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A Trip to the Wayrest Trading Postby Greywolf-ELM
"FillexHulkil give your report. Have you recruited more Orcs to my Service? Are you growing our ranks?" The powerful words of the sending cut through FillexHulkil's sleep like a sharp Goblin knife. He knows he must respond quickly and with only a few words or the end of the message will be cut off. "Yes Master, Ten have I ensorcelled to your cause, I will return soon with these." The Goblin opens his eyes to look around. It felt like the Master was here, but only the snores of a half-score Orcs, during the midday sleep, surround him. It will be impossible to go back to sleep now. FillexHulkil lies wide awake; hoping he will bring back enough Orcs to swell the tribal ranks. Disappointing the Master is not high on his list of goals. Ever since being brought to the Vile Rune's tribe by the now "Eagles Warband" FillexHulkil has been slowly charming errant or pariah Orcs. The Chief will notice soon, if not the Elders or that cagey Shaman. "Hargul Wolf-Tongue even makes me nervous" thought the Goblin, but not like the Master, few creatures in the world could cause fear in the strongest Orcs and Goblins, like the Master and his kind could.
The warband follows the caravan trail twisting and climbing through the hills, into the mountains of the Ogre lands. The trail opens up into a mountain pass, where it runs fairly straight and level for a space. At least twenty broken foundations lie on either side of the road, mostly hidden in the tall grass. Here and there, the stump of an old chimney is visible. Farther up the road lies a sprawling ruin that must cover an acre or two, and in the middle of that stands a massive stone building with shuttered windows and a great oaken door. Four chimneys, very much intact, stand at the four corners of the edifice, and curls of wood smoke stream steadily from two of them, both to the left of the massive door.
The stone building looks like a war-scarred veteran that was scrubbed clean and dressed up for a holiday. The building is constructed from huge blocks of dressed stone. Old pockmarks, some as a big as a Orc's fist, others bigger than a Orc's head, dot the walls. Most of the shutters stand open, but the windows are more than 10 feet above the ground, so even Ierkh would have to jump or climb to see inside. Orcs can be heard shouting for drinks through the open windows. Nine sets of eyes light up at the thought of a good drink after surviving the ambush earlier. Scrag is still hurt pretty badly, Ierkh is hurt some, and the others only have minor injuries if any. Gorga had made the decision not to use any of the healing slime on Scrag. They were intended for the mission to root out the Kobold tribe and really, the Orc 'was' still walking.
The door seems unusual. It's big enough to admit a caravan wagon or two Ogres, and it has a smaller portal, roughly Orc sized, set within. Ierkh sets the large chest off of his shoulder and sticks it under his arm.
Sharraxtharkhul approaches Gorga "Let me summon the spirits, to see if any treasure we have found holds magic. It should be done before we enter and try to sell it." Gorga nods and grunts his assent. "MMmm, go ahead"
Sharraxtharkhul begins waving his arms, and barking out words of power. "Spirits of the Earth and Sky, make clear magic's power nigh." As the magic takes hold, he begins to see auras around some items the warband is carrying. The cape, Tyco is wearing, the earrings worn by Gorga and Ierkh, and the ring snatched up by Gorga and the clay pots of healing slime. Other items and weapons do not show the mark of magic. Sharraxtharkhul points the items out to Gorga, who seems a little dubious of the results. All have seen the Mystic power of Hargul Wolf-Tongue, the tribal shaman, and this kind of casting by the Goblin Druid is not the same as the Gri-Gri wielding madman they have all come to know, if not fear.
Gorga directs Hobna and Shiglsnor to open the larger door, and the warband has come to the Wayrest Trading Post.
Beyond the strange door, the Orcs find a cool, lofty chamber. A low fire at one end and Windows covered to block most of the sun makes for a fire lit room.. All the furniture in here looks battered and rickety, as though it has been forced to endure too many fights. The bar is a sight, though. It's a split-level affair. To the left, the bar is about waist-high to an Orc, and a few humans and Orcs are seated there on battle-scarred stools. To the right, the bar stands considerably higher, with stools to match. A muscular giant, grey-skinned and bald-headed, is seated there, drinking from a tankard the size of a barrel. Another is seated at a corner table sized for giants. Two Orcs sit together at a table near the Orc-sized bar and they drop their conversation to low tones as the Eagles enter the room
"Welcome to the Wayrest Trading Post," says a stout dwarven woman behind the bar, smiling broadly. "What can I get you?"
The warband falls all over itself in the rush to order drinks. Everyone who wants one gets their first taste of drink since coming back from the coming of age outing. Back at the tribe there is some mushroom grog brewing, but it won't be ready for another week or so.
Sharraxtharkhul takes an interest in the fireplaces that are not burning. He quickly makes his way to one on the East wall, and pokes around in the ashes, looking for charcoal.
