The party awoke to find themselves invited/summoned to join Ulysses Underhome, a member of the Foothold Merchants Association, for breakfast at his home in High Town. During breakfast (which includes large helpings of awkwardness and forced cheer) Underhome dropped unsubtle hints that a lot of people would be awfully happy if Hochnor Half-Hand stopped going around asking people about Maksim Gold Finder and diabolism. Maksim is powerful and influential, an important figure in local dwarven relations, and one of Foothold’s bedrock citizens; undermining him potentially threatens the security and stability of Blackmarch.
Perhaps deciding that they needed a break from devil-worshipping political dwarf bullshit for a day, the party decided to follow the map Elanesse looted from the unconscious wizard during the first session’s tavern brawl. The map, as you’ll recall, marked a spot in the nearby forest with a dragon’s head, a symbol for money, and an exclamation point. Dragon treasure, maybe?
After a two-hour trek in which Nureddin Wolf-Father almost got cut in half by a pendulum trap, the party reached the location marked on the map. They quickly discovered that the symbols on the map did not mean, “Dragon treasure here.” They meant, “Here is where I need to bring money to the dangerous band of orc assassins in service to the Three (a trio of evil dragons) who are extorting me to fund their escape from Blackmarch.” Elanesse tried to negotiate a peaceful settlement, but when Nureddin responded to a counter-offer by shooting an arrow through one of the orc warriors, things went downhill. (Or uphill, if you enjoy killing orcs. Which Nureddin does, very much.)
After the orcs were slain, two magic items were recovered from their hideout. Nureddin found Hater of Priests, a silver dagger that was currently consecrated to slay Hildegard, Metropolitan of the Black March. Khash took the orc berserker’s greataxe and discovered that it, too, was magic: the Blood Oath Axe deals damage to both foe and bearer.
When they got back to town the party found Orbius, the wizard who’d had the map. Orbius said he’d stumbled across the orcs while looking for spell components in the forest, and admitted that the whole, “I have a treasure map and seek bold adventurers” spiel was indeed a desperate and not very well thought out scam to raise the money the orcs demanded. He apologized profusely and offered his services in the future.