Food, Glorious Food
The heroes are met with a welcome befitting kings as they march into Hammerfast at the head of the grain convoy. The hunger of the townsfolk enough to suspend disbelief at the barely credible story the party spin about how they came to get hold of it.
Town leader Marsinda Goldpsinner is keen to be seen with the adventurers, realising that her political capital would not be best served by doubting the people who have saved so many of her people, and so, at least for a while, the heroes are treated to the freedom of the town, feted wherever they go and guests of honour at the masked Founders’ Day celebration.
The slippery lawyer Beldrin Longbeard is less blinkered and sees the sort of trouble the party might have made for themselves and again offers his services in the belief that the future could bring many complications with such powerful enemies. The party, this time, decide that he might have a point and engage him on retainer
It is here that they are taken aside by the priest of Moradin, Grond Silverstar, who proclaims them as just the sort of people to help him rid the town of its orcish contingent and put an end to the shame of the so-called compact with the followers of Gruumsch, which Silverstar believes to be nothing more than a sham that will lead to the downfall of the dwarves should the Bloodspear tribe again march in rampage through the Nentir Vale. Indeed, Silverstar continues, a growing number of Bloodspear orcs have been seen in the region, a fact confirmed by some of the party themselves, who had spied on such a group at he very start of their Nentir adventure.
The medallion found around the neck of Vongan Kamroth is also identified as the sign of Tiamat – the evil chromatic dragon god of wealth, greed and envy, who commands her followers to hoard wealth, acquire much and spend little, with wealth being its own reward; to forgive no slight and leave no wrong unpunished and to take what you desire from others – those who lack the strength to defend their possessions are not worthy to own them.
One other mysterious figure introduces himself to the party during the festival – an ageing paladin of Bahamut who seems to recognise in Benedict someone who might need a little bit of moral readjustment – Sir Oakey offers the party a way to get out of the spotlight while the dust settles by accompanying hem on a quest to purify the temple at the heart of Gardmore Abbey, once a glorious base for the knights of Bahamut but now a ruined shadow of its former glory, its knights long dead, fallen in the final throes of the old Nerathi Empire a century past.
Seeing the sense in what the old man offers, the party agree to meet him in Winterhaven where they can make their plans.
Managing to leave Hammerfast without attracting too much attention, and wisely giving Fallcrest a wide berth, the party are within a day of Winterhaven when they discover the hideout of a band of orc raiders, not far from Gardmore Abbey. Deciding to flush them out the party is faced with one of its toughest battles yet, as the orcs prove to be tenacious and tactically astute opponents, although in the end they are forced to retreat as a nifty outflanking move by Makaria and Madran combine with the firepower of Thorn and the unorthodox methods of Mordzan and the ‘let’s just go through the front door, it’s always worked before’ approach of Bodin, Glaudr and Benedict to finally get the upper hand.
A tast of things to come perhaps, as the orcs are clearly members of the infamous Bloodspear tribe.