As the meeting closes, Chief Samuel orders the town defenders to go get some rest. Non-combatants will keep watch from the walls during the day. Magnus’s house is near the section of wall they defended. Magnus, Corun Dum’man, Goa Finnbjorn, Elroy Wick, and Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn crash there. The battle itself only lasted a half-hour, but the effort and lack of sleep last night were exhausting.
The group sleeps until late afternoon. Returning to their section of wall, the group finds Armst, and an old friend recently arrived from Gold Mountain – the dwarf EBERK (replacement character played by B.P.), a capable Fighter and skilled blacksmith. No one has seen Alinar since their adventure outside Pine Cove; his whereabouts are unknown.
The invading forces have divided up and established camps. The goblins, the kobolds, the orcs, and the ogres have raised tents and crude wooden walls, each on their own patches of land outside of arrow range around North Point’s walls. None of their forces patrol or approach the town to scout or skirmish, but they are visible behind open seams in their palisade walls. Their archers wait for spies or interlopers to draw too close. The tall shapes of siege engines rise in their encampments.
At mid-day when the invaders’ forts looked the quietest, North Point’s engineers and laborers chanced to leave the city and repair the town’s defensive perimeter. Holes and other damage to the walls and gates are patched; trenches dug to slow the advance of charging enemies in the next round. This work was done with anxious watch kept on the enemies’ camps, under a grey and dismal sky. When twilight came, the last of North Point’s craftsmen retreated to the safely of the town.
Unexpectedly, nothing happens overnight. The next day, the party ventures outside the town. Armst and Øskur would like to attack one of the enemy forts, either to draw out small bands of goblins or to start a fire and destroy their camp. Goa is eager to sneak inside the ogre encampment and do some assassinating, all quiet-like. Magnus won’t let her.
Elroy Wick suggests mopping down sections of this no-man’s-land with an abundance of whale-oil, to be set ablaze when the invaders launch their next attack. When it is pointed out that the invaders will have seen where the oil was spread and avoid that hazardous terrain, the Bard thinks quickly. Wick suggests a ruse; carting out barrels that look like oil but are, in fact, sea-water. Spread around as if it were oil, it will fool the orcs and their dark allies into thinking it is dangerous ground – thus funneling the invading forces into “safe” channels much more advantageous to North Point’s defenses. The group likes it; they spend a few daylight hours at work on this deception.
As they work, the group starts thinking aloud. One question stands out: Why have the invading forces not simply over-run the town ? By the numbers and armaments, the invaders hold a serious advantage over the humans. Spellcasters, ogres, worgs, heavily armed orcs and clever kobolds; the invaders outnumber the defenders by at least six-to-one. Whatever mastermind directs these disparate forces, and compels them to fight as a unified force, certainly does not care how many paltry lesser races it expends on its mysterious plan and so casualties cannot be a concern.
The invaders could have kept up the pressure when the gates broke. Instead, they withdrew. They did not press their nocturnal advantage and attack last night. They build siege engines, but from what scouts report, they are engines meant to break or bypass North Point’s walls and gates, not to sunder and burn the town itself. Could the invaders be looking to take the city intact ? If they are, why ?
Wick wonders if there is something in the town itself – a person, or more likely a magic item or an artifact – that these gathered forces have been tasked to capture. Corun tries to remember if his master Alfred ever mentioned anything of great magical value. He draws a complete blank (with a natural 1 rolled for Knowledge : Arcana for a total Skill Check of 10). Eberk, the eldest of their group, mentions that the Main Hall is the oldest structure in the town. If such an item exists, it could very well be hidden there.
The party has free time. They make their way to the Main Hall. The building is almost vacant; Armst and his friends are alone in the meeting hall. They look around but spot no detail they haven’t seen in many years of attending seriously boring events here.
