There have been no further Orc raids since your return to Durham. It seems that, by “cutting off the head,” you dealt a serious blow to the Orcish menace. Word from Castle Defiant is that the knights there, reinforced by forces from Caithness proper, now have the Orcs well contained. Without their Duergar leader, the Orcs have returned to tribal infighting and can mount no organized threat.
More troubling, however, are the papers you recovered from “King” Bulgan’s lair. They included a number of communications written in Undercommon and High Viridian. Lord Peredur’s advisor, Yinta the gnome, has translated these (with some assistance from Tana) and they reveal much of the story behind recent events. It seems that Bulgan and his Duergar kin were able to unite the Orcs and threaten Defiant only because of support and assistance from some other faction in the depths of the earth (the Underdark). The letters suggest that this faction was the matriarchal forces of the Dark Elves, or Drow. The Drow assisted Bulgan only grudgingly, because Drow and Duergar are more often enemies than allies, and Bulgan was particularly misogynistic, leading to conflict with the female leaders of the Drow. The Drow provided aid to Bulgan and the Orcs only because of the urging of a third party, who, it appears, was none other than the Emperor of Viridistan himself! In fact, it is the letters written in High Viridian that provide the suggestion that Bulgan extend his raids beyond Defiant into Caithness. The Viridian letters specifically instruct Bulgan to capture and torture the “fair maidens of Caithness,” instructions it appears Bulgan was only too happy to follow.
You might recall that during the previous adventure, the PCs recovered evidence suggesting Viridians were also behind the plot to start a plague in Duvik’s Pass. Putting this evidence together with the letters recovered from Bulgan leads Lord Peredur to believe that there is a concerted Viridian effort to stir up trouble for Caithness. He is pretty angry about it, but there is little one Lord can do against the might of the entire Viridian Empire. In an effort to raise the state of alert in Caithness, all of the evidence has been sent to the attention of the King in the capital city of Carrick. Of course, there’s some oddity about all of this. The targets of these plots are not particularly strategic: “fair maidens” and a rather unimportant mining town. There’s been no massing of Viridian troops along the border. It seems more like a campaign of terror than preparation for a serious military conflict, so there’s uncertainty as to what, if anything, the King and the other Lords of Caithness will do about it.
You know most of this information because you were responsible for uncovering the evidence. You also are now privy to Lord Peredur’s private counsels. The details of the two plots are not common knowledge. However, rumors have slipped out. There is gossip amongst the common folk about an impending war with Viridistan and a general increase in anti-Viridian sentiment. There’s nothing the PCs, as individuals, are being requested to do about any of this, of course. And, it would seem, this is all unrelated to your next adventure, which begins below…
Since returning to Durham, the party has mostly gone it’s separate ways. Sir Bram has taken to Knighthood quite well, is very busy managing a small estate, and has involved himself in the matters of court. There’s a rumor he’s making a bid for the hand of Bronwyn herself. You haven’t seen him much. Jericho, with the support of Lord Peredur, has started a shrine to the foreign god Ugtargnt and even attracted a small following. However, with the rising anti-Viridian sentiment, he hasn’t been seen much outside his new church. Sir Lorn has taken Knighthood as more of an honorary title than Bram. He’s been busy consulting with Lady Andolyn and copying spells from her spellbook. One side benefit of recent adventures, however, is that he is allowed free food and drink at a local inn, the Bear’s Den. The owner, “Bear,” is a former adventurer himself. He made this offer to Lorn and all of the heroes because having famous people at his establishment stirs up business from the common folk. Lorn frequently takes advantage of this and is doing so this evening. Sister Tana has been teaching at the Monastery of St. Cuthbert outside of Durham. In spite of her initial excitement, she might be getting a bit bored of this, though. She often comes to town on some errand or another and, on this particular evening, has decided to join Lorn for a free meal at the Bear’s Den. Rurak has been wandering the woods and fields around Durham. He isn’t seen in town frequently, but when he comes in, he always stops off for a free drink at the Bear’s Den…
Sister Tana and Lorn (and possibly Rurak, if he posts) are enjoying a free meal at the Bear’s Den and, perhaps, reliving old adventures (remember that Caustigus creature? What was that thing, anyway?). “Bear” is pleased because the presence of two (or three) heroes on one night has drawn a nice crowd of paying customers. This crowd is not disturbing our heroes, only admiring them from afar. Lorn, being a wizard, is regarded as rather scary and Tana’s stern demeanor keeps people without serious business to discuss at bay.
At the end of the meal, however, one person does approach your table. He is a tall, tanned fellow with short brown hair. He introduces himself as Alodar Teareye and says he is carrying a letter from Caladar the Silent. He hands this letter to Lorn and Tana and awaits a response. The text of the letter is as follows:
To Sunny, Jase, Lorn, Kolan, Tana, Jericho, and Yasmin,
Greetings, friends and boon companions! Rumor has reached me here in Duvik’s Pass that you have had great adventures since we parted and that you were instrumental in the rescue of our Lord Peredur’s beautiful daughter from the Orclands. I congratulate you on your triumphs and remember fondly our similar, albeit lesser, achievement in freeing Duvik’s Pass from the grips of the Burning Plague.
As you may recall, I have settled into the quiet life here in the Pass. Fearsome adventures are no longer for me, but I have met with some success in simple trade. It is because of my business ventures that I am contacting you.
For some time now, I have been awaiting the arrival of a rare and valuable cargo in which I invested a considerable portion of my meager resources. This cargo was meant to arrive via ship in the port of Simonton more than a month ago. Alas, I have received no word from my agent at the port. Messengers I have sent to Simonton have all failed to return. Rumors from that region speak of increased banditry and piracy. I fear for the loss of my investment in this cargo, for the fate of my partners in trade, my messengers, and even for the lives of the poor sailors who were transporting my goods.
Therefore, I must call upon you for a favor. Could you find it in your hearts to assist an old friend and investigate this matter? I ask only that you travel with my employee, Alodar, who brought you this letter, to Simonton and assist him in looking into the fate of my cargo. Given the disappearance of my other agents, I fear he will need the protection and assistance of stout-hearted adventurers to have any hope of success.
Your friend and former comrade-in-arms,
Caladar the Silent