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Trial by fire

Tags: Shaaknar,  Alden,  Ollie,  Shepherding Village

Short Summary: A group of Isendrim orcs assail the Shepherding Village
Date (real-life): 2010-05-14
Scene Location: Shaws, Shepherding Village
Date (in-game): December 3049
Time of Day: Evening

Shepherding Village

This is the home of a small, proud, and independent people who live primarily by herding sheep in the open lands south of the Great East Road. Once driven from this region by troll depredations, they have returned and appear to be prospering, perhaps because they can also profit by trade on the Great East Road.

Or rather.... we should say it /was/ the home of these people. The many sturdy houses and smaller huts clustered on a hill here have mostly been burned. Some are yet standing, more are nothing more than charred timbers. Once, they were safely ensconced behind a deep ditch and wall. The ditch is filled with the ashy ghosts of thorn bushes ... and the gate hangs crookedly, black as charcoal.

But a stone wall is being built by a group of industrious dwarves, and many of the buildings that were still standing have been repaired. The village is now a mixture of the charred, skeletons of houses, and shiny new ones.

A long, low, smoke-stained building, sprawling along the hillside below the caravanserai, appears to the south. Its thatched roof has miraculously escaped burning - though there are black patches across it. Thick lead-paned windows are dark. A group of industrious men and dwarves and a few elves are camped in the open area.

Obvious exits:
Gathering House, Caravanserai, and Great East Road

                           | Yfelwydan Time (YST) |
** Real time is: Fri May 14 22:17:34 2010, GMT -8 **
Elendor time is: Dusk, Monday, Day 6 of December 3049.

[Ollie(#15066)] Dusk is falling - that time of not-quite-day and not-quite-night where men's eyes deceive them. Shadows dance and flicker -and are nothing but shadows. Things move and blink and disappear.

The men on the newly-built walls are already nervous now that the elves and dwarves have gone; and they clench their weapons with white-knuckled hands and jump at every noise.

Amongst those manning the walls tonight, one grizzled old fellow wrapped in a greasy woolen cloak. He was not there when they started rebuilding; at some point he wandered in and, once he'd been convinced that the Elves and Dwarves were not there to bring doom on his kind, stayed. "Crazy old Alden," folk mutter behind his back. At his size is a grey, wolfish-looking dog, and now she points her muzzle at the trees and growls softly. The man reaches down an absent hand to pat her.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] Alas, for not all the shadows are merely shadows...

Away at the border of the nearby forest there is veiled movement. Many tree boles are swollen past their normal size -- black shapes lurk behind them. Here and there, a flash of cold silver gleams from an arrow-head. A sense of malice hints upon the air.

[Ollie(#15066)] "What's that?" The voice is sharp with alarm and several heads turn swiftly staring.... at nothing.

"What?" mutters Alden, fingering his club. The dog growls again, and he looks down at her. "Somethin' out there, old girl? More of those Elf varmints?"

The fellow beside him turns from his perusal of the trees - did something move? More precisely, /what/ was it that moved? Only branches? - and hisses reprovingly, "Hush, old man! Without the Elves' help, we'd not have rebuilt this place. I'll wager it's something evil." The younger speaker has an arrow to the string, though no target for it.

[Ollie(#15066)] There is something larger and more evil - or at least more black - behind the slender shifting creatures.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] The young speaker could not be closer to the truth.

A handful of the skulking shapes slip carefully from the treeline and toward that ring-walled village. They keep low to the ground, but the glinting of metal returns -- black shafts are stretched upon orc-bows. Then, with a chorus of twangs, arrows are sent speeding through the dusk air, shot in an arc to land among the inside of that newly rebuilt town. From the forest come yells and jeers of delight; the creatures who had lingered behind do so no longer. Larger and taller are they than normal orcs. A score their numbers make, roughly, should the villagers be able to see through the descending dark enough to judge.

[Ollie(#15066)] Reflexes are at their peak, and arrows are flying back almost before the first ones land - but alas for nerves strung taut by apprehension - their aim is none too good. But arrows may land at random amid the foe and yet strike flesh.

Someone lets out a shout and doors open and shut swiftly as those who were in their homes rush out to help the defense.

With darkness nigh, it is hard to judge numbers. Arrows, though - those are plain enough. One of the defenders falls back with a bitten-off cry, a black-fletched shaft protruding from his shoulder. The young fellow at Alden's side lets his first arrow loose and reaches with trembling hands for the next, ducking down behind the shelter of their new-built stone wall.

