The week following the besiegement flows quickly. Tira spent time with our prisoner and learned much.
Melira – Acryn’s human lover, whom he met in Freedomtown. He’s sent her back there, ahead of the raid. He had planned to use the gold he was promised for doing all this to start a life with her there. She left a week ago, or so. He was afraid of what the orcs might do to her.
She didn’t have anything to do with the raid; she only came here to help Acryn. He swears that she doesn’t know anything about the tribe; “she’s never met anyone from it except for me. Even if you set her free she wouldn’t go to them; that’d only be dangerous to her. If you let her go she’ll be of no further trouble to Trunau. I swear.” [Tira maybe implied we had her captive. It made him very eager to cooperate.]
Acryn himself: – Grew up in the Iron Nail tribe’s slave pits and worked his way up and out as a witch doctor. He was promised his literal weight in gold (10k in gp) for the Hammer, armor and stone.
“I’ve spent a life acquiring skills and the prestige needed to convince her I could do it. Now with the tribe under new management I figured it was time to cash out and move on… with Melira”
Twisted Hearts Tribe – a merger of the Iron Nail tribe and a handful of Giants.
“Grenseldek’s crew came down and took over a few winters back. It was a bloody mess. Worked out better for me. She can barely tell the difference between a mongrel like me and a full-blooded orc.”
Why did Grenseldek want the Hammer – "The hammer belonged to an ancestor’s of hers or something. I don’t really care what she wanted it for. My guess is that she thought it would bring her some prestige amongst giants to have it. Giants are all about their ridiculous posturing. "
The Other Half of the Map – It is the same size and look as the one we have, from the way he described it. Grenseldek had it with her when she came down from the mountains. He never asked where she got it. She believed that it would lead to the Giant Slayer’s tomb.
Will there be Another Raid of this size any time soon – Probably not.
“I don’t know what she’ll do now. She’ll have trouble pushing anyone into another big raid anytime soon. She’ll have a hard enough time keeping tribesmen from deserting. The orcs didn’t care to be under her thumb to begin with. I’m sure some of the less stupid Twisted Nail warriors are already scheming to take her down. Either she’ll browbeat everyone back into line, some warrior will succeed in taking over or the whole tribe will splinter apart.”
How big a tribe is left – We just killed more than half of their number. Kagak, the drummer that we killed, was the Orc leader. There MIGHT be 40 Orcs left. Otherwise there are the Gorbs (a family of ogres and ogre-kin Grenzeldek picked up someplace, roughly 12 in number). For the giants, there’s only Grenzeldek and her two mates.
What about other Giants Coming - “I think she’s got something going on with some of the tribes up in the highlands. I don’t imagine they think much of her since she’s only got her two mates, the Gorbs and now what’s left of the Twisted Nails. I figure that’d make her pretty much the dregs o’ the giant barrel. If any of em come to call, they’d probably take what she’s got left afore they’d ally with her.”
Who worked with him within Trunau – “Urnsul, Rishka, Vorom, Daktani, Graff, Leggly, Mason, Rocza, Gokul and Abir…” [we have killed Urnsul, Daktani (ladder holder on the tower that Sif pushed off a cliff). The other Orcs Rishka and Vorom may be among the dead, or should be tracked down][The other 6 names are the human assassins we’ve already handled.]
The questioning of the remaining orcs did not go near as well. One even managed to commit suicide. Overall, they are rowdy, loud and of not much use.
As the week progresses the clean-up and building efforts are well underway. Interspersed with that is dealing with all the bodies. Not just fallen orcs, but townsfolk as well totalling to 130 bodies to deal with. We have no cemetery, and so must rely on funeral biers and cremation. The orcs that are not suspended on gallows (around 2 dozen) are carried outside the town to be burned en mass.
Halgra believes the orcs understand the placement of the dead on gallows as a warning to all those who dare endanger Trunau. It takes most of the week to gather the destroyed houses, cart it and the bodies out of the inner quarter, erect the pires and then burn the orcs. The remaining wood goes to restock the signal beacon and the flame of the fallen, which is the towns funeral bier. Services also last the better part of the week.
The rebuilding effort is focused on the main gate. It will probably take 2-5 years for the inner quarter to fully recover from the damage. Members of the stone quarrying clan are trying to recoup as much stone as they can from the fallen tower. Somewhere between all the funerals are the executions of the prisoners. Our 1/2 orc prisoner is ranting and raving and screaming accusations against Tira.
There are rumblings of discontent throughout town as the work progresses. Some of it is against Halgra and how the whole situation was handled. They believe there should have been an advanced warning. But the militia was reinforced a day before the raid, a fact locals often forget.
