With the bulk of the Orcs defeated Rennard “Underfoot” Redhill and Grelnik Nickerwick were recovered from the Gnome Embassy and the group joined the Dwarves in their layer. Now, in relative safety inside the locked remains of the old Great Forge – the PC’s began to ask questions of the dwarves, with Oskar Dankil and Rennard acting as translators.
The group learned that as far as the dwarves knew, there were nearly one million orcs on Hearthstone – compared to a mere quarter of that in Dwarves. The entire population lived within the planet, rather than on it’s inhospitable surface. The refugees gathered here now, had come to escape slavery and death at the hands of their orc masters – but life on the surface was hard, and almost half that came out of the underground died. The group that survived now relied heavily on Gorbunn Ungart’s skills as a cook and resource manager and on the miraculous powers of Diesa Lutgehr.
After a day or so, with the assistance of an additional healer, the group was restored to health. Gorbunn, the Dwarves’ quartermaster announced that the additional mouths were going to exhaust the group’s food stores in about a week. Ulrick Torunn asserted that if the party was going to remain with his refugees, they would have to contribute. Gorbunn felt like the only chance that they had, was to assault the herd of Durgen that came down out of the mountains occasionally to get water from the frozen lake. The nine Dwarves would sometimes pick off a straggler from the herd, but if the larger group could kill a couple larger beasts and perhaps capture a nursing mother – they would have a fairly respectable and somewhat sustainable food source. As the group began to plan their assault on the durgen, concerns about having a Dire Badger and three orcs that might attack them at any time grew paramount. The group came up with a bold plan to solve both problems in one swoop.
Using his connection with The Shield, Oskar summoned a large dog from the Celestial plane to flush out the badger, while the group’s archers took positions of relative safety on roof tops and exposed upper levels of adjacent buildings. Kyrian Stone stood at the point of two rows of Dwarves with polearms and challenged to Badger to charge him – which it did once the dog had returned to its native plain. The enraged badger fell quickly to sword and arrows…but to the group’s surprise was quickly replaced by it’s mate. The second badger too fell swiftly and no one sustained any serious injuries.
With one danger eliminated, the group moved on to the second stage of their plan. The Dwarves fell in on one of the badger carcass with the efficiency of the truly hungry, and quickly began to butcher and package the remain of one beast, carefully leaving the second. One by one the Dwarves left, each carrying off a bundle of food, while the party from Axyss pretended to follow – but circled back and retook their ambush positions in secret, while the strongest of the Hearthstone Refugees joined them.
When the nearly starved orcs rushed in to seize the remains of the second carcass, they fell neatly into the same trap the badgers had fallen for, and the most badly wounded fell quickly to arrows. An impatient Nero Torvus rushed in to use his shock spell on one of the two remaining orcs, but missed, and received a devastating blow in return. Mired in snow up to their chests, the Dwarves struggled to come to his aid, and arrows seemed to be doing little to slow the two now enraged marauders. Finally, it was reluctant Oskar and Kyrian that came to the rescue, and finished off the last two orcs before the final blow could be delivered to their comrade.