Expeditions to Bald Hill

The Troupe, still trapped in Restenford, continue to try and solve the troubles in the area. They have learned of bandits to the north of the nearby farmland have been blocking deliveries to the town. Tasked by Sir Billybob to engage the orc bandits causing trouble in the north, Viconia leads the Troupe to Bald Hill.

3 Flamerule 1368

Bald Hill is a large rocky plateau with several cliffs dotted around it. There are large open areas which are obvious routes for trading caravans, but it also makes the area the perfect place for an ambush. We start by checking some of the smaller plateaus dotted atop the hill, and sure enough we find an orc archer waiting in ambush.

We engage, and it launches an arrow into my shoulder. Then Xan knocks it down with a sling bullet.

I heal myself while Viconia searches the body. Some basic chainmail, a bow, and a few trinkets are all it carries.

We return to the bottom of the cliff we find another orc bandit in waiting.

Fabio gets the killing blow this time.

It carries similar equipment to the other bandit, except it has a Scroll of Disintegrate in its belt. Do these bandits have magic users assisting them?

The next plateau we check also has an archer looking out for merchant caravans. Rose introduces it to her crossbow.

This orc carries a Scroll of Pierce Magic.

We spot another archer on the plateau. Fabio strikes this one down.

It carries a Scroll of Animate Skeleton Warrior. I hope we don’t have to face another necromancer. That’s the last thing we need now.

We return to lower ground and find a small group of orc archers. We ready our weapons as Xan prepares to try and put them to Sleep.

Xan’s spell fails, but we are able to injure one of them. Cat charges at them, claws and teeth at the ready.

I take another arrow so use Corellon’s blessings to heal myself. Viconia moves in to support Cat.

Xan kills one of the archers and the other two retreat.

Cat kills a second archer and we turn our focus to the last remaining orc.

A fourth bandit joins the fight and flanks us.

We kill it, but yet another orc comes to support its friend.

Thankfully we have a lot of experience fighting bandits, even if these are the first orcs we’ve ever been up against.

The last orc falls and we heal our wounds before we move on.

Searching the bodies, we find they have the same generic equipment as the rest we have encountered so far, as well as a few scrolls. The first will drain the souls of any enemies nearby.

Another provides us with Protection from Petrification. This should be useful if we have to fight basilisks again.

Finally we find a Scroll of Charm Person. I realise that we now have two of these in our scroll pouch, so Rose and I attempt to make copies into our spellbooks. Unfortunately Rose fails to copy the spell correctly.

On another corpse we find a spell to summon a Fire Elemental.

Up another small plateau, another orc. Cat slashes it to death.

This one carried a Scroll of Invisible Stalker. I’ve summoned one of these before – when clearing out the Gnoll Stronghold.

I am hit in the back by an arrow from another orc archer, but Cat gets my revenge for me.

This orc isn’t carrying any scrolls. I am low on healing magic so Viconia helps bring me back to health.

This plateau is larger than the others, and is likely the peak of Bald Hill. As we wander to the north we encounter a large snake. Unfortunately for us it is aggressive.

The snake poisons Cat, who almost dies. Before the snake can finish off my familiar, Xan puts it to sleep.

I hit it with some Magic Missiles and it wakes up again.

The snake bites through Viconia’s armour and poisons her. She pulls an Elixir of Health from her potion pouch and swallows the contents.

Viconia is bit again and the snakes venom eats away at her. I launch more Magic Missiles, while Xan uses his Wand to support the attack.

Another barrage of Magic Missiles from Xan’s wand finishes the snake off.

This fight has given Xan confidence in our abilities as a party.

Aegon: Of course we will! As if anyone ever had any doubt!

Xan: I feel free, for the lack of a better word. And also the happiest I’ve felt in months.

What I mean is, we have done a lot. We are still alive. I may soon return to Evereska – and I am proud to call you my friend. If this is not enough, what is?

Aegon: You are right. I am glad you feel this way.

Xan: And so am I, strangely enough.

Shall we move on? I will try not to distract you, if I can help it – just know that I am grateful.

Aegon: And I am grateful to you.

Xan: Yes well, it *has* been a pleasure.

Now onward, to…

He sighs.

Xan: …something. Not a very heroic appeal, is it?

Oh, never mind. I am not myself these days. Within a day or two, the mood will be gone, but so far so good! Come?

