From the diaries of Rabinagath Bador:
17th of the Forth month.
An eventful day. I’ve seen things I never thought were true. Man beasts, of lore. The locals call them Orcs. Around midday we noticed burning on the western bank. Great plumes rose in the distance and blew towards us filling the river with acrid smoke. As we accented the burning drew nearer. Suddenly we saw peasants on the shore running for their lives, pursued by ragged men on barbarous assortments of armour. A few were hacked down others dragged into the woods. Four managed to leap into the river and seeing our boat swam out to us.
One of the crew, the youngest and most awkward wetlander I’ve ever seen left to their aids without hesitation. Taking a line he hurled himself into the water and sea out to them. Impressed with his bravery I leant what aid I could, securing his line and hauling him and one man back on board. The orcmen were more barbarous then Qi soldiers, firing at the women with arrows. Two were killed barely off from the shore, one lasting minutes as her wounds tormented her. The sailor reached the closest peasant first as the captain brought the boat out of danger from the Orc arrows. We managed to get them back on board but the sailor was hit by a deadly arrow through the chest. I have treated him as best I can, and can only pray he makes it. The man on reaching the boat left back off to save the remaining woman as our crew fired back at the orcs. Two fell to our bolts and another spontaneously burst into flames. Some devils magic of the Drudenian perhaps. I saw him playing with oil earlier.
It’s evening now, things have settled down, I wish to hear what these peasants say of the Orc beasts. I fear another danger has been unleashed on this land, one detrimental to my designs. If the trade routes are further cut and Tandesea is lost to us as Drudenia has been, I fear the caravans may cease completely, and my nation which depends on them, will be lost.
The Cloudhopper quickly turned about as Captain Gnemoarshiz jammed the tiller to the left. Though even as soon as the cog was broadside to the shore, two of the Orcmen let fly with arrows at the ship. Zartoshvar dashed about looking for oil, when one of the crewmen came scuttering up on deck with a crossbow and several bolts in hand. Rabinagath rushes to the quickly uncoiling rope, to which Cloudhopper is tied to the other end, grabs it, slides to the deck and takes up the slack, propping his feet upon the gunwales for support, letting it out little by little as CLoudhopper swims towards the screaming villagers. Zartoshvar also takes shelter at the gunwales and removing his cowl, places it upon the end of his sabre and waves it in the air, hoping to gain the attention of the Orcs firing at them.
The Orcs let fly with another volley, and a short scream is heard from the water just as another arrow flies past the Captain hunkered down in the stern. Zartoshvar leaps to his feet and helps the crewman load the crossbow and set it up for a shot at their enemies on the bank. Ranbinagath secures the rope to the gunwales and gets to his feet and begins a little dance! He shakes and twists and offers quite the tempting target, but the Orcs are not persuaded and again fire on the Captain and upon those in the water and another scream is heard from those thrashing just off shore.
Finally, as the Cloudhopper has almost turned 180 degrees, the crewman has the crossbow ready to fire and squeezes off a shot. An Orc lets out a guttural cry and falls! Hooray for beginners luck! Zartoshvar then plans a fiery assault upon the Orcs and searches for rags with which to douse with oil and attach to the arrows, ready for lighting. He finds rags in one corner and oil in the stern and proceeds to setup the crossbow bolts with a recipe for a terrific blaze. As the boat comes about, Rabinagath throws the rope over the cockpit so as to not have the hooked rope pull Cloudhopper back prematurely. And indeed, at that moment Cloudhopper reaches one of the swimmers and pulls him close, only to be struck moments later in the chest with a cruel Orcish arrow! He lets out a cry but holds onto consciousness as Rabinagath begins to pull him and the villager in towards the boat.
The crewman with the crossbow fires off another shot and slams another Orc off his feet! What a marksman! Yet at the same time yet another cry from the water and then silence, another villager sinks below the water…
The remaining Orcs too devise flaming arrows and fire them upon the boat, luckily missing. Rabinagath continues to pull Cloudhopper in. Cloudhopper barely clings to consciousness but the man he rescues lends him aid as they get closer to the boat.
Zartoshvar ignites a readied bolt and the crewman fires again, missing his target completely and the flaming arrow flies off into the grasslands. Zartoshvar then goes to aid Rabinagath with hauling in the two at the end of the rope as the crewman sets up another shot.
The Orc fires again, but this time at the man in the water who keeps Cloudhopper afloat. Too close! The arrow grazes the villages shoulder and he cries out but is relatively unharmed.
The crewman fires another shot and SNAP! His crossbow breaks! The wooden armature broken! Zartoshvar inquires of the captain if there be any barres on board he could toss to the last surviving villager, to which the captain reluctantly points out the ships water barrel. Making quick mental calculations on mass to volume ratios, Zartoshvar tosses the barrel into the river and sure enough, it sinks… It is the Orc on shore’s turn to let loose with an arrow now, and he lifts his bow for a shot alive with flame, but he too falters and the arrow slips from his grip and the flames ignite his oil soaked clothing! With bestial howls he runs off into the grasses, leaving a smoke trail as he flees. The barrel, reconsidering its commitment to the laws of physics, resurfaces and bobs happily along.
At the gunwales now, CLoudhopper and the villager are hauled up by Rabinagath and Zartoshvar. Cloudhopper loses consciousness just as he is pulled onboard. Rabinagath, somewhat skilled at medicine rushes to his side and staunches his wounds with a clean cloth from Zartoshvar’s alchemical lab. He examines the arrow but decides it best to leave it in place for now; the fletching he breaks off however. He then turns to the man they rescued and asks him about the woman left swimming for her life as the last remaining orc slips away, his intentions unknown. The man is convinced by Rabinagath to go after his fellow villager and leaps in to rescue her. The attempt is successful and the Cloudhopper turns again downstream with a gravely injured Cloudhopper and two stunned villagers.