The 19'th day since beginning the journey, we gathered with the traders and prepared to leave Fort Critwall. However, as arranged with Jetero the previous eve, Jetero's wagon was found to be disabled. The fort's blacksmith, somewhat puzzled by the damage, said it would take all day to fix. Thus, having no duty, the caravan guards went fishing. In fact we were to contact a local KGB agent who could get information on an imminent orc invasion to the authorities. That morning was idyllic, a leisurely ride through fields and woods, not to mention the humor of Klor falling into the river trying to net a fish from on his horse.... Humans... One wonders how Klor knows which end of a sword to hold, though he is in truth a valiant fighter.
Unfortunately, reality intruded, as we again see a lone horse rider on a distant hill-top. But, we arrived where we were to meet the KGB agent without major misadventures. There was no sign of the agent, so Klor began to fish, while Raven and I climbed a pile of rocks that formed an inverted V. Rats was exploring the base of the rock pile when behind him, up from the water, sprang a fiercely roaring lizardman. Rat's kept his wits and gave the KGB signal. However, afraid that Rats was being attacked, Klor charged directly across the lake to save him. Well, the lizardman saved Klor from drowning, though not without first muttering something about humans that I do wish I had thought to translate.
We turned over the sealed package we brought from Jetero, had a pleasant lunch, and with a net-full of fish supplied by the lizardman, began our return trip. An hour away from the lake we saw the figure we believe is IUZ casting spells. But, of more pressing concern were the approximately 40 orcs charging down the hill. We decided to flee, knowing we could easily outdistance orcs on horses, but that was not to be. Attempting to gallop off, Rats fell and we halted, suffering hits from orcish arrows as a cost of aiding him. We again gallop off, this time both Raven and Hennic take dives over the heads of their horses, which stuns Raven so badly that he has to be carried by Klor. The orcs split in two groups, one on each side of the river.
With Klor carrying Raven we could only canter, not enough to prevent the orcs gaining on us. Rats is hit by an arrow; Klor is hit by an arrow; then Rats turns and casts a spell entangling all the orcs on our side of the river. We again move off, with only half the orcs chasing us, though the second group is now on our side of the river, far too close. Soon, seeing that we would never escape if we kept our current path, and being the best rider, I told the rest of the party to flee while I took up position behind a tree, to use magic to slow the orcs as much as I could.
Looking back, I still can't figure out why I did that. But... When the orcs, still numbering at least 15, got within 80 yards I magic-missiled the nearest. It did not fall. Moments later, the orcs were within range of a sleep spell but only two fell. I really must study that spell further, this is the second time it has not worked as well as it should.
The orcs were then within 20 yards, more then close enough to smell. I used my last spell, color spray, and 3 more fell unconscious. Turning to gallop off, I fell from my horse. I haven't done that for at least 53 years, but the surprise of that was nothing to my amazement when I saw the rest of the group just sitting there, no more than 10 feet further away then when I had told them to flee.
I almost didn't make it, was very nearly grabbed by an orc, though I just managed to jump on my horse and get away. Yelling at the group to ride off, I quickly caught up to them, luckily only taking one hit from an arrow for my foolishness. Then, only then, after leaving me to almost be captured and a certain unpleasant death, do other guards move to attack the orcs. Hennic with bow and arrow, Klor with sling, and Rats with spell. Perhaps other elves are right when they say to not trust humans. I had thought not, but now am no longer certain.
The battle was fierce, but brief, and all orcs either fell or were driven off without our group taking any very serious injuries. None the less it was a battered group that finally reached the relative safety of Fort Critwall late in the afternoon. Where, fortunately, wounds could be healed, or bound, and the party made ready for the next day's travel.