States of Light

Episode 1

(Half) Orcish Hospitality

The journey from Salerno to Krandor was unusually calm and uneventful, thanks in no small part to Amalaun’s failure to report for duty. Kenichi and Ulis remained in Krandor while Caedmon, Gorun, Hrath, Korin and Newt continued on to Sparka Hul.

News out of Sparka Hul indicated that a new Warchief had risen to power and The League needed confirmation that the new leader would honour the pledges of the old.

The heroes joined a small trade caravan in Krandor and made excellent time through the western mountain passes. They arrived in Sparka Hul slightly ahead of schedule, but the guards at the gate were not at all surprised to see them. A street urchin was quickly enlisted as a guide and he lead the group through the tangled warrens that comprise the city.

Upon arrival, the new Warchief – Arsalan of Clan Bearclaw – welcomed the heroes and announced a feast in their honour. Much food and many drinks were consumed at the feast and at the festivities continued late into the night at the fighting pits. The headline show was a battle between four of Sparka Hul’s finest war dogs and a hippogriff with partly clipped wings. Though it managed to kill 3 of the dogs, the hippogriff was finally brought down. While Gorun seemed somewhat disgusted by the display, Jiki Mal showed a keen understanding of such games and turned a tidy profit on his bets.

The following morning the heroes were called to Arsalan’s council chambers to argue their case. Arsalan seemed to favour the League, but most of the council spoke out strongly against it. Caedmon showed his mastery of language, handily dispatching one naysayer after another and securing Arsalan’s pledge after less than an hour of debate. The heroes left the city not only with the pledge they were sent to renew, but with two fine warriors and a chest of treasure for the League.

The return trip to Krandor was complicated by an ambush. A pack of war dogs supported by archers began the assault and they were quickly joined by three powerful melee combatants, including a mighty war captain. The warriors bore the colours and weapons of Clan Bearclaw, but Hrath noted that they were not true members of that clan.

Just as things began to grow desperate, Gorun called upon the spirits of the earth to shield his comrades. His gesture granted enough time for the heroes to turn the ambush back upon the attackers. The archers turned and fled as soon as they saw the captain fall…

Comments

Hrath stared glumly into the fire and tried not to listen to the hacking and coughing all around him. He’d been in the plague house for days now, and he was itching to leave. Really itching. He still had sores all over from his affliction.

He’d probably caught something on the trip back to Sparka Hul. No doubt from one of the damned orcs. They were always host to some disease or another. They refused even gestures at cleanliness. Claimed soap broke down the body’s natural defences. As if the dirt and grime they wore like a second skin had ever stopped his blade.

Sparka Hul.

He hadn’t imagined ever returning there unless it was at the head of a cleansing army. He certainly hadn’t imagined returning as part of a party of diplomats — negotiators, pleading with the new war chief to honour his responsibilities to the League. Hrath gritted his teeth. Especially when he saw those of the clans that had wiped out his own kin.

He forced that down into the deeper parts of himself, where he stored his hate and his fury. The furnace that kept him going. There were other things at work in Sparka Hul now. Things he didn’t understand. There was the matter of the new war chief’s strange rise to power, and the ambush on their return trip.

He sighed and shook his head. He would have to wait for the illness to run its course before he could continue his quest for vengeance and redemption. He wondered how his comrades from the League were doing in his absence.

He tossed another log on the fire and watched it blaze up. The smoke caused more coughing and hacking in the plague house, but he didn’t care. He imagined the fire as Sparka Hul and smiled.

Episode 1
jaredskarma jaredskarma

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