With both the favor of The Harvest Lord and the people of Miel up for grabs, the heroes set out to assault Kurjan Sawtooth in Brightstone Keep. Aware of the orcish necromancer’s plans to raise an army of undead to attack Miel, they stopped at the town first to gather supplies.
Fortuitously, an old friend named Blok appeared with a friend of his own. Having travelled for a while on missions of his own, the cleric of Obad-Hai was glad for the chance to aid the people that he had last seen in Rubyvale.
The party ventured to the Keep, managing to sneak up the mountain pass under the cover of daylight when the orcs, dazzled by the sun, were less likely to see them approaching. The heroes reached an entry gate to one of the Keep’s three defensive towers, picked the lock through D’artagnan’s expertise, and entered.
The tower was well staffed by a large group of orcs though, unfortunately for the orcs, they weren’t well trained. Charles Cavandish wiped out most of the orcs with a well timed casting of what would thenceforth be known as Plan Bison. Two more towers remained, guarded in similar fashions with only one orc out of the scores encountered being much of a challenge. The orcs not beaten by the rampaging bison were easily dispatched by the other adventurers.
The courtyard beyond was mostly empty, though a well near the far end featured a ravenous Winter Wolf, imprisoned with a mighty chain. While the gigantic wolf might have been a powerful foe, the knowledge of S. Danger that this creature was intelligent, and Charles Cavandish’s ability to speak to it in the language of the Giants (though it was soon revealed that it could speak in Common as well), along with an offering of food convinced the Winter Wolf that the party would leave it alone if it left them alone. In exchange for being released from its chains, the Winter Wolf agreed to not alert the two trolls inside about their presence. Once freed, the wolf bolted for the entrance to the keep, and into the cold, wintry mountains beyond.
Two lengthy barracks joined in the middle at the far end of the courtyard, shielding the entrance to the mine that gave Brightstone Keep its name. The use of a spell to disguise an adventurer as one of the recently slain orcish lieutenants in the towers revealed the knowledge that the barracks housed scores of kidnapped people from Miel, and that each building employed a troll bearing powerful magical items that compensated for their weaknesses to fire. One at a time the two trolls were tricked from their posts into going outside, where they were ambushed and killed before their regenerative properties could do them any good. All of the villagers were freed (to the modest disapproval of some of the party.)
With all of Kurjan’s lieutenants dispatched, the party approached the entrance to the mine. Blok entered first, and was instantly seen by Kurjan and a number of skeletons and zombies, the first minions of Sawtooth’s impending army. Blok retreated, and was followed by the necromancer and his undead minions, only to walk into a powerful turning attack courtesy of Blok’s clerical powers.
Weakened (and, in some cases, outright destroyed), the other undead followers of Kurjan Sawtooth fell quickly, and the orcish wizard soon followed. Through the terms of the agreement with the town of Miel, this made the adventurers the rightful new owners of Brightstone Keep (and, more significantly, the mine beneath it.) Kurjan had apprently become recently aware of just how lucrative the mine still was, as a treasure chest was found near his personal belongings that contained a variety of gemstones that helped to supplement the heroes needs for the immediate future.