When the group returned to the Growtharn village, and the rescued villagers were again safely amongst their people, there was much rejoicing. As part of the celebratory festivities the remaining family remembers of one of the villagers, who was slain by the Cult of Belashyrra, gave a family heirloom to Hendrik as thanks. There was a general consensus amongst the village, that the weapon was to go to him after misjudging him and all white-eyes based solely on the words of the Tronaash.
Over the next several days the party rested and recovered in the village, making preparations to leave for Kordian lands. They traded away the items that they had taken from fallen foes, and any valuables they had recovered from the cult shrine. They recovered their bear cloaks, which they had had been cured and tailored for them. On the last night in the village they finally spent some time talking with a clear headed Chief Wolf Paw.
The group spoke much about empyreal expansion of the white-eye, and the pending invasion of One Horns growing hoard, explaining to Wolf Paw that only an alliance of the tribes could hope to alter the path of either threat. The chief agreed with the assessment, and the pipe was passed around one more time (non-laced stuff this time). And so the Tribal Alliance was formed. Chief Wolf Paw, speaking for the second member of this alliance, as Chief Tandrik of the Whitetail had officially been the first charter member (yes even armies need cooks). Hendrik used some of his new popularity to gain the employ of Yentu, a young quick runner, to get an iltelligence report to Watch Commander Von Fredrikson one of the few in the Empyreal military that he trusted. Additionally, Tronar sought out the help of Ghostwalker and Moonseer to see if they could help him do the same and contact his people through a sending ritual.
Hearing that the patrols to the west had been encountering less than the normal run-ins with orc tribes, was somewhat concerning and they were eager to learn why. As they left, they traveled west through the forested hills toward Nanzad’s homeland, all wearing their new bear cloaks with the exception of Charnel, who had stored his. As the group traveled they noticed that Charnel seemed more interested than normal with the surroundings, and seemed to take more sightseeing stops (strange half-elf, always stopping to smell the roses).
The intelligence was correct in saying that there were fewer encounters with the orcs who frequented this area, as the group ran into to nothing until the third day out when they came upon an abandoned village. At least at first glance it appeared that way, but as they moved through they found that the Brutal Fang Tribe had vacated the village leaving just the old, who could not make the hazardous journey west to the Gathering of One Horn. Nanzad offered the old the honor of dying a warrior’s death after they told of this migration. Charnel and Ghostwalker on the other hand asked if there were any that could make the two day journey to the Growtharn village, where they would be taken in and cared for.
As six older orc villagers gathered there belongings for the journey, four met Nanzad in a circle of honor, where he quickly put down two before they had a chance to swing. The other two lasted just a little longer, giving far less than they received. Nanzad did suffer a weak blow to his shoulder that left a bruise, as one old guy hobbled in and whacked him with his cane (Hendrik just walked away from the scene in disgust, and Tronar wrote in his book that he did not want to grow old around Nanzad or his people).
After the “honorable” deaths of the old orcs, the group continued west for another day. They were now well within the lands of the Kordians, and as with the other days of this journey, they found no indication of eyes upon them while moving through the forested hills. This was not the Kordian lands that Nanzad remembered. By noon the second day out of the abandoned Brutal Fang Village, the group arrived in Nanzad’s former home village. He realized right away that there were far less people then there had been, and there were a couple of orc warriors watching over the camp, whose totems Nanzad did not recognize. Charnel was able to lend assistance and tell that they were members of the Skull Cleavers a hostile western tribe.
One of the village elders, Shubat, came out to intercept Nanzad, and to inform him of the past happenings. The group learned that the Kordian warriors led by Warchief Mishig and Warmistress Ajurin had answered One Horn’s call, and taken the warriors west, leaving just Shubat and Ider, and a handful of warriors, women, children, and old, to finish the camp dismantling. They also learned that those remaining in the camp were under the charge of Warchief Chargen Crimson Tusk of the Skull Cleavers, who now was held up in the mountain Hold of Relfang. These orcs had travelled here with the warchanter, who had successfully “_convinced_” the Kordian warchief.
With a building momentum of anger Nanzad moved toward one of the two Skull Cleaver wardens, and before it had a chance to react, threw a head butt that sent to the surprised guard to the ground with a broken nose. At that point everyone acted and the fight was on. Nanzad struck again quickly trying to take the downed one out, the anger that was released with the bone-crunching blow was amazing, as only the yell that pursued was louder, “I am the KORDSON”.
Hendrik and Mist closed on the other warden, as Tronar and Charnel hurled lightning and insults from a distance. All in all, two against five did not last all that long and it was over pretty fast. The warden which Nanzad originally put on the ground to open combat, somehow survived to regain his feet long enough to get knock back down and out by Nanzad with another head butt, as the group wanted one of these alive,
After the fight Tronar found out by interrogation the layout and the forces that were facing them at Relfang Hold with Crimson Tusk. Additionally it was determined that Tronar was a truly impressive interrogator, and the mountain lizards had some very effective methods, as Hemgesh, the warden was broken to the point of pledging oaths to the great KORDSON by the time it was all over.
