With just a week of rest since their adventure in Old Town, the team was called upon once more to help Steel Forges. This time, their mission was political: visit the Silver Empire under the guise of an investigation, showing cooperation between a Steel Forger, an Imperial, and an Anubis. This was crucial, given the implications of the assassination: the Empire was framed, and it was looking like it came from within Steel Forges. Recognizing that the relationships between – and therefore the safety of – their homelands were at stake, the team agreed.
The party, in the company of Minister Donovan Timur, arrived at the great fortress Axefire after a day’s travel by carriage. The Minister related to them the story of Axefire and the breach of Worldgate.
The team was welcomed within the walls of Axefire, though not warmly. The Imperial guards inside appreciated the presence of Fanar, their cleric and kinsman, but barely tolerated the rest, especially Ned. Finding himself surrounded by the unenlightened, Ned felt determined to spread the word of the good life in Steel Forges. Unfortunately, nobody around seemed especially interested. Things got a bit tense between the adventurers and the guards in the tavern, but Schala managed to defuse the situation in his own unique, draconic way: spreading his wings and shouting.
That night, after much debate over the security of their room in the barracks, the party, along with the rest of the garrison, was awoken by a far-off rumble. Upon reaching the northwestern gate of the fortress, to their horror, they saw flames on the wall a half-mile down. They ran up to the top of the wall and headed over to investigate, though they already knew what had happened: Worldgate had been cracked once again.
At the disaster site, Garrison Commander Magnus Bolthod explained the situation: this guard tower was completely destroyed, taken down by black-powder explosives. Many Dwarves were busy clearing the rubble, most of them used it as an excuse not to be called on to guard the breach. In desperation, the Commander asked the party to defend the ground while his crossbows guarded from the wall. They agreed immediately, and went down to the pile of rubble to make preparations.
It wasn’t long before, expectedly, the orcs began to charge the wall, taking advantage of its destruction. With the help of some burning oil and a handful of other guard Dwarves, the team managed to defend the breach from orcs, ogres, and the leader of the warband, Hrodar, Son of Boltag. The defeat of their leader marked the end of their assault, and the remaining orcs in the band retreated, giving Ned some time to look around.
The explosion was black-powder, there was no doubt of that, judging from the residue. It would require a massive quantity to destroy this tower, and the orcs couldn’t possibly have procured it themselves. The Empire’s other likely enemies, the Gray Dwarves, had no need for black powder for such a task. Even more distressing was the fact that the explosion must have come from the Dwarven side of Worldgate. A conspiracy is brewing, and it’s up to Investigator Ned and his team of adventurers to put an end to it.
XP: 1126 each