(Molday, 1st of Nymm)
After their success in Woodhelm, the Hand of the Silver Flame hit the road, headed toward Orcbone. They were accompanied by the orphan Thurann, and made plans to stop in Shavalant along the way, to drop him off there in the care of his grandparents.
For a few days, they followed the road north, along the fringes of the Dragonwood. One afternoon, the party was alarmed to come across the wreckage of an Orien carriage smoldering in the middle of the road. A quick investigation revealed that the carriage had been looted, and all of the passengers had been slain: some of the victims had evidently been gored viciously, and massive tracks led into the Dragonwood.
The Hand of the Silver Flame would not allow this atrocity to go unpunished. They followed the tracks of the raiders, which led them shortly into an ambush. The villains were a group of (rhino-riding) hobgoblins and orcs, which the party dispatched with a zealous fervor. One of the orcs, left alive for questioning, had little to say besides threats of bloodshed on a massive scale.
The party recovered the stolen goods: a sack of stamped gold bars, property of the banking house Kundarak. Other adventuring groups might have been tempted by the sum, but not the Hand of the Silver Flame they vowed to return the loot and inform the houses Orien and Kundarak as soon as possible.
The intrepid adventurers could not help but wonder how a band of orcish raiders made it all the way into the center of Breland, and why they would dare to attack an Orien transport. Could it have something to do with the mysterious Emissary, or the unearthly portal at Rivenroar? Quite possibly; however, the party was not in the position to investigate further, and so pressed on toward Orcbone, where they assumed they might be able to get more information.
First, however, they needed to stop in Shavalant and bid a hasty farewell to their (not so plucky) companion Thurann . The citizens of Shavalant were not motivated to heed the party’s warning of orc activity in the area, but agreed to organize a night watch at the very least.
The Hand of the Silver Flame rode west, toward Orcbone. Far away in the sky, they saw large airships heading to the southeast, but couldn’t guess why. It was soon made clear to them, however, when they encountered the Westwind Riders, who were riding hard and fast away from Orcbone. The news was dire: Orcbone had come under attack by a great host of enemies, and was being evacuated. Any able-bodied warriors were expected to regroup at Ardev to organize a counterattack.
Dismayed, the Hand of the Silver Flame rode with the Westwind Riders south to Ardev, a large, multi-walled city which had become crowded with refugees from Orcbone. Since they had a while before the plan of attack would be decided, the group was able to resolve their duties concerning the wrecked carriage in the Dragonwood. House Orien was shocked to learn of the carriage attack, and asked the party to keep it on the down-low if at all possible. Breogan was directed to Bram Ironfell of house Kundarak by Adronsius , one of the Hostages of Rivenroar. The party returned the gold to the Kundarak Consortium and delivered the news of the death of Snorri Whitebeard. Bram reluctantly agreed to take a look at Breogans Grandfathers broken blade.
9 Bells District of Ardev
Finally, a meeting was called. The Hand of the Silver Flame were invited, along with the Westwind Riders, Freeriders(led by an alluring old friend of Breogans, a Megan Swiftblade), and a number of other adventurers, at the behest of a council of elders, with a frontman by the name of Elder Cadrick.
A plan was set in motion. While one group of fighters would head back into Orcbone by way of secret tunnels, the Hand of the Silver Flame volunteered to warn the monks of a certain monastery in the mountains near Orcbone, and help defend it if necessary.
The next morning, the party rode out, hoping to reach the monastery in time, but made slow progress because of a muddy river crossing and some steep hills in the way. By the time they reached the monastery the invaders had already breached the meager defenses (Ok, just a gardener) and apparently killed all the monks. The Hand of the Silver Flame battled their way inside, fighting a despicable shaman and some powerful orogs, until they came to a great stone stairway leading deep underground. Another group of enemies were charging up the stairs at them, with a few firing powerful arrows from a safe distance.
This had the potential of being the most dangerous battle yet, as Oris was struck by an arrow and pushed off the edge by the force of impact, leading to a high fall that seriously wounded him. Breogan lowered a rope to his (literally) fallen comrade while the others took a defensive position at the top of the stairs, not willing to risk traversing the thin platform while the archers stood out of range.
The hobgoblin commander ordered his troops to pursue, and as he neared the top, Jantry made an epic leap across a cliff and down onto the stairs, cleaving his foe in two and inspiring awe in his allies. So much so that Elani lost her balance and fell off the edge of the cliff like a lemming or something. Meanwhile, Quinn gave his foes a taste of their own medicine, using his forceful invocations to hurl a few of them over the ledge, where they tumbled to their doom.
Now, exhausted and battered, they continue down the stairs, possibly unprepared for the dangers that await them at the bottom…