I’m not just one of those dorks that plays D&D, no that would be too normal, I’m also writing a story based off of our campaign.
You can read the first installment of this here.
On the steps of the ruined keep a group of near strangers stood, contemplating what the days events meant for their immediate future; agreements had been reached, promises made.
“So we are helping these humans?” Maybe growled, mpting to pull her hood lower. She’d been muttering variations of the same since Dante had agreed to help rescue the humans in the Dripping Caves, no one answered her.
“It’s getting dark,” one of the humans said. “We can stay in the keep tonight and set out in the morning.”
“Wait,” Kella, the human assassin they had been “guarding” since that morning, walked back towards the broken bridge leading towards town. “Do you hear that?”
Everyone grew quiet, hands instinctively going to rest on their weapons. The cry was faint but there were several voices and even at this distance they could all hear it: “Kella! Kella!”
“It’s them!” Kella said. “Let me go to them and we-”
“Go,” Dante shrugged. “We have no reason to keep you.”
The woman hesitated, brows knit. “What?” she asked.
“Just go.” Maybe said from her place off to the side. She waved her hand as if she were shooing a small child. “Be free”
Beside her Fela nodded. “Good riddance.”
Kella took off in the direction of the calls, with assistance from Vorg to cross the damaged bridge, looking back only once, to be sure they really had meant it. The group of travelers watched her go, waiting just a moment before releasing a collective sigh and trudging along behind her. As much as none of them wanted her around, they all knew it best to make sure whoever was at the gates would let them pass the night unharmed. They hadn’t exactly been kind to Kella after all.
Dante took the lead, Vorg beside him as always, Fela and Maybe flanking the sides finding cover in a bush and behind a crumbling farmhouse respectively. Xynra and the humans guards followed behind, not wanting to attract too much attention.
From around the corner of the courtyard they all could see a group of about seven men, all dressed in black, standing at the gates. The only one distinguishable from the others wore red accents. This was the man speaking to Kella, who appeared to be telling a story, complete with arm movements.
Fela watched the woman from her hiding place in a nearby bush, her contempt written plain across her face. This Kella person had threatened her way into a personal babysitting service while she waited for her friend’s. With a huff the elf picked a ripe berry from the bush and hurled it at her, hitting the human dead in the centre of her head and exploding, leaving a tiny purple spot on her light hair. Kella turned to look behind her, shrugged, and continued her story. The elf chuckled.
Dante watched as the assassins spoke, almost 2 dozen less than Kella had told him would come but still deadly. Still a threat. Still the Black Network. He knew they would notice the men standing almost in the open soon, if they hadn’t already, and when they did he could only hope it went well.
As if he’d thought it into being Kella looked over and began to lead the man in red towards where they stood. Nobody moved.
“My name is Xolkin,” the man said, nodding his head in greeting. “I would like to thank you for taking such good care of Kella for us.”
Dante nodded in return, his muscles relaxing at the tone of gratitude.
“But tell me,” Xolkin continued. “Who is the bird?”
From behind the old farmhouse Maybe had yet to be seen; she raised her bow, taking aim at the man in red. Attacking a group of assassins was certainly not on her list of things to do before she died, which would be soon if she loosed this arrow, but better that than Fela be threatened by this human.
“Vorg is the bird.” Vorg pushed forward, looking down at Xolkin.
“No he is not,” Kella said. “It was that girl.”
Fela’s heart was racing, she should probably just fly away, run, she couldn’t hide forever. She couldn’t just leave her friends though.
“Oh!” she squealed, clamping her hands over her mouth a second too late to catch the cry.
“Over there,” Kella pointed at the bush where Fela had been hiding. It was over now. She stood up.
Dante and Vorg shifted just slightly, the urge to put their bodies between her and the potential danger stronger than they would have imagined it could be just this morning.
Xolkin took a step towards the elf. Maybe adjusted her aim. Vorg took a step forward.
“Thank you for not dropping her.” was all the man said to her before turning back to his men. Maybe lowered her bow.
Vorg turned around as he felt a hand land on his arm, it was one if the guards from the keep looking up at him. The man hesitated, removed his hand, cleared his throat.
“Uhm, please don’t let them stay here,” he said to the half orc. “They plan to ruin this town”
“This town is ruined.” Dante answered before Vorg had a chance.
