Although the orcish legions could no longer reach Breland through the mountain tunnels, Orcbone was still under siege. Once again, The Hand of The Silver Flame found themselves tasked to assist Elder Cadrick and the other leaders of Ardev, who had planned a meeting that evening to discuss what would happen next.
With a few hours to kill before the meeting, the party visited the markets in Trade Town to do some shopping, where suddenly they were set upon by a disorganized group of assassins. After a bloody fight and a chase through the crowded marketplace, the Hand succeeding in capturing one of the assailants (to be turned over to the city guard after questioning); unfortunately, the leader of the group, a mustachioed wizard going by the name Zaegun, escaped. In light of their recent heroism (they were saviors of Breland, after all!), the party had no guesses as to who might want to attack them.
The meeting with the elders was short and sweet. It was decided that the Hand would set out directly via airship to assist the ragged forces, hoping to break the Seige on Orcbone before it was too late. Arriving the next afternoon, they found that the enemy forces had fallen back to muster some distance from the walls of the city. Taking advantage of this, the team worked fast to strengthen the defenses of Orcbone however they could: healing the wounded, scouting for advantageous terrain, reinforcing the gate, etc.
The battle began at nightfall, as a battalion of orcs marched on the gates while hippogriff-riders flew above the battlefield. With every ounce of skill they had, the Hand of the Silver Flame dutifully fought off the advance, leading the militia, firing spells and arrows onto their enemies from the walls, and furiously battling the monstrous forces that would stop at nothing to breach the city gate.
As the battle raged on, a strike team consisting of a handful of shadar-kai and wraiths emerged from the darkness and sprung to the top of the wall, battering the defenders there with black magic and nightmarish chains of pure shadow. The members of the Hand rushed to the defense of the wall before the intruders could turn the tide of battle. After a brutal fight, the party was successful, but the attack had caused confusion and despair among the militia.
The battle was getting out of control, and as another wave of orc forces surged toward the gates, some of the defending militia broke and ran, plunging the remaining defenders into total chaos. Even so, with the help of the Hand of the Silver Flame fighting furiously to defend the gate, the struggling forces retaliated viciously against the orcish regiments until they, too, broke and ran. Once again, the Hand of the Silver Flame had seemingly gone beyond the call of duty, saving Breland once more.
The heroes returned victoriously to Ardev, where they were congratulated with great honor by the town elders. Although the tidings were dark, it appeared that Breland would be safe for the time being before the orcs could muster another force. The party had received a letter from Thurann, who had discovered some interesting details about a silver sword they had left in his possession, and decided to return to Shavalant and pay the boy a visit.
However, on their way to the stables, they were attacked once again by the mustachioed Zaeghun and his hired goons. Jantry recognized one of them, a young woman he had known from his days in the thieves’ guild, Mara the River Fox. The paladin convinced her and an ally to surrender, as the battle was clearly in the Hand’s favor. To the party’s chagrin, Zaegun escaped yet again, using an invisibility spell.
Mara could not believe that her old partner in crime (and what-have-you) had survived, let alone become a righteous do-gooder. She agreed to give some information if the party would be lenient with her. Apparently, an unknown agent had put a large bounty on the members of Hand of the Silver Flame, which Zaegun, criminal underboss of Trade Town, had been trying to collect on.
Putting their plans to visit Thurann on hold, the party decided instead to track down Zaegun and figure out who had put the bounty on their heads. From clues and hints they gathered in taverns and alleyways around the city, it appeared that the bounty had something to do with the mysterious crystals they had recovered, which were tied in some way to the mystical portal they had encountered during their adventures at Rivenroar. Someone with a connection to the burning-eye symbol they had seen on their adversaries’ weapons and armor was trying to retrieve the stones, and apparently would stop at nothing to get them.
As this shadowy figure seemed very desperate to find the stones, the party decided it would be possible to set a trap for him. Dox, the changeling that had accompanied them since their victory in the mountain caverns, started a rumor that he had stolen one of the stones and was looking to sell it. When the villain comes to collect, the Hand of the Silver Flame will be waiting.