Having spent the night at Summit Hall, we departed on wing early in the morning, taking a packed breakfast with us. After a couple of hours of flight, but too soon to have reached Dellmon Ranch by my reckoning, we saw a column of smoke rising from behind the next ridge. Cautiously, I sent Blinky forward to have a look. He returned and said that a farmstead was on fire up ahead, but with no signs of any raiders. We moved up and landed a distance away as the hippogriffs were somewhat spooked by the flames. Thorg barged through the open door of the burning stead itself, and found an unconscious half-elf with a head wound. He carried him out, and as he did so, the half-elf stirred and muttered something about his wife. Thorg did a rapid search of the blazing stead and the outbuildings and I sent Blinky to check the nearby area, but we found no other people of any race. By now the victim had recovered somewhat, and told us that his name was Selwyn and that orcs had attacked the stead and seized his wife and two farmhands. Blinky confirmed that there were obvious tracks of a wagon of some sort leading away to the north-east – in the direction of Dellmon Ranch. Feyabelle rapidly set to following the tracks on foot, while we took to our steeds again and proceeded on wing, but flying low and well behind Feyabelle. I sent Blinky out to scout well ahead, with orders to return if he saw anything. He soon returned and reported that there was a wagon up ahead by a stand of trees, with two humans slumped against it and four orcs resting nearby. I used a messaging incantation to relay this information to Feyabelle, and she snuck into a firing position over looking them. We coordinated our attack so that as she let loose with her first volley, we swooped in and attacked at the same time. The firefight was brief – Feyabelle’s arrows and my firebolts rapidly finishing them off. We landed and released the captives, and then proceeded towards Dellmon Ranch at Selwyn’s request, as that was where all the local population were gathering having heard news that orcs were raiding nearby. Thorg bared his shoulders and pulled the wagon alone the last couple of miles to Dellmon Ranch, making it look like he was just carrying a picnic basket.
Arriving at Dellmon, we saw much hustle and bustle as they prepared for the expected attack. They had built earthen ramparts to connect the three buildings, and archery platforms on the roofs of the buildings. Here we also found Ermon from Summit Hall, organising the defenders, who welcomed our arrival and asked us to help directing the defense. Feyabelle confirmed that she could smell that there were many orcs nearby to the north-east, and closing rapidly, so we quickly prepared to be attacked. I ascended to the firing platform on the main house, with four scouts armed with long-bows. Feyabelle took the firing platform on the barn, with three commoners armed with shortbows. Three more commoners with shortbows took the firing platform on top of the forge. In the centre, Thorg and Ermon took the northern rampart, supported by Sorrel and [someone] (a fellow druidess), Arielle, and six commoners armed with spears, who made up in courage for what they lacked in skill. The western rampart was taken by [Father] with four of his hearthguard, while the southern rampart was taken by [son] with the remaining three hearthguard.
The orc attack when it came was sudden and fast, but small. There were only twenty of them, in four groups of five, and they attacked from all four directions at the same time. We concentrated our fire from the roofs on the western and southern groups, and felled almost all of them. Sorrel, Thorg and Ermon killed a few of the northern and eastern groups, and we wounded more as they withdrew. They never closed to hand to hand combat, but rather just threw a single volley of javelins at us. Several of us were wounded, but none severely or killed. In contrast, fully eleven of the twenty lay dead when they pulled back, and they others had many wounds. But they pulled back rather than fled – Feyabelle confirmed that there were many more, and we saw two much larger orcs on the ridge observing the attack – it was obvious that they were just probing our defenses and seeing how strong or weak we were, or whether we had any weak points. I am sure that we have not seen the last of them by any means, but at the moment we are catching our breath and binding our wounds.