“It’s just rocks,” the man said. “We can fix it, and when the people get back we will. These people just want to come in and run things themselves.”
“What do you want us to do?” Dante asked the man. “We are not strong enough to fight them, these are deadly, trained assassins.”
The human looked up at Vorg again, pleading. Would Pike have helped him? Maybe said that being good doesn’t mean helping every human that asks though. Dante was right, he knew that for sure, fighting the outsiders would be difficult even deadly.
“Vorg has met Black Network before,” he said slowly, hoping that he didn’t disappoint the kind man. “They do good in towns like this. And we can not fight them.”
The guards face fell but he didn’t argue, he just watched as the assassins made their way into the damaged inn. When they had gone he looked back at the half orc and raised his hand to his arm again.
“Thank you, anyway.” he smiled.
Dante looked from the guard to Vorg and back again. “He’s gay as shit.” he murmured to himself.
Back at the keep Maybe sat, with her hood up and her tail wrapped protectively around her knees, watching the lights at the Inn. It had been some years since she’d spent the night in a town like this, some time since she’d been around this many humans. She could feel their stares even when they were looking elsewhere. She could almost hear their thoughts. She wanted to disappear.
“Hey girly,” Fela could move a silently as mouse, even the trained ranger was sometimes caught off guard. “You wanna mess with those assholes?”
Maybes mouth turned up into a half smile and she glanced at her friend. “How?”
Fela grinned and reached down to pull the Teifling to her feet. “Do the thing!” she was near bouncing with excitement. Maybe laughed.
“I don’t know that I can…”
“Practice makes perfect!” the elf replied. “Tell them to ‘Get out’ in a spooky voice.”
Maybe closed her eyes and took a deep breath; her grandfather had taught her to visualize what it was she wanted and then make it true. From the kitchen of the Inn the voice would tell them to get out, and the ground beneath them would rattle. Harmless tricks but scaring the piss out of them would help her sleep if nothing else. She opened her eyes.
The voice echoed in the square, hardly terrifying, more like a noise a cat would make than anything. Underneath it came the clatter as one of the shutters on the front of the Inn rattled against the hook keeping it closed. A brisk wind would have done more damage.
“You’re bad at this.” Fela said.
“I noticed.” Maybe said.
Dante agreed to take first watch as the rest of the group slept; exhausted, they all spread out to find a place to rest their heads in the empty keep. Vorg hesitated for a moment before leaving Dante on his own and going to find a bed. The room he found must have been a servants quarters just the night before but now it stood empty and in disarray. This didn’t concern Vorg, the giant man shrugged off his weapons and squeezed himself onto the too short bed. It was wonderful.
In the dim light of the room the half orc felt for the bear figure that hung around his neck, would hang there until the day they burned his body. He studied it. Turned it over, admiring the craftsmanship, running his thumb over the nicks. He kissed it once.
“Goodnight Pike,” his voice was hoarse. “Wherever you are.”
Fela had drawn second watch. Or had been assigned second watch because she was the only other person in the group who didn’t need much sleep. It wasn’t a bad task, she had kept watch many a night while Maybe slept, catching her few hours as an owl or a mouse riding on the other woman’s shoulder the next day.
She made her way to the roof where she could look out over miles. Around the town was a large mote that had been dug to feed into the river. Cleverly done, she thought. From there it was just field for miles all around. It was quiet. Bad quiet. The quiet where nothing is alive. Except to the north, there was forest a few miles to the north and if she focused she could make out the noises of life happening beyond the tree line.
The sun was just rising when she saw them.
“Ah!” she shrieked as she watched the 20 or so armed orcs tumble out of the trees and towards the town. She watched for a second before turning to sound the alarm and wake her friends but Maybe was already making her way up to the roof, Vorg not far behind her.
“What is it?” Maybe said running to the parapet to look off in the direction the elf was pointing.
“Some of your people Vorg!” Fela joked, expecting the half orc to be pleased to see his people.
Instead Vorg growled and screamed, tossing his head back “ORCS!”
“Oh.” Fela put her hand to her mouth. “Oops.”
The orcs were making good time, plowing across the open country faster than Fela thought possible for such big creatures.
“They’re going to come here and tear this town apart.” Maybe said. When she turned around she saw that Vorg was gone and Dante was standing in his place.
“We need to warn the people at the Inn.” he said. “They can help us fight them off.”
