Lost Mine of Phandelver

Many Meetings
A detailed recounting of Session 9

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25th day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     Though still not completely secure, it seemed that the group was out of danger for the time being. There were still many unanswered questions, but the most pressing issue was tending to their wounds as well as Gundren’s, their benefactor, whom they had discovered during the battle. They gathered together in the bedchamber and patched themselves up as best they could. Gundren was unconscious, but stable. It had been quiet for some time, but the party thought it best to investigate the only area of the castle they had yet to explore. Thalia, being by far the stealthiest, ventured out of the room and tiptoed towards the barred door in the chamber to the south. She noiselessly made her way to the entrance to the southern tower, then sat outside the door for a moment and listened. She could definitely sense the presence of a living creature on the other side, though she wasn’t sure what it was. She put her hand to the floor and closed her eyes, intently focusing the rest of her senses beyond the door. She could hear the distinct scratch of pacing claws on stone. There was a heft behind the clawed feet as they pounded. Thalia could feel the vibration of its steps in the granite tile she sat upon. Her heart pounded in her chest, but she was silent and still. Her breath, steady. The creature let out a low hooting noise. Thalia could hear an underlying series of clicks as the thing began chattering. There was a moment of silence, then a sudden staccato of screeching noises, then nothing. The wood elf had heard similar animal calls in the past, but not from a creature of the size the signs coming from the room seemed to suggest. There was no indication that the beast was actively trying to get through the door, and the rest of the castle was quiet, so she felt she had enough information to take back to the others.

     “There’s something behind that barred door…something monstrous. But it is confined for now. All else seems clear.”

     Midnight had already come and gone. Reasonably assured that they were safe, they all settled in for a night’s rest.

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26th day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     The morning sun shone gently over the eastern hills and poured into the castle ruin through the arrow slits. Birds began to sing in the nearby trees outside. Thalia was wide awake as Ered rose from the straw bed. He looked at her and she gave an impish smile before hopping from the table where she had been sitting . Without a word, she slipped out of the room to explore the castle. For about half of an hour she stole from room to room, finding nothing but the corpses of the former residents. As she made her way back to the bedchamber, she once again sat in front of the barred door. All was quiet, but she still noted a presence coming from inside the southern tower. She sneaked back to the bedchamber and reported back to Ered and the others who were now also awake, aside from Gundren who was dozing heavily.

     Feeling refreshed and eager to see what might be hidden within the southern tower, Ered and Flint headed towards the barred door with Kaster and Thalia close behind. Ered stepped up to the large wooden door. He clapped his hands and rubbed them together briskly before crouching to the floor. He examined the crossbar for a moment, then placed the palms of his hands under it and heaved up. His muscles burned from the strain as he struggled to lift it, but the large, wooden bar barely moved. Flint rushed to help and they both endeavored to raise the crossbar. After much toil, the two managed to raise the crossbar off of its iron cleats. The castle ruin echoed with the slam of wood to stone as they stowed the bar. Behind the door, they could hear the creature, now stirred from its slumber. Ered pulled the door open enough to get a peak inside. The upper floors of the southern tower had collapsed, creating a hollow silo at least thirty feet high. The upper reaches of the room were lost in shadows. Dust, rubble and broken glass were spread about on the floor. Old work tables and bookshelves were strewn to the far side of the room. In the center of the room facing Ered was a hulking beast the likes of which he had never laid eyes upon. It resembled a mangy bear with an owl’s head. At the sight of Ered, it reared up on its hind legs and let out a horrendous roar.

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     Thalia did not hesitate. She rushed up beside Ered and loosed an arrow through the partially open doorway, piercing the creature. It let out a screech and stirred up the dust and debris on the floor as it clawed at the shaft, attempting to remove the offending missile. Ered slashed at the beast with Talon, but the owlbear (for that is what it was) batted the sword away with its large paw, nearly knocking it out of his hand. The amount of force expelled by the creature was enough to give Ered a moment of pause. He quickly regained his composure as the owlbear directed the full brunt of its might directly at him. Ered managed to bear the first attack with his shield. As he attempted to stave off the creature’s clawing paws, it lunged forward, it’s open maw reaching over the top of the shield towards his face. He barely managed to get Talon up in time to wedge it into the snapping beak and avoid what would almost certainly have been a fatal bite. As Ered struggled with the owlbear, Flint and Kaster launched into their attacks, the dwarf bashing at the beast with his warhammer while the sorcerer conjured a small swarm of red magical darts and sent them streaking into the creature’s hide.

     Thalia continued sinking arrows into the beast as Ered attempted to move around the owlbear until he and Flint were flanking it on either side. As the owlbear focused on the dwarf, Ered managed to plunge Talon deep into the creature’s back. It let out a pained squawk and, enraged, swiped out blindly. Flint found himself badly clawed and the creature came at him with it’s sharp beak. He managed to bash the creature aside with his shield before raising his warhammer and bringing it down vigorously onto the top of the beast’s owl head. The mangy animal collapsed into a sad, lifeless heap. As the others celebrated their victory, Ered quickly set to work collecting the creature’s talons.

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The King is Dead
A detailed recounting of Session 8

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25th day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     For the moment, all was quiet. As Flint stowed the various items found on the alter, he noted that Kaster was holding the wounds he had suffered after the attack from the goblin disciples of Maglubiyet. The dwarf uttered words of divine power and laid hands on the wounded man. Kaster felt a wave of restorative energy flow through his body. The sorcerer felt revitalized and was eager to press on.

     The sun had fully set by this time and there were no torches lit in the castle. Ered had Flint imbue his shield with light and moved towards the door on the west side of the northern tower and opened it. On the other side was what appeared to be a storeroom. In addition to the door Ered had just opened, there were also doors leading further westward as well as to the south. Old casks of salted meat and sacks of rotting grain filled the area. Among the supplies, he found a bloody suit of chain mail, a heavy crossbow, and an unsheathed sword with the emblem of Neverwinter worked into the hilt.

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     “I know this to be Sildar’s…look!” Ered ran further into the chamber and reached for the sword. “The weapon bears the emblem of his home city,” he said, holding the hilt towards Kaster who had entered the room behind him. Ered had been earnestly gathering up Sildar’s armor and weapons when his eyes fell on an object in the corner. Kaster saw the grave warrior’s deportment shift suddenly as a mischievous grin came over the large man’s face. Ered had spotted a small cask which he recognized as the container for an exceptional dwarven brandy. He quickly stood up and walked over, excitedly slapping his large hands around the wooden vessel. As he lifted it, he looked up at his friends, as if for approval. He knew that there were more pressing matters, but he thought it an absolute shame to leave this prize to the likes of goblins.

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     “If you will carry it, I will help you drink it,” said Flint with a chuckle.

     Ered spent a few moments rearranging his gear and, after ensuring that his comrades were ready to continue, moved towards the door along the west wall. As he held his gleaming shield in front of him, he noticed four plain straw pallets and bedrolls lined up on the floor. Brackets on the walls held a number of weapons – spears, swords, morningstars, and more. The north wall showed signs of damage, but the floor was swept clean of rubble. It took a moment for Ered to realize that this makeshift barracks was occupied. Staring back at him from the dark were four large, ruddy-skinned goblinoids. They drew their weapons and charged at him. Encumbered as he was, Ered thought it best to back out of the doorway in order to give his companions a chance to engage the creatures. As he did so, he hurled a spear towards the nearest enemy. A loud clang sounded as the spearhead glanced off the hobgoblin’s shield. It lunged at Ered, but he deflected the strike with his own shield.

     Quick to act, Thalia advanced to Ered’s ride side while drawing her shortsword. She wielded her blade with precision and, lunging diagonally to her left, she managed to find an exposed region in the creature’s chain mail. Her blade sunk deep, wounding the monster.

     Kaster positioned himself in the doorway to the barracks and hurled forth a trio of fiery rays. One of them struck a hobgoblin, engulfing the creature in flames and bringing it to the brink of death.

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     Flint loosened the strap securing his warhammer while rushing the hobgoblin Thalia had wounded. He wheeled back with his weapon and swung it in a rising arc, smashing the hobgoblin directly in the face. Its lifeless body flew back and fell to the floor, a gory mess where its grimace had been.

     His nearest foe having been vanquished by Flint, Ered ran through the western doorway, squeezing past Kaster. He drew Talon and rushed towards the hobgoblin Kaster had scorched. He swung his blade, but the creature just barely managed to raise its shield to protect itself. Ered retreated back through the door. The creature, barely clinging to life, followed. Kaster, who was still sidled up against the wall on the opposite side of the doorway, loosed his dagger in its sheath and raised it in preparation. Ered came backing out of the doorway first, and the hobgoblin came recklessly charging after him. The sorcerer quickly brought down his dagger, stabbing the monster repeatedly in the groin. It clutched at its wounds and collapsed in a heap, blood pooling rapidly around the body. Ered looked at Kaster and gave a quick nod of gratitude.

     The two remaining hobgoblins could plainly see Kaster standing in the doorway. One of them was close enough to swing a weapon, but the sorcerer managed to duck out of the way. The other creature fired off an arrow from the back of the room, but Kaster was lucky to avoid that strike as well. Meanwhile, Thalia had moved towards the doorway to help. The hobgoblin facing Kaster felt a convulsive tug. The elf had reached for the bottom of the creature’s mail shirt and pulled it out towards her. With her other hand, she jammed her blade under the creature’s armor, sliding it effortlessly between ribs. Its vital organs perforated, Thalia’s foe fell dead to the floor. Kaster, eyes wide, gestured to the elf in appreciation, then outstretched his palm towards the archer. He spoke words of power and four glowing red darts of magical force streaked from his hand towards it. It screamed as each of the florid barbs ripped violently through its body. It’s contorted face suddenly relaxed, then it crumpled to the floor dead.

     With no other immediate threats apparent, Ered began to investigate the hobgoblin corpses and the contents of the barracks. His eyes scanned the array of weapons on the wall. There were spears, a variety of swords, morningstars…and one item that seemed a bit out of place. A fine quarterstaff engraved with stylized feathers. Ered reached for it and found it to be quite light. Easily half the weight of a normal staff that size. Probably less. He added it to his already extensive inventory.

     As Ered was perusing the barracks, Kaster and Flint moved through the door on the south wall of the storeroom. They found themselves back in the main hall of the castle. There was another door to their right which Kaster opened. Two bleary eyed goblins who had apparently been having a bit of a nap looked up at the sorcerer and drew their scimitars. Thalia, who had been standing alone in the storeroom, heard trouble and sprang into action. The nimble elf rushed past her comrades and into the small room, immediately stabbing at one of the goblins, wounding it gravely. Ered, who had also heard the snarls of the goblins as they were discovered, came charging in behind her. He swung Talon at the other goblin, removing its head from its shoulders in one clean cut. The warrior then faced the wounded goblin and let loose a yowl. The creature lashed out at Ered with its scimitar. The light from Flint’s spell still shone brightly from the man’s shield and he directed it straight into the goblin’s eyes, temporarily blinding the creature and staving off the attack. Flint took a swing at the wretch with his warhammer, but the goblin managed to unwittingly avoid the attack as it stumbled around blindly. Finally, Kaster let loose a fire bolt straight into the creature’s face, killing it.

     Ered investigated the room. It seemed to him that these goblins had been meant to stand watch over the terrace outside the main gate of the castle ruin. The arrow slit offered a prime vantage point for defense. Along with the dead goblins and their meager belongings, the room contained naught but a bit of scattered debris. Ered moved out of the archers’ post, followed by Flint, Kaster, and Thalia. They headed east through the door where they had discovered and disarmed the tripwire earlier. They passed back through the chapel again. To their left, off in the gloom, they could barely discern the tentacled creature which lay dead and oozing. A goblin corpse hung next to it, still tangled in one of the curtains. They moved through the room to a doorway. Ered took a moment to listen. He could hear movement of some kind, but whether it was more goblins or simply the wind slipping through the drafty ruin, he could not say. He opened the door and observed yet another doorway in front of him and, to his right and left, curtains at either end of the intersecting passageway. Judging from the location, Ered deduced that behind the curtain to the south was the doorway through which they had entered the castle. Ered turned back over his shoulder and whispered a quick accounting of the area to the others.

     The group quietly deliberated their next move. Ultimately, it was decided that Thalia should sneak ahead to see what might be behind the curtain to their left. Ered motioned for the elf to come forward. She scampered past her companions and moved northward through what was left of the crumbling passageway. She stealthily moved into position and drew back the curtain ever so slightly. Beyond, she saw that the passageway opened up into another of the castle’s towers. The structure was almost completely collapsed. What inhabitable space remained was filled with the rotting crates and barrels that may have provisioned the castle in years past. There was a door on her right that led to the east. Further north, a short passageway led to a hanging screen of canvas that was flapping gently in the breeze. The northern exterior of the castle occasionally visible on the opposite side. The elf slinked back to the south and reported her findings to the rest of her party.

     Kaster urged the group to venture through the door where Ered had stopped. Flint nodded in agreement. Leading the way, Ered moved forward and swung the door wide. The room appeared to be set up as a small barracks with more straw pallets lining the floor along the east wall. The wall to the south had collapsed, but a path to a barred wooden door in that direction was still clear. A curtain hung in the archway to the north. A stone brazier full of coals glowed in the middle of the room. Jabbing at the coals in the brazier with his back to the door was a hobgoblin. Another hobgoblin kept watch through the arrow slit along the eastern wall. The one by the brazier wheeled around in surprise as Ered opened the door.

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     Thalia was the first to react. She rushed past Ered and into the room, drawing her shortsword as she went. She sliced at the nearest hobgoblin, hitting it between the neck and shoulder and leaving a nasty wound. The light-footed elf gracefully maneuvered away from her foe to avoid a retaliatory strike. As Thalia fell back, Flint moved forward, warhammer in hand. He swung his weapon wildly, dealing a fatal blow to the creature’s skull.

     This had all happened so quickly, the remaining hobgoblin had barely turned around in time to see its comrade dispatched. Ered rushed towards the creature with Talon raised. The monster diverted the assault with its shield. Almost immediately, Kaster followed with a bolt of fire towards the enemy, but the hobgoblin managed to narrowly avoid the incoming blast. It decided to make a break for it and sprinted for the for the curtain at the north of the room. A second later, the hobgoblin vanished behind the curtain. On the other side, a door could be heard opening and slamming shut. Thalia carefully pulled back the curtain enough to see that, while the chamber on the other side was vacant, there were two closed doors…one to the left which, presumably, led to the provisions room the group had seen earlier. Another door leading to some unexplored eastern chamber was on the right. Once they realized nothing was waiting in ambush, Ered threw back the curtain and headed for the door on the right.

     The large man firmly planted his boot on the door and thrust it open, taking a defensive stance in the doorway. He quickly surveyed the occupants on the other side. To his right, laying on the floor, was an unconscious dwarf that seemed like Gundren. It was difficult to tell for certain as badly beaten and covered with filth as he was. The retreating hobgoblin was directly in front of Ered with its back to the door. To its left and a bit further into the room, a large bugbear with a wolf at its side looked up at Ered, a sneer on its face. Even further to the left, Ered spotted what appeared to be a female elf, but her skin was as black as Ered had ever seen on a humanoid creature, and her hair was as pale as her complexion was dark. What Ered found most striking about this elf were her blazing red eyes. Under different circumstances, he might have been inclined to be more cordial. However, given her austere expression and the quality of the company she kept, he knew their association would be brief and tumultuous.

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     As Ered stood dumbstruck for a moment, Kaster eagerly crowded past the rest of his companions to get to the doorway. He clasped Ered’s shoulder and gently nudged him to the side before letting loose a fire bolt towards the hobgoblin. The creature was still facing its confederates, informing them of the intruders, when it took the brunt of the sorcerer’s attack in the back. It was charred and hurt, but still alive.

     At the bugbear’s signal, the wolf charged Ered who was still in the doorway. The beast latched onto his sword arm and shook violently. Ered felt as though his arm was about to be ripped from his body, but he managed to wriggle free long enough to bash his lupine opponent on the nose with the hilt of his sword and deter the onslaught. Thalia, who was furthest back, saw what was happening and nocked an arrow. As the elf released her bowstring, a gust of wind caused the curtain in the doorway where she was standing to billow. The surging fabric caught the arrow as it was being released and thwarted her shot.

     Seeing that the wolf had chosen an opponent that would not be easily defeated, the dark elf engaged Ered. She came at him with multiple strikes of her scimitar. Blow after blow rained down on him. He managed to parry a few of the incoming thrusts, but he did sustain a few as well. This dark elf was a capable fighter, to be sure. Flint, who was just behind Ered, gestured and uttered praise to his god as a flash of radiant light streaked towards the dark elf, engulfing her in lustrous energy. She cried out in pain, but she stood firm and cast a malevolent glare at the dwarf. Ered moved in to finish her off, but she fended off the warrior’s advance. Failing to penetrate the dark elf’s armor and having sustained injuries himself, Ered felt it a fine time to partake of some refreshment. He dropped back from the engagement into the old storeroom and quickly downed a draft of the dwarven brandy.

     The remaining hobgoblin, still smarting from Kaster’s fire bolt, rushed out of the room towards the sorcerer. The creature swung its longsword in a wide arc in an attempt to cleave the magic user in two, but Kaster’s agility saved him. He bent at the waste, allowing the blade to sweep harmlessly through the space he had just occupied. As he avoided the hobgoblin’s stroke, he extended his hand towards the dark elf standing behind it and pelted her with red darts of magical energy. She winced at the pain, but maintained a fighting stance. Kaster fell back to stand beside Ered, but as he did, the wolf came lunging forward. It grasped Kaster’s leg in its teeth and clamped down with a vice-like grip.

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     As Flint prepared another attack on the dark elf, the bugbear plodded towards him. It grunted as it heaved its weapon into the dwarf. The impact to shield and mail sounded as loud as a thunderclap and the bugbear sent Flint reeling. As the dwarf tried to maintain his footing, he saw an arrow pass overhead and pierce the drow’s armor. Thalia, who had been behind him, fired off the shot. The shaft protruded from the dark elf’s chest, yet she did not falter. She raised her scimitar and struck Flint down. The dwarf lay on the floor, motionless.

     The hobgoblin then turned its attention to Thalia.
She tried to lunge away from the incoming jab, but she wasn’t quite fast enough. The sound of tearing leather and cloth filled her elf ears as the blade penetrated her armor. The searing pain of the wound was followed quickly by a warm wet sensation. Her tunic became soaked and red.

     The chaos that had broken out in the small chamber was nearly impossible to navigate. Seeing his companions in peril, Ered came rushing back into the chamber with a pot of the dwarven brandy at the ready. Thalia gestured to the dwarf as Ered approached her. He knelt down by Flint and quickly poured the brandy down the unconscious dwarf’s throat. Flint sputtered and coughed as he came to. Ered smiled as a wave of relief came over him. It was short lived. The drow and the bugbear advanced on them. The dark elf deftly avoided a swing from Talon just as the bugbear attempted to bring its morningstar down on top of Ered. Fortunately for him, the quarters were too tight and the bugbear’s weapon was impeded by the stone wall as the brute attempted to bring it around. All the while, a series of orange flashes and snarling filled the doorway to the adjacent chamber as Kaster attempted to deal with the wolf.

     Thalia, wounded though she was, still had plenty of fire left in her belly. The wood elf had not spent much time among her own kind, but she had heard enough about the dark elves to know that they were the mortal enemy of the other elf races. The stories of how drow raiding parties came to the surface to massacre the innocent came to mind as she drew her shortsword and rushed at her ebony skinned foe. Still distracted by Ered and Flint, the drow failed to avoid Thalia’s attack. The rogue ran her blade straight through the dark elf’s abdomen, piercing the liver. The drow fell to the floor and lay dying. As Thalia looked down upon her fallen enemy, she wasn’t sure if what she was seeing was the result of some fleeting illusion or her own exhaustion. The dark elf’s pronounced features began to fade, melting into a shadowy, undefined visage. Her stark white hair disappeared altogether, leaving a bare, gray scalp. The fiery red eyes turned cold and steely. The creature was not a drow at all. Through some spell or disguise, it had merely taken on the appearance of a dark elf. Thalia, lingering for a just a moment to puzzle over this creature, snapped back to the task at hand and rushed to Kaster’s side as he continued to struggle with the wolf.

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     Flint had been inching towards death just moments ago, but the brandy had done enough to rouse him. If anyone in the group had doubted the hardiness of dwarves before, they did so no longer. Though he could not yet stand under his own power, he did manage to crawl far enough to make it into the chamber where his kinsman was being held. Flint propped up his shield bearing the holy symbol of Marthammor Duin. He waved his free hand towards the hobgoblin. An overwhelming brilliance from overhead briefly lit up the room followed immediately by a booming hail of radiant energy. The hobgoblin was caught up in the blast, but just barely managed to avoid taking the brunt of it. As it stumbled away from the impact, it managed to take a swipe at Ered. The warrior raised his shield and spun around in time to repel the creature’s sword. He continued to rotate with Talon in his other hand, landing a blow on the bugbear as he twisted round. This maelstrom continued for bit between Ered and the bugbear. The hobgoblin was advancing on Ered from behind when Flint, still in the bedchamber, stood up and once again appealed to his god. The cleric opened the door, gestured towards the hobgoblin, and once again brought down radiant beams of light, this time, hitting their mark directly and ending the miserable creature’s life. Ered turned in time to see the thing burn away before his eyes. Flint, feeling he’d expended more energy than may have been wise, shut the door.

     Meanwhile, Kaster and Thalia were with the wolf in the ruined tower. Kaster backed away towards the canvas covered doorway to the north. The wolf stalked him as he went. The sorcerer let loose a pair of fire bolts in quick succession. One hitting the beast, another going just wide. It yelped and snapped at Thalia, who was standing nearby. The wood elf stabbed the creature at the base of the neck, wounding it, but failing to land a killing blow. As Thalia withdrew her sword, the wolf clamped down on her arm, sinking in its fangs. She jerked her limb from the beast’s jaws and made her way towards Ered who was still tangling with the bugbear.

     As Thalia passed through the antechamber where the others were fighting, she took a swing at the bugbear. It avoided the strike, but this served as enough of a distraction to allow Flint to peak out from behind the door and send another volley of sacred flame. The bugbear cried out as the holy light seared into its flesh. Thalia flitted past and ducked into the bedchamber behind Flint. The bugbear, racked with pain from the holy fire, did not see Ered who was also moving towards Flint and the doorway. As the warrior backed towards the dwarf, he swung Talon down at the monster’s foot, nearly severing its toe completely before slamming the door behind him. Foaming with rage, the bugbear decided to pursue the easiest target. It hobbled into the ruined tower to see who its wolf had cornered.

     Kaster’s blood ran cold as he saw the bugbear come lumbering into the ruined tower. He wasn’t sure what fate had befallen his companions in the antechamber, but the odds appeared to be suddenly stacked against him. An evil grin came over the bugbear’s face as it approached the sorcerer. Kaster turned to run but as he shifted his feet, he felt them suddenly leave the ground under a guidance other than his own. He felt the air leave his lungs as the blunt force of the bugbear’s morningstar crashed into him. Doubled over, his mouth gaping like a fish out of water, Kaster brought his hand up and managed to wheeze out an invocation. A fire bolt streaked towards the bugbear and landed harmlessly into the head of the brute’s morningstar. The sorcerer clambered through the canvas curtain and found himself outside under the night sky. He managed to catch his breath and dart off to his right in an easterly direction. Behind him, he heard the bugbear shout a command in goblin, followed closely by the scratching claws and growling of the wolf as it chased after him.

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     Kaster’s heart throbbed in his chest as he ran. He had all but cleared the northeast tower of the castle, and just as his hope of making the turn reached its apex, he heard the animal off to his left somewhere in the dark. He drew his dagger and swiped blindly as a shadowy shape leaped out of the brambles and planted itself in his path. The wolf bared its teeth and slowly inched towards him.

     As the bugbear waited in the ruined tower for its pet to return, the others had slipped out of the bedchamber and back towards the tower. Thalia positioned herself in the doorway without being noticed and sunk an arrow into the bugbear’s back. Flint followed quickly with a barrage of holy flame which again ignited the creature’s fur and skin. Finally, Ered ran at the bugbear, screaming and raising Talon for a strike. The edge of the blade cut into the monster’s hide armor. In spite of all of this, the creature still stood. Ered managed to dart out of the way of the retaliatory blow from the bugbear’s weapon.

     Kaster backed up to the canvas covered passageway. Behind the curtain, he could see Ered struggling to take down the bugbear. He could not see the others, but he heard Thalia’s bow singing and he had seen Flint’s flames. His courage was bolstered by the fact that all of them were alive and continuing the fight. He looked back at the wolf just in time to see it spring towards him with an explosion of kinetic energy. He swiftly discharged another fire bolt at the beast and immolated it completely.

     Within the ruined tower, the fighting continued. The bugbear batted away an incoming arrow from Thalia, but Flint hit it with another blast of radiant flame. As the cleric’s attack struck the bugbear, Ered lifted his shield to protect his eyes from the blinding light. With a fortuitous thrust, he sent Talon’s tip between the creature’s ribs and into its heart. The thing exhaled its final breath and Ered labored to avoid being crushed by its weight as the lifeless hulk slumped forward.

