The Heroes are summoned to meet with the Council of Defenders. The group is led by Halgra of the Blackened Blade the Council of Defenders is worried that the town’s orc troubles are far from over. Thanks to the heroes, the orcs’ hill giant chieftain, Grenseldek, was unable to recover the items she sought from Uskroth’s tomb, and the council fear another attack on Trunau in the near future. To that end, Halgra asks the dwarves to go to Grenseldek’s lair—an abandoned outpost near the River Esk called Redlake Fort—and deal with the giant chieftain and her orc tribe before they can attack Trunau again. Due to their recent heroism during the orc raid and in Uskroth’s tomb, Halgra believes they are best suited to this task, as Trunau’s militia and citizenry are needed to rebuild the town’s defenses after the orc attack.
Halgra introduces the Silvermane to the council, Silvermane is mute, and communicates through a form of sign language that Halgra can understand and translate.
With her help, Silvermane tells the council and the dwarves about the Vault of Thorns, a demiplane created by the druidic Council of Thorns, of which he was once a member. The entrance to the Vault is located within Ghostlight Marsh, a swamp to the northeast surrounding the confluence of the Kestrel and Esk rivers. Silvermane informs them that the Vault contains a cache of items that can help in their fight against the Twisted Heart menace, though he has no specific details about the items. To find the Vault of Thorns, the dwarves should look for a marker in the form of a circle of thorns carved into a stone near the banks of the River Esk. This marker will put them on the right path through the swamp to find the Vault, but the entrance to the demiplane is hidden. Silvermane informed the heroes that the Ghostlight Lantern that he let them use during the raid is key to entering The Vault of Thorns. According to Silvermane, if the husk of a dead will-o’-wisp is placed inside the lantern, the lamp will produce a beacon that points to the circle of standing stones that marks the Vault’s entrance. Once the they reach the druidic circle, they need only wash the supernaturally fueled lantern’s light over the central standing stone to open the portal into the Vault of Thorns.
Halgra informs the dwarves that she has already secured passage for them aboard a keelboat that regularly plies the rivers of southern Belkzen. The riverboat’s captain, a
half-orc named Raag Bloodtusk, has agreed to transport them to Ghostlight Marsh and then up the River Esk to a location near Redlake Fort in exchange for the their efforts in helping sail the boat and defending it from any dangerous river denizens. Halgra explains that overland travel to Redlake Fort would be foolhardy and dangerous, as it would take them right through the orc-infested Hold of Belkzen. Bloodtusk’s riverboat, on the other hand, is well known among the orc tribes along the river, and the gladiator-turned-riverboat-captain enjoys rights of safe passage from these tribes’ chieftains, which makes a river journey far safer than traveling overland. Before they left, Halgra gave them a letter of introduction to give to Bloodtusk, who is waiting for them on the southern bank of the Kestrel River.