Age of Heroes

Ignar Rant, of the Fireforge clan, reporting, Sah!
Ignar debreif to Commander Esteban

The Irregulars performed well above expectations, sir, making up for the lack of military discipline with a good measure of flexibility and resolve.

Our first encounter with the enemy was three days out, when we were attacked by a goblin scout force, 5 goblins on top of over-sized wolves. It has been theorised that the wolves were half-worg hybrids, but until I see complimentary evidence, I cannot say for sure.

During that encounter we discovered that you should kill the riders first, as their mounts become less organised once the rider is killed. We also discovered that my troup works best at range, which means my role becomes less a case of battle leader in the midst of his troops, and more a case of blocker to any that make it past the rain of arrows.

We used the tactical knowledge gained from this battle to great advantage when we got to the valley of the hunter’s lodge.

The hunter’s lodge was built at the eastern end of a natural bowl, which the goblins had blocked at the western end, creating a dam. This then filled the bowl with a temporary lake, one we discovered they intended to release at the full moon to flood Riverbrook and help break our resolve.

There were a total of about thirty goblin defenders, with leaders too, organised in ‘hands’ of 6 goblins apiece. They had four watch towers, which were elevated bunkers, each with a goblin sniper in it, to watch over the dam area, and two of these hands, one each side of the river, to deter attackers. There were a further two hands placed one each side of the lake, further away from the dam. There was also a hand of goblins living in the hunter’s lodge, being led by a magic-using goblin, who was in overall command.

We made good use of our ranged attacks, isolating each group in turn and decimating them by the time they could reach us. Of special note here is Twinkletoes, who bravely snuck into two of the bunkers in order to eliminate the snipers and allow us to surprise one of the hands defending the dam.

We discovered the body of a Dwarf at the lodge, one that had been pressed into service building the great blocks that had been used to dam the river. Unbeknownst to them he also wrote us a message in his own blood telling us how to safely release the water, and we did so. If we all survive this coming battle, he deserves to be reburied with full honour, as befits his bravery.

We then made all possible speed back here to warn you of an all-out attack that has been organised for the night of the full moon.

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An Irregular Postscript
A private letter

My darling E.
Fortune looks upon us, good and bad. I shall begin with the good news. We made reasonable time back to Riverbrook, arriving in three days although the lack of decent and regular meals took a heavy toll on me. On the way we met up with that foolish knight and his aides again, however they appear to have done some good.
They had also run into some of the goblins riding wolves and tracked them back to that dwarven mine. They were able to defeat the goblins and rescue the dwarves, from whom we have learned the name of the heroic mason: Durgaz Hammernell, their leader. I believe Ignar will petition Commander Esteban for proper burial honours should time allow.
Speaking of time, we were left only ten days until the moon heralding the attack of the orc warlord Garrok. Time we put to good use evacuating most of the townsfolk and helping prepare Riverbrook and her defenders for battle. For my part I helped the quartermaster take stock of medical supplies, and advised on how best to prepare the limited food supplies. Alongside Landar I also helped Esteban’s scouts prepare the approaches to the town, and its outer defences.
And battle did come indeed. A force of several hundred orcs, nearly four times the size of ours launched their assault under that full moon. The battle was hard and both sides lost a full quarter of their number before the orcs were repelled. Good news you might think? Sadly not, for the dawn exposed the full extent of Garrok’s ambition. A thousand orcs, possibly more encamped upstream. More than enough to reduce Riverbrook to ashes.
The situation is grim and the odds are against us. Esteban and his officers are holding a desperate council as I write to determine our course. May the gods guide them, and protect us all!
Forever yours,
P.

