Having returned to Hochoch, the group rested a bit, met a few more of the town’s inhabitants, (including a couple of attractive “ladies of the evening”, Heleth and Merleri), and spent some time trading the spoils of their latest adventure for gold and silver (see Treasure from the Bloody Ridge) . After that, Gault recommended they talk to one of the local scops: the most respected Morwenna the Fair. She gave them a history lesson (see Meeting with Morwenna the Fair) and gave them some background on the Marchers currently running the town. During part of their time exploring, Oxyl and Gault wandered off together, where Oxyl found his way into the local Thieve’s Guild: The Owl’s Talons.
Oxyl brought back a lead that the local Marchers were looking for a group to head into the middle of Geoff on a scouting mission. They ended up in the Town Hall and met with Constable Kamen Freck. Freck had heard of the group, but had not met them in person. He was most impressed by what they had accomplished to this point and felt they would be well-suited to find out the things needed based on some current reports. Freck told them that it has been heard from a couple of solitary Rangers that there were humanoids and giants gathering near Pregmere in larger than normal numbers. Freck asked them to go to Pregmere, find out what was going on, and try to make contact with any of the humans who might have survived the invasion. As an aside, he also wanted one of his scouts to accompany the group to stop at Midwood and deliver some messages to Talvan of Midwood and the giant Ghanadar. The scout’s name is Groa Suttor, trained in diplomacy and a master longbowman.
The group resupplied themselves, buying food and additional mounts for the several day journey. Over the course of the next few days, they learned Groa was a rather congenial person, very interested in helping the Gyri reclaim their homeland. He mentioned that he didn’t particularly agree with the political games going on between the two countries, wishing things could go back to the way it was before the invasion began. The trip to Midwood was uneventful. They met with Talvan and Ghandar, explaining that Hochoch understood the situation and would do nothing to upset the status quo at this time.
Somewhere between Midwood and the crossroads toward Pregmere that they sought, the party encountered a wandering group of ogres. Arrows fired by most of the group, with a Fireball from Badger and a Scorching Ray from Eve, dropped the three regular ogres, leaving two Skullcrushers. These two closed quickly on the group, forcing a bit of hand to hand fighting. The first of the Skullcrushers were brought down by Groa’s arrows. After a horse-charge by Halladorn, the warhorse – of all things — bit and killed the second. Roughly a day later, they ran into a pair of Frost Giants, heading in the general direction of Midwood, possibly to assist in the collection of tribute for the month. Again ambushing the foul creatures with arrows, the fight turned out to be more difficult that the one with the ogres. The giants returned fire with rocks, aiming for the largest targets they could see: Eve and Halladorn’s warhorse. The groups traded long range fire as the giants closed on the party’s position. Accompanying Fireballs and Scorching Rays helped further weaken the giants. Oxyl opened his Bottle of Obscuring Mist tp help reduce visibility of the targets. Halladorn and the horse moved into the cover and waited for the giants to get close enough for him to challenge and charge. More arrows brought down one giant. Then Halladorn charged, striking the giant straight through the chest doing terrible damage. The giant returned the favor, hitting Halladorn twice with his great axe, dropping him unconscious and bleeding profusely. Groa’s arrows finally brought the second giant down. Halladorn was returned from death’s door with healing magic, and the party continued on toward Pregmere
The rest of the trip there was quiet, until they got around the area where the grassy plains turned to fields of crops and grazing areas for animals. The group then began to send Groa and Oxyl ahead by themselves to scout out what lay ahead. They came across a field being worked that very afternoon by the human slave labor. The odd thing about it was that instead of the plow being pulled by work-horses, it was pulled by hill giants! The creature argued and grumbled for a long while, then finally had enough and turned to take out it’s frustrations on the tiny human behind it. Almost immediately, a rock flew from a tree, where a fire giant now stood, striking the hill giant on the side of the head. The fire giant yelled obscenities and threats at the hill giant, who quickly backed down and returned to work. Absorbing this strange twist of events, the party drew closer to Pregmere. They then came across a military-style camp of hobgoblins. They didn’t look to be going anywhere soon, so the party decided to move around the town counter-clockwise to see if they could find further evidence of troop build-up. Before completing their circle around the town, the found a larger group of orcs to the west and another large group of hobgoblins to the south. The total number of troops easily surpassed 500 total, with several ogres, trolls, and frost giants in tow.
After these observations, they decided to try to enter the town proper and see what was going on there. Groa and Oxyl waited until well after midnight to make their trek. Moving about quietly, they noticed most of the buildings in town were abandoned. The only inhabited buildings contained locked up hill giants, locked up humans, and fire giants relaxing after a hard day keeping the hill giants and humans in line. They moved quickly back out to where the rest of the party waited, to plan their next move…………
(TO BE CONTINUED)