After drinks have been arranged, discussion ensues about the disposition of treasure from the recent battle. It comes down to who needs armour and weapons the most. Wosroe the Dwarven barkeeper calls on Kerd to come around and watch the bar while she runs into the back looking for items the 'Eagles' are looking for. The giant at the corner table steps over to the bar, and takes his place behind it. Shortly, Wosroe returns with the tally. There are no great swords for any sized humanoid, much less the Half-Ogre. With the exchange of gems, and almost all of the coin treasure, they come away with Studded Leather for Ierkh and Rhgl, Hide armour for Sharraxtharkhul, and a decent dagger for both of the Goblins. The sight of Half Ogres and Goblins stripping down and donning new armour is shortly the afternoons' entertainment. Ierkh had pulled on the over-sized hide armour that one of the Ogres recently wore. The smell and look of it was quite disturbing, to the nose and eye.
While the warband is discussing the battle, the two Orcs at the nearby table, seem to be listening in on what the 'Eagles' have done. Their tribal affiliation is not readily apparent to any of the "Eagles" who look over. Much boasting is done all around, and it isn't hard for anyone at the bar or the nearby tables to hear what happened. It was a great victory for the "Vile Runes" to hear it told. Rhgl makes the decision to see if he can find out more about these Orcs, if not then see what they have for the taking. Rhgl not only drops down unseen near the table, but manages to sneak under the table, and relieve one of the Orcs of his money pouch. Little can be heard of their private whispered conversation in this rowdy place. He slinks away to examine the meagre contents, of the pouch, on the other side of Ierkh, who is having a dilemma of his own. He keeps hearing voices whispering in his ear. Every time someone nearby says his name, he can hear some of what is said, as if he is standing there. Gorga is experiencing the same effect. Ierkh notes that the beer is very good to make him hear voices. "Good Beer!" Gorga looks around, and sees others in the warband saying the same things that he is hearing repeated. The magic earring must be the source of this. Gorga reasons 'I did not put the ring on, and Sharraxtharkhul did not warn me of any other magic.'
With little more need to remain, the "Eagles" have a few more drinks, and Gorga rounds them up to head back to the Home Tribe.
Back on the trail, the "Eagles" run across 2 enormous black birds, feasting upon the remains of the Ogres. Tyco sees Scrag begin to run into combat, and runs up behind him, smacking the Orc from behind. With all the blood loss of the previous battle, Scrag goes down with a lump on his head. Tyco turns to Gorga and shrugs "He wuz gonna get killed. We need the bodies to fight Kobolds." Rhgl gets a little too close to the birds, and is nearly carried away. Quick work is made of the Dire Ravens with arrows, and a few well placed sword blows. Sharraxtharkhul begins humming to himself, and takes out his charcoal from the Trading Post. He begins marking the Ogres' bodies with runes and drawings to protect against evil spirits. The eagles watch from a distance and stay out of the way, as the young mystic performs his rights.
The "Eagles" return to the tribe home late in the afternoon. There will be a full moon this night, and a special ceremony. For now, Garnash One-tusk calls for another tribal meeting after hearing about the fight with Ogres and Hobgoblins. Three pariahs from the "Eagles" warband are up for acceptance.
"You younglings have returned from a battle with the Ogre's of the West. They are powerful enemies. Tell us of your deeds in battle and you will be given fitting names in the tribe." Hargul Wolf-Tongue begins the naming dance to see the truth of the new tribe members' words
Hobna stalks his way to the front. "Garnash saw fit to give leadership of the Eagles to Gorga Manhunter. Gorga led us in battle, sending Hobna to the left flank to fire arrows at the Hobgoblins. The Ogres charged and I fired many arrows at them as well. I killed many Hobgoblins with my arrows this day.
Hargul dances up with his Gri-gri flailing, and comes to stop in front of Hobna. "Pariah Hobna, I name you Hobna Gob-stopper." A cheer goes up from the tribe at this prestigious name. "May you wear it well." Hargul dances away to listen to the next petitioner making his claims.
Shiglsnor steps forward. "In battle with the Hobgoblins, they had higher ground. The Goblin Rhgl went up the left flank to scout. Hobgoblins appeared all around him. I braved the javelins and swords to rush up the left embankment, to fight Hobgoblins on even grounds. At least 5 died by my blade and that of the Goblin who fought as my team-mate."
Hargul dances up to Shiglsnor, and proclaims "Shiglsnor Back-biter, you are now a member of the Vile Runes tribe and the Eagles warband." He then moves on as before, gathering spirits to him with his gri-gri.
Listening to Hobna and Shiglsnor, Tyco remembers the fall of the Screaming Monkey tribe. Darokin solders had surrounded the tribe's hold. They had made several attempts to storm the gate, none successful. Every attempt weakened the reserves of the tribe. Warriors were falling too quickly. The chief lead the Screaming Monkeys like a warrior should, cleaving Darokin soldiers in half. The chief must have slain dozens of Darokin, but there were too many. During the Darokin's third assault the chief was mortally wounded. The elite guard stood watch over dying chief, and the chief's son Blorg. Blorg watched his father die. Then he commanded the gates be opened. We would make one last charge, break through the Darokin and flee to the woods. As the gates opened, Darokin rushed in. The last time Tyco saw Blorg, his head was on the tip of a Darokin lance, carried by Darokin cavalry.
