Following a letter for help, Targus and company journey to the North to aid their old friend Kjern, now King of the Vrechans.
Five Years Later…
• It is early autumn five years after the heroes defeated Ule Inur, and Targus still finds himself lingering in Harrenshire; despite having pledged but a single year to assisting Skodris with reconstruction.
• Skodris has done a passable job of managing the fiefdom, despite his many deficiencies. His easy way with people and common sense have pulled him through where his obvious lack of education has been a hindrance. Ando has been schooling him to read and write.
• Skodris’s response to the stresses of office has been to eat and he has grown quite plump. After overhearing the troops call him “Lord Skotyugh” behind his back, Snagger told him to his face that he needs to spend more time in the training yard and less time at table.
• Geron served four more years as a general in King Hinton’s army and has recently moved from his estate in Scole to Harrenshire where he bought a farm.
• Okfaust spends considerable time at the Grove of Lowen or amongst the homesteaders of the shire blessing crops, supervising the construction of an irrigation canal system, and helping farmers with the harvests. Despite his advancing years he is as vigorous and energetic as ever and seems to have not aged a day.
• The winter wolf Silverpaw died in a battle with wights several years ago, but Okfaust calls upon his spirit to guide him from time to time.
• Inspired by an entrepreneur he met during a trip to Palamon to buy spell components, Ando has purchased a business in Aras. “Ye Olde Shoppe” brings him a modest income to fund his magic research but he always returns to Harrenshire to tutor Skodris and others at the library in his new tower.
• Morin has left for the Feywild where he searches for his elusive love, Keiran.
• Snagger has lent his expertise in masonry and stonework to the construction of the bridge spanning the Nodamyr and its two flanking keeps. He is immensely proud of their recent completion. He is a gruff but fair taskmaster and well respected amongst the laborers. Skodris placates him with a sizable commission.
• Targus has assisted Lord Skodris in managing the shire, and oversees the training of its men-at-arms. The most promising trainees have been formed into a formidable unit of heavy cavalry.
• Polonus has passed the care and running of Harrenshire’s Aganite temple to another so that he could travel to a Tal Hathilian monastery to further his martial training. He has recently returned from Cobb.
• Silvani visits Harrenshire in her elven form each year to attend the annual ceremony honoring the fallen of the Lich War. She always lays a bouquet of white snow roses upon D’lar’s grave and was most recently accompanied by her son Targandolar who appeared as a robust elven lad with silver hair.
• A messenger named Svenek Roginos has just arrived from the North. He bears an urgent message from King Kjern of Vrecha.
“Greetings from the North,
My friends, I hope this letter finds you well. Since our parting, my life has changed drastically. I have experienced what it is to lead men in battle where with but a word you may send hundreds, even thousands of men to their deaths. It is grim business and now I know why after many years of campaigning General Geron never smiles, and why Targus tosses beside the campfire and cries out in his sleep.
Despite all this, I feel I have done much good in the North. Shortly after we slew Hargash and I became chieftain of both the Snow Leopard and Remorhaz clans, I took to wife Hala Grimsdottir. The fertile wench has born me three fine sons (Targ, my eldest of five winters already throws an axe better than Snagger). The first winter was rough. Few warriors and hunters remained after Hargash sent them off to die in Scar’s war. I inherited all of the Snow Leopard and Remorhaz feuds and rivalries as well, and had trouble enough handling internal struggles, let alone those brought on by land disputes with neighboring tribes and orc raiders invading from the West.
I knew that to make peace, I must first make war, yet we were ill-equipped to hold our own in open battle with the orcs or rival clans so I resorted to diplomacy to survive those first brutal months.
I forged an uneasy alliance of tribes with the goal of ridding our lands of a mutual enemy, the orcs of Ura Kthan. The keystone of this alliance was securing help from our neighbors, the dwarves of Orlishuz. I pledged them much to gain their aid – safe trade routes through Vrechan tribal lands, access to the mountain passes, mutual trading of goods, lasting peace between our peoples, and succor in times of peril.
The dwarves proved staunch allies and turned the tide for us. They supplied superior arms and armor, engines of war, skilled sappers and warriors, as well as gold and supplies. They are most honorable and held up their end of the agreement in every way.
Then a most unforeseen thing happened. While the lot of us were away laying siege to the last orc citadels in the west, a powerful dragon invaded the dwarves’ mountain home at Orlishuz. The remaining skeleton force defending it was unable to repel the dragon and the city was lost, along with the dwarf King, Valster VI, and his court.
Valster’s son and heir, Prince Arnik (a brave warrior and good friend) was with us at Ura Kthan. Upon hearing the news, he marched the dwarves with all due haste back to Orlishuz, leaving us to finish the orcs. Ignoring all council, acting perhaps out of desperation or despair, he immediately threw the remaining might of the dwarven army at the city. They were unable to retake the citadel, finding it too well defended by the dragon and, of all things, kobolds. When our business with the orcs was finished, we returned to assist but have had no better luck.
Arnik (now Valster VII, King-in-exile) and his people now live amongst us on Snow Leopard land. I am honor-bound to provide them succor as per our agreement, yet without the wealth of Orlishuz backing them they are draining our resources at an alarming rate. I do not know if we have enough supplies laid away to survive the coming winter.
There is but one solution. The dragon must die. Frontal assaults have been easily repelled or burned to ash. Groups of our greatest remaining warriors have managed to pass the charred and twisted gates but none have returned. Most recently I paid a considerable sum of gold to a company of renowned dragon-slayers – The Warriors of Winter. They fought their way inside but have not been heard from since.
Thus I turn to you, the most capable band of warriors I know. If anyone can end this menace, it is you. The situation is dire or I would not ask this of you. Please, I beg of you my friends, travel with haste and meet me at the foothills below Orlishuz where the remnants of our army are encamped. I will reward you in any way I can. Our need is great."