What has gotten into him? He’s normally so… depressing. I’m glad to see a more positive attitude in him, but it has me worried…

We continue north and are surprised by an orc ambushing us from the trees.

Mur’Neth takes care of the problem this time.

It doesn’t carry anything other than some basic armour and weapons. As soon as we turn away from the corpse we run into two orc warriors, and an older looking orc in robes. We may have found the magic user.

The orc magic user blesses the orcs with strength as we launch our assault. Xan opens with a barrage of Magic Missiles from his want, and I use my Wand of Frost.

Viconia and Cat engage the warriors while the rest of us stay at a distance. One of the warriors is hurt badly.

Unfortunately it is still able to slay the drow before she has a chance to finish it off.

Xan uses his Wand of Fire to finish off the orc, and focuses the flame on the second warrior. The orc magic user Smites our party, severely injuring Rose. She pulls out a Potion of Extra Healing so she can last the fight.

The priest’s Smite kills Mur’Neth and almost kills both Fabio and myself.

I decide to try and summon some help to distract the priest. Xan moves around so his Wand of Fire hits the priest as well.

The second warrior falls. We just have the priest to deal with now. Xan interrupts his next spell with some Magic Missiles.

Xan hits him again, so the priest creates a Sanctuary for itself.

Before it can heal itself, Rose uses her Truth Perception to see where the priest is hiding.

With it’s location revealed, Xan is able to finish the creature off.

With the battle done, we gather up the bodies of Mur’Neth and Viconia. Thankfully, Mur’Neth remains solid in death otherwise it might be hard to carry an ooze. I only hope resurrection spells still work on the creature.

The orcs carry some armour, gold, and axes, as well as a tiger cowrie shell necklace and a couple of waterstar gems. The priest has some magical robes as well, but we don’t know what they do.

With two of our party dead, we make our way back to the farm to find Almax. It costs us 1000 gold coins to bring Viconia and Mur’Neth back. Thankfully Almax’s magic works on oozes.

We need rest now, so we return to the Tavern of the West Wind to get a room for the night. Their beds aren’t the best quality, but with our aches and pains we are glad to just have a place to rest.

4 Flamerule 1368

The next morning, Viconia and I heal the party. I use my Identify spell to read the Tome we found in Pelltar’s tower. Reading it makes me feel smarter.

Xan uses his magic to study the cloak we found on the orc. It’s an orc shaman’s cloak, providing some good protection at the expense of making one a bit of an eyesore. It seems a good fit for Mur’Neth, allowing him to aim easier and use its thieving abilities well.

We make our way back to Bald Hill, and find another archer waiting in ambush.

We take it out and find a powerful scroll of transformation on its corpse.

We move down to the main plateau and make our way toward the peak again. We hear a voice from nearby, the deep voice of an orc.

Viconia: Your home?

Krellus: Yes, we live here near Bald Hill. Oh, the ground isn’t great for farming but local travellers help provide us with what we need.

Viconia: Yes, you have mentioned “us” several times now. I assume the orcs hiding around us are part of this “us”?

Krellus: Yes! It is good that you can see them. I always think that people should see their killers before they die. Attack men!

We find ourselves surrounded by orcs, and a single human bandit. Luckily the archer they had for support is already dead.

We immediately get to work, Xan putting one of the orcs to sleep with his Power Word.

The human bandit drinks a Potion of Invisibility and disappears. Fabio protects himself using his Armour of Faith. Rose slays one of the orc bandits with her crossbow.

Rose uses her Truth Perception to try an see the invisible bandit. It fails, but it reveals the location of their leader.

Another orc is slain as the bandit leader closes in.

Then the invisible bandit stabs Xan in the back, killing him instantly.

Damn. He was just starting to have a more positive outlook.

Cat and Viconia move in to engage the leader and his human lackey, while the rest of us reposition ourselves.

Another archer is slain, while we are assaulted by the others. Fabio and I draw our melee weapons and join the close quarters fighting.

Fabio and I are hurt. I choose to retreat, while Fabio reaches for a Potion of Healing.

Viconia kills the human bandit, and Xan’s command wears off allowing the sleeping orc to wake up.

The archer takes some hits, but we are flanked by yet another orc archer.

The drowsy archer dies and we turn our attention to their leader. I throw some Magic Missiles at it.

