Welcome back to the Forgotten Realm and our torturous heroes’ quest for fame and riches!
If you’ve forgotten where we’ve been, catch yourself up with Part I.
For those who just need some brushing up, I, your humble Dungeon Master, will summarise where we’ve been and where the journey now leads.
Our intrepid interlopers come from all over the Forgotten Realms and consists of two elves, a human, and a dwarf. In the city of Neverwinter, they were hired by Gundren Rockseeker to protect supplies meant for Phandalin, the mining outpost.
Along the road they discovered the dead horses of Gundren Rockseeker and his human companion Sildar Hallwinter. Upon discovering these remains, they were attacked by goblins which they quickly dispatched of and managed to capture one.
This is where their true colors showed! For they tortured the poor beleaguered goblin for hours and then, rather perversely, charmed it to fall in love with the elf Ewomir. They discovered the whereabouts of Sildar Hallwinter and Gundren Rockseeker and chose to save the poor fellows.
Into the Cragmaw Hideout they went! They discovered a Bugbear who held immense treasure and many goblins milling about. With swift brutality, they murdered the goblins, laughing and joking about the entire thing. Almost accidentally, they saved Sildar Hallwinter, who watched in horror as the would-be heroes dealt with the remaining goblins, wolves, and the Bugbear Klarg.
With no other choice, Sildar chose to pay the murderous marauders to protect him on his way to Phandalin. They also chose to collect the treasures the Bugbear and goblins held within their hideout and take them to Phandalin as well, to Lionshield Coster, where they were intended to go.
And now you’re caught up!
This leg of the journey begins quite simply as the adventurers come to Phandalin.
The rutted tracks emerge from a wooded hillside and they catch their first glimpse of Phandalin. The town consists of forty or fifty simple log buildings, some built on old fieldstone foundations. More old ruins–crumbling stone walls covered in ivy and briars–surround the newer houses and shops, showing how this must have been a much larger town in centuries past. Most of the newer buildings are set on the sides of the cart track, which widens into a muddy main street of sorts as it climbs toward a ruined manor house on a hillside at the east side of town.
As they approach, they see children playing on the town green and townsfolk tending to chores or running errands at shops. Many people look up as you approach, but all return to their business as you go by.
Benik the Mighty sings a joyful tune about gold (avarice!) and women (lust!) and biscuits (gluttony!) as they enter the settlement of Phandalin.
Sildar Hallwinter visibly relaxes and becomes at ease for the first time since joining with the adventurers. He says, ‘My friends, let us secure lodgings. I’m told the local inn is very quaint.’
‘Aye, that sounds good to me, as long as there’s ale to drink!’ says Benik the Mighty.
The elves, Berants and Ewomir, nod in agreement, and Eric the Undefeated, our foolish human hedge wizard, says, ‘Lead on, little one!’
Benik, used to his casual racism now merely shrugs off the young fool’s words.
‘I’m anxious to find news of my friend Iarno Albrek, the missing wizard I told you all about.’
As night falls upon Phandalin, they come to the center of town where a large, newly built roadhouse of fieldstone and rough-hewn timbers stands. Stonehill Inn. The common room is filled with locals nursing mugs of ale or cider, all of them eyeing the newcomes with curiosity. Toblen Stonehill, the innkeeper, a short and friendly young human, rents them a room for the night, and they finally get some peaceful sleep.
During the night Ewomir dreams of bathing in the blood of goblins, Eric dreams of a busty woman, Barents dreams of the mountains that are his home, and Benik the Mighty dreams mightily of mighty biscuits. The kind only a dwarf may truly appreciate.
They yawn their way into the Inn’s tavern for a late breakfast. Several humans hang about eating and drinking in the dim light of the tavern.
‘What’ll it be?’ Toblen nods to the rested.
‘A pint of…milk!’ says the young fool Eric the Undefeated.
Toblen blinks and says, ‘On your period, aye?’
The color rises in young Eric’s face as he stammers a justification for milk, but Benik cuts him short and claps his back, ‘He’s been on his period for days, truth be told.’
The elves laugh and Ewomir asks if the tavern is always this dirty.
Toblen leans back and folds his arms, ‘If the room doesn’t suit your appetites you can always stick your head up your arse and drink there.’
Benik laughs mightily, as he always does, and orders an ale with a plate of busciuts. The other elves order ciders, and Toblen pours them pints to start their days. For it’s not enough that they take such pleasure from torturing and murdering, but they find it nice to start the day off with a nice buzz.
Ewomir sips from the beer and says, ‘Remember that fucking goblin I couldn’t drown in the cave?’
‘Yeah, sure. My arrow found him in the end,’ says Barents.