     The party reassembled and headed back to the bedchamber, but stopped to consider the corpse of the gray creature. Ered had heard of beings such as this that could take on the appearance of others. It was unclear who its disguise was meant to deceive or what role it played in the events surrounding Gundren’s capture.

     They continued to investigate the surrounding area to see if they could find anything useful. Flint rushed on to tend to Gundren. Ered retrieved his pot and followed. As they entered the bedchamber once more, Ered knelt down and poured some of the brandy into the pot, then held the back of the unconscious dwarf’s head. Flint assisted in pouring the draft into Gundren’s mouth. He sputtered and coughed and slowly opened his eyes and gazed up at Ered. A look of recognition came over his face. He turned to Flint who smiled at the sight of his kinsman awake and breathing.

     “Ah, Flint! I knew you’d come!” His head dropped back into Ered’s hand, weary from the effort. Gundren looked at Ered inquisitively. “What’s that you gave me, Lad? Sure is tasty.”

     “Would you like another drink?” asked Ered. He looked to Flint, who nodded. “I would,” replied Gundren eagerly. Once again, Ered held the pot to the dwarf’s lips and he took a long quaff. With that, Gundren fell back into unconsciousness.

     “We must find a way to get him out of here,” said Ered.

To be continued…

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The New Lord of the Manor
A detailed recounting of Session 7

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24th day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     Ered, handaxe at the ready, eyed the rat with suspicion. He took a deep breath and brought back his arm, then with an explosion of sinewy power, he hurled the small axe towards the rodent. He hit his mark, but the only sound that could be heard was the clang of steel on stone. As soon as the axe made contact with the rat, the creature dissipated into a vaporous cloud. It left no corpse or blood or any other sign that it had ever been in the room. Having grown increasingly accustomed to witnessing strange events, and knowing full well that they were in the workshop of a wizard, the party took the whole affair rather stoically.

     As Kaster explained to the group that the various contraptions on the table were intended for brewing invisibility potions, Faelyn wandered over to the door on the east side of the room and flung it wide. A large bugbear stood sneering in the doorway. He and another like him were lying in wait in the adjoining chamber, anticipating the return of the adventurers. The monster swung his massive morning star at Faelyn and sent her flying into the northern wall of the wizard’s workshop. She fell to the floor, motionless. The nimble elf, Thalia, was the quickest to react. She wheeled around and launched an arrow across the room, but it missed, hitting the stone doorframe. Ered, responding to the wood elf’s bowshot, quickly loaded a bolt onto his crossbow and wheeled around to get off a shot at the unknown target behind him. The haste with which Ered spun to attack caused the bolt to shoot wide of the target. Flint had not been idle. A streak of light flashed from the dwarf’s hand and towards the bugbear. The burst of radiant energy enveloped the creature, searing its fur and flesh until the monster was nothing but a pile of ash.

     The remaining bugbear did not seem to be the least bit discouraged by its former comrade’s disintegration. It rushed towards Ered, its massive weapon raised for a strike. Fortunately for the warrior, the brute clipped the doorway on its swing, causing it to miss. Kaster was quick to release a bolt of flame at the monster, but the enkindled projectile rocketed off wildly in an unintended direction. Thalia had notched another arrow and let it fly, this time hitting her intended target and sinking an arrow into the creature’s chest. As the bugbear reeled from the elf’s piercing attack, Ered brought out his axe. He swung it down onto the beast’s hairy arm, slicing down to the bone. The bugbear, though wounded, only seemed more agitated. It began to charge through the doorway at the party. Flint raised his shield and once again sent a gleaming lance of light from his hand towards the enemy. The bolt struck its mark and the creature’s body glowed in golden light and began to burn. Only the creature’s head and shoulders remained intact and they lay in a heap of smoldering ash on the stone floor.

     Kaster stood over the still sizzling remains of the fallen monster and noted that these were likely the same bugbears they had encountered in the guard barracks the night before. The surviving members of the trio that had been tormenting Kevin the goblin. The leader, Mosk had been his name, wore a leather eye patch beset with semiprecious stones. Kaster removed it from what was left of the creature, and held it out, “Ered, what do you make of this?”
     “With these stones, I’d expect you could probably get about 50 gold for it.”

     The sorcerer also found a belt pouch on the creature with some silver coins inside. He divided the coins out among the members of the party, but in lieu of these, Thalia insisted that he give her the eye patch. Kaster obliged. The creature was also holding an iron key similar to the one Faelyn had recovered from one of the Redbrands earlier.

     The immediate danger having been dealt with, the group filed into the chamber the bugbears had been occupying. The walls were covered with drapes of scarlet cloth. There were furnishings that included a small writing desk with matching chair, a comfortable-looking bed, and a wooden chest at the foot fo the bed. The chest’s lid was turned up. Ered noted that the chest was full. Flint spotted an envelope on the desk and walked over towards it. He picked up the envelope and noted that the wax seal had an imprint of a spider. It did not appear that the envelope had been opened. As he got closer to the northeast corner of the room, the dwarf also noted the stonework of the eastern wall. There was a panel – or possibly a hinged door – that was set slightly askew to the rest of the wall. Flint opened the letter.

     “What did you find?” enquired Ered, eagerly. As he read, Flint held up the now opened envelope and pointed to the spider in the wax seal. Ered’s eyes widened. “What does it say? Read it out loud!” The dwarf began to read the letter to the group.

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     They all stood there processing this ill news. It would seem that Glasstaff was none other than the missing wizard Iarno Albrek. Not only that, but he seemed to be in league with The Black Spider. Iarno completed the task set forth before him by the Lords’ Alliance…after a fashion. Rather than establishing the constabulary that would secure the town, Iarno assumed the alias of “Glasstaff” and hired a group of thugs and bandits to do his own bidding.

     Ered’s mind quickly turned from the intrigue of the letter to potential riches. He huddled next to the open chest at the foot of the bed and found what made up the best pickings of the Redbrands loot: coins in silver and gold along with a variety of gems. He looked up and addressed the rest of the group.
     “We can divvy this up later, yes?”
Nobody contested the proposal. Ered then kneeled down and investigated the bed to make sure that it was as clean and comfortable as it seemed. He got up, walked to the workshop where the ranger was laying, and picked up Faelyn from the cold, flagstone floor. Her slender frame was light in his arms. Ered walked back into the wizard’s bedchambers and gently placed the unconscious ranger into the bed. Faelyn, he noted, seemed stable and likely to recover. The others looked on, surprised to see such tenderness from the rugged warrior. Ered, feeling a sudden need to take the attention off of his action, addressed the group.
     “Well, now that we’ve seen what’s in here, should we head back to that other room…see if Kevin is still around?”
     “We move on to these stairs,” said Flint, peeking behind the crack in the apparent secret door in the northeast corner of the room. The dwarf had noticed a dark corridor with a staircase going up to the right.
     “I would like to go run down to the other room,” chimed in Kaster. Before hearing their response, the sorcerer had run back out the southern door of the workshop. He crossed the hall and passed through the common room where the Redbrands had been gambling. He opened the southern door and went down the corridor that led to the guard barracks where they had first encountered the bugbears. He barged into the room only to find the same crudely built bunkbeds, dirty dishes, and half-eaten food. The smell of unwashed bodies and rotting meat filled his nostrils. Kaster, satisfied that Kevin was no longer here, turned back to join the others.

     The others had been waiting in the wizard’s bedchambers, watching over Faelyn and investigating the contents of the room. Flint had managed to get the secret door opened all the way just as Kaster returned. The cleric ran into the darkness, though there was plenty of light for his dwarvish eyes. He ran up the staircase and at the top he discovered what appeared to be another door, though it was not immediately apparent how he might get it open from the inside. Ered, standing in the doorway Flint had gone through and having some sense that the dwarf had encountered an obstacle, motioned to Thalia.
     “Flint may have found another door,” he said as she passed through. The elf quickly ascended the stairs and was already pulling out her tool kit. She gave the door a quick once over and determined that it was constructed just as the one at the bottom of the staircase. She set to work and within a few seconds, she had it opened. She stepped out into storeroom they had passed through after their first attempt to avoid the nothic. The others followed behind her. Ered decided to pass through to the armory to grab another spear, since he hadn’t recovered the one he lent to Mirna Dendrar. He and Kaster both took crossbow bolts to replenish their quivers. As they surveyed the room for other useful items, Ered suddenly became very quiet and still. He looked at Kaster and brought a finger to his lips. Off in the distance was the rhythmic pinging noise of metal on metal. Not the sound of combat. It was something smaller and much less intense. As the rest of the party filed into the armory behind them, Ered was off to investigate the sound.

     The noise became more apparent as they once again passed through the Tresendar Crypts where they had faced the reanimated skeletons. It was coming from the holding cells where they had found the Dendrars. They walked into the slave pen and found the source of the sound. Kevin the goblin stood against the bars of his prison cell, tapping rocks against them. He was quite surprised to see the band of adventurers again. So much so, that he immediately passed out and fell to the dirty, straw-lined floor.

     With Kevin not likely to have much to say in his current state and the area now completely explored, the party stopped to ponder their next move. It was Flint and Ered who first began to realize that Glasstaff (or more accurately, Iarno) had only very recently given them the slip. It was possible that they still had time to catch him before he escaped Phandalin. They rushed back to the wizard’s bedchambers and hastily left a note for Faelyn explaining the situation in case she awoke while they were gone. From there, they rushed back up the hidden staircase, moved across the bridge over the crevasse, and towards the southern tunnel entrance to the manor’s cellar. Flint, spotting Thel Dendrar’s corpse pointed to it. “Ered!” The young fighter knew that Flint had intended for him to grab Thel’s remains on the way out. He stopped and hoisted the body over his shoulder and followed the others through the tunnel.

     The sun was high in the afternoon sky and still several hours away from setting when they emerged from underneath Tresendar Manor. Even under the canopy of the woods, it took a few moments for their eyes to adjust to the bright daylight of the outside world. As soon as they had acclimated, they began frantically searching for signs of Glasstaff’s passing. There were plenty of indicators that a significant amount of foot traffic had passed in this seemingly inconsequential part of the woods at the foot of the hill under Tresendar Manor. This, of course, was explained by the presence of the secret entrance. However, there were no obvious clues as to whether or not the wizard had passed this way recently. Flint attempted to look around to see if there were any paths that might make for a quick get-away out of town, but nothing jumped out at him. It seemed that if Iarno had stuck to the easiest pathways out of Phandalin, he’d have gone straight up the north road towards the Triboar Trail.

     The group headed out of the woods and back over the ruined walls near Alderleaf Farm. They took the road from there to the woodworker’s house. There was the matter of returning Thel Dendrar’s remains and it might also be prudent, the group reasoned, to ask around town to see if anyone might have spotted the escaping wizard.

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     They approached the Dendrar home and knocked at the door. Mirna, looking understandably tired, opened it and greeted them warmly.

     “As we promised, we’ve brought your husband home,” said Flint solemnly.

     “Thank you! I simply can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done. We’ll have to arrange for a ceremony.” She seemed a bit anxious and muttered something about cremation.

     “If you could please just take him to the town hall until we make the proper arrangements. I can’t have the children see him this way. Oh,” she said, suddenly remembering, “one last thing!” She reached behind the door and produced the spear Ered had given to her the night before. She handed it back to him.

     “What do you know of Iarno Albrek, m’lady?” inquired Flint.

     “I believe he was affiliated with the Lords’ Alliance,” she said. “The wizard was only here briefly and I had no direct dealings with him. You should speak about this with Sildar Hallwinter.”

     With that, they departed the Dendrar home and headed to the Townmaster’s Hall to deliver the remains of Thel. Harbin Wester seemed ill at ease as the adventurers once again darkened his doorway. His impatience quickly gave way to common decency, when he realized they were acting in the interests of the woodcarver’s family.
     “Well, this is tragic business with the Dendrar man, but we will tend to the body until funeral arrangements can be made.”
Ered slipped the body off of his shoulder as the townmaster’s adjutants came over to collect it.

     “Do you still have our prisoner?” Ered asked as he was reminded of Sullivan.

     “Yes, the Redbrand is in the holding cell. Have you found Glasstaff?”

     “Actually, I’d like to question the prisoner on that very subject,” said Flint.

     A look of concern came over the Townmaster’s face. “I suppose there’s no harm in that…right this way.”

     Harbin Wester led them to the back part of the building. In a side room was a cell that seemed reasonably secure. Sullivan was sitting with a scowl on his face, though someone had tended to his wounds. A plate sat next to him, empty but for a bit of crumbs. In spite of his dour expression, he seemed to have been well taken care of.

     “Do you know if Glasstaff went by any other name?” Flint asked him.

     “None that I know of,” replied Sullivan, “but he’s a wizard and wizards tend to give themselves all sorts of lovely titles.”

     Flint’s line of questioning continued. “Does the name Iarno mean anything to you?”

     “Not to me,” said Sullivan dismissively.

     “What about Lord Albrek?”

     “No.”

     Flint abruptly ended his interrogation, gave a quick nod of gratitude to the Townmaster, and headed back out into the street with the others following. The group headed northward up the street and made for the Stonehill Inn to see if they could catch Sildar.

     Things were relatively lively for an afternoon at the inn. Toblen was busy tending to various tasks and the party spotted his young son Pip. Trilena was busy tending to customers. As the group looked around, the spotted a familiar face. Sildar was sitting down to a meal. The group approached and just as Flint was about to ask if they could sit, Sildar noticed them, his face beaming as he realized who had come to join him.
     “Please! Friends! Come join me!”

     The party huddled up at Sildar’s table and leaned in.

     “I’ve heard you’ve been quite busy,” Sildar teased, “tell me, what news?”

     “Glasstaff has eluded us,” offered Ered. “We…believe he was a rat.” The words sounded preposterous even to Ered as he spoke them aloud.

     A booming laugh erupted from Sildar’s chest.

     “The Lords’ Alliance…how many of its members do you know?” asked Flint.

     “Well, it’s a large organization with members from several city-states. Iarno, as you know, has gone missing and he was sent to Phandalin on a mission given to him by the Lords’ Alliance.”

     Flint handed Sildar the letter he had found in Glasstaff’s bedchambers. Sildar’s cheery demeanor was replaced by a grave expression as he read.

     “This is worse than I imagined. It would seem that Iarno…and Glasstaff…are one and the same. I did not foresee this. I thought Iarno a good man. This is…unexpected and unfortunate. Did you find him?”

     “No,” admitted Flint.

     “I have heard that you went to Tresendar Manor. What did you find there?”

     “Some very disturbing things,” said Flint, “this letter along with a foul creature that no one should be in league with. Also bugbears…”

     “And many Redbrands,” interjected Ered.

     “And many Redbrands,” Flint continued.

     Sildar rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Did you find any other information about this Black Spider?”

     “No,” Flint replied, “not beyond the seal on the letter. But we appear to have intercepted it before Iarno read it. It seemed as though Glasstaff left in a hurry due to our arrival.”

     “Did you find anything that might lead us to the goblins’ castle, or to Gundren? Any sign…”

     Flint interrupted Sildar, “I think we left behind the one clue that we need to find the Black Spider.”

     “What would that be?” Sildar wondered aloud.

     “Kevin,” the dwarf replied sheepishly.

     “I’m sorry?” Sildar wasn’t sure who Flint was referring to. He searched his memory and then suddenly, he remembered. “THE GOBLIN?” he blurted, surprised to learn that the creature had been found.

     “The goblin…we think he may be able to lead us to the Black Spider and we left him there. But he’s in a cell and we left someone on guard.”

     “I was about to ask, is Faelyn watching the goblin?”

     “YES!” Flint replied enthusiastically.

     “So, he’s secure?”

     “Oh, very secure,” assured the dwarf. “We have the only two keys we know of.”

     As Flint and the others discussed the details of their next move with Sildar, the patrons of the Stonehill Inn began to recognize them. Lanar, the miner Ered had befriended days before, clapped him on the back and thanked the party for their service. The townsfolk at the other tables began to cheer and whistle for their heroes. Despite the townmaster’s reservations about celebrating prematurely with Glasstaff still on the loose, it seemed the people of Phandalin subscribed to no such dubiety. As far as they were concerned, the matter of the Redbrand Ruffians had been dealt with by this group of recently arrived protectors.

     Kaster, not distracted by the admiration of the townspeople, was still considering the party’s next move.
     “What do you know about Agatha?” he asked, looking at Sildar.

     “Who is Agatha? Where did you hear that name?”

     Kaster explained that the keeper of the Shrine of Luck, Sister Garaele, had talked to the group about visiting Conyberry in an effort to seek out the banshee called Agatha in the hopes that she might be able to answer a question.

     “I’m sorry…I don’t mean to interrupt,” said a voice behind Kaster. It was a peasant farmer, a resident of Phandalin. “The name’s Narth. I don’t meant to interrupt, but did I hear you mention Sister Garaele?”

     “Yes you did,” answered Flint.

     “Well, it was just recently that she left Phandalin for a number days,” continued the farmer. “Nearly a tenday…we were all growing quite concerned for her. She eventually returned…wounded. She seems fine now, but she hasn’t revealed much about what happened. She’s a fine woman and the town is very happy to have her here to maintain the shrine. We’ve all been quite concerned for her safety.”

     The group decided that it might prove fruitful to pay another visit to Sister Garaele. They gathered their things, bid Sildar farewell, and headed out of the inn. They crossed the street and passed the Shrine of Luck before reaching Sister Garaele’s home. The elf was out front and spotted the adventurers coming towards her. She raised her hand in greeting.

     “Hello friends! Have you given further consideration to completing the task I set before you?”

     Ered stepped forward and gave Garaele a curious look, “We first wanted to inquire about your recent travels."

     “Yes,” Kaster walked up behind Ered, “we have heard you were injured recently.”

     “Well,” she began, “I was in the woods, trying to find Agatha’s lair near Conyberry, and I ran into some trouble along the way. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it was nothing too serious. I’m fine now. Thank you for your concern. I never did find Agatha’s lair and now, quite frankly, I have more pressing matters to attend to. So, if you have the time and the inclination, if you could take this silver comb to Agatha to find out what happened to Bowgentle’s spellbook, I would be in your debt…which is to say, there is a reward in it for you.”

     “We’d be happy to take that for you,” offered Kaster as he took the comb. “We’ll be headed that direction later on.”

     “Be careful with this,” warned Garaele. “It is of great value. Not just because of the precious metal, but due to its meaning to Agatha in particular. I’m putting my trust in you.”

     The sun was still several hours from setting and Ered was eager to show Daran Edermath the sword he had found in Tresendar manor in the hopes that he might gain some information about it, so the party thanked Garaele and headed towards the orchard. The retired adventurer was tending to his apple trees. He greeted them as they approached.

     “Well, hello my friends.” He playfully tossed an apple in the direction of Thalia, who caught it.

     Ered was the first to respond. “Daran, we’ve tried to drive out the Redbrands.”

     “Yes, I’ve heard that you have had some success in that department,” the old half-elf interjected.

     “Sadly, Glasstaff has eluded us,” admitted Ered.

     “That is disappointing. I have some resources that I might be able to set on that little task…see if he turns up.”

     Ered was relieved to hear this. “I think we just missed him.”

     “That would not surprise me. I suspect that he is a slippery one.”

     “We think he also goes by another name.”

     “Iarno Albrek,” said Flint, eager to learn more about their quarry.

     Daran Edermath’s demeanor quickly went from jovial to earnest. “Hmmm…most interesting. I know of Lord Albrek’s mission here in Phandalin. It seems he carried it out, though not as the Lords’ Alliance had intended.”

     “It seems Lord Albrek and Glasstaff are one and the same,” said the dwarf.

     “That makes sense.”

Ered looked surprised. “You mean you suspected Albrek?”

     “No, I wouldn’t have expected this. I didn’t really know the man. However, given that he does appear to have fulfilled Lord Albrek’s mission, after a fashion, it does seem likely that Glasstaff is his alias. Iarno was a magic user as Glasstaff has been reputed to be.”

     “What was his mission?” asked Ered.

     “The Lord’s Alliance sent Iarno here to establish a constabulary and secure the town of Phandalin from the increasingly menacing surroundings. The Lords’ Alliance is interested in keeping the peace and preserving order.”

Ered’s voice betrayed his astonishment at what he was hearing. “And you believe that’s what the Redbrands were here to do?”

     “No, I don’t believe the Redbrands were here to do that at all. I believe that’s what Iarno Albrek was sent here to do, and he did recruit people for his militia, but those were the Redbrands you ran into. Those scoundrels are not the type the Lords’ Alliance would typically encourage one of their agents employ.”

Ered now understood Daran’s theory. Satisfied, he quickly moved on to the subject of his recently acquired weapon. “While we were in Tresendar Manor, I was able to find this.” He held out the silver-chased scabbard and sword. “Is there anything you can tell me about this?”

     “May I see it?” Daran asked, reaching out for the weapon. Ered nodded and put the blade in the half-elf’s outstretched hands.

     “Where did you find this sword?”

     “It was in a chest underneath a bridge.”

     “A chest you say…did anyone claim ownership to it?”

     “No, it was just in a chest.”

     “Well,” Daran paused thoughtfully. “I can tell you this is definitely a sword of the House of Tresendar. Have you noticed anything strange about this sword? Do you feel any connection to it?”

The question puzzled Ered. The warrior had to admit that the weapon had been in his thoughts a great deal since he encountered it. It was as if he was meant to find it. Daran continued examining the weapon. He seemed to pay especially close attention to the sapphires in the hilt of the weapon. As he ran his fingers over the gems, he looked up at the handle of Ered’s axe which, when stowed, sprouted up behind the large man’s head.

     “Your axe…the sapphire…where did that come from?”

     “It was left to me by my mother.”

     “Well, my friend…the fact that you share a name with that house, that manor on the east side of our town, I believe is no coincidence. Particularly, the fact that you feel a connection to this weapon is quite curious indeed.”

Daran Edermath looked at Ered and knew that the warrior was keen to learn as much as he could about his family and this weapon.

     “This is the sword Talon and it belonged to Sir Aldith Tresendar, also known as The Black Hawk. He was a great knight who died fighting the orcs that attacked this area hundreds of years ago. My understanding was that the sword was lost when Sir Aldith was killed, but given that he died defending Tresendar Manor, it’s not terribly surprising that you should find it there. Indulge me, if you would. Ask your sword to point the way home.”

     Ered was skeptical. “Ask my sword to point the way home?”

     “Yes,” said Daran, handing the weapon back.
Ered drew Talon from its scabbard and held the sword up. The low-hanging sun glinted off of the blade as Ered commanded, “Show me the way home!” Ered felt the weapon jerk in his hand. The sword was undeniably pulling, drawn by some impulse. He turned with the blade, spinning slowly about until the unseen force stopped, firmly fixed in an easterly direction towards Tresendar Manor.

     “My friend,” Daran told Ered, “the only person that could do that would be a direct heir to Aldith Tresendar.”

     “So…I’ve found my family?” Ered asked hopefully. “Is there anything more you can tell me about them?”

     “I’m afraid that’s as much as I know about Sir Aldith,” said Daran, sadly. “But it would seem that Tresendar Manor is rightfully yours. My suggestion to you…the next time you have a period to rest and concentrate, sit with your sword. Study it. Practice wielding it. Spend some time with the weapon and see if you can’t enhance that connection you feel.”

     “One more thing…do you know anything of my mother?” Ered asked.

     “I’m afraid I don’t.” Daran sincerely wished that he had more to offer Ered, but alas, his knowledge of the Tresendar legacy was limited. “Did you not know your mother?”

     “I was a child when I was separated from her.”

     “I am sorry…no, I am afraid I did not know your mother. In fact, you are the first Tresendar I have met.”

     “Well,” said Ered, somewhat disappointed, “thank you.”

     “Perhaps, when you are ready, we can approach the townmaster to see what sort of arrangements we can make regarding Tresendar Manor.”

     “Do you know anything of these rings,” asked Ered, holding out his hand with the three rings found in the Tresendar crypts.
Daran took the rings and inspected them.

     “These are the signet rings of the House of Tresendar. Where did you find them?”

     “The crypts in the manor.”

     “Yes, that stands to reason. They belonged to your ancestors.”

Ered put on one of the rings which, to his surprise, fit perfectly.

     Kaster asked Daran about the road out of town that led to Old Owl Well. The half-elf warned them that the wilderness around Phandalin was treacherous, especially at night. He went on to remind the party about the rumors he’d heard from miners in town that had been working near the ruins in that area.

     The group parted from Daran Edermath and his orchard, thanking him for his help. After some discussion, they felt it might be prudent to check on Faelyn and see if they could get any information out of the goblin. Ered suggested that, before they return, they should stop by Alderleaf Farm to see if anyone there had caught a glimpse of anyone strange passing through the area. Flint liked the idea, but suggested their time might be better spent making such inquiries closer to the road out of town. They turned north and headed up the road to Barthen’s Provisions. Elmar Barthen was out front preparing to close up shop for the day. He saw the adventurers approaching and greeted them. Flint launched straight into questioning the old shopkeeper about Iarno Albrek.