And Alden? He stands stolidly still as missiles whizz past him, one close enough to tear a hole in his cloak. "Elves is always trouble," he mutters belligerently. "Brought the Dark on us before, they'll do it again. Warned you, I did! I was /here/." The dog whines, and he ducks down to grip her collar. "Anything comes over that wall, you bite it good!" he tells her, gripping his club. "Right, old girl?"

[Ollie(#15066)] With a wild yell, one of the orcs races forward, heaving a flaming ball towards the wall.

The tossed ball arcs over the wall and tumbles within, rolling perilously close to a pile of straw. The dog ceases her growl and flattens herself to the ground, whining.

Alden has no time to spare for her. With a growl of his own, he seizes his club and bludgeons the flaming object away, yelling fiercely, "Water! Fetch water, you young'uns. Don't just stand there gawping!"

[Shaaknar(#16331)] One of the foremost figures, a burly nasty looking uruk-hai with a crude image of a wolf burned into his shoulder, emits a snarl as a countering arrow strikes him. He stumbles and does not get back up.

The rest of the creatures continue on, using the momentum from their long legs to dare a leap over the spike-filled ditch that is nigh that wall. A few, however, fall short, and are met with a gruesome end. Arrows once again whine down, this time many of them streaming fire.

[Ollie(#15066)] Someone does run, through the darkening village, and back, lugging a bucket of water that he dumps over the first fire, dousing it. But more and more come, and soon the women and children are hauling buckets and slapping fires out with sopping cloths.

[Ollie(#15066)] There is a grunt of agony as one of the men on the wall staggers backwards, an arrow bristling from his shoulder.

The young archer at the walls continues to loose, though his hands are trembling and some of his arrows fly wide. His small quiver is soon emptied, and twists his head round to shout desperately at the flame-battlers, "Arrows! We need more arrows!" He stares miserably into the approaching gloom. Those spikes should halt their attackers - shouldn't they? His dark eyes widen in horror as at least one of the goblins clears the ditch. "Stones?" he amends. "Anything!"

[Ollie(#15066)] One of the younger boys, relegated to water-carrier, sees an opportunity to improve his status and starts collecting the arrows that have fallen inside the wall. He runs up to the archer, holding them out.

[Ollie(#15066)] And beyond the orcs, comes the troll; but Oliver isn't in the best of moods, it seems. He lumbers out of the trees, but stops there, glowering at the fiery arrows that arc over the wall - and then sits down with a mammoth thud.

Alden is fighting the flames like the rest, using his cloak to beat out any sparks that come within range. At the shout he looks up, pushing back to the wall with his stout oaken club held at the ready. "I'll show 'em how it's done!" he murmurs darkly.

The dog has been lying in the lee of the wall, whining softly - she does not like fire. As her master returns she looks up and tugs at his trouser-leg.

The archer seizes the proffered arrows gratefully. "Bless you, lad!" He wastes no time in loosing the first orcish shaft - at that thud, however, he stares, and the next shot goes wide. "They've got a troll!" There's no concealing the panic in his voice.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] The ditch poses a fair problem, and many of the attackers have failed to clear its teeth. The stronger, longer legged orcs have succeeded, however, and those uruk-hai have begun to try and grasp for that protective outer wall, to prevent their landing in the spiked moat as their leap ends. Those that are able to do thus, grin again in malicious glee as they pull themselves up and over the pesky obstruction that had separated them from their prey. Arrows cut down some of them, but orcish bows likewise continue their exchange.

The troll, while given occassional wary looks, is left to his own devices.

[Ollie(#15066)] Someone yells again, dropping his bow and reaching for a short sword; hewing and hacking at the hands that are grappling with the wall.

[Ollie(#15066)] The troll does nothing for the moment, crossing its arms and glaring with hatred at the fire-arrows. Someone inside the village has decided to return the favor, and the grass smolders in a few spots.

Alden reaches down to pat the head of the dog at his side, murmuring softly to her, "It's all right, old girl. We ain't done yet." Then, as his companions along the wall start hacking, he climbs up to join them. Stones are in short supply - those Dwarves were remarkably tidy - but his stout oaken club does just as well for applying force at goblin head-height. He swings it blindly now this way and that to clear a great swathe of wall, ignoring the peppering of black arrows as though they were mosquitoes.

[Ollie(#15066)] "AAAAIIIEIEEE" One of the orcs topples backwards into the pit as its hand is cut off, impaling itself on the spikes.

