The following morning the party splits up to pursue a number of different missions. The Baroness sends instructions (via Thalion) that Pieter should join Rodvar in Castle Winterstone and take charge of the defenses and preparation for re-habitation. Erdan is sent on a scouting mission to find out where Eronald the Undying and his forces have gone. Faral is given the Baronesses blessing in his search for his brother, and is allowed the use of Irann and his orcs in his efforts.
Faral, Irann, and the orcs set out immediately for Old Ivan’s Farm, where they have been told Faral’s older brother Logan Hartwold has been taken by the slavers. On the way, they encountered the band of slavers returning to Drakeford. They were three half-orcs with a human leader. They killed two of the half-orcs, and Treak convinced the third to turn-coat. The human leader was tied to a tree to be collected later (but he wasn’t there anymore when they came back.)
At Old Ivan’s Farm they were surprised to find a ship sitting in the small stream near the farm house (the stream being much too small to be navigated by such a large vessel). Short, stocky, humanoid creatures with soot colored skin wearing chainmail and wielding axes were loading a train of bound captives (which did not visibly include Faral’s brother) into the below-decks hold of the ship.
Faral lead the attack without hesitation. The creatures’ (which Faral identified from legends as duergar) eyes lit up with flame as they fought, and they plucked spines from within their beards that they threw as weapons. The duergar leader was an talented pyromancer who ended up burning the ship down around himself when it became clear he and his soldiers would be defeated. The party and some of the freed slaves fought the fire, and rescued as many of the slaves who were already below decks. They never found Logan Hartwold, however, until they searched through the ashes of the ruined sky-ship (the turncoat informed them of what it was).
Faral gathered up his brother’s body and solemnly headed back to town.
In the mean time, Erdan trailed Eronald’s forces up the Redhill Road and found where they had split up, one group continuing north along the road and another heading westward toward the Wightlands. He followed the westward trail and fought a small pack of skeletal wolves before coming upon the remains of the Knights Keep, which was being fortified by undead and a handful of living allies. They were building a palisade wall to replace the fallen portions of the old stone one.
Returning to the road, and intending to follow the other trail, he instead was surprised to find a train of half-orcs carrying belongings in sacks and/or wagons heading southward toward Drakeford. Talking to them Eronald learned that Redhill had been overwhelmed by undead, including a Draco-Liche, and that the survivors of the assault were making their way to Drakeford.
Rather than scouting out the rest of the undead (clearly part of the assault), he returned to Drakeford ahead of the train of refugees and warned Lord Mayor Erin Louter of their coming and the fall of Redhill. Lord Louter sent him to see what he could find about Redhill’s condition, and about any surviving defenders.
He found the shattered remains of the Redhill Army catching their breath in the ruins of the old temple of Bahamut that Irann had been refurbishing before the present troubles began. They nubmered merely fifteen, including their leader General Gordik. Erdan escorted them back to Castle Winterstone, where Pieter offered them refuge. Pieter also took Gordik to the Hill where he introduced him to the Baroness, who formally offered refuge to him and his people.
Pieter, in the meantime, had discovered an odd artifact in a portion of the underground river they had not explored in the tunnels below the castle. It was a heart (later determined to be human) bound within a magical field upon a pedestal engraved with strange characters. Consulting with Lord Louter and the Tiefling warlock assigned to the castle, it was eventually decided to try to move the heart, which seems to be imprisoned (and is suspected to be none other than the Cambion Warlord who lead the Orc Wars), to a more secure location. Lord Louter is taking responsibility for this. Lord-Commander Pieter has the heart under heavy guard until such time as it can be moved.
Pieter and the City Council (minus the mourning Hartwolds) decide that the next course of action for the Knights is a full-force assault on Eronald at the Knights Keep. They will be leaving in the morning.