The story begins as a band of orcs waylays a merchant caravan en route to Hamptonshire. Of the survivors, a small group of caravan guards tracks the orcs to an underground complex not far away as the rest of the caravan continues to limp towards town.
Descending a long shaft into the complex, the would-be heroes find giant spiders, and a paralyzing death for one hero, awaiting them in a large chamber. After dispatching the spiders, the remaining party then found the orc band waiting in ambush beyond a door, and under a barrage of orc arrows the heroes retreated back up the shaft to safety with the orcs close behind—or two of the heroes anyway, as another was felled by multiple black arrows.
A third hero died under the light of a full moon as he bravely (stupidly) confronted the orcs as they poured forth from the ground. Hacked to easily cooked pieces, his sacrifice was not for nothing: the lone survivor of the group escaped to Hamptonshire and the Frothing Frog Inn to spread word of the orc den and the noble sacrifices of his team.
Among the audience in the Frothing Frog during the telling of this tale
was Collin Mudfjord, a local hafling ne’er-do-well of seemingly oblivious nature, Rolf Do’urgsh, a serious, protective Half-orc ranger with a fondness for Collin, Syrict, a reclusive hafling and relative newcomer to Hamptonshire, and Assuran, another gnome illusionist with an uncommon arrogance about her. After hearing the story of the orc raid and subsequent failed expedition, and wanting to earn gold and glory, the four friends decided to do what the caravan guards could not: rid the area of the orc threat.
Several weeks have passed since that fateful night. Over the course of several trips into the complex and once not even making it that far, the following events have occurred (in brief):
The complex is known to house at least goblins as well as orcs; just ask Rolf since he was almost killed by three—only three. Goblins, man!
The party was ambushed in the middle of the day during another expedition to the complex. Not yet reaching the complex and taken almost completely by surprise, the party was unable to immediately retreat because of casualties, but withstood several incursions by the orcs throughout the remaining day and night to limp back to town for recovery. Syrict was felled by a black arrow (damn those things!) as he attempted to hide in a makeshift blind of sticks and leaves—it didn’t help.
Asadi Adir, a cleric from the Dawn Temple escorted the party on one outing to provide healing support, but faltered when faced with combat and has since been content to remain in the temple ringing bells and saying prayers. It was while healing a seriously wounded Syrict that he detected a darkness about the halfling that left him feeling cold and shaken. He reported the occurrence to the Dawn Priestess who has since taken steps to learn of Syrict’s dark personality and has thus refused him direct aid from the temple.
During the group’s last investigative outing, they found a room with a hole in the floor and a clue that something was to be placed in the hole. After tossing a coin into the hole with no ill effects, ever inquisitive and ever imprudent Assuran shoved her hand in the hole only to have it immediately remove with a cleanly cauterized nub of an arm left. The immediate shock of the wound almost killed her, but she has since recovered to fall into a deep depression over not being able to cast spells anymore. She now is retired and abusing a rocking chair on the porch of the old magic-user’s home.
Rolf visited the Green Wizard’s tower and bartered his services to Gibway O’Shannahan for having a magic shield identified. He agreed to recover a local red dragon’s egg from the God’s Home Mountain range, in exchange he learned he had a magic imbued shield.
Syrict received a secretive message to meet a guild contact at the Forgotten King’s Barrow at high moon. That night he crept down the middle of the street to the bridge gate so he could cross the raging river, but being unable to persuade the guard to open the gates for him, he rowed a dingy out into the swift current. After losing one oar and then the other to be left at the rivers mercy, he was bashed against rocks and swept up in the current. Just before passing his rendezvous point though, he dove into the water chancing death to reach the bank in time to make his meeting. Refusing to ditch his backpack, he was twice pulled under the dark frigid waters of the Coldflow just to miraculously emerge once again gasping for air. Favored by his god, he made it to the opposite shore pulling himself onto a rock to realize then that he was saved from a watery death just to face a treacherous climb in the dark in a weakened, exhausted state. Lucky for him, his contact watched the entire river ordeal with much amusement and sent him down a rope to assist in his ascent. It was then that Syrict learned the guild had designs on infiltrating the local merchant guild and that he was to kill Sam Beckwith.
In search of healing assistance for the party, Collin went looking for a cleric to hire. He was sent to the nearby monastery by Bombal Strunck and spent the majority of the morning learning that the brothers of the monastery have no identity and an unwillingness to affect an outcome of any situation. “Peace comes from acceptance that it is as it shall be.” Needless to say, Collin was given no help other than advice to embrace the “peace within.”