At the end of last session we left one party of adventurers deep in the Loftwood. Having destroyed the main defences of Xul-Jarak, they began their return journey. However, now we turn to the fortunes of the adventurers who decided to join Ratik’s Volunteer Borderers to help push back the orc host.
While resting at Ratikhill and waiting for Ratik’s army to fully muster, Adoven, Klara and Krorz were busy. First Klara threw a party for several people they knew well, including the city’s mayor. The adventurers were also busy in the town – Adoven and Klara finally finding a smith among those travelling with the army willing and able to enchant their amour. During this time, two new adventurers joined the group: Delivier – a skilled archer – and Garon a follower of Phyton and a warrior skilled in the use of tower shields.
Rumours of dire events swirled through the city’s streets. It seemed that far to the south, the humanoids of Bone March were fighting with the forces of North Province and had succeeded in crossing the Teesar Torrent and that heavy fighting continued. Bad news, however, also reached the city from the west: it seemed that brave Baroness Pythia and her boon companions had disappeared while exploring the Narlmarches leaving Barony Thorn leaderless at a crucial time, although Sir Valio Ilmonen still bravely stood firm in The Recovered Marches.
The army – composed mainly of Ratik’s men-at-arms, but strengthened with some dwarven and gnomish contingents as well as some Frost Barbarian mercenaries – left Ratikhill on the morning of Harvester 21 and finally reached Glister three days later. As the army made camp about the town bad news reached the camp. It seemed one of the Swordlords – Dornig Leiyraghon – was assassinated in his home by orc infiltrators led by an orc riding a wyvern. The party assumed that this was Vhazror – Krorz’s illegitimate father - but kept quiet as to their friends’ relationship to the assassin.
The next day, the party were called into the tent of Derlin Feng, commander of the Volunteer Borderers. He wanted the party to strike out into the hills and find the orc horde. He had a vague idea of where it was – as several of his scouts had not returned – but needed confirmation of its location before the army marched to crush it. As the party had already fought the orcs, they seemed the perfect choice. The party volunteered and, gathering their supplies, set out almost immediately.
For two days, they picked their way east and south through villages and hills seemingly completely abandoned to the approaching orcs. Late in the day of the 27th, however, they were travelling through a wide, steep-sided valley. At one flank stood a ruined church from which a thin plume of smoke rose.
The party cautiously approached and found the ruin occupied by Malon, a thin, emaciated, dirty and clearly mad hermit. He offered (reluctantly) to let the party stay the night in his home – and even offered them some of his cooked rabbits – but ever-suspicious Krorz found a secret stone trapdoor in the floor. The party opened it – against Malon’s advice – and discovered a small, stench-filled crypt from which a small horde of ghouls poured forth.
At that moment, Malon revealed himself to be both mad, and the ghouls’ friend. He attacked the party, casting a miasma of confusion over them which affected everyone but Adoven. The dwarf used his holy powers to destroy the undead and when Delivier threw off the confusion effect, Malon fell quickly.
The party rested the night in the cleansed ruins and set out the next day deeper into the hills.
After half a day of cautious, uneventful travel the party heard the sound of movement borne on the east wind. Climbing the valley they saw below them about 200 feet away a small troop of goblin scouts standing fearfully around a wyvern. Next to it stood a familiar figure – a very muscular orc brandishing a halberd as he angrily shouted at the goblins…