On September 15th, Year 4, the Citadel House Adventurers resolved to send a delegation to the orcs and goblins of the Union of Schek in answer to their invitation. They are:
- Verdis (HuS): Level 9 Human Fighter
- Phineas, Talking Rock Companion
- Mukdue, Sentient Bag of Holding
- Randall (HuS): Level 4 Human Druid
- Oliver, Level 4 Fox Animal Companion
- Agon (Hus): Level 3 Elf Magic-user (Speaks Orcish)
- Ventius, Level 2 Bear Animal Companion
With 5 days of food, they opt to go via the West Confluence river and visit Nekolyns at the blight around the elven bunker. By evening, they reach the Nekolyn camp, learning that by blade and flame they have been clearing the blight since the rain, thunder, and continuing blighting was ended on a previous visit.
After spending the night with them, they observe at dawn that the blighted area has been greatly reduced and that fresh growth is encroaching on the violent plants. They continue North and make camp again a little way off the great road. During Agon’s watch, the third, a giant attacks the camp before Agon can wake the others. Agon stuns him with a ball of light at his eye level and Verdis engages him. With Randall’s tree allies hindering the giant, Verdis stays stuck in (dodging in place to evade a wide, long swing of the club). Verdis deals some devastating blows, finishing the giant with the help of Agon’s death ray.
Though it is almost morning, they give Randall another couple hours of rest while they search the body (finding several uncut gems) and break down the camp. With Randall well rested, they continue onto the unoccupied great road, walking it west for less than an hour before they start to come upon massive, rusted machines like those they saw in the dwarven factory, these with tracks, 20 or so feet tall, and with a wide plow on the front. As they pass these machines, they see a low wall spanning the great road ahead as they get into younger forest.
They see orcs farming in small fields near the wall, which extends around a large city (marked as Valalarte) on either side of the road. After a little bit of nervousness and animosity, the local goblin and orc authorities recognize their travel authorization from the leaders of the war games in February. They advise them to follow the great road straight through Valalarte and try to make it to Gjelber before nightfall.
As they pass through Valalarte, they recognize a great deal of elven architecture including an impressive cathedral and a large, run-down inn. Many elven homes still stand in varying levels of disrepair, apparently in use by the orcs and goblins (the leaders who confronted them retired to some of the larger and finer homes). Most of the city, however, has been gutted for fields and orcs are preparing for the harvest.
During the day, they meet only one Union of Schek patrol that checks their paperwork and send them along. Near sunset, they come upon another walled city straddling the road. For a mile or so before the wall, there are wide fields cleared in the forest and orcs are at work with the harvest. The orcs and goblins of Gjelber are less skittish about the arriving adventurers and they are allowed to make camp on the great road within the walls.
The night passes uneventfully but for orcs and goblins curiously watching them while Phineas (left on watch) tries to shoo them away. In the morning, Thursday, curious faces watch them breaking camp and they set off toward Gilded Falls, told they should arrive before evening.
As they go, they become aware that three young orcs are matching their pace a little behind. They decide to confront them and learn that they are claiming to have the right to collect a toll from the party for using the road. The party refuses to pay and the hooligans threaten to escalate things as several more approach the road from the woods. After another warning, Agon signals Randall and he commands the trees along the road to restrain the orcs there. Though the hooligans continue to be belligerent, they start out down the road again, Randall instructing the trees to hold them five more minutes to give them a head start.
On their way, they meet with a patrol and inform them of the encounter. The patrol leader assures Agon that he’ll look into it and that they were right not to pay. As evening approaches, they see the towers of a mighty wall and a magnificent palace rising in front of the sunset. The great road terminates at a wide array of gates (matching the width of the road as other cities on it have), all but one of which is closed. They are welcomed at the gate by an orc guard who inspects their paper and refers them to a goblin inside the city. The goblin looks over their authorization once more and calls a goblin to escort them to the palace.
The goblin, Garvel, speaks fairly fluent Ensignal and eagerly leads them down old roads, past old elven homes and vast fields within the walls, and to the palace gate. They pass through a busy marshalling yard to another gate house onto a bridge across a mighty river running through the center of the city. To their left, a waterfall roars and they can see where the river pours over the edge.
On a spur of rock in the river they pass another gate into a small courtyard serving a soaring tower that stands at the edge of the waterfall and quickly pass out another gate onto a second bridge passing the rest of the river to the palace proper with its many fantastic towers. Passing through the gate and gardens, they are led to the keep where Garvel brings them to a room they are told will be theirs for the duration of their stay. Garvel leaves them to go inform the Council that they have arrived and expects that the council will see them before they retire for the night.
Garvel is right and they soon stand before the Council: five orcs and five goblins representing the five Schek of the Union with a handful of spectators on either side (the room is oversized for the purpose, seemingly an old elven parliament chamber). Agon presents the Vale’s expectations for their negotiations and each of the Schek express expectations and concerns. Agon responds to the concerns with only a little misstep in Schek protocol for these events and they are informed that they will meet with Schek representatives in the morning to work out the details of a treaty.
Garvel leads them back to their room, assuring them that the first meeting went very well. In the morning, Friday, with Garvel there to support the Vale interests as a Schek custom liaison, they begin discussing a treaty with representatives from each of the Schek. The Schek drive the treaty discussion and soon they have reached a final treaty that Agon approves of. Garvel informs them that the treaty will be presented to the Council for their approval, but that they will most likely be able to sign it by evening.
In the meantime, Garvel takes them out into the city where they replenish their food supplies and visit a goblin alchemist who sells Verdis a throwing axe with a head made of an obsidian-like glass he says has fire properties and a potion that he purports will make him “as strong as an ogre.” When they return to the palace, they find that a time has been scheduled to sign the treaty and they review the elvish and orcish versions for the correct intent. Much more spectators from the Schek are present for the signing that were for the initial greetings, have been more warned, and the treaty (four copies) is soon signed.
With an elvish and orcish copy of the treaty in hand, they set out Saturday morning to return to the Vale. With the treaty greasing the way, they have an uneventful journey back, but for some unseasonable snow on Sunday that barely sticks. It slows them just enough that they end up spending the night in Confluence the 23rd, Tuesday, rather than arriving in Citadel. On Wednesday, they present the treaties to Matthias, who approves of the outcome and thanks them for such faithful service.
Things went pretty smoothly for (HuS), partly because he was on top of his game and partly because no one else was there to interject. He avoided the court scene I thought would happen after fighting the hooligans by resolving it very responsibly, and we had a lot of fun negotiating the treaty back and forth. He was proud of his performance against the giant, but that was definitely mostly a function of having total control over the PCs in the battle.