Weapons were eased from their sheaths. Grips were tightened hilts and handles. Looks deepened into frowns and grimaces.
"Remember your oath!" Kaer Fore shouted. "Your chieftans challenged us to combat. Willingly. Haughtily. Perhaps foolishly. They are gone. They died and now you are bound to aid us."
The half-elf's words did little to slow the tribe. I wondered briefly, how many we could take down before we died. I wondered if our list of accomplishments ended here. Our perhaps we, the heroes of Teranore, could defeat the entire tribe. Were we that skilled?
I was tensing, already thinking three moves in advance, in preparation to introduce these idiots to death's gate.
For better or worse I would never know, but I never got the chance. Horns, orc-horns, and the roars of dark-spawn and dragon alike, came over the distant hill. All thought of battle was abandoned, and attention turned to the new arrivals.
The barbarians had never faced anything like what was now approaching. Weapons fell from shaking hands, heads dropped, and more than a few faces turned in our direction. One man stepped forward.
"I am Chief Rut'og'rablan. The true leader of this clan. I will not tell lies. The defeat of my seconds in command angers me, but truly you are skilled warriors. If you can lend us your aid and allow us to drive off this... this..." the gestured to horde, "abomination, then we will do what we can to aid you in your quest."
Discretion won out over disappointment and I nodded my assent. The others came to similar conclusions and Kaer Fore addressed the barbarians once more.
"We will do what we can. However we will not be able to keep your village from potential significant losses."
The Chieftan nodded. "We understand."
"Now my friends," Kaer Fore questioned, "do we have a plan?"
I nodded. "Yes. I would like all the archers to form up and stay behind the walls of the city. Kaer Fore you'll be in charge of them." I turned to the chieftan, "Do you have any magic wielders or shamans?"
He nodded. "Yes."
"Ok. Acaeb you take charge of them. You stay behind the walls as well. Hand to hand fighting is effective, but it'll be the long range stuff that really makes a dent."
I turned to the twins, "You two, will be in charge of the close in fighting. You will be outside of the gates, but you need to be close enough to guard the archers and mages."
"What of me small one?" Neradin asked.
"Aye, and I?" said Sigurd.
I smiled, "You two are with me. We're taking the dragons."
The timing was perfect. As the enemy approached the small town, those inside were making final preparations. Sigurd and Neradin and I had exited via the back gate and skirted the town.
"So Racieus what is our plan?"
"Well... we're pretty good at making things up on the fly... I figured we'd give that a go again."
I received a sidelong glance from Sigurd. "It worked against an old dragon who wished for death. We need a new plan for these young spry angry dragons."
I stopped and considered.
"There are two dragons. And while I have faith in our archers... I imagine they'd appreciate help... what if we-"
I explained my idea and as usual received looks that said "Are you crazy?"
But as usual, my idea was accepted.
I found myself hiding in a tree while Neradin and Sigurd prepared to draw the attention of the dragons. Within moments arrows and magic were flying through the air. One of the dragons caught a projectile in the face. It didn't do any damage whatsoever but it was interested in whatever was foolish enough to attack it.
It flew down at my companions who stoically stood their ground. The dragon landed and roared. While it was busy intimidating, I leapt from my tree, which was now located a couple of feet away from the beast. I landed on its scaly back and steadied myself on the spines jutting out along the dragon's spine.
The beast roared again, and flailed furiously. Being small was both a blessing and a curse. The monster couldn't grab me, but its attempts to shake me loose were effective. It was all I could manage to hold on.
Finally the beast gave up and did exactly what I was hoping it would do.
It took off.
I was suddenly looking hundreds of feet down to the ground. The dragon headed for its companion who was terrorizing our ground forces. It growled something in a language that was deep, ancient, and powerful. The second dragon turned towards me, and began to charge. It was attempting to aid its companion by knocking me loose.
As the attacker approached it's pelt began to bristle with arrows. Neradin and Sigurd's arrows. I jumped off my ride, and caught hold of one of the arrows embedded in its soft underbelly. Following me like a hawk, the attacking dragon swiveled to catch me, but couldn't swerve fast enough. It slammed into its companion. A sickening crack hit my ears, and the first dragon began to drop. Only one of it wings was flapping. The other was bent at a gruesome angle. It plummeted into the ground and didn't move.
My new mount was clawing at me and I had no choice but to drop. From many feet in the air. As I started to free fall, the dragon twisted and followed me. I was nearing the earth and I hoped that my friends had something in mind. Otherwise I was about to become one with the ground.
As it happened, they did have a plan. Neradin was muttering and then he pointed at me. A moment later a huge gust of wind propelled me back up into the air. The dragon rushed past me, and I managed to grab its tail as it did so. It turned back to look at me and in doing so veered into its own men. Orcs were tossed left and right as the dragon flew by, heedless of the destruction it was causing to its men.
I was close enough to the ground to drop without injuring myself and as I rolled to my feet I looked back at Neradin. He nodded. A moment later my vision grew dim and a perfect copy of myself was standing next to Sigurd. The enraged dragon passed over me a moment later, oblivious to the fact that I was covered by Neradin's magic. The dragon swept a huge claw right through my double and huffed in confusion.
"Hey!" I yelled, and the dragon turned focused only on finding and killing me, and not focused on my two friends who leapt into action and stabbed at the soft underbelly of the oblivious dragon. It screamed in pain, yet even in its dying throes it lumbered in the direction of my voice.
With Sigurd pelting it's wings and soft legs with arrows, it didn't get far.
With the dragons gone, the tide of the battle began to turn. Sigurd, Neradin, and I joined our ground forces and suddenly Acaeb and Kaer Fore were there as well. Our group cut a swath in the orcs. Each of us covered another and where we were, orcs fell.
The fighting continued even as the blood red sunset came and went. As darkness fell, the orcs began to turn and run. The barbarians, reveling in the victory, chased the retreating darkspawn. I don't believe many of the foe survived.
The next day our group met with the chieftain in his tent, and plans were laid for this barbarian village to contact other outlying cities.
Soon we would have an army.