Part 33: Second Wave
Chapter 25 - Second Wave
Music - "Against Doom and Despair"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
When I regained consciousness, I was surprised to still be alive, although I had a horrible headache. The orc was still staring at me. I leapt to my feet and drew my weapon.
Wait... why do I still HAVE my weapon?
Don't attack me! I'm not a real orc!
I wasn't sure I had heard correctly, my ears were still recovering. I pressed the flat of my dagger against his throat. To my surprise he didn't resist.
What did you say? You're NOT an orc?
I've never heard of such a thing before. Who transformed you?
Maybe you've heard of Kistandalius? It was he who performed the transforming spell. I assure you, I'm no more an orc than you are a dwarf.
What was the code phrase Mitox told me? Oh yes...
Your mother was an ox.
Your father was an oxcart!
I removed my knife, to the visible relief of the orc.
Hmmm, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt... for now. What did you find out?
I've seen a huge orc camp a bit yonder to the west. They've got a lot of battle paraphernalia and plenty of food and supplies. And they're awfully close to the battle line... Look, I have to get word to Mitox. It's urgent!
Then what are you still doing out here?
I'm trying to find a safe way home, dullard! Look, you're blowing my cover just by talking to me - please leave right now!
Very well then. I'll try to deliver your message right away. Good luck. Where's the nearest teleporter platform?
Just to the northwest. Now go, please!
We parted ways. I headed north. It was the first up-close look I had to the destroyed village. It was a grim sight. All the buildings had been burned to the ground.
Not all the houses had been empty at the time. There were some charred skeletons among the debris.
There was a small group of orcs guarding the teleport platform. I was tired and sore, but.
I returned to the village occupied by Captain Mitox's soldiers. The wounded and dead had been moved elsewhere. The soldiers looked tired, but some of them recognized me.
That's 'im, he's alive!
A cheer went up from the troops.
That was a beautiful explosion.
To me, it wasn't so much beautiful as it was scary. Where's Captain Mitox?
The soldiers pointed to the battered building that used to be "Clem's General Store".
Well done, Jeremiah! For a while we thought you were dead.
I almost was. Whatever was in that barrel packed a bigger punch than was advertised.
With their supplies destroyed the orcs won't be able to maintain the siege much longer.
There's a bigger problem to worry about, Captain. I met one of your disguised spies out on the battlefield. He told me that there's a secret gathering of orcs just over that ridge south of us.
Bloody hell! That's all we need! Did you see it for yourself, freebooter?
No, I came straight here away.
Just then another soldier came in with a piece of paper. He saluted and handed it to Mitox.
Sir! Our scouts report a large group of orcs are advancing
What? They've just suffered two major losses in a row! This is madness! Get the soldiers from the tent camp and tell them to prepare for battle. Get some eyes on the ridge south of us, there may be orcs coming from that direction. And make damn sure that the hole in the wall has been patched up! Move!
The soldier saluted, and then hurried out.
Won't they suffer huge losses by attacking in broad daylight?
These reckless attacks don't make sense. The orcs who broke through the barricade might have stood a chance if they'd stayed together. But they split their force to try and hit both the front line and the barracks at once - our two strongest positions! It makes no damn sense, even for orcs! It's as if they were expecting us to just keel over at the sight of them!
"About the Games" posted:
Hmmm... Mitox thinks that there's something odd about the orc strategy. It certainly seems unusual.
Mitox shook his head grimly.
After the fight we've put up to hold them out of this village, they should know better than that!
But this is a good thing right? The more of the greenskins throw their lives away, the better, right?
In theory, yes... but some of our scouting reports suggest that with reinforcements massing farther away, they may outnumber us by as many as ten to one.
What about the secret orc camp south of here?
We don't even know if it exists, and I can't spare any troops to investigate.
What if the attack on the front of the base is a diversion to distract you from an attack from the south?
Possibly, but it changes nothing. The approaching force is formidable, even with our defenses it will take all the strength we have to repel it.
