As the group crested one final hill to a large clearing, before them rose Wyrven Tor. It looked less like a mountain and more like a giant rock someone had accidentally dropped in a field. And given that this world is infested with magic, that could very well be the case. Across the clearing there was a large opening at the base of the mountain maybe 15 ft across.
One by one the group dismounted from their horses, and retrieved their weapons from their packs. Together they slowly crept along the side of the clearing to get a better view of the cave. Across from them they spotted a lone orc, likely a lookout. Atlas fired a single arrow, striking and killing the orc. The trio then crept their way to the rocky wall formed by Wyrven Tor. They sent Cinnamon to take a peek inside the cave since he was the fastest.
A short time later Cinnamon returned, “I spotted seven orcs and an ogre.”
“I’ll be in the way back,” said Atlas.
“Damn, it’s worse than I thought,” said Carlos, “Alright, I don’t want a repeat of last time. We need better traps, what kind of gear do you guys have?”
They dumped out their packs into a small pile. All told they had some rope, about a dozen small daggers, a few vials of perfume, some sticks, a tinderbox, and some torches. Soon they had a plan. Doing their best to stay out of sight, Carlos used the rope to create a trip wire spanning the opening. Atlas then planted his daggers blade up in the dirt behind the rope. Finally Cinnamon poured the perfume all across the opening with the hopes that it was flammable. Finally they got in position to spring their trap. Atlas headed for the treeline, and Carlos and Cinnamon took up flanking positions on either side of the cave opening.
Once again Atlas used his signal whistle to lure out the orcs. The wheels were in motion. From inside the cave Carlos could hear a great deal of commotion. The entire party of orcs rushed out shoulder to shoulder. They were perhaps a bit too excited for a skirmish. Three of the orcs immediately tripped on the rope and were impaled by the daggers. They weren’t dead, but they were certainly having a bad day.
Seeing his moment Cinnamon unleashed a fireball praying that the perfume was flammable. And boy was it. The entire group of orcs was immediately engulfed in a massive flame. In the mass confusion Carlos charged the nearest orc, killing him in one blow. Atlas fired an arrow at what appeared to be the orc leader, stunning him.
The massive flame had now waned, and in its place rose a massive column of smoke. A few of the orcs were still on fire, and a couple of them stepped on more daggers. Visibility was low. Carlos push through looking for another target. Suddenly the massive ogre emerged from the smoke. Not one to back down Carlos charged him. Before Carlos could land a blow, the Ogre swung his comically large club, hitting Carlos for massive damage and knocking him back. Cinnamon, seeing his friend hit, quickly ran to Carlos’ side and healed him. All the while, Atlas continued firing volleys of arrows. Their trap had virtually paralyzed the orcs who were now merely smoldering.
Carlos was now quite agitated. He didn’t like being bested. he redoubled his efforts and charged the ogre again. This time dodging its club, and burying his sword in the beast’s stomach. Cinnamon figured Carlos probably had things under control, and decided to go after the orc leader. After spotting him pulling a dagger out of his foot, Cinnamon launched a volley of fireballs. He was backed up by Atlas who was slowly moving in from the treeline. One final arrow lodged itself in the orc leader’s helm, killing him.
The remaining orcs turned to see their leader struck down, and decided they had enough of this shit. They fled in a hurry, until all that remained was the Ogre battling it out with Carlos. Cinnamon and Atlas quickly rushed in to help. Cinnamon grabbed a rock and cast light on it. The glow was so bright it completely blinded the Ogre. The group moved in, landing some heavy blows. The ogre swung his club in a massive arc, hitting Carlos and knocking him out. The creature was weak though. Atlas and Cinnamon launched one final volley of arrows and fireballs, and the bloody ogre fell to the ground with a thud.
With the battle over, Cinnamon quickly rushed to Carlos. After healing him Cinnamon carried him into the cave. Atlas went about picking up his daggers, and retrieving the rope. He then met the other two in the cave. While Cinnamon took care of Carlos, Atlas went looking for loot, finding some gold and three coincident vials of perfume. The group took a very long rest in the cave. The next morning they set out for Phandalin. The trip back seemed much shorter this time. Perhaps it was because they were traveling down hill, or perhaps it was because they were so well rested, or perhaps it was because their minds were being manipulated by an evil wizard named Derek. The world may never know.
In any event, the trio arrived back in Phandalin after an uneventful two day ride. They restocked on supplies, bought caltrops for some reason, and set out once again, this time for Thundertree. The road to Thundertree was a long one. The route took them through Neverwinter, from there they headed east along the river towards Neverwinter Wood. As they were riding along the river, enjoying the scenery and whatnot, they came upon a pack of four orcs looting a caravan they had ambushed.
