Upstarts in Felac'Delb

Session 4

Pick your battles carefully

The quartet left the Channel’s central chamber with their minds reeling. Arcturus, Alphonse, and Ironbeard all headed out to the city to find a tavern, while Ollin went out into the city to try to acquire a bow. To each his own. Ollin asked around and found the right guy, and he had the coin to make the purchase he wanted. Meanwhile, the other three had found a tavern called The Three Rings (a dwarven establishment), and set out to “clear” their heads. Alphonse took a seat in the corner and began smoking his pipe, adding extra illusory smoke to create an even greater aura of mystery. Arcturus and Ironbeard took seats at the bar and got down to drinking. The bartender asked them why they looked so disturbed and distant, and Arcturus told him the alarming truth. The bartender stopped believing him at “we fell unconscious in a cave”, but nevertheless let him finish. Once they were done he tried to get them interested in other forms of relaxation, namely some of the prostitutes who were hanging out in the bar looking for customers. Neither Arcturus nor Ironbeard were inclined, and they turned down the offer swiftly and returned to drinking themselves into oblivion. Ollin came in and sat down with the two at the bar, and ordered some elven sherry. Hoping for the best, the bartender asked Ollin what his story was, and Ollin told him he was with Archon Yukanis. With a businessman, a government man, and an apparent nutcase, the bartender leaped to the conclusion that something bad was going to happen to him. He claimed firmly that he ran a clean establishment and then went into the kitchen defensively. The three shrugged, and continued drinking.
They were late to rise the next morning (they had made it back to the Archon’s palace somehow). They went into the dining hall, where Saren bid them good morning. They all gave an “hmm” (except for Alphonse, who was as clearheaded as ever), in response for their hangovers put a damper on their ability to show courtesy. Saren was unfazed, and told them that he had work for them to do. They people of the city had seen the action of the new Ekwan Republic in the re-opening of the channel and the effort towards building a new system of governance centered around the will of the majority. The city people were in support of the Archon, though the people in the countryside of Ekwa, a large portion of the future citizens of the Republic, had not. Saren wanted the quartet so serve as a sybmol of the Republic’s strength and willingness to reward the skilled without discrimination, so they were to travel to the border and gain the support of the country people. He suggested dealing with the Orcish Border Lords, which was something The Combine had never effectively done.
After making the mission pitch to them, he pulled Arcturus to the side. Saren told him that though Arcturus had taken his oath of allegiance, he needed to Blood Eagle in action as well as in belief. This would be accomplished by slaying an orc in defense of the innocent, and bring back its head as a trophy. Arcturus accepted. They returned to the group, and Saren told them it would be a good idea to talk with the Ishane, since he knew the problems of his territory better than anyone. They did so, and discovered that a number of villages on the Orc-Combine border on Ekwa was having a problem with a Border Lord named Gonthu. Gonthu and his thugs were collecting and taking tribute from the villages at times, and putting a stop to the attacks would be a huge deal to the country people. They understood and headed out with Ironbeard’s cart.
It took a few days travel, but they eventually came to the town called Drotna, which was situated near a series of hills rich in iron. Not half a mile to the east was Drotna mine. They came to the gate and had to explain their case to the guard who allowed them in. They proceeded to the mayor’s house, presented the Archon’s signet ring, then asked him about the town’s problems with Lord Gonthu. Seeing the ring and hearing that the quartet was interested in Lord Gonthu, the mayor went into maximum helpfulness mode and told them the story. Lord Gonthu was a well-feared Border Lord, who has never been seen by any Combine citizen since whenever he goes into battle, there are never any survivors. More commonly, his brother Duras and several cronies make rounds through a series of border towns collecting tribute and on occasion taking slaves (which made Arcturus tense up). The mayor added that Duras hadn’t been to Drotna for some time, and he was due. The quartet thanked him and left.
The group planned their ambush. On Ironbeard’s suggestion, they aimed to capture Duras and use him as a bargaining chip to get Gonthu’s attention and force a confrontation with him. It was midday and they were hungry, so they went into the tavern and ordered a roast pig, which came garnished with various mushrooms (classic Dwarven cuisine). A few hours later they got into position for their attack, with Ollin atop a house, Alphonse hiding in the alleys between houses, Ironbeard inside a room in the local inn, and Arcturus up on top of the mayor’s house. At sundown, they saw torches coming towards the outer gate from the south: it was time.
A group of orcs, goblins, and an ogre were at the gate momentarily, and they bribed the gate guard to let them in. Duras came into view, dressed nicely and escorted by ten minions and his sidekick ogre, Ludan. Duras called out “Ryol” loudly to the empty streets. After a moment, a bookish and nervous dwarf came out of a house, and walked up to the group of orcs. Duras clapped him on the shoulder and brought him under his arm and they walked. Duras asked if their deal was still good, and the dwarf mumbled an affirmative. Duras asked him “then where is the young fellow?” Ryol left Duras’ side and entered a house. There was yelling, then Ryol came running out with another dwarf fast on his heels with a mace in hand. Seeing the band of orcs he stopped and tried to run, but the orc cronies caught him and gave him a few good knocks to keep him from struggling. Duras took a pack from his belt and threw it to Ryol. He then walked over to the captive dwarf and told him “congratulations, you’ll now be serving me for the rest of your life”. They started walking away with the dwarf in tow, then Duras stopped and turned to his cronies and said, “on second thought, kill him”. Ryol was displeased and tried to address Duras. One of the orcs drew his blade and was about to cut the captive dwarf’s neck, but Arcturus let an arrow fly and struck the orc.
The ambush was sprung, and several fell to arrows and magic. Alphonse used the power of his rune to create phantasmal soldiers to attack the raiders. Duras responded by summoning a group of Dretches from the Abyss, and Ludan moved to attack Alphonse’s phantoms. Ollin and Arcturus continued firing arrows and taking out goblins and orcs. Ludan marched over to the mayor’s house and took a big swing at the wall, trying to cave it out under Arcturus. Meanwhile, Ironbeard used the power of his rune to take advantage of the magnetic property of Duras’ chainmail shirt and pull him across the town and into the room in the inn. The orcs tried to get to Ollin on the rooftop, but they were not as athletic as Ollin, and tried to make a jump they weren’t capable of, causing one to fall to his death. The dretches tried in vain to climb up the mayor’s house, while Ludan kept smacking it. Ironbeard was locked in melee with Duras, and used to power of his rune to alchemically change the metal of Duras’ chainmail into marble, which trapped him in his own clothes. Alphonse and Ollin mopped up the orcs and goblins, and Ludan hit the mayor’s house hard enough to compromise its integrity, which sent it toppling over. Arcturus managed to leap off of it before he would have fallen. Meanwhile the dretches had flocked to their master and were fighting ironbeard with their claws while trying to assist Duras in breaking free of his stone prison. Ollin, Alphonse, and Arcturus abandoned Ludan to help Ironbeard out with Duras. They quickly dispatched the dretches, and had Duras alone. He called out that he would surrender, and they accepted. Duras looked to Ludan outside and told him that they must pick their battles carefully, like their wine. The curious phrase got everyone’s attention, and by the unspoken exchange that followed it, they guessed it was a code for some plan of theirs.

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