Haerak walked out of the great citadel of Deepwatch in something of a daze, free and, at least for the moment, relatively safe. If asked, he would tell you that he could not remember the last time he felt safe, and a slave, escaped or no, in the underdark is never truly free.
Still not used to nothing but sky over his head, and all too eager to be free of his the last obligations he felt towards Ardel, Haerak quickly found directions to a nearby inn, large and well appointed, but currently serving as much as a refugee flophouse as a place of business. The inn bustled with activity, dwarven owners and their staff catering to the few paying customers, and trying to keep the remaining horde from damaging their livelihood. Haerak paid for a room quickly, and had soon counted out a large stack of gold for Ardel. The barbarian wearily told the angry little man that his obligations were now complete. Ardel did not wait long, he sneered that he owed Haerak nothing, gathered up his coins, and walked out of the room.
Haerak then counted out a similar sized stack of coins, and passed them to K’larsh, asking his strange sorcerous ally what he intended to do next. K’larsh indicated that he meant to travel with the barbarian, at least until their obligations to Gobage were satisfied. Grateful for this answer, Haerak thanked the half-orc, then suggested they spend some time in the inn, learning what they can about the state of Deepwatch, and of their destination, the Witchcaves. Also, as a precaution against betrayal, Haerak paid an unemployed, and rather drunk scribe to quickly copy the journal within Gobage’s package.
The news of the Witchcaves was not good, Haerak spoke at length with a Marshal of Deepwatch who impressed upon him that the way to the Witchcaves was not patrolled, and was extremely dangerous, as it lay in the no mans land between the territory of the Army of the Resurrection in Mir, and what remained of Deepwatch’s army. Not willing to give up and face the wrath of Gobage, Haerak and K’larsh set out overland, hoping to avoid any patrols relying on the main roads. This proved a dangerous choice, for their first encounter in the woods north of Deepwatch was helpful, their second proved nearly fatal.
The patrol of deepwatch soldiers warned the two travelers that they were foolhardy to continue their mission to the Witchcaves, but, asked that if they intended to do so, that they seek out a missing knight, feared lost to the hobgoblins, or the monsters of the woods.
The second encounter came after a fretful nights rest, three strange vaguely horse shaped horrors, the stuff of chaos and madness, come hunting for flesh. The creatures were strong and fierce, and without Ardel’s healing magics, Haerak and K’larsh found themselves terribly wounded in their victory against the creatures.
This condition put them at a terrible disadvantage when they reached the Witchcaves, as they found the town mostly destroyed, with some few buildings restored, and a large band of ruffians holding it. They were greeted first by a swordsman who identified himself as Grelm, a brute of a man, who ordered Haerak and K’larsh disarmed and taken to their feeble jail. In no condition to fight, the two had little choice but to accede to the demands. Shortly, they met the leader of the strange melting pot of people that made up this town’s inhabitants, a small, confident man who identified himself as sheriff Cage. Cage offered Haerak a chance to join his colony, on the condition that K’larsh be offered to the monsters called ‘Wigglers’ as a sacrifice. The alternative the sheriff supplied the barbarian was that the both of them be sacrificed.
Haerak and K’larsh found neither option to their liking, and, as soon as they safely could, they fled the tower, ripping their bonds free from the earth, and climbing out the back way of the tower. They then quickly made their way for the woods, monsters or no, at least they were no longer chained.
They moved quickly the way they had came, making for a second set of tracks they recalled leading away from the town. By moonlight they saw a large stone in a clearing, and, thinking it might offer either clues or shelter, they made their way to it, Haerak securing a hefty branch to use a club.
On the stone they found a badly weakened man, chained atop it, with strange small monsters nipping at his heels. Haerak made short work of the creatures, though K’larsh fell to ones bite, the blood loss finally toppling the mighty orc. The man was still alive, and, once freed identified himself as Fjensir, a traveller on route to Deepwatch when he was taken by the Witchcave brigands. Fjensir proved to have some small skill with healing arts, and, over the next few days was able to restore Haerak and K’larsh to health, as they plotted their revenge against the brigands of Witchcave. One the third night, the party attacked, K’larsh once again called on the blood of the dragon and enlarged himself, Haerak and Fjensir, then, the three struck the town like an avalanche, crushing the feeble guardsmen, who were not prepared to face the warriors, enlarged to the size of giants. Haerak and Fjensir chased down and slew Grelm, then interrupted Cage as he struggled into his armor while K’larsh battled the bulk of the town’s militia. Cage proved a stronger foe, quick and deadly, but he was not prepared for the brutal savagery of the Haerak’s assault, and the life was crushed out from him as he attempted to flee the mighty warrior.
With Cage’s death, the battle was done, the remaining guards surrendered or fled, and the townsfolk who remained warily came forth, hoping the giant’s wrath was assuaged with the killing thus far.