Then I Doom the bandit leader.

The orc leader is unable to defend itself and panics, while I summon some help to distract the last remaining archer.

I finish off the bandit leader with a Chromatic Orb.

After it falls, the final archer is easy to deal with.

Rose has learned a lot from this fight.

She is now confident enough in her acting abilities that she believes she could at least pretend to be a specialised fighter.

Mur’Neth also says that it has learned a lot from fighting the orc bandits.

Before we leave to see Almax again, we loot the bodies. One of the orcs had a Scroll of Acid Fog, a spell that can not only burn, but limit enemies’ vision.

Another orc had another scroll that can summon an elemental.

The orc leader was wearing some powerful chain mail armour.

As well as a girdle that provides it with blessings. Viconia is leading our Troupe at the moment, so she takes both this and the armour from the orc leader.

The bandit leader also carried a magical shield.

And a heavily enchanted flail. We don’t have a use for these weapons, so we store them in the Bag of Holding.

The human bandit had some enchanted leather armour.

He was also wearing boots specialised for sneaking around. Maybe this is why Rose couldn’t detect him with her Truth Perception. Both the armour and boots are the tools of a thief, so Mur’Neth takes them both. I decide to wear the Orc Shaman Cloak instead of my wizard robes.

The bandit also carried an enchanted long sword, enchanted dagger, and a waterstar gem.

One of the orcs carried a second Scroll of Animate Skeleton Warrior. Yet another carries a Scroll of Darts of Bone.

With the bodies looted, it’s time to return to Almax and resurrect Xan. On our way we let Sir Billybob know we have taken care of the bandit leader.

Rose: We went over to Bald Hill and were attacked by orcs. They put up a good fight but I think we cleared them all out. We got their leader also.

Sir Billybob: I thought there had to be more of them. I guess you haven’t found the missing caravan though? It probably doesn’t matter at this point. I suspect you found the culprits.

Rose: I don’t think they will be bothering any more people.

Sir Billybob: Excellent Work.

Rose: I have a question for you.

Sir Billybob: Well then, go ahead and ask.

Rose: How old are you really? Everyone in town seems to think you are ancient but being a half-elf, I assume you are older than you look.

Sir Billybob chuckles.

Sir Billybob: I am not as old as Elminster but I have been around for quite awhile. Longer than most full-blooded elves could hope for. I’m not a Chosen for any deity but I have been tasked by some to help shift power and control from one faction to another.

By the way, who is now in charge at Candlekeep? I haven’t been there in many years.

Aegon: Tethtoril.

Sir Billybob: What?! Hmm, I think I remember a stable boy by that name. I guess it has been awhile since I was last there.

Well, anyway, I need to get back to my crops. Good luck to you, Aegon.

We bid our farewells and go to see Almax. It costs us 600 gold to return Xan to us. Let us hope his will hasn’t been destroyed again.

We are low on ammo, so we go to Pheldman’s Store to restock. While there, Xan ponders his recent death.

Aegon: So what has happened to him?

Xan: Cousin Erevain intended to see the world before joining his family in Retreat. Evidently he travelled as far as Icewind Dale.

He sighs.

Aegon: You are sighing… Forgive me, if I am prying, but I have a feeling that something grave has happened to your cousin.

Xan: Is anything good ever happens in this world? A group of ragged mercenaries came to the Halfway Inn about fifty years ago. They brought back Erevain’s sword and diary. His… his body was found near Kuldahar path…

Aegon: He has departed for Arvanaith, then…

Xan: Do you know naught? An elf who died so far from home, and in a violent way, may never enter the afterlife in Arvanaith. Only a fool can forsake the elven immortality for adventure.

Aegon: Which, coincidentally makes us both into fools, friend Xan. Admit it, mellonamin, you do like the life of adventure, despite your gloomy demeanor.

Xan looks at me worriedly and walks away, fumbling a healing potion, for some reason. It seems our gloomy Xan is back.

I didn’t know that about Arvanaith. Why would the elven priests that passed through the Keep not teach me that part of the myth? Is it because I have always been far from home? Do they expect me to die violently also?

We make our way to the West Wind to rest again. I struggle to sleep this night as I wonder if I will make it to Arvanaith. Is my dedication to Corellon Larethian enough? Why did they keep this from me?

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