There is an alcove off to the side, where stairs lead down to somewhere Corun and his friends have never been. Just past the archway into the alcove, the group is surprised to find four guards posted at the door leading down. The guards fix wary eyes on the group. Goa remembers that the trade wealth of North Point – furs, highly-prized commodities such as gems and refined metals, and many years of tax revenues that have not been able to sail south to their home kingdom – is stored down below.
Corun nudges Elroy Wick. Wick takes the hint. Spinning a quick and convincing yarn (Bluff = 24), the Bard tries to convince the four security men that he and his friends have been ordered to search the cellars and underground store-rooms in North Point, to ensure that enemy sappers and raiders have not tunneled in under the walls. One not-very-smart guard, Carl, immediately agrees to grant the group access. The Guard Sergeant has doubts and refuses to yield.
Wick thinks quick on his feet, asking if the Sergeant and his men would accompany his team downstairs to fight the umber hulk and legion of crafty kobolds that have probably already broken through the cellar wall while this discussion was preventing his party’s inspection. The Sergeant rolls his eyes, but finds this compromise acceptable, preferring to keep a close eye on these kids. He and Carl light lanterns and lead the way.
A flight of stone stairs leads to a landing and another locked door. Beyond this, more stairs lead even further down. This cellar is dug remarkable deep, by North Point standards. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn attempts to guess their relative position underground (with a natural 1 rolled for Knowledge : Dungeoneering for a total Skill Check of 8) and fails terribly.
They come to the storehouse. It is a long rectangular chamber with an arched stone roof. Crates, boxes, barrels crowd the floor, cut by narrow aisles. It is a cool, musty, dimly lit maze. The two guards stand by the doorway, keeping an eye on the party and especially on the Halfling Rogue. Goa keeps her hands visible, though she can smell the scent of wealth seeping from some of these squat, dusty crates and chests.
The party fans out, as if to check the walls but passively searching for any unique or particularly noteworthy containers. Elroy Wick hangs back by the guards, and tells a funny story (Perform : Oratory = 29) to distract the soldiers while his friends do more snooping than securing.
Carl is happy to be rid of his boredom. He finds the Bard amusing. The Guard Sergeant is not the dupe that Carl is. He keeps too sharp an eye on the party for Magnus’s liking. The Fighter intentionally provokes the Sergeant with rude, condescending comments until the head guard loses his temper and hauls Magnus out of the room, hustling him back upstairs.
Alone with a patsy of a guard, the group can ease off on the pretenses and search much closer. Corun Dum’man tells Carl that he’s going to use a Detect Magic spell to sense if any enemies are close by. Still hung up on Wick’s storytelling, Carl absently waves him on.
Success. The Wizard finds three crates that glow with magic near the back of the long, shadowy chamber. He and Armst inspect them. All of the goods in this chamber have been marked with an inventory code – a letter followed by a string of numbers. The newest additions to this storehouse are marked in the R-, S-, and T-series. Older crates are marked with J- or K-. The crates Corun located are marked with A-series inventory numbers.
Elroy Wick takes his distraction to the next level, Fascinating the guard Carl (Perform : Oratory = 31). The slow-witted guard is completely oblivious to all but Wick’s riveting tale. The effect lasts long enough for the party to shift the crates and make sure the source of the magic is not actually something underneath. It isn’t; the boxes themselves contain something enchanted.
Corun asks Carl what might be in these A-series crates. Carl has no idea. The party returns to the ground floor of the Main Hall, to a smirking Magnus and a thoroughly irritated Guard Sergeant.
Governor Rolofson may have some answers. His office is at the back of the hall. Politely interrupting the imperial representative, Elroy Wick claims (Bluff = 24) that Carl mentioned some crates in a store-room somewhere here in the Main Hall, crates marked with an “A” that might contain Axes. Rolofson checks a ledger and confirms that there looks to be something in the storeroom that could help against the invading forces. He leads the group out of his office.
