From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk
Mother & Father,
The elven woods were dark and unsettling, but we were nowhere near the edge as night fell, and so the elves "invited" us to make camp. It was disappointing not to be able to visit their town, as I've read remarkable things about their architecture, but twas not to be. We were visited by their... queen? Regent? Ethereal and breathy, she thanked us for our help, promised us that the diplomat she sends to Nightstone will be more culturally sensitive than our guides, and even gave us a gift, if you can believe that. A pair of boots, magical even. Tiny though, and only our little halfling Lidda could get her feet into them.
Once at the edge of the woods we came upon an abandoned cart, and someone hiding in a nearby bush. I pointed Thorin at him, and he flushed the merchant out. The terrified man begged us to save his friend who'd been captured by the local orcs. While we discussed it, he kept trying to offer us gold... even the rings off his fingers. He showed us the cave entrance that he'd seen, and we spotted an ettin talking to itself, wandering around the entrance. We devised a plan to take it out as quickly and silently as we could, especially as there was also a goblin within the cave holding onto a thin rope... clearly an alarm...
With Lidda and Bran perched above the cave entrance, I created the smell of cooking bacon just outside the cave, and it worked... the ettin came out! Needing to draw him out, I walked forward, holding out some jerky. Quietly, I tried to magically Charm him, but 2 heads and brains... it didn't work, and the beast lumbered toward me as my magic failed me again... Great Digger, I need to do better!
The world blacked out as the giant first kicked me, then pounded me with his flail. When I came to, combat had been joined, and orcs were massing within the cave to charge out. The ettin fell, just as the orcs emerged. Lidda danced away from their blades while Thorin, Bran, Dawnclaw, and I engaged the orcs. Journey's magic was incredibly effective from range, while she yelled at me "you're a wizard!" In spite of this, I found that applying my hammer to the back of an orc's head is a simple and remarkably effective tactic.
While watching for another wave of orcs, we grabbed the bodies and dragged them away from the cave entrance, then took a rest. No other orcs came out to investigate, and so we formed back up, and went in. Deeper into the orc lair...
Let me take a moment here. Orc caves are something of a mockery of the halls of our homes. Clearly effort has been made to form, shape, and expand the natural caves, but there is no craftsmanship, only blunt crude effort. Honestly, it's sad to see, and makes me miss the halls of my childhood. I've included a rough sketch of their lair.
Deeper into the lair we came to a most disturbing chamber. A shaman was tending to a pair of sick orcs. Pustules on their bodies swollen and full of puss and gas were growing and popping at an unnatural rate. Dawnclaw warned of poison. We discussed trying to speak with them, but the sick orc's stumbled toward us and we attacked. My magic was much more effective here, as I cast a pair of witch bolts. The first at one of the sick orcs... who exploded in a rain of infected flesh, blood, and puss. I shifted position, and empowered another witch bolt, this time at the shaman whose arm was raised to cast a spell. He never finished casting, as my spell dropped him to the floor of the cave twitching. Unfortunately I was caught as the other infected orc popped, and spent several minutes retching out blood. Backing out of the caves, we again rested, and returned.
In spite of the noise we'd been making, the orcs remained generally disinterested in the goings on of their cave. Speaks volumes of the life they lead when the sounds of combat don't draw the attention of everyone in the area.
Exploring the sick cave, I discovered a poorly build secret door, and pointed it out to the rest of the party. Journey sent her familiars down to investigate. The passage split. To the left was a small group of orcs, and to the right was a large chamber, including another ettin, and a caged Cyclopes! Was this the friend the merchant wanted us to rescue?