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Riverbrook Irregulars
A private letter

My dearest E.
Whilst my companions and I may have made the road to Riverbrook safe again, the town’s principal artery has always been it’s namesake. The river level has been unseasonably low recently. So low that a boat ran aground just outside of town. Commander Esteban has charged our merry band, the ‘Riverbrook Irregulars’ as he likes to call us, with travelling upriver to determine the cause.
And determine the cause we certainly did. Goblins! A whole tribe of them had taken over a ranger’s camp four days upstream and dammed the river with massive boulders. You might be forgiven for thinking that is an impressive feat of engineering for such crude creatures. It seemed the goblins had raided a nearby dwarven mine and forced their masons to carry out the dastardly task.
One however had the presence of mind to build in a fundamental flaw. A weak spot in the keystone and left a clue in an old stableblock that served as his cell. Sadly we were too late to save that nameless hero, but with his help we were able to destroy the dam and restore the river. His last message was also a plea to aid his kin at the mine, which we now feel obligated to honour.
Cause for celebration you might think but no. Amongst the detritus of the occupying goblins’ leader we found a scroll confirming the orc plot against Riverbrook the winged kobold of our previous engagement had claimed. Moreover this scroll detailed a time for the orc attack on the town, the next full moon!
We also learned the purpose of the dam was to herald the orc assault by unleashing a great tide of water down the river to sweep away the town defences and swamp the militia. I had feared the destruction of the dam might bring forward the attack, but our trusty seasoned soldier Ignar advised that the orcs would most likely adhere to their planned date. Using the full moon as a signal being the only reliable way to coordinate such brute and disparate creatures.
After discussing the situation around the campfire we resolved to return to Riverbrook at best speed to warn Commander Esteban and Mayor Christenson. With the commander’s leave, we will then return to the dwarven mine in the hope we are not too late to help them. We leave at first light, and I fear there may not be opportunity to write again until after the battles to come.
Forever yours,
P.

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Campfire Chat, a reply
'Cos when I commented on the original post, it didn't show up on the dashboard

Whoa there, friend – I understand your fears, but for the most part I believe them to be unwarranted.

Firstly, about the timing for the attack. If, as I suspect, it is going to be an all-out assault, then it will involve large numbers of Orcans. Which means organising them and getting them headed the right way, and at an adjusted time.

With all my years in the army, I know firsthand how hard organising such a large number of groups can be. And that is with the backbone of army discipline to help out.

The Orc warlord may well decide to up the pace a bit, but I would reason he would not. He coordinated the attack for the full moon because it is easy to do so, and all the various groups will be organised to the same extent and will know when they need to converge. To do otherwise will be incredibly hard for him.

That having been said, I do agree that we may be better off returning to Riverbrook first, and with great haste, so that Commander Estaban can see to getting Riverbrook’s defenses up to speed. And can also warn the outlying homesteads to be ready to run for cover.

We could easily make it home in three days if we push ourselves. I could probably make it in two if I really tried, but I do not believe that the rest of you would find the pace sustainable.

So three days to Riverbrook, and then ask for as many arms as we can to go rescue my kinfolk. They would be of immeasurable benefit to our building up Riverbrook’s defences.

With that in mind, may I suggest you all have an early night, and we can start out at first light.

In other words, Ignar agrees with your conclusion, but not with your reasoning. Go figure.

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Campfire chat
...in which Twinkletoes glimpses a bigger picture

As the party are binding their wounds and taking stock at the dam site, Twinkletoes voices a misgiving that has been troubling him since Landar translated the dead dwarf’s last words in the stable.

Much as it pains me to say it friends, I don’t think we should go to the dwarf mine today. We’ve stopped these goblins and broken their dam, but we know from the scroll (and from what that winged kobold said before) these are just small parts of the orc plot to attack Riverbrook. We also know from the scroll that the attack was to be soon!

There may be orc spies in the hills who will report back to their leader that the dam is lost, once they see the river flowing again? We don’t know if losing this weapon will delay the attack, or hasten it. They may only have been waiting until the next moon to give the water time to build up. Without that, there’s nothing stopping them attacking sooner. In fact, it would be in their interest not to give Riverbrook more time to prepare defences and stockpile supplies.

I think we should return home as quickly as possible and warn Esteban and the mayor the orc attack is imminent! With all due respect we don’t know how long the dwarf in the stable has been dead, or if there are any of his expedition still at the mine. With the Captain’s blessing we can head straight back out to see if we can find the dwarves, but the safety of Riverbrook trumps all doesn’t it?

It’s what… four days back to town? We can probably get that down to three if we hurry. Take fewer rests. Maybe even cut down to only five meals a day…!

Only five meals: that is how serious Twinkletoes thinks this is!

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Letter home (2)
To Rand Fireforge, Festung Stormfist

Dear Father,

How are things at home? I have not heard from you since my last letter, which makes me think these letters may not be reaching you, but I live in hope.

