"So you seek to hear stories of wondrous adventure? Then sit for a while and I will spin you a tale. Like my mother, I am a bard. You may have heard of my mother – she composed the Ballad of the Dream Weaver in Secomber many years ago. Perhaps you have heard of it? Regardless, the tale I have for you this evening is very different. For it is the tale of Loudwater and the Delimbiyr Vale. And this tale begins just a year ago."
Daughter of Talanthe Truesilver
Year of Rogue Dragons
This tale begins in the Year of Wild Magic when Harazos Thelbrimm, Gauntlet of the Wetern Marches, had a small problem. Orcs, who had recently migrated from the High Forest, were raiding across the River Loagrann into territory controlled by the Zhentarim in Llorkh. Normally Thelbrimm would find Zhent difficulties amusing and not his concern, but under the Oath of Orlbar, he was obligated to find the raiders and put a stop to them since they originated in the territory controlled by Loudwater.
You may not be familiar with the Oath of Orlbar. It is a treaty between High Lord Kalahar Twohands of Loudwater and the Zhentarim in Llorkh. It is a truce. They stay in their valley, and we’ll stay in ours. Loudwater got everything to the west of the village of Orlbar, while the Zhentarim got Orlbar and everything east.
Thelbrimm believed that the best way to handle the situation was to send a group of freeswords to investigate. He summoned a band of young and eager adventurers to the Western Tower, where he has his headquarters. There, he explained to them the situation. “Find out what’s going on at the border. If you can solve the problem, do so.”
The freeswords began their search south of the Loagrann and the village of Orlbar. This area is wilderness and the band had to contend with the dangers of the wild, but eventually they found an orc trail that lead them to a ruined tower. The ruined tower was being used as a base by the Red Stag tribe of orcs from the High Forest. The orcs were responsible for the raids across the Loagrann, but they were not just mindlessly pillaging. The orcs were seeking members of their tribe who were kidnapped by “purple men and the foul moon orcs” and taken to an old cairn in the Grey Highlands across the river.
This part of the tale pleases me greatly, for words won out over swords at the ruined tower. The freeswords parleyed with the Red Stag orcs and their leader Venvrook. They learned that the Red Stags were raiding to strike back at the Black Moon orcs and the purple men, who were the Zhents from Llorkh. Unfortunately, the Red Stags had lost most of their warriors and their chieftain to the evil Black Moons.
The Red Stags and the adventurers from Loudwater stuck an alliance to defeat the purple men and rescue the kidnapped orcs. In return, the Red Stags promised to stop raiding across the river. Venvrook gave directions to the old cairn. Along the way, marauding Black Moon orcs attacked the freeswords. Strangely enough, the orcs were assisted by a half-elf ranger named Merkat Zrinn. He died in the resulting fight, so the adventurers were only able to learn that he was in the employ of the Zhentarim.
After traveling deep into the Llorkh-controlled side of the Gray Highlands, the freeswords arrived at the old cairn. I have since learned that the cairn is named Jergal’s Cairn after a warrior who was buried here centuries ago. However, a high-ranking Zhentarim cleric named Hevegrath removed the old burial trappings and adapted it to his purposes. He made the cairn into a laboratory for the creation of banedead.
Our freesword heroes were lucky that Hevegrath was not present when they arrived. He had returned to Llorkh and left his beautiful but rather psychopathic assistant Szetril to oversee the experiments. In a quick strike, the adventurers defeated Szetril and her half-made banedead experiment. They found five remaining Red Stag orcs in a deep pit inside the cairn, where they were being kept until their turn in the laboratory. The heroes released the orcs and led them out of the Grey Highlands and across the River Loagrann to their kin in the ruined tower.
Surprisingly, Venvrook and the Red Stag orcs were true to their word. They ceased to raid across the river into Zhentarim territory. Gauntlet Harazos Thelbrimm was pleased to hear that the freeswords were able to put a stop to the raids quickly and quietly. He rewarded the adventurers and would remember them in the future.