When last we saw our intrepid heroes…
…they had just escaped from the orc and goblin infested dungeon historically known as Crissingen’s Lair, but did so without Ough who had regrettably fallen in combat.
It was good to be away from the fetid air of the dungeon, and resting just briefly to enjoy the fresh air of the late summer evening, the group soon was on their slow way back to Hamptonshire. By the time they made it back to the River Road, both Collin and Rolf were struggling with the extra weight of their comrade and his gear. They continued on, though, doggedly retreating to the safety of town, one weary step after another. And just as they felt they could walk no more, they were approached by six men on horseback.
The band of horsemen soon surrounded our three heroes cutting off any escape they may have had. Rolf readied for a fight while Collin considered how best to survive the situation. But the leader of the group surprised them both when he called out to Rolf amiably and by name; it would be hard, after all, for any citizen of Hamptonshire, much less a lieutenant of the Town Militia, to not recognize the sickly green skin and permanently dour scowl of the city’s only resident half-orc.
Though it took them out of their way of their patrol route, the militia carried the party back to town doubled up on horseback. Rolf was offended that they dropped them off at the city gates with a severely injured hero to carry into town, but the militia explained as the rode away that they had a patrol to complete and that a little gratitude would be appreciated.
Luckily for Collin and Rolf—and Vurtog by extension—a travelling Knight, with aspirations of being a cleric, was just entering the town as well and offered to help them get their friend aid. The knight introduced himself as Varis, Knight of the Order of the Rose and devoted adherent of Aonghus, the god of love. Happy for the help, despite Varis’ creepy touchy-feely habits, the party took Vurtog to the Frothing Frog Inn and was able to convince Bombal to let the half-orc recover from his wounds on a cot in a back supply room—the inn being, um, fully booked and all.
When Vurtog was situated, Rolf tried, to no avail, to convince Bombal to rally the town to his cause. Bombal assured him that though he was empathetic to Rolf’s situation, he was just a lowly inn keeper and no orator or great leader of men. Dejected and with nowhere else to turn, Rolf sought an audience with mayor, Garrett Roundshield, to beg for assistance with the Orc den.
After finally meeting with and explaining the dire situation with which the town was faced—that being the possible death of the farmer’s son at the hands of orcs, not to mention the orc threat in general—the mayor agreed to call a meeting of the town council to weigh the matter and take recommendations of actions, because after all, no official action could be sanctioned without proper scrutiny of the matter and its affects on all entities involved, as well as a survey of all possible courses of action to rectify the matter and the affect those courses of actions may have on the various entities involved both in the present and the future; a risk-reward analysis had to be made.
So, late that afternoon the council convened in the meeting hall, some not too happy about having their plans interrupted to attend the emergency gathering. Present were the mayor, Rolf, the priestess Kerrianne Kensington, three prominent Guildmasters, the Green Wizard and his apprentice Gibway O’Shanihan, and Captain Oren Sorel, commander of the Town Guard and Militia. The meeting was begun with Rolf’s introduction by the mayor and a brief history of the party’s previous commission by the town. Rolf was then allowed to elaborate on his findings and make his plea to the council, finally fielding questions from the committee.
As an orator, Rolf left much to be admired, but he was able to convince enough members that his request was in the best interest of the town. And given the already known facts that orc raids were already sending refugees streaming into Hamptonshire from the west, that sporadic raids locally had already caused delays in trade shipments, and that the financial implications of ignoring the situation would be costly indeed, the council voted to support a military incursion into the orc den. Great news for Rolf, but they were only able to provide nine men of experience to bolster his numbers while the town guard and militia handled other matters of concern related to the orcs, namely the aforementioned raids and refugees.
Rolf reluctantly agreed to wait three days before leaving again, mainly to prepare and organize the troops. But Rolf had other, secret needs to attend to: he could fel the change coming on and wanted to be in a safe place when it did. He soon disappeared from the town.
So for three days the party recovered and resupplied, ate heartily and drank merrily despite the wretched refugees crowding the streets with nothing to eat. And they learned just how suspicious the town had become of outsiders, especially those tainted with orc heritage, as was Vurtog.
On the third evening in town, the party was told by Lt. Hammerstein that the unit would be moving out at late morning the following day. All were present when the wagon wheels began to turn, Rolf and Collin, though, running to catch up. They traveled by wagon and horse, and with Rolf showing the way, arrived at the dungeon entrance that evening. Not slowing to rest and bent on saving the boy, the party once again descended into the dark depths of the dungeon.