First the good news – our Commander sent me on a mission, with the help of a few good fellows, to find out what had happened to the army’s supply wagons.

Our mission was a success despite several skirmishes, for which I have my good Fireforge steel Battleaxe to thank, and we retrieved the wagons in good order, laying waste to the large band of kobolds that had taken them.

On a more serious note, I feel it would be prudent of you to increase the supply of weapons you currently trade with Riverbrook. I know that the original agreements were for a settlement, but despite several increases in quantities over the years I feel it is now falling behind demand now that Riverbrook is a thriving town with a garrison of over a hundred men. I am certain that given the increase in orcan actions you could increase trade by as much as a half again and the weapons would still be warmly received by mayor Christenson. I have made the suggestion to you, but will leave the final decision to you and your merchants.

I would, however, recommend you increase the guard on all such trading missions. Possibly to as much as two hands of battlebrothers. Just to be sure.

Your faithful son,
Ignar

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Fools and Heroes
A private letter

My beloved E.
Opportunity has indeed arisen for a halfling of my talents. The raiding I mentioned before is part of a larger threat to Riverbrook. A threat so dire that a whole century of the kings soldiers are now barracked here. That is a lot of mouths to feed, and without food they are more burden than boon to the town.
Thus the new commander, Esteban employed me to scout for a small party investigating missing supply wagons. With me were a dwarf serving under him, an imposing but friendly enough fellow named Ignar Fireforge. Also one Landar Stormwind, a gruff mercenary bowman with no love for orcs. Completing our group was Torinn Nemmonis, a massive dragonborn priest recently arrived with the tide.
On the road we met an odd party on their way to Riverbrook. Three more of the king’s soldiers, travelling with a lady and half a dozen retainers. At first I took them to another officer like Esteban, but now I know it was just some nobleman playing at soldiery with his entourage. A foolish and dangerous game.
After exchanging greetings we were about to part ways when a large group of lizardmen ambushed us from the trees! I saw them coming and was able to take cover behind Torinn, but most of the big folk were slow to react. Once they realised what was happening however we were able to defend ourselves admirably.
Landar and I helped keep them pinned down in the trees, while Ignar and Torinn dealt with a ferocious dog-sized lizard. The other group fared adequately, but for all his bravado the nobleman needed his men to rescue him after foolishly charging forward alone. Obvioualy a great tactical mind that one! The lady (his sister) is practiced in magic and after blasting the creatures from the road was the first to notice that Landar had been badly injured in their attack. In the aftermath the soldiers identified the lizardmen as kobolds, which are a kind of reptilian goblin I think. I found a nearby pit with the bodies of the supply wagoneers, and an obvious path through the undergrowth where Esteban’s wagons had been taken away from the road.
We implored the other soldiers to join our investigation but the loud-mouthed noble insisted they had orders to report to Riverbrook. We tried explaining that this would only be a short delay to their journey and to benefit the whole garrison, but his pig-headedness could not see reason. If getting to Riverbrook as soon as possible was so important, why had they just been trotting along the road with half a dozen porters and not travelling light at a canter? Sometimes I really don’t understand big folk! His sister at least has some sense about her and left them to follow their orders to the letter, joining us on our mission.
Following the wagons path of destruction we came to a clearing where the wagons were parked up, and the horses had been slaughtered. Atop one wagon were several more kobolds but no other signs of life. Cautiously Landar and I split around the edge of the clearing to check and I spotted another of the dog-sized lizards asleep under that wagon. With the others duly informed we crept back around and once our less subtle colleagues attacked we skirmished from rear and quickly felled them all.
Scouting around we found a tunnel hidden under a large rock, and our magic-using noblewoman also noticed some crude carving on the rock were most likely an effigy of the creatures’ deity, the evil dragon god Tiamat. Most of the garrison’s food was still on board the wagons so we sat down to rest for lunch, and plan how to best get the wagons back to town without draft horses.
Bellies full we investigated the tunnel. I went first as kobolds are of similar build to us and had ceilings no higher than necessary, which aggravated our big folk no end! The lair was a couple of caves, and just inside was a crude alarm of coins hanging from the roof to make a noise if anyone big came in. Sitting on Torinn’s back to reach, I easily removed them without making a sound. In the first cave were a few more kobolds and lizards, half of whom were restrained in an enchanted slumber by our magic-user while we quickly dispatched the others before culling the sleepers. In the second was their leader, a winged kobold with a much larger pet lizard. I drew the lizard back to the first cave where our party surrounded it and eventually hacked it to death, but not before it had savaged them and nearly killed poor Landar. Our unlucky ranger was having a very bad day, which would do nothing to better his typical surly mood.
Seeing his creature bested and his tribe dead about the cave floor, the winged kobold surrendered. Whilst the party restrained and interrogated it, I checked the second cave and found loot and a clue! In a locked chest that was no match for my nimble fingers was a large pouch of gold coins and a crude map of the area around Riverbrook. The kobold confessed that stealing the food wagons was part of a larger plot by an orc boss from the eastern mountains. He gave up the orcs name and rough location before apparently trying to attack our magic-user. At least that’s what she claimed after blasting it’s face off!
We then manhandled the wagons back to the road which took the rest of the day and camped there overnight. Halfway back to Riverbrook we encountered the noble soldier and his associates again, who Esteban had sent with fresh draft horses to find us. Ha-ha! For all his heirs and graces that fool’s first mission for Esteban is that of stable-boy!
Upon hearing our report Commander Esteban has said he wants our party to continue to work together, dealing with these more unconventional jobs that the common soldiery are unsuited for. The work is challenging, the people interesting, and the risk acceptable so I’ve taken up the offer. As it’s technically a military unit he’ll most likely want a soldier in charge, so I’m recommending the dwarf Ignar for it. He showed iniative and common sense on this last mission, as well as strength of arms. We need a leader who can give sensible orders, not just follow them blindly.
Forever yours,
P.