Nearby, the young archer lets out a shrill cry as he comes face-to-face with a grinning goblin - just /how/ big is this creature? Unnaturally so, surely, and in the faint light of the village torches and those patches of fire still smouldering, it seems enormous. He lets the arrow fly reflexively, then his nerve fails and he leaps down from the wall without waiting to see whether it has struck home. He is quivering like a leaf.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] But now that they are this close, the Isengarders are not ready to succumb so easily; while the unlucky orc hisses in pain as his or her fingers are cut, and falls backward into that awful ditch, most of them have made it at least atop the wall. The orc-darts lessen as blades are drawn instead, and uruk-hai pounce for the ground inside of the village, swiping their broad weapons at any who are in the way.

Alden's club whacking has done it job, and from that particular section of the wall the attackers have been dittered. A tall leather-clad orc, however, stops nearby as he clears the wall, and he snarls to the old man. "Interfering fool." Shaaknar points his sword, and the dog is given a hateful glare.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] The young archer's aim has proven true, and the grinning goblin in the dark yelps. But he stumbles forward rather than backward, shoving himself to his feet and making a snatch at the boy with his blade even as the youth moves a little away.

[Combat(#13388)] Shaaknar unsheathes his short broadsword, and grips it firmly.

[Ollie(#15066)] Derlon grips his sword with both hands, his face pale but determined. He hacks at an orc that appears in front of him, then thrusts the point of his blade into its stomach. As it falls backwards, it pulls him with it - and it is only the wall that saves the man. He pulls his blade free finally, only to find two more orcs on top of him.

The folk of this place are simple herdsmen and hunters, not mighty warriors. But life on the edge has taught them resourcefulness and courage, and they are born tough. As some of the Isengarders clear the wall they fight back, with spear and axe and club. What have they got to lose, save life itself?

Shaaknar's pointing sword is taken for an invitation - Alden glares at the creature, then swings his club forward in an effort to bludgeon the blade aside. "Who's interferin'?" The dog at his feet, who had cowered from the flames, pricks up her ears and growls low in her throat as she starts to creep toward Shaaknar.

The young archer is fleeing, and his back an easy target. The goblin-blade rips through his thin cloak and lays bare the flesh beneath; the youth stumbles and screams. With panic on his features, he rolls over and swings the long shaft of his bow at his attacker's feet. Tears of pain blind him.

[Ollie(#15066)] The orc laughs harshly, and kicks at the bow before leaning down and baring his teeth at the lad. Then he swings his sword down, cutting the archer's neck mostly in two.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] There are black stains upon the ground and the dead grass, but still the nasty creatures keep up their assault determindely. Archers direct fire-shafts for a close thatched hut, watching with dreadful laughs as the flames whirl through the night. Orc-blades are used against the humans who fight back.

Shaaknar stands still, a low growl emerging from his throat as his weapon is batted aside by Alden's club. But the uruk-hai quickly jerks it back up, turning it to hit for the man's hand. The dog is cast another snarl.

The young archer's scream is cut abruptly short as blood fountains, and then he is no more than a crumpled heap at the goblin's feet, one more obstacle to slow its advance. Others will have to take up the defence now. A pity that with flames springing up all around they must divide their attention. Still, the villagers try. One enterprising soul seizes a part-burned mass of thatch and hurls it bodily at the nearest goblin.
Alden is slow and ponderous, sturdy as the oak that yielded the club he wields. He pulls back in time, but only just - Shaaknar's sharp sword parts the air a mere hairsbreadth from his right arm. Spitting in frustration, the man tries again, this time aiming to crush the orc's weapon-arm. "Stand still, will you?"

The dog, still growling, darts forward with teeth bared, aiming to worry at Shaaknar's booted foot.

[Ollie(#15066)] The boy who had been fetching the arrows stops, looking around wildly. Then he stoops down and grabs up a rock, throwing it with all his might at the nearest orc - hopefully, he will hit it in the face.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] The poor orc screams in a mix of surprise and pain as the thatch is throw onto him, and he wildly beats against his armor to put the flames out. Another beast roars as he gets hit in the face by the second boy's stone. He flings his sword up in anger.

"I am standing still," snaps Shaaknar, but then his lips pull back in a scowl as teeth clamp onto his boot. It is the force of the dog's attack that saves his arm, for the orc stumbles and only a glancing blow of the club connects. The uruk-hai turns his broad blade for the annoying animal now, swiping at it.

The dog's teeth are by now clamped firmly onto Shaaknar's boot, holding her in place as the broad sword arcs toward her. Its blade bites into her side, drawing blood. Those clamped teeth jerk, but do not release.

Alden bares his own teeth now in a snarl that would rival any goblins. "And you be leavin' my dog alone, scum!" He barrels forward with his full force and his club swings toward Shaaknar's side, exposed whilst the creature twists round, his aim to crush a few ribs.

