Mother of the Orx

We finished the previous session of our Zweihänder game with both Eva and Djarin close to the Orx encampment on the Horned Monk and trying to listen in on what was going on. Eva continues to record what happened.

Stuck in the bushes with Djarin allowed me to see what was going on in the Orx camp, but we couldn’t hear what they were saying. Though there was a risk of being seen, I decided to creep further forward to try and overhear what the two women were talking about. However, I felt it to be a calculated risk, and even if caught, the women may be more willing to talk than to kill me.

Fortunately, though I made a bit of noise, I got closer to the camp without being heard.

Players’s Note: Eva tried to sneak down, but failed, so I used a fortune point to re-roll. However, I failed on the re-roll as well. Fortunately the orx didn’t hear her. Listening consisted of an Eavesdrop check, with each success allowing her to find out another item of information.

  • The orx seemed to be arranging guard duty and patrols.
  • I could hear them planning where to put their watch posts on the road. There were four posts planned.
  • At one point, the older woman can be heard berating the high orx for leaving his watch post early yesterday. She makes references to newcomers at the village, which I assume means us. She also asks Katherina to go look for Gregor because he has wandered off again.

Having stayed here long enough, I felt it was time to head back up the hill and share what I’d found with the others. If the younger girl is definitely named Katherina, then that makes it more likely that the two are Max’s wife and daughter. I do suggest that we wait up here and lay a trap for Katherina when she comes looking or Gregor, but the others want to head back and report, because that’s what they’re being paid to do. It’s also possibly the safest option.

I lead the way back, but somehow get lost so it takes a bit longer than it should have. As we head through the forest, Floquert scouts ahead and notices the spell of burning up ahead and hears the sound of orx voices. It seems that a group of orx have discovered the cottage we passed on the way out this morning, and are busily burning it down. We decide to navigate around the orx and safely make it back to the village.

The villagers are keen to hear the news, and Andre seems incredibly concerned about Waldman, being grateful to Calthar for saving him. They’re not sure what to do with the orx Gregor, so we manage to lock him into a cage and tell the villagers to leave him alone. If the two women are as concerned about him as they appear to be, then he could be a good bargaining chip, as well as a possible source of information.

We have a meeting with Max and Andre, and tell them what we saw. Max is surprised that Johanna and Katherina might still be alive, and thinks that it is unlikely. He doesn’t understand why they might be wanting to gain revenge on the village, and is shocked at the idea that the woman may have been betrayed by someone in the village who sold them out in order to save the men. Calthar mentions that possibly it had been the barman Horst, though Max doesn’t seem sure of that, though admits it could be a possibility. To me, Max seems to be telling the truth when he says he isn’t aware of the women having been betrayed, so I’m a bit less sure at this point that this is what happened.

I asked him whether either Johanna or Katherina had known any magic, but though Johanna had knowledge of herbs, neither had shown any magical inclinations. Johanna had been strong willed (which may just mean she didn’t always do what Max told her to do), so maybe she had the personality to survive amongst the orx and take control. Max feels that if the two woman are his wife and daughter, then it is kinder to kill them than have them live. If they had helped the orx, then they will also be traitors to their race, so they may be tried and executed.

That evening I take some food to Gregor, and ask him some more questions. Though he considers Kat to be his sister, she isn’t the sister of the other orx, though they all consider the older woman to be ‘Mom’. Some have also suggested that he looks a bit like Waldman, so I wonder whether Gregor is Johanna’s son.

The following morning we head back towards the Horned Monk, this time just the four of us – myself, Calthar, Djarin and Floquert – and with instructions to take out the orx leadership, or maybe try to convince them to leave. There is some discussion about which route to take – whether to go back via the forest again, or head straight up the road, but we finally decide on the longer but probably safer route.

Floquert wants to check on the cottage, to see if there are any survivors there, but the place is not burned down and abandoned. There are tracks of about half a dozen smaller orx, plus a larger one, but they seem to have come and gone via the road, so they probably still aren’t aware of the back route up the hill.

The climb up is easier than before now that we know where we are going, but at the top of the Monk we spot a couple of kobolds on guard duty – or at least they are probably meant to be on guard duty. Floquert spots them first, and they are oblivious to us. One is sleeping, the other seems to have his attention focused on the contents of his flask.