     “Uhhh…I don’t know that anyone ’round here other than Sildar really knew the man well. He was in town for a time…”

     “Do you know what he looked like?” Flint interrupted.
Elmar noted the urgency with which Flint tossed questions at him, but he was cooperative. “Mm…yes, he had dark hair. A beard. He had some sort of white weasel fur coat.” Kaster snickered at the description.

     “Have you seen him today?” demanded the dwarf.

     “No,” Elmar said emphatically, “I haven’t seen him in tendays…perhaps months.”
     “He could still be in town,” observed Flint talking to the others in the party.

     “Noticed a rat problem?” joked Kaster.
It was a throwaway comment, but it caught Elmar’s attention. "Sorry, did you say rat?

     “YES!” the party replied in unison.

     “I seem to recall that Iarno,” the old man said thoughtfully “…had a RAT.” The revulsion in the man’s voice was apparent at the mention of the rodent. “Used to ride on his shoulder. It was strange. It made approaching him for conversation a less than attractive proposition.”

The adventurers began talking amongst themselves about the rat, it’s relationship with Iarno, and the identity of the wizard who had led the Redbrands. There were still more questions than answers.

Ered looked over at Elmar, “Is there a way for anyone to leave town easily without passing this way?”

The shopkeep considered the question for a moment. “Not easily…there are foothills on the other side of the woods to the east. But even the road isn’t particularly safe these days. No, I’d say normally, anyone leaving town would pass this way and I would likely have noticed.”

They thanked Elmar Barthen and headed south back to the center of town.

     Flint was ready to get back to the manor. Ered wanted to make a stop or two along the way. They turned left at the Stonehill Inn and continued east until they were in front of the Sleeping Giant tap house. Ered was eager to enter, though it was unclear if his motives were truly investigative as he claimed, or if he just fancied an ale. They entered the tap house and were greeted to a poorly lit, musty little room. There was one very old patron sitting by himself at one of the tables in the corner. Behind the bar was an unfriendly looking female dwarf. She stood there drying mugs with a rag and scowling at the party as they entered. In an attempt to win her over, Ered belted out a dwarvish greeting. The dwarf behind the bar nodded, but she was unimpressed.

     “How has the evening been, m’lady?” the large man said as he approached the bar.

     “It’d be better if I had some customers besides that old geezer,” she said, gesturing towards the old man in the corner. “You lot drove off all of my business.”

     “Terribly sorry,” Ered said as he slammed his purse onto the bar. “I’ll buy a round.”

     “Normally, I wouldn’t want your money,” she sneered, “but, as I have no other customers…”
The diminutive barkeep quickly poured four mugs of ale and slid them down the bar to her new guests.

     “That’ll be 4 copper each.”

     “4 copper?” protested Ered.

     “It’s the going rate. Don’t complain.” the dwarf scolded.

     “I’ll give you 20 for the ale plus a bit of information.”

     “I’m listening.”

     “Have you seen a man with dark hair…beard…white fur coat…”

     “The rat man?” asked the dwarf.

     “The rat man,” confirmed Ered.

     “I’ve seen ’em…not lately.”

     “When was the last time?”

     “Been over a month ago.”

The dwarf went back to cleaning up behind the bar. The party finished their ale. Before heading for the door, Ered purchased a bit of dried meat from the barkeep. The goblin had been locked up for a considerable amount of time without food, and Ered hoped this might serve to ply some information out of him. As the others began to exit the tap house, Ered paused to study the old man in the corner. “Have you seen a man with dark hair, a dark beard, and a white fur coat pass through here recently?” he shouted at the old man.

     The aged patron looked up at Ered with milky eyes. “Eh?”

     “Have a good evening sir,” replied Ered begrudgingly. He felt cheated out of what should have been a solid lead.

     As the compatriots stepped out into the street, the sun was setting. They headed up the winding road that led east towards the manor. Rather than travel up the hill, they opted to hop the ruined wall and head into the woods to enter once again through the hidden tunnel. Once they came into the main chamber, they crossed over the bridge and then headed back to the secret door leading to the armory. They turned south and passed through the crypt and eventually found their way back into the holding cell where they had left the goblin. Slig looked up at the party as they entered the room and managed to maintain consciousness. He made nervous little chattering noises as they approached the cell. The goblin was unsure of his fate. In spite of his terror at the sight of his former captors, he made his best effort to appear supplicant as he attempted to grunt out an appropriate greeting to his would-be rescuers. A tentative, unintelligible muttering was all he was able to manage.

     “Alright, Kevin. I’ve brought you something to eat,” said Ered as he pulled the dried meat from his pack. “Are you hungry?”

     “Ah, thank you, yes!” The creature reached through the bars and held out his hands.

     “Before I give it to you…” Ered paused and the creature let out a subtle, but audible growl of impatience. “…I need you to give me some information. How long have you been here?”

The goblin had a puzzled look on his face. He seemed unsure of how to respond.
     “What brought you this way?” probed Ered, becoming impatient. The goblin stared blankly.

     “Who put you in the cell?” asked Flint.
The goblin was relieved to get a question it could provide an answer to. “Uhhh…bugbears!”

     “Who told them to put you in here?” pressed the dwarf.
Slig was crestfallen that the line of questioning had so quickly returned to things he could not answer. They would kill him for sure, he thought.

     “Was there a human here,” asked Kaster, “that wore a white coat?”

     “Beard!” Slig yelled excitedly. “Beard?” The goblin looked for some assurances from the adventurers.

     “Yes, a dark beard,” said Ered.

     “Yes!”
     “A dark haired man?” Ered asked eagerly.

     “Yes!” Slig began to feel as though he might make it through this.
     “Did he have a coat on?” Ered was growing impatient and Slig did not entirely understand the question.

This uncertainty was starting to take its toll on the goblin’s nerves. He suddenly realized that the large man must be asking about the wizard. “Uh…staff!”

     “Was it made of glass?” asked Flint.

Slig knew he was on the right track. “Yes! Shiny!”

     “Did he have a rat with him?” queried Kaster.

     “No.” Desperate to offer up something affirmative, the goblin tried to remember as much as he could about the wizard. “Unh! White!” he shouted, draping his green hand over his own neck.

     “Collar?” helped Kaster.

     “Yes…fur!”

     “Did he say where he was going?” the dwarf said, hoping for a lead.

     “No.”
Ered held up the dried meat. “Can you tell us anything more about this man with the glass staff?”

Slig was desparate for something to eat and was eager to confirm what he thought the largest one was wanting to know. “Glasstaff!” he shouted.

     Kaster and Flint both started shouting at the goblin. “What about The Black Spider? Where is The Black Spider?”

A look of fear came over Slig and he let out a low utterance that suggested dread. The goblin shook his head.

     “You don’t know, or you don’t want to tell us?” asked Ered. The goblin just continued shaking his head.
Kaster stepped towards the gate to the cell. The room filled with a bright light emanating from the sorcerer and his voice became thunderous. “KEVIN! TELL US WHAT WE WANT TO KNOW!”

The goblin cowered in fear. “Where is The Black Spider?” shouted Ered.

     “Don’t know!” cried the goblin, covering his face with his hands as he tried to press himself into the corner of the cell furthest away from the terrifying noise and light.

The light faded and things got quiet. Flint took a softer tone. “Why did they put you in here?”

     “No like Slig…”

The goblin paused for a moment, then decided to embrace the name the party had given him in a show of cooperation. “Kevin! Kevin! No like Kevin,” he corrected.

     “What did you do that they don’t like, Kevin?” demanded Kaster.

     “Bugbears…mean.” The goblin shrugged, hard pressed to come up with a better answer.

     “You’re not telling us anything useful, Kevin,” Kaster threatened.

The goblin whimpered. He tried as hard as he was able to think of something, anything, which could possibly satisfy these powerful and persistent threats to his well-being. “Dwarf!” he said at last.

     “What about the dwarf?” Kaster prodded.

     “Dwarf at castle!”
Slig was more afraid than hungry at this point, but Ered held up the dried meat as a reminder. “Where is the castle?”

     “Woods!”

     “Where in the woods, Kevin? Can you show us?” Ered dangled the morsel.

     “Yes?” the goblin replied, unsure for a moment where this was leading. He soon got his answer.

     “Can you take us there?” Slig knew had had no choice but to respond in the affirmative to Ered’s question.

     “Yes.” he replied, defeated. He wanted nothing more than to get away from these people, but it seems he would be their captive once again. Ered removed the rope from the side of his back and prepared to bind the goblin, but he first handed him the prize he’d been withholding. The goblin grabbed the dried meat and ate it greedily, even managing a “thank you.” Once he’d finished, Ered tied the goblin’s wrists and the entire party went back to the wizard’s bedchambers to check on Faelyn. The half-elf was still unconscious, but she was breathing normally and seemed stable. Ered gently lifted her up and put her on his shoulder and, the party reunited, they exited Tresendar Manor with the goblin in tow. They decided to take Faelyn to Garaele. It seemed best to leave the ranger in the hands of a cleric given her condition. Night had fallen by the time they had come back out through the tunnel, but all the same, they walked in a tightly bunched group with the goblin at the center. There was no need to raise any more alarm with the poor townsfolk. They had been through enough as it was. The party made their way to Garaele’s home without incident. They knocked on the elf’s door. When she answered, they explained what had happened to Faelyn and their plans to seek out Cragmaw Castle in the morning. Garaele assured them all that Faelyn would be well taken care of. Kevin stood by awkwardly as Garaele gazed at him for some time. She then shared a knowing look with the rest of the party before setting to work making Faelyn comfortable. Knowing that the ranger would be looked after, the companions thanked Sister Garaele and left to seek out their own shelter for the night.

     The group ended up back at Edermath Orchard. They spoke with Daran Edermath and explained that Faelyn was now in the care of Sister Garaele, which he seemed pleased to hear. Ered tied Kevin to a tree, but the goblin didn’t seem to mind as there were plenty of apples on the ground for him to gorge himself on, which he set about doing as Ered bound him around the waist. Inside, Daran was bringing out blankets and laying them out on the floor in the main room of his home. He was very accommodating and seemed genuinely pleased to have some company. They all got comfortable and settled in for the night. Long after the others had fallen asleep, Ered was still sitting with Talon, contemplating the weapon and wondering what had become of his family.

25th day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     The night passed uneventfully. In the morning, Daran Edermath was puttering around the kitchen preparing breakfast for his guests. They enjoyed a meal together, and then at Flint’s prompting, Ered asked the half-elf if he’d be willing to accompany the party to the Townmaster’s Hall to lay claim to Tresendar Manor. Thalia was left to keep an eye on the goblin while Daran and the others made their way to the Townmaster’s Hall. As they entered the building, Harbin Wester was standing in the main foyer. The anxious look on his face at the sight of Ered and the others escalated to full-blown agitation when he saw that Daran Edermath accompanied them. No good would come of this, he was certain. Despite his misgivings, he greeted the group with a cordial bow.

     “Good morning! So good to see you again. How may I be of service?”

     “I am here to claim my ancestral property,” offered Ered.
Harbin Wester let out an audible sigh. “I assume you are talking about Tresendar Manor,” he said with an undertone of impatience. Ered nodded.

     “And what claim do you have on the place? I realize your name is Tresendar…or so you say…but what legitimacy is there to your claim?”

     “I bear the sword of Aldith Tresendar.” Ered held up Talon as he said this.

     “And I’m princess of Waterdeep,” spat Harbin Wester sardonically. “How does that prove anything?”

     “It’s a magical sword,” said Ered defensively. “Only a legitimate heir of the Tresendar family can use this weapon.”

Daran Edermath put his hand on Ered’s shoulder and addressed the townmaster.

     “He’s telling the truth, Harbin. I’ve seen enough to be convinced.”
     “Show him!” urged Kaster.

Flint anticipated the demonstration that was about to take place, but he was doubtful that the townmaster would be persuaded.

     “Show me the way home!” commanded Ered holding Talon aloft. The sword jolted in his hand and pointed east northeast in the direction of Tresendar Manor. They all looked to Harbin Wester and, as Flint had guessed, the expression on the townmaster’s face was one of skepticism. After a long pause, Harbin Wester looked to Ered and spoke.

     “Do you have any documentation to back up this claim?”

     “All I have from my family is the sapphire in my axe that was given to me by my mother. It is the same as those in this sword.”

     “I’m afraid gemstones don’t quite…”

     “What about the signet rings?” interrupted Flint.

     “Well, I understand you’ve all been plundering Tresendar Manor for the past several days, so you’ll forgive me if I’m a little suspicious about how you acquired those.”

Kaster stepped in and assured the townmaster that Ered’s claim to Tresendar Manor was a lawful one. Harbin Wester, already somewhat convinced about Kaster’s noble heritage and showing some deference to the sorcerer, conceded that if Kaster would vouch for Ered, he could look into the matter further.

     “From one lord to another,” Kaster stood closer to Ered, “I vouch for this man."

     “Very well, we’ll see what we can discover. Master Edermath, I expect you’ll be quite useful in this regard. If we can validate your claim that this manor is yours, Ered Tresendar, then by all means…we will honor it.” The townmaster chortled a little as he said this. He saw no intrinsic value in the manor in its current state, so if this man was the rightful owner, he had no reason to see it as a loss to the town. His reluctance mainly stemmed from not wanting to spend the necessary time and energy required to verify Ered’s claim when more pressing matters were at hand.

     “Has there been any progress on tracking down Glasstaff?” he asked the group.

     “We’re heading north to find him,” proffered Flint, “but it seems that he has left town.”

Kaster noted the townmaster’s look of concern. “We have a very strong lead,” he told him.

     “Let us be clear on this. Glasstaff is still at large and you’re leaving town? Do I understand you correctly?”

     “All the Redbrands are dead,” said the dwarf, “but we will be leaving to pursue Glasstaff.”

     “Very well. What can you do to guarantee the security of Phandalin in your absence? Now that you’ve stirred up this hornets’ nest, I’m afraid we need some assurance that you’ll be back to take care of any problems that result from your actions.”

Flint considered this for a moment before responding. “We have business in town…a task to complete for Sister Garaele that will bring us back this way. In the meantime, a member of our party will be staying with her.”

     “Ah…and these orcs to the east?”

     “We will be pursuing that as well,” Flint assured him.
Kaster cut in, “Our lead may very well take us right to them.”

     “I wish you the best of luck. Provided you return, which I hope you will, we’ll iron out the matter of the claim to Tresendar Manor.”

     The group returned to Edermath Orchard to meet up with Thalia and the goblin. Daran offered them what supplies he had on hand (mainly apples) and they said their farewells. Ered grabbed the rope by which the goblin was secured. They headed north on the road that led out of town. The group closed ranks around Kevin as they walked so as to not draw attention to the fact that they had a goblin among them. Once they felt they were far enough up the road to avoid prying eyes, they let Kevin take the lead.      “Which way, Kevin? North? South? East? West?” Kaster took a stern tone with the goblin in order to maintain his influence over the creature. The goblin gestured to the north. It seemed they would need to head at least as far as the Triboar Trail. “Kevin, what would the bugbears do to you if you lied to them?” the sorcerer asked threateningly. The goblin grunted as he considered the best answer to give.
     “Lock in jail?” he postulated.

     “Really? Is that all they would do?”

     “They would make you lick the floor?” Ered teased. The goblin cringed at the reminder of his treatment at the hands of the bugbears.

     “Please don’t be lying to us, Kevin,” advised Kaster.

     “No…Kevin no lie. Kevin friend! Kevin help!”

     “You did run away once, Kevin,” reminded Flint.

     “No! No run away!”

     “We’d hate to have to break your legs, Kevin,” added the dwarf.
Slig groaned at the thought.

     By mid-afternoon, they had reached the Triboar Trail safely. They stopped for a moment to unpack some of the provisions that Daran Edermath had provided them, but they only stopped long enough to eat a quick meal and be on their way.

     “Alright, Kevin…where to?” asked Ered with a gentle tug on the tether between them. The goblin gestured to their right where the road led to the northeast.

     “We go down road…then to woods.”

     “Where do we turn off of the road?” asked Ered.

The goblin struggled to articulate an answer, but based on his fragmented response, they determined that they were a little less than halfway to their destination. They turned right onto the Triboar Trail and made off in a northeasterly direction following the road.

     Over the next several hours, the group traveled at a steady pace and had gone about a dozen miles before the sun began to sink towards the horizon. It was around sunset when the goblin led the party off of the road and towards the tree line of Neverwinter Wood to the north. Ered wondered aloud whether or not they should make camp for the night, but Flint was determined to proceed. Without further discussion, Ered drew Talon and Flint uttered an incantation. The blade suddenly burst with bright light that would allow the humans to see as they traveled through the increasingly darkening woods.

     The relative flatness of the Triboar Trail gave way to an undulating landscape as they entered Neverwinter Wood. The thorny brambles caught and tugged at their travel clothes. The companions faltered and stumbled as their toes found the occasional tree root in the tall blades of grass. Talon, imbued with the radiance of Flint’s spell, was held aloft in Ered’s hand as he traversed the hilly terrain. The branches and trunks of the trees threw off disconcerting shadows. The goblin seemed more and more eager as they progressed. The party could sense that they were nearing their destination, though they were not entirely sure what they would find. The trees parted as they came upon the ruin of a large castle. There were seven overlapping towers in various states of dilapidation. Some crude attempts had been made to shore up some of the more exposed areas of the stronghold with timbers and such, but this old fortification was clearly not constructed by goblins. To the west, a pair of opposing staircases led up to a landing and the remains of a large wooden door that had been knocked off of its hinges long ago. To the south, a single staircase led up to a postern with a large iron door. The thick stone walls all around the castle were lined with arrow slits. The party approached cautiously.

Cragmaw_Castle.png

     “What’s in here, Kevin?” Kaster demanded, a growing sense of anxiety detectable in his voice.

     “King Grol,” the goblin replied ominously, “…and dwarf!”
The group began to wonder, now that Kevin had brought them to their destination as promised, what to do with the goblin next.

     “If we untie you Kevin, what are you going to do?”
     “Uhhhh…” the goblin hesitated, searching for the answer he thought Kaster would most want to hear. “Serve!” he insisted, as though the choice were an obvious one.

     “You said there was a dwarf here,” put in Flint. “Is he a guest?”
     “Yes,” replied Kevin, mischief in his tone.

     “Is he a prisoner?” asked Kaster.

     “Yyyes,” the goblin admitted reluctantly.

     “So, not a guest,” corrected Flint.

     “Ummmm…goblin guest,” Kevin explained.

     “What will the king do to you if he finds you with us?”
At this question from Kaster, the goblin let out an apprehensive groan. “Kevin doesn’t want to know.”

     “If we let you go,” said Ered with a gentle tug of the rope binding the creature, “will you run off into the woods or into the castle?”

     “What would you like?” he asked, eager not to anger his captors.

     “Run into the woods,” suggested Flint.

     “Kevin can run,” the goblin assured them.

The party explained to Kevin that they were releasing him from their service and commanded him to leave the area and keep out of trouble.

     “Thank you for sparing Kevin!” the goblin said, feeling the closest thing to genuine gratitude the creature had ever experienced.

     “If we cross paths again,” warned Flint, “we will not be so friendly.”
With that, the goblin bounced off into the woods towards the road and vanished in the darkness.

     The band of adventurers took a few moments to quietly prepare to enter the castle. When they were all ready, Flint quietly crept up the southern staircase to the entryway. Ered followed close behind, then Kaster, and finally Thalia. It took some brute strength, but the dwarf managed to open the solid, metal door. Despite his most surreptitious efforts, the force with which Flint had applied to the door caused it to fly open suddenly. A racket echoed through the castle as it clanged into the stone wall. The party waited for some response to the noise, and though none came, they were convinced that their arrival had not gone unnoticed.

     Beyond the doorway was a corridor. A few feet ahead, a new passageway opened up to the left. Beyond that, the main corridor continued on towards the north. Rubble from the upper level of the castle had fallen down into the hallway. Flint considered his options. The northern passage was somewhat obscured and seemed impassible. Kaster looked at Flint and motioned silently to the left passage. Flint turned and faced a sizable wooden door down a much shorter hallway. He started to reach for the door when Ered grasped his arm to stop him. The dwarf hesitated and Ered pointed towards the door and then raised a hand to his ear to signify that he had heard something. They all held their collective breath as they listened intently. Behind the door they could hear the clatter of pots and dishes interspersed with the loud grumbling of indignant goblins.

     Flint signaled for Thalia to come forward and the elf moved towards the door, slipping past the others. Hoping to get a better look at what they might be dealing with, Thalia gingerly opened the door just enough to poke her head into the room on the other side. The room was full of goblins, half a dozen or more, who were toiling away placing cups and plates onto a pair of long tables in the middle of the room. Half-full stewpots, moldy heels of bread, and gnawed bones were scattered about their surfaces. The plain benches along the sides of each table were still empty for the time being. The ceiling soared twenty-five feet high. This place had likely served as the castle banquet hall in the distant past. As Thalia examined the room, she suddenly realized a small goblin was only a few feet behind the door and staring directly at her with a stunned look on its face. Without a word, the elf quietly backed out of the room and shut the door behind her. The other members of the party watched Thalia as she maneuvered away from the door to get behind Flint, eagerness in their eyes as they awaited her report. She looked up at her companions, a contrite expression on her face. Just as she was about to speak, the door she had just closed opened. The small goblin on the other side was surprised to find, not the diminutive elf he had just seen, but a large armed and armored dwarf standing before him.

     Ered was the first to react. He sidled past Flint and moved towards the goblin with Talon drawn. Ered swung his sword at the goblin. Perhaps the darkness was affecting his vision or the nimbleness of his target allowed the creature to dodge, but in any case, his attack did not connect. Flint gave Ered a slight tap with his shield to get the man to move to the side. He stepped back a few paces and let loose a streaking flash of light towards the little goblin. The creature screamed and cowered to the floor as the bolt of light flew harmlessly over its head and into the banquet hall. The goblin stood up, unsheathed its scimitar, and ran at Ered. Thalia, who was behind and to the right of Flint, let loose an arrow at the creature’s exposed belly. The arrow pierced the goblin’s vital organs and it crumpled to the stone, the life fading from its eyes.

     Another goblin came charging through the doorway towards Flint. The creature took a swipe with its scimitar, but the blade glanced harmlessly off of the dwarf’s mail shirt. Another of the vile beasties shot at Flint through the doorway with its shortbow, but the cleric managed to deflect the incoming arrow with his shield. Scimitar armed goblins started pouring one-by-one out into the small hallway. A few of them with bows fired arrows from the banquet hall. Flint took the brunt of the attacks, but he managed to avoid any lethal blows. From the north part of the room came a particularly fat and cantankerous goblin, called Yegg. He was the chief cook for the Cragmaws and was the leader of this particular group working in the banquet hall. He came through the doorway and approached the dwarf, who was still tangling with the flood of creatures that had already streamed into the hall. Yegg lashed out with a blade towards Flint, but with all of the commotion in the tiny corridor, the bulbous goblin could not reach his target.

     Kaster, who had yet to fully enter the castle, stepped in from the landing just outside the postern. He made a gesture with his hand as whispered an invocation. Three glowing darts of magical force suddenly burst forth from his finger tips and flew down the corridor. Each of the three bedazzling projectiles whizzed down the hall, turned slightly to the left, and rent violently into Yegg. The creature’s flabby corpse, wet with blood, slapped loudly to the flagstone floor.

     Meanwhile, Ered was flailing at two goblins directly in front of him. At the sight of Yegg falling to the party’s powerful sorcerer, the creatures decided their best course of action was to flee. They ran back through the doorway into the banquet hall. All of the remaining goblins were now shrieking and running to the west. Between two large piles of debris was a path leading to the castle’s southwest tower, which seemed to be where the creatures were heading. Flint entered the banquet hall and headed for a door along the northern wall. He opened it and peered into the main hall of the castle, but saw nothing of significance save the battered gates lying in ruins at the entrance. The wooden doors had been covered in bronze, but they now lay corroded and collapsed on the floor. A goblin sensing an opportunity, started approaching the dwarf from behind. Flint wheeled around and let a bolt of radiant energy fly towards the creature, but missed. The goblin was on him. The creature made a slashing attack with its scimitar, but the blade bounced harmlessly off of Flint’s shield. The goblin lost its footing as the dwarf’s shield bashed against its face. Flint quickly dispatched the creature with a powerful counterattack from his warhammer.

     The rest of the goblins were starting to pile up, furiously attempting to get down the path between the mounds of rubble. Thalia shot arrows at the little fiends, but was failing to connect. Kaster, keen on trying his own projectile weapon, brought out his crossbow and loaded a bolt. He positioned himself near the doorway that led to the banquet hall and let loose his shot, but still, the muddle of goblin bodies between the heaps of dust and stone managed to avoid taking any hits.

     Ered, who had still been in the short hallway, rushed into the banquet hall and lunged at the last goblin to head for the tower. The creature cried out in pain as Ered swiped his sword across the its back. Talon had its first taste of blood in centuries, but the goblin was only wounded. It whipped around with its scimitar to retaliate, but Ered avoided the swing.