Things have gotten progressively worse for the 1/2 orcs in town. The other defenders claim that recent events prove that 1/2 orcs cannot be trusted. Halgra’s determination to assure the 1/2 orcs remain unmolested in town only stokes the fires of discontent.
The clans have all lost family members, and so they wear unadorned hair for the period of mourning. The forges are silent for another week. In addition to the civic ceremonies held to mourn the fallen defenders and militia, there are private ceremonies to be held as well.
We spend our time guarding the prisoners, on the walls. We serve with several townsfolk who do not appreciate the need for this enforced civic duty.
Tira, Shamus and Beauxite spend a fair amount of time in Agrit’s workspace. Tira studies the histories at Agrit’s promping; trying to make sense of what was found. Agrit helps out with some of Shamus’ work, but mostly she works on scribing some scrolls. The place is quite cloying with incense being burnt. The smell of ground up giant bones gives Shamus a heady feel. Beaxite doesn’t like it.
When Agrit’s not working on scribing scrolls, she’s focusing on the coat of kings (the iron giant’s armour). She’s been studying the cameos and making notes and rubbings of it all. It is particularly fascinating to her because it’s a primary source of ancient Koldukarian genealogy. She stays seated, but several unseen servants fetch books, and equipment. For anything heavier she barks orders at Shamus or Tira.
As she works, around the middle of the week, Shamus hears an audible gasp as she drops her magnifying apparatus. Shamus and Tira rush over, but Agrit seems flustered and staggered. They bring her water and makes her comfortable, and she kicks them out claiming she needs time to herself.
A few days later, after she consults with clan Blackhammer, she summons Tira and Tova to her rooms. Tova spent most of her free time praying throughout the week, and when she must meet and deal with others, she’s not very social.
Speaking to Silverbeard, Stinna spends time trying to find information about other Stone Lords or Earth Kin. Silverbeard cannot help much, but suggests we seek out the stone singers in the Ghostlight marsh off the river Esk. Look for a stone plith from ancient times. It’s marked with the symbol of the stone singers (a carved diamond shape). If we can find this marker along the river bank, we will find the start of a sacred path. He believes it’s somewhere west of the island in the river. He suggests she petition them to become a stone singer and gain access. He believes that the heart of earth could be more than just a repository of knowledge.
The Blackhammers have a contract to create cold iron weapons for Lastwall. Unfortunately, with the forges cold, there’s not much work that can be done. The family raids the armoury to complete the armoury. This is something that Tira’s usually involved with, because she’s on the business side. There’s a way-post up the river (within the borders of Lastwall).
Waypoint station, where the weapons are to be delivered, is at the fork of River Esk and the Kestrel River. Tira knows where it is.
Halgra wants Grenseldek and her followers to pay for what was done to Truneau. She orders us to travel Redlake fort and take out the remaining forces there.
Typically, mercantile goods are trusted to a river captain named Ra’ag Bloodtusk, who has rights of passage through the area. The family recommends bribing him to take us to Redlake Fort. There are rumors that he might be father to two of Halgra’s boys.
One of the many council’s decrees is that the old church will be destroyed. The priests of Iomede will be given a chance to recover whatever they want from the place.
We return to the burnt church. It is much like we remember. We have to climb in and go through the open hallway. We avoid the hospital wing. When we reach the back sanctuary, the orcish runes are still inscribed on the large stone outcropping. We pass the bookshelf with the initials R+B (Rorin + Brynia).
The light coming through the missing wall throws the cabinet/bookcase into sharp relief. We see that one of the panels is casting an odd shadow. Shamus pushes the panel aside and he finds a small cuby carved into the rock-face. Inside is a small ornate gold coffer, studded with gems. Shamus takes it out of the cuby and opens it. It has a velvet lining.
Beyond the door is a chest bolted to the floor. Shamus digs out his new thieves tools and starts to get to work on the lock. When he sees small sparks popping out, he takes a moment. He finds it has abjuration aura. He keeps working around and little spots of light keep popping out. The lock eventually springs open. The lid is hard to open initially, but it pops open. Inside is a flask (magic), three folded up pieces of parchment (magic; ghostbane, durge, and barkskin), a very nice hand-crossbow, and a case of 30 bolts (10 regular, 10 cold iron, 10 silver).
We discuss putting the spirits to rest. It would require a hallow to be cast (5th level spell with a high ingredient cost). Unfortunately, that is beyond Tora’s capabilities. We renew our vow to come back and release the cursed spirits in the hospital.
In the back of the same cabinet, Shamus finds two iron flasks (viscus oil of magic weapon, and a potion of shield of faith), two glass flasks (holy water) and a steel scroll case. Inside is 3 scrolls (magic; two scrolls of Knock)
We search through the basement, where we gather some Iomedian books and papers.
