When last we left our brave heroes, they had their target in sight. The band of orcs that had raided their raid would soon themselves be raided, and tribal honor restored.
While our heroes were outnumbered more than two-to-one, Cunnin lived up to his namesake and offered a plan. Taz Dingo would be sent into the woods ahead of them and create a distraction, leading some of the orcs away from their camp and allowing the rest of the party to set upon whomever remained. The plan was set and simple. The plan was then explained a second time for raph's benefit, explicitly highlighting his own roll in the simplest terms: For every enemy orc you kill, you will receive two Oreos.
With that, the plan was set in motion. Cunnin crept into position. Taz moved around the outer perimeter, hidden from view. Justice and Raph came up the back, the wolves in tow. The young human girl (who had been by now given the good and honorable orc name Tuska, after an orcish hero of old) was left in a safe place to watch over their gear, keeping both her from harm and their things from slowing them down.
Unfortunately, rather than run into the woods and make noise to get the orcs to follow Taz misunderstood the plan and began drawing their attention from the edge of their own camp. The rest of the party sprang into action. Justice threw dried rations at the enemy orcs still by the fire, sending the hungry wolves barreling down at them.
Several orcs moved to intercept Taz, but Justice moved in to intercept. Moments later, the great green behemoth came plowing through their ranks, shouting "I came in like a Raaaaaaaaaaaaphing ball" and crushing all that stood before him. Kidneyshanks moved around behind the tents, carefully picking his moment. It was from this perspective that he was the first to see a giant of an orc among their party - a figure who could be none other than the enemy's warboss.
The brutal melee lasted for several long moments before the Warboss was on Justice and their struggle was terrible to behold. Cunnin came in from behind, trying to sink his short-sword between enemy ribs but was rebuffed by sturdy leather armor. The boss turned on Cunnin, sword raised high -- when the broken body of another orc hurdled through the air and smashed into him, toppling them both to the ground. Raph looked on at his makeshift projectile with a satisfied grin.
The Warboss reeled, bloody and dazed. Crossbow in hand now, Cunnin shouted for him to surrender. When the warboss refused, a bolt burried itself in his shoulder, obliterating a ball-joint and causing him to drop his sword. At the second command to surrender, the warboss relented. The remaining Orc stood down, too drunken and injured to refuse.
The latter was bound and sat by a tent until he could be dealt with. Raph's fee was tallied and his account settled. The defeated warboss was thoroughly questioned, his reluctance to speak overcome through a means of coercion too grizzly and disturbing to be described here. (Raph cuddled him, alright? It was awful. There was snuggling.)
Caving to cruel psychological torture, the Warboss revealed that he was in service to an Orc Queen that was coming to power, one more fearsome than any warboss that had come before. She styled herself The Matriarch, and would unite all orc-kind under her heel.
Troubled by this news, Justice, Taz, and Cunnin held council while Raph made sure the prisoners stayed put. At some length, it was decided that our heroes had no wish to become part of The Matriarchy, and that they would have to find the Orc Queen and assess the true nature of their foe. Of the captives, the choice was difficult but necessary. Prisoners would only slow them down, and to leave a defeated orc alive was to guarantee that they would seek revenge.
Cunnin approached the Warboss and apologized simply. "I'm sorry, but there is an account to settle." He placed a bolt through the warboss's brain-pan, giving him the most painless death he could.
This left the remaining prisoner, of whom it was decided would be an offering to Gruumsh, one-eyed. The prisoner was given several swigs of their best whiskey, and ultimately went willingly to his death, hanged upon a high branch and ended with a spear.
Tuska and their belongings were fetched from the hiding place down the way, and they made camp in the defeated orcs tents. Once the belongings were searched, several trinkets were found, including a strange shield made of granite, a fine sword and a strange golden necklace. Of these, the necklace became most important, the center ruby in it shimmering.
The necklace was placed around Raph's neck for testing. Nothing happened for a long time, but as he played with the medallion, his eyes rolled back and he fell to the ground unconscious. When he recovered, he related a vision of a great female orc who both grew and shrank in size. Before her were hundreds of orcs (maybe, Raph isn't great with numbers) all shouting and chanting her name. Orc-pra! Orc-pra! Orc-pra! Orc-pra!
Upon further questioning, he related that it was outside in a warm place where no snow had fallen. With nothing else to go on, that set our course south. South we shall go.
Until next time.