There is an old Orc proverb that goes “An Ogre with no pants and no puppets makes for a bad enemy.” In truth, that is not an old Orc proverb but it might be one now after what I have seen. And I must say, these orcs deserved that which was meted out to them. But my narrative jumps ahead.
As I wrote in my last entry, my Great Adventure has far exceeded my expectations and I have loved my journey to Lodain and San Servus. But it is upon my trip to the Phantom Forest that my trip became so wondrously strange.
Charles De La Shrubbings and I left Lodain and traveled north towards Carmel Creek. My Maliparian friend kept traveling far to the left of the road. I admonished him but he continued staying near the end of the road. And these are Sanservian Roads, mind you, and not the best engineered. Eventually we hit a washout and our wagon of fine wools was stuck.
As we were attempting to get unstuck, a group of humanoids came up the road behind us. We did not know if they were friend or foe. But then I recognized one of them! It was the Ogre Bard that was in that band that sung about that skunk. What a marvelous coincidence. With him was the “Imp” as well-later I was to find out that he wasn’t a polymorphed human but was really an Urd named Ix Ix.
This odd band consisted of three goblins, the Ogre and the Urd. I would have thought to have hated the kobald but actually found him quite amiable. The Ogre was named Rockhead and was Ogre enough but had a queer affection for the goblins, like they were stray cats or something. The Goblins were lead by their shaman, a wild haired female named Tekena. The male was called Garyl Daroon Vrillmar and he wore a musketeer hat and acted more human than the others. There was another female named Magan that had a very disturbing look in her eye; The others were keeping things from her for some reason. I would find out later the reason.
The Ogre easily got us unstuck and set off again. After a few hours we entered the Phantom Forest, a lovely old wood with majestic oaks and elms. Then we saw a carved wooden bear set along the road. I later found out that it was carved about 100 years ago by the local hero, the Phantom Ranger.
A few miles further, we came upon two sad adventures who were returning back to Lodain. They were injured and in very poor spirits. They had set upon by a band of orcs and the rest of their group were killed. These orcs had been ambushing people along the road.
And then we came to the local Coaching Inn, the Banshee. The place was more of a fort or village than an Inn. It had an outer wall and within it was a lovely garden. There were numerous wooden statues throughout the garden carved by this Phantom Ranger. We stayed that night.
During dinner, Charles had an eating contest with the Ogre and won! At that point, our suspicions that something was up with Charles were confirmed. No human could out-eat a hungry Ogre. I had some doubts, though, because the Ogre was very anxious that evening. For one thing, he didn’t have any good pants. For another, he was most distressed to learn that a troop of puppeteers had left the Banshee due to fears of being set upon by the Orcs. He decided to stop these Orcs so that “The puppets would come back.”
The goblins were looking for something (or someone) and it seemed to me that they thought these orcs might have it. While I wasn’t too concerned, I did decide to keep an eye on them.
The next day, we went out unto the road to try to lure the orcs towards us but with no luck. That afternoon, the goblins used some magic to awaken a carved statue of a goblin. This little wooden goblin lead them to the orc camp.
I did not witness what happened next but I the honor of taking down official testimonies for the local Mayor, so I got to hear the entire story:
The Ogre, Charles, and the Goblins follow the Little wooden goblin through the forest, running as fast as they can. They ran right into the Orc Camp. The Orcs had secured a secret base in a old goblin cave under a large tree. Using predetermined rocky paths and Wild Boar trails they had been able to hide the tracks to their secret lair. Well, the Orcs and the Goblins were upon each other with no time to prepare and the fight began.
The orcs were lead by a Warchief named Blackteeth. He had made a pact with two humans: a thief named Vagren and a mercenary Dogrel. Dogrel and Blackteeth had been leading the raids and were very skilled fighters.
But even the best fighters can have bad days. When they charged the Ogre, Blackteeth stumbled, dropping his sword and knocking Dogrel off balance. Both of them fell towards the Ogre out of position. The Ogre broke Blackteeth’s knee and knocked Dogrel to the ground. The Goblins and Charles made quick work of the other Orcs while the Ogre smashed the leaders down. Dogrel was most upset with his performance. Vagren surrendered to Ix Ix without a fight.
After stuffing Vagren into a sack, the goblins found a secret room in the back of the cave filled with treasure and magic. To think: This Dogrel killed and ravaged to get riches that he already had but didn’t know it. They gathered everything, heaved it all into sacks and a treasure chest, and took it back to the Banshee. The locals were most pleased by this and immediately sent for puppeteers to return. The goblins then separated everything into what was made by goblins and what was made by man. They gave the Chapel all that was made by man.I noticed that they kept for the goblins everything that was naturally made like gems and gold nuggets.
But then the most wondrous thing occurred. When the goblins presented a magic sword before the wooden sphinx in front of the chapel, the statue began to glow. It grew with a brilliance, pure white light until it became the Sphinx of Columnus. Materialized before my eyes was a Celestial Being from the Outer Plane! He greeted us all and then took the sword. He informed us it was the sword of the Phantom Ranger and presented it Victor for safe keeping.
He then turned to Magan and said, “There’s a devil in you!” She started to move as if to fight or run but she was held fast by the Sphinx’s magic. Darkness then oozed out of her and formed a sphere that the sphinx exiled into the Aether.
He spoke to all of us but then the Ogre stepped forward to ask a boon from the Sphinx. To my amazement, he asked if the Sphinx could stay for the puppet show. The Sphinx paused and then he agreed!
And then Charles turned to us, told us that his work was done and transformed into a Dragonkin! He flew off, leaving me with a cart of wool I may add.
So the next day, there I was, a wool merchant in San Servus, in this beautiful garden watching a puppet show with a bunch of Rangers, some Goblins, a murderous Ogre, and an Angelic Sphinx. It was a pretty good puppet show!