And if that isn't enough?
Mitox's silence spoke volumes.
Seven Gods... if the orcs break this line, the dukedom will fall?!
I didn't come here to fight a war... but I will not stand by and watch houses burn and people slaughtered at orc hands.
I can't magic up any more troops.
True... but perhaps I can magic up fewer orcs. I'll see if there really is something to the south. If I think I can manage it, I'll take out what I can.
Quickly, I had my shield repaired by the armorer, and then I headed for the Barracks teleporter to take me behind the lines...
I turned invisible before the surprised orc troops could strike at me. They milled about in confusion - an unexpected bonus. If they had to worry about a knife in their backs, they'd be less effective defending their fronts.
"About the Game" posted:
This wasn't a photoshop, although honestly I could not tell you where Jeremiah is.
I headed southwest quickly, not a moment too soon. Boulders started raining from the Ducal army's catapults into the orc throngs.
There were no orcs in this area, which only served to strengthen my suspicions. The orcs wouldn't want to avoid drawing attention to the south if they had a secret base there.
I heard something flapping in the wind and discovered a sheet of paper tucked under a rock. It was a message written in Orcish. It couldn't have been there long, it wasn't damp from the dew on the grass.
Maybe it's orders for the secret base to attack once the troops are occupied with the assault on the front lines. I think I'll take this with me.
I drank a restoration potion to get my magic reserve up to full. If there was a base, it was best to go in prepared. I climbed a worn path up the ridge.
I didn't see any orcs. I assumed that meant there weren't any. That was a stupid assumption.
A group of orcs sprung from hiding from some bushes and trees.
"What does big stinking orc want here?" I asked condescendingly, savouring the insult.
The orc looked surprised that someone was asking questions first instead of attacking.
"Me? Well I'm guarding our secret ba..." he realized what he was saying. "What? Bloody insidious human word trick! Now I cut trickster to bits!"
"Oh mighty orc, please let me go... Please!" I said in a dull monotone.
Sarcasm is wasted on orcs.
Ooh... I sorry... I not want you to cry. Tell no one and I make this one exception... Run along!"
The other orcs looked on confusedly
Wait! Sorry, I just joking again. No human allowed to leave here with breath under ribs!
Have at you!
I blasted most of the other orc guards first, so they wouldn't get a chance to warn the secret base, but the rather dim-witted guard orc charged.
He might not have been very smart, but his surprising speed and toughness made him a nasty opponent. I had to spend a lot of my magic reserve just keeping him slowed down enough to stay out of his reach.
After several minutes, I managed to eventually bring him down. He was wearing some magic chain mail. Too heavy for me, even if the blood and scorch marks hadn't kept me from wanting to wear it.
I could hear the sounds of battle from far away. Mitox would be occupied directing the battle, and he already told me there was no further assistance he could lend.
Fine... I guess it's up to me, then.
I headed back up the ridge, looking for more orcs. I soon found them.
The wardrummer started pounding urgently - possibly a warning of an intruder. I tried to kill him as quickly as possible.
But it was not to be.
So much for stealth.
I popped some restoration options off of my belt and downed them.
I returned my eyes to the Wardrummer. I didn't need him driving the giant orc into a frenzy. A bolt of lightning solved that problem.
The huge orc swung at me, but I was anticipating that and dove out of the way.
I managed to get away.
I cast the hail spell deliberately in front of where the orc was, and he and his buddy walked straight into it.
I took a crossbow bolt straight in the helmet, giving me an instant migrane and sending me reeling. I blasted the orc with the unfortunate aim. My helmet was definitely getting the worse for wear, but it would have to last until the job was finished.
I took a breather to regain some of my strength, and cast my magic shield again.
I found the actual camp part of the secret base. It was empty for now, but......scratch that. I saw orcs running about in confusion, but some spotted me.
An orc shaman showed up, and started summoning in the spirits of ancestral orc warriors.
Ow! No fair hurting me, you already died!
