Having found an old observatory being transformed into a signal tower, the players were now heading south down the River Reik to follow up on a few leads.
The players and characters were;
Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Warrior
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Wizard
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger
The journey south started quietly enough, with the players doing a bit of trading and James steadily drinking every coach inn dry. Then, in a very quiet and remote spot of the River Reik, they saw a rickety boat drifting towards them with no obvious crew on board…
Readying weapons, it was Amy’s sharp elven eyes that picked out movement on the deck, a hulking creature with green skin – Orcs!
Realising their covert approach had been blown as Alan’s arrows started raining down on them, the Orcs let loose with a loud Waa! and set their craft on a collision course.
The few arrows from the party did little to slow their advance and the two boats crashed into one another. The Orc boarding party leapt over the railings and battle was joined.
It was a tough fight, and the players had to start yielding ground. Just then, a tree from the nearby bank toppled into the river with a giant splash, and more Orcs started pouring from the trees, using the trunk as a makeshift bridge. With the ambush now well and truly under way, the players realised they were in trouble.
While Amy led the defence up front, Alan pulled back to face the Orcs coming in across the trunk. Greenskins in both groups were falling, but there were too many of them and the players started taking wounds. Then, a particularly vicious axe swing connected with Alan’s body and a Fate point had to be used.
Just as it was about to connect, the Orc was distracted by a wild, whooping cry from the forest behind it, allowing Alan to duck the blow. There was a flash of colour, and three elves came bounding along the trunk, leaping up acrobatically over the heads of the boarding Orcs and removing the heads from a couple of them. These elves were dressed in bright woodland colours, one had a magnificent crest of dyed hair, and all were clearly expert warriors.
The Wardancers had arrived.
Amy was utterly entranced…
The battle ended very quickly after that, with the players mopping up the few greenskins the Wardancers had left for them. Despite grumbling from the dwarfs (something about prancing elves), the lead Wardancer saw there were two elves in the party and Alan’s solid defence had impressed her enough that she invited them back to the Wood Elf village within the forest – after all, if they were killing Orcs, they could not be all bad.
The two dwarfs flatly refused to go, saying they had important matters to attend to on the boat, but the other players leaped at the chance.
They were led deep into the forest and eventually came to the elven village. Here they were welcomed and invited to join in a feast that evening which would see a new recruit join the Wardancer troupe affiliated with them – the recruit had passed his final test during the attack on the Orcs.
Munching away on nuts and honey, the players watched the Wardancers perform their ritual and talked with the Wood Elf Lord. They even accepted a challenge from the lead Wardancer to a duel, all of them versus her, to first blood. And so it was they got to see first hand just what a Wardancer was capable of (she tore through them in a single turn, before most were able to so much as lift their sword).
After it was complete, Amy more or less begged the Wardancer to train her.
The elves had been suitably impressed with her skill during the battle with the Orcs but wanted to see more, and so a test was devised. Amy would have to fight each one of the players, in turn, to first blood. When this proposition was put to the dwarfs back on the boat, they eagerly accepted (‘We get to hit an elf? Sure!’). Alan and Andy were less ready, as Amy was arguably the party’s best fighter already, and they did not rate their chances.
She absolutely minced them. Skipping past dwarf, elf and human alike, Amy planted a solid blow on everyone without so much as a hair getting cut in return.
The Wardancers agreed to teach her their skills and accepted her into their troupe, so the party set up camp for the handful of weeks it would take Amy to learn everything she needed – no one complained about the chance of getting a Wardancer into the party. For their part, the elves felt they could trust Amy and liked the idea of a Wardancer going about the wider world, showing what Wood Elves were capable of – it could only enhance their reputation and keep invaders out of the forest.
At the end of their stay with the elves, Amy was made a full Wardancer and though she had much to learn (the Wardancer career is very extensive), she had just become a Warrior Plus.
Andy on the other hand… he had not got on so well with the other elves, and they sensed something… wrong about him. In fact, the Wood Elf Lord told him he had spent too long among humans and could no longer be considered a real elf (he used the term Nul-Elf), and was told to leave and never come back. It was at this time his alignment was changed from Good to Neutral (he really had not been playing a Good character up to now, at one point trying to use an example involving Hitler to justify his actions – it is a long story…). Andy promptly told the other players that he would return to the village and wipe it out in the future, just as soon as he could summon his legions of undead…
So, with that cheery thought, they bade farewell to the elves and, with a Wardancer now among their number, continued their journey south down the River Reik.