     The goblins that had been running to the tower were suddenly coming back into the banquet hall with reinforcements. They ran at Ered and attempted to surround him, all the while hacking with their scimitars. Ered managed to fend them off with his sword and shield. Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, another pair of goblins had moved out of the tower into the main hall and were preparing to enter the northern door where Flint was standing.

     Kaster, who had now moved just behind Thalia, launched another salvo of shimmering magical darts. They flew past the elf and into the banquet hall. One of them ripped through the throat of the goblin Ered had been tangling with, killing it. The other two darts buried themselves into a goblin that was creeping up behind Ered, injuring the evildoer.

     Flint and Ered now found themselves with a pair of goblins in between them. Ered took a swing at the one on top of the long table, but the little devil was quick and managed to jump over Talon as it swept at his legs. Flint was having as much luck with the other. The surviving goblin from Kaster’s earlier attack was still behind Ered and closing in. Thalia attempted to take it out with a shot from her bow, but as she pulled back the string, it snapped, rendering the weapon useless. The closing enemy lashed out at Ered, but the warrior was able to fend off the assault with his shield while also parrying incoming strikes from the goblin atop the table. Flint continued the struggle with his own opponent. As the companions battled on, several other goblins ran in from the tower. Two of them engaged the dwarf who was now surrounded. They slashed at him, but Flint’s mail saved him again. Two more joined in against Ered, but the little fiends were no match for the more able fighters.

     Kaster, still standing behind Thalia, let more magic missiles fly from his fingertips into the crowded banquet hall. A pair of the glowing spikes of energy ended the life of the goblin at Ered’s back. Another dart sheered sharply to the right and into one of Flint’s opponents. The goblin shrieked in agony, not realizing where the magical attack was coming from.

     Ered, now free from the impending rearward attack, focused on the goblins in front of him. He ran Talon straight through the chest of one of the creatures, killing it. At almost the same moment, Flint brought his warhammer crushing down on one of his three opponents, delivering a lethal blow. As Flint turned to fend off an attack from behind with his shield, he left himself open to the creature in front of him. Thalia, her bow now out of commission, drew her shortsword and rushed past Ered and towards the monster in front of the dwarf. The unfortunate goblin, thinking he had Flint dead-to-rights, turned just in time to see the wild elf’s enraged expression. The fiend suddenly felt the cold steel of her blade pierce its heart. As she did this, the goblin to her left, still atop the table, took a swing at her and missed. Thalia was so distracted by the frenzy of violence around her that she failed to spot the goblin that had snuck back into the southwest tower from the main concourse, having abandoned its earlier attempt to flank the group from the banquet hall’s northern doorway. She heard the shot from the wretch’s bow at the same moment she felt the arrow’s impact. The elf cringed at the searing pain in her side, but nothing vital had been hit. Another arrow from a second goblin in the tower skimmed harmlessly through her hair. She had been lucky. Behind her, yet another goblin ran up to engage Ered. It lashed out with its weapon and the expert swordsman parried the blow.

     Kaster, who saw the arrows come from the pathway leading to the southwest tower, came rushing into the banquet hall. He jumped up on the nearest table, spoke some magic words, and unfurled his fingertips, releasing a small burst of flame in the direction of the tower goblins. Light cascaded across the dark walls of the castle as the bolt of fire and smoke streaked between the mounds of rubble, landing squarely into the shoulder of one of the goblins. Ered’s foe, distracted by Kaster’s display, soon regretted the loss of focus. The warrior took advantage of the opening and ran Talon through the creature’s chest and out its back.

     The tide of the battle had definitely swung in favor of the band of adventurers. No less than seven dead goblins lay scattered about the banquet hall. Flint and Thalia were each paired off with their own adversary. Kaster was still atop one of the tables preparing another attack, and Ered with Talon in hand was seeking out a new target. Kaster released another bolt of fire, this one a bit more substantial, at his previous target. Still recovering from the sorcerer’s preceding attack, the creature was batting out the flames on its leather armor when the second flash of flame streaked towards it. This time the goblin was completely engulfed. Its confederate watched helplessly as the flaming creature thrashed wildly about before collapsing to the floor, motionless.

     Ered joined Thalia in her struggle against the speedy little beast atop the far table. The goblin leapt over Thalia’s blade and she sliced through nothing but air. The creature counterattacked, but the elf ducked in time to avoid the goblin’s scimitar. Just as Ered was about to strike the creature, another one came rushing at him from the tower. It connected with its strike, but Ered came away with nothing more than a minor flesh wound. Kaster, seeing his comrade in danger, let another flaming bolt fly, hitting Ered’s attacker. The creature survived the magical attack, but only long enough to see Ered drive Talon through its belly. Nearby, Flint wielded his warhammer expertly. He heaved the weapon into his foe, pasting the goblin against the northern wall. A crimson geyser erupted and the stone was awash in goblin blood.

     The party had suffered a few minor wounds, but they now faced but a single enemy. Flint, full of adrenaline, rushed over to Thalia and Ered. The three of them now surrounded the final goblin and Kaster, from the other table, was lining up another spell attack. But there would be no need. Flint was able to crush the vile thing with his warhammer. The party stood victorious.

     Kaster hopped from the table and immediately started going through Yegg’s pockets. He moved on to the other dead goblins, one by one, but it ended up being a fruitless endeavor. Thalia set to work restringing her bow. In the meantime, Flint made his way for the northern door of the banquet hall and opened it to get a better look at the castle layout. Directly in front of him was a wall. To his right was a door heading east. Down a wide passage a bit to his left, he could see two doors – one leading north and another which seemed to lead to the northwest tower of the castle. To his right was a wall with a door that lead to the eastern part of the castle. Night had set in fully outside and the castle interior was completely dark. Still, his dwarven eyes were adept even in the gloomiest of conditions. As he scanned the floor in front of the eastern doorway to his right, he noticed a thin line running across the flagstones. Upon closer inspection, he discovered that it was a fine strand of copper wire. Each end of the wire had been fixed into the opposing walls so that it was suspended a few inches off of the floor. Flint stepped back through the doorway and into the banquet hall to inform his comrades about the trap. Thalia did not hesitate. She looked out into the hall and cautiously made her way to the anchor point for the wire on the southern wall. She withdrew a set of small pliers from her pack and carefully snipped the copper wire, successfully disarming the trap in a matter of seconds.

     Kaster was certain that something interesting lay beyond the intended trap. Once the elf assured everyone that the tripwire had been disarmed, the sorcerer jumped from the top of the table, ran from the banquet hall, and brazenly flung open the door leading to the eastern part of the castle. Kaster walked into the high, narrow room. It looked as though it may have once been a chapel or shrine. Sculptures of angelic figures lined the room’s upper reaches. To Kaster’s left, heavy curtains blocked a matching pair of archways. On the floor between the archways sat a cracked but ornately carved stone brazier full of unlit coal.

     The others gradually made their way into the room. Kaster pointed to the archways and they lined up in pairs in front of each opening and prepared to part the curtains and pass through. As Kaster looked up admiring the stone figures, a large section of the wall above the arch suddenly came to life, writhing and reaching for Kaster. The wormlike beast blended in with the stonework so completely that it had remained undetected until Kaster was directly underneath it. The monster reached down and ensnared the sorcerer with its chitinous, hook-ended tentacles and drew him inward towards its sharp, snapping beak. Kaster screamed as the beast tore into his flesh. It loosened its hold in order to reestablish its grip on the noble, and he managed to slip free and dash back towards the door through which he had entered the chapel. He spun around and shouted, flinging his hands out to release a small, flaming spheroid towards the creature. It connected and the monster recoiled with a squeal.

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     The thing reached for Ered and lashed out with its clawed appendages. Ered swung at the creature with Talon, slicing into one of its four tentacles. Thalia, who was still a few paces away from the monster, let an arrow fly, penetrating the creature’s tough hide, but only just. Flint ran over to Kaster who was leaning in the doorway. The cleric laid hands on the man and recited a prayer. Kaster felt a tingling sensation followed by relief and renewed vigor. He launched another flame attack at the creature. It attempted to worm its way back onto the ledge between the ceiling and the top of the arch. Before it could recede back into the unreachable areas of the room, Ered lunged and pierced the thing’s thick hide, driving Talon deep into the monster’s nerve center. It reared up and thrashed around, and gave a gurgling death rattle before it fell to the floor, a mass of lifeless, elongated flesh.

     With the monster defeated, Flint had an opportunity to examine the room a bit more. He noted that the deities once revered here were Oghma (god of knowledge), Mystra (goddess of magic), Lathander (god of down), and Tymora (goddess of luck). He had already suspected that this castle was built by humans and the religious remnants in the chapel confirmed this.

     Ered and Kaster each approached the archways, Ered on the right and Kaster on the left. They peaked behind their respective veils of fabric. The chamber on the other side occupied the northern tower of the castle. A stone altar stood in the middle of the room, covered with bloodstained black cloth. Golden ritual implements – a chalice, a knife, and a censer – were carefully arranged on top of the altar. Ered and Kaster could see that the room was occupied by three robed goblins. As two of the creatures lunged through the curtain at Kaster, Thalia let loose an arrow. It lodged into the lower left side of her target, wounding the goblin gravely, but the rascal stayed on its feet. Kaster managed to hit the creature with a firebolt before it got too close, but it still managed to advance on the sorcerer with its ally. The two goblins lunged at Kaster, brandishing weapons they had pulled from underneath their robes. The sorcerer managed to deftly sidestep the sweeping blade attacks.

     On the other side of the room, Ered was attempting to engage the third goblin without getting tangled in the curtain. The creature jabbed at Ered through the fabric with a scimitar, but was unable to land a blow. Ered had better luck and a strike from Talon found its mark, but the goblin was merely wounded. It lashed out again, flailing through the cloth, but unable to connect. Ered struck another successful counterblow. He ran Talon through the goblin’s torso, killing it instantly. He kicked the goblin to the floor as he withdrew his blade from its lifeless body.

     Flint, from the back of the room, attempted to help out Kaster. He held up his shield and fired a bolt of radiant light between Thalia and Kaster, but his shot went wide and blasted innocuously through the curtain.

     Thalia launched another arrow into her previous target, this time ripping through the goblin’s throat, killing it. Kaster now had only one opponent to deal with. He struck the creature with a firebolt, but it was not powerful enough to kill it. Still smoldering, the goblin ran its blade into Kaster, wounding him. Flint came charging to the sorcerer’s rescue wielding his weapon. He landed a walloping hammer strike to the goblin’s head, injuring the creature substantially. It still clung to life, but only momentarily. Thalia, standing from the back of the room, fired a salvo over Flint’s shoulder killing the last goblin.

     Kaster was a bit worse for wear, but the rest of the party had fared well during the battle. Flint gathered the implements from the altar and showed them to Ered. Having some experience with such fineries, Ered estimated their combined worth at something around 330 gold pieces. For the time being, it seemed they had not stirred any other occupants of the castle. Flint stowed the items in his pack and prepared to move on.

To be continued…

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A Sight Unseen
A detailed recounting of Session 6

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23rd day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     The members of Nel Dendrar’s family were overcome with grief as they stood over his mangled corpse. The band of adventurers needed to get the widow Dendrar and her children out of harm’s way. The lower levels of Tresendar Manor were still not completely explored by the party, and it was unclear who or what else might be about. There were already several within the group that were dealing with fairly serious injuries. Their encounter with the nothic and the Redbrands had left them in need of rest and recovery. Faelyn was looking particularly battered and was struggling to stay upright. Ered pulled two large bottles of bright red liquid from his pack. He handed one to the half-elf and guzzled the other himself.

     The curative properties of the potion took hold quickly and the sobs of the Dendrar widow and her children brought Ered back into the moment. He urged Mirna to leave immediately, but he assured the mournful woman that the party would return to recover Thel’s body. “You aren’t safe here. You must leave,” he said firmly. The Dendrars were inconsolable and Ered’s words went unheeded.

Flint, in an attempt to appeal to a mother’s sense of devotion, touched Mirna’s shoulder and spoke gently to her. “You need to think of your children first,” he said.

     At this, the widow toughened a bit and she began ushering her children towards the tunnel exit.

     “Do you know how to use a crossbow?” Ered asked as she prepared to leave.

      “No, of course not,” she replied, a puzzled look on her face.

     “What about a spear?” he persisted.

     “I am no warrior, good sir.”

     Ered took the spear he had acquired in the Redbrands’ armory and forced it into Mirna’s hands. “Take this.”

     She crouched down and started down the tunnel. The sound of steel scraping on stone echoed rhythmically throughout the chamber as she awkwardly maneuvered through the passage. Nilsa and Nars huddled behind her as she went.

     With the Dendrar’s safely away, Ered headed west down the nearest hallway and descended the staircase. The rest of the party filed behind him and followed. As he came to the bottom of the staircase, he saw two doors. One to his immediate left and the other down a corridor on his right. As he got nearer to the door on his left, he could hear gruff, booming voices.

     “Lick the floor!” laughed one, cruelly.

     “Roll like a dog!” commanded another.

     Ered looked down the row of anxious faces behind him. He nodded to his companions, waited a beat, then opened the door. Inside, three large bugbears were busy taunting a goblin on the far side of the room. It was Slig! The goblin, known to the party as Kevin, was being mercilessly teased and taunted by the creatures, each of them easily four times his size. The bugbear nearest to the door turned to Ered.

     “What you want?” it growled.

     Ered, somewhat surprised that the creature didn’t attack him instantly, suddenly remembered that he was dressed in the livery of the Redbrands. Thinking quickly, Ered made the most of the opportunity.

     “I need you to come with me,” he said, poking a finger into the creature’s furry bosom.

     “Intruder?” queried the brute.

     Ered and Faelyn took this as an accusation and began to explain themselves, but Flint understood the true meaning of the question and assured the creature from outside the doorway that all was well and that no intruders had been spotted. Ered backed away from the doorway as the large goblinoid stepped forward to exit the room.

     “There’s something wrong with the nothic,” Ered explained.

     From up the stairs, Kaster signed to Ered to close the door behind the creature. As it came into the hallway, it grumbled something in its own language and made its way up the staircase. Ered shut the door and moved into position behind the bugbear. Flint was waiting at the top of the stairs. Ered brought out his axe as the beast lumbered up towards the others. He raised it and with a mighty swing, brought it down onto the creature’s shoulder. It snarled in pain. The other bugbears could still be heard behind the closed door taunting the goblin. Their own fun was noisy enough that they had not noticed that their comrade was under attack on the stairs outside. The creature in the hall wheeled around and swung its large morningstar at Ered, but the agile man brought up his shield in time to deflect the tremendous blow. With all of the monster’s attention focused on Ered, Flint attacked from his elevated position on the steps above. He swung his warhammer down towards his enemy, but the bugbear had lifted its own weapon into an attack position in an attempt to go after Ered again. Flint’s strike was inadvertently deflected.

     Thalia, who had been waiting in ambush in the main chamber at the top of the stairs, attempted to put an arrow in the beast, but missed. Faelyn tried her luck and was successful at sinking an arrow into its back. It howled in agony and grasped wildly for the shaft sticking from its hide. Kaster had been loading his recently acquired crossbow and fired a bolt towards the creature, but it sailed over the bugbear’s head and bounced harmlessly off of the stone wall at the bottom of the staircase. The creature, distracted by attacks coming from up the staircase, took his attention off Ered at the wrong moment. The man hefted his battleaxe into the air and brought it down, cleaving into the creature’s shoulder once again. The bugbear cried out in agony, its arm nearly severed completely from its torso.

     Enraged, the beast swung back at Ered with its dreadful bludgeon, hitting him in the chest and knocking him down the staircase. Ered winced in pain as he felt a pair of broken ribs shifting underneath his chain mail. Flint, seeing his brother-in-arms in mortal danger, lunged forth with little concern for his own safety. He brought his weapon down squarely on top of the bugbear’s head, crushing its skull. The massive bulk of the creature’s lifeless body slumped forward and slid down the stairs towards Ered. The wounded warrior was able-bodied enough to look over the corpse for anything of value, but he discovered nothing save a few ticks in the beast’s fur.

     Despite all of the commotion in the stairwell, none of the current residents of the manor had come to investigate. Flint tossed his injured friend the last of the healing potions. Ered caught the bottle, pulled the stopper with a loud pop, and guzzled the florid contents. Without a word, they all gathered round the dead bugbear and started pulling it up the stairs. Its fur was matted with blood and dirt. The bulky carcass left streaks of crimson on the stone steps as they hauled it into the main chamber. They dragged it to the rim of the crevasse, stood alongside the fallen creature, and then five boots simultaneously nudged the remains unceremoniously over the edge.

     After a few moments of catching their breath in the main chamber, the party headed west back down the stairs with Ered leading the way. He turned right and headed north away from the room with the bugbears and the goblin. He came to the doorway at the end of the hall and shoved it open. Inside the large room, he saw several worn tables and chairs scattered about. Wooden benches were drawn up against the walls decorated with draperies of brown and red. Ered took special note of the kegs of ale that were propped up and tapped. Directly in front of him, four tough-looking characters wearing scarlet cloaks were sitting around one of the tables. They were deeply invested in a game of chance. The men were rolling dice, and things appeared to be getting heated. A stack of coins and trinkets was heaped upon the tabletop between them. His confidence bolstered by their success in deceiving the bugbears, Ered decided to continue the subterfuge.

     “Those damned bugbears aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he grumbled.

The Redbrand nearest him looked up from the table at Ered with a puzzled expression on his face. “What are they s’posed t’be doin’ besides bein’ large and intimidating?”

     “They’re supposed to be bringing in the ale from the other room!”

     “That’s not a bad idea,” the brigand replied rosily.

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     The man got up from the table and started to approach Ered. He was about to follow him down the hall, but as he moved closer, he noticed Flint – a heavily armed and armored dwarf – standing in the doorway. The jig was up. Thalia, who had yet to make it down the staircase leading back to the main chamber, got the sense that things were about to go badly. She swiftly descended the stairs, slipping effortlessly past Faelyn and Kaster. She rounded the corner and ran into the Redbrands’ common room. Even in their drunken state, the sight of a wood elf charging into their midst left no doubt among the Redbrands that they were dealing with intruders. Thalia wasted no time. In one fluid motion, she reached behind her head and pulled an arrow from her quiver, drew it back on her bowstring, and let it loose towards the nearest Redbrand. Unfortunately, her hastened efforts affected her aim, and the arrow whizzed past her intended target and sunk into a barrel in the far corner of the room.

     The Redbrand who had gotten up from the table had barely had a chance to draw his sword before Ered heaved his axe around, striking the man in the neck. The brigandine beneath his red cloak caught enough of the blow to prevent his head from leaving his shoulders, but he was gravely injured. Another Redbrand started to get up from the table, drawing his weapon. Kaster ran into the room and hurled a bolt of fire towards the villain, but it flew wildly and struck the wall behind his intended target with a sputter of smoke and flame. Faelyn entered the room and quickly fired off an arrow at the wounded Redbrand, but missed her mark. Flint entered the room behind her and engaged the Redbrand on his left who was getting up from the table to join the fray. The dwarf swung his warhammer, but his opponent managed to dodge the blow. The party’s strength had been sapped by their skirmish with the bugbear and they were struggling to deal with this group of inebriated Redbrands.

      Ered’s opponent, his offhand covering the nasty gash in his neck, managed to launch a furious retaliatory strike. A staccato of jabs came from the Redbrand’s sword. Ered was stabbed twice. He fell to the ground soaked in his own sweat and blood. The rest of the thugs, emboldened at the sight of Ered on the ground, advanced on Flint and Kaster. The two managed to stave of the initial flurry, but Flint sustained a hit from his assailants.

      Thalia’s elvish blood boiled at the sight of Ered on the ground. He wasn’t moving. She feared the worst for her companion. In a fit of vengeful rage, she launched an arrow at Ered’s attacker. It pierced the Redbrand’s already wounded neck. He grasped at his throat, then dropped to the floor next to Ered. Flint rushed over to Ered. Flourishing his shield and evoking the power of Marthammor Duin, the cleric brought down a bath of healing energy onto the unconscious warrior. Ered awoke and jumped to his feet – woozy, but ready to fight. The dwarf stepped between Ered and the Redbrands, hoping to give his friend a chance to recover. One of the ruffians came at them brandishing his shortsword, but Flint fended off the attacks with his shield.

      Kaster raised his hand, palm outstretched. He uttered an incantation and a mote of fire hurled forth from his hand into the face of the Redbrand directly in front of him. The man choked on the smoke and stench of his own burning flesh. As he flailed around in pain, arms writhing, he unwittingly dodged a shot from Faelyn’s bow.

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     The sorcerer’s luck was not to last long. One of the other Redbrands came at him and succeeded in slicing him with a shortsword. As the wounded noble fell back, the ruffian closed in, stabbing him. Kaster was in peril.

     Seeing an opening, one of the villains ran for the door in an attempt to alert the bugbears. As he passed between Ered and Thalia, the elf managed to bring her bow up in time to smash him in the face. He had a bloody lip, but the blow failed to slow him down. Ered took a swing at him with his axe, but the Redbrand narrowly avoided it. The malefactor made it out of the room and ran down the hall towards the guard barracks. Thalia quickly notched an arrow, raised her bow, and let it fly towards the fleeing Redbrand. It landed with a loud thunk between the man’s shoulders. He managed to stay upright, however, and shambled towards the other room. Thalia sprinted down the hallway and overtook him in time to block the door. Ered charged up behind him, axe held high, but the large man was still light-headed from his ordeal and his swing missed. Thalia, facing down her wounded enemy, dropped her bow and drew her shortsword. The Redbrand attempted to bring his sword up, but she grabbed his shoulder and plunged her blade into the man’s belly. He fell to the floor, dead.

     Kaster, still tangling with his foe in the common room, brought up his hand and whispered a charm. A blue-white light shot forth from his palm. A chill suddenly gripped the room, but the ray of light missed its target by inches. The sorcerer wisely retreated from the room and stood back-to-back with Ered in the hallway.

     Faelyn and Flint were still in the common room with Kaster’s attacker. The half-elf loosed an arrow towards him. Once again, it whistled past the intended target and stuck into a barrel of ale in the opposite corner of the room. Ered, from the hallway, heard the loud thwack of arrow on wood followed by an outpouring of fizzy liquid on stone. He shot a disapproving glance back over his shoulder. Flint wheeled his warhammer towards his nearest opponent, but the nimble Redbrand managed to drop low to avoid the attack. The knave jumped up and struck Flint with his sword, wounding the dwarf. He came at him again, but Flint managed to get his shield up in time to block the second attack.

     Meanwhile, the smoldering Redbrand that Kaster had been battling with came at Faelyn. She sidestepped one jab only to open herself up for a second attack. Pain shot through her leg as the Redbrand’s blade sliced into her flesh. Hearing the half-elf cry out, Ered turned back towards the common room. Faelyn was cornered. As her charred attacker moved in for the kill, Ered came rushing into the room swinging his axe. Faelyn saw a pained look come over her enemy’s blackened face as the light left his eyes. He fell dead at her feet.

     The last Redbrand standing felt the room closing in on him. Ered moved in and blocked the northern door. Kaster fired off a firebolt into the wall over the man’s head and sparks and smoke filled the air. Still, the Redbrand showed no signs of stopping. Faelyn fleetly dashed across the room. As she did so, she loosed an arrow at the man, hitting him in the side. He yowled in anguish and faltered, but was still standing. Flint came towards him, hammer ready. Rather than attacking, the dwarf decided to extend an offer to the lone survivor.

     “Give up now and we won’t kill you.”

     Valuing his own skin, the Redbrand dropped his shortsword. The clangor of metal on stone filled the room as he raised his hands in surrender.

     “Kill him anyway,” shouted Thalia, then spit at the man’s feet. She had more reason than her companions to hold the Redbrands in contempt. Her friend and ally, Panlamin, had very nearly lost his life to them.

     Kaster pulled his rope off the side of his pack and began binding the prisoner. Once they had him secured, Faelyn wasted no time in beginning the interrogation. “Where is Glasstaff?”

     “His chambers are across the hall,” answered the Redbrand, motioning toward the northern door. He went on to say that he did not know whether or not Glasstaff was present or if he’d be alone.

     “If you’re lying to us, we’ll kill you,” threatened Flint.

     “I swear, I don’t know!”

     “What do we need to know about Glasstaff?” asked Ered.

     “He works for the Black Spider.”

     “What are the bugbears doing in the other room?” chimed in Kaster.

     “The Black Spider sent them to help us take over Phandalin. We haven’t had much need for them up to now.”

     “What do you mean?” asked Ered

     “Well, we’ve been having our way with the town. There’s been no one here willing to oppose us.”

     “Well now there is,” growled Thalia.

     Kaster asked about supplies for healing and the Redbrand explained that there were none. Most of the stores were food and drink… some hides and weapons. Nothing a healer would be in dire need of.

     Faelyn gave the Redbrand a steely glare. “Does Glasstaff know we are here?”

     “Well, we didn’t know you were here. But the wizard has more at his disposal when it comes to that sort of thing.”

     “How many more Redbrands are there?” the ranger asked, going over each of the red-cloaked bandits she had encountered thus far in her memory.

     “There are…or were…twelve of us here at the manor, including m’self. A few others were in town.”

