The orc’s leader Jarrod laughed off the challenge of the ranger Ethrehil, claiming that he was abducting no one. He explained that the choice whether to come with his band was completely Alanis’s. She would teach his men to read and write elvish, and teach them the way of the sword so they could put aside their axes. Knowing this choice was a false one and believing the orcs could easily overwhelm the group and the village, she agreed.
However, she swore an “Elven blood oath” to the orc, which the other elves knew was not actually a thing. In the process she left a handkerchief covered with her blood with the party and spoke in some coded language about a “where rat”. The group allowed this to happen and went to stock up as best as possible, while obtaining the mayor’s permission to use the wererat Jimmy to track the blood scent in exchange for his freedom. They made sure to stock up on plenty of silver. Another prisoner there begged for her freedom in exchange for information. She was a common pickpocket, and one of the persons she had pilfered from before he caused all the trouble was the elven Necromancer. She had found a crude map with landmarks clear enough to point out where he was headed, a dammed lake some distance north. The group gave her her gear back and left her to her own devices.
As soon as they left the lock up, they found the city under duress again. Five orcs were wandering the streets looking for the party specifically. These five were more powerful than orcs the group had previously fought, and included an eye of Gruumsh and an Orog. The Orog especially, in his plate armor proved quite deadly. Ethrehil barely made it out of the battle alive.
They began tracking, but immediately cam upon the end of another battle. Ten orcs had battles ten… somethings. Strange mantis men were cleaning their weapons after their side had just won a battle. No one in the group recognized these beasts, and has only ever heard of giant mantises, not humanoid ones. Even more strangely, they wielded strange weapons rather than their natural claws which still looked quite deadly. Four of these creatures remained and immediately rushed to defensive positions, some blurring, some seeming to concentrate on their weapons, causing them to glow. The group managed to kill one and wound the others however, at which point they became invisible and rushed away, not to be seen again.
Hours of trail following again and they were beset upon by eight orcs, a sight that would have sent them running a mere week ago, but one which they now faced with confidence. While they were surprised by the ambush, it was the orcs who were in trouble. The party made quick work, while Jimmy the wererat plucked one of the orcs axes for personal protection. Sensing they were themselves being tracked and desperately needing rest, the party searched for a safe place to rest, and found hollowed out sections of some giant redwoods. Indeed as morning came an Orcish general and his troops appeared to be following them, but the party got the drop on him. While he was more than a match for any of them, the general suffered humiliating defeat from being surprised, from having all of his opponents out of range, from being tricked into thinking he was being attacked by an illusory mantis-man, and by elves falling from trees.
Only a short while later the group finally found a cavern, under a waterfall, that appeared to be the orkin base. A pair of dwarves were teaching orcs about carpentry in the main entrance chamber, full of building supplies. Because of the noise of the craftsmanship and waterfall, and the orcs being unarmored, the group easily took them out before any alerts could be sounded.
By the party’s count now, there were just five orcs out of the original battalion of ~50. They’d taken out groups here and there, the mantis had killed some, and the necromancer had taken out a giant chunk. It looks as though Jarrod’s days are numbered, but perhaps he’s more than up for the challenge. In any event his “civilization” has crumbled. We’ll see how he fares next time…