Ewomir stares off into space, a pained expression conquering his face, ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the regret of not killing him.’ He places his hand on his chest, ‘I can feel it burning here as if trying to hollow me out.’
Eric puts a hand on his shoulder, ‘We’ll get the next one, friend.’
Ewomir’s expression pacifies, ‘I hope sooner than later.’
Sildar’s mouth hangs agape at the audacity of the band of looters he’s found himself tied to but finally finds the courage to speak past their fond memories of killing. ‘Toblen, what can you tell us about Phandalin?’
Toblen leans in to the group, ‘Truth be told, things aren’t so great here.
‘I’ll tell you how it goes here!’ The voice comes from Narth, the old farmer. ‘Sister Garaele recently left town for a few days!’ He gestures meaningfully, ‘And when she returned, she appeared quite exhausted!’
Ewomir yawns and Eric wipes his mouth of excess milk, ‘Who’s Sister Garaele?’
Narth scowls, ‘She’s the overseer of the Shrine of Luck, of course!’
Barents turns to the old man, ‘Shrine of Luck?’
‘Are you deaf as well as daft? The shrine near the center of town belongs to Luck.’
‘Does it make you lucky to pray there?’
‘No, it turns you into a one eyed whoreson! What d’you think?’
Benik speaks to Toblen with a mouthful of biscuits, ‘He’s an unpleasant old codger.’
Toblen nods and smiles, ‘ For a little one you mightn’t be so bad. Another round, gents?’ He turns to Eric, ‘And more milk for the little lass?’
Elsa the barmaid brings the new drinks, ‘Ya’ll adventurers? Well, let me tell you something then. Daran Edermath is an old orchard keeper in town. He supplies us all with the cider. A good man, but they say he was once a formidable adventurer! Perhaps much like yourself.’ She places her hand on Eric’s chest, ‘Though never quite so handsome.’
Eric blushes and puts a hand on her hip, ‘I can show you the kind of adventurers we are. When do you get off work?’
Her face is one of amusement and Eric stammers as he pulls out a picture, ‘This is my cat!’
Smiling, Elsa says, ‘That may be the prettiest pussy you’ll ever see. Come find me when you grow out of milkdrinking and into real drinks.’ With that, she wanders off to other patrons.
Toblen shakes his head, ‘Be careful with that one, lass. She’s too much for one like you to handle. But you asked about town so I’ll let you know what’s really happening. See, the Redbrands are the real trouble here, but keep your voice down about it. I’ve been here for years. I come from east of here on the Triboar Trail. Phandalin has always seemed as if it’s about to burst into riches and so on, and I came here, as many young fools have,’ he nods to Eric. ‘I longed to prospect in the mine but finally discovered I was better at feeding and providing drinks than I was at pulling the ground out of the ground. But with people always coming here to find riches and leaving disappointed, they needed a place to rest their heads between disillusionment and delusion and depression. That’s why I started the inn here. But these fecking Redbrands. A mob. Looters, thieves, ruffians! They bully the town around and take a monthly stipend from just about everywhere. If you adventurers are interested in making a mark on the people who live here, we’d appreciate their removal, if you get me. Just don’t tell nobody I say so.’ He placed his index finger on his nose meaningfully and winked.
Ewomir picked at his nails, ‘So we’re to do this for simple gratitude? Sounds a fool’s errand.’ He leans back, ‘Then again…I so long to spill blood once more…’
Benik drank long from his ale. ‘You give me the fucking creeps, you know that?’
Ewomir snorts and spits on the floor, as if that were an answer.
Trilena, Toblen’s wife, jumps into the conversation. ‘These Redbrands are serious trouble, sirs. Thel Dendrar tried standing up to them a tenday ago. They leered at his wife and so he told them off, as any man would do. Well, the bastards murdered him right in public! Several saw it happen but none have done a thing about it. People are scared. Terrified for themselves and their families. The Redbrands grabbed his body and now Thel’s family has gone missing as well. His wife, song, and daughter: gone!’ She waved her hands delicately as if to impress on them the disappearing nature of the family. ‘We all know who did it but what are we to do?’
‘You could fight back,’ says Eric.
‘Burn them in their sleep,’ says Ewomir, a smile creeping over his face.
Trilena only shakes her head, ‘I’m worried for my boy.’
As if on cue, young Pip enters the room and walks to Benik, ‘What’s on your face?’
Benik smiles, ‘A beard, young human. The mightiest you’re likely to see.’
‘These are travelers, Pip.’ Trilena lifts the boy into her arms.
‘Are they going to fight the bad men?’
Trilena looks from face to face. ‘I doubt it, my boy. They’re not interested in doing good. Only in coin and drink, I think.’
Barents stands, ‘We shall do what we can.’
Pip says, ‘Carp said he found a secret tunnel in the woods but the bad guys almost got him!’