     The party deliberated for a bit amongst themselves. It was unclear what the best course of action should be. They were badly injured, in hostile territory, and now encumbered with a prisoner. There was talk of throwing him in one of the cells previously occupied by the Dendrar family. Nobody was saying it, but several members of the group thought it might be best to “release” the prisoner in the most permanent way possible. After all, these Redbrands had demonstrated no propensity for mercy towards the people of Phandalin. A swift death would be better than he deserved.

     Without any explanation, Flint headed towards the staircase outside the southern doorway. Thalia and Ered moved into positions on either side of the surviving Redbrand. Thalia started to reach for an arrow from her quiver. Ered brought up his axe. The Redbrand closed his eyes and prepared himself for the end. He waited for a moment, but no strike came. He was startled when he felt himself being hoisted up in the air, and as he opened his eyes, he found himself looking down at the back of Ered Tresendar. The large man had slung the Redbrand over his shoulder. The party made off after Flint who was already ascending the staircase. As they passed the room at the end of the hall, the door opened. A bugbear stood, encompassing the entirety of the doorway. A puzzled expression was on his face as he looked down upon a line of red-cloaked individuals heading up the stairs, one of them with another red-cloaked man over his shoulder.

     “This man is a traitor!” shouted Ered.

     “This man is a traitor and we are taking him to Glasstaff,” explained Kaster in corroboration.

     Apparently, this was convincing enough to the bugbear, who was eager to get back to taunting Slig. Another obstacle surmounted, the group was coming to appreciate the lack of intelligence exhibited by your typical bugbear. They reached the top of the steps and made their way to the tunnel exit to the south. Ered grappled a bit with his prisoner, but the Redbrand was in no condition to put up much of a fight. Ered subdued him and carried him through the tunnel.

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     Utter blackness gave way to a night sky full of twinkling diamonds as they emerged from the tunnel. The adventurers were surprised to discover the Dendrar family still there. Mirna and her children had been cowering in the bushes, too fearful and emotionally distraught to press on. The widow was crouched down, holding the spear Ered had provided. She struggled with the weight and the head of the weapon caught the glint from the moon as it bobbed up and down in the darkness. With every owl hoot or cricket chirp, she started and jutted the spear towards her perceived enemy. Flint was lucky not to be impaled as he came forth from the secret passage. Mirna was relieved to see that it was her group of rescuers. Ered set down the Redbrand and secured a gag in his mouth before lifting him back up onto his shoulder. At Thalia’s suggestion, they removed their Redbrand livery and stowed the cloaks out of sight under a nearby bush. After a brief rest, they collected their things, and escorted the Dendrar family to Alderleaf Farm.

     It was several hours after midnight. The walk from the tunnel entrance to the farm was only a few minutes, but as weary as the party was, it might as well have been hours. The prisoner they had taken was less than cooperative, but easy enough to manage, wounded and bound as he was. All was quiet on the farm. The animals were placid and the Alderleafs were asleep. Flint went down the road a bit with the Dendrar’s to escort them safely back to their home. He returned after a quarter of an hour or so. The others had been busy securing the prisoner. Ered made doubly sure that his binds were snug. When they were all reasonably assured that it was safe, they each feel into a deep sleep, with the exception of Thalia. She spent a few hours in the trancelike, meditative state of the elves, but was aware enough to keep an eye on the sleeping prisoner.

     As Flint slept, he dreamed. He found himself deep underground in some cavernous chamber. The rocky walls glowed with an electric light. In the distance, he saw a bright blue beacon, crackling with energy. The booming voice of Marthammor Duin spoke to him.

     “It is I, the Watcher Over Wanderers. You, Flint Stouthammer, are to be my divine champion. Behold…a champion’s weapon.”

     With that, the beacon faded, and in its place, a simple looking flanged mace hovered in the air. Flint reached for it and was immediately enveloped in bolts of blue lightning. Then everything went black. The voice spoke from the blackness.

     “You will blaze many trails in the name of Marthammor Duin, volamtar.”

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     Faelyn also dreamed. She was walking through a misty forest. She came into a clearing. On her left, a wild boar emerged from the trees. On her right, a spider as big as a small bear, skittered through the brush towards her before stopping abruptly. Directly in front of her, a shadow emerged from the mist. It was a large, gray wolf. She locked eyes with the beast. It stared back at her. She took a step towards it. The boar and spider dissolved into the mist and vanished. The wolf jolted, as if were about to run away, then settled and whined. It lowered its head, timidly glancing up at the ranger as it did so. Faelyn continued towards it. The wolf’s tail began to wag and it rolled onto its back. The haze swelled and rolled in on the ranger and the wolf until they were enshrouded. She could no longer see the animal, and the swirling cloud of gray surrounding her gave way to utter darkness.

24th day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     Thalia had been awake for hours and tending to her gear when Carp came into the barn. The sun was already high in the late morning sun, but the others were still sleeping soundly.

     “Hullo,” the elf greeted, warmly.

     The young halfling didn’t speak, but waved cheerily at Thalia, bent over to pick up a nearby stick, then ambled over to the unconscious prisoner. Carp glanced back at Thalia as if for approval. She smiled softly at the boy, but said nothing. He jabbed the stick into the Redbrand’s belly. The man grunted in pain, but didn’t move much. Carp walked back towards the others grumbling something about his dog. This was enough to cause the sleeping adventurers to stir. The boy beamed as he awaited the recounting of their latest emprise.

     “I see you got one of those nasty Redbrands. I asked him where Frolla is, but he won’t talk…I suppose because he has a gag in his mouth.”

Suddenly remembering what she’d found in the woods, Faelyn reached under her belt and produced the leather coin pouch that Carp had lost days earlier.

     “Oh, thank you very much, lady elf! I sure appreciate this! Wherever did you find it?”

     Faelyn explained that she had discovered it outside the entrance to the tunnel that led into the lower level of Tresendar Manor.

     Carp was beside himself with anticipation. “So tell me all about your adventures! What happened?”

     “We fought many a Redbrand,” offered Ered, sleepily.

     “You didn’t happen to find Frolla, did you?”

The party was heartsore to say so, but they informed Carp that they had seen not the slightest sign of his dog while inside the manor. His expression turned gloomy at the disappointing news. Just then, his mother came around the corner and entered the barn.

     “Oh…Carp told me ye were in the barn.”

Ered began to stammer out an apology, but Qelline Alderleaf was quite hospitable and was already feeling quite friendly towards the group.

     “No, it’s quite alright,” she interrupted, “it’s like I told ya before, you’re welcome here anytime. I’ve got some breakfast ready for ye if you’re hungry.”

     The group’s fatigue was rivalled only by their hunger, and they heartily accepted the halfling woman’s invitation to table. As she began to usher everyone off to her kitchen, Qelline noticed the bound Redbrand in the corner.

     “What’re we g’nna do with him?”

The group looked at each other, addled by the question, for they had not considered an answer. Their nagging bellies had made them all quite unconcerned about securing the prisoner. They had considered taking him back with them to Tresendar Manor, hoping that he might be useful when they confronted Glasstaff. They also weighed the option of taking him to Edermath Orchard to talk to Daran.

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     “I think it might be best to talk to the townmaster…he may have something t’say about a captured Redbrand,” said Qelline.

Flint expressed the group’s plan to return to the manor with the prisoner in tow.

     The halfling woman pondered this for a moment, then replied,“Suit yerselves if ya think that’s best…so long as ya don’t keep him here.”

There was more deliberation among the group as to what to do with the prisoner. Faelyn walked over to him. She roused him and removed his gag to ask, once again, how many Redbrands were in Phandalin. He explained that they numbered around fifteen with an intent to recruit more, but they had not incorporated new members into their ranks recently. The half-elf, assured that the last surviving Redbrand was now in their custody, set about convincing the others that they should take their captive to Harbin Wester.

     After a quick spot of breakfast in Qelline’s kitchen, they all headed back out to the barn to retrieve the prisoner. Faelyn and Ered brought him to his feet. He groaned in agony as his bindings dug into his side where he’d been pierced by the ranger’s arrow. They walked out into the road and set off for the Townmaster’s Hall, supporting the Redbrand as he hobbled along. In a sudden outburst of curiosity, Ered asked the Redbrand his name.

     “Sullivan,” he replied gruffly.

     “Do you have family, Sullivan?” posed Ered.

     “S’gettin’ a bit personal, init?”

     “You could be about to die,” Ered teased, “don’t you want your next of kin notified?”

     Kaster was also feeling inquisitive. “What’s your story, Sullivan? Why did you join the Redbrands?”

     “There’s good money in it.” Sullivan’s tone became almost charitable. He was genuniely gratified by someone taking an interest in his career. “Besides…few rules….you get to live the life ya like…”

     “You get to kill people?” asked Thalia, disgust in her voice.

     “Well, sure! A little rough-and-tumble?”

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     The group composed themselves before entering the Townmaster’s Hall. Harbin Wester looked up and was startled to see the band of adventurers with a Redbrand captive. “What’s this? What’s going on?” he demanded.

     “This is the last of them,” said Flint proudly.

     “This is your new prisoner,” said Kaster, equally pleased with himself.

     “We’ve taken care of every Redbrand in town…and out of it,” the dwarf explained.

     “So, you’ve defeated the wizard?” asked the townmaster excitedly.

     There was a pause. Flint and Kaster exchanged glances and then looked at the town master. A semantic debate ensued, but it was clear that Harbin Wester was not enthused about securing a Redbrand prisoner while Glasstaff was still at large.

     Kaster attempted to assuage the townmaster’s fears, “You can do with this one what you want. We already have plans for Glasstaff."

Harbin Wester gestured to a pair of adjutants. They came over, roughly grasped Sullivan, and led him away, presumably to what passed for a holding cell in Phandalin. The plump townmaster attempted to seem statesmanlike, but he was clearly shaken. He took out a kerchief and gingerly dabbed at the sweat accumulating on his brow. He took a deep breath and addressed the entire group.

     “I’m very happy that you’ve done the town a great service, but…I must advise you, this is not finished business until Glasstaff is taken care of. I’ve not seen him. I’m not sure what he’s capable of. I do know that, until he is dealt with, this problem is not over for the town of Phandalin.”

     With that, the party inquired about where they might resupply, then headed out down the street to the Lionshield Coster. A bell chimed as they opened the door. Linene Graywind greeted them cheerfully. “Hello friends, it’s good to see you again. What can I do for you?”

     Faelyn and Thalia gathered up some arrows. Linene also reminded Faelyn about the component pouch she’d been holding for her. Ered asked about healing potions, but she had none. Flint purchased a large 20×20 foot tarp.

     Linene asked the party how they had been fairing in town. She informed them that rumors were starting to spread about the group’s little jaunt to Tresendar Manor. Kaster suggested that the less she knew, the better. She considered the tight-lipped response a confirmation of her suspicions that the Redbrands’ days in Phandalin were numbered, but she tried to mask her burgeoning hope.

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     Restocked and ready to finish what they had started, they left the Lionshield Coster and headed directly back to the woods to the tunnel entrance. The fact that it was midday was of little concern. They were confident that the Redbrand presence in Phandalin was narrowed down to a couple of bugbears, possibly a goblin they had already managed to capture once, and a mysterious wizard whom they were starting to doubt even existed. They retrieved the Redbrand cloaks they had hidden the night before and made their way into the mouth of the passage.

     Flint approached the body of Thel Dendrar and began unrolling the tarp he had purchased. As the rest of the party began to help the dwarf in his work, the unsettling feeling came over them that, while the Redbrand forces may be diminished, they were still in hostile territory and there were still threats that had not been dealt with. As quickly and quietly as they could, they set Thel’s body on the tarp and wrapped him up for transport later.

     With that unpleasant business behind them, they once again moved from the main chamber down the staircase leading to the west. They passed the guard barracks where the bugbears had been. No sound could be heard through the door. They moved north up the hallway and entered the common room. The wealth piled on the table from the game the night before remained untouched. They all headed for the table and, forgetting for a moment to restrain themselves and keep the noise to a minimum, they began to lay claim to the various items on the table. After some spirited debate, Kaster and Thalia ended up with an extra piece of electrum each, and the elf also came away with a gold earring set with a tiny ruby. Ered, having some experience with jewelry, disputed the claim, but Thalia assured him that he’d get his share in the form of whatever amber ale he chose, which he begrudgingly accepted.

     Having made it this far without any sign of response from the former occupants, the group decided to press their luck. Ered exited the common room through a door to the north. He went through and found that it led to a hallway with a staircase ascending off to his right. This was a hall they had encountered when travelling through the main chamber the night before. Immediately in front of him was another door. He crossed the narrow hall and opened it.

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     Ered had entered what appeared to be a wizard’s workshop. A rat scurried across the floor and took refuge under a large worktable set up with alembics, retorts, distillation coils, and other alchemical devices, all of it stewing and bubbling away. Bookshelves were crowded with sheaves of parchment and strange-looking tomes. The rest of the party filed into the room behind Ered. Thalia lingered in the doorway to keep watch and make sure nothing surprised them. Kaster examined the arrangement of implements on the table. He could tell that whoever was using this equipment was attempting to brew invisibility potions, but signs indicated that success had thus far eluded the would-be brewer. As the sorcerer was inspecting the apparatus, Flint and Ered spotted a text with dwarvish script on the spine. They both reached for it. Flint took it off the shelf and laid it between them on a bare space on the table. They had discovered the journal of an adventurer named Urmon. It described the history of the Lost Mine of Phandelver and the Forge of Spells. Urmon had recorded that a magic mace, named Pilgrim, was commissioned by priests of Marthammor Duin, god of wanderers and lightning, from the mages working with the gnomes and dwarves of the Phandelver’s Pact. The mace was lost when Wave Echo Cave and its mine vanished from history. Kaster looked around the room for anything else that might be of value. He came upon several small bottles of reagents…some mercury, powdered nightshade, and dragon bile. As they were worth at least 25 gold pieces each to an apothecary or alchemist, he liberated them.

     As the party inspected the contents of the wizard’s workshop, the rat that Ered had encountered upon entry crawled out from under the table and into view. Its body was mostly white. It’s head was hooded with darker fur that led down its back and ended at the base of its long, pink tail. It seemed leery of the group, but also curious about them. It stood up on its hind legs and sniffed at the air in an attempt to gain some insight about these large creatures. As Ered reached for a handaxe in his belt, the animal’s beady little eyes fixed on the large warrior.

To be continued…

View
Silver and Gold
A detailed recounting of Session 5

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23rd day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     After speaking with Daran Edermath, Kaster Magus had split off from the group in an attempt to discover what fate had befallen Ulfgar, whom they had not seen since the previous night. Upon leaving the others, Kaster left town headed north. He travelled back up the road which had brought them into town the night before, and then found himself wandering off into the brush. Despite his lack of familiarity with the area and its terrain, the sorcerer was able to find tiny bits of the hempen rope that the captive goblin had chewed through. He tracked the goblin’s trail in an arc that wound down to the southeast. He spent several hours attempting to follow the traces left by the little sneak…losing the trail occasionally and then picking it back up. Kaster eventually found himself right back in Phandalin at the eastern edge of town. The goblin had apparently come back to the old abandoned manner on the hill. It was getting dark as the young noble approached what was left of the front entrance. He passed through the doorway and into a large entrance hall. The building was in bad shape, having been exposed to the elements for decades, if not centuries. In spite of this, much of the main structure was still intact. He came to a corridor that gradually descended down to a large iron door. He heaved it open and the noise of metal grating on stone echoed through the hall. He stepped onto a landing that had flights of steps leading down to the lower level. It was a cellar. In the center of the room was a large cistern, and on either side of it were the elves, Faelyn and Thalia. He could also see some activity through a doorway to a connecting chamber. He thought he could hear the voices of Flint and Ered.
     “Friends!” he shouted.
     “Well, look what the cat dragged in. Just in time,” said Ered saracastically.
     As the ranger used her magical attunement with nature to tend to Thalia’s wounds, and Ered quaffed a healing potion that had been handed to him by Flint, Kaster descended the stairs. He commented on the wood elf’s poor condition and the party filled him in on what had transpired since they had found the secret entrance to the manor. They spoke of their encounter with the one-eyed creature and other enemies and their discovery of the Dendrar family. As they spoke, he walked over to the cistern and noticed that a rope was draped over the edge into the water. Faelyn noticed as well. Having finished with Thalia, she stood up and made ready to plunge into the water. Kaster discouraged her. He then made a gesture and uttered an incantation. A spectral hand appeared and floated down towards the rope. The hand grasped the rope and floated back up into the air, hoisting an object up from the bottom of the pool. It was a satchel. Kaster took it and the spectral hand vanished. He set the soaking bag on the stone floor and pulled out a healing potion, an invisibility potion, some travel clothes and some gold.

     Thalia, who was feeling recovered, stood up and went back to work on the opposite side of the cistern to investigate what she suspected might be a secret door. The elf’s nimble fingers quickly found a mechanism that, when pushed, revealed a passage leading back into the large chamber where they had entered the manor. Thalia headed down the corridor with Ered right behind her. Kaster, Faelyn and Flint followed. Thalia creeped forward stealthily and followed the passage to the right. She stopped where the passage opened up into the wider chamber and peered into the darkness. The one-eyed creature was still lingering near the northern bridge. Just as quietly as she had come, Thalia stole back to the rest of the party who were waiting in the corridor.
     “That creature is still there,” she told them. The group consulted with the sorcerer about the possibility of using the invisibility potion to pass the creature without being detected. Kaster explained that the potion would likely not sustain its effect if things became violent and may not be of much use to more than one of them. As the heroes deliberated, the creature had moved closer to them and was now watching them intently from the end of the hall. Kaster noticed their new companion and decided to take a peaceful approach. He moved forward to address the monstrous eye.
     “Hello, friend.”
The sorcerer then felt an unnerving malevolence attempting to penetrate his thoughts. He struggled but eventually succeeded in resisting the weird intelligence attempting to probe his mind. The creature crouched and stared silently.
     “My companions and I are just passing through.”
The creature let out an audible snarl. Without explaining himself, Flint ran back towards the cellar. He tapped Faelyn on the shoulder as he passed. For a second she was puzzled to see the normally brave dwarf running away from the threat, but she quickly realized he was attempting to double back and flank the creature. She followed him.
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Kaster whispered a charm and waved his hand, producing an orange ball of blazing energy in his palm. He held it there, the ardent energy of the spell glowing in his hand. As he did so, Ered suddenly yelled out. The large warrior’s body twisted as he grasped his head in his hands. The creature had once again penetrated the man’s mind.
     “Ered,” came the hushed and eerie voice inside his head.
     “What?” he cried, in an exasperated tone.
     “You seek the mage.”
     “I seek the mage, yes. And I have two garnets. Would you take them?”
     “In exchange for what?”
     “Your assistance…with the mage.”

     Kaster moved to pass the creature. It snarled and beared its claws as if to attack. Thalia ran up to the bend in the corridor to get behind the sorcerer. Kaster, seeing that the creature was about to attack, released his firebolt directly into its chest, scorching its gray skin. The creature recoiled and growled. Thalia shouted an Elvish battlecry and charged the creature, shortsword drawn. She swung at the creature, but the blade was deflected by the hard spikes growing out of its skin. Flint, hearing the commotion behind him, stopped in his tracks, uttered a Dwarvish curse, and turned back the way he’d come to help his companions in the corridor. The dwarf moved with amazing speed (for a dwarf) and ran to Kaster’s side. He shouted “For Mathammor Duin!” and cast a ward of protection on the sorcerer. The creature swung its claws at Thalia, wounding her. It clawed at Kaster as well, but the ward protected him and the creature swung at Thalia again, but this time her leather armor withstood the attack. Faelyn had run back up the corridor as well and she tried to position herself to get a shot at the creature, but Thalia, Flint and Kaster were all in the line of fire.

     Ered rushed the mob in front of him and used his immense strength to shove his companions out of the way. He swung at the creature with his axe, but it deflected the blow with a swipe of its claws. Doggedly, Ered mustered enough strength to take another swing, but still failed to land a blow. Flint called upon Marthammor Duin and prepared to launch a bolt of radiant energy, but in the mayhem, was forced to hold it until he could get a clear shot at the monster. Thalia, still next to the creature, stabbed it in the stomach. It snarled in pain. The creature swiped back at the elf with its claws and dug into her flesh. Kaster tried to maneuver around the creature. It swung wildly as he passed, but did not connect. Kaster, turned around and raised his hand. He spoke some words and gestured with his hand until it was an outstretched palm. A sickening green light emanated from his palm and a ray of green energy shot towards the creature and missed, veering wide and to the left. Ered, who had been watching the sorcerer cast his spell, felt queasy at the mere sight of it. Faelyn ran past Ered’s left and drew her scimitar, jabbing it into the monster’s hide. Ered shoved past the creature towards the bridge. As he did so, it swung at him with its claws and missed. Ered tried to land an avenging blow with his axe, but foundered.

     The cleric, who had been holding a charged spell in his hand, let it fly as soon as Ered was clear. A flash of light streaked forward from the dwarf towards his target, but it zipped harmlessly past the creature and off into the darkness. Thalia, who was severely injured, backed down the corridor and let an arrow fly. It sunk into the creature’s abdomen, wounding it further. The monster, now infuriated, latched onto Faelyn and slashed at her ferociously with its claws. Kaster Magus cast a spell and three darts of brilliant energy flew from his fingertips towards the monster. They each struck and the horrific beast growled and writhed in pain. The ranger had barely survived the creature’s attack, but Kaster’s distraction allowed Faelyn to retreat back down the corridor to Thalia. As she did, she stopped before the bend in the hall and loosed an arrow towards the beast, hitting it. Ered followed by swinging his axe into the monster, burying it into the creature’s side. The monster stumbled and blood spurted as Ered pulled back his weapon. The end was near. Once again, Flint called upon Marthammor Duin and a flash of light streaked towards the creature, this time blasting it with radiant light. The foul thing howled as a dazzling display of golden energy crackled about its body. The beast fell to the floor, its corpse smoldering and reeking of charred flesh. The party was victorious once again.

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     Kaster congratulated his companions for their valiant efforts as he approached the dead creature. He examined the body and declared that it was as he had suspected: a nothic – once a student of the arcane who, through a curse, had been transformed into the hideous, subterranean creature they had just done battle with. With the monster defeated, the party set to healing their wounded. Kaster tossed Thalia a potion of healing which she belted greedily. Flint attempted to cast a healing spell on Faelyn, but his divine powers had been spent in the battle against the nothic. Ered decided it would be good to get the nothic’s sizable corpse out of the narrow passageway. He dragged the creature to the edge of the crevasse and, as he approached the edge, he lost his balance and slid down the steep incline. The only thing he hurt in the fall was his pride. He looked a bit ridiculous lying prone in the rocks and dirt, entangled with the monster. As the large man shoved the dead nothic off of him and dusted himself off, he noticed something under the northernmost bridge. It was a chest! He approached it warily and examined the hinges and the base to check for traps. He found none. He was sure from the keyhole on the front that it must be locked, but he tested the lid and was stunned to find that it opened freely. He rummaged through the contents and shouted to his companions.
     “I’ve found a chest!”
Ered pulled out several bags of silver and gold coins, a handful of malachite gems, two potions of healing, and a scroll. As Ered set aside the coins and jewels, he noticed an oblong item wrapped in cloth within the chest. He reached for it and unveiled a beautiful sword in a silver-chased scabbard. It was decorated with oak branches similar to the designs on the columns and doors of the manor. The hilt was in the shape of the outspread wings of a bird of prey. There were sapphires in the hilt similar to the one in Ered’s axe.

     After opening the scroll case, Ered discovered that he could not read it. He handed it to the sorcerer, but Kaster did not recognize the script either. He, in turn, handed it to Flint who recognized it as a scroll of augury, a spell used by certain clerics. He explained to the group that the scroll would afford them a chance to tell their future after a fashion. As the party’s cleric, it made sense for Flint to keep the scroll, and he was encouraged to do so. Feeling an obligation to share the rest of his findings with the party, Ered split up the coin and gems amongst his companions, taking an equal share for himself. Having faced no objection from his companions, he also kept the sword.

     The party was wounded and weary. Some of them had a mind to retrieve the Dendrar family and escort them out through the secret tunnel. Ered scrambled out of the crevasse and he and Kaster headed north towards the chamber full of supplies. Flint veered off to a passageway near the bridge that led off to the west. After about ten feet, it bent at a ninety degree angle and then left to the west again, where Flint discovered a staircase leading further down. Faelyn and Thalia followed him.

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     As the members of the party considered what to do next, a trio of Redbrands emerged from the secret passage leading to the armory and approached Ered. Thalia, who had been following Flint, was on the far side of the crevasse. Before Ered quite knew what was happening, the nimble elf had notched an arrow and let it fly towards the nearest of the ruffians, hitting him in his side. He cried out in pain and stumbled. Faelyn ran back to the edge of the northern bridge and put another arrow into the villain, killing him. Flint, realizing his companions were no longer following him, ran back as well and crossed the bridge. Ered was just in front of the dwarf and nearest to the Redbrands. He charged the one on his right and swung his axe at him, but the blow was deflected by the Redbrand’s shortsword. The bandit retaliated and stuck Ered with his weapon.

