We travel to the White Hand HQ in town. The WHC has burned much of their papers and fled; the space is looted by the departing soldiers. We do find some items of interest: ledgers, payroll info, etc. No memorable names there. We do find a journal, which belongs to Brom’s father. There are people he finds important, people that he planned to use information on. That includes the Duke, Capt. Morgan, and some other people we’ve yet to meet. He obviously traveled a lot and gathered a good deal of information on even small towns and their power players.
The end of the journal is a to-do list, which includes:
-Have HL meet up with PI agent outside forest
-Secure provisions to restock outpost 6
-Hang a couple of their guys to show good will to the Duke
-Send HL to retrieve drop from PI.
HL strikes Brom as familiar, someone his father knew… Headley Lamar.
The party thinks PI may be Prince Isling…
In addition, we retrieve a portion of a letter written to Brom’s dad, which reads: “I don’t like the tone you’re taking, you know I’ve never been afraid of a good scrap when the gold is good. You sent me here to get a good idea of the situation, and I don’t care how much gold is here – I am not going to be around when they summon that…” The rest is burned off.
The party bampfs to Jimmue’s court to run our idea of going next to town 5. Lance is there! He and his troops are resting after fleeing from their broken defense of Nashkell. Not much remains from the group, since Smaug came and set the town ablaze. Lance reports that the forest has been mostly quiet, but Isling’s forces have been making random raids to see where the weaknesses are in Jimmue’s forces. Braiden has been on the front, but has been pulled back multiple times to prevent his death or capture. Groups of 100-150 will come and attack the walls, or sometimes smaller groups will come in the night to try and catch everyone off guard. Jimmue has tried to stop him, but Braiden enjoys leading from the front – and is difficult to persuade to back off the front lines. Smaug was seen flying East, away from the battle, but left parting fires which are still out of control – leaving the sky red with flames and smoke.
We head with Lance into the court to meet with Jimmue. We notice that the army is weary and looks defeated by being stuck in the castle instead of being out on offense. A lot of preparations are occurring and you sense the energy of a force ready to get a good battle going. Brom, sensing the mood, makes a rousing speech to the troops – which fires them up to shouts of Huzzah!
Entering the court, we see Jimmue and Braiden. Braiden appears different yet again, and he is wearing well-worn armor. He is also wrapped in the cloak of the king, adding to his regal aura. Braiden is pleased with the upbeat change in the mood of the soldiers (they can hear the shouts from outside the court walls). Jimmue is very pleased that the elves are supporting us from the southern woods, along with town 7/8. We describe the potential plan to have town 3 come south, town 8 come north, and the wood elves join together east of the Isling forces, to keep them from joining up. Jimmue mentions that he was blind to the east of the river, and attempts to scout or skrye have been foiled.
We give options: go to Nashkell, to town 5, or to bolster in the south. Braiden chimes in: the time to act is now. He wants to travel SE to just outside of Rite’s Ferry under banner, and draw the troops in Rite’s Ferry out. Then he would have us go to town 5, and then come with all of our friendly troops from the rear of the Isling troops. Braiden wishes to be the anvil, while we act as the hammer – flanking and defeating the troops.
We are concerned that to leave Port Helsing basically under a skeletal crew is too risky, as is having Braiden right under the nose of the full enemy force. We ask permission to go see the Hermit first, to try and determine the size of the force in the woods around Nashkell. Jimmmue urges Braiden to allow it to happen.
Braiden responds that in five days, he marches SE unless we have compelling reasons not to.
After shopping, we bampf into the hermit’s general area. We arrive and the place is fiery and hot. We hear moaning all around us. Kelrick casts a huge rainstorm to try and combat the fires, which begins to have an impact on the fires. The ground around us begins to shimmer, and we recognize the Hermit’s now-familiar valley is beneath our feet, and his dryads appear to lead us to hit home. It is surprisingly quiet, and the hermit look tired and weaker than the last time we saw him. He mentions that he and Smaug did battle. He pushed him from the forest, but at no small cost to himself; he is taking rest as a result. SKS conveys the latest news, and asks for advice. The hermit explains that the forest is confused at the moment, and he is afraid for himself more than for the matters of men. Kelrick asks if there is anything else the party can do to help heal the forest? The hermit thanks us for the rain, he has been too drained to do anything of the sort the forest. He asks that we continue to do that as much as possible. He thinks that he needs about 12 hours to rest and get additional info from the woods.
The party leaves the hermit’s valley, and Kelrick flies in bird form to the next area burning to cast another rain storm. He sees some very specific areas that are burning; there are a few to the west and a few to the east. Using one hour of meditation, he sets a third and fourth storm to help put out the fires everywhere possible.
The party then bampfs to Stonehammer family tomb, deep beneath the mountain. The party goes invisible, and goes up to see if the Blackfoot clan is still in power. Knowing that the ring and axe Balthar carries are recognizable artifacts, the party considers whether he should reveal himself and rally the dwarven troops to our cause, and decides it is time for the king to be revealed.
Shredder Blackfoot is in charge. The party goes invisible and heads to the crowded public square. Revealing himself to the crowd, Balthar challenges Shredder showing him the axe and ring of the Stonehammer clan. “But there are no Stonehammers left. All I see is a dumb kid who is about to meet his end!” The crowd is murmuring at the mention of the Stonehammer, and all eyes are on this scene. Balthar evicerates the leader of the Blackfoot clan, and the crowd begins to shout “STONEHAMMER!” The Blackfoot are quickly routed by the excited crowd.
One of the guards takes a knee before Balthar, explaining that he is the last of the Stonehammers and deserving of allegiance. Balthar asks him what is needed to keep order, and possibly to march south? Balthar requests a force to march in a day’s time; the guard explains that with the coups troops are light, but they will do what they can to prepare.
The party bampfs back to the woods, takes rest, and then tries to rediscover the hermit. The hermit does indeed bring us into the valley again, and he looks a bit better. Still not fully recovered, he does have some new information about the forest. He has had visions; since Smaug has fled the forest has come alive and there has been fighting there. The enemy holds the town of Nashkell, and there is nothing that can be done there are the moment. The force is smaller than the original invading group, but still numbers in the 100s. In addition, the forces are continuing to use fire to repel the forest’s defenders. The party decides to send Kelrick right over Nashkell and start another rainstorm, to aid the troops. The hermit agrees that, at a great cost, the forest could keep a full scale attack from coming from Nashkell to Port Helsing (while mostly undefended).
The party bampfs to just outside town 5 to begin the scouting mission there. The party is utterly confused by the landscape being hexes instead of squares. After routing a large army of goblins, the town welcomes us as heroes? To be continued….