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Caravan Attacked
Tis many a cup of ale that winds up on some unsuspecting tavern maids bosom these days courtesy of a shout of alarm from one of our Lord’s Town Criers. Such I fear is the fate of one of my own dearly departed tankards, sacrificed in the name of a rather lovely, yet easily startled Serving Girl employed by The Cat’s Lair Tavern who like myself was abruptly roused from a perfectly enjoyable evening by a call to arms from outside a nearby window. Fortunately, being a veteran victim of a number of personal misadventures I was quick enough to grab my parchment satchel, quills, and inkpot and was out the door before the rapidly spreading pool of ale occupied my former perch at the bar. 

Outside, ripples of chaos spread throughout the assembled merchants clustered around the Royal Western Bank of Britain and everywhere I spied earnest militia men strapping themselves and each other into armour before grabbing a weapon and clustering around the still screeching Town Crier. In a brief moment’s time an assemblage of twenty or so stalwart warriors had gathered around the Crier as he informed the milling mob of the demise of a caravan bound for Minoc, at the hands of what one fortunate first hand witness described as "a bloody horde of orcs, ogres, and trolls." 

Dragonspride pass, as it is sometimes referred to, is an infamous staging point for raids on caravans traveling to the crossroads from and into the city of Britain. Over the years a series of brigand groups have been routed from the area by our Lord’s guardsmen, so it was no surprise to learn of the fate of yet another hapless merchant convoy through the narrow rocky pass. However I could tell that at the mention of Ogres the hardened warriors around me seemed more wary as they nervously set out down the road led by a mounted advance scout. 

Being the dedicated yet prudent newsman that I am, I warily trudged alongside a group of big, burly, heavily armoured warriors ready to leap behind them at the first sign of a drooling tusked jaw or green clawed hand. As we traveled my companions took up a grim, yet pleasant dialogue that consisted of many introductions and pledges to “watch yer back mate.” And so it was in short order that I found myself in the companionship of Lofton Rivermoon, Bryinn Lightsword, Azeroth Talin, Gatsu, and a rather bleakly silent chap named Morpheus. 

Signs of the caravan’s fate too quickly began to appear, everywhere mounds of splintered boxes and heaps of scattered goods soon littered the roadway. Sadly as we traveled further into the pass the demise of the merchants became readily apparent as the pitiful, ravaged corpses of both man and pack animal sprouted like grisly ornaments from the wreckage around us. It was as we were passing the earthly remains of one poor pack horse (the poor animal looked as if it had been gnawed upon) that the first orc appeared, screaming a war cry as it rushed at the party brandishing its large, double bladed battle axe. 

Lofton, thank the virtues, met the slobbering sub-humanoid with a clash of steel, and soon, true to his pledge to “watch yer back mate”, Bryinn joined into the melee, quickly dispatching the orc into a rather grisly oblivion. But our luck refused to hold - for no sooner had the green skinned villain collided with the earth at our feet than the first heavy running steps echoed through the stone walls. Fighting in a pass is a terrifying experience. On the open battlefield you have the option of running more than two directions, and when confronted with a thundering, howling, drooling horde of ogres, orcs, and bellowing ettins you’re given the option of retreat. We however were allotted only two choices: forward into the fray, or backwards onto the sword points of our own compatriots who decided to charge right through our small group. 

Quickly we found ourselves fighting for our lives as towering, monstrous fiends crushed and maimed their way around us. Were it truly only the Ogres we might not have lost so many good, stalwart warriors in the melee. As fortune would have it, the orcish mages decided that this would be a pleasant time to roast the “hummies” and soon the smell of spilled blood was mingled with that of cooking flesh as steel breastplates turned into red hot cauldrons at the behest of the arcane assault from the orcish ensemble. 

The battle raged for what seemed like hours, but in reality t’was no more than a few moments. All around me grunts and war cries spiked the air, and I suddenly wished that I had stayed happily seated in the Cats Lair and allowed my parchments to become soaked with ale, rather than the blood that they now absorbed through a dripping wound in my right shoulder. Fortunately for me, our companion Azeroth revealed a hidden talent for magery and healing, not to mention enough level-headedness to keep his concentration on his task while simultaneously dodging a rather enraged orc foot soldier that seemed intent on ripping his head off with its bare clawed hands. 

My wounds tended, Azeroth rose up in the full majestic glory of a Grandmaster of the Arcane and at his will summoned walls of fire and crackling energy around our besieged party, giving us precious time to regroup and prepare for an spearhead assault at the enemies flank. Magic always strikes me as awe inspiring, and to the ungifted I imagine that we’ll never truly comprehend it, but it was in an almost paralyzed wonder that I witnessed Azeroth’s unleashed will upon the orcish masses. Wave after wave of blistering heat drove the orcish force back to the far end of the pass, enabling us to gain ground without the cost of blood. Those fiends foolish enough to brave the inferno were quickly dispatched by Loften and Bryinn and it was not long before Morpheus showed his own peculiar talents at luring the enemy into the blades of the two valiant swordsmen. For the most part I kept to the rear, promising myself that the next slobbering, singed, and hopefully half dead orc to stumble through the wall of flame would meet a quick end at my dagger. The virtues be thanked when the opportunity presented itself Gatsu took the task from me with a lightning quick thrust of his sword into the unfortunate creatures chest. 

Though I am certain that many tales of bravery can be told of that day, it is my Testament that my companions deserve their share of the fame and glory that was won in that narrow, blood soaked pass. Were it not for their quick blades, and Azeroths brilliantly woven spells, I no doubt would be a feast for carrion birds at this moment, rather than a slightly bruised and pleasantly drunk resident of my beloved Cats Lair Tavern, where even as I humbly sign this submission to the Britanian News Network with my Nome’ de plume a certain barmaid is placing another tankard in front of me, this time.I hope, without reason to spill a drop. 

Published: June 2000
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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