickly Gorga sets the stage. To Sharraxtharkhul "You attract their attention, and get them to come at us to this hill." To everyone "When they leave the road, Ierkh will come around the hill to attack from the side, the rest of us will come over the hill and go right at them. We will overpower them and our weapons will taste their blood."

Sharraxtharkhul scrambles back to the top of the hill, and stands up. He starts gibbering and waving to get the attention of the soldiers. Unknown to anyone but him, he has prepared a spell today to take advantage of the natural growth in the area.

The inexperience of the soldiers will be their undoing today. The sergeant points at Sharraxtharkhul "Look a goblin, let's get im!" They run towards the hill, and Sharraxtharkhul stands up to his full height and begins a quick movement of his hands, and chants "Plants of the earth, with nature's might, rise up at my command, and hold them tight."

The soldiers are quickly enveloped in a grasping tangle of weeds, brush and grasses, which have sprung to life at their feet. None is able to break free, or avoid the grasp of nature. The Orcs come over and around the hill, to see a forty-foot area of plants, grasping at the soldiers. Yells of surprise turn to shouts of dismay at seeing the rest of the band of Orcs coming at them. Not realising that the plants would grab at them as well, the grasping plants quickly trap Gorga and Scrag. Sharraxtharkhul watches from the hill, his wolf companion sitting at his side. He didn't intend for the others to become entangled, but they should have known better. Ierkh arrives and manages to stay out of the reach of the plants. Two of the soldiers attempt to bring their longspears into play, but have difficulty with the plants grasping at everything.

With the soldiers unable to break free, Ierkh manages to crush two of them with his "rock" and a combination of efforts by Gorga, Scrag, and Drusilla the other two are killed with Sharraxtharkhul looking on intently. They all look to Sharraxtharkhul to release them from the trap that is now grasping at them.

Gorga voices what they are all thinking "Goblin, free us from these plants!" Magic is a compelling and often rare power among Orcs and treated with respect or fear if not both.

Sharraxtharkhul considers dismissing the spell, but decides to let them sweat it for a while longer. "You must wait for some time more, until the power is gone. You will be able to get out only then." He grins with satisfaction and sits along with the wolf.

Ierkh tries reaching into the area to pull out a longspear dropped by one of the soldiers, but keeps getting grabbed by plants at each attempt. A short fit of anger later, the Half Ogre has his spear. Shortly the spell dissipates and the foliage returns to normal. The human bodies are gathered up and stripped of anything valuable, including weapons. The rapiers the soldiers carry; hardly look like weapons a self-respecting Orc would use, but all weapons and armour are gathered. Gorga and Drusilla clean up the scene of the battle, and Gorga decides to wait and see if more soldiers come in search of these. After a few hours of waiting it looks like no more will come soon, and the order is given to "Move out!! back along the path to where Rhgl is waiting."

A short time later the Orcs meet up with Rhgl, still watching the Roadside Keep. Rhgl speaks up first "Ahh, Gorga the pinkskins, they send a patrol east and west, numbering 4. I remained here as you would wish, did you see them?" as he eyes the new weapons that the Orcs now carry.

"Ierkh smashed them like cave rats." Ierkh gleefully explains.

"Gorga, more news have I. A short time ago, the four soldiers that went east returned at a run. They went in the tower, and a single pinkskin came back out. Straight south he ran across the land."

"Aaargh!! We waited too long to return. Can we catch him now?" Gorga grinds his teeth in anger.

"Catching him would prove most difficult Gorga." Rhgl cringes back some to not be in range of a cuff showing displeasure from Gorga. Gorga rounds on the Cleric stepping forward with evil intent in his eyes "I have a job for you."

Next up: Assault on the Roadside Keep.