Rolofson orders the Guard Sergeant and his men to bring up two specific crates. These are two of the three magic containers that Corun identified. Pried opened, the party sees that the mildewy crates hid surprises. Seven battleaxes, six longswords, four greataxes, four greatswords in one crate; a suit of half-plate armor and three breastplates in the other. All of it shiny bronze. Elroy Wick casts Detect Magic; it is all of +2 magical quality, granting a net +1 advantage when the relative inferiority of the copper-tin alloy is considered.
A most beneficial find ! Rolofson offers up a weapon to anyone in Magnus’s party who could use one. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn debates between taking a greatsword or a greataxe; he opts for the sword. Magnus openly lobbies for a bronze breastplate, but his disdain for authority has won him no friends in politics or militia. He is denied. Eberk takes a battleaxe, and Armst ponders his options with delight.
The bronzework is unusual, even to a lay weaponsmith. Magnus wonders if these are Giant-made. Inspecting the blades, those who speak that language recognize ironically tiny Giant script etched into the metal; Fire-theme’d names bestowed up on each weapon by their creators.
As they have no magical Fire properties to them, the first conclusion is that Fire Giants made these. Both Wick (with a natural 20 rolled for Knowledge : Nature for a total Skill Check of 24) and Røgnvaldurarsøn (with a natural 20 rolled for Knowledge : Nature for a total Skill Check of 33) know a few things about Fire Giants…they can live for centuries; they are skilled forgers; and they are brilliant military tacticians.
Rolofson doesn’t know where this treasure trove originally came from or how it came to be stored down below. He suggests the group take these goods to the Dwarf master smith, BjØrn, to learn more. After that, the party is to deliver this arsenal to a militia command post.
Taking the gear across town to the master smith, BjØrn confirms that the forging was done by Fire Giants. The Dwarf remembers that, forty years ago, these weapons and suits of armor were the spoils of a fierce war fought against Orcs, who must have had Fire Giant patrons. BjØrn has not seen these pieces since then, but he remembers them. Corun raises the possibility that it may be a vengeful Fire Giant who commands the forces now besieging North Point.
The party thanks BjØrn for his help, and is about to leave when the Dwarf smith recalls one more significant magic item obtained 40 years ago. The Orc invaders were led by an unusually skilled and capable Orc General. Under his command, the Orc forces fought with better coordination and discipline than one would have thought possible of their race. When North Point’s barbarian Chief slew this General at the climax of the war, he claimed from the corpse some sort of magic necklace. BjØrn doesn’t know what properties this necklace had, or exactly what became of it. He knows the barbarian Chief was a successful leader in North Point for years after the war, as was his son after him, and is now his grandson – Chief Samuel.
An interesting development. The group leaves BjØrn to his work, and delivers the bronze gear to the nearest militia tent. When the party is alone, Elroy Wick and Magnus immediately posit that the necklace grants its bearer extraordinary powers of influence; that Chief Samuel and his forebearers have probably exploited this item to maintain political power; and that this necklace might be what the army outside North Point is here to find.
Goa tracks down Samuel’s whereabouts. The party finds him, and casually engage the Chief in conversation about North Point’s situation. The group learns that it is likely the invaders are holding position to wait for re-enforcements; additional support which could be Frost Giants.
Corun and Eberk try an uncomfortably blunt approach, asking about magic necklaces and whether any such item ever came into Samuel’s family’s possession over the years. The Chief says such an item does not sound familiar. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn gets a feeling (with a natural 20 rolled for Sense Motive for a total Skill Check of 23) that Samuel is being evasive. Halfling Goa’s sharp eyes notice what might be the bulge of a necklace under Samuel’s shirt. She does not call out the Chief on it. Samuel eyes the party with either puzzlement or suspicion.
With no tactful way to press the issue further, and Samuel obviously interested in attending to the defense of the town, the party excuses themselves and walks away. It is starting to get dark, and tonight could be the night the enemy attacks again.
(end of the session)
[Goa Finnbjorn, Corun Dum’man achieve Level 3]