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The Black Orcs formed a solid wall of metal muscle around a crude drinking basin in the centre of the room, which served to funnel the Orcs down either side of the room.

“Quick, pen them in!” shouted Short-arse, running towards the nearest Orc. Trogdar quickly ran to the other side of the room, swinging his sword.

“Does that technique actually ever work?” asked Jandyr, setting the ailing Wizard down and drawing an arrow.

“We’ll find out!” said Trogdar, facing off against a particularly foul-smelling Orc. His enemy watched the movements carefully, before heaving a massive club and smashing Trogdar in the chest with it.

“I guess not,” grunted Trogdar as he staggered back a step. The Orc took a pace forward, seeking to exploit the gap.

“Oh no you don’t!” said Trogdar through gritted teeth, holding his sword out and allowing the Orc's momentum to carry it through his gut.

“Now that technique seems to work!” said Jandyr, recalling the fight in the Shaman’s den.

The Orc bellowed in pain and thrashed wildly on the end of the sword in an effort to free himself.

“Or, maybe not,” said Jandyr, returning his focus to the mass of Orcs behind the basin and firing an arrow into them.

“Just hold still, will ya?” said Trogdar, holding onto the sword like a fisherman trying to reel in a salmon. The Orc continued to thrash, causing hissing black blood to spray across the stone floor.

“That why they’re called Black Orcs?” joked Trogdar.

“Don’t be racist,” said Jandyr.

Eventually the Orc began to slow, his energy becoming spent before he grew quite still and began to slide down the blade towards Trogdar, who withdrew the sword and stepped away, allowing the Orc to collapse to the ground.

“That’s one!” he said triumphantly, “how you doing over there?”

Trogdar looked over to see Short-arse standing atop a pile of Orc bodies, her axe falling in time with her grunts of effort.

“Pretty good then,” he said, side-stepping an axe strike aimed for his head and grinning madly, “thought you could catch me unawares, did ya?”

Suddenly, from his resting place, the Wizard jumped up from the ground with a start, “The Winds of Magic have deserted me!”

Trogdar sighed to himself as the lantern light extinguished, a faint puff of smoke rising within it. As he reached into a small bag at his hip to find some flint, he felt a sharp pain in his right arm.

“Ow! What the hell was that!” he screamed, striking the flint against the lantern lip. As light flooded the room again, a black carpet seemed to scatter around Trogdar’s feet.

“Huh?” he said as he held up the lantern to reveal a gigantic rat dangling from his arm, it’s teeth firmly clamped around his wrist.

“AAAARGH! GEDDIMOFFME, GEDDIMOFF ME!” he screamed, flapping his arm around wildly. The rat tenaciously clung on, swinging pendulously.

The nearest Black Orc took the opportunity to swing for Trogdar again, his axe biting into the Barbarian’s ribcage. As he swung back the blade again for a killing blow, Trogdar wrenched the rat from his arm and threw it into the Orc’s face.

The Orc fell backwards over the bodies of his comrades, the rat biting deep into the Orc’s nose. Trogdar staggered over to it, clutching his injured side before stabbing his sword deep into the Orc’s neck, watching with cold conviction as the Orc became still.

He turned, gasping with pain to see how the others fared. Short-arse was almost next to him now fighting with the last surviving Orc, the path of bloody ruin an indicator of the number that had fallen beneath her axe.

Jandyr and the Wizard fought side-by-side, the Elf’s movements a blur as he slashed his blue-steel blade at the gigantic vermin. The Wizard defended himself, his movements still slow and sluggish.

Trogdar collapsed against the wall, his vision turning to bright spots. He reached into his satchel and produced a vial of water which he poured over the wound, washing the blood away to reveal a large ragged slice across his chest.

As the World began to fall sideways, Trogdar could just hear a plaintive wail over the sounds of battle before he went into darkness.

“The Winds of Magic have deserted me!”

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