The villagers are fighting desparately now in this battle on two fronts. Against the goblins they have numbers in their favour, if not skill or strength. Against the flames there can be little winning. A pair of men reach up with hooked rakes to pull down burning thatch and stop the flames from spreading - perhaps also forming a barrier to prevent the remaining goblins from moving further into the village. One of the twain cries out suddenly and stumbles as a blade licks out of the darkness toward him, returning red-stained.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] Shaaknar kicks his leg in an attempt to loosen his boot and free his foot from it. Whether the dog's grip lets him succeed or not, the leather-clad uruk-hai emits a cry as Alden's club sails into his side. He gives an involuntary movement of his arm, throwing it down to shield the injury, but he topples to the dirt. In between grimaces, Shaaknar manages to bring the short broad-sword up again, thrusting it outward for the man's legs as he nears.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] Orcish archers slow more in their firing, for their numbers cannot match those of the villagers, and already more of their own kind have fallen rather than the humans.
The dog is in pain, and blood is flowing fast from the long slash in her side. Her strength is weakening. Shaaknar's kick sends her tumbling a couple of feet across the muddy ground, where she lies whimpering.

Alden, seeing his blow strike home, grins. "That's more like it. Go on, mangy cur. Run home with that tail between your legs." His own legs, of course, are still, and it is only when the goblin's sword swings for them that he tries to step back. Too slow - the blade bites into his left leg, causing gnarled features to contort in pain. It doesn't stop him swinging the club again, though, aimed at the ribs on Shaaknar's off-side. If it worked once, it might work twice ...

[Shaaknar(#16331)] "Lucky that dog is probably covered in fleas," says Shaaknar as the animal whimpers away, "else I'd think of dinner plans for it." But as his weapon scores a hit upon the man, the orc's mouth shifts into a fanged grin. "Maybe you'd be better suited for the menu, hmm?"

Still clutching at his side, his red eyes widen a bit as that club whams down for another parting gift -- the creature snarls as Alden's aim proves true, and he spits. Instead of attacking again, the Shaaknar tries to force himself to his feet. But he fails, wriggling himself backward in the dirt.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] A shout comes up from an Isendrim officer. A call to retreat perhaps? Indeed this seems likely, for several of the remaining orcs step away, turning their attentions again for that outer wall. It had hindered their entry...will it prove easier for escaping?

Alden nods in satisfaction as his blow strikes home, wobbling slightly as he tries to regain his balance without putting too much weight on the injured leg. "You leave my dog alone, filth!" He is already brandishing the club - but then a whine from the injured animal pulls his attention elsewhere. Treating Shaaknar to a gobbet of spit, he backs off until he is at the dog's side and can crouch clumsily down to reach out with his left hand (the right still menaces the air with the club). "Easy there, old girl," he murmurs to the poor creature. "You just lie still, Alden'll see you right."

[Shaaknar(#16331)] Shaaknar claws at the ground, and after a length of toil and cursing, shoves himself upright. "Stupid dog, and wretched Man-food!" the orc hisses, but he does not make any motion to approach either of them once more; rather, stumbling and grumbling, he indeed 'turns tail' as the bulk of the Isengarders start to flee.

The wall turns off not as difficult to clear as before: its height aids in the vaulting of that spike-strewn moat, although it claims two or three of the uruk-hai who are wounded. Once over that barrier, and past the ditch, the creatures direct their path for the cover of the woods. Blood, the dead, and fire they leave in their wake.

Alden does not even look up from his beloved dog. For those Isengarders who have successfully cleared the wall, there is no pursuit. The villagers' arrows are spent, most of their archers dead or wounded, and right now getting the fires under control is the main priority.

And so, it ends. The living goblins are gone, though the ground is scattered with corpses - some the ugly shapes of the strange goblins, others the sadder forms of villagers; man, woman and lad known here since birth and sore-missed. The flames still burn, fitfully. Some of the thatched huts are smoking ruins, still others tumbled as a fire-break; yet some still stand.

At length one fellow, burly and red-bearded, with a gash on his forehead and burns peppering both arms, breaks the grim silence. "We have fended them off for now, but if they return things will go ill. And with the Master away, too! We must send to the Elves for aid."

Alden spits. "Elves? Was them as got us /in/ this bloody mess. You mark my words, if they hadn't been hanging out round here, goblins would never've attacked." He turns his back and returns to tending his dog, tying strips torn from his cloak as a makeshift bandage and murmuring soft endearments as he works.

[Shaaknar(#16331)] The orcs who yet survive drag themselves into the shadow of the Shaws, and are gone therein. Will they be back? Perhaps. Time will tell.

Date added: 2010-05-15 15:44:03    Hits: 54
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