     The other remaining Redbrand saw the opportunity to take down the large warrior and also attacked Ered, slicing his shield arm. Injured though he was, Ered held steadfast and shoved back at his opponents to stave off a subsequent assault. Kaster, who had been near the column on the east side of the crevasse, moved to Ered’s left. The sorcerer extended his hands, palms down towards the Redbrand in front of him. With his thumbs touching and his fingers outstretched, he shouted and fire erupted from his fingers tips, engulfing the Redbrand. The man shrieked as he burned, but he was still alive. Thalia, taking pity on him, shot an arrow into his throat. The screaming stopped and the Redbrand collapsed to the floor, still burning.

     Faelyn aimed carefully and fired an arrow between Ered and Flint. It sunk into the stomach of the last surviving Redbrand. He doubled over. Flint moved in brandishing his warhammer, but in spite of his wound, the scoundrel fended off the dwarf’s attack. Ered all but finished him off with a swing from his axe, though the ruffian made a feeble attempt to retaliate. Thalia and Faelyn came rushing across across the crevasse over the bridge and ran at the Redbrand with the intent to overcome him. The rogue attempted to tackle him, but he used her momentum against her and threw the elf aside. Faelyn was more successful. As the Redbrand was distracted with Thalia, Faelyn jumped into the air and landed on him, bringing him to the ground. A cloud of debris kicked up as the half-elf struggled to subdue the injured Redbrand. Her eyes stung and watered as she choked on the dust in the air.
     “Where is Glasstaff?” she screamed.
Ered set to work binding the Redbrand with rope while Faelyn interrogated him. The man’s lungs were filling with blood and he coughed and sputtered as he spoke.
     “His chambers…are on the west side…of the manor.”
     “How many of you are there?” asked Ered. “I’ll make it a quick death if you tell me.”
The ruffian’s breathing was labored. He was fading.
     “We’re going to ask you one more time,” chimed in Kaster, “how many of you are there?”
     “There’s some boys…gambling…in the other room. But that’s not all…”
With that, the Redbrand succumbed to his wounds and his gurgling and sputtering stopped.

     Flint headed north towards the secret door, intent on retrieving the Dendrar family. Kaster followed and the rest plodded along behind him. They all filed past the armory, though Kaster stopped to equip himself with a crossbow and a quiver of bolts. They then passed through the crypt, and finally, into the slave pens. They discovered that the Dendrar family had all been recaptured and locked up in one of the cells. Faelyn pulled the key to the cell from her pocket, the same one she had appropriated from a Redbrand the group had defeated earlier.
      “Come with us and we’ll take you out of here,” the dwarf told the prisoners.

     They all filed back through the crypt, and back into the main chamber. Flint guided the Dendrar’s safely over the bridge and onto the west side of the crevasse. Mirna’s heart raced. With the help of these strangers, she was on the verge of getting her children out of this place and away from these cruel men. As they approached the entrance tunnel, she stopped and gasped. She grabbed her children close and attempted to cover their eyes as they stood before the corpse of her late husband.

To be continued…

View
Defiled Sanctuary
A detailed recounting of Session 4

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23rd day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     The tranquility of the orchard under the warmth of the late morning sun was revitalizing. The adventurers departed the company of Daran Edermath and meandered through the swaying apple trees. As they made their way back to the Town Green, they paused to appreciate the breeze as it whispered among the branches. Earlier, they had come through their first clash with the Redbrands victoriously. Ered’s wound had been expertly tended by Flint. Still, it had taken a mental toll. They were all tempted to linger, but there was work to be done. Friends were still missing and likely in peril.

     Kaster Magus decided that it had been far too long since they had seen any sign of Ulfgar. He took it upon himself to seek out the dwarf. The young noble was also growing increasingly concerned that he had very recently been witnessed killing a wounded man in the street, ruffian though he was. In the excitement of combat, he had not hesitated to finish his opponent, but he was beginning to wonder if he had the stomach for this new life of adventure he had chosen for himself. Or perhaps he was distressed at how easily he had cast aside the manners of a highborn gentleman and given in to his baser instincts. In any case, he felt it best that he maintain a low profile and the isolation afforded by a solitary hunt for his companion through the surrounding woods would give him time to clear his head.

      The rest of the group wished Kaster well and decided to check in on Carp at Alderleaf Farm. They passed between Lionshield Coster and the Townmaster’s Hall and headed east along the path towards the farm. As they walked, Ered interrogated Thalia regarding the red-cloaked halfing he had seen watching them as they left Neverwinter. The elf reassured him that this was her friend Panlamin, but the fact that the little sentinel had been dressed in the livery of the Redbrands had not escaped Ered’s notice.
     “Why does he wear the cloak of a Redbrand? Is he with them?”
     “Well…” the elf started hesitantly, “he used to be.”
Thalia went to on to explain that Panlamin left the gang after he had openly questioned their methods and had subsequently had his life threatened by his would-be comrades. The elf was intent on looking out for her little friend with the big mouth. She revealed that her reason for traveling south with the party, at least in part, was to deal with these Redbrands. Faelyn, overhearing the conversation, asked Thalia if Panlamin had provided any information that might be useful against their foes. Thalia reported that her friend had not provided much in the way of details about the Redbrands’ organization.

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     The party continued down the road until they came upon a quaint little farm. They could hear the bleating of goats as they approached. Carp could be seen running about in the field chasing something indistinguishable. Tending to the crops was a halfling woman. As she saw the group approaching, she gave an amicable wave and beckoned the adventurers over.
     “Hello friends, what can I do fer ya?”
     “I am Ered Tresendar.”
     “Tresendar ya say? You wouldn’t happen t’be associated with’a manor t’the east of town?”
Ered paused as he considered this, mumbling unassuredly. It was comical to see the large man struggle to account for himself to this diminutive farm woman.
     “If the name is anything t’go by dear, I’d say you are.”
     “That’s what I am here to find out,” he said regaining some composure, “but I’m also here to see Carp.”
     “Oh,” her cheery disposition gave way to the fatigue only a mother can know, “what has the boy done now?”
     “Nothing! Nothing at all, he’s been quite a pleasant chap,” Ered comforted.
     “He’s a good lad, but he’s so energetic, I can’t keep up with ’im.”
     “He mentioned something about a dog he lost recently.”
     “Aye, our family dog, Frolla,” she explained, “she’s been missing for a few days now.”
     “And you have no idea…no traces? No nothing?”
     “No, she’s usually inseparable from young Carp, but she’s been gone for several days and we haven’t seen her.”
Ered expressed his condolences and then inquired about the Redbrands.
     “Oh, nasty business…the Redbrands have been in town for a couple of months now causing problems for everyone.”
     “What sort of trouble have they caused you and Carp?”
     “We try to keep to ourselves, but I worry about Carp. He loves to spend time in the woods near the old manor and the Redbrands are often seen around there. I hate to think of what they’d do to him if he were caught watching them. I’ve warned him not to go near the place,” she continued, "We have a friend, you see…Reidoth, an old druid. He’s filled the boy’s head with notions of adventure and strange creatures. It’s all I can do to keep him on the farm."
     “That name is unfamiliar to me,” said Ered.
     “Oh, he and Carp are close. Reidoth has told the lad stories about faerie dragons and other such things, and so of course he goes off into the woods to find them. Mind you, I’d normally have no problem with such things, but with these ruffians about, it’s much too dangerous for Carp to be out on his own.”
     “You should keep your son close, I feel.”
     “Yes,” she told Ered, “but that’s easier said than done, I’m afraid.”
     “Maybe there is something we could do to help,” said Faelyn, “If the Redbrands are nearby…”
     “The ideal solution would be to drive them out,” the halfling said with enthusiasm. “They’re not welcome here. Oh, but where are my manners,” she said, suddenly realizing that she had not introduced herself yet. “I am Qelline. Qelline Alderleaf. It is a genuine pleasure to meet all of you.”
Each of them greeted the little woman and made introductions.

     Qelline continued telling the party about the druid Reidoth. He was apparently very familiar with the surrounding territory. While it was hard to predict when he might come to town or how long he would stay, she told them he would be a good source of information for the group should they need information about the lands around Phandalin.
     “Have you seen him lately?” asked Ered.
     “Perhaps a couple of tendays ago. I believe he was heading north to Thundertree.”
The adventurers stood, quiet for a moment, pondering their next move.
     “There’s not an inch of this land he doesn’t know.”
     “If you should happen to see him in the next day or two, could you tell him that I would be interested in meeting with him?” asked Ered.
     “I’ll let him know you’re lookin’ for him if I see ’im,” Qelline replied.
     “We’re staying at the Stonehill Inn.”
     “Toblen’s place. Yes, of course.”
Faelyn, who had been deep in thought, snapped a question without much regard for decorum.
     “Carp mentioned he found some sort of…tunnel nearby. Do you know anything about this?”
     “No, but I’ve told him to stay away from the place.”
It was at about this point that Carp noticed the gathering of adventurers. He came running over with an eager grin.
     “Oh, hello friends! It’s good to see you again! My…the large man is here, mother! Have you met this large man?”
Ered could not help but be charmed by the staggering amount of enthusiasm from one so small in stature. The big fellow laughed heartily.
     “Hello, Carp my friend. How have you been?”
     “I’ve been good! I went out into the woods…”
At this, the small boy stopped and looked at his mother, expecting a rebuke. Qellin had a stern look, but it quickly softened and she gestured for Carp to continue. Somewhat reluctantly, he did so.
     “I…lost the copper coin that you gave me.”
     “Oh no!” exclaimed Ered in feigned surprise. Not mockingly, but indulgently.
     “I was looking for faerie dragons!”
     “How did you lose it?”
     “I was walking through the woods and I suppose I had a hole in me pocket, because I lost my coin.”
     “Maybe we could help you find the coin,” offered Faelyn. Ered nodded in agreement. Qelline shifted as if to put herself between the party and Carp. She knew where this was going. “Under no circumstances are you taking my boy near that place. Carp, you can tell them where you found your secret tunnel but you are not to go near Tresendar Manor.”
Sensing that this was an issue that was not up for debate, Faelyn suggested that Carp provide as detailed a description as he could to guide the party from the farm to this tunnel he had discovered. He pointed to the woods due east of the farm. As the party gazed in the direction that Carp had indicated, they noted the manor on the hill just to the north of the grove of tightly packed trees.
     “Have you been there recently?” asked Ered.
     “I go th…” Carp caught himself and he tried to gauge his mother’s demeanor from the corner of his eye. “No,” he corrected. The boy went on to explain that if the party went over the ruined walls at the edge of the farm and headed into the woods, they would find the tunnel somewhere along the foot of the hill to the north. They deliberated for a moment and Faelyn pointed out that it would be wise to be fully replenished before heading into danger.
     “Qelline, could we trouble you for a place to rest and eat? We would be happy to pay you,” asked Ered.
     “Oh, that won’t be necessary,” she replied cordially. And so, the band of adventurers took refreshment offered by the Alderleaf woman and her son. There was fresh milk and butter and bread baked with honey and cream. Carp brought in some apples that had been given to Qelline as a gift from Daran Edermath. It was just what they all needed.

     After a good meal and a nap in the hayloft, they made plans to scout out a possible entrance to the Redbrand hideout. Carp, enraptured as he was by the thought of courageous exploits, could barely contain himself as he bore witness to an actual band of adventurers planning their reconnoiter right their in his home. As he gazed at them in fascination, he noted Thalia’s leather pouch hanging from her belt and inquired about it. She explained that she had made it a long time ago and had only recently recovered it.
     “Where did you find it?”
     “In a goblin cave,” she told him.
     “Oooh! A goblins’ cave! I hate goblins!. Did you kill them?”
     “Yes,” the she-elf replied.
     “Good! I hate goblins,” said Carp as he wrinkled up his nose in disgust. “Did you kill goblins?” he said turning to Ered, “I bet you killed dozens of them!”
     “I killed a fair few,” he told the boy, “and then I felt very ill.” An annoyed look came over the man’s broad face.
Carp went on this way for some time, asking questions and inspecting the party’s weapons and other equipment. When he wasn’t asking question upon question, he was lamenting the loss of his dog, Frolla.

     After a relatively relaxed afternoon of resting, planning and preparing, the last light of day began to fade. Ered, Faelyn, Thalia and Flint were all ready to make their way into the woods in search of Carp’s tunnel. Faelyn, being more skilled in tracking than the rest, led the way. Not long after they had slipped in among the trees and thickets, the more keen eyed members of the group spotted a small patch of brush that had been flattened and cleared. In this patch was a small leather bag. Faelyn inspected it. Inside she found a pair of bright copper coins and some crumbs that might have come from a sweet cake.
     “This looks like Carp’s pouch,” she whispered.
They changed direction and gradually made their way north. As they approached the hill, they could just make out the ruined parapets and towers of Tresendar Manor through the treetops. As they came upon the foot of the hill, they noticed a large hole, about four to five feet across. They peered into the tunnel and saw nothing but darkness. No noise but the gentle rustling of the trees and bushes around them could be heard. Flint ducked his head and made his way down the passage while the others followed.

     As the dwarf moved forward, his keen vision allowed him to see that the passage opened up into a wider chamber. The cold, misty air murmured throughout the natural cavern, occasionally punctuated by the echo of droplets from various directions. Flint’s nostrils detected the faint but undeniable stench of death. To his right, he could see down into a crevasse that divided the cavern. Rough stone columns on either side of the crevasse supported the high ceiling. He could see two wooden bridges spanning the chasm, one very near to him and one on the opposite side of the chamber. To his left and to his right across the chasm, Flint could make out where the natural cavern gave way to man-made hallways. As the rest of the group entered, they spotted what appeared to be the outstretched limbs of a person on the ground, but their view was obstructed by one of the stone columns. Thalia quietly slipped off past the left corridor and towards the column. As she glided past the hallway, she noticed a descending staircase within. As she stealthily approached the column, she knelt down and discovered the corpse of a blonde man with what appeared to be several stab wounds in his chest. He had been there for several days and was starting to stink. She motioned for the rest of the group to come over and soon they were all huddled around the column. The man’s remains bore the signs of his profession in life—a wood-carving knife sheathed on his belt. It seemed likely to be Thel Dendrar. Flint said a quick and silent prayer over the slain man.

     Thalia began to move towards the western corridor to make sure the way was clear. As she did, she was suddenly overwhelmed by the sensation of being watched. The elf could feel a sinister presence probing her mind, searching. Though her attacker was unseen and unknown, she understood that she was under some kind of assault. She centered herself and attempted to resist.
     “Thalia!” Faelyn sensed that her companion was not well. Thalia explained that she had successfully fought off some form of mental intrusion.
     “Could be magic,” observed Flint.
     “I think,” Thalia announced, “that something is watching us.”
Faelyn was on edge. “We must be cautious.” Ered nodded.
     “There’s something behind that column!” said Thalia with fear in her voice. The elf’s eyes were fixed intently on something near the stone column in the north part of the chamber. All but Ered could see a large, shadowy figure attempting to conceal itself behind the column. Though even he could make out the pale green glow emanating from the creature’s face…it was an eye. An enormous, singular eye regarded them with fiendish curiosity. Flint then felt the invasive probing into his mind that Thalia had successfully fended off. He concentrated all of his thought on Marthammor Duin and managed to thwart the creature. The eye turned towards Ered. The warrior was gripped with terror as a strange voice overwhelmed his consciousness.
     “Hello…Ered,” it said.
Faelyn could see that Ered was gripped by something intangible. “Are you alright?” she asked him.
     “No…something is talking to me!” he shouted frantically.
The others heard nothing, but Thalia and Flint knew that whatever had attempted to pierce their thoughts unsuccessfully had managed to get through to the large man.
     “What are you doing here?” the voice asked Ered.
Faelyn had had enough. Clearly whatever this presence was, it was malicious and was most likely some bewitchment perpetrated by the one-eyed watcher.
     “I will not harm you…yet.” The creature must have sensed that things were about to escalate.
     “Who are you!” Ered demanded.
     “This is my home,” the voice replied.
     “Why are you here!”
     “I’ve made this my home. The mage let’s me stay here.”
The others looked on as Ered appeared to be having a conversation with himself, the whole while his gaze held by the pale green orb hovering in the shadows.
     “What mage?”
     “You will meet him.”
     “Ered, what’s going on?” Faelyn entreated.
     “The creature…it’s…talking to me. He says the mage let’s him live here. It’s his home.”
     “Does it intend to harm us?” the half-elf asked.
     “Not yet,” replied Ered unconvincingly. The voice continued.
     “We can make a bargain.”
     “What kind of bargain?”
     “What is that in your hand?”
Ered looked at the hilt of his weapon.
     “This is my battleaxe.”
     “Shiny! The little bauble at the end. What is that?”
     “That,” said Ered, his terror turning to anger “is not going anywhere without me. That is my sapphire…my family heirloom.”
     “I like that sapphire. I can help you.”
     “With what?”
     “I know you hunt the Redbrands.”
     “What do you know of the Redbrands?”
     “The mage let’s me stay here.”
     “Who is the mage!” Ered shouted, becoming increasingly impatient. The wrathful presence in his mind was becoming too much to bear.
     “Glasstaff!”
Any remaining doubt Ered had about coming here was removed. This was where they would find the Redbrands and their leader.
     “You would kill Glasstaff?”
     “Would you give me your sapphire?”
     “Give me a moment,” he said reluctantly.
     “Take all the time you need.”

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     Ered explained the offer on the table to the rest of the party and they considered their options. He felt the others should decide their next move without him given that his thoughts were known to the creature, but he also made it clear that he was not willing to part with the only remnant of his former life.
     “Ered,” came the voice again, “I hunger.”
And with that, the creature emerged from behind the column into full view. It was as large as a man, maybe slightly larger. It had immense claws on its hands and its three-toed feet. Its hunched back was brimming with jagged spikes. The creature’s mouth was full of sizable, knife-edged teeth. It had no discernible nose, and where a pair of eyes would normally be, a solitary green orb as big as a plate stared back at them. It clambered along the stone floor on all fours, occasionally stopping to stand erect and survey the chamber. It crossed the far bridge over the chasm and shuffled towards the party. It lifted the corpse in front of them partially off the ground and began gnawing at it. The vile thing’s attention now fully fixated on its meal, the party could do little but look on in horror.

     Flint, regaining his wits and recalling his earlier suspicion, focused his energy. He uttered a short invocation and raised his outstretched hands. After a few minutes of concentration, the cleric could see an aura of necromantic energy emanating from all around the chamber. To Flint, it appeared as though the monstrosity in front of them blazed with a purple light. There was also another source of magic in the room, though Flint could not quite make out exactly what type it might be. It seemed to be emanating from the ravine underneath the bridge furthest from them. The dwarf motioned to his companions to follow him before crossing the nearest bridge to the east side of the trench. Thalia stayed behind as a rearguard to make sure the one-eyed fiend did not attempt to take advantage of the situation. As Flint, Ered and Faelyn headed north towards the back of the chamber and the far bridge, the creature started and Ered could hear a snarl in his mind. He was overcome with a sensation of jealousy coming from the creature, but it was not clear what it was protecting.
     “Stop!” cried Ered. “It doesn’t want us near here,” he gestured towards the northernmost bridge. The same spot where Flint had detected an uncertain type of mystical energy moments earlier.
     “We’re not interested in your goodies, we are just trying to pass through.”
The creature walked away from the corpse, staying even with Flint and the others on the opposite side of the ravine. It stood on the west side of the bridge waiting for the adventurers to make a wrong move. The trio headed north into an adjoining chamber full of barrels and crates, packing straw and some common tools. Unlike the natural cavern the group had just come through, this room had stone block walls and a flagstone floor.

     Thalia crossed the southernmost bridge and caught up to the rest of the group, leaving the creature behind. As she entered the room, she noted that at the back to her right was what looked like the beginning of a corridor, but it only went about five feet in an easterly direction and stopped. As she faced the eastern wall, she ran her fingers up and down the corners. She noted that there appeared to be a small gap on either side. The elf dropped her pack to the floor and knelt down, withdrawing a small pry bar and a hammer. She wedged the chisel edge of the pry bar into the gap between the walls and tapped the other end with her hammer. A loud tink-tink-tink echoed off the walls. Once the pry bar was firmly in place, the elf motioned to Ered. His muscles rippled as he hefted on the bar once…twice. The wall swung back and revealed a secret passage. Directly in front of them was a door and to the right, a corridor of about fifteen feet that ended with another door. Ered tried the nearest door, but it was locked. Thalia reached into her pack again and pulled out a small bundle and unrolled it on the floor. An array of intricate tools shone in the light of the wall-mounted oil lamps. She set to work picking the lock on the door. After a moment of effort, the door swung wide. It revealed a small room with racks of weapons lining the walls. There were spears, swords, crossbows and bolts. A dozen dirty red cloaks hung from the hooks by the door. Thalia and Faelyn each reached for a cloak and the others followed suit. Ered took a crossbow, a quiver of bolts, and a spear.

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     Now clothed in the garb of their enemies, the party exited the armory via the same door through which they had entered and turned left down the corridor. The door at the end of the hall was unlocked. Within the room before them were two large stone sarcophagi arranged end-to-end. A third was positioned to their left. They had found a crypt. Along the walls were false columns carved in the image of spreading oak trees. In the southeast corner of the room was a set of large double doors sheathed in tarnished copper plate. Leaning up against each of the sarcophagi were human skeletons clad in bits of rusty armor. As Flint stepped into the room, the skeletons stood up and moved towards them with ancient and worn weapons drawn. Faelyn and Ered backed up against the wall to make room for Thalia who was already charging into the room as she drew her shortsword. She lunged at the nearest skeleton and connected with her blade. The remains of the ancient warrior were knocked back against the wall. It swung its sword in retaliation at Thalia and missed as the nimble elf darted out of the way in the nick of time. The other ghastly soldiers lashed out at Flint. The dwarf raised his shield in time to deflect both attacks. Faelyn leapt from the corridor into the crypt, landing between Thalia and her opponent. The ranger sliced at the bony swordsman, but her scimitar glanced off of its scraps of armor. Ered followed up with an axe attack, but his assault also failed to do any damage. Flint lashed out at one of his attackers with his warhammer, but the skeleton brought up a shield in time to block. With Ered and Faelyn now engaged with her foe, Thalia maneuvered around them to assist Flint. The elf’s blade slipped harmlessly through the ribcage of one of Flint’s assailants and became wedged in the creature’s bones. While she attempted to dislodge her shortsword, Flint’s other adversary plunged its blade into Thalia’s exposed side. She cried out in pain, but was still standing. Meanwhile, Faelyn had slashed through the skeleton she and Ered were tangling with, reducing it to a pile of bones on the stone floor. Flint and Ered connected with blows to the remaining skeletons. Thalia was as a wounded beast. Enraged, she cut through her enemy with such force that its bones splintered into thousands of tiny shivers and hurled motes of dust everywhere. Faelyn turned towards the final remaining enemy and swung her scimitar into its spine below the ribs, rending the grim soldier to bony pieces. The party stood victorious.

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     As the group settled themselves and checked one another over, Ered decided to investigate the crypt. The stone lids of the sarcophagi were carved to depict those entombed within — two human males and one human female, all of noble bearing. Pushing off the lid of one sarcophagus, Ered peered inside and rooted around in the moldering bones and scraps of clothing within. After a minute or so of this, he pulled out a signet ring. It bore the intaglio of two fanning oak trees, similar to the ones that appeared on the walls in the crypt. He recognized the metal as platinum. He checked the other two sarcophagi and retrieved identical rings from each.

     Before they had time to do much else, a door in the northeast corner of the room opened. A Redbrand was standing in the doorway. Surprised to find people in the crypt, the ruffian stood there for a moment, assessing the situation. He turned his head and shouted behind him to an unseen party.
     “Are we gettin’ new recruits today?”
     “Glasstaff sent us himself,” offered Faelyn.
     “They say Glasstaff sent ’em,” the man shouted over his shoulder again. “Wait a minute,” he seemed to grow wary just as Thalia opened her mouth in an attempt to account for their group. “Take your hood off!” the brigand shouted at her. Not wanting to arouse further suspicion, Thalia pulled back her hood.
     “We ain’t got no elves!” the Redbrand yowled. “Get in ’ere!” And with that he charged into the crypt with another Redbrand behind him. Thalia, injured though she was, wasted no time in loosing an arrow towards the Redbrand in the doorway. It sunk into the man’s shoulder and knocked him back through the doorway. His sword already drawn, the Redbrand slashed at his nearest foe, which happened to be Faelyn. The pain in his shoulder from Thalia’s arrow caused him to miss. The second Redbrand entered the crypt from the corridor and leaped on top of one of the sarcophagi. He swung his shortsword down on Faelyn, connecting. The half-elf retreated to the southwest corner of the room and let an arrow fly towards the Redbrand. It shot into the man’s chest and thorny projectiles exploded from the site of the wound, ripping through the wretch, killing him. His companion was close enough to take a few of the thorns to the torso as they rocketed outward from the point of impact. Ered jumped up onto the sarcophagus to go after the knave, but the lid was partially removed and it had shifted with the weight of his substantial frame. He swung his axe and missed. Flint rushed the remaining Redbrand and with a crushing blow from his warhammer, the villain was killed.

