Scales of War
The lands west of the Stonehome Mountains have been a festering mire of want and suffering. This parched and barren landscape is suited only for orcs, goblinoids, and other fell creatures. From time to time, a warlord gathers a small army and tumbles out of these badlands to test their strength and arms against the stalwart dwarf defenders, but never have they crossed the mountains because straddling its single pass is an ancient dwarven stronghold named Bordrin’s Watch. No matter how many orcs muster, they die upon its walls, painting the sturdy stone with their black blood. So the rumors of a new host in these forlorn bogs and dead woods seemed a small threat — nothing the guardians could not handle. This army, though, is different. Unlike all the many times the orcs have emerged, they now have a leader who can keep them together long enough to win.
The orc leader is an overlarge warrior and chieftain named Tusk. Not a true orc, he has the blood of ogres in his veins, which makes him larger, tougher, and eminently more dangerous. Having slaughtered half a dozen orc chieftains, he drew together the unruly tribes to mount an offensive against Bordrin’s Watch to lay claim to the soft lands beyond its walls. Tusk knows the history of the Stonehome Mountains well, knowing that unless he can find some way to bypass the fortress in the mountains, it won’t matter how many warriors he commands since he would fail. What Tusk needs is a way around the fortress.
Ever resourceful and with numerous contacts and allies, Tusk turned to his occasional lover and advisor, a shadar-kai witch named Myrissa. He sent her back to the Shadowfell to recruit allies to help his cause, and a short time later she returned with a small army of dark ones, led by a mysterious and sinister dark creeper, known as the emissary. This leader offered to assist Tusk in exchange for an exclusive arrangement in which they would supply Tusk’s armies with weaponry for whatever price the dark creeper and his fellows asked, and in exchange, the dark creepers would find a way through the mountains. Tusk readily agreed and paid the exorbitant price, gaining a fine arsenal, and also, he hoped, the key to victory.
Not long after, the dark creepers returned and revealed a number of tunnels burrowed beneath the mountain. They showed the chieftain the locations of each, explaining how the passages connected one side of the mountains to the other. No tunnel was large enough to accommodate his entire army, so, Tusk gave his horde their marching orders, sending them to climb the mountain slopes, while his scouts moved ahead to secure the tunnels and prepare the way for Tusk and his elite warriors to strike the fortress from below.