D&D Encounters: The B Team

Prologue: The Meeting of Thu'Gog and Darryl Shieldheart

This story begins, as so many do, with orcs and humans trying to kill one another. Perhaps there was a Blizzard.

Thu’gog, a half-orc, was much disrespected and looked down upon by his fellow orcs for his human blood. To them, he appeared fey and intellectual even while he was kicking their faces in for mocking him. Despairing of ever belonging while simultaneously wishing he could leave his people, Thu’gog found some solace (as well as the respect of his people) by joining the ranks of the Warlord’s Fist, rising to a middle rank where his intelligence and (relatively) quick wits served him well.

A raiding force of the Warlord’s Fist, Thu’gog among them, ventured forth from the Stonelands with the lofty goal of taking Dragonspear Castle. Thu’gog’s objections to the attack fell upon deaf ears. As it happened, a group of warriors and paladins dedicated to Ilmater, The Crying God, had ventured forth from Baldur’s Gate with the mission of repairing a nearby temple of Ilmater that had fallen into ruin after the evil that issued forth from Dragonspear. The two forces clashed on an open field on a cold spring morning, the battle roar of orcs silencing the birdsong of the temple’s previous inhabitants.

The raiding party of orcs was caught by surprise to find no mere craftsmen and labourers, but armed and armoured warriors of the Companions of the Noble Heart supported by the Order of the Golden Cup. With spell and sword the humans threw back the orc advance, but surprise and the might of orcish numbers began to turn the tide in favour of Thu’gog’s forces.

A human paladin of the Order of the Golden Cup named Darryl Shieldheart caught sight of the half-orc war leader, and vowed to bring him down. Sword and shield met orcish halberd on the battlefield as the two fought, men and orcs dying around them. No one knows whose strength would have carried the day; men and orcs weren’t the only ones at war that day.

Unbeknownst to either group, the Red Wizards of Thay were at work deep in the bowels of Dragonspear Castle. In its deepest levels there lay, undisturbed for centuries, a ruined temple to the Princes of Elemental Evil that the Red Wizards hoped to revive, reopening its summoning portal and allowing the devils of Hell to cross over into the world once more. Even as Thu’gog’s warriors and Darryl’s holy brothers faced off in the great castle’s shadow, a band of adventurers fought valiantly to prevent the Red Wizards from bringing their fiendish plan to fruition.

The Red Wizards opened the summoning portal, allowing Hell’s minions to pour forth. An act of extraordinary heroism and sacrifice closed it, but not before a barbed devil, a horrifying hamatula, escaped the castle to wreak devastation upon the countryside. Thu’gog and Darryl’s pitched battle seemed an excellent place to start.

With surprise on its side, the barbed devil waded through the humans and orcs; fear spells and fire cut a swath through both sides. Spying Thu’gog and Darryl locked in mortal combat, the devil saw an opportunity to slay a devotee of hated Ilmater, and its claws ignited with hellish flames as it took aim to strike Darryl down.

With a roar, Thu’gog shoved the paladin aside and raised his halberd to deflect the devil’s strike, cleaving its hands from its body, the beast roaring in pain. Darryl recovered his feet quickly, and with a prayer for Ilmater’s guidance his sword struck true in the devil’s breast. The two foes set to work on the denizen of Hell, their battle forgotten. When it finally lay dead, an awful silence descended on the two broken only by their laboured breathing. They locked eyes, but neither lifted their weapons.

Darryl defused the tension by sheathing his sword in the ground before him and offering his hand, outstretched. After a bare second of hesitation, Thu’gog took it and shook it firmly, calling for his raiders to disengage and retreat back to the Stonelands. The battle with the devil had opened his eyes to what real war, real conquest was; he would never see home again.

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