Deuwaindell's Journal

The morning of the 7'th day of travel, after one night in Morsten, we began the next leg of the journey. The next 3 days of travel are quiet. On the 11'th day, we began double-timing it to arrive at Fort Belvar that day and, as fate had it, we had the misfortune to break a wheel, and to have to stop for repairs. After repairs were completed, we continued.

Shortly, off over a hill, we saw a pillar of smoke. Raven and Hennic went ahead to scout. The rest followed after a short delay. It quickly became clear that the smoke came from wreckage of three wagons. From where we were, neither bodies nor signs of attackers could be seen, and our wagon train continued to the scene of what must have been a recent ambush. When we got there, it all seemed calm.

We discovered 6 bodies, presumably all the members of the other caravan, including, oddly enough, an exact twin of Jasmalus. Jasmalus identified the body of his brother Jetero. We also found that the wagons had been searched, though little was missing. Malin suggested that we move along, but at that moment 8 orcs charged from the bushes. Their attack was directed by a lone humanoid that also appeared to be casting spells. It was too far to see what kind of humanoid it was, though we did see that he was mounted on a horse.

I magic missiled the closest orc, who stumbled but didn't fall. The rest of the trap was then sprung, as 6 orcs appeared on the other side of the road and began shooting arrows, including fire arrows. One arrow hit me, 2 fire arrows hit the first wagon. Then 3 orcs fell from a sleep spell {I think it was cast by Jasmalus, but am not 100% sure}. Another was taken out by Klor, and elsewhere other orcs were soon having difficulty. Seeing eminent defeat, the orcs began to scatter and run. I rode after the one shooting fire arrows, as he was a leader among the near attackers. I cast color spray, knocked that orc unconscious, and then rode over and sliced its throat. Perhaps that was a mistake, but its death makes the local lands safer, and that is all to the good.

Hennic interrogated one of the other orcs, which, prompted by Klor, remembered that the orcs had been instructed to ambush 3 wagons and bring back "papers." That orc was let go, and we then gathered the bodies from the other caravan and continued on to Fort Belvar. When we arrived around midnight, they didn't let us in. But, we felt much better camped out near the protection of the fort wall.

The next morning, we entered the fort. The fort, which had obviously seen some recent use, appeared able to hold about 250, but only around 130 were currently manning it. Jasmalus went off to arrange the funeral of his brother and the other traders set up to begin business. I went to visit the local bar.

The opinion of the barkeep was that IUZ was either an important orc leader, or perhaps the name of a god. Whoever it was, orcs had improved their tactics, and were now not just acting on a one-clan-at-a-time basis. After visiting the bar, I managed to arrange a meeting with the fort's mage.

Their mage was much more interesting, and indicated that the magic being used during the orc attacks was much more sophisticated than it used to be. He estimated it was the equivalent of a 5'th or 7'th level mage, much more advanced than that of the typical tribe's shaman. But the most interesting speculation was that the orcs' new leader, IUZ, is a renegade human. At the end of our discussion, we agreed that the next morning, he would have a package for me to take to one of his associates. That package would include a summary of the rationale for his theory about the identity of IUZ.

With that, it was off to watch the night come over the fort and prepare for the next day of travel.