We give the box to the church of Iomede to help with their rebuilding, and the documentation that we find. The rest, we keep.
By the end of the week, word has gotten around about our activities in fighting in the inner quarter, solving Rorin’s murder, and defeating a giant. For good or ill, we’ve become somewhat of a celebrity in town.
Jarin routed a significant force of orcs and wargs. As he was making his way around the town, towards the barterstones, he was able to save several families besieged by raiders. His squad was also commended for taking down the catapult crew that had set up near the barterstones. Most of Frum’s squad died in an explosion of a catapult fire and subsequent fighting, but he is honoured and recognized for his holding of the Dwarven gate.
We also are given official commendation for our actions and honoured by the clanfolk who recognize outstanding service. The patriarchs of our respective clans offer us 2 silver hair rings: one for talking part in the defence of Trunau for outstanding service, and one for uncovering and bringing to justice the murderer of Rorin. This, the lowest reward for commendation, is a great honour for the likes of us.
Moonday the 27th of Gozrin, 4715
A small delegation of dwarves with two mules, each carrying sacks of arrows, bolts, and 3 crates of weapons, gathers outside the gates. The five of us, a handful of other dwarves and a few humans leave town. Truneau is rather isolated, so Bloodtusk’s river barge is one of the few ways we trade with the outside world. Since he’s known to be at anchor, we head out with a good delegation of guards to ensure safety.
From Truneau to the Kestrel river, it’s about 18 miles. The first few miles we pass Truneau farmsteads and shepherds. It takes the better part of the day to make it to the river. In the dying light of the day, there’s some bartering to be done. Tira takes a part in it, but the rest of us look about.
Raag Bloodtusk’s barge is about 120’ long, 20-30’ wide at the beam, and has a draft of 10’. It is angled at the front and tapered at the back. There’s a big square forecastle in front and an equally square deck at the back. In the centre of the forecastle is a 12’ tall square tower jutting straight up. There’s a stable on the main deck with 8 horses. At the fore is a giant crossbow on a pivot.
It is crewed by 10 half-orcs, and the coxswain is a full-blooded orc. She keeps out of everyone’s way. The crew carries the goods on-board. After some negotiation, Tira finds the captain and hands over Halgra’s letter. He reads it and tells us gruffly to get onboard.
Coxswain Halrex puts us to work hauling gear into the hold.
As the sun sets, some of the merchants pitch tents while others are heading home directly.
We are introduced to various members of the crew: Barka, Gashnak (cook), Urug, Urul, Krothu, Gorza, Shark, and Taug.
At night, they set out nets and in the morning they need to be hauled in as fish is a major part of the ship’s diet. There are sounding measurements, lookouts, and shifts of rowing, and a few odd jobs of fixing up of tack and cleaning. And then there’s the mucking out of the stables where the 8 draft horses are kept. Draft horses produce prodigious amounts of poop. All of these things need labourers and we, especially since we bring no usable skills to sailing a barge, are labour.
That night the wind turns cool and there’s a bit of drizzle, but otherwise the night passes comfortably.
Toilday, the 28th of Gozrin, 4715
As the morning dawns, the merchants break camp. The coxswain is yelling in orcish, and the crew rises. We are quickly put to work, to bring in the nets and then go row.
Urug teaches Shamus how to do a sounding check. Using a weight on a rope, they cast it over the side and let it sink, running the knots of the rope through their hands and counting them as they go. The river is of variable depth and apparently the channel changes with the seasons. The crew seems confident that they won’t become stuck, but check the depth pretty regularly.
The barge eventually picks up speed as the oars are lowered and the rowing begins. They have 6 rowers at any one time. Under rowing-power, the barge manages around 3 miles an hour.
As Tova and Sif haul in a net, the gunwale collapses and Tova falls into 10’ of water and tries to swim, but the river drags her under.
Sif starts hauling the net up. Tova sees some looming shapes coming out of the murk towards her, closing fast. Shamus sends two bolts of magic hurtling towards the creatures. The water froths as something spasms and rolls around down there. A female 1/2 orc runs over with a javelin, and throws it into the water when she reaches the gunwale.
Someone is yelling “Crew overboard! Crocks!” The captain moves to the edge, reaches into a barrel of Javelins, and hits a crock!
The 1/2 orc in the tower tries to throw a javelin and it goes wide. In the water, Tova pulls out her hopeknife to defend herself.
