Being an easy-going group, the party quickly decided to head out for Winterhaven immediately. The trek was uneventful, and the morning of the third day out of Fallcrest sawand walking through Winterhaven’s gate. Esthul’din waited outside the city, fearing the inhabitants inevitable reaction to a drow at the village gate, despite having a fully-covering helmet. Esthul’din was determined not to take any chances.
Inside the village, Orsaan did his best impression of an investigator by asking everyone he met about Gardmore Abbey. He got a few clues, mostly about it being a suspected orc lair, and he decided to try his luck in the inn. Inns are always great places for meeting people and gathering information, right? Salvana Wrafton, owner and proprietor of the Wrafton Inn, said that she “wouldn’t know Gardmore Abbey from a hole in the ground”, but that an eladrin knight and his sister had been through not long ago, also asking about the abbey.
On his way to Towalla’s table, Orsaan was approached by a knight in beautifully shining armor. The man introduced himself as , and he asked for an escort so he can Cleanse the Temple. Orsaan agreed. Being devoutly religious himself, he understood how important this was to Sir Oakley.
A couple of strangers at an adjacent table interrupted, saying they overheard a promise of adventure and would very much like to come along. One was a dwarf who introduced himself as Aacorn, and his companion as his pet warforged Mech. Orsaan said that Aacorn looked familiar, and Gardmore might be dangerous if the rumors were true, so he’d appreciate the company.
Just after the newly formed group had settle down to enjoy a little rest in the inn, a guard approached Orsaan. “Lord Padraig would like to speak with you.”
“Rumor has it you’re asking around about old Gardmore Abbey” Lord Padraig said. "If you’re going that way, I want to hire you to see if orcs really are lairing there. Come back to me with a map of the abbey and an idea of the orcs’ numbers if you can.
The group agreed, and made the day-long trip to Gardmore Abbey immediately. There they found the main gate littered with orc bodies, and there was even an ogre lying dead near the gate. They wondered at this, searched the bodies, and moved on quickly.
Next the adventurers crossed an empty courtyard and met a two-headed giant called an ettin. Spike and Bruse woke and groggily asked the party for the password. They gave a clue in the form of a riddle, to which Aacorn responded by yelling “cheese!”. Spike got angry saying “No it’s not cheese!!” and attacked. The fight was tough, but it was Mech who went into a rage and landed the killing blow. He continued to go into a rampage by smashing in the door to the keep Spike and Bruse were guarding.
The rest of the party followed the machine soldier into the building and were fighting again right away. The keep was housing a squadron of tough orcs and a couple of dire wolves, none of whom were happy to see the group rush through the tattered door.
The party defeated the enemy without much trouble, finishing with Esthul’din viciously beating the orc shaman that guarded the door to the second floor chamber.