Our journey back to Triboar had been uneventful. Yes, we’d been attacked by bandits, but in all honesty, and I am nothing if not honest, I considered the bandits to be more like target practice rather than any real threat. I stepped onto Troll-Burn Bridge, the site of my heroic victory over a clan of trolls, and a cry rang out from Akra. At first, I thought the somewhat inept sorceress had firebolted herself in the foot again. However, as I looked up I realised she was pointing to a dust cloud in the distance.
Shading my keen elvish eyes with my hand, I saw a rather beleaguered dwarf running hell for leather from an enraged war-party of Orcs. Spittle flew from the poor little chap’s mouth as, arms pumping, he hurtled towards the bridge. A wickedly serrated spear glanced from the terrified dwarf’s shoulder plate and the skirl of an Orcish horn rent the air.
“I wager you two silver pieces he doesn’t make it,” I said to Lunar, offering her a sandwich.
“You’re on,” she answered, squinting at the distant figure.
It was a safe bet. There was no way the little dirt-digger was going to outrun them but I fancied a bit of sport so I lobbed a sparkling ball of fire high into the air.
“Ohh!” said Lunar, following the graceful curve of the firework.
“Ahh!,” said I, as it exploded in the midst of the Orcs with a dazzling array of reds and oranges.
The smoke cleared and it became apparent that I had decimated the war-party to a mere five pursuers. Spurred on by the turn of events the dwarf dug deep and accelerated towards the bridge.
The lead Orc discarded his shield and free of the excess weight charged down the dwarf. With an echoing thud, he brought the shaft of his spear crashing down onto the dwarf’s thick skull. Fortunately, the diminutive fellow didn’t have far to fall and he dropped into the swampy ground alongside the bridge with a comical squelch.
“Two silver pieces,” I said, holding out my hand.
“It’s not over yet,” answered Lunar through a mouthful of sandwich and gestured to Hundur, our timid barbarian.
For a big fellow, he has a turn of speed about him, and for once he was using it to run towards the enemy. He leapt from the bridge’s parapet and cleaved down with his great axe, bisecting the lead Orc.
Angered by the felling of their leader the remnants of the war-party surrounded Hundur.
“I’ve got your back,” yelled Akra, a war cry which strikes fear into the hearts of any adventurer downrange of the hapless spell-miscaster.
The dragonborn sorceress called on the power of the weave to send a bolt of fire shooting towards the Orcs – at least I’m sure that was the intent – the result was somewhat different. There was a flash of violet light and then Akra floated over the swamp, trapped in a bubble of magic.
I quickly thumbed through my spell book, looking for an incantation that would dissipate the magic. Obviously, my sole concern was to free Akra from her predicament, and the prospect of dropping her into the fetid swamp waters below never entered my mind. Alas, I had no such spell.
Fortunately for Hundur’s sake, Neagra, a half-orc warrioress who had joined our group, launched herself from the bridge and with a swing of her massive axe dispatched another of the Orcs.
Hundur and Neagra twirled their axes keeping the Orcs at bay while to their rear the dwarf groaned and crawled towards the bridge.
“He’s going to make it,” said Lunar.
I cast a sceptical eye over the scene. “I’m not so sure,” I said. The little chap slumped flat, almost seeming to be dragged backwards by an invisible magical hand, which most certainly had nothing to do with me.
With a deft feint followed by a withering blow Neagra felled another foe. Not wanting to be outdone, Hundur bellowed and cleaved down with his axe. The blade missed its intended victim and slammed into a rock, splintering the weapon’s handle.
I shook my head in dismay. “If you want something doing properly you’d better do it your elf.” Three rays of scorching fire leapt from my fingers and the two remaining Orcs became nothing more than a sooty mess.
“Oh, look. He made it,” said Lunar, pointing to the dwarf who had finally crawled to the safety of the bridge.
“Let’s call it a draw,” I said, knowing that without I, Tarquin The Honest, the little rock-shoveler would have never seen another day.