While the rest of the party rested after the battle on the clifftop and helped to calm frightened revelers, Vlad and Mihir talked with one of the friars who told them of a special incense that could be used to drive away. The one ingredient he needed was a special, blood-red moss that sometimes grew in the canyon near the tomb of Garan. Friar Colton told them the way and warned them to be careful—sometimes snakes, wild animals, and more dangerous things could be found in the dark places around the tomb.
The tomb was easy to find. The trail leading there ran through thin woodland and had recently been cleared in preparation for the festival. They passed over the flagstone plaza in front of the tomb and into the rocky canyon beyond. There was no path but Vlad and Mihir followed the walls of the canyon to its end, and found themselves in a place strewn with boulders. Spindly trees grew next to the canyon walls. Vlad and Mihir cut them away and found narrow slot canyons and explored these looking for the red moss.
Instead they encountered two of the vicious-looking pigmen that Roquelle had seen in the reeds of Barrow Creek. These didn’t run away, but attacked with their spears, making a strange “orc, orc!” grunting noise. Vlad dropped his crossbow and drew his sword. The orcs' spears were clumsy weapons in the slot canyon and Vlad killed them both.
Vlad and Mihir hiked back down into the main canyon and then hiked up into another one of the more narrow crevasses. Success at last!
Vlad and Mihir gathered handfuls of the red moss, moving further and further into the narrowing crevasse.
There was more moss and also more orcs. This time one attacked, while the other ran further up the crevasse and loudly blew a horn. Vlad killed one with his sword and shot the horn-blower with his crossbow. But out in the main canyon, he and Mihir could hear battle cries. They moved quickly down, hoping to exit the crevasse and get back to Garan without having to fight. But they weren’t fast enough. Three orcs met them. Vlad chose a narrow place where he could fight them one at a time. Mihir crouch on a boulder behind and, when an opportunity presented itself, lashed out with his flail.
The three orcs fell, but more kept coming. One of them thrust his spear through the gap in Vlad’s breast plate ad also pierced the chain mail beneath. A larger orc appeared, wearing metal armor himself. He called the orcs out of the crevasse. Vlad and Mihir pursued them, and killed another two. As the crevasse widened, Vlad could no longer protect his cousin—while the orcs attacked on one side, another two attacked Mihir. A long spear pierced Mihir’s chest and other orcs pounced on him with their long knives, stabbing him repeatedly. Vlad killed one of his cousin's killers and then fell withdrew into the crevasse.
The orcs did not follow, but stood waiting in the larger canyon, their spears pointing at him, daring him to try to escape the narrow crevasse. Vlad sheathed his sword, and pulled out his crossbow and fired it quick shot at the leader. His shot went wild and in his rush to reload as the leader ran for cover, Vlad jammed the firing mechanism. But as the chief orc cowered behind one of his minions, an especially ugly, white-face specimen, Vlad dropped his crossbow and charged with a war hammer in each hand. He threw the hammers as his enemies closed in and in the momentary confusion, drew his sword and killed the white-faced orc. The others reacted quickly. Vlad was struck by an axe that he fell to the ground. He rolled away from the stabbing spearpoints to regain his feet next to stunted pine tree and made what he thought would be his last stand.
There were four orcs, including the leader. They circled, stabbing with their spears. He slashed at them with his sword wildly, doing his best to keep their blades away from him. He feinted, baiting one into making charge. He dodged the point, grabbed the spear and killed its bearer, trusting his armor to absorb the blows from the orc chief. He turned on the orc chief, sword against sword, Vlad twisting his body this way and that to avoid the spear points. Suddenly Vlad turned and leaped at one of the other orcs, and killed him. The orc chief took a last wild swing; Vlad felt the chief’s sword glance off his shoulder plates, but by the time he turned, the orc chief was running away. One orc remained to guard his chief’s retreat and he was canny and tough. Knowing Vlad’s tricks, he waited, circling and making short thrusts.
Only when Vlad, exhausted by the combat, stumbled to one knee did the orc charge. The spear point found a gap in Vlad’s plate and the orc leaned in with all his weight to pierce the mail. Vlad dropped his sword to seize the spear with both hands, and then threw himself backwards while rolling his body, throwing his enemy on the ground. Before the orc could regain his feet, Vlad recovered his sword and killed him.
Remembering that his cousin Mihir wore a magical phylactery on his arm, Vlad removed his dead cousin’s armor to recover this item. In the course of completing this work, some feelings of sorrow or remorse emerged, and Vlad decided to also bring Mihir’s body back to Garan for a proper burial.
The people of Garan, were duly impressed by Vlad’s valor and startled by the news of monsters camped so close to the village and in the vicinity of Garan’s tomb. Friar Colter was grateful that Vlad had recovered enough blood moss for 10 torches. He would give 5 to Vlad and his companions, and the friars would carry the others on their patrols that night.