After finding that Garim’s shrine was uninhabited, Gorg and Victor spend a week asking around for more information about Garim’s activities in the region. They end up speaking to Snass and Polly who last visited Schek Garim at Ker Vedno and get significant information about their watchfulness and positions. Malcom and Ragnvaldr inform them that the orcs seen on the Vale/Rovert border are only a small, temporary band. They decide to go to Ker Vedno and recruit another thief to help out:
- Gorg (HuS): Level 10 Orc Thief
- Victor (TrS): Level 7 Elf Thief
- Harold (MiM): Level 4 Halfling Thief
On the 14th, they enter the Great Road at Road Keep, crossing to the north side of the quarter-mile-wide road and setting out east toward the mountains and Ker Vedno. They discretely pass by some gnomish explorers coming back the other way. As they go on, near sunset they see a camp on the south side of the road.
They split up to approach the camp across the open road by stealth. Harold is hailed in orcish and withdraws, but Gorg and Victor see that the camp is Schek Micheia, Gorg infiltrates their camp and joins the fire, where he manages to reveal himself without upsetting the light hearted goblins who swear fealty to the goddess of music and mischief. He learns from them that they have been stymied by Schek Garim manning the wall across the Great Road again (built by the Union of Schek after the conquest of the West Hill March, but left untended since the dissolution of the Union).
With this news, they continue a little way and camp about a mile from the wall. In the morning, they approach and see that the stairs on this side of the wall have been partly dismantled, but the wall seems very sparsely guarded, being nearly half a mile long. With the stairs only dismantled to about head height, they decide to try to cross the wall that way by morning light.
They approach the wall unobserved, but when Gorg tries to lead the way up onto the stairway, the top bricks levitate, swarming to batter him down. They cascade down on the three of them, Gorg mostly getting clear and Harold being knocked to the ground. Victor stabs a brick to make sure it is indeed hard and then breaks off and flees. Gorg also runs for it. Harold manages to struggle free of the pile of bricks and runs as well. The bricks pursue, knocking Harold down again, but this time when he struggles free and runs, they don’t pursue.
Some of the few guards arrive at the stairs where the bricks are reassembling, but they make a clean getaway to the tree line. They wait the day until nightfall before approaching again and going over the wall directly without incident.
Continuing down the road by night, they pass a Garim camp on the south side of the road that seems to be guarding a pass through the mountains into the West Hill March. Based on their information, they believe to be about at the pass into the Ker Vedno when they hear running water and orcish voices. Gorg approaches and finds that a wall has been roughly built closing off the pass. The two orcs standing on top are arguing about the merit of guarding this position when if enemies reach this point, it will mean they have lost the battle against the Dragon Empire in the east and they will have wished they had withdrawn.
They scale the wall and descend the far side undetected (Gorg planting a note on one of the guards) and set out up the long canyon to the Ker Vedno entrance. They cross the last bridge under the watchful eyes in the old dwarven bridge tower undetected and soon see the camp before the Ker Vedno entry statue. Before dawn, they make their way into the ruined village, reasoning that the Dragon Empire garrison used to dwell there, so it was unlikely to be home to ghosts and other trouble.
They sleep through the day, keeping a watchman at the bridge into the village to watch the camp. Night comes again without incident and they make their way into the orcish camp, who post only sparse guard this far into their holdings, and make their way to the command tent, where they see that a map of the region depicting the camps they have seen, many others, and a large force pitted against the Dragon Empire has been laid on the large table over the top of the map they have been using to explore Ker Vedno.
Gorg continues into the commanders room past some sleeping orcs and steals a pile of letters. They all return to the ruined village and read through the letters, learning all they hoped to find and more:
- The commander had orders to get into Ker Vedno
- These were augmented with a mandate to explore Ker Vedno city
- New orders came to wrest control of the top of the mountain from the Dragon Empire
- These were followed by an order to prepare the top of the mountain to receive the high priest for the equinox and full moon communications
- After the equinox, he was ordered to continue to guard the area, but to send men to help clear the way to Garim’s shrine to prepare it for Garim’s return on “the darkest and longest night of the dismal season”
- Since then, they were ordered to commit most of their garrison to the Dragon Empire front
- The last orders were to hold the line against the Dragon Empire as long as possible, but should this prove impossible to take the balance of his force to follow those cutting the way
Satisfied with what they’d learned, Gorg sneaks back into camp to frame Sheck Kagirt for the theft of the letters and then they make their way back out to the road the way they came. They make it to the wall across the road almost having only encountered a band of gnomish adventurers intent on find a way into Ker Vedno from what they call the upper entrance where Schek Garim isn’t. They make camp in a valley off the Great Road (a rare sight here where it cuts a straight, shallow course through the mountains) and set watches through the day.
During Harold’s watch (the last) a giant attacks their camp. With them hearing it approach, Gorg and Harold land devastating sneak strikes and the giant is soon down. They loot it and quickly make for the wall, worried that the noise of the giant may attract someone. They cross the wall a little after sunset and by around midnight pass by Road Keep, continuing on to Confluence by dawn on the 18th.
A lot of information they’ve been wanting finally acquired. Funny that last week they reached Garim’s Shrine only to find it empty and this week learn that it may not be empty long. The timing gets worse, a letter with even more significant implications arrived at the camp they robbed the very day they departed it.