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     Having endured back-to-back battles, the group proceeded cautiously through the northeast corner doorway. They entered the center of a long room that was partitioned into three areas with iron bars walling off the north and south. Filthy straw lined the floors. The hinged doors of each cell were secured with padlocks and chains. In the north cell were two women, one of them younger. Both fair haired and disheveled, yet comely in spite of the harsh conditions of their imprisonment. In the south cell was a boy who bore a likeness to the body of the man they had found earlier. All three wore dirty gray tunics and had iron collars fitted around their necks. A heap of discarded clothing was piled carelessly against the far wall. It was clear that they had discovered the whereabouts of the Dendrar family. Faelyn looked to Thalia, then the prisoners behind bars, then back to Thalia. Flint saw this exchange and suggested a more direct approach by pointing at the guards lying dead in the crypt. Faelyn darted through the doorway, knelt beside one of the fallen Redbrands for a moment, then flitted back into the prison chamber with a ring jingling with several keys. She unlocked the padlocks on each cell. The prisoners, dazed but grateful, confirmed that they were indeed Mirna, Nilsa, and Nars Dendrar.
     “Do you know how you came to be here?” Ered asked Mirna.
     “The Redbrands murdered my husband and brought us here. They were planning to sell us into slavery. Thank you so much for saving us.”
     “How long have you been here?”
     “I don’t know exactly. It’s been…days, maybe longer? I don’t know.”
     “Let’s get you out of this place,” said Faelyn.
And with that, the ranger used the keys she’d taken off of the dead Redbrand to remove the iron collars from each of the Dendrars’ necks. Mirna and her children had no knowledge of the layout of their location as they had been wearing hoods when thrown into their cells by their captors. The family did mention that the leader of the Redbrands was a wizard of some kind which confirmed what the party already knew.
     “He has tall, furry monsters with big ears,” chimed in Nars. Faelyn shared a knowing look with her companions. The group weighed their options. From whence they came awaited a wicked creature with strange powers and the corpse of the dear departed Thel. Surely it would not do to take the newly rescued family that way. On the other hand, there were still unexplored dangers and the prospect of running into, in addition to more Redbrands, a wizard of unknown power and the bugbears that Nars had alluded to. They decided the safest course of action, as much as they hated to do it, was to tell the Dendrar family to stay put in the slave pens until they could come back for them. With that, the four adventurers filed back into the crypt and headed for the double doors in the southeast corner of the room.

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     Ered listened at the doors for a moment before pressing his brawny shoulder against them and forcing them open. They opened up into a hallway. Thick dust covered the flagstone floor. Faux columns lined the hall on either side. The party entered the hall and closed the doors behind them. From this side, the relief of a mournful angel could be seen sculpted upon them. Flint led the way down the passageway. After about ten feet, the flagstones started to give way under the dwarf’s hefty frame. In the nick of time, he managed to find some footing by leaning flat up against the wall. His stubby fingers clenched to the stone at his back as he choked on the cloud of dust and debris triggered by the collapse. When it finally settled, Flint found himself peering into a deep, dark pit. He carefully sidled across the remaining edge of stone and crossed over the void. The nimble elves skittered across effortlessly. Ered thought for amount about attempting to leap across the pit, but thought better of it. The immense warrior hugged the wall and edged his way across. They had all avoided a twenty foot drop into the blackness.

     They were now about forty feet down the hall at which point it turned sharply to the right, leading them to a southward facing door. Faelyn cautiously examined it, then opened it. As she stepped through, she entered a large storage cellar, exactly the sort of thing one might expect to find beneath an old manor. To her right was a short flight of stone steps leading up to a ledge above and behind her over the doorway. A second flight of steps to her left led from the ledge up to a landing along the eastern wall. On the west side of the room, opposite the landing, was a large stone cistern. The walls of the room on either side of the pool were lined with barrels and kegs. Along the right side of the western wall was a closed door. The rest of the party filed into the room behind her. Without hesitation, Ered moved towards the barrels and began his inspection. He discovered fresh provisions in the form of salted pork, beef, flour, sugar, apples, and much to his fancy, ale. He shouted his approval at this discovery. Flint headed towards the door on the western wall and the elves followed as Ered continued to review his potential plunder.

     The dwarf flung the door wide and stood looking into what appeared to be a storeroom that had been pressed into service as living quarters. Two double bunks stood against the wall near the door, while barrels and crates filled the southern half of the room. Three Redbrands who had been lounging in the room looked up lazily and were startled to see a well armed and armored dwarf standing before them. Flint raised his hammer and engaged the nearest of them, but the villain reached for a nearby shield and managed to raise it in time to turn back the blow. Thalia, who was standing behind Flint, could not get a clear shot with her bow due to the breadth of her dwarvish companion, so she notched an arrow and prepared to let it fly the instant the cleric cleared her line of fire. Ered, looking up from the keg of ale he had been attempting to sample, rushed towards the doorway. In an attempt to reach over Flint, he was only able to bring the flat of his axe down upon the dwarf’s opponent, but again the Redbrand staved off the attack with his shield.

     Faelyn ran up the stone steps in an attempt to gain higher ground and perhaps shoot over her companions into the next room. She managed to successfully launch an arrow, only narrowly missing Ered, but it sunk harmlessly into the wood frame of one of the bunks. The Redbrands in the barracks were now fully aware of the presence of four intruders. Flint glanced over his shoulder at Faelyn, an exasperated look on his face. He wisely decided to redirect his annoyance at the party’s ranger toward the Redbrands via his warhammer. The dwarf swung his weapon directly into the face of his opponent, killing him instantly. With her visibility into the room only becoming further compromised by her comrades, Thalia decided she had waited long enough to take action. She bolted into the barracks and jumped up on one of the double bunks. She had to duck low to avoid the ceiling, but she had enough room to swing her shortsword down at one of the remaining Redbrands. She connected, slicing into the man’s shoulder. He flailed back wildly with his own sword, but to no avail. Thalia struggled to fight from the cramped space above as the other Redbrand swung at her, wounding her arm.

     The elf was in dire need of aid. Ered attempted to help, wheeling his axe to and fro, but failing to connect. Flint shoved past one Redbrand to get to the one closest to the elf. As he passed, the nearest Redbrand stabbed at him, but the dwarf managed to deflect the blade and get by. He hefted his hammer up and brought it down onto the wounded shoulder of Thalia’s nearest attacker. To Flint’s astonishment, the Redbrand was still able to stay on his feet. Thalia, taking advantage of the situation, jabbed her sword down towards the injured Redbrand, puncturing his liver. The ruffian fell to the floor, mortally wounded. Seeing his confederate fall to Thalia’s blade, the sole remaining Redbrand took a swipe at her, but she rolled back on the bunk towards the wall and avoided the attack. Faelyn was standing outside the room, bow at the ready. Ered, in an attempt to give the half-elf an opening, jumped up onto one of the wooden crates. In doing so, he opened himself up to the surviving Redbrand who tore through him with his sword. Ered attempted to swipe back with his weapon, but injured as he was, the attack was ineffective. With the way clear, Faelyn was quick to let her arrow fly. It sunk into the Redbrand, the shaft now protruding from his ribs, but he remained steadfast. Flint swung and missed as the Redbrand stumbled unpredictably, reeling from the ranger’s arrow. Thalia, badly injured, climbed down from the bunk and attempted to move away from the villain. As she hopped down and tried to maneuver, she noticed him shambling towards the doorway, away from her. She seized the opportunity and, shifting her weight, wheeled up behind him, driving her sword through his back and out through his chest. The ruffian’s lifeless body dropped to the floor.

     Ered, wounded though he was, wasted no time in scouring the room for anything useful. He ripped through the bedding, he pried open crates, and he went through the fallen Redbrands’ pockets. He found nothing in the bunks. The crates and barrels contained more of the same provisions they had discovered in the cellar. The fallen men each had coin pouches which Ered relieved them of. In total, he recovered 28 silver pieces, 15 electrum pieces, 12 gold pieces, and 2 garnets worth about 10 gold pieces each. Thalia, also injured, but still able to move under her own power, walked out into the cellar and began investigating the south wall on the far side of the cistern. She noticed that the dust around the edges of the wall and floor had become unsettled, implying movement of someone or something.

To be continued…

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Phandalin is Beset by Ruffians
A detailed recounting of Session 3

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22nd day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

     With the sun hanging low in the sky, the party decided to split up. Ulfgar had taken the goblin’s escape rather personally, given that it was his rope and knots that bound the creature. The dwarf decided it was his duty to recapture the little beast. So, as Ulfgar darted off back north towards the Triboar Trail in search of his quarry, the rest of the party drove the ox cart down the road between some small houses and up to a trading post. Barthen’s Provisions, the place Gundren had sent the party, was the biggest trading post in Phandalin. A lean, balding man was at the door to greet them as they approached. He explained that they were about to close for the night, but that he could help them unload their supplies before he ended his day. He called for a couple of young clerks who helped to unload the cart and bring in supplies. The man, Elmar Barthen, had a kindly demeanor. He recognized Sildar, and he was excited to receive the supplies he’d been expecting, but he was curious to know what had become of Gundren. A look of dismay came upon Elmar’s face as Sildar recounted the tale of the day he and Gundren had been ambushed and captured. Elmar urged the party to track down Gundren. The town of Phandalin looked to be on the road to prosperity again, but with all of the Rockseeker brothers missing, that hope seemed dim. Elmar went on to explain that Nundro and Tharden, Gundren’s brothers, had been camping somewhere outside of town. They hadn’t been seen in over a tenday and were overdue for a resupply run. When asked about the Redbrand Ruffians, Barthen told the adventurers that they had been making life hard for the townspeople of Phandalin, shaking down local businesses and flouting the townmaster’s authority. After chatting a bit, the old fellow paid the adventurers the gold that had been promised as part of their deal with Gundren. He offered to hang on to the supplies that had been recovered from Cragmaw Hideout until the party could retrieve them the next day and take them to the Lionshield Coster. He then referred them to the Stonehill Inn for a night’s rest.

     Ered led the way down the road towards the inn and noticed that across the street from Barthen’s Provisions was a smithy. The large man walked up to the blacksmith and asked about getting his axe sharpened. Apparently, the smith offended Ered in some way or was too resistant to the big fellow’s persuasion, and it looked as though things might actually get violent. The rest of the group pulled Ered back into the street and Sildar reminded him that ale awaited at the Stonehill Inn just down the street.

     As they approached the inn, they could hear music and the din of the patrons and staff inside. The road-weary adventurers were eager for the pleasure of hot food, cold drinks, and a warm bed to follow. They drew many curious looks as they sauntered into the main hall. Kaster, sensing an opportunity to gain some local favor, bought a round of drinks for everyone. Ered was quick to get into the spirit of things and began drinking heavily. The group was happy to have a bit of rest and refreshment. As the evening wore on, Kaster, Flint, and Ered made arrangements to stay the night in the inn. Faelyn and Thalia decided to spend the night outside. Given the party’s interest in finding one Daran Edermath, the girls decided to set up an impromptu camp in Edermath Orchard. Flint, turned in early to offer prayers to Marthammor Duin.

     As Kaster and Ered continued their night of merry-making, a local miner came up to their table as if to strike up a conversation. He had clearly had more than a mere sampling of the libations on offer.
     “Hey fellow!” shouted Ered.
     “Hello friend,” the man retorted.
They learned that the man, called Lanar, had been recruited by the guildmaster of the local miner’s exchange, Halia Thornton. He had come from the east in search of mining work and settled in Phandalin a couple of years prior. The relatively new mining operation mostly involved extracting iron ore from the region. When Lanar had learned that Ered and his friends had come to Phandalin along the Triboar Trail, he mentioned a pack of orcs that had been harassing travelers and supply caravans along that road. Ered, his head hazy with drink, told Lanar that the group had dealt with the orcs. Kaster inquired about the Redbrands. “Those bastards,” spit Lanar. But, he stopped the sorcerer, and expressed how pleased he was at the news that the orc marauders had been dealt with. He told the two men that they must notify the townmaster. It was at this point that Ered corrected himself, blaming the ale for his clouded mind. Ered briefly related the tale of the group’s battle with goblins (not orcs). Lanar admitted that his head was not all that clear either, and the two shared a chuckle over their state. Lanar encouraged them to talk to the townmaster, Harbin Wester, as he’d been looking for someone to deal with the orcs. Kaster probed again about the Redbrands. Lanar corroborated what the group had heard from Barthen earlier in the evening – the Redbrands were trouble-makers causing problems for the local townsfolk. Lanar also revealed that they could normally be found at the Sleeping Giant tap house just down the road to the east.

     Kaster decided to leave Ered to his carousing and headed for his room. Just as we was about to ascend the staircase, the innkeeper’s wife, Trilena, stopped him. “I heard you mention something about the Redbrands.” She continued, expressing some of the same sentiments as the other townsfolk about this group of ruffians, but she had more to tell. She spoke of a local woodcarver, Thel Dendrar, who had kicked some Redbrands out of his shop about a tenday ago. They had been leering at his wife and generally making his family uncomfortable. The next day, the entire family had disappeared. Kaster tried to gather information from the woman, but she wasn’t sure who the Rebrand leader was or how many of them there were. “There has been talk that a group of those brutes killed Thel before they took his family away.” Trilena explained that the townmaster, pompous oaf that he was, had not been very helpful in removing the Redbrands. She also mentioned that the brigands appeared to have been operating out of an old, run-down manor to the far east of town, though she was unsure of the name of the place. She suggested that Kaster might be able to gather more information from Daran Edermath who had some knowledge of local history. With that, Kaster headed off to bed, reminding his large companion that he should also get some sleep as the next day promised to be eventful.

     Ered continued chatting with Lanar until the miner too went home to sleep off the night’s festivities. “Ered, my friend, I’ve enjoyed your company, but I must be off. Goodnight.” A young boy came over to wipe down the table where Lanar had been sitting. It was Pip, the innkeeper’s young son. Ered greeted the boy and expressed his intent to head off to bed. Before he left though, Ered asked the boy if he had any news to share.
     “Well…” the boy’s eyes shifted to the left as he searched his memory. “Carp said he found a secret tunnel!” he announced triumphantly, pleased with his ability to recollect a scrap of information that was sure to impress the adventurer.
     “Who is Carp?” inquired Ered.
Carp, Pip revealed, was a young halfling lad who lived on Alderleaf Farm with his mother, Qelline. The alleged secret tunnel was apparently somewhere in the woods, but Pip was short on details. Ered instructed Pip to send the halfling lad his way so that they could talk. The wooden table groaned as the large man forced himself up. As he swung his leg over the bench, he casually flipped the boy a copper coin.
     “Thank you, sir! Thank you very much!”

     Meanwhile, in the orchard, the elves were making themselves comfortable and settling in for the night.
     “Can I ask what you’ve got there?” inquired Faelyn, pointing to the remnants of the leather pouch Thalia had recovered from the goblin cave.
     “Something I made when I was younger.” Thalia replied.
Faelyn was eager to know more about her mysterious companion, but Thalia seemed a bit reluctant. They did discover, not surprisingly, that they shared a love of animals and nature. Not wanting to pry, Faelyn gently backed off of her questioning and they both laid back and watched the stars as they twinkled brightly in the dark blanket of night sky overhead.

23rd Day of the Time of Flowers

     The next morning, Thalia and Faelyn woke early…too early, they felt, to disturb master Edermath. So, they headed back to the Stonehill Inn to meet their friends for breakfast. Ered, Kaster and Flint were already assembled in the main hall. The elves were a bit surprised to see everyone up already, particularly Ered, but there was not much sleep to be had as concern was growing for Ulfgar who had not yet returned. Toblen, the innkeeper, informed the gathering that Sildar would be resting in his room, his time in the goblin cave having taken its toll. Elsa, the barmaid, served them a variety of breads and some watered wine. As they dined, they noticed a small pair of eyes peering out at them from under a small cap at the end of the table. Carp Alderleaf stood waiting, his height barely cleared that of the table. He had come to see Ered to discuss the secret tunnel he had found in the woods.
     “Hello there,” said Ered, “your name wouldn’t be Carp, would it?”
     The small boy responded enthusiastically, “I’m Carp! Pip, told me about you! You’re just as big as he said!”
Ered asked the boy to describe the secret tunnel he’d found. Carp was a ball of energy. He spoke breathlessly as he explained how he came to be in the woods.
     “I like to go into the woods looking for faerie dragons. Reidoth says that they like treasure. I go out into the woods with coins and cakes and I try to lure them out. Reidoth says you can’t see them because they’re invisible so you have to listen for them, but it doesn’t work. Mother won’t let me take coins out into the forest any longer because I lost some once…and I get hungry when I wait for the faerie dragons to show up, so I eat the cakes. I haven’t found any faerie dragons.”
     Ered tried to maintain composure as he attempted to steer the boy back onto the subject of the tunnel. “That is hard luck…so, in the woods…”
     Carp interrupted, “But I’m still going to look!”
     Ered was patient. “Where did you see this tunnel? Could you show me?”
     “I’ve seen the Redbrands coming from the tunnel,” he continued. “I think they killed my dog.”
The party of rugged adventurers softened as they saw the torment on the boys face.
     “What was your dog’s name?” asked Faelyn.
     “Frolla,” Carp replied, gloomily.
Frolla, the Alderleaf family mastiff, was the resident protector of the farm. She wasn’t prone to running off and Carp was convinced the Redbrands must have killed her. Ered expressed his sympathy. Carp went on to explain that he had seen the Redbrands make use of the tunnel in the hill beneath the manor on the east side of town. Kaster seemed eager to seek out this secret entrance. Faelyn, somewhat surprisingly, expressed concern about rushing headlong into a situation before they had more information. Carp told the adventurers that he could be found on Alderleaf Farm if they needed him to show them the entrance to the tunnel. Ered thanked the lad and tossed him a copper piece.
     “Thank you, sir! I can use this to lure faerie dragons!”
Flint suggested that the lad could also buy cakes. This seemed to give Carp some pause before he suddenly darted out of the inn into the street.

     The group deliberated over their next course of action. They had a mind to visit the town master as well as Daran Edermath. They settled up their bill with Toblen before setting off. The party started by heading back to Barthen’s Provisions to recover the supplies that had been liberated from Cragmaw Hideout. Barthen’s clerks helped prepare the cargo and the group headed down the street to the Lionshield Coster. They entered the shop to the ring of a small bell above the door. Standing behind the counter was a lady in her mid-30s. Linene Graywind, the proprietor, greeted them.
     “Good morning, what can I do for you folks.”
     Flint explained, “We believe that we’ve retrieved some items that might have belonged to you.”
     “Well we’ve had a shipment waylaid recently. Could that be what you’re referring to?”
As Flint and Ered revealed how they came by these goods, Linene walked with them to the wagon outside to inspect the recovered provisions. Having confirmed that this was indeed her shipment, she was thrilled to have the items back. She encouraged the adventurers to let her know if she could help them with anything while they were staying in Phandalin. She indicated that she had supplies and equipment on hand that might prove useful to the group. Then, she paid them 50 gold pieces for their troubles. Linene went on to explain that the Lionshields operate out of the east. Of late, their caravans had been dealing with an increasing level of banditry. Flint inquired about the Redbrands and whether or not they had caused trouble for Linene. She indicated that they tend to steer clear of the Lionshield Coster. Linene expressed to them early on that they were not welcome in her establishment. The party decided to shop around a bit to see what the Lionshield Coster had to offer. Ered did not find a weapon better than his axe or armor better than his mail. Faelyn expressed interest in a component pouch, which Linene had on hand for 20 gold pieces. The ranger was reluctant to spend that much, but she did purchase some arrows, as did Thalia. The group thanked Linene and bid her farewell before driving the ox cart back over to Barthen’s Provisions.

     From there, the band of adventurers moved back down the road, past the Stonehill Inn and on to check in with Harbin Wester. As they approached the stone-walled townmaster’s hall, Faelyn examined a notice posted on a board next to the front door. It bore the town seal and an indecipherable signature:

REWARD! Orcs near Wyvern Tor! Those of a mind to face the orc menace should inquire within.


“Orcs!?” cried Faelyn. She spit at the ground in front of the sign and rushed inside. Waiting for the party inside was a fat, foolish looking old man. His clothing was decadent, and while he had an air of self-importance, he seemed to lack any obvious virtues. His initial reaction to Faelyn and the rest was a bit cool, but when Kaster entered the hall, the man’s bearing suddenly changed and he bowed low.
     “Good morrow to you!”
Kaster, appreciating the recognition of his own nobility, glided forward to take his hand in friendship.
     “I am Harbin Wester, town master of Phandalin. Welcome! How might I be of service to you and your…companions?”
     Kaster reciprocated, “Greetings my good man. We’re here to inquire about the notice outside. We noticed you’ve been having trouble with orcs.”
     Wester related to the group the problems this orc band had been giving travelers in the region. “I’m looking for an adventuring lot such as you to take care of these abominable creatures.”
The town master went on to report that the orcs appeared to be operating out of Wyvern Tor, in the foothills of the Sword Mountains a few days travel to the northeast. The raiding orc bands had apparently been encroaching closer and closer to Phandalin along the Triboar Trail.
     Hearing this, Kaster turned to the half-elf. “Faelyn, we might have to wait on contending with these orcs until we’ve dealt with matters closer at hand.” He knew she’d be eager to pursue the creatures as she had a particular disdain for them.
     “We will…” she started to assert her desire to go after the raiders, but the others all spoke at once in an attempt to assuage the ranger’s thirst for orc blood.
     “We will,” they agreed.
     Flint then asked, “What can you tell us about the Redbrands?”
     Wester’s shoulders sunk a bit. “Nasty business with the Redbrands,” he said. “They seem to have set up shop at the old Tresendar Manor on the east side of town.”
The party was stunned by the mention of the name. Sensing their surprise, Wester hesitated.
     “My name is Ered Tresendar,” the large man barked.
     “Ered Tresendar you say? Do you have family ties to the region?” challenged the town master.
     Ered answered honestly, “I…don’t know.”
     Wester turned to Kaster. “Is this man really called Tresendar?” He seemed skeptical of the claim and was starting to suspect that these outsiders were about to attempt to take advantage of him in some way.
Ered started to reveal what details he could recall about his human parents and how his mother had left him with dwarves, but Wester seemed more interested in his own problems.
     “Condolences. About these orcs…” he said, turning to Faelyn, “you seemed eager to take care of those. How soon do you think you could do that?”
     Faelyn, in spite of her own priorities, stood firm with her companions. “As soon as we’ve taken care of this business with the Redbrands,” she replied.
Wester seemed content with this as both issues had caused problems for his town and its people, though his reputation was just as important to him. The company of adventurers stepped out into the street and began to discuss their next move when they were suddenly confronted by five rough looking men in dirty red cloaks.
     “Well, well, well. What ’ave we here?”
Ered stepped forward and demanded that his foes identify themselves. They ignored him.
     “Time for you to move on, strangers,” said one of the Redbrands.
     “Who are you to tell me to move on?” Ered challenged. The Redbrands demanded that the group hand over their items of value and be on their way. Ered declined and the Redbrands drew their swords.

     Faelyn, without hesitation, notched an arrow and let it fly into the shoulder of the Redbrand closest to Flint and Kaster. The villain reeled from the blow, but was still in the fight. Thalia’s bow also began to thrum as she shot an arrow into another Redbrand’s neck. He too survived the initial salvo. Flint called upon the power of Marhtammor Duin. A flash of light glared in his palm as a bolt of radiant energy shot from the dwarf’s hands towards one of the Redbrands. The bolt connected and the Redbrand was suddenly enveloped in a brilliant light. Just as suddenly, the light dissipated and what had been a man crumbled into a pile of smoldering ash. The display was such that not only were the other Redbrands in awe, but so too were Flint’s own companions. Realizing that these strangers were not to be trifled with, the Redbrands regained their wits and pressed their attack. One of them lunged towards Kaster with his shortsword, but the sorcerer deftly evaded the thrust. Another engaged Ered, swinging a blade at the large man, but Ered fended off the blow with his Torrun Clan shield. Sensing an opportunity, another Redbrand focused on Ered successfully plunged his weapon into the warrior’s flesh. A third Redbrand moved in for an assault. In spite of his wound, Ered raised his shield in time to deflect it. It was Ered’s turn. The massive fellow raised his axe, the dazzling blue sapphire in its handle gleaming in the sunlight, and hewed at the nearest Redbrand, cleaving the man’s thigh. Ered’s opponent shrieked in pain and faltered. Kaster, not to be outdone, conjured a firebolt in the palm of his hand and sent it flying towards one of his attackers. The target was suddenly enveloped in flames and, screaming in pain, he began flailing about in an attempt to put them out.
     Faelyn intensified her focus. She muttered something to herself as she pulled an arrow from her quiver. She aimed with total concentration, and then loosed the arrow at one of the Redbrands. The arrow hit its mark. Half a second later, a shower of thorns exploded outward from the arrowhead, now firmly rooted in the man’s chest. The wretch survived long enough to see the ruffian next to him have his throat shredded by several shooting thorns, then Thalia finished him off with an arrow to the jugular. Both men fell dead at once. Flint, once again, invoked the divine power at his command and sent a guiding bolt towards another Redbrand. The scoundrel was enveloped in light and reduced to ash. There was only one of the Redbrands left. Having seen his comrades defeated in such spectacular fashion, the survivor decided to run. He darted off in a northeasterly direction, presumably headed for the street that led to the Sleeping Giant. Ered gave chase and, after a few long strides, pulled a handaxe from his belt and hurled it towards the escaping enemy. The small axe spun in the air before sinking into the Redbrand’s back with a thunk. He fell face first in the dirt, still alive, but incapacitated. The townspeople who had gathered to witness the fight had been, at first, enthusiastic at the sight of someone standing up to the Redbrands. The violence in their once quiet streets was all too real, however, and some of the more squeamish gasped and turned away as they saw Kaster approach the fallen man with his dagger drawn. He stepped over the man, straddling him. The sorcerer grabbed the ruffian’s head and held it back before drawing his dagger across the man’s throat. Blood spilled into the street and the last of their enemies expired. Kaster wiped his dagger off. Sensing the crowd’s distaste for such brutality, the sorcerer’s sense of showmanship kicked in. He raised his hand and sent a shower of colorful sparks high into the air. The gathered mob cheered.

