After the they cleansed the Horror from Gennwick, the Jade Fangs returned to Santem. They investigated the rumors of the civil war brewing in the underworld for a bit, but mostly they tarried. As it is often of those who work hard for wealth, and then suffer actually having it, their deep pockets sated their desire for adventure for a small time. Eventually, Tog finding the softness from idle time creeping into his heart, exploded in a drunken rage at a Tavern, yearning for the trees, the open steppe, and the uncertain fate that the gods dole out to the many and the few in the wild. He told his companions that he must make for the north, to seek out his family, plan saplings of ax handles in their skulls, and shed these trappings of decadence and “civilization”. After the drunken episode was resolved, and the victims of his indiscriminate rampage were cleaned up from the tavern, his partners agreed, and the next day the four men of the Jade Fangs took horses and rode north out of Santem, for the barely civilized land of Daenmier.
Daenmier was an old country, which in the age of Atreal, scores of hundreds of years ago, was a wild and fog haunted wasteland, populated by thin, meager and ruthless people which eked out a horrible existence amongst the bogs and moors. After Atreal the conqueror and World Emperor subjugated that land, it was put under provincial administration for his empire, and despite all the wealth and treasure poured into its improvement, today it was only a thin veil of civilization over that crude time of eons past.
Low rolling hills dominated the landscape once the party passed through the great gate through the Sortilidge mountains. In this land, the dawn brings with it a spectral hand of blue murky fog that crawls over the dales and into the hollows. When the sun drops below the mountains in the western horizon, all is awash with blood, a terrible crimson looms over the land for entirely too long. Passing through petty hamlets, and along the ruins of failed towns, in the hollow faces of the children who gape at passerbys in door ways, this was a land of half remembered nightmares and slaughter.
After arriving in the city of Orsett and holing up in an innocuous in, the Jade Fangs were greeted the next day by a passing horde of hired soldiers. Daenmier, never a place for stability, was beset by waring generals, competing with crime lords, and the occasional nefarious arcanist for who ruled what pocket of scarce resources. This marching band of hired drunks turned soldiers streamed through the town. As the line of troops passed, one of the captains, pointed to the gang. Tog was picked out, and the heroes immediately beset by five dozen spears. It was his youngest brother Halihax, who joined this mercenary ilk.
Ten days later, the heroes awake in the half ruined tower which passes for this provinces jail. Jails are a strange thing in these parts, as almost all criminals are simply killed or lose their hand. But, in jail they were. The sound of a door opening in the common way usually heralded some horrible gruel that passed for food, but not today. A knight in shining armor came into the cellar where Tog, Tavik, and Suma Dath were jailed. Also in their company was a human rogue from the south, who’s graceful gestures betrayed a lifetime of practices martial motions. In his middle years, but shining with an angelic beauty, a yellow headed Paladin stopped and sized up the Jade Fangs. He stood shorter than most of the heroes, and slighter of shoulder than what should wear his gleaming white steel armor comfortably.
In a voice more sonorous and baritone than his handsome features should allow, the Paladin
introduced himself: “I am Justicar Harkin. I offer you freedom, freedom through a bondage of
sort, But what sort of freedom is truer than freedom earned? I invite whatever scoundrels and
brigands amongst you to join me on a noble endeavor, one which will see you not only free
from this dank place, commute whatever petty sentence against your name, but an endeavor that
may see you wealthy by the end of the hazard, he continued.
“I offer a grizzly but noble contract. Help me stop an Invading tribe of green-skin savages that have infiltrated this place from the west, and I will release you. There is a bounty in this land, paid by a local Duke who’s children were killed last year in one of their raids. A gold a tusk. Once we’ve swept the foothills, you’ll be richer, and free.”
Deciding it was probably better to get out, than await for Tog’s younger brother Halihax to return with whatever horrors he had laid in store, they elected to join the Paladin, who took the young Uli along as well. On the way out the Paladin greeted the townsfolk of Orsett who had lined up to seem them leave. He dipped his head to the ladies and smiled broadly at everyone. Justicar Harkin introduced his two companions, a depressed Cleric named Grovin and a mute Ranger. In a strange twist of fate, Tavik discovered his personal belongings in a cart heading out of town. He equipped himself, while the rest of the party’s affects were held elsewhere.
The party headed west, towards the mountains, and after a few days of travel they happened upon the smoldering ruins of a small farm. Orc scouts lingered there, hunkered over and chewing on the remains of the family who lived there. The heroes dispatched these orcs and followed their trail further west, until they found a small encampment which was based in the ruins of an old structure. The Jade Fangs slew these orcs as well, and noticed that the encampment was made up of the left overs of a traveling troupe’s wagons.
In one of the wagons, they found a beaten, bruised and broken teenage girl, presumably from the farm they had encountered. She was savaged by the Orcs and her face and limbs were blue-black wrecks. Suma Dath handed her to the Paladin, whom he invited to use his healing skills to treat her. Justicar Harkin handled her head in his hands, examining her for a long period, then snapped her neck and dropped her. The party, properly outraged protested, to which he offered she had no life to return to, with her family all slain, and a Orc seed in her belly. The best she could hope for would be a crippled prostitute in the city, and thus, her life was already over. The Jade Fangs, particularly Suma Dath, were aghast.
That night, while arguing about what to do with the dubious Paladin, the gang was attacked by several dozen Orcs, who chased them into the mountains. They found a small cave in a cliff face, and directed by Harkin, they found materials for Alchemical fire. After a long and grizzly bout, they slew all the orcs.
The following morning, they followed the Orc attackers trail to their tribe’s camp, which was sparsely protected. They engaged in battle with the defenders, chiefs and an adopted Troll, and slew all of them. They were left with forty Orc babes and forty Orc women. Spurred on by greed, and the encouragement of Justicar Harkin, to “purge the heathens!”, the heroes spent a whole day butchering the defenseless orcs. They harvested their tusks, and Justicar Harkin told them that he would hurry back to Orsett to gather their belongings. And get their bounty ready.
When the Jade Fangs arrived in Orsett, they discovered themselves wanted, and accused of killing the farmers, and the traveling troupe. A wandering Paladin had witnessed their allegedly slaughter, and was offering a princely sum for their heads. Betrayed, and outraged they petitioned the local lord, using an esoteric law that granted foreigners an opportunity to meet the lord, and explained their circumstances. They showed the tusks as proof, and along with Grovin who stood witness, convinced the Lord that the Paladin had become some villain and was trying to remove the proof. He consented to their argument, returned their things and let them free.
Uli that night prayed and asked the Gods for guidance, and when she awoke, the name of a Virgae village was on her lips. The party fled Daenmier, and headed south into Virgilinae to investigate this town that might be related to the now infamous Justicar Harkin of the Knights of the Sanguine Throne.