Farlorn, human ranger, LG, enlisted in the militia out of a sense of duty to his friends the halflings, to protect them from the constant orc raids
Mialee, elven cleric, CG, drafted into the militia, or sent by her elven family, she still has her doubts which
Axe, dwarven fighter, LN, enlisted in the militia because he's good at fighting and needs to make a living
Tobias, human mage, LN, enlisted in the militia as a way to gain prestige and power, aims to gain influence and rise up in the ranks of the guild
Nony, tiefling rogue, CN, enlisted in the militia as a cover, hired by an anonymous rival or patron of Tobias, she's not sure which, to keep her eye on him. to both spy on him and protect him.
Summoned by Pike Sgt Bernd, the party is sent to investigate a disturbance in the Northern Grove, home to a particularly pacifistic tribe of elves. They travel through the farmlands, stopping over one night at the Green Gander, an inn owned and run by some halfling friends of Farlorn's. They arrive at the northern grove the following day to find them in the midst of funeral ceremonies. They are led to a campsite by a young elf maid. Later they meet Chant Master Eristas, an elven bard and leader of the elves of the northern grove. He brings them to an outdoor shrine, a formation of standing stones with a stone alter in the center. There are still five unburied elven corpses in the shrine. He tells them that the shrine was attacked two days before by a pack of orcs led by a pale white-skinned elf with red eyes who was dressed in black robes. The orcs stole an artifact, a rod important to the religious ceremonies of the elves of the northern grove. The pc's investigate the circle of stones and discover that the bodies in the shrine are all marked with a different rune carved into their skin, and that three of the dead elves are missing one of their little fingers. There is a small pile of bones on the stone alter that radiates necromantic magic. The ranger finds two trails, one leading north and one west. They were told the orcs attacked from the north so they check the western trail and find a dead dire boar, and another dead elf, apparently as yet undiscovered by the elves. The dead elf near the boar is not marked with a rune but the dead boar is marked with a brand burned into one of it's back legs. They decide to follow the northern trail and leave the elves to their funeral. They leave the pile of bones on the alter undisturbed. They catch up to the orcs later that night. The orcs have made camp at the base of a rise in the prairie north of the northern grove. The rogue hides in the grass at the top of the rise until the orcs start going to sleep. She observes the camp and sees (with her tiefling darkvision) 18 orcs, and the pale skinned elf who appears to be an albino half-elf. Eventually the half-elf goes to his rest in a tent and the orcs start to go to sleep. The rest of the party climbs to the top of the rise when she gives the signal, Waiting until the two orcs keeping watch are farthest away from the rise she's on. The mage casts sleep and manages to take out both guards. Nony the tiefling rogue sneaks down to the tent and enters, but she sets off a silent alarm spell cast by Terrik, the albino half-elf necromancer currently leading the tribe of orcs called the Boar Clan. She and the mage fight, she ruins his spell, he hits her with his club +1, but eventually she wins. While they are fighting the dwarf charges down the hill, the cleric runs to the tent to assist the rogue who she's grown to like, the ranger starts lobbing arrows and the wizard tries to figure out what spell to cast next as the orcs begin to wake up from the noise of the fight. Several of the orcs start launching arrows and fighting with the party, but the party is wiping the floor with them. Three orcs manage to run away, one surrenders, and the rest except for the two that are still sleeping are now dead. They interrogate the orcs and learn that the necromancer fell from the sky, proclaimed himself a god, killed the chief and the medicine woman of the tribe and led them on a raid of the elven grove to find the rod they stole. The party can't find the rod anywhere but eventually (through the use of a detect magic spell) find it buried under the camp fire. The necromancer's walking stick (club +1) and cassock are also magical. Searching the remains of the orcs they find a handful of copper coins, two vials of inky black liquid that the rogue pockets when no one is looking, and a crude onyx carving of a boar. They're excited by this find (perhaps the pc's have read one too many forgotten realms novels) but it turns out to be nothing more than a non-magical totem, although still valuable because of the size of the piece of onyx. It is later discovered, much to the DM's chagrine, that in 3.5 the spell Identify tells you EVERYTHING an item does, and they learn that the cassock has permanent featherfall and DR Fire 30/+1, basically making the wearer immune to non-magical fire damage. Happily it will not identify powers of an artifact and they are all out of the 100gp pearls needed to cast the spell, so the powers of the rod remain a mystery. The rogue is not able to determine what it does using her Use Magic Item skill ("Hocus-Pocus! alla-ka-ZAM! Bippity-boppity-BOO!). Examining the body of the necromancer, they discover it is covered with ritual scarification, apparently necromantic runes of some sort. They decide to return with the body in hopes that someone can cast speak dead on it and they can find out where he came from and who he is. They tie the three orcs and force them to carry Terrik's body. The party walks over the rise and makes their own camp. Axe takes first watch. He wakes Farlorn when he hears a noise and they are attacked by a ghast, the risen body of Terrik. The rest of the party wakes during the fight and the orcs try to run away screaming about bad magic, but Axe and Farlorn manage to dispatch the ghast in short order. They retrieve the orcs and go back to their rest. The following morning they return to the grove but can't find any elves. An eerie feeling of disquiet settles on them when Farlorn hears someone running in the forest. He tracks the person, Axe dragging the orcs who are still carrying Terrik's remains along behind, and the rest of the party following him. In a small clearing they come upon the person they were tracking, a young elf who stopped in the clearing because he was attacked by three ghasts. One of the ghasts kills the boy before they can stop him and the party and the ghasts fight. Its a long hard fight which they almost lose but they are finally triumphant. On looking around they discover that the orcs have run off again, this time they can't be found. It is also discovered that the ghasts are each missing one of their little fingers and it is presumed they are the bodies found at the shrine the previous day. Searching the bodies they find a wand(charm person), a pearl(pearl of power, 1st level), and a ring (non-magical but valuable). They burn the bodies of the ghast and the elf boy, but still (!!!) carry Terrik's rotting corpse that the orcs dropped when they ran off in hopes that they can find someone to cast speak dead on it. Farlorn finds the trail of the ghasts and they back track it to the shrine of standing stones. There are no bodies here anymore and the pattern of bones on the alter is also gone. They hear something large loudly approaching through the woods and a huge dire boar zombie breaks through the underbrush into the shrine. They wisely choose to run away (although the Dwarf insists they are merely regrouping). They manage to find their way to the campsite where they were told to wait for Chant Master Eristas on their first visit here. The camp is now abandoned but they decide to sit and rest and heal and decide what to do next.