A rumour has been spreading amongst the cadets: the Marquis is planning a trip to Fort Diamir. Training continues. Aello attacks a shopkeeper and is thrown in the dungeons.
Mattias, Qhari, Barton, and Bahl go ranging outside of Fort Diamir, supervised by Crp. Zorden Fir. They kill some orc scouts and discover a horde building a siege tower. They return and report to Lt. Goodwin, and being making preparations for the coming eclipse — the last month of the year, when orcs oft attack the realm of man.
Mattias plans with Cpt. Wainwright, plotting locations for land mines. He also drafts up an exploding arrow, which is still taking some time.
The following day, the orcs attack — earlier than expected! In the light of the sun, they are easy targets for the cadets on the northern ramparts.
Bahl is thrown from the ramparts by the kickback from a heavy crossbow. Barton is knocked out when a siege tower unloads orcs over the wall. Iness is injured loading a cauldron of oil up Tower 4 with Aden. Geradil is grievously wounded by a javelin. Eddin lights a third siege tower ablaze with a flaming arrow. Mattias uses a rope to swing forth from the wall, planting RDMs on the wheels of the two remaining siege towers. The towers explode and the surviving orcs flee. The wounded are seen to.
Four cadets are tasked with riding out to meet the Marquis and his private guard on the road. Avery, Eddin, Naku, and Zayna ride chocobos south, camping and travelling together. Lt. Goodwin instructs the cadets to keep an eye on the roguish Naku – if she attempts to flee, she is marked for death.
Near Brunet Fenn, they come across the Marquis’ escort – dead on the road. The only survivor is Beatrix, a one-eyed captain from the northern province of Xaw. The cadets are wary of Beatrix at first, who tells them that the Marquis and the General of the Fortigar Provincial Army were captured by barbarians, and taken north into the Bane Mountains.
Tracking the barbarians into the jungle, the party battles with a shambling mound. The chocobos flee into the woods, and Avery is grievously wounded. In the battle, it becomes clear that Beatrix is a martial master and has a magical talent for healing. As they camp, Beatrix tells them her tale: she is from the “Warplands” – from a distant world – tossed in a storm and spirited away to Tabaxi. Like other outlanders, she was put in an alienage in Wageqai to learn customs and the common tongue, until she was deemed fit for service and enlisted. She has carried her greatsword, Save the Queen, with her always, it is a sword of great power, but the barbarians must have stolen it while Beatrix was knocked out.
Avery shares her story as well, her father was a soldier and she wanted to follow in his footsteps. Eddin says little about himself, save that he grew up in Ribbonwood. Naku says even less about herself. Zayna simply says that she grew up in Lankhmar, and for the last few embers has shared yeoman duties with her sister, Cecily.
They continue north, finding the barbarian’s watchtower (and neutralizing it). They scale a cliff to sneak into the barbarian’s camp. They find the general in a crow’s cage, as well as a Peñapesaran woman whom Naku knows from her past. Naku insists they rescue her as well. “She spared my life when she didn’t have to.”
They free both prisoners and infiltrate the barbarian’s treasure hoard. General Cradlehands recovers his walking stick and armor. As soon as the Peñapesaran woman is dressed, she disappears into the night. The party finds the Marquis, but are discovered by the barbarians. They fight their way out of the camp and flee into the night. They travel through the dark jungles as the winter eclipse begins.
Upon the safe arrival of the Marquis to the Fort, Captain Beatrix announces her intention to return to the barbarian camp to look for her sword. The protestations of the other officers do not sway her. Zayna and Eddin volunteer to help. Naku is sent on a top secret mission for the Intelligence division, and disappears from the fort. Lt. Goodwin assigns cadet Draylene Arwyll to join them. They travel through Ribbonwood. They stay at Eddin’s home – a large house near market square with an expansive shooting range in the backyard. Eddin’s brother is a bowyer who recently inherited his father’s trade, but is not presently in Ribbonwood. Instead, the party meets Eddin’s mother, who hosts them for the evening.
They approach Camp Sabretooth from the path, but something is not right. The barbarians are all dead, and orcs have taken over the camp. The party is overwhelmed by the horde, barely surviving. The blue orog leading the horde is killed by Eddin. There is no trace of Save the Queen, but Zayna spots bare footprints leading south from the camp. They deduce that the sword was carried off by the mysterious Peñapesaran.