We returned to Wilderhaven, our purses much improved by our successful escort of the formidable Lady Nora Stone-Arm and her family to Brock’s Aerie, and the removal of some poorly organized, but well equipped Brigrands from their lair at the side of the road. Perhaps the road will remain untroubled for a time, but this close to the border of the old one’s land, it seems any peace is temporary.
Shortly after our return, my companion Smitty took a terrible risk, taking his heirloom weapon to a priest of Moradin in the City. He claims he no longer trusted the weapon, that the weapon may somehow have been tainted by our journey through time. I find it hard to argue the point. The gear we “arrived” in this future time with… was it my gear from my first adventuring days? I can scarce remember it. Things mean so little to my people. Whatever his reasoning, the stubborn fool all but declared himself a jumper to a ranking priest of Moradin, and asked them to destroy the weapon. I will never understand the superstitions of the dwarves.
The curse of our unasked-for circumstances, we spend little time in Wilderhaven lest some error on our parts expose us as beings out of time and every hand be turned against us. As prudence dictated, then, within hours of Smitty explaining the absence of his axe to us, we had taken a contract from the Constable and were riding through the eastern peasant gate. A simple matter of chasing down a rogue band of orcs from the Black Sun tribe that had taken up raiding a nearby farming community, or so we thought.
When we arrived in the Hamlet, we went to the house of the farmer who had first reported the destruction of a neighbor’s farm. Two other farms had been destroyed since that fell night two weeks before. Several things struck us as odd. The farms that had been struck were not near one another. The most recent one was surrounded by other farms that had been left alone. In each case, the buildings had been put to the torch, the families killed, and then the bodies burnt separately from the buildings. The only thing the raiders left behind was a flag bearing the herald of the dark sun tribe.
The dark sun tribe is not often found raiding this area. Orcs may burn buildings, but they do not set fire to their victims. Orcs kill the men, rape the women, and maim the children; arrangement of bodies and painting with their blood is the closest thing orcs posses to an art form. Orcs do not target a single farm, if there are many to attack, they do so. Orcs do not go past three identical targets only to strike a fourth.
Unless that is, they are under orders, and the direction and discipline of strong leader.
As my companions enjoyed his goodwife’s beer and hospitality, goodman farmer Mike wove us a tale of extortion, intimidation, and terror. I know not if it was the taste of smitty’s ale, his relief at having someone to tell his tale, or the… comforting presence of a priest like Sven which made him so forthcoming.
F’Rog describes what has been done to the farmers in this community as a “protection racket”. He believes that the atrocities, the murders and destruction of lives and livelihood, were performed a the direction of someone from Wilderhaven. Should he be right, I will hold the worm accountable for the deaths of these good souls, whose only crime was to stand up to their oppressors and say “enough.”
In the morning, I shall try my luck with my basic knowledge of tracking, and see if we cannot follow the days-cold trail back from whence it came.