AFO4.02: Bring me his head!

The Fated Four for this session

Aelia, celestial pact of the tome warlock;
Angron, orc bear totem barbarian;
Tyche, elven rogue/thief;
Zephrus, human cleric/fate

THE STORY SO FAR

Princess Alexandra has been taken by Psysseria’s agents! Can the heroes learn of her whereabouts? Can they restore hope to her city, Illos?

Legendary centaur Atalande is said to know of where dwell the Fates, they who may penetrate the veil and say where Alexandra has been taken. Our heroes are on the borders of her lair when smoke on the horizon beckons them into action!

You came for tridents and stayed for Cryxis

Tyche makes her way forward among sparse woodlands to the ride that blocks their view. Below her, a village is aflame. Survivors flee in terror, for raiders – hidden in the smoke – are looting.

Once Tyche reports back, the heroes decide to tether Hydrak the donkey well away, and split into two. Tyche and Aelia will operate as support, on the rise. Angron and Zephrus will head in to confront the raiders.

Five orcs, most with the hydra design on their hoplon, are piling the pitiful wealth of the village onto mats in the marketplace. As Angron runs in and pitches a javelin, Tyche uses her powerful horn bow to strike one down!

Then it’s Angron swing his huge minotaur axe, Zephrus supporting with Screechy the spirit owl and his ivory sickle-sword, and Aelia and Tyche sending range attacks in. Aelia bravely advances to dangerously near, but luckily Angron draws the aggro! His axe does such massive sweeps that one orc cannot even use orcish resilience, bisected by the blade!

The last orc flees and Tyche and Aelia fell him.

Village chief Aster emerges as the heroes join in fire-fighting efforts. He thanks them, and tells them that some captives have already been taken away by the bulk of the raiders. As for Atalande, why her doorstep is just south-east of here. You can’t miss it, she uses traps and totem warnings.

Loot: two hoplon.

Tossing for it

The Fated Four are reluctant to just allow the orcs to retreat to the ruins of Memnoss. But if they are mere hours from speaking to Atalande, that must be the priority.

Tyche’s coin tells her to pursue. Angron advises against that – the quest comes first.

Seeing Aelia and Zephrus torn, and Zephrus plucking out his augury bones, Aster chips in. Possibly not helpfully. He explains that some form of river crossing will need to be prepared, and his people can do that, while at least part of the party speaks with Atalande.

After debating the wisdom of leaving Angron and Tyche to help with raft building, and bringing Angron’s trophies to Atalande on their own, Zephrus opts for the augury. He tosses the bones.

Once again the fates are not incredibly helpful, but they (through Fuzzy, who sits atop Zephrus and looks impressive) tell him the party can be split, or not, provided Atalande is convinced of the party’s strength.

Atalande’s quest

The proud centaur emerges from cover in her glade and challenges them to explain their presence! Aelia does the talking, Angron is very careful with his body language. The atmosphere moves from tense to amicable.

Accepting the trophies, Atalande listens to Aelia’s recollection of what they want from her.

“Then I in turn have a challenge for you: bring me the orc chief’s head, from where he dwells in Memnoss.”

The ruins of Memnoss

Aster does not know exactly where the ruins are, but knows that once you are across the river, you travel days due north.

As it happens, Zephrus knows enough history of Memnoss to explain that it also lies due east of Ithea (the great city wherein they began the entire quest together) in dry rolling hills.

While their village is not on the river, the locals know the art of using reeds. Hydrak is floated across on reed pontoons and the others make a dry crossing. Then setting the pole star as their guide, they travel north.

Sure enough, orc tracks and northward travel lead them securely to the ruins. As a last preparation Tyche (poorly) and Zephrus (artfully) disguise Angron as a hydra-worshipping orc, using their memory of the warpaint the raiders used, and a pillaged shield.

In ancient times dwarves of Erebos raised Memnoss. None now know what they used it for. Now, a mound topped by a weatherworn statue, a repaired stone watch-tower, and some sturdy stone buildings of great size still stand. Tyche and Aelia hide themselves close, while Zephrus follows Angron in.

At last, a worthy opponent!

As the lookout rises to study the pair, Tyche kills him instantly with her deadly archery. Zephrus studies the ground, sees a number of tracks. He draws Angron’s attention to them, then turns and performs an elaborate and confusing “battle signal sequence” back to the others.

Angron strides up shallow steps, pushes through the reed door, and looks about. Half a dozen low-raked Gargaran orcs loll about. “It’s a bad day for you lads,” Angron announces, and the killing begins!

The alarm is raised: opposite where Zephrus pointed, two unseen orcs had been on guard over some prisoners, among ruined stone huts.

“Call the chief! Call Khrasos!”

One powerful orc, armed with a heavy club, leads three others at Angron and Zephrus as the heroes finish the half dozen, while a fifth orc rushes away to raise the alarm further.

Unluckily for the powerful Gargaran, his build and decorations lead Tyche and Aelia to target him, and he makes no impact on the fight. The others mob Angron, barely bruising him.

But real reinforcements are spotted, from the direction of one of the larger – but not the largest – building. Two (smaller) cerberus hounds, a mighty chief, a picked archer, and a great-club-armed orc, all issue forth and maneuver towards the battle.

The great-club-wielding orc makes a final rush that tells Angron he possesses the aggressive rush of their ancestry.

“At last, a worthy opponent!” Angron growls, as the club slams into his shiny bronze breastplate. One other orc stubbornly refuses to fall…

The hounds lope for the battle and Aelia winces as the archer drives an arrow at her. Tyche and Aelia, and Screechy, combine to drop one hound, as Aelia retreats to cover and trickles some celestial healing into herself. Zephrus does the same for Angron, then has to help himself, as th other hound bites deep! Kicking the beast’s jaw free of his leg he heals up. Angron smashes the club-wielder, who looks ready to drop…

Then Khrasos utters a war-cry that perks the orc up: the chief brandishes his spear, the head of which glints orichalcum, and charges home!

And the session ends.

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