Sif continues to pull up the net. Finally, Tova’s end of the net goes taught and she starts getting pulled up. Tova breaks surface and is just shy of the deck. Shamus casts another magic bolt into the water. The water froths, and one crock snaps his jaws in the water, missing Tova. The crock plunges straight towards the bottom. The other (javelin in its back) takes a lunge at Tova. She stabs at it with her Hope knife. It snaps at Tova, clamping down on her forearm and hip. The crock starts a death roll. Luckily her arm is so tangled up that she stays above the surface. The three 1/2 orcs fire off more javelins at the crock.
Sif tries to lift both Tova and the crock out of the water, but she can’t just manage it. Shamus tries to fire his crossbow at the crock and misses. Tova stabs it again with her hopeknife. With her hand stuck inside its mouth, she twists the knife. Blood gushes out of the beast’s mouth. The crock looses its jaws, and Tova struggles to get free’ it falls away and floats behind the barge. Tova is hauled up into the barge by a very angry Sif.
The crew sees Tova safely on deck and the coxswain tells one crewmember is told to take care of “her”.
It takes a few minutes for the rowing and the tilling to get back into synchronicity. The remaining nets are brought back onto the deck. The oars are set to rest and the coxswain comes up to find out what happened. She is surprised to learn the gunwale broke.
The rest of the day passes without incident. The coxswain asks if we have any carpentry experience. Tova heals herself and then mends the gunwale by Torag’s grace. The magic makes the crew anxious, but no one complains.
In the evening, the captain drops anchor and we edge closer to shore. We’re coming out of the foothills and into grasslands. Over the evening meal of boiled potatoes and some dried tack, the crew talks in a pidgin of orcish and common. They talk about the morning adventure, and joke about the quality of the barge, and other such topics. The coxswain is an absolute expert in cursing. She’s also able to keep up a drumming for 10 hours a day. Shamus believes the coxswain is some kind of bard.
During the night, it rains steadily.
Wheelday, the 29th of Gozrin, 4715
In the early morning, it’s much of the same. The nets are pulled in, the rowers take a shift, and the ship gets under way.
Tova and Sif suffer under the coxswain’s tongue as she tries to drive the two of them to greater feats of strength.
Shamus is up in the crows nest, taking a watch while I get the “honour” of shovelling shit. The 1/2 orcs think that because I’m close to the ground, I should be good with it. As I’m working at the shit removal detail, something blots out the sun. Beauxie sees it too, but despite either of our warnings, Shamus doesn’t see it.
Coming out of the suns glare is some kind of long, saurian shape with webbed feet and bat-like webbed fingers. It tries to land on one of the horses. All 8 horses start freaking out. The beast is some 13’ long with a 20’ wingspan. It has claws, and a maw of sharp teeth. It clamps both onto the back and neck of a horse, but the horse shakes off the grapple. Two more of the beasts, smaller versions, fly in.
The smaller ones come up behind; they try to land on the edge of the stables but the rearing horses freak them out; they hover just over the edge of the gunwale. Their heads rear back and they spit a glob a viscous fluid at me. It burns and unfortunately, the horses get hit with some of it too. The horses start trying to stand on their hind hooves, spinning about and yanking on their halters. I manage to power through the goop and keep moving; it’s so sticky it almost anchors me to the deck.
Shamus casts flurry of snowballs at one of the little ones, striking them over and over. Sif starts running up to the deck. I manage to slam my lucern-hammer into it. It tries to snap at the horse’s neck and fixes me with an angry gaze. Shamus figures out it’s a river drak, except this one must be venerable, it’s huge!
Tova asks Torag to grace her with speed. The female 1/2 orc grabs ammunition while the captain and another crewmember swing the giant crossbow around. The two crewmembers in the back grab javelins and run to get closer.
Shamus casts flurry of snowballs on the same mini-drake. The little beasty screams in rage.
The big one tries again to clamp down on the same horse. The horse starts to falter, hanging its head low. two or three strong downbeats of the river drake’s wings and it lifts the horse out of the stables. I smack it again. This time I think it broke its tail. The injured little ones take off in the opposite direction. The other one starts to lift off, it spits another glob of acid at me and I am entangled.
Sif comes out on the deck and pulls out her bow. She fires at it.
The orcs miss as the little ones fly off. Tova comes up and fires her crossbow at the big one, misses. Shamus casts magic bolts at the big one.
The big one moves further away at a break-neck speed. Sif misses with her bow. One of the little ones spits and hits two of the crew with its acid.
The captain fires the ballista, and it misses the big one. He orders it to reload, but my friends, the crew, and the captain’s final shots all miss the fast-flying drakes.
Shamus sees where the big one touches down on a large outcrop of rocks. It’s a little bit inland and along our way. The captain wants to get his horse back.