A Return to the Caves
The heroes, now better equipped and more skilled, decide to return to the caves. The journey to the ravine is a tense two-day march, but they encounter only other travelers on the road. They make their way through the dense thicket to the mouth of the ravine, and enter one of the caves on the north wall of the ravine.
As they enter the cave, they find a horrible decoration just inside the cave. Niches carved into the walls hold the skulls and severed heads of dozens of people, including elves, dwarves, and humans. Hyram hears some noise down the passage to the east, and slips quietly down the passage to scout. Unfortunately, he is not as well hidden as he thought, and a guardpost full of orc warriors spies him and shouts an alarm. The orcs are no match for the heroes, and after a brief battle, the company moves back down the passage to the west. They do not get very far before they run into another group of orc warriors. The ensuing battle is fierce, with a number of wicked blows landed by both sides. Just as the heroes finish the last orc, the sound of running feet and orcish voices can be heard from a large room to the west. The companions brace themselves as another half-dozen orcs bursts into view. Dagonay and Tristan move to engage the orcs as Edgar, Hyram, and Jozan position themselves to provide cover with their crossbows. The battle is joined, and the brothers weave a web of steel, dropping two of the orcs, while crossbow bolts fly overhead. Jozan channels energy to heal the companions, and Hyram fires his longbow into an orc. This wave of orcs is dispatched, but not before Dagonay takes a number of spear wounds. Before the heroes can catch their breath, more orcs charge into the fray, this time led by their chieftain, who swings a massive mace. The next few moments are a blur of flashing steel, bursts of healing energy, and the occasional energy ray from Edgar. At last, the orcs are defeated, their chieftain slain, and the heroes are victorious, though Dagonay, Tristan, and even Edgar are gravely wounded. A search of the caves turns up a small hoard of coins, several weapons, and two suits of chainmail. The heroes exhaust their healing capacity, and must now decide what to do.