Back in Red Larch
After resting for the night, the party was greeted in the morning by Kaylessa. Kaylessa told the group that two people who were recently in Beliard were discussing the missing delegation of Mirabar at a table in the Swinging Sword’s main hall. Brother Eardon (a messenger and priest that roams across the small towns of the North sharing the wisdom of Lathander) and Zomith (a half-orc for hire) both expected the delegation to be in Red Larch by now.
Brother Eardon told the group that he came from Beliard by way of Westbridge, and he knew that the delegation from Mirabar was in Beliard two tendays ago when he left there. He was surprised by the fact that the delegation has not turned up yet. The delegates were traveling from Mirabar to Waterdeep, but they wanted to stop in the tiny town of Beliard. The members of the delegation mentioned their intent to visit sacred dwarven sites before continuing on to Goldenfields.
Zomith recently quit a caravan that came from Beliard through Westbridge, arriving in Red Larch two days ago. The caravan continued on without Zomith, but she confirmed that she brawled with Mirabarian guards from the missing delegation about fifteen days ago. She told the party that she couldn’t care less about the delegation, but that she had nothing to do with their disappearance.
After talking to Brother Eardon and Zomith, Diero asked Kaylessa where the group could pick up some potions of healing, and she pointed them in the direction of Vallivoe’s Sundries. Endrith Vallivoe provided the potions of healing, but also mentioned to the party that he overhead someone say that they saw a skull pinned to a tree with a black arrow, like some kind of dire warning or ill omen, and it was just off the path on the way to Beliard.
Before leaving town, the group visited Harburk to get an update on the events of the previous night. They learned the following from Harburk:
- Albaeri Mellikho was jailed
- Ilmeth Waelvur was also jailed, and the tomb’s other exit led to his shop. Ilmeth was prevented from fleeing town by Gladigan.
- Marlandro Gaelkur has claimed that he had nothing to do with the Believers
- Grund, a town simpleton who maintains the market, was nowhere to be found
- Baragustas Harbuckler has been cooperating with the investigation
- Rotharr Hatherhand & his family (including Braelen) have apparently fled town
- Aerego Bethendur claims to have mistrusted Larrakh and is cooperating
- Ulhro Luruth has fled town
- Elak Dornen has fled town, and was named as the leader of the Believers by Baragustas
- The “Bringers of Woe” were staying at Mother Yolantha’s and working for Mellikho
When Grund’s disappearance was brought up, some of the party noticed Baragustas nodding in their direction. Harburk also noted that there was nothing the adventurers could do at this time, and he would like the town to sort out its own mess, but he would be happy to provide updates as they occur.
Finally, the adventurers decided to leave town north towards Beliard. As they were leaving they ran into a half-elf woman named Dewlyn Astrades. She told them that a band of orcs have been terrorizing farmsteads north of the Stone Bridge and along the river, just west of Beliard. The orcs have always been a problem, but not like the threat they are presenting now. The party agreed to check-in on the farms while they travelled to Beliard.
The Last Laugh
As the group traveled north along the Larch Path, they took a side-trek off the path to where Endrith Vallivoe said the skull with the black arrow was. Sure enough, they came across a weathered human skull, jaw sagging, pinned to the trunk of a tree by a big black arrow protruding from one of the skull’s eye sockets.
Diero grabbed the arrow and tossed it immediately. Diero noticed a note on the ground and read it:
You’ll be next!
After nothing happened (and Kaer Baer made friends with a squirrel), and there was nothing else suspect in the area, he picked it up and stored it, and the party camped for the night. During the night, Diero had nightmares of the skull rushing at him, laughing coldly.
The next day, as the adventures approached the Stone Bridge, they stayed to the left of the bridge and the river and traveled north. It didn’t take too long for the adventures to come across a burning farm! The group was fast enough to free all of the livestock and an unconscious man near the doorway of the home. The fire was quickly consuming the house, but it was slowed down by a ray of frost shot from Kaer Baer. After being revived the group learned that that man was Selwyn Anderil. Selwyn told the party that four orcs took his pregnant wife (Meegan) and their two farmhands, brothers Ob and Fin Lavelle.
Selwyn also explained that some of the farmers along the river have noticed keelboats going north & south along the river carrying what appeared to be slaves in their holds (including humans, elves, half-elves, and dwarves). The orc raids started occurring shortly after some of the farmers approached the captains of the keelboats. He also noted that one of the captains was a plump water genasi who appeared jovial and humorous, but Selwyn felt that there was an evilness underneath that jovial character.
Selwyn joined the adventurers as they followed the path that the orcs left. It didn’t take long for the party to catch up with the orcs. The party was able to sneak up as the four orcs were sitting in the shade of some trees surrounding a wagon. Ob and Fin were passed out in front of the wagon and Meegan was visible inside the wagon.
Kaer Baer surprised the resting orcs with some magic missiles, and Diero casted a hold person spell on one of the orcs. Ginnifer and Gladigan fired arrows from the trees while Selwyn charged the wagon holding his wife. Ullr started trading blows with one of orcs, and Helka became enraged after getting hit by another orc, and with one attack of her warhammer killed him dead! Diero shot poison spray to the orc nearest him, and Ginnifer ran up and jammed an arrow in one of the trapped orc’s skull. Given the surprise attack, the orcs never really had a chance, and other than some damage taken by Helka, the party defeated the orcs without incident.
After attending to Meegan, Ob, and Fin, the adventures decided to escort the farmers to nearby Dellmon Ranch. Selwyn explained that the ranch was large and fortified, and many of the farmers were planning on meeting there if the orc attacks got worse.
