With the newly raised Bjarngrim in tow, the party returned to the Town of Shadowdale to spend some time looking for clues to how to assault the Necromancer at the Castle Krag. Elminster had directed them to the Shadowdale archives within the lord’s manse, and after some days of research with the help the archivist, they found a map of the land surrounding the tower and several references to people escaping from the tower’s keep over the long centuries, indicating a secret passage from the keep to the surrounding countryside. With the aid of Bjarngrim‘s dwarven knowledge of tunnels and stone kenning, they picked out half a dozen places on the hills behind the tower that would be hidden from the tower’s sight and the most likely of places for escape tunnels. Bertram Rauthingild used his considerable skills at forgery to make an exact copy of the map for them to use in the field.
They set out the next morn and traveled through the bitter cold winds of midwinter, passing through the occasional hamlet on the trade road, noting the heightened alertedness of the villages thanks to the warnings they had themselves brought on their way to find Elminster. They spent the night in a village about half way to the tower and then in the morning, climbed into the foothills and the accompanying forest in hopes of using the forest and hills to avoid the view of the tower. Using the considerable skills of Beleg and Sloane to hide their passage, they crept slowly around to put themselves within easy travel distance of the tower so that the party’s scouts could use the cover of night to attempt to perform some reconnaissance of the tower to achieve some idea of it’s current state and strengths. unfortunately, before the scouts parted form the company after posting camp, Beleg informed the others that they were in fact being stalked by what he had no doubt of being a Wyvern. As many of the group had little knowledge of Wyvern’s, Beleg was asked what they should know about the Wyvern and how dangerous it was. Beleg did not know, but Alyia quickly chimed in with a vast amount of information she gleaned from song an tale. The wyvern were less intelligent brethren to dragons, but lacking the finesse for speech and magic use. The wyvern did sport a very vicious poison through a terrible spine in the tip of its tail. After Alyia’s informative performance of wyvern tales, the party decided that it would be dangerous for them to break up into smaller groups as it might only be the threat of their numbers that had kept the creature at bay. Also revealed was the wyvern’s great lust for horseflesh. The party had to keep their horses close or fear having them taken by the beast.
With their reconnaissance plans spoiled by the presence of the wyvern, the party began to plot possible ways of dealing with the creature. Bertram suggested they stake out one of the horses to sate the beast’s appetite and reduce its chances of harassing the party. Others posed the idea of disposing of beast in battle, but Bertram pointed out that if the battle required the use of magic, then there was little chance that the tower would miss the flash and noise of battle and magic. Finally, they decided to to forgo the original plan to scout the tower with a smaller party and decided to spend the night together and pray the wyvern kept away. In the morning they found that to continue up to the areas where Bjarngrim had identified as possible tunnel sites, they would not be able to do so with the horses in tow, especially as Beleg had noted the fact that orcs regularly patrolled these hills from the tower. After som suggestions on reducing their visibility from the tower by camouflaging their bright clothign with grey winter blankets, the party followed Beleg and Sloane up into the hills as quietly and unobtrusively as possible.
After a few hours of creeping travel, they managed to climb high enough that they could see the base of the tower where the keep lay. The discovered that the curtain wall had been partially repaired and the orcs had built a pallisade upon the top of the stoneworks complete with great wooden watch-towers. The orc forces were camped both within and outside of the palisade.
They spent the majority of the day wandering around each of the western tunnel sites, but unfortunately they did not discover the tunnel’s mouth. Finally, they decided to pass over the ridge to seek out escape tunnels on the east side of the ridge. The moved to the first such locations, when dusk began to fall and the party withdrew some ways away to make camp for the night. The night was bitter cold with icy wind, but Beleg’s great skill as an outdoorsman found them a place away from the wind and the vision of the tower.
In the morning, they returned to the place so they could continue their search, but by some luck, Bertram noticed an odd shape in the trees above the search site. After quietly alerting the others, they determined that an orc scout was sitting up in the branches watching the area in front of them with a horn close to hand. The magicians quickly stunned and killed the orc with magical silence and arrows, but Bertram then pointed out what seemed like up to three more orcs hanging about in the trees, waiting for someone to arrive so they could blow their horns and alert the tower. The party hunkered down an quietly came up with a plan to try and disable the orcs before any of them could blow their horns. While Alyia used a bardic cantrip to stun one of the orcs for a short time, Bertram would engulf another with mist and pray that the orc would not notice the strangeness in the post-dawn hour. Meanwhile, Woda would summon a small air elemental ally and have it prevent the last orc from blowing it’s horn by restricting the passage of air through the instrument. Any orcs that noticed their presence would be quickly put down by the arrows of Beleg, Alyia and Sloane.
The plan almost blew up at the very beginning, as Alyia and Bjarngrim snuck closer so that her stun spell could reach the target in the trees. They did not manage to sneak unnoticed by their first target, But the party recovered quickly and their brutal missile assault dropped the orc from the tree before the creature could make a sound. As the air elemental would not last, Bertram followed up his obscuring mist by surprising the last orc with a glitterburst, coating the orc in a spray of glitter that coated it from head to toe. Unfortunately, the orc managed to not be too stunned by the strange cloud of colors and managed to get the horn to his lips, only to learn that his horn would not work. The orc then launched an arrow at the last orc, the still unaware one in the mist, getting that orcs attention as Beleg, Alyia and Sloane brought the colorful orc down with their bows. The final scout finally noticing something was awry, released a clarion call from his horn before sliding to the ground in hopes of running towards the orc compound. But he was surprised on his way down the mist-bound trunk by a determinedly acsending Bjarngrim. They wrestled each other from the tree and landed on the mossy roots where the orc was quickly over-whelmed by foes. Anxiously, the party turned their attention to the orc compound, to see if they had been undone by the final orcs call.