With a map laying out the plans for invasion by an orc army in our hands, we planned our course of action. We sent our guide back to his town to warn the people of the invasion to come and give details as to their approach. For ourselves, we identified a bridge crossing over a gorge where we might be able to slow their advance. We could not know when or if the orcs were on the move, but if we could reach the bridge first, perhaps we could collapse it and force them to take a long detour. We also had a good idea of where they would detour to – a narrow pass at one end of the river gorge would allow them to trickle through a couple at a time. Elodie suggested that perhaps we could make a stand at that point and hold them until the humans could muster a force to repel them.
We reached the village after another day’s travel, with no interruption save the discovery of giant’s tracks across the path. The bridge was much more robust than the rope structure we wished for. A stone bridge arced over the gorge, with a pair of towers on either side to anchor its base. From the wood line where we viewed the affair, we could see a single archer atop each tower, a pair of hell hounds pacing on the bridge itself, and a small encampment on the far side. While the orcs in the camp did not appear to pose much of a challenge, they were accompanied by a green dragon of goodly size, but not yet perhaps an adult. I could only imagine it to be Ozyranddian, as the only green known to live in this region.
We sank back into the woods and discussed our plans for dealing with the bridge. With no idea what else could be in the encampment, let alone the fact that the dragon was there, it looked to be a tough battle no matter what. It was then that Elodie had sudden inspiration, and after rooting around in her bags for a moment held up a scroll triumphantly. She passed it over to Ohlakani who would be best suited to use it, and suddenly our task seemed that much easier.
Ohlakani read the scroll while pointing at our end of the bridge, and suddenly a band running across its width turned into so much flesh. No longer having the structural support it needed, the weight of the remaining bridge tore the flesh apart with a horrible noise, and collapsed into the gorge below. An archer on a tower screamed, and Ozyranddian lifted his head to look at our group along the woods. I immediately sought Bahamut’s aid and a blanket of mist rolled out of the woods to hide us. By the time the dragon had lifted into the air and crossed the gorge, we were hidden from view.
We realized that we needed to do more than simply tear down the bridge. if a single orc escaped to warn the army, they could change course without experiencing hardly any delay. It would be better to have them reach the fallen bridge and only then realize their need to detour. More important to me, however, was that i saw an opportunity to tackle Ozyranddian while he was on this side of the gorge with no one to aid him. Spike was with me to fight the dragon, while Elodie and Ohlakani began to work on the remaining troops.
Ohlakani cast a spell that caused the ground in and around the encampment to erupt with small spikes rocks sticking up everywhere. The orcs that had begun starting to arm themselves with bows began hopping about in agony. Elodie began picking off the tower guards with her bow. The dragon had landed just outside the deep mist and was beating its wings to blow it away. I again sought Bahamut’s aid in guiding my blow upon the dragon. My blade sunk deeply into the drake’s hide. Just then, Spike darted from the mist and attacked it from behind.
The dragon showed its true nature, by leaping into the air in order to flee. It blasted Spike and I with a plume of its foul green breath and dived towards the gorge. Seeing the briefest opportunity, I ran to the cliff edge through the caustic gas and leapt out into the air 100’ over the bottom of the gorge. I came crashing down on the dragon’s back and dug my claws into its hide. Then I blasted it in return with my own icy breath as he howled and cursed.
Ozyranddian immediately started trying to roll and it was all I could do to hold on. I dug my claws in deeper and tried to bury my teeth into his spine. His own thick scales prevented me getting great purchase with my teeth, but it was painful enough that he decided to head for the clouds while he figured out how to work me off his back. Ohlakanii, still flying above us, unleashed a lightning bolt that arced through the beast and drove on into the camp orcs. Ozyranddian was screaming with pain, fear, frustration, and rage as I held onto his back.. I bellowed to the party to shoot him, fearing it would soon be out of range and might drop me off amongst an orc army somewhere. Arrows whizzed by from Elodie as she tried to land a telling shot. I could tell that the dragon was growing weak beneath me, from the wounds we had inflicted upon him. it was Ohlakani who struck it down with another blast of lightning.
The dragon stopped flapping its wings and dropped like a rock. I let go, thankful for the extra height it had gained as I tugged loose my rope and grappling hook that was wrapped around my backpack. The thin silken line snaked out and the hook gained purchase on the top of the tower as I plummeted past it. I gathered up my strength for the catch, but was unequal to the shock that hit me as the rope went taught and I swung into the cliff wall below. I lost my grip on the rope as the wind was slammed from my body. i flailed about and found the rope again. Smoke poured through my fingers as I clenched the rope with every ounce of strength I possessed, and it was the final knot at its end that saved me.
Weary, achingly, I pulled myself back up the rope to safety. My attention had been solely upon the dragon and the climb afterwords. Somewhere inbetween the party had cleaned up the orcs on the other side, such that there was no one to warn their army.
We headed then towards the far end of the gorge where the next nearest pass remained. We found a legion of orcs encamped on the other side, and more marching in – such that there numbers were well over 10,000. Seeing that they had another dragon in their midst, and hard telling what other resources, I did not feel confident that we could hold them for any length of time at this pass. It was a narrow path along sheer cliff, however, and so it did not take much for Spike to call upon some spiritual force of his own to shatter the rock and collapse a section. We could only hope that rebuilding the trail would sufficiently hamper their movement to buy us more time.
We headed back through the forest towards the human settlement, feeling that we should warn them of just how massive in size this army was. Along the way, we were reminded of the giant tracks we had discovered, and it struck us that perhaps a giant might be of some aid if it were willing to ally with us. We discovered an old giant who deemed himself to be the lord of these woods. We greeted him in friendship and peace, and soon found ourselves sharing tales around his fire and feasting on boar. We gifted him a magical gauntlet that we had found within the castle, and before the night was through he had pledged to summon his family spread out across the forest to defend it from the encroaching orc army. The next day, we left him to continue back to the humans once more.