As the party flies toward Burnham on the back of Catamoros the black dragon, they interrupt a squadron of goblin-riding dire bats attacking the city while a swarm of orcs assaults the walls on the ground. The PCs and dragon make short work of the goblins, and after landing and scattering the orcs, discover two very important things: they are in the service of the Orc Lord, and they wield new, high-quality swords made in Axis by Hallbert Brothers Armorers. Orcs shouldn’t have these, in this quantity.
The PCs warn the mayor of the coming siege, and he tells the party that attacks by orcs have increased lately — not just on Burnham, but the surrounding area. Refugees are starting to arrive in the city, fleeing burned villages and farms. One of them is a caravan master from the Northwest Empire Shipping Company, who tells of an orc attack on his largely unguarded caravan, and his orders to immediately surrender if orcs attack. But as far as he knows, he wasn’t carrying swords….
The mayor leads the party to the shrine where the dragon skull rests, deep below the earth in a vault reached by steep stairs. Legend says the skull can give one the power to command dragons, and it’s this artifact the Orc Lord is after. Llandrin Trawscoed mentally communes with the skull in an effort to contact the spirit of the heroic dragon. And he does contact a dragon, to be sure: a sinister, immensely powerful dragon who, amused at being called on by a weak, puny human, agrees to help and breaks the connection.
The expected orc army arrives, with goblin bat cavalry, cave trolls, orc berserkers, and more. Thurash Many-Rocks, Smasher of Elves trades insults with Nureddin Wolf-Father for a while, and then it’s officially on.
The PCs spend the next few weeks shoring up the city’s defenses. Nureddin trains scouts and bushwhackers. Elanesse identifies five townspeaople and refugees with raw magical ability and teaches them some sorcery, dubbing them the Magical Minions. Hochnor Half-Hand organizes a volunteer fire department, and trains the refugee farmers in military tactics. Aenor flies Catamoros back to Foothold to tell Count Henry about the swords in the hands of the orcs, and to contact the Crusader’s forces and tell them Burnham needs help.
One night, the orcs attack one of the walls. As the party repels the attackers, several dire bats fly over another wall and drop goblins inside the city…