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Cities Under Siege
I have spent many days and more than a few sleepless nights proving the substance of what is hereby recorded. I say that not to garner the sympathy of the reader, but to reinforce faith in me as one who, before he writes, does all that is humanly possible to present facts, not idle tales of fancy. This ye may always depend upon. 

My first journey took me to the city of Minoc, which, not more than a few days earlier, had been threatened by an incursion of lizardmen and their giant serpent pets approaching from the southwest. Where they came from is unknown at this time. The dungeon Wrong is not far, and it is well known that they use it as a stronghold, but whence they came remains anyone's guess. The horde was ably led by one of their own kind, though one much stronger and harder to kill than normal. A goodly number of Britannians rallied to intercept them and succeeded in destroying the scaly invaders before they could do much more than slaughter wandering livestock and a few unwary citizens in their beds. 

From Minoc I journeyed to the island of Jhelom, to its secondary isle which consists mainly of a dock, fishing village and a fenced pasture on the southern side, with dense jungle elsewhere. A group of harpies, including the tougher stone variety, and gargoyles made some kind of raid there a day after the Minoc attack. The "flock", if that is what it might be called, was led by what appeared to be a normal gargoyle who killed penned livestock and a few folk who were fishing from the docks. The gargoyle was attacked repeatedly and was badly wounded but was never slain. It was last seen flying away from the island leaving its fellows to their fates. Several deaths were reported there among those who attempted to repel the attack. 

The third stop on my journey was Skara Brae, where a huge band of orcs, ettins, and trolls had begun mustering below the docks on the mainland southeast of the city. The area veritably swarmed with orc-kind and it was not until town criers began shouting the alarm in various cities that citizens rushed to oppose their depradations in earnest. The battle raged quite long and was hotly contested. The monsters took particular delight in stomping down the beautiful hedges and flower gardens; smashing benches, marring and defacing the benches and statue of nearby Kinship Village. Unlike previous raids, several rangers were found dead, their bodies stripped of clothing, torn, and mutilated by the monsters. 

Those who investigated the scene later, including myself, were horrified to discover that the ranger corpses were also riddled with arrows, as if the orcs took particular delight in using the rangers' favorite weapon against them. The leader of this savage lot, an orcish warlord, was finally located and was himself set upon by a maddened, vengeful, mob which slew him pitilessly. He had, either in his company, or else scattered among his forces, a small number of evil mages. It is wondered if they were behind the attack, or if they simply came to partake of the spoils, as they did appear late in the battle. No one knows for sure, but I would not rule out that they were Necromari. 

About the same time the orcs appeared so did a ranger named Dale Larkspur. He related to me that he espied the raid as he traveled toward Skara and hurried to alert and rally the citizenry there. He was seen doing battle with the orcs as well. I located him at the rangers' guild hall and asked him questions about the raid--did it have a goal or was it some random attack? 

"My experience with orc-kind is this--they muster, make crude war plans, get hyped up on cider, and attack at random, irrespective of any plans they made. This one was no different. I am very pleased that I was fortunate enough to observe their gathering and was able to warn the townsfolk in time," he answered. 

I asked him about the deaths of his fellows--the rangers in the village who perished from their own weapons. He seemed relatively unfazed by it, which I found disconcerting. 

"I have seen that before elsewhere. As ye know, we rangers have no greater foes than orcs and their kind--ettins and trolls. We are mortal enemies of one another, neither asking nor giving quarter. Of late we have dominated them completely, routing their forces at every turn. This time their numbers were greatly superior and the speed of their attack swift. They crushed resistance in the outlying areas before many had time to arm themselves. They merely poured out their hatred as a flood even upon the bodies of the fallen, or perhaps their prisoners."

I had to ask him where he had come from and if he might remain in the area to keep watch. His expertise was especially needed now, since several leading and experienced rangers had been slain. 

"I am originally from here (Skara Brae) and was returning home from a long scouting foray further south. I had hopes of hanging up my bow and retiring. However, as things now stand, I am taking this town and Yew as well under my wing as protector and guardian. This guild-house will serve as my base, but I intend to make Kent's Last Pint, the famous Yew tavern, my living quarters. I will remain here as long as it takes me to ensure that the land route from Skara Brae to other towns and cities remains open to travelers and as safe as possible. The rangers here have elected me as their leader to do this, and I will take my work very seriously. I will do my utmost to prevent a repetition of this massacre. If the orcs and their allies return, I will be ready. We will marshal our forces again to repel them. You can count on that." 

His reply was quite matter-of-fact. It filled me with confidence and hope. I pray his efforts will succeed for Skara Brae and Yew. Yet I wonder what city might be next, and who might be behind these terrifying attacks? The words of Scaramandine II come back to haunt me--that he would not be responsible for the chaos unleashed by the shattering of the Orb of Soul Seeking. Is that what we are witnessing, or is it something concerted, calculated, and thoroughly diabolical? As with all mysteries, this one too shall be answered in time 

Published: January 2001
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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