“They’ll tear us apart if we meet them head on.” Maybe said shaking her head at the very idea. “There’s a hole in the bridge. Let’s bottleneck them up here and take them out as they come. Leave them,” she gestured toward the Inn “to fate.”
Dante nodded. “Would you…Maybe could you fly over to tell them about this?”
Maybe’ teeth clenched and she took a deep breath through her nose.
“Yes. I can do that.”
“Good. Tell them to lure them towards the keep but kill as many as they can first.”
Behind them Fela was already ready, taking the shape of the giant white bird which had carried Kella around the day before. Maybe chose the more dignified option of riding on her back rather than in her talons. She held tight to her friends feathers as they took off.
Far below Maybe could make out the shape of Vorg, standing at the gap in the bridge, growling, pacing. Up ahead the orcs were crossing the bridge into town, cheering and shouting. At their head the leader of their cries marched, weapons raised, armor rugged from battle. The assassins had already heard the commotion and made their way to the square.
“Get close to Kella” Maybe shouted over the sound of the wind rushing in her ears. Fela dipped with grace while Maybe clung on yelping at the change of angle. The pair glided over where Kella stood next to Xolkin, facing down the orc horde.
“LEAD THEM TO THE KEEP!” Maybe shouted, as they flew past. She thought Kella nodded in response. Either she heard her or she was dead but Maybe had done her part.
Fela glided over the assassins coasting down towards where the orcs were trudging over the drawbridge. They shouted as they saw her heading their way and she returned the cry, lifting her talons and grabbing the leader of the band before flying up and away towards the keep. Behind her the others shouted, grunted, called out, and watched helpless as she dropped her catch heavy with armor, into the mote to drown.
From behind the parapet Dante took aim at an orc shouting on the bridge. His aim was dead on and the orc toddled for a second, arrow sprouted from his forehead, before slumping into the mote.
“That was for Vorg.”
“Good shot.” Maybe hopped down from Fela back onto the roof next to Dante, bow in hand. She grabbed an arrow, took aim, and on the bridge an orc screamed as an arrow plunged into his arm.
“Okay shot.” Dante said. Maybe just grunted and loaded her bow.
Below Vorg was still at the bridge, waiting for the horde of orcs to make it into the courtyard. “COME AT ME!” he yelled. His breathing was coming fast and he could feel his body settling into a well known rage. “AAAAHHHH!”
Fela passed in front of him meeting the crowd at the square where the assassins were doing their best as bate. She cried out as she swooped down onto an unsuspecting orc pecking his face with her beak. She could hear the crunch of his jaw and nose, she sputtered blood in the face of a nearby orc. He looked into her eyes with a mixture of horror and confusion as the giant bird grabbed each of his comrades arms and tore his body in half before screaming once more and flying up and away.
“Wow.” Maybe couldn’t help but want to applaud her friends scary kill.
Beside her Dante took a shot that bounced off of ground at the feet of his target. She grinned at him and hit his quarry in the leg.
Inside the keep Xynra waited with the human guards. This wasn’t the fight for him to rush out sword swinging, he’d learned his lesson just the day before. Once he went out there he ad to be ready. Without Vorg and Fela’s strength, or Maybe and Dante’s range he would be dead before he realized if he wasn’t careful.
Sword in hand he left the keep, running towards the hole in the bridge, his speed and his grace would be his saviors in this battle. And a small rock would send him to his knees. His katana clanked against the wood as he hit the ground just before the jump. Frustrated he reached into his shirt and flung a knife towards the approaching horde.
“ORCS!” Vorg called as he easily made the jump to where his enemy was fast approaching. The assassins were holding their own, his friends were plucking them off, but all Vorg could see was himself and his opponent. “CONSUME”
Vorg rushed forward, his war hammer raised, teeth bared. The orc in front of him was inspecting the knife handle that had sprouted from his chest. Before he coukd reach up to yank it out Vorg swung, sending the knife deep into the man’s lungs, shattering the metal. As he coughed blood, his body not yet aware that it was dead, Vorg shoves him to one side and ran headlong into the battle.
Fela descended on another of the orcs. They were falling one by one, bloody and broken, but there were so many of them. She managed to peck his up raised arms but he punched out at her talons as she reached for him. She wobbled in the air, dipping dangerously close to the crowd, if they were to grab her… She backed away, flying back towards the keep where she couldn’t be reached.
