K’ot was lying bloody and bruised next to the enraged ogre. Pekeporo’s distaste for violence disappeared as the spirit of vengeance overcame him. With a battle cry, he unleashed an arrow that sunk deep into the ogre’s cheek. His vengeful rage emboldened his companions. Corvus let loose an unrelenting barrage of arrows. K’ot mustered the energy to bite the ogre’s ankle, but the ogre immediately dealt a near-fatal blow, knocking her out indefinitely. Meanwhile, the orcs escaped their verdant chains. Filled with bloodlust, they charged down the corridor.
Pekeporo knew this day might come. They were too numerous to deal with individually. Despite his truest friend’s presence in the blast radius, he appealed to Aerdrie and watched sorrowfully as lightning erupted from his fingers, tearing apart the bodies of two of the orcs, but also blasting K’ot against a wall to crumple in a seemingly lifeless heap. The ogre managed to stay outside the arc of the lightning blast. He gathered his last bit of strength to heave his great battle axe at Corvus while the remaining orc heaved a nearby javelin at Pekeporo. The orc’s waning strength was a boon for Pekeporo as the javelin clanged to the ground five feet in front of him. But even a near-dead ogre outmatches most creatures in strength. His axe whipped across the cavern and dug deep into Corvus’ shoulder, parting flesh and muscle.
Where many would find despair at suffering such injury, Corvus found a renewed sense of vengeance and purpose. Adrenaline mixed with hatred in his veins as he wrenched the cursed axe from his shoulder. The unavenged spirits of his slain family filled him with a strength reserved only for the bulkiest berserkers as he flung the ogre’s great axe directly back down the corridor. Pekeporo watched in awe, mouth agape, as the axe sailed end-over-end, supernaturally picking up speed as it travelled. The well-sharpened blade flew through the ogre’s skull so cleanly and with such ferocity that it took a moment for the split to appear. But when the split came, Pekeporo realized the axe had cleaved the ogre’s head straight down the middle. The axe continued its inspired journey as though guided by the hand of divinity straight into the chest of the remaining surviving orc. Corvus let out a mighty cry of satisfied absolution.
Upon recognizing their victory, Pekeporo couldn’t share in Corvus’ glee. He ran to K’ot and laid hands on her. He called desperately on Angharradh, elven goddess of protection to revive K’ot. Then, to his indescribable relief, he felt her chest move as she began breathing once again. A wave of joy washed over Pekeporo as he clung to K’ot. He moved deeper into the passage to examine its contents with K’ot by his side. But when they passed the ogre’s lifeless body, K’ot stopped and whimpered. Pekeporo kept walking but couldn’t shake the feeling that he and his friends had violated innocent life in their violence against the ogre. As Pekeporo explored the cave, grabbing some well-deserved loot, Corvus set about removing the heads of their dispatched foes. Pekeporo couldn’t help noticing how much happier Corvus seemed.green-nature-trees-forest-grass-plants-magic-orbs-fresh-new-hd-wallpaper2
After such a demanding battle, the trio bedded down until morning to get some much-needed rest. Pekeporo took first watch. Halfway through his watch, he sensed a presence in the forest with him. Growing up isolated among the beasts of the Wood of Sharp Teeth, he was no stranger to this sensation. So he followed his habit in such cases and tapped into Rillifane’s insight to communicate with nearby animals. But his appeal went unanswered by the surrounding woods. This presence was no animal. Then he saw hundreds of orbs of light passing through the forest around him. Trying to make sense of the strange phenomenon, he attempted to touch one with no success. But he heard a clamor of quiet voices. Through the din, he was able to decipher the repetitive whisper of “name…name.” Seeking guidance, Pekeporo poured his thoughts and energy into the mistletoe woven into his druidic focus and touched one of the orbs with it. Suddenly, he was blasted back against the nearest tree. Yet Pekeporo felt nothing as his mind and vision were completely engulfed in a prophetic dream of the largest and most ebullient tree he had ever seen. It seemed beyond anything beyond possibility as he clearly heard, “Portal.”
The trio returned to Phandalin in the morning as it burst with life. Children played while neighbors talked idly. Corvus made his way to the Townmaster’s Hall with his friends, until they were abruptly stopped by four Redbrands standing in the commons. Corvus and Pekeporo were ready to get their reward and spend an evening in drunken revelry, but the Rebrands made it clear that they were a problem that could no longer be ignored. K’ot frightened one of the Redbrands off, but the rest bared naked steel in response to threats. Their de facto leader closed the gap in attack. Corvus, still feeling confident from the destruction of orcs, would no longer abide gangs of foes teaming up against them. He found an unprecedented swiftness and strength to engage two foes at a time. He simultaneously embraced this new combat style, noting its efficacy for future engagement. While one of the ruffians buried his sword deep in Pekeporo’s side, Corvus almost single-handedly dispatched of his opponents in a flurry of shortswords. K’ot felt a growing connection to Corvus and sunk her teeth into the final opponent’s manhood. She lapped up some of the blood and looked to Corvus for approval as the man bled out from the groin. Corvus was quite pleased and affirmed K’ot’s tactics. After supernaturally knitting his side back together, Pekeporo rejoined Corvus, and they donned the Red cloaks of their slain enemies as a disguise. They looked around and realized their fight had emptied the town, confirming the grip of fear the Redbrands had instilled in the town.
As they approached the Townmaster’s hall, Townmaster Harbin burst through the doors, frantically crying, “What have you done? Oh god, you’ve only made things worse. Glasstaff will repay this tenfold.” Even in the midst of his cowardly tirade, when Harbin noticed the orc heads dangling from Corvus’ belt, his mood slightly lightened.
After brushing with death thanks to Harbin’s incompetence, Pekeporo had enough. “Look, we took care of your orc problem. Now we’re taking care of your Redbrand problem . Whether or not you’re competent enough to recognize it, you need us. Now pay what you owe.”
“No, your help can’t make up for how much worse you’ve made things.” Harbin turned on his pudgy heel, waddled into the hall and slammed the door.
Pekeporo ran down to Halia’s shop to drop off the swords of the slain Redbrands. In return, she offered him information. “Glasstaff is headquartered in the manor east of town with the rest of the local Redbrands.” She thanked him for their help.
When Pekeporo returned and told Corvus about Halia’s message, Corvus communed with the largest tree in the commons to learn more about Redbrand activity. Then they went back to the tavern for a night of drinking and relaxation. The innkeeper was very grateful and reminded them of Queline Alderleaf’s son, Carp, discovering a secret passage to the Redbrands hideout. They thanked him for his hospitality and retired for the night…
Until Corvus woke up Pekeporo at midnight. “Peke, let’s go scope out that tunnel.”
“We don’t know where it is.”
“Oh, right. But Carp does.”
“You’re right. Let’s go talk to him.”
“Now? It’s the middle of the night.”
“Exactly. No one will suspect we got help from a little kid in the middle of the night.”
They snuck out the window and stealthily walked down to Alderleaf’s farm and awakened Queline with their knocking. She was initially displeased with being awakened, but quickly warmed to the adventurers who were willing to rid her town of its blight. She invited them in but was unwilling to allow her son to show them the cave in the middle of the night. So they posted up in her entryway until morning, waiting for the opportunity to take on the local Redbrand scourge head-on…
Will our heroes be prepared to face such a massive threat? Will their allies manage to avoid the wrath of the Redbrands? Will Corvus turn into Dae Hyo from the Hollow Gods trilogy? Does anyone even know what I’m talking about? Tune in next time to find out!