The trip up the mountain to the hold took less than a half hour as Nanzad led the way along a seldom used path. When they arrived they found the doors to the hold had been busted in, but no outer guards had been posted, just as Hemgesh had said. The doors opened into a small empty chamber where a circular stairway of rough stone wound upward. The stairwell ended in another empty ante-chamber, which were sealed off from the rest of the hold by a set of double doors. Hemgesh had said that beyond these doors the group would face the first opposition. He was right.
Two bodies of two glowing beetles provided light in the room, highlighting several cages and two orc guards. The rear of the room was in shadow. However, the group saw a flickering light through the arrow slits of an alcove overlooking its position. The group charged in to take down the dangerous beetles before they could do much damage with their fire breath, and to that end they were very successful. Each of the fire breathers was only able to bring that ability to action once, and then only Hendrik and Charnel were slightly singed by it.
The orcs in the room were only slightly more trouble, and fell prey easily to the now well established tactics employed by Hendrik and Nanzad. Hendrik not being an opponent you can easily turn away from to strike at a luring Nanzad, offered up a nice penalty to one of the guards who did. Hemgesh was correct again in his summation that the guards in this room would find no help arriving from the rest of the Hold. The group also believed they heard laughter as the yelling guards from this room died under the rush from the group.
Within one of the cages the group found the corpse of a male half-elf in the dress and carrying the spirit totems of a Growtharn tribesman. Neither Charnel nor Ghostwalker recognized the tribesman, but they would see to it the effects found their way back to the family of this fellow Growtharian.
As the group pushed on they found a large room, which looked to be a dining area. A cauldron in the middle of the room bubbled atop a blazing fire, and a banquet table to the right was covered in leftover food and ale. Many orcs stood around the room, snarling and ready for battle. A door in the wall across the way stood slightly ajar. When the door opened a couple of the orcs charged right away and were cut down quickly by both Nanzad and Hendrik, but the majority of them just fanned out inviting the group into the room.
When Tronar, the warrior that he is, charged in to get into a better position to use his electrifying powers from, he found out why a majority of the orcs waited when a trapdoor dropped him into a ten foot deep pit. Then he was slightly alarmed a few seconds later when one of the berserkers jump down there to get him a little mountain lizard (tastes like chicken to orcs).
Shortly after that one of the leaders showed himself, as he emerged from the doors which were slightly ajar. Cursing the stupidity of the two that broken ranks and the third one that was in the pit, The Eye of Gruumsh tipped the cauldron, dumping the boiling hot contents on the two in the pit. This act not only burned the two in the pit, but signaled to all others to charge.
Hendrik cut his way out to one side and was met by three others as he worked his way toward the Eye. Nanzad and Ghostwalker were held in check for a while by three on their side as well. Charnel held in the back taking aim and hurling insults at the orcs. In the pit, Tronar had managed to take down the berserker, and was taking aim and dropping other corpses in the pit as well. He also had to dodge the occasional body also as it fell by gravity, but that was to his pleasing anyway, because he was using the bodies to build a ladder to get out of the pit.
As the end of his forces fell, even the Eye of Gruumsh was no match for group, but he did harass Hendrik quite a bit with his Eye of Wrath attack on his way out.
With the dining hall eliminated, that left the barracks as the last place to encounter the Chief, and so it was with no surprise when the group crashed through the double doors they found him. They also found that this room looked like the sleeping quarters for all the orcs. A crackling fireplace spread light throughout the room. A large wolf, with bony spines protruding from its back, growled deeply, baring its fangs. Orcs in leather armor stood across the room with greataxes, ready to attack. Warchief Chargen in his fine chainmail stood near the wolf. He twirled his greataxe and snarled in tribespeak, “Smash them!”
Hendrik’s tactics in this battle called for the group to take out the orc guards and the wolf before much was done to the Chief. The group followed this doctrine pretty well and it was highlighted by Ghostwalker using the spirits to throw one of the guards and the wolf into the fire. This did not kill the two but it did bring into the combat a close second for a title, “The wolf, the wolf, the wolf is on fire…_let the mother fucker burn_.”
Once his allies were down, it was just a matter of time for the chief as well. He was not fooled by the Nanzad/Hendrik lure, but did give in once to reward Nanzad with an unanswered wound. Charnel keep up the distraction to weaken defenses as much as he could, while Tronar and Ghostwalker aided as they could as well. In the end it was fittingly Nanzad’s brutal axe that brought him down.