Trilena holds her boy tight. ‘Carp is Qelline Alderleaf’s son. She run the farm to the southeast of here. I wouldn’t mind what Pop says. He’s only a boy.’
Sildar puts a hand on Barents shoulder, ‘They may look rough and they talk, truly, like the insane, but they’re capable. They saved my own life from goblins just the day before.’
Lanar calls over, ‘If they’re worth anything, they’ll take care of the orcs on the Triboar Trail too. I hear the Townmaster’ll even pay.’
Eric finishes his milk and orders another, ‘I’m always down for killing some more monsters and filling my purse!’
Toblen leans in to the adventurers ans whispers, ‘The orcs can wait. It’s the Redbrands that’re the real menace. Those at the mine don’t feel it the way we do.’
‘Why? What’s different about the mine?’ Barents’ calm voice carries through the room.
Freda, the weaver, tells them the Redbrands hassle every business in town, demanding this and that, except for the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange. She says they don’t want trouble with Halia Thornton, who runs it.
‘Why would that be?’
Toblen cuts in, ‘No one wants trouble with her, truth be told. She wields considerable power here.
‘Do you think she’s connected to the Redbrands?’
Freda raises her eyebrows and folds her arms, ‘All I’m saying is I’m just saying.’ She nods, as if to punctuate the true meaning of her meaningless sentence.
Toblen sighs, ‘They’re allowed to do as they please here because Harbin Wester, this year’s townmaster, fears for his life and the lives of his family. He thinks that speaking out against them will lead to revenge against his own. If you truly want to do something about the bastards, they spend much of their time at the Sleeping Giant tap house to the east of here. You may be able to find them drunk, if nothing else.’
Sildar drops money on the bar. ‘Thanks for the information, Toblen. We’re sorry to cause everyone’s blood to boil.’ He turns to his unlikely companions, ‘We need to deliver Gundren’s wares to Barthen’s Provision and the treasure we found to Lionshield Coster. Come on.’
A light shines on the company and for a brief moment, we believe they may turn away from their murderous ways. They may attempt to improve the lives of those around them. As they walk to Barthen’s Provisions they discuss the many things they’ve learnt there. Ewomir suggests they try to trade their wares to whoever will pay most, but Sildar squashes the idea, reminding them that they still work for him.
Barthen’s is the biggest trading post in Phandalin. Its shelves stock most ordinary goods and supplies. Open from sunup to sundown. Elmar Barthen, the proprietor, is a lean and balding human male of about fifty. He employs two clerks, Ander and Thistle.
Sildar greets him and they clasp hands, ‘I’ve brought the supplies.’
‘Oh, grand! Thanks so much. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the likes of dwarves and elves in Phandalin. For the better, truth be told, but I appreciate you helping my friends.’
Benik says, ‘You’re friends with dwarves but take issue with me being a dwarf?’
Elmar smiles, ‘Not all dwarves are the Rockseekers. I’ll leave it at that, for fear of insulting you, little master.’
Benik bristles and Eric laughs.
Sildar explain to Elmar how Gundren has been captured by goblins and summarises the deeds of the company while Thistle and Ander collect the supplies from their cart.
‘It pains me to hear Gundren’s fallen to such trouble. It’s up to you all to save him. No one here has such ability, and you’ve already proven yourself up to the task! Yes, you must save him. He was a good and true friend, dwarf or not. I loved talking to him and hearing about the discovery of the long lost Phandelver’s Pact in the nearby hills. Nundro and Tharden are camped somewhere outside town. They’re Gundren’s brothers, of course. I’ve not seen them in a tenday but they should return any day now to resupply. I’ll keep an eye out You should too.’
‘How goes business here?’ Eric says while eyeing the wares.
Elmar sighs heavily and sits. ‘Well, it’s quite shit, to be honest. The Redbrands make life hard on everyone. Shaking down anyone who makes money honestly, and even those who don’t. They flout and taunt local authority. They spend most of their time at the Sleeping Giant. You may be able to catch them drunk and save the town from this new terror. Gundren comes first, of course, but I and everyone in Phandalin would appreciate your intervention.’
The adventurers nod along. Ewomir stares into the distance, as he often does, daydreaming about the goblin he tortured and the one that got away.
And this is where we’ll end for the day.
Think of this as an interlude between the adventures. A breath of a fresh air, as it were.
Next time, we’ll continue with their interlude through town. As the violence has left us for this portion of the quest, it will also be missing in the next.
But worry not! The weeks ahead are full of excitement, violence, and, perhaps, more delicious sources of entertainment!
Though they’re no heroes yet, they aim to be some day. Despite their own nefarious intentions and desires, they just may become heroes worth remembering.