     As the rest of the group recuperated, Flint tended to Ered’s wounds. A young, dark-haired elf who had been watching the battle from a house at the edge of the center of town, walked out and approached them. "It seems the luck of Tymora was with you,” she said. “I am Sister Garaele, caretaker of the Shrine of Luck, which you see before you,” she gestured to the nearby shrine on the north side of town center. “Once you are able, come and see me. My home is just next door. Come rest and we shall confer.”

     As the party was listening to Sister Garaele, Kaster noticed that Harbin Wester, the town master, had also been watching the fray. The look on his face was one of concern. Kaster called out to him as they all began to walk towards the Townmaster’s Hall.
     “Harbin Wester, are you not pleased with what we’ve done for your town?”
     Flint chimed in, “We’ve only done what you’ve asked!”
     Harbin Wester replied, somewhat sheepishly, “Yes, but so openly in brought daylight. I’m concerned that retribution will be swift and violent.”
     Kaster was losing patience. “For whom?”
Wester knew he needed to appear like a competent leader during what had become an uncomfortably public conversation.
     “For the townspeople…and possibly for you, though you seem capable of handling yourselves fairly well.”
     Flint was also starting to become annoyed by the townmaster. “They approached us. They seem to have more interest in us than we do in them,” the dwarf said testily.
     Harbin Wester pleaded with them, “Will you stay here in Phandalin until this is seen through? I don’t want you to leave now that you’ve stirred up the hornets’ nest.”
     Flint didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely. We’ll take all comers.”
At that, the townmaster went back into the town hall and spoke with a few men, gesturing towards the corpses of the Redbrands in the town center. As the company of adventurers made their way towards Sister Garaele’s home, Kaster knelt beside one of the fallen Redbrands, removed his red cloak, and tucked it into his own clothing.

     Sister Garaele was still standing in front of her house as they approached. She opened her front door and beckoned them inside. Once they had all entered and found seats, the elf began speaking.
     “You all seem to be able to handle yourselves quite well. I have a task that I think you are well suited for if you are interested.” She looked around the room and attempted to gauge their reactions.
     “Yes, let’s discuss your proposal,” said Kaster.
Garaele went on to explain that her superiors within The Harpers, an organization she was affiliated with, wanted her to seek out a banshee called Agatha. Gareale was to persuade the banshee to answer a question about a spellbook. She had attempted to seek Agatha out herself in the creature’s lair (in the woods north of Conyberry), but the banshee did not appear for her.
     “Perhaps with a suitable gift,” Garaele held up a jeweled, silver comb as she said this, “you could persuade her to appear. Present this to Agatha and ask her where to find the spellbook belonging to the legendary mage, Bowgentle.” She looked directly at Kaster Magus and said, “One who flatters Agatha’s vanity might be able to trade this prize for an answer to that question.” In exchange for performing this task, Garaele offered the party three healing potions.
     “Where would we find thisss…” began Ered.
     “Off to the northeast in the woods,” said Garaele.
     “Near Conyberry?” asked Flint.
     “If you leave the Triboar Trail and venture north into the woods near Conyberry, you should find it,” explained the elf.
Kaster’s suspicions were aroused by the details Garaele was leaving out of her description, but he did not get the sense that she was being deceitful. The party considered their options and discussed a next course of action. The Redbrands were still a problem, and were likely to retaliate once they got wind of the fate of their comrades. Gundren and his map were still missing and, if the dwarf was still alive, he was likely being held prisoner by goblins or worse. The location of Castle Cragmaw was still a mystery. An orc raiding party was still at large. Their brother in arms, Ulfgar, had not been seen since they arrived in town. Now, they were being asked to take a gift to an elusive banshee several days travel away. Ered asked Garaele if she’d ever heard of a character known as “The Black Spider.” Garaele’s expression at the mention of this name was thoughtful, but beyond that she did not give any indication that she was familiar with the name. Ered then asked about Iarno Albrek.
     “Iarno was here briefly…he was a mage. Part of the Lords’ Alliance was my understanding. But I never had too many direct interactions with him. He was only here briefly.”
Ered continued probing Garaele for information regarding the various tasks the party had been involved in. When asked about Wave Echo Cave, she described it much as Sildar had done when they first encountered him in Cragmaw Hideout. The party ultimately decided to seek out Daran Edermath.
     When Sister Garaele saw them getting up to leave, she protested, “…but Agatha.”
Flint explained that the group had more business in town but that they would complete the task. Kaster told her that they would send Pip ahead to talk with her once they were setting out.
     “The Stonehill boy?” she asked.
     “Yes,” they all replied in unison.
     “Very well. I will hold the comb for you here.”

     The band of adventurers left Garaele’s home and cut through the Town Green as they approached Edermath Orchard. Next to the orchard was a small cottage. Tending the trees was a fit, silver-haired half-elf. Though he resembled a man of no more than fifty, in fact, he was well over one hundred years old.
     “Well met, friends,” he greeted enthusiastically.
     “Well met,” replied Flint.
     “I am Daran Edermath and this is my orchard. What can I help you with?”
     “We’ve heard that you might be interested in speaking with someone about dealing with the Redbrands.”
     Daran smiled, “From what I’ve seen it looks as though you’ve already begun that task.”
     “It wasn’t by choice, but we’ve accepted the task nonetheless,” the dwarf retorted.
     “They’re a nasty bunch and I appreciate what you’ve done thus far.”
Daran went on to explain that he had been growing increasingly concerned about the Redbrands presence in Phandalin and that he had been hoping that a group of like-minded people might band together to confront them. Glasstaff, he said, had had his way for long enough. The party was intrigued by this. It was the first time they had heard a direct reference to the leader of the Redbrands by name. Daran described the ruffians’ comings and goings…how they tended to occupy the Sleeping Giant. He also confirmed that the Redbrands seemed to be operating out of the lower level of Tresendar Manor, the ruin on the east side of town.
     “What can you tell us about the Tresendars?” asked Ered.
     “The manor is ancient and has long been abandoned. It’s cellars are likely where the Redbrands have established a safe house.”
     “My name is Ered Tresendar.”
     “Really? That is interesting.”
     “I was actually given your name to come here to investigate my human heritage.”
     “Is that so? Well, I’ll tell you what, Ered Tresendar. If you get rid of those Redbrands, then come back and speak with me. We can discuss what I know of your family heritage. I may be of some help to you, particularly if you find any ancestral belongings.”
     “I already have something that belonged to my mother.”
     “What might that be?”
Ered held up the handle of his axe to show the half-elf the sapphire that resided there. Daran looked at the gem knowingly. He didn’t seem at all curious as to how the big fellow came upon such a stone.
     “Most intriguing. An interesting turn of events indeed.”
The party attempted to gather as much information as they could about the Redbrands and their dwelling.
     Flint asked, “Do you know about the secret cave in the forest next to the manor?”
     “I’ve not heard of this, though, it would not surprise me to learn it. The Redbrands seem to appear and disappear at will. While it is expected that they’re sneaking in and out of Tresendar Manor, it is difficult to be sure.” The old half-elf paused, “Where did you come by this information?”
     “Carp,” chimed in Ered.
     “Ah, the halfling boy! Yes! He would know. He spends a lot of time in those woods.”
The group began to discuss their next course of action when Kaster suddenly remembered to ask what Daran knew of the Black Spider. The old fellow had not heard of such a person, but he did have another matter for the party to address. He went on to recount stories he had heard from prospectors coming from the hills to the northeast of Phandalin. Apparently, some stranger or group of strangers had been digging around in the ancient ruin at Old Owl Well. More disturbingly, some prospectors had reported being chased from the area by the undead. Daran explained that the ruins at Old Owl Well are of an old watch tower of the ancient magical empire of Netheril. He seemed troubled as he described the potential for dangerous magic lying dormant there. Daran was sympathetic to the large number of tasks the group was already attempting to accomplish, but he suggested that investigating this disturbance might be worth their time and it would certainly be a benefit to the town of Phandalin.

     Ered suddenly recalled something that Elsa the barmaid had said about Daran. “We hear you were once an adventurer yourself.”
     “I was a member of the Order of the Gauntlet. Our aim was to protect the innocent from the depredations of evil doers.”
     “Are you still a member of the order?” asked Ered.
     “I am retired. You are probably wondering why I have not taken steps to deal with these Redbrand Ruffians myself. I have. But alone, there is only so much I can do.”
     “Do you want to help us?” piped Faelyn.
     “Yes, would you like to come out for one more adventure?” agreed Kaster.
     “I think I will leave that to the likes of you. I am content to tend my orchard.”
It looked as though the party was about to be on their way. Daran pulled Thalia and Faelyn aside for a moment. He told them that should they decide to spend the night in his orchard again, it would be polite to ask permission first. Faelyn apologized and thanked him for his time.

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The Passing of Klarg
Session 2 Recap

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21st day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

Outside, the sky grew dark as the sun sank below the horizon. Thalia the elf, walked up to the remains of the goblin that Kaster had blasted with his firebolt. Ered, Faelyn, Flint, Kaster and Ulfgar watched curiously as she bent over what was left of the goblin’s face and rubbed her finger along the edge of its charred teeth. “What is it?” asked Flint. Thalia explained that they were dealing with Cragmaw goblins. A particular tribe of the little beasts known to file down their teeth in order to appear more menacing. They all backed down the steps into the corridor where the stream was flowing.

They turned and followed the stream north, deeper into the cave. Flint had cast a spell on Ered’s shield so that it shone brightly, illuminating the tunnel. As they pressed forward, Thalia noticed a bridge above the stream not far in front of them. On it, a small creature belched out a noise and darted off in a southeasterly direction. As the party deliberated about how to handle this turn of events, a rumbling noise started to emanate from up the passageway. The sound of rushing water filled the cavern and Flint, Ulfgar and Ered, who were standing in the stream, suddenly found themselves being washed away back to the outside edge of the cave mouth. They were somewhat worse for wear, but they quickly gathered their wits, ran back into the cave, and caught up with Thalia, Kaster and Faelyn. The group decided to change direction. They were careful to stay on the landing that ran along the eastern side of the passage. On the other side of the stream, they spotted a narrow tunnel that led in a westerly direction. Flint led the way. Single file, they forded the stream and entered the tunnel. The path was steep and choked with rubble. They scaled a ledge and continued up the passage.

As Flint came to the end of the tunnel, he could see another passageway that ran both left and right. To the right was darkness. To the left was a cavern and in it, a group of goblins surrounding a cooking fire. Flint and the goblins stared at each other, unsure what to do for a moment. Faelyn, spotting the goblins as she peered over Flint’s head, pushed passed him and started sending arrows in their direction, hitting one. Kaster came out of the tunnel into the corridor, positioning himself to target the goblins with a spell while also leaving room for his comrades to exit the tunnel. He sent a firebolt into the chamber and singed a goblin’s shoulder.

Thalia, who had been the last to enter the western passage, was fording the stream when she heard the rumbling again. A torrent rushed towards her down the main tunnel. She gasped as the frigid water rose around her. As she was caught up in the surge, she grasped at the wet stone and managed to hang onto a crevice in the cave wall. As the rushing wave subsided, she scrambled up the steep bank and followed her friends. Drenched and frightened, she waited in the tunnel. She drew an arrow from her quiver and notched it to the string of her bow, reluctant to face her foe but ready to let loose if one of the little monsters appeared in front of her. Further up the passage, Ulfgar worked his way passed his comrades and waded into the fray without hesitation. He swung his maul around, deflecting goblin scimitars and laughing heartily. The dwarf was thrilled to be in combat again. Ered joined him and sunk his axe into the ribcage of one of the goblins, not quite killing him. Flint finished him off with his warhammer.

As the party began to take in their surroundings, they noticed a natural stone staircase that led to an upper level in the southern part of the chamber. They looked up and saw a slouched figure sitting up against a stalagmite. Standing over it was a goblin with a bow drawn and aimed at Flint. Faelyn shot the archer goblin, wounding him. Kaster stepped up to a goblin and sent a tongue of flame directly into the creature’s face, sending sparks and bloody spittle everywhere before it collapsed on the floor dead . Ulfgar held off several enemies at once while Ered hewed at them with his axe. Thalia emerged from the passage and sent an arrow into the goblin with the bow. Flint slammed his hammer into another goblin that was reeling from the taste of Ered’s axe. The light in the monster’s eyes faded and it slapped to the cold stone in a lifeless heap. As the tide of the battle turned in favor of our heroes, the way cleared and Flint sprinted up the staircase to the archer goblin. The fiend dropped its bow and reached for a sheathed blade, but Flint was too fast. The dwarf swung his warhammer into the side of the goblin’s head, crushing its skull.

As the fighting subsided, dust and smoke swirled around the cavern. The others took notice of Thalia who was stooped down near the wall of the chamber. She was looking intently at something drawn there. Barely visible on the surface were scratches that had been made years and years before. The drawing vaguely resembled a small rabbit. In Thalia’s hand was a badly worn bit of leather and fur, the tattered remnants of a small pouch she carried in her youth. Thalia revealed that she had been in this cave before, though she hadn’t been sure of it until now. As a child, she had been held captive here by a different band of Cragmaw goblins. They had confined her for weeks after murdering her parents. It was here that she was discovered by a man who had been scouring the area for items of value. Together, they escaped and the man took her home to his wife. The couple raised Thalia as their own. The others, still pulsing with adrenaline from the battle, stood aghast as the elf sat, overcome with emotion.

The adventurers had bested the goblins in the cavern, but the mood was somber and there was no time to lose. They gathered on the upper platform as Flint began untying the goblins’ captive. It was none other than Sildar Hallwinter, Gundren’s associate and travel companion. The two of them had been ambushed by goblins on the Triboar Trail, captured, searched, and dragged away. Sildar was brought to this cave, dubbed Cragmaw Hideout. Based on what he had overheard during their capture, Sildar guessed that Gundren had been taken to a ruin being referred to by the goblins as Cragmaw Castle. Sildar went on to explain that Klarg, a bugbear leading this band of goblins, had been instructed by someone or something known as “The Black Spider” to set up an ambush in the region specifically to ensnare Gundren. They were after a map that the dwarf had in his possession. A map of significant importance that was quite likely to lead the Rockseekers to the long lost Wave Echo Cave. Sildar told of the history and significance of this cave – how hundreds of years ago an alliance of gnomes, dwarves and men had attempted to set up a mining operation in this wondrous cavern with the intent to bring prosperity to the region and to harness the power of the Forge of Spells contained within. That is until a band of raiding orcs and mercenary wizards attempted to seize Wave Echo Cave’s riches and magical treasures for themselves. The resulting battle resulted in the destruction of much of the cavern, including its only known entrance.

The goblin with the bow, Sildar explained, was Yeemik. There had apparently been some infighting among the goblins and the bugbear, Klarg. Yeemik had unfulfilled aspirations to take over and lead this band of beasties. Sildar had hoped to use this to his advantage in an attempt to escape his captors, but he was grateful that his rescuers had saved him the trouble. It was about this time that Ulfgar decided to inspect Yeemik’s corpse. He found three gold teeth and 15 silver pieces.

Our heroes, concerned about Sildar’s condition and having suffered injuries of their own, decided it was safe enough to rest and bind their wounds. After their brief respite, Sildar and the party headed in a northwesterly direction. They passed the opening to the tunnel that led due east back to the main cavern. As they continued, the cave widened and they could hear the rippling of the stream. The bridge that the group had seen earlier from below was now directly in front of them. It was old and rickety. Not trusting their fate to goblin maintenance technique, the party crossed the bridge gingerly one at a time. They all made it safely across and followed the corridor into a chamber containing two shallow pools. There was a waterfall, high in the eastern part of the chamber that flowed into these pools. There were large stones scattered throughout the pools that had apparently once formed damns. These pools were the source of the rushing water that the heroes had encountered when attempting to pass through the main corridor. As they studied the fragmented remains of the trap that had waylaid them, the group noticed three goblins standing in the chamber. Ulfgar advanced towards them and with one swift stroke of his large maul, the dwarf obliterated one of the little devils. Ered attacked another. Soon the goblins were dispatched, with Sildar landing the killing blow on the last of them. The party followed a set of natural steps that led up and to the south.

They found themselves in a wide chamber with a large fire roaring in a pit in the center of the room. A niche in the western wall of the chamber formed the top of the shaft that descended down to the kennel where they had encountered the chained wolves. Sacks and crates of looted provisions were piled up in front of them at the back of the chamber. As they approached the loot, they heard a rough, throaty laugh behind them accompanied by growls and snarls. The party wheeled around to find that in the shadows stood a large bugbear wielding an imposing morningstar. It was Klarg…and, with him was his wolf, Ripper, along with two more goblins. Faelyn’s bow began to sing. An arrow sunk into Klarg’s furry hide. Unfazed, Klarg brought the brutal force of his weapon down on Sildar, knocking him down the stairs that led into the chamber. The wolf latched onto Ulfgar, but could not bite through the dwarf’s mail. Thalia and Kaster sent arrows and flames in Klarg’s direction, connecting. Thalia’s arrow sunk deep into the brute’s neck. He roared out in pain. Ulfgar got the upper hand and brought his maul down on the wolf’s head, its skull crumpling into a bloody, furry mess. Klarg howled in rage at the sight of his favorite pet being killed. Ered sunk his axe deep into the sternum of one of the goblins, killing him instantly. Kaster’s palm gave off a sickly green light as he raised it towards Klarg. The light intensified as a viridian ray burst from his outstretched hand, but the intensity of the blast caused Kaster to lose control. The beam, intended for Klarg, instead landed squarely between the shoulders of Ered, who was standing nearby. The large man convulsed as vomit violently erupted from his mouth. His shield and axe crashed to the ground as he doubled over and clutched his abdomen. He writhed in pain briefly, then collapsed, unconscious…sick still spewing from his mouth. Klarg, injured though he was, broke into uproarious laughter as he pointed mockingly at the sorcerer. Faelyn, seeing an opportunity, let loose an arrow that found its mark. With a thunk, the arrow plunged deep into the brute’s chest, piercing the heart. His laugh became a gulp, and then a gurgle. Klarg sank to the floor, dead.

The final goblin standing, who called himself Slig, cowered in fear as the party closed in around him. Faelyn demanded his surrender and before the words had completely escaped her lips, the creature let his scimitar slip from his hand and clang to the stony floor. The party interrogated the goblin. They gleaned some information…apparently, there had been fewer than twenty goblins in the place and Cragmaw Hideout was now officially free from its former tenants. Their leader, Klarg, answered to one Content Not Found: king-grol, chief of the Cragmaw tribe, who had taken up residence at Cragmaw Castle. Kaster insisted that the goblin answer to his new name of Kevin, and seeing no other way out of this predicament, the goblin was eager to oblige. Anything to save his sorry hide. Ulfgar pulled some hempen rope from his pack and tied Kevin up, securing him to a nearby rock. Flint discovered a chest, presumably belonging to Klarg, which contained some valuable items. 600 copper pieces were divided equally among the party (though not before Kaster had made the suggestion that Ered had forfeited his share by being unconscious during the battle). Flint being the party’s designated healer, reached for two bottles of healing potion from the chest. 110 silver pieces were divided among Ered, Kaster, Thalia, Faelyn and Flint. In lieu of silver, Ulfgar took a small jade statuette of a frog with tiny golden orbs for eyes.

In talking more with Sildar, the party learned of his organization, the Lords’ Alliance. They also learned of his search for a fellow member, a wizard named Iarno Albrek who had taken up residence in Phandalin months ago and then disappeared. Sildar was anxious to get back to Phandalin to investigate the matter and he offered the party an additional 50 gold pieces if they agreed to escort him. The goods that had been looted by the band of goblins bore the mark of the Lionshield Coster. According to Sildar, returning these goods to a woman named Linene in Phandalin would likely result in the friendship of her and the company, and possibly even a reward. The party, reasonably assured that they were now alone, decided to make camp in the cave chamber. The night passed without incident.

22nd day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR

By the next morning, everyone was feeling well rested, even Ered. They spent the first half of the day hauling the Lionshield Coster goods from the cave to the ox cart and loading them up. The oxen and supplies from Neverwinter had remained undisturbed. They tethered Kevin to the back of the cart where he followed on foot. The rest of the party hopped aboard among all of the sacks, crates and boxes and crammed in where they could. The oxen complained about the excess weight, but they managed to set out along the Triboar Trail in the direction of Phandalin. While on the way there, Kevin was asked about the location of Cragmaw Castle. He motioned vaguely back in the direction of the cave. “Very far.” They came upon the narrow road that turned south towards Phandalin in the late afternoon. As it was starting to get dark, they looked back behind the cart and noticed that they were now dragging a gnawed hempen rope with nothing attached to it. Kevin was nowhere to be seen. Just before dusk, they spotted some houses nestled between the hilltops. Three days since their meeting with Gundren Rockseeker, they reached their destination.

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Goblin Arrows
Session 1 Recap

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19th day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR
The party met Gundren Rockseeker in the Driftwood Tavern in Neverwinter to discuss an opportunity to escort a supply wagon to Barthen’s Provisions in Phandalin to the South. For the sake of discretion, Gundren did not travel with the party. Rather, he headed out that night with his associate, Sildar. After the dwarf excused himself, the new colleagues got to know each other over drinks and then settled in for the night at the Driftwood, compliments of Gundren.

20th day of the Time of Flowers (Solstice) – 1481 DR
The members of the party were awakened by Rosene, the proprietor of the Driftwood. They ate breakfast and then made preparations to head south. The dwarves set out on foot and shared stories of the soldier’s life. Kaster Magus attempted to procure what interesting items he could in town, but came back to the stables empty handed. Once those who had remained in the city regrouped and the oxen had been harnessed, they set out to catch up with the dwarves. The first day on the road was uneventful. The new companions talked and became better acquainted. They made camp for the night about half way through their journey.

21st day of the Time of Flowers – 1481 DR
The next morning, they struck camp and continued south. Once they had cleared Neverwinter Wood, they could see Icespire Peak to the southeast and they knew they were getting close. By late afternoon, they found the Triboar Trail and Ered, who was driving the wagon, made the turn to head east. Several miles after the turn, the party came upon a pair of dead horses in the road. Faelyn rushed forward to investigate, though her comrades made several attempts to deter her. Before they could discern what had happened to the horses, they were ambushed by goblins. Three of the nasty creatures ran up to the party bearing scimitars while two more attacked with bows from further down the road. Ered killed two goblins, beheading one. Thalia shot a goblin through the neck while it was engaged with Ulfgar. Flint irradiated one of the bow wielding goblins by calling on the power of Marthammor Duin. The party was victorious, but not completely unscathed. Faelyn was severely hurt, but the party’s dwarven cleric once again showed his usefulness and cured her wounds. Once the dust had settled, the party investigated the horses and determined that they belonged to Gundren and Sildar. They discovered drag marks leading from the road to the north into the high grass. Faelyn led the party through the wilderness, but there were hazards along the way. Ulfgar triggered a snare trap, but was not entangled. Faelyn, in spite of her tracking expertise, fell into a pit trap and suffered some scrapes and bruises.

As the last light of day began to fade, the party encountered a cave in the side of a hill. A stream ran forth from the mouth of the cave. Two goblins were waiting in ambush, but they were dispatched quickly by the heroes. Flint could hear animal noises coming from within the cave. Kaster conjured a spectral, floating hand. With it, he brought a lit torch to the mouth of the cave. With no immediate danger observed, the party warily entered. As they came to a set of stone steps that led to a small, dank chamber on the east side of the passage, they found themselves facing a pair of wolves. Fortunately for the party, the wolves were chained to a stalagmite, but they snarled and snapped at the adventurers. Faelyn attempted to calm the creatures, as did Ered with a bit of food, but the wolves had been whipped into a frenzy by the sight of intruders. As the party was deciding what to do, a goblin slinked out of the darkness and released one of the wolves. The animal lunged at Ered and sunk its teeth into his muscular forearm. Thalia stabbed the creature and killed it. Kaster released a firebolt into the goblin’s face, incinerating him. The party put the last wolf out of its misery.

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