It was on Earthday, the 6th day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, when the Righteous Vanguard returned to Greyhawk following their mission to the Valley of the Mage. By midday that day they had already informed Otto of the Circle of Eight about the success of their mission and were attending to personal matters such as the buying and selling of a number of magic items, and checking up on anything that may have occurred during their absence which concerned them.
Gildor, for example, was informed that one of the gnomes among those who had come from Grossettgrottell to help clear out the band’s underground stronghold, had begun to make a name for herself among the other gnomes. Known as Sonda Merkledark, she had taken a romantic interest in Gildor when they first met on the band’s first visit to Grossettgrottell, and during the band’s recent absence she had used her considerable influence and charisma to take control of the gnomes there at the stronghold. While Sonda was well-liked and respected by the other gnomes for her skills as a leader, there were a number of gnomes, the male gnomes in particular, who did not care for her taste in decoration and architecture, seeing her ideas as far too feminine and not very gnome-like in tradition. So, at the first opportunity, a few of these male gnomes spoke with Gildor and dropped a few subtle hints that it might be best if Sonda went along with him on his next quest for fear that the band might return to find their stronghold painted in pink and purple polka-dots.
Over the course of the following week, the band members continued to deal with personal matters while Arthur, more commonly referred to as Book by his newfound friends, spent much of his time learning new spells and adding a few magical protections to the stronghold. Ael likewise spent this time researching alchemical extracts as he began to set up shop in one of the many empty rooms of the stronghold.
At the end of the week Tenser appeared at Nero’s Tower and requested the band to attend a meeting of the Circle of Eight at his castle. So, once again with the assistance of Tenser’s henchman, the female elf Cymria of Celadon and Tenser’s mirror of mental prowess, the band stepped through a portal that opened up in the village of Magepoint and proceeded to Tenser’s Castle. There they met with the Circle of Eight who in turn met the newest member’s of the group. The band then told them about their mission to the Valley of the Mage and answered any questions they had. The Circle expressed their sympathies for the loss of Aejiri and offered to assist them if they could. The band then told them about the letter they had received from Dougan Krafthammer concerning Nicholas’ father and Tenser offered them the use of his mirror should they need it.
So the band returned to Greyhawk, so they could gather a few things, including Gildor’s companion, Sonda. Then, using a ring of spell storing with a teleportation spell in it, Nicholas teleported everyone to his father’s home in the Grand Duchy of Geoff. Soon after, Nicholas learned that his father was now missing the lower half of his right leg, just below the knee, and was now forced to use a pair of crutches to get around. Nicholas’ father, Vaerdal explained to them that he had heard rumors of trolls attacking the nearby town of West Town. When he went to investigate, he discovered that his old enemy, the troll known as Grendel, was behind these attacks and in a confrontation with the troll, it cut off the lower portion of Vaerdal’s leg and left him for dead. A young man by the name of Lhors later found him and took him back to the town, thus saving his life.
Vaerdal told the band that Grendel would continue terrorizing this town and that he was now a much greater threat than he was 16 years before when they first fought against him. According to Vaerdal, Grendel now had six more battle-trained trolls equipped with armor and swords which had been crafted by dwarven smiths who were now their prisoners. In addition to this, they had a small army of orcs and bugbears who served under them.
Realizing the threat they posed to the town of West Town as well as surrounding communities, the band agreed to go after Grendel and his band, and eliminate them once and for all. That night, Vaerdal and Dougan spent much of the evening reminiscing about old times and even talked about the ill-fated trip they had made 20 years before to White Plume Mountain – a topic that Vaerdal never spoke much about due to the disastrous results of the quest.
The following morning, on Starday, the 15th day of Flocktime, the group set out on their northerly trek to the town of West Town. Their first day of travel was relatively uneventful. But on the second day, the group was approached by a gigantic roc that flew out of the Barrier Peaks which lay to the west. The roc, obviously intent on attacking the group, never got the opportunity however, as Book surrounded the group with a wall of flame causing the roc to veer away as it flew over head. The group them blasted it out of the sky with various spells and missile weapons, never allowing the roc a second pass or even a chance to retreat. That night the band feasted on roast roc.
In the afternoon of the third day, Moonday, the 17th, the band finally arrived at West Town, which had a population of about 500. Soon after arriving at the town, the band was directed to the town’s central monastery where they were introduced to the Abbot Vlandar who served as the leading authority of the town. Abbot Vlandar told the band of the troubles caused by Grendel and his band and explained to them that at first they had resisted the trolls attacks. But the trolls were more than the monks of the monastery could handle and many of the monks died trying to defend the town. When eventually it became clear that the trolls could not be defeated, the monks had little choice but to give in to the trolls demands.
Messengers had been sent to the nearby town of Pregmere and the capital city of Gorna. But both of these places had recently been experiencing difficulties of their own and so far, had been unable or unwilling to send any aid. Abbot Vlandar also mentioned that they had received some assistance from a local druid, but said that she was only capable of doing so much, such as rescuing a few of the trolls’ slaves and hindering the trolls’ movements.
After talking with the Abbot for a time, the group debated on whether or not they should wait for the trolls to return to the town and make more demands, or go and fight the trolls in their lair. Nicholas in fact, wanted to leave that night and go after the trolls. So Gildor cast a divination spell and upon receiving an answer the band decided to go after the trolls, but agreed to wait until the following morning.
So the next day, on Godsday the 18th day of Flocktime, the Righteous Vanguard set out west into the foothills of the Barrier Peaks and followed the obvious tracks of the trolls and their allies to the troll’s lair.
At about midday, Nicholas spotted a band of hill giants ahead of them. So the band devised a battle plan, stealthily approached the giants and attacked. With the advantage of surprise on their side and the firepower of the band’s spellcasters, the battle was a lop-sided conflict in favor of the adventurers from the very outset. Many of the giants were caught in a mass of black tentacles and a confusion spell where they were hopelessly doomed while the others became the targets of fireballs and missile weapons.
Towards the end of the fight however, Gildor flew up close to one of the giants to face him in hand to hand combat and got too close to one of Nero’s forceballs, which unfortunately caused damage to some of his magic items.