The shaman became the new priority target, but luckily he was just as flammable as the other orcs.
I was starting to get tired again. I'd been fighting almost constantly for hours. Potions would help keep me on my feet for a bit longer, but not forever... then fatigue would set in that no potion would cure.
I fought off the orcs, but I didn't get off unscathed. A blow buckled my helmet completely, rendering it useless.
I pressed on and discovered a set of orc ballistae, with hundreds of other bolts under the tarpaulins on other carts.
After a few minutes of inspection, I figured out how the devices were meant to work, and I took the time to blast specific places with enough electricity to weld together formerly moving parts.
There, that should do it. Those Ballistae won't even be able to be wheeled into position, much less ever fire a single shot.
Is there no end to them?
And this is a tiny camp, too. Normally there'd be several dozen orcs.
Luckily that was mostly the end of them. A good thing too, because almost every piece of my armor was in urgent need of repair, and my head was aching with fatigue.
I spotted a key gleaming in the sun and picked it up.
I found the secret base's food supply.
Should I destroy these, or leave them in hopes Captain Mitox could use this stuff? ... I'll leave it.
By the sleeping mats I found a pair of chests. The key turned in both locks. One had heavy armor.
"About the Game" posted:
The key only works on one chest, the other requires Lockpick Rank 3.
Also, I realized that I still had the broken helmet on my head and took it off. The yellow armor warning is for something else.
I had to go back for some shots, so my shield will vanish without explanation.
Huh... a statue of a cat? Wait... a MAGIC statue of a cat. What would orcs have this for?
I picked it up. There was a bit of dust on it, so I gave it a polish. If I hadn't been so tired, I would have remembered to never do that to magical things you don't understand.
I was engulfed in magical energy. My body started twisting and conforming. I closed my eyes and tried to scream, but the sound which came out was not natural. The pain soon faded away and I opened my eyes to feel quite different. I was now very low to the ground, on all fours. I couldn't sense magic anymore.
Oh, this is just bloody wonderful.
Next Time: The Poor Quarter
Behind the Scenes
Alternate conversation options:
Ah, yes... I think I took the wrong turning. Just leaving...
Oh, a shame. Take wrong path and find your death...
I've come to cut every foul orc I meet into green dog food.
WUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! A human with sense of humor. Pity that be your last joke...
The Cat Statuette
There are 4 statues. All of them transform you into an animal, where your attributes, health and damage are fixed no matter what you have equipped.
You can't use any abilities or anything from your inventory. The transformations last for a little while before they wear off and you resume your normal shape. There is no mana cost or cooldown for using the statues, so you can just use the same statue the instant it wears off.
The statues aren't very important. Many enemies drop them as part of loot. They're weightless and sell for about 1800 gold or so, which is OK.
The cat statue is pretty useless, you aren't very fast, you have low health, enemies attack you on sight. There is one easter egg, though. Approach an orc in cat form and this happens.
This gives the cat a +2 reputation bonus, but only for as long as the cat lasts. You lose the bonus once you revert back to human form and you can't get the bonus a second time, so it's worthless. Also, despite the orc seeming to be afraid, he'll still attack you, and since you have about 16 health, you'll die if you get hit.
What's fake in this update?
- The orc spy is real, but you meet him to the southwest, not at the supply train. But getting Jeremiah all the way over there was less plausible than bringing him to Jeremiah. There is no code phrase to verify him.
- I added a skeleton from one of the other burned out houses to screenshot 4. There are skeletons in the ruins, there just weren't any prominent ones in my set of screenshots.
- The orc spy's secret base isn't even a sub-quest, and Mitox certainly doesn't send you on it. The entire conversation with Mitox was fake. There isn't a major offensive by the orcs.
- I found the cat statuette earlier when the orcs were attacking Mitox's troops at night, but didn't decide how to put it into the narrative until I was writing this chapter. It wasn't in the chest. In fact, the cat transformation shots were taken much later.