a Short-Chamber Boxer-Henry .45 calibre miracle

Our rest after the first attack was brief, but allowed us to tend to the wounded and get them into the farm house to rest.  Two of the three steaders with bows in Feyabelle’s group on the roof of the barn were wounded, so we moved one of the steaders on the roof of the forge across to help her out.

The next wave attacked in a similar manner, but with six orcs in each of the four groups.  This time, we started shooting at long range, and this time the two groups attacking from the west side didn’t even make it to javelin range before taking enough casualties to break off their attack and flee.  We switched our concentration of fire to the two groups attacking from the direction of the ridge.  Having concentrated on the other two, these groups did make it into javelin range, and a javelin killed one of the homesteaders on the roof of the barn – our first casualty of the encounter.  Another round of shooting, aided by some potent firebolts from me, broke the morale of both groups though, and they ran for the ridge.  We continued our fire as they fled though, and only one of the twelve in those two groups made it back to the ridge.

The two large orcs were still visible on the ridge and so, when another attack was not forthcoming, we had a short rest and sent Blinky to have a look and see what they were doing.  She reported that some of the orcs were resting, while others were piling branches, twigs and grass into heaps along the ridgeline under the direction of the two large orcs.  One of the large orcs only had one eye, which identified him as a devotee of Gruumsh, the orcish war god.  That might make him a potent opponent.  Blinky could only see around eleven orcs in addition to the two large ones though, which was good news.

We guessed that they might be going to use the piles as bonfires to generate a smoke screen, as the wind was blowing from that direction, and we were proved right about an hour and a half later.   The sun was setting in the west behind us, and this made it difficult for us to see far in the smoke that started filling our position, while probably silhouetting us against the sunset.  As the smoke closed down our vision, I leapt on my hippogriff and flew over towards the ridge.  It was unoccupied, so the attack had obviously started.  I landed and started to try and kick apart the fires and put them out with a combination of stamping and prestidigitation, while keeping a ear open for sounds of fighting from the farmstead.  For this reason, for the account of the fighting at the farmstead, I only have the testimony of my companions to rely on, which is obviously less reliable than my own keen memory.

Over at the farmstead, shapes suddenly loomed out of the smoke at close range.  Our shooting was sporadic and ineffectual in the smoke.  On the left flank, a great orc strode forward and brandished his fist in the direction of Thorg and the farmsteaders holding that rampart.  A spectral ram leapt from his fist and tore a great gap in the rampart.  Six of his orcish minions leapt forward past him for the gap, but Sorrel used her nature magic to cause thorns to erupt from the ground in a circle around the great orc.  Four of the orcs died as the great thorns torn their legs apart, and only two reached the remains of the palisade, where one was killed by Thorg.  The orc brandished his fist again and another spectral ram battered Thorg, flinging him backwards.  As he clambered to his feet and prepared to charge the orc, Sorrel outlined the great orc in a halo of light and a final volley of arrows from the scouts on the roof of the house (who had been sniping at him during the fight so far through the smoke) felled him where he stood.  The orc on that flank was swiftly dispatched by the spear-armed farmsteaders manning the barricade.

On the other flank, five orcs rushed the barricade.  Drina the druidess used her nature magic to cause entwining tendrils to erupt from the ground in front of the barricade, but only one of the orcs was restrained by them.  In their initial attack, the orcs killed all three of the farmsteaders manning the barricade, leaving only Erned and Allyria to hold that flank.  They dispatched two of the orcs in return however.  The one-eyed orc was also on that flank but did not advance, instead flinging some kind of spell at Feyabelle. It failed to affect her, and she shot him with an arrow in return.  The two dwarves manning the western barricade rushed across to help Erned, leaping over the barricade in their enthusiasm to get to grips with the orcs.  Between them, and Allyria and Erned, they killed the remaining orcs.  The Eye of Gruumsh however attacked Feyabelle with a huge spirit-axe, but despite the damage from that, she was able to fell him with a final volley of arrows.

Thus ended the seige of Dellmon Ranch.  We found a magical ring on each of the great orcs – one a Ring of the Ram (the effects of which we had already observed), and the other a Ring of Protection.  The farmsteaders offered us 25 gold pieces each for defending them, but having seen the devastation wrought on their homes and lives (and indeed the lives lost, although we had kept that to only four of them, which was not a bad exchange for forty-two orcs slain) we refused their money and suggested that they needed it more than we did to rebuild their lives.