Previously, this kind of battle would have terrified them. But now, now they were professionals. Wasting no time, Atlas jumped from his horse into the nearest tree. Carlos and Cinnamon leaped off their horses rushing the orcs head-on. The Orcs in turn saw the trio coming and rushed headlong towards them. Carlos ran smack into the first orc, sword first, stabbing him clean through. Without missing a step Carlos spun around the now dead orc, pulling his sword from its body. Cinnamon blasted the next orc in the face with a ferocious fireball. Atlas running along the tree limbs sniped a third orc with an arrow. Finally Carlos ran to the last orc, and swinging his sword in a 360 degree arc, decapitated him. Needless to say, it was quite badass.
After a short rest, the group resumed their trek. They walked for some time along the river. It was getting late in the day when they came upon a worn sign that read in barely legible type: Thundertree. And it was a good thing too, because Atlas was getting antsy. The trail bent sharply south and away from the river. They soon found themselves in Thundertree proper.
Thunder tree was a small frontier town deep in Neverwinter wood before it was destroyed. No one is quite sure what triggered the towns destruction, but I suppose that’s what happens when there are no survivors to tell you. Nevertheless, the group walked down the main road into town. Dilapidated cottages lined the trail on either side. Being the good adventurers that they were, they decided to search them all.
They approached the first cottage slowly. The grass was thick and there was no telling what evils might lurk inside. There wasn’t much left of the building that once stood there. The roof was gone, and what remained of the stone foundation was heavily overgrown. The wooden door was scorched, but surprisingly still standing. Knocking the door down, the group entered the structure.
Unfortunately there was no treasure, so they moved on to the next cottage. This cottage was much the same, only in worse shape. Still no loot though, so they moved onto the last cottage in this part of the town. Again they found the structure dilapidated, and overgrown. However, as they entered something felt strange. The plants looked…different somehow. Ignoring that little oddity they began to poke around in the rubble.
Not much was there aside from some rocks, and fragments of wood. Cinnamon thought he saw a gold piece, but it turned out to just be a shiny rock. Suddenly they were attacked by a trio of angry shrubs. Apparently they didn’t appreciate having their home disturbed. The understandably surprised adventurers quickly recoiled, dodging the shrub’s attacks. With a single slash, Carlos defeated the shrubs.
After that disappointing encounter they headed back outside to search the other buildings. They continued down the main road until they came to an intersection. Just off the intersection they found a small tavern. Hoping the get rip-roaring drunk, they quickly headed inside. Unlike the previous buildings the tavern was in far better shape. The structure remained largely intact, but heavy fire damage left the walls scorched and cracked.
The room was littered with the burnt furniture, a desiccated corpse lay in a corner. In the rubble they found a number of small ceramic pots. Most of them were smashed, but three remained intact. Without hesitation Atlas took one of the pots, removed the cork and chugged the pungent yellow liquid inside. He burped and threw the pot on the ground, destroying it. Pretty much immediately it was clear that he was now massively intoxicated.
The others looked at Atlas, rolling their eyes, and continued looking for loot. Suddenly there was a loud moan, and three zombies emerged behind Carlos and Cinnamon. Spinning around they drew their weapons to face the zombies. Atlas immediately ran for the farthest corner, stumbling over a few chairs on the way. Cowering from the fight he drew his bow and prepared to fire on any ambushers. But of course he was drunk, so he didn’t notice the fourth zombie that was sneaking up on him. Before he had a chance to react the zombie was on him and giving him a real pounding.
Meanwhile on the other side of the tavern, Carlos and Cinnamon blasted their attackers and turned their attention to Atlas. Carlos quickly ran over and grabbed the zombie, pulling him off of his friend. With a quick sword through the brain, the zombie was dead. The group took a moment to regain their bearings after the scuffle. Deciding they had enough with this particular building, they went back outside and continued down the road.
They continued searching the cottages to the south of town. Each cottage was more dilapidated and contained more angry shrubs than the last. They eventually came to the last cottage on the street. Something was different about this cottage. It wasn’t sagging or drooping like the others, and it looked less… all burnt up than the previous few. They tried to peer inside, but the windows were shuttered.
Carlos carefully approached the door. He paused for a moment to see if he could hear anyone coming. Then he knocked on the door. Everything went quiet, the three of them stood there frozen waiting nervously to see who…or what, would answer.
Haha! What a cliffhanger, looks like you’ll have to wait until next time to find out what they find.