The Dellmon Ranch was full of people, including about 18 farmhands and 16 elderly and children. Also at the ranch the party met the following individuals:
- Kerbin Dellmon – owner of the ranch
- Dreena – Kerbin’s daughter
- Perd – Kerbin’s son
- Fyndryk – Kerbin’s other son
- Marka – Perd’s wife
- Livi & Thrade – Perd and Marka’s children
- Flameron Verminbane – a lightfoot halfling scout
- Erned Stoutblade – a knight who brought news of an imminent orc attack
- Stowal & Branikan – shield dwarf blacksmiths
- an additional 6 individuals that were capable of fighting
The party learned from Kerbin Dellmon that the attacks were likely retaliation for the farmers’ threats to expose the slave trade along the river, and that the group at the ranch had built ditches and makeshift crenelations to help survive the pending attack. The group at the ranch also captured an orc and found a note:
I am sure you have found someone to persuade into reading this for you. Grush, you and your hoard did such a good job down south dealing with the dwarven noble conspiracy, that Gar would like your help with pesky farmers along the Dessarin River. They have become aware of our dealings and need to have their mouths closed – possibly for good. Specfically, the farmsteads between Beliard and the Dessarin Hills along the river. the same deal as before applies.
- Shoalar Quanderil
Kerbin believed that Shoalar works for water cultists. The party also learned that Dreena sent a message to the Elves of the High Forest. Given the imminent attack that Erned Stoutblade warned about (about 40-50 orcs!), the farmers asked the adventurers to plan defenses and strategy. The party set some oil traps up around the perimeter of the ranch, and some hunting traps just inside of the barn and house.
After about an hour of planning, an orc war horn was heard and the sky was filled with javelins! Gladigan, Kaer Baer, and Ginnifer were all hit by javelins and Diero unsuccessfully threw one back. The party split up to cover two different gates (Diero, Helka, and Ginnifer covering one, and Gladigan, Kaer Baer, and Ullr covering the other). Many orcs then stormed the ranch!
Kaer Baer launched a firebolt at an orc while Gladigan killed one with a well-placed arrow. Ullr evoked the power of Steve and casted a shatter spell that created a sound so loud that two orcs’ heads exploded and another started bleeding out of his ears! On the eastern gate Diero entangled an orc with summoned vines while Helka and Ginnifer attacked with ranged attacks. The orcs barely reached the ranch walls before another horn blew and the orcs retreated, but not before the adventurers took out a couple more as they ran away. Diero offered his black arrow to Ginnifer, but she wouldn’t touch it.
Shortly after, a thick smoke appeared as the orcs lit nearby bushes and grass on fire. No one was able to see any more than 30 feet in front of them. Once the ranch was engulfed in smoke, the orcs attacked again! The party stayed split up in their mini-groups in order to defend multiple fronts. Helka hit one with a javelin right away. Gladigan attempted to jump on a crate so he could fire an arrow, but he fell off the crate instead. Tired of no one taking his black arrow, Diero borrowed a bow from a nearby farmhand and fired the black arrow at the orcs…but it didn’t appear to hit anything. Diero tossed the bow away in frustration.
Once again Ullr exploded some more heads with his shatter spell, and then Kaer Baer did the same with her own shatter spell! Helka continued to grab javelins and throw them at the approaching orcs, and Gladigan took another one out with a well placed arrow. Diero paralyzed an orc with a hold person spell and Ginnifer hit the paralyzed orc with an arrow.
However, it wasn’t enough! There were too many orcs and they quickly breached the wall and started to get into the ranch grounds. The east side where Helka, Ginnifer, and Diero were defending was overcome with orcs and the group was suddenly taking hits from the orcs’ greataxes. They were able to take out a few more, but eventually Helka was knocked unconcious. Ginnifer, surrounded by orcs, was able to make a sweeping attacks with arrows and hit multiple orcs, but she was in trouble.
One the west side of the ranch, Kaer Baer, Ullr, and Gladigan were fairing better, largely due to additional shatter attacks. Just when they thought they had their gate taken care of, more orcs charged into the grounds from the barn and the house. An orog, and apparent leader of the hoard, charged out of the barn with a group of orcs immediately beside Kaer Baer, Ullr, and Gladigan. Gladigan was forced to switch into close combat with the orcs, and both Kaer Baer and Ullr focused on the orog. Magic missiles appeared to hardly hurt the orog, but the group did what they could to wear him down.
Ullr casted thunder wave and destroyed an orc that flew into the nearby wall, and the orog was showing signs of pain and struggle. Ginnifer jumped over an orc’s swiping greataxe, ducked another one, and jumped over a third, and then landed on a final one to launch herself out of harm’s reach! Helka unfortunately fell a second time (after being revived by Diero), and Diero was knocked unconscious shortly after. Orcs once again surrounded Ginnifer for a final attack, but suddenly a graceful and proud trumpet blew, and arrows started to hit orcs from all directions! The elves had arrived just in time, chasing the orcs off, killing a few of them, and an arrow also caused a killing blow to the orog.
In the end, there were some casualties. Kerbin Dellmon and Fip both were killed, as were two of the elderly and four of the other able fighters. The farmers pitched in and gave the adventurers 150 gold pieces worth of coins for their help against the orc raid. Also, the orog (who happened to be Grush), had another letter on him. It read:
Shoalar, pass these names to your orcs for hire. Most are in Waterdeep. One of the noble wives has become a devout of the Crushing Wave & the Prophet of Water, Olhydra. She has given us the names of the noble families investigating our trade activity…for a favor in return. Though our plans are still in the early stages, these families need to be dealt with immediately, or we will be delayed.
- Gar Shatterkeel
The party decided to spend the night at the ranch to rest. During the evening, Diero again had nightmares of the skull chasing him and laughing coldly.