“2-0” Dante nudged Maybe after another his targets fell, the smirk in his voice maked her narrow her eyes at him.
“So this is a pissing contest now?” she said, fighting the urge to growl at him.
On the ground an orc raised his battle ax behind Vorg; Dante took him out with one well placed arrow.
Maybe huffed, stepped from behind the parapet wall and took note of a lone orc trailing behind the others. Perhaps he was young. Perhaps he had lost faith watching their strongest die a watery death. Why ever he was alone Maybe didn’t care, she let her arrow fly, sinking it right into his eye sending chunks of his head out of the exit wound with it.
“Got one.” she smirked right back at Dante.
“Two to go.” He said.
Above Fela called out, circling the keep once before diving back into the courtyard. Dante looked to Maybe.
“She says Kella fell.” Maybe says to him.
The battle in the square was bloody. Assassins and orcs alike took damage and fell, only to be trampled in the mayhem. Vorg tore at orcs, shaking off their attacks like he couldn’t feel them. Around him the smell of blood and the cries of dying men were all he noticed.
In the keep the human guards watched, fearful, disgusted, and a bit impressed.
“You wouldn’t know by talking to him… “ one of the men said.
Another guard, the man who had spoken to the half orc just the night before, watched in awe. “He’s incredible.” he said. “Just incredible.”
But there were still several orcs left and they were just as mad and just as strong. Fela got swatted aside more often than she made contact. Xynra missed as he threw more knives. Arrows could only do so much damage.
Xynra took a deep breath. He would run out of knives soon, and many of the assassins were retreating. He threw his head back and howled.
The sound tore through the air just as Maybe released another arrow, sending it wide. Below her Xynra was morphing; his limbs lengthening, a snout growing from his face. It was a process the Teifling had seen before, but Xynra was a human. Right?
“What. The. Fuck.” she yelled, partially to Dante but mostly to the air around her.
Newly transformed the wolf hybrid plunged into the bloody square tearing an orc in half with ease. Together he and Vorg had little competition. The orcs numbers plummeted. Two stagger around the courtyard turned battlefield.
Dante nudged Maybe again to get her attention then continues to look at her while he fires, taking one of the orcs down with the shot.
Maybe would never let him see that she’s impressed, instead she headed towards the ladder to go survey the damage.
In the square the last orc cried out as he was surrounded by Vorg, Xynra, and the last assassin to leave Xolkin. Fela swooped down behind him, grabbing his head with her talons, tearing as his skin and holding him steady for Vorgs hammers. The hammer crushed his skull and Fela dropped the body before transforming back into her normal self.
Vorg screamed. His eyes were red and there was blood in his mouth. Maybe and Dante approached with caution as the half orc raged amongst the carnage. Everyone stepped back. Unsure.
“ORCS” he screamed.
“Vorg,” Dante said, though he stayed back. Vorg didn’t seem to hear. “Vorg, your bear. Remember your bear.”
The half orc grunted once but stopped. He turned towards his friend, hand groping for the blood soaked statue around his neck. His eyes lost their glazed look, his shoulders relaxed, he smiled.
“Did we kill them?” he said. His smile fell away as he looked around and saw the bloodbath at his feet, and covering his body. His eyes fell on a broken body in the heap, distinguishable only by the bits of blonde hair matted together in the gore.
“Kella.” Xolkin’s voice caught in his throat and his legs gave way. On his knees he inched towards the body. “Kella.”
Vorg inched forwards holding out one of his daggers. As gently as he could he laid it on Kellas chest.
“Vorg should have given her more,” he whispered. “To protect herself.”
“Thank you” Xolkin nodded, not look up from the body.
“Here.” Vorg placed another dagger next to the first. “To replace both of hers.”
“Um.” Dante slipped forward, smirking under his hood, and plucked the second knife from where it lay. “You owe Xynra a dagger, you broke his.”
Vorg looked up, shocked that Dante would do such a thing.
“Vorg has other knives!” he said. He pulled another out and placed it on the body.
“Thank you,” Xolkin said. “Thank you that’s fine.”
He picked up Kellas broken body, holding it close. “We will give her a proper funeral. Thank you.”
With that he too retreated into the Inn where the assassins had set up their home and the band of friends was left alone