And so, our brave adventurers returned to Sorpigal from their first successful foray, dividing amongst them the loot they had acquired, including a magical, crystalline dagger, several potions, plenty of gold, and a ring that gave Queso the guffawing barbarian the ability to sing in combat. A quick analysis of journal scrap they had acquired by Elora and Hofniel made mention of some manner of necromantic “Prelate” with a vague map location. The team decided to revisit this when they were prepared. Heisenberg the fighter took a breather from adventuring for a time, getting some temporary work in the local guard to make extra coin and train to defend against rogue banana peels.
Arriving at the familiar Sorpigal Inn, Hofniel, the vain yet righteous cleric, was quickly approached by a gruff, weathered looking man and a raven-haired half-elf. Introduced as Dale and Gwen, they implored Hofniel for aid, immediately recognizing him as belonging to the Pelorian church. The seat of the church in Erath, Peloria, was directly in line for an advancing series of unexplained assaults made by increasingly intrusive orcs from the southern jungle regions. Unable to resist this plea, Hofniel convinced the rest of the group to join him in this venture. As a Thunderlight, he knew he would be well received in Peloria and was well aware that the town housed some of the largest archives of tomes and scrolls in the kingdom. Elora the wizard greatly approved of a chance to access such a trove of knowledge, while Queso, perhaps feeling a smidge of guilt for leaving the poor, doomed farmer to his fate on their prior adventure, loudly accepted the chance to smash some filthy orcs for the greater good. Belladonna, presumably after stealing several people’s drinking money, shrugged ambivalently and went along with the plan. Dale and Gwen agreed to go in advance to deliver news to the town quickly.
After obtaining provisions for the road, Hofniel, Elora, Queso, and Belladonna began their journey along the Azure river toward Peloria. On the second day of their journey, as they made their way parallel to the river at midday, the group was set upon by a group of ruffians. An arrow sliced through the air, narrowly missing Elora. Hofniel lifted his shield in the direction of the attack, seeing three armed bandits charging from an elevated position, with the one who had shot at them already knocking another arrow. Queso roared, brandishing his greatsword, but before anyone could act, the enemy archer was struck in the back of the head by an unseen flying object, pitching him forward, off balance. Encouraged, Queso quickly closed the distance to the nearest bandit, cleaving him in half with one tremendous swing, sending blood spatter all over himself and the adjacent attackers. The other two, terrified and dismayed, were easily convinced by Hofniel to give up their attack and darted in opposite directions to escape. Elora, huffing in contempt, loosed a crossbow bolt into the back of one, incapacitating and nearly killing him. Queso easily overran the other fleeing bandit, driving his greatsword through the poor sap’s meager armor, impaling him before nonchalantly flinging his corpse to the side. Standing on a nearby tree trunk, Hofniel finally saw who had taken down the archer: a fuming, tiny female gnome carrying a sling and dressed in what appeared to be a carpet. Queso, grinning from ear to ear, ran to their new gnome friend like an excited puppy, while Elora approached with a more calm and diplomatic demeanor. Hofniel, rolled his eyes and snorted, turning his back to attend to their pack horse, muttering about how he did not care to associate with “wild, unkempt forest folk.” A quick discussion with their new companion, Dobby the Druid revealed that these “bandits” were also, in fact, poachers, slaughtering all manner of adorable forest creatures and harvesting their parts, which in turn incurred the wrath of Dobby, who had been waiting for a proper time to strike against the critter killers. Attempting to speak to the concussed and very dizzy bandit archer did not go well; Hofniel, exhausted and annoyed, lost his composure and began kicking the sad fellow and swearing in very un-Hofniel like manner. Queso, wanting to help, attempted to lift the bandit by the collar and intimidate him. However, in his post-fight, adrenaline addled state, he accidentlly flung the man over his head, who landed on his neck, killing him instantly. Upon realizing that one of the attackers was still alive, if only barely, the team decided attempt a second interrogation, hopefuly without unintended fatalities. Hofniel found and shook Belladonna the Halfling awake, who had been asleep on the back of the pack horse the entire time. The group, lacking any rope, instead used vines provided by Dobby as a makeshift substitute and bound the wounded man, providing just enough bandaging to keep his wounds from becoming worse. Though he first attempted to lie about his dealings, the stern gaze of Hofniel combined with menacing, ranting gibberish from Queso convinced the fellow to tell it straight. He had in fact, been not only poaching forest creatures to sell at markets in the capital city and Sorpigal (including to the Duke of Sorpigal and his associates), his group had also been attacking helpless travelers along the road to murder and rob, which came as no surprise given their recent attack. Dobby shook her tiny fist and demanded the man die for his terrible crimes, while Hofniel nodded solemnly in agreement, clearly disgusted by this evil wretch. Queso took the liberty of bashing the villain’s head in with one giant fist. They later found the bandit’s spoils, some gold and the pelts feathers, and teeth of various animals, which were given proper respects by Dobby before interring them into the earth. They also obtained several horses. The group continued the remainder of their journey to Peloria without incident, with their new friend in tow.