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Letters home
To Rand Fireforge, Festung Stormfist

Dear Father,

How are things at home? I am in good health and in good company. Commander Estaban has been sent to Riverbrook, of all places, and he saw fit to bring me along as well.

Riverbrook has changed much in the thirty plus years since we were here last, having grown from a small trading village to a sizeable town. Mayor Christenson is still in charge, though now looking his age, as all humans do. I was sad to hear that his son had passed, though it seems Loric already has a grown-up granddaughter, who is captain of the local militia to boot!

It pleases me no end to see so much Fireforge steel in use – tis one thing to know our weapons are the best, but completely another for humans to recognise their worth as well. It seems that our weapons are being put to good use – there has been more Orc trouble around here recently, which is the reason for our presence.

I will write again when I have some more news, but be assured that your son is upholding the clan honour and showing these humans just what a Dwarf is worth.

Your faithful son,
Ignar

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A Beginning
A private letter

Dearest E.
My quest has begun. My father has all but disowned me, and all I have is what I carry on my back. Good! I am unburdened by his nonsense and free to see the world as it is. As you taught me.
I have left Everance. There is naught for me there now but ill memories. My mind must be clear to find your way home to me.
Do you remember Barrin? Big chap; keeps an inn up north in Riverbrook. I’ve called in that favour he owed us and taken a room there while I get my bearings. And he’s the only cook worth a damn over four foot tall in the whole town.
Good food is getting scarce up here too. There’s been raids near the town. Goblins they say, though I’ve not seen any myself. Word is the mayor has petitioned the king for help, and he’s sending up soldiers. Could be an opportunity to earn a bit of gold if they need scouts ~ and I’ve yet to meet a soldier who didn’t like to waste his pay gambling off duty.
with luck the soldiers will have travelled a bit too. A few drinks bought with coin won from their own purse can easily loosen tongues. Perhaps I’ll get a clue to our miracle?
Forever yours,
P.

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In Dreams
A private letter

My Darling E.
Do not despair. Though you are gone now from this world, know you are not forgotten. Never forgotten. In dreams you live still. In dreams we dance through the night as we did before ~ and as we will again.
There are ways we can be together again, my love. Such miracles are rare, but rarer still is your beauty. Such miracles demand a high price, but there is nothing I will not pay to have you back. It will take time to find such a miracle, but I will find it. For you. For us.
This letter is but the first of many I will write. And when you are restored you will read them, and in reading know that our love won back your life.
Forever yours,
P.

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