Djarin carefully takes aim with his crossbow and kills the drinking kobold with a single shot, and Calthar quickly sneaks up and slays the sleeping one. That leaves us with two dead guards to explain away to any orx or kobold which come up the hill.

It is then that I have what is probably not my greatest of ideas. If we hide the bodies, then anyone coming up here would realise something was wrong and raise the alarm, and if we left them there then again the alarm would be raised. So I try to arrange the bodies so that they look like they got into a fight and killed each other.

Players Note: There was some discussion on which skill should be used for this, since nothing really covers it. In the end we go for Survival, since it’s trying to lay false tracks (of a sort). It doesn’t matter though since I roll a 66 on an opposed skill check (a critical failure) and everyone else was having too much fun watching me try to figure out how to do it to actually aid. Eva picks up two Corruption points for doing this, which got reduced to one due to one of her abilities.

After a while, most of the orx leave the camp on their patrols, but a couple of kobolds head up in our direction. On seeing their two artistically arranged kin, they are somewhat stunned, but Djarin shoots one and kills him instantly. Floquert steps out and distracts the other with some form of dance, surprising him so much that he other doesn’t notice his companion has just died. A second volley from Djarin and Calthar takes him down.

Down in the camp there are maybe 10 kobolds left, most of whom are sleeping. The two women are somewhere in the cave, so we carefully head down towards them, still with not too much of an idea about what to do.

We quietly make our way past the sleeping kobolds and reach the cave. It is difficult to see anything in the darkness of the cave, but as my eyes adjust I can see some flicker of what looks like torchlight further in.

Player’s Note: Whilst Eva was looking in the cave and trying to adjust her eyes to the darkness, she failed to notice that Calthar was quietly killing all the sleeping kobolds behind her. She manages to go the entire rest of the session without noticing this. Calthar gets some Corruption for doing this, and the other two gain a bit from witnessing the event. Eva’s complete obliviousness to the affair saves her.

I head into the cave, followed by the others, and it opens out into a large cavern let by a lantern. There are three beds, one separated from the others, as well as bags and sacks and some other simple furniture. There are also two women here, talking quietly to each other until they turn and notice me, demanding to know who we were and what we were doing here.

I introduced myself, and said that we had come via the village. They admitted to being Johanna and Katherine, and Johanna said that Max had been responsible for the women being killed – he had betrayed them. However, she admits that she doesn’t know this for certain – the orx leader Guar had told her that a human man had betrayed the women, but he didn’t know who he was. Johanna had assumed it had been Max.

I asked her whether she really wanted to kill all the women and children who had not been there twelve years ago, and she agrees that she doesn’t really want this. I sense that she is about to ask about Gregor, and tell her that he is safe back at the village.

During our conversation I notice that her hand occasionally strays to a pouch at her waist, mostly when she seems agitated or unhappy with what we say. She also has a rune carved dagger on her belt.

Eventually she agrees to a compromise. She asks me to swear an oath that I will deliver a message to the village – that they must give her Max and Horst, they must allow her to see Waldman, and that they must return Gregor to her unharmed. In exchange, she promises to leave with the orx and let everyone else live.

It is an oath I am willing to swear, especially since it doesn’t bind me to anything other than delivery of the message. However, as I am about to I notice that she is muttering arcane words under her breath, and making gestures with her hands. I scream out “Magic!” at this betrayal.

Player’s Note: There was a lot of discussion before hand about what we wanted to do with the women when we found them, and at the time we weren’t sure whether negotiation was an option. Djarin definitely just wanted to kill them, and I think Calthar did as well. Eva got in first though and began talking to them, and nobody else wanted to start a fight without group agreement. Eva, having no real combat ability, was never going to initiate that herself. Johanna’s use of magic at the end (presumably just something to bind me to the oath) was a good excuse to start a fight without it being Eva’s fault. We’ll begin next session with the fight, and find out just how deadly the combat system is for real.

There was a check to see if anyone gained Chaos at the end, but none of us did. The GM rolls a d10, and if it’s equal to or less than the Corruption you gained in the adventure then you gain a Chaos rank, otherwise you gain an Order rank.

Samuel Penn

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