Welcome back to the Forgotten Realm and our torturous heroes’ quest for fame and riches!
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.
They’ve spent some time in Phandalin gathering information and have discovered that a mob of bandits now runs the town. Rather than go fight them and save the town, they’re hustling for money, trying to get someone to pay them a mighty sum before risking their lives.
Aye, there are no heroes here!
And now we’re caught up!
After leaving Barthen’s Provisions, they head south along the main road.
They head next to the Shrine of Luck as they make their way around town to inquire about the many things they heard at the Stonehill Inn. Sildar leaves them and heads to the Townmaster’s Hall.
Sister Garaele, a zealous young elf, stands beside the shrine as the company approaches.
Eric hails her, ‘Good day! We come to inquire about the Shrine of Luck.’
She scowls at the human, ‘Close your mouth and keep it that way. You too, dwarf.’
Benik’s mouth falls open in shock.
She turns to the elves, ‘Why do you travel with these two?’
Ewomir laughs and Barents says, ‘We’re temporarily working together. Paid escorts.’
‘Come with me,’ she motions. ‘I’ll deal with you two. Keep your human and dwarf where they are.’
Barents shrugs to his companions. Eric sits on the ground, sulking. Benik tugs at his beard, his face a firestorm of indignation.
‘Master Elves, it’s good to see more of the beautiful folk in these desolate lands. I must tell you something. I need to find a banshee named Agatha.’
Ewomir picks at his nails and stares off into the west, thinking murderous thoughts.
‘She has a very important spellbook.’ Sister Garaele continues. ‘It belonged to a legendary mage named Bowgentle. I’ve gone to her lair but found it empty. I need you to trade a jeweled silver comb for the spellbook. You’re handsome elves and I believe flattery will work on the foul creature.’
‘Why should we help you?’ Ewomir’s voice slips from his lips.
Barents gives him a look, ‘We’ll help you, Sister.’
‘Not without payment!’ says Ewomir.
Sister Garaele nods, ‘I’ll give you three potions of healing as payment. Please, much depends upon the success of this trade.’
‘Where do we find this Banshee?’
Sister Garaele nods and smiles, ‘It’s several miles to the northeast, near Conberry. It’ll take a few days to get there.’
The elves turn but Sister Garaele grabs Barents by the elbow. They both turn.
‘Will you hang back a moment. I wish to discuss something with you.’ She turns to Ewomir, ‘You may return to your companions.’
Ewomir yawns and walks back to the human and dwarf, murder filling every available space in his skull.
‘What did you wish to discuss with me.’
‘What is your name?’
‘Barents of the Mountain.’
‘And you know my name but you don’t know that I am a member of the Harpers.’
She nods, ‘A secret and sacred order. A scattered network of adventurers and spies who advocate for equality and oppose those who abuse power. We gather information throughout the world to thwart tyrants and any leader, government, or group that grows too strong. We aid the weak, the poor, and the oppressed. My station is here, in Phandalin, and I keep an eye on the going ons here.’
‘How does this concern me?’
‘I would like you to join us. I can tell that you’re an honorable elf with a beautiful spirit. Like you, we want to improve the world we live in rather than let it plummet to the evil rising everywhere.’
‘What would I have to do if I join?’
‘Just help is in any way you can. Stand up for the weak and the powerless. Stand against those who would abuse them.’
‘If your order does what you say it does, why did you refuse to speak to my human and dwarf companions?’
Sister Garaele smiles, ‘Loving the work that I do and working to improve the life of all doesn’t mean I must deal with cruel creatures like them in my daily life. I see enough humans here in Phