An Act of Defiance

The Story of the Once and Reborn King

Book One: From Ashes of Empire

Part I: The Horn of Ancient Valor

Adventure Two: The Forgotten City

Act II: An Act of Defiance

Chapter One: Thunder Keep

May 26
The party finds that Salim, as Miles, has left the city as of the night before. They are too wounded to follow immediatly so they decide to wait until tommorrow. The party has the gratitude of the Lord Mayor for their deeds. He offers them a company of 20 cavalry lead by Captain Stromhan gratis. The party accepts. The party is also able to hire a company of ten Grim Legionaires, hardened fighters who have all faced and survived the attentions of Horrors. The legionaires have a reputation of being a little maddened by their experiences, but no one knows Horror slaying like they do. The party is happy to have them along. They are lead by Captain Telnep and Yvette his Lieutenent. They are also able to procure labourers, porters, guards, and all the supplies they need.

May 27-29
The party sets out down the pass into the Sea of Ash. They are not travelling light, with a caravan of several wagons, pack animals, porters, and a small army of men. The party sees signs of Salim's caravan, which is much smaller then theirs and making better time. They figure him to be at least three days ahead of them.

The party reaches the Sea of Ash the afternoon of the 29th. They push on into the rocky wastes. This part of the Sea is rocky hardpan and twisting badlands. Buttes and mesas dot the desert horizon as the party continues its travels. Late in the afternoon as the party is thinking of making camp, they see Quisk Worm spoor and decide to press on a bit.

The party sees signs of a large mounted contingent joining Salim's tracks. The party decides to scout ahead. Shiatian and Grimgroth remain with the caravan, while Ander, Elricson, Tristin, Gurney, V'ib, and Wulgar ride ahead. The scouting party tracks Salim's caravan until it breaks its eastward progress and heads south. They decide to follow Salim, and catch up with him well after nightfall.

May 30
The party finds a large encampment of orc raiders, Blackskulls and Greatfangs for the most part. The encampment is over 400 strong and the party is not able to approach too closely. They see Salim unloading arms and armor for the orcs. The party decides to get a move on back to the caravan and hurry to Thunder Keep. They move away from the encampment and bed down.

In the morning they start their journey. Along the way they come across a small orc patrol that is camped for the day. The patrol seems to have some prisioners. The party steals into the camp and releases the prisoners, but they are seen. Combat ensues. The party defeats the patrol and Elricson picks off the few survivors that try to get away to warn the primary camp.

The prisoners tell the party that the Blackskulls and Greatfangs are northern orc tribes and for them to be this far south and working together seems strange. The orcs fly an unfamiliar banner also, a broken red skull and a mace on a black background. One of the prisoners is a scout. He was captured bringing the news of the army to the Keep and wants to head there directly. The party allows him to take a captured horse and he rides off. The rest of the prisoners stick with the party who easily catch up to their caravan.

June 1-3
Unknown to the party the small orc expeditionary force is on the move, marching on Thunder Keep. They hope to take it by surprise before their main host arrives.

June 4
The party arrives at the Keep in the early morning. The Keep is on full alert, and the party is met by a large patrol which escorts them into the Keep. The Keep itself is built into the sides of a large mesa, making it very defensible.

The party meets with Lord Enak of Thunder Keep to discuss strategy. Word from the scouts is that the orcs will arrive tonight. Tristin, who seems to have an instinctive grasp of tactics, lays out a bold plan of action. Everyone agrees with his plan, and preparations are begun.

The orcs arrive at dusk and attempt to outflank the Keep. Tristin's plan is put into action as the seemingly defenseless Keep explodes into life. Covered pits, stakes, and the three wizards lay waste to the first assault. The orcs reel back in confusion and the defenders sally forth to counter-attack. The orcs move their reserve up to stop the sally, falling perfectly into Tristin's plan. A force of heavy cavalry hidden in the ravines nearby rides into the orc flank, crushing them in a pincer move. The orc shamans begin to counter the wizards in the Keep and the defenders are pushed back.

The orcs re-group and ride to assault the Keep. This time it is only the gritty pluck and fighting ability of the defenders that keeps the orcs off the walls. Once again they are driven back. Tristin proves an apt leader on the walls, rallying men and giving orders.

Chapter Two: The Red Claw

June 5
The orcs settle in for a siege, awaiting the body of the main host marching on the Keep now. They ask for a parley and call for the surrender of the Keep to their Lord, Azog Headpulper. The Keep refuses and the wait is on. The fact that the orcs are laying in a siege worries everyone, as the orcs of the Sea of Ash tend to be hit and run fighters. That is what has kept Thunder Keep safe for so long.

The defenders know they don't have the strength to break the siege and Haven is too far a ride from which to bring reinforcements. Lord Enak asks the party to ride to the Red Claw to the south and ask for aid. The Red Claw are on fairly good terms with the Keep. They use the Keep to trade for goods from the civilized lands. Lord Enak feels that the Red Claw will not appreciate the incursion of such a large force of orcs on their territories, and hopes with their help he can break the siege. The party agrees to go. Ander, Elricson, V'ib, Gurney, and Wulfgar exit the Keep from a hidden sally gate during a counter attack by the defenders on the orc encampment.

The party rides hard and discern that they are being tracked by a patrol or foraging party from the siege camp. They try to outride them, but their lack of knowledge about the terrain and skill in horsemanship preclude this. Too late to set an abush, the party turns to fight. The combat is fierce. The patrol breaks off the attack, but the Red Claw have been watching and set on the foreign orcs with a vengeance. The orcs are slaughtered to a man.

The party is taken to the Red Claw encampment nearby where they meet the Chief Grakk. Some of the Red Claws speak pidgeon Anuirean and limited communication is possible. The Chief demands tributes to his greatness before he will speak to the party. After the gifts, a great feast is thrown to celebrate the day's victory. Many of the party partake of the fermented mare's milk drink and the less said about the evening's activities the better.

June 6-9
Grakk takes quite a shine to the young heroes, Ander and Tristin. He agrees to help the Keep, but summoning the other Red Claw tribes will take a bit of time. In the meantime, the party picks up a little of the Red Claw speech and a little alcohol tolerance too.

June 10-11
The Red Claw host moves out. They arrive in the vicinity of the Keep late on the 11th. The orcs ask the party to slip back into the Keep and coordinate a plan. Tristin makes the plan and sends V'ib to sneak it into the Keep.

June 12
Early in the morning, the Keep strikes the orc encampment. The orcs rally and begin driving the defenders back. As one, the defenders fall back to the keep, the orcs hot on their tails. It is then that the Red Claw sweep over the poorly defended encampment. At the same time another force of Red Claws sweeps around the mesa and takes the pursueing orcs in the flank, pinning them against the walls of the Keep. The slaughter is complete.

On to Act III: Journey to Jaewith

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