All Arses Finally in Marikest
Late in the evening on the 8th as the midnight moon rose, Jolly returned to the outskirts of Marikest with a mix of anger and relief. Anger for the stench of orc still in his nose, and relief to be home. Jolly strode through Marikest with the usual skip in his step and a glimmer in his eye that the guards knew and understood. Had one of the Eight seen him as he strode through the gate, they would have immediately realized that something was amiss.
Before doing anything else, Jolly strode to the Darkfeather compound, and after waking Hubrid from his slumber, they retreated to his study. Once they were alone, Jolly relayed what he had discovered on his excursion towards the keep. Specifically, he called out the details of Sven Olwood, the slain runner he had found near the cross roads. Hubrid’s countenance darkened as he had known Sven since he was a boy. “I will tell his wife and parents, Jolly. Leave that to me. What else have you uncovered?”
“The rest is as the first, I’m afraid. More fetid orcs, and the smell of death. It looks like we have a major infestation. But, have no fear, the Eight will soon be here and we will drive them out.”
“Very well, Jolly, your friends have been trickling in and have taken up residence at the Inn. Let us know what support we can give and whatever we can do, will be done.”
“Any trouble from my friends?”
A smirk spread across Hubrid’s face, “None, to speak of, but the guards were most relieved to know they were on our side. Although, the dragon kin with the snake has made quite the impression and turned more than a few heads.”
“I imagine so. I’m off. I’ll see myself out, and let you know if there is anything else we need.”
“Thank you, Jolly, this town is in your debt.”
After the discussion concludes, Jolly makes his way to the Randy Shanker. Slipping in the back he makes his way to room, which in the still cool night was just as he left it. Falling asleep even as his head hit the pillow—it was good to be home.
In the morning, it was time for a proper dwarven breakfast. Striding out to the common area, he shouts, “Who needs a proper breakfast, lads?” Edmos, Gideon, Gurny, Hodekin, and Talathel were discussing strategy when their stalwart friend interrupted. Greetings and laughter were exchanged and the months of separation evaporated with the morning mist.
“After we eat, gentlemen, we will get down to business.”
More good food and catching up was had, then Jolly shared with the group what had happened on his attempt to make his way to the Keep.
MG: The following is from the storyline given to Jolly previously:
Jolly arose very early on the 5th and feeling no need for further rest or preparation made his way out of Marikest via the north road towards the Keep. Secure in the knowledge that his band of brothers were on the way, and things would be well in hand with Gideon.
Taking the road out of Marikest to the North, it took some time to get used to wearing his battle gear again. Being swift of foot for a dwarf and with the hand of Cayden Cailean upon him it wasn’t long before he was well away from the town and half way to the Keep.
He smelled the body before he saw it.
Slowing and drawing his axe out of habit, Jolly was pulled from his mostly meditative state. The forest noises chirped on and nothing seemed out of order except for the stench. Scanning the surrounding forest, he could still not detect anything out of the ordinary. Rounding the path to the left, he saw a body; still and decaying. It had been awhile since he had seen that. He reasoned to himself that he much preferred seeing the bearded dwarven women and their cleavage then some rotting dolt on the road. Cautious of ambush and evil, he made his way forward. Squatting down next to the body, he used a branch to roll it over on to its back. It’s Sven Olwood from Marikest. Wearing the colored vest of the town council, he was one of the runners they were yet to hear back from. He looked to be dead only shortly after his departure and the cause of death was obvious. He was riddled with orcish arrows. Stripped of any satchel or anything else but his clothes, there was nothing further to examine. The forest animals had taken most of what was left anyway. Jolly did not revel in telling his family what had become of him.
A grim look that had been gone for months set itself back upon Aleblood’s face. Sighing, Jolly rose and scanned the forest for any indication of pending harm. None was evident. With the sun still high, he knew he still had plenty of time before having to find some safe place for the night. The branch that split to the west and on to the Keep was some time ahead, so Jolly decided to press on for now—albeit with much more caution and his waraxe as a walking stick from here on out.
Jolly decided to abandon the road and made his way to the old game trails that paralleled the route most of the way down next to Crestfalls Creek. They had been recently used and not by those with four legs. A subtle anger began to burn in Jolly’s belly, he could almost smell the stench of orcs and more death. Every so often he would find small spent campfires and the half eaten carcasses of small game that orcs were want to waste. The coals were long cold. Fairly soon he reached the road branch where Sven had been headed. He would have taken the left hand road towards Olinn, a full three to four days journey by horse to the northwest, but Jolly was determined to press on towards the keep. His travel had slowed to a crawl due to caution, but he knew he still had plenty of time to get to a small cave where he would spend the night, even at this pace.
The cave brought back good memories of his childhood spent adventuring in the woods when he wasn’t working under it with his family. He could smell more death in the air, but pressed on towards the cave taking things slowly. About two hours before nightfall, he caught a glimpse of movement to his right. Dropping to one knee, he waited. Although it had been months since he had tasted battle, his heart quickened and he was ready. There was the movement again—an orc scout, making his way absently down a shadow stippled path. Obviously on patrol, his senses had become dulled by a repetitive route made without incident. Jolly shifted silently to the left in a slow crouch, making his way behind a small hillock covered in brambles. Shifting his gear quietly to the ground he got into position in the shadows just off the trail.
The young orc, trying his best to stay in the shadows himself, squinted against the sun whenever he had to venture through it. Armed with a bow and full quiver he moved relatively quietly through the darker parts of the forest. He never saw it coming.
Scanning the forest to make sure he was indeed alone, Jolly returned his focus to the young orc. Waiting patiently for him to pass, Jolly, took one swift step up behind him and cleaved his head clean off with a solid fluid motion. The only real noise was Jolly’s grunt of exertion and the head crashing off into the underbrush, and the orcs body crumpling to the ground. Jolly dropped into a crouch and intently scanned the forest for any sign of company or detection. None appeared and the forest noise returned to normal. Aleblood dragged the body some distance off the trail and obscured the evidence of their encounter with a branch as quickly as he could. Tossing the arrows and bow into the woods he searched the body turning up nothing. “Well, one down,” Jolly whispered to himself as he set back off slowly and cautiously to the trail towards the cave.
The rest of the hike to the cave was uneventful. Arriving while the sun was fading, Jolly took his time scouting out the cave. All was in order, no recent visitors, and it was just as he remembered it from years before. He even could make out his old carvings on the wall. He smiled remembering some of the nights he and Ironfist had while drinking shitte ale and laughing far into the night. Setting a covering over the cave mouth and trips to warn him of intruders, he made a comfortable bed and drifted off to sleep.
In the early morning, before the sun had risen, he was awakened by distant muffled shouts echoing through the woods. Bloody orcs. Barking orders, it seems.
Pulling a magical draft from his holy symbol, he knew this day was going to be a long one. With the aches of the previous day and night behind him, he made his way cautiously from the cave mouth. The game trails were now off limits, so making his way quietly through the forest with agitated orcs about was become slower, more tedious, and much dicier. Trying to make his way further north, as the ground began to climb into the mountains, it became harder and harder as more patrols of shrouded orcs were obviously looking for the one who beheaded their colleague—none too happy to be forced into this duty in the growing sunlight. Although the forest was relatively thick here the sunlight still penetrated, agitating the orcs even more.
Once when Jolly was hunkered down in a ditch, an orc stepped off a path to relieve himself, when he noticed Jolly’s boot. A very nice boot, well made, but a sad thing to be the last thing one sees. Before, he could raise an alarm, Jolly dispatched him to whatever false god orcs follow. That was much too close though, and Aleblood took it as a sign he had pressed his luck enough.
Following a different route back, it was slow going due to the roving patrols, especially at night. His route forced him more east then he would have liked as he made his way south. But after two more days and nights in the wild, he made his way back to Marikest without having any more quite so close encounters.
“Well, friends, there you have it. The town is hiring us to clear this blight, and will give us whatever reasonable support we might need. Once Morgrym and Throp arrive, we should be on your way. What say you?”
Edmos reported the improvement in defenses that he had made in the Eastern Quarter, and over the next few days Throp and Morgrym arrived mostly without incident. Morgrym reported that he had to draw steel on the western approach to Marikest about one hour out.
“I was on myst way to meets with you dolts, when I came upon a body in the middle of the road. I went to loot…er, investigate, and the damned thing stood up dead, but not so much, if you catch my meaning. I took my axe to it and another that came from the woods. I think I left them fully dead this time. I am pretty sore and injured from the experience boyo’s, but I made it out of the skirmish with mah beard mostly unmussed. Another fellow, I suspect a dark sorcerer or some such, was in the forest tossing arrows at me, but he was too cowardly to face my blade…and he got away.”
“Let us drink,” Jolly responded as a familiar dark ale filled his holy symbol. “Take a pull off of this, old friend, and the soreness will pass like an elven fart in the wind.”
MG: Okay guys, you got undead and orcs about, what do you want to do? I am aiming to do some online gaming with roll20.net on Monday the 19th at 8pm. I would like to use google hangouts for audio as the audio on roll20.net has too much lag. So, I need to try a multicall on google hangouts before that night so let me know when I can try that. Also, if you download the latest google chrome, they say we can use google hangouts in roll20, but I doubt it so will probably be doing it on my phone. Let me know if this will work for everyone. My email on google hangouts is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me know if there is anything you want to do in the meantime. Also, email the group as you work out what you want to do. As far as story stuff goes try to send it to me so I can tweak it and mesh it before it goes out to the group.