They had ridden for almost a week and the mountain range that had been a dark line on the horizon now loomed up ominously before them.
His companions kept surprising the Elf. The informality of their interaction with each other did not rhyme with the offices they held. It was clear that their bonds of friendship had been forged on the road and in the fires of daring adventure. He smiled inwardly as he thought of how they’d act at the Land Diet.
Before long, their path began to climb and the river Crook dwindled to a mere ribbon in the deep gorge below. With twilight upon them the Companions finally arrived at the fortified mountain settlement demarcating the border of the Stonemark and the Nomen Province.
The welcome was less hearty than expected and Captain Dragoneye, a fierce dwarf and the war leader of the region, soon explained the reason for the state of arms the settlement was under. The outer ore mines had been suffering from Orc raids. Despite the militia’s competence to deal with such minor aggressions, the captain told them they’d had to call in reinforcements from Varn Hold. The raiders were not just a wandering Orc pack, but a breed of ferocious, gigantic Orcs, led by an evil will and seemingly for the sole purpose of driving the settlers from the mountains.
The captain was insistent that the party travel on by daybreak, as to not miss their appointment with Governor Maegar Varn. Guest quarters were offered and eagerly put to use. Orodreth quickly went into a meditative trance, urged on by a feeling of foreboding, while the tasty stout imported from Varn Hold was savoured by the more vertically challenged of the party.
Awaking from his slumber around midnight, the Elf had barely time to don his armour before noticing a flowery fragrance that was not his own. He rushed out to investigate, only to be overcome by an almost solid fog. The sounds of a skirmish were barely audible, but Orodreth quickly sounded the alarm, rousing the sleeping defenders of the town just in time to prevent a massacre. The ferocious Orcs had crept into the town under cover of the fog and had begun slaying all that came across their path.
The party of Lady Stonemark rushes to the cries battle coming from the Mead Hall, while the Paladin made for the settlement’s bell to call the village to arms. A brief but intense skirmish ensued, but when the gigantic Orc chieftain was slain by combined effort of flame, hammer and sword, the fog lifted and the remaining Orcs fled.
Casualties were severe and half the defenders of the town lay dead and broken, hewn apart by the vicious assault.
Their was no doubt in Orodreth’s mind that their delayed arrival was caused by Divine Will and he praised Calistria as he wiped the foul blood off his blade.
The next morning, prayers to Thorag were said in honour of the dead and the journey continued on to Varn Hold.
The brave heroes had noticed a dark figure following them for some days and although there was no trace of him when the party left the mountain pass, the Elf’s keen senses allowed him to notice a raven that had been following them.
The creature tried to listen in on the parley with Maegar Varn, but the party quickly moved against it, much to the surprise of Governor Varn.
A clumsy attempt to capture the raven allowed it to flee, but a well-aimed arrow, a testament to Milon’s marksmanship, went straight through it, revealing the beast’s magical nature.