- "Are you fond of your kneecaps?"
As the Resistance spends a week in Swartun refitting and preparing to retrain their troops, word comes that the Orcish garrisons at Rora and Levangen have pulled out and moved into Stineyer County: Engenstut is entirely free of orcish troops! After a quick switch of personnel - Ariana decides to accompany the army (and discovers that Skyler is a persistent drunken lech), and Aisling decides to travel with the upcoming diplomatic mission into Otern - the army marches west, hoping to liberate rich and populous Namdalside County before the orcs can get organized. They make it to the eastern border of Engenstut without incident, confirming the departure of the orcish troops on the way.
- "Sven. From the village of Nein."
The Resistance army is found by Sven, a messenger from the Namdalside Resistance: they are not as well-organized as the Engenstutters, but have captured Fort Scrite after a bloody battle! Unfortunately, the orcish garrisons in the southern peninsula have mobilized in a counterattack, and if the fort doesn't get relief, they'll be wiped out. Trahaern and Ariana aren't willing to see Resistance fighters die if they can be saved, and plans are made to move in on Scrite as soon as possible. On arriving in Trevya later that day, Beyorn - from the northern Namdalside Resistance (there's a bit of a feud between north and south) - intercepts us and we learn that the orcs are reinforcing the major fortress to our north, and unless we march there immediately, we'll find it garrisoned by four full companies. The choice Trahaern's force is presented with: relieve Fort Scrite and save the Resistance detachment there, or prevent the orcish reinforcements from making it behind the walls of their fortress. They can't do both, and after very little debate they decide they'd rather save the fighters and worry about how to take the castle later.
- "Man, even his name is stupid."
On reaching Fort Scrite they see that it's manned by about 70 or 80 resistance fighters, at least half of whom are walking wounded; scouts report that there are between 150 and 200 orcs only a few miles down the road. The Resistance leader - who we'll dub General Nincompoop because his name (Uster Vaipnesterk) was memorable but his idiocy was even moreso - doesn't think he needs the Engenstutters' help and is reluctant to let them inside; Trahaern talks his way into the fort by offering to subordinate his five hundred men to the General's eighty, and then stages a quick and bloodless coup with the help of an impassioned speech from Ariana. The orcs arrive at Fort Scrite, and Greex is able to determine that they're going to wait for a night attack. Unwilling to fight a battle he can't see, Trahaern makes the ballsy decision to sally from the fort and take the orcs in the field.
- "So their left... collapses?"
The battle turns out to be incredibly one-sided: while Skyler's force takes some ground and loses some men (and Ariana manages two significant actions in a row, fighting at the front in impenetrable armor and with the power of faith on her side), Trahaern's indirect attack virtually wipes out the Orcish left in just the first half-hour. Before nightfall the entire Orc force is dead or scattered, and in a single battle the entire south of Namdalside County is effectively orc-free. The Resistance decides to spend a day recruiting fresh troops and catching their breath before marching on the much more heavily fortified castle. We meet yet another plucky resistance fighter on the way: Yunnah, whose family were the lords in these parts five hundred years ago. They escaped the castle through a secret passage, and she can lead us to it. With visions of 'poisoning the enemy's water supply' dancing in their heads, the PC party decides to try infiltrating the castle.
- "Everything she knows she learned out of fragments of a few burned books. It's not exactly comprehensive monster-killing information."
The PCs make this an actual stealthy infiltration, for what might be the first time ever in one of Mark's games; they sneak past some sleeping cave bears, sneak past some creepy and unidentifiable shadow monsters, and end up in a room where there are a number of corpses buried under rubble and about 2/3 of a statue, also mostly buried under rubble. The statue is, apparently, the Guardian that Yunnah warned them of; it's willing to talk (once Ariana fashions a new jaw for it, at least) and will help the Resistance fight orcs if they can free it. They can't - not with just the PC group and the tools on hand - but they promise to return and free it after taking the castle. Since the way *in* to the castle has collapsed, they turn around; looks like they'll have to take the castle the hard way.
- "You know what? Let's fall back and get more troops."
The army completes their march on the castle and our reconnaisance determines that there's a rough parity of forces and they've got a really big castle on a hill. Greex once again wins the recon contest (this is going to be a campaign theme) and the decision is made to retreat, raise EVEN MORE levies, and take enough troops to crush the five companies bunkered inside.
Enter Pennant Zo Erigash, the least capable commander the Resistance has ever faced. They've given him a new company, and he's decided to sortie - after all, the humans retreated! They're weak!
The resistance force ambushes him on the road and his company, outnumbered ten-to-one and with no idea the enemy is there, gets obliterated; the only element to escape is Erigash with his bodyguards. The army follows him up the road and decides to assault the castle immediately, without any of this 'surround them and starve them out' nonsense that you get in medieval sieges.
- "This is seeming awfully one-sided."
The orcish force is now at about 1/2 strength; the Resistance force is at nearly twice the strength it was. The battle that follows isn't *entirely* one-sided - some lucky rolls lead to Trahaern getting his nose bloodied when he tries to take the wall - but Skyler's force not only takes the wall, but completely overruns the orcish positions in a day, before reinforcing Trahaern and pinning the orcs inside the castle to be murdered. While the Resistance took some casualties in this fight, they're fairly insignificant beside the losses the orcs have taken - and thus through some impressive blunders on the orcs' part, the entirety of Namdalside County was liberated in less than a week. Trahaern deliberately lets Pennant Zo Erigash escape in the hopes that they'll give him another army, though it's even odds that he either gets shot for incompetence or starts learning from experience and becomes a tougher foe.