Garnash One-Tusk looks over the warband, "You, Orc. What do you say?" Tyco stepped forward and was somewhat slow to respond, he couldn't help picturing his new home covered with dead human and Orc bodies.
Tyco remembered, when the Darokin began pouring through the gates of the Screaming Monkey hold, he stole an axe from a dead Orc. He was not yet a full member of the tribe, weapons were forbidden to him. He remembered screaming a battle cry, then everything turning red as he flew into a rage.
Tyco presents the eight fine longswords won in battle to Garnash One-Tusk and the tribe.
Tyco remembered the end of his fury at the Screaming Monkey hold. Tyco watched a Darokin lance come out of his stomach. It took awhile for Tyco to realise he had been charged from behind. Tyco was pretty sure he died. Perhaps his body was too stupid to realise it should be dead. His mind knew nothing beyond that charge. He had vague images of Blorgs head and lots of walking, but no real memory.
"There was a hail of javelins thrown at me by the Hobgoblins. Gorga shot an arrow into one of the Ogres, and I ran up and finished it off with a wicked slice to the stomach. It is easy for me, I am already dead. With few left to battle, I climbed the slippery rocks to hunt down and kill the last of the Hobgoblins."
Garnash seemed pleased, if a bit suspicious. Hargul dances forward again, and looks into Tyco's eyes. "You, once a pariah of the Screaming Monkeys, survived the massacre along with others who have joined the Vile Runes. This day, you become a member of a growing tribe. Your name is Tyco Gut-Wrench.
It is getting later in the evening with the completion of this boast. Orcs cheering and slapping the Eagles on the back is commonplace now.
Garnash raises his hands for quiet. "It is the night of the full moon. Hargul Wolf-Tongue will lead us all in the proper respects to Wogan, our benefactor. Let every Orc worship and feast."
Another roar of approval goes up from the tribe, and the flames begin to dance in the fire pit. None of the Eagles have been privy to this ceremony before and all are curious to see what will happen.
Sharraxtharkhul catches the eye of FillexHulkil, and gets the feeling that something just isn't right with him, and the group of Orcs around him. Dancing and howling begin, and food is brought out by the females. As the festivities continue into the night, midnight brings about a change that leaves the "Eagles" a little shocked. Hargul begins to howl loudly, and begins to change form. Muscles and bones bulge out, and the normally hairy Orc begins to grow a fur coat as he transforms into a hybrid form of Wolf and Orc. Hargul finishes howling as the final throes of the transformation diminish. "All pay respects to Wogan and his might. He allows me to take this form, and teach you all his wisdom; the wisdom of hunters and wolf riders. We no longer ride wolves but we honour the memory." Hargul begins howling again, and leaps from Garnash's platform, and lopes out the main gate to hunt.
The next day, Gorga tracks down Gynk Lip-Biter to get further briefings on the path to the Kobold lair. Gynk pulls out the map again, and points out a path through the Kobold territories, Darokin lands, and around the edge of the Elven forests. Gorga soaks up the information and gets some questions answered. "Do not cache food and water. It may be found. Patrols are haphazard at best around the lair. This is unusual for Kobolds.
While gathering rations and water for the trip over the next couple of days, a few of the warband members see FillexHulkil, and are uneasy about how he behaves in the Vile Runes holdings.
The eagles take a long trip which is uneventful, good maps keep them from getting lost often. The path the Orcs take is overland and rarely travelled. Occasionally the spoor of other races, Kobolds, Humans, or various creatures is found. The maps guide the Eagles to a disused path that leads through the brush up to a cave entrance.
No patrols are seen while the warband waits. Gorga tells the others "Something must be wrong for the Kobolds to not patrol the lands around here. We will enter and attack what we find. Scrag spouts off "Let's kill all inside!" Everyone gathers around to hear what the plan is.
Gorga waves him off "We enter and work to the right," As he holds up his right hand. "And leave nothing behind us."
Nothing looks special about the place, other than the placement on the mountain. It is not a natural cave opening. Brush lines the path on both sides, and while not moving, seems to reach for hide, clothing, boots and skin as the Orcs walk by. The path winds back and forth in the hills and cliffs leading up to the entrance. The opening is somewhat obscured by vines and branches. Beyond the vines a 10' corridor leads straight into the rock formation.
Down the corridor, there is an old door with some chipped wood around the edges, as if it has been forced, and used recently. Some human bodies of little note are found, but the fourth body, is that of a kobold, this kobold is slightly shorter and lighter than normal. The scales bear dark coloration, with black shading. The body is sprawled on the floor with grievous wounds.
Another dead kobold lies on the floor face down. There is a small sheathed dagger on a belt that this one is wearing. There is a dark slimy substance on the blade when drawn. The body has a smashed skull. These two appear to have been lost when the adventurers where overcome. No one has returned to dispose of the bodies yet.
Next Up: Return to In Search of the Unknown
<footnote: Wayrest Trading post was inspired by Viroes Aierie from the Wizards website. What would a bar-outpost in the Broken Lands be like?>