At last the adventurers arrived in Peloria, housing the cathedral to Pelor, the sun god. The town was surrounded by a fifteen foot stone wall with a sturdy gate and watch towers on each of the four corners. Hofniel was greeted warmly by the local priest, remarking on how reassuring it was to have a Thunderlight come to their aid. In return for their help, the priest promised to provide the party with whatever they could dig up from their expansive archives, in addition to whatever gold and provisions the beleaguered township could afford, strained as they already were with refugees fleeing the oncoming orc incursion. The team quickly set upon ways to help prepare for the assault, having been informed by Gwen and Dale that, based on scout reports, could happen as early as that same evening. Knowing preparedness was key, everyone began assessing the town’s defense. Elora discovered a weakness in the north wall, quickly rallying townsfolk to seal the breach. Her elf eyes caught sight of movement in the nearby woods, indicated that their efforts were being watched. Queso and Hofniel found the local blacksmith weeping drunkenly into his ale. Continued efforts by the duo failed to convince the dour fellow to chip in. Only after Belladonna’s soothing words and encouragement did he reluctantly agree to work on fashioning more arrows and repairing some broken equipment. Attempting to be more helpful, Hofniel performed some research on orc barbarians, revealing a few tidbits about common tactics. As the day wore on, many of the group found the local hedge wizard, an eccentric, white haired little fellow in a small shop with various trinkets, potions, bubbling flasks, and other various odds and ends. They were able to convince him to sell them a small bottle of oil that, as far as they could tell from the man’s tangential rambling, was poisonous. When Dobby the druid noticed an orange and yellow toad in a small cage, she immediately wanted it freed. At Dobby’s behest, Elora distracted the odd man with wizard jargon while Belladonna swiped the colorful pet. The toad appeared pleased, as much as a toad can be. As night began to fall, Gwen, the handful of town archers, Dobby, and Elora took up places in the watchtowers on the gated side of the wall, with Hofniel and Queso bravely taking point by the gate. Dale stayed in the cathedral with the refugees as a last line of defense. Arrows were coated in poison, spells readied, and lamps hung, as Peloria braced itself for battle.
The crescent moon provided little extra light as the sun disappeared over the horizon. The town was well lit within, though visibility was short outside the walls. With their darkvision, Elora and Dobby were able to see into the darkness some distance. For what seemed an eternity, all was calm. As midnight neared, Dobby’s preternatural connection with nature gave her the sense that something had changed- birds quieted, frogs and insects went silent. She was able to detect animals running out of the forest line about two hundred yards from the gate. All attention was directed to the gate/forest side of the wall, which is where the adventurers had anticipated the bulk of the onslaught. Both Elora and Dobby finally spotted them- a small horde of orcs, girded for battle, moving at a near sprint toward the gate, not a one of them making a sound. Elora fired first, her bolt singing through the air and planting itself directly in one enemy’s neck, dropping the orc instantly. A cry of anger and surprise went up amongst the horde, knowing they had been spotted. Arrows flew from the walls, some with the aforementioned poison, which thankfully proved effective- those orcs so poisoned writhed in pain upon being struck. Dobby summoned a wolf to aid them as the orcs closed on the gate itself. The animal was able to drag an orc to the ground, but could not kill it before the summoning wore off. The attackers began hacking into the wooden gate, intent on breaching the town. Hofniel and Queso, not wishing to wait around for the door to be splintered, took the initiative and flung open the gates themselves, laying into the vicious creatures with mace and sword, bashing, cleaving, and in Queso’s case, guffawing into the fray. With the aid of those on the towers, the tide had turned, and victory seemed near. It was then that an ominous, unnatural fog appeared along the forest, billowing toward them with unnerving speed. As Queso and Hofniel fought against the last of the orc attackers, the ground began to tremble very slightly, as if under heavy footsteps, causing much consternation among the defenders. The fog finally lifted near the gate itself, revealing an enormous, hide-clad ogre wielding what appeared to be a small tree as a club. One injured orc, having the misfortune of being in the creature’s path, was sent careening twenty feet by one tremendous bash of the monster’s club. A painted, skull-staff toting orc shaman stood several feet behind the ogre, conjuring fire to hurl at Elora in the tower, initiating a wizard’s duel between the two. Queso, upon seeing the ogre in action, knew the only acceptable thing to do was to charge it head on, sword swinging. Though Elora, not wishing Queso to be flattened, cast a ray of enfeeblement on the hulk, weakning it substantially. Queso fought with all his might, unleashing his inner rage and doing substantive damage to the Ogre, who in turn sent Queso reeling more than once with his earth-shattering strikes. Hofniel spent every last ounce of his holy energy trying to keep his friend alive, with the exertion becoming visible on his features as the struggle wore on. The village archers proved to be of little help overall, against either the shaman or the ogre. Belladonna cleverly hid amongst the bodies of the dead orcs, waiting for her opportunity to unleash a series of vicious strikes behind the monster, though even this was not enough to bring it down. While the battle on the ground raged, Dobby sent her faithful owl with handful of Goodberries to the singed Elora, who was locked in a magical struggle with the grotesque orc shaman. Magic crackled in the air and streaked across the sky as the two unleashed their arcane knowledge upon eachother. Exhausting her magic did not stop our wizard heroine, who, with uncanny precision, fired the bolt that finally killed her rival. At the gate, Queso, Hofniel, and Belladonna struggled to stop the rampaging ogre. As if by divine reprieve, Gwen the raven-haired ranger set forth an arrow that struck the monster directly in the eye, eliciting a long, last groan and it’s final thunderous collapse. A cheer went up along the wall, and the heroes knew they had saved the proverbial day.
The following morning was one of celebration and cheer. The adventerers were given gifts of gold and praise, now dubbed the “Defenders of Peloria.” Hofniel Thunderlight was bestowed a gleaming, sun-embossed shield from the treasures of the church, and a holy, protective talisman too was awarded to the group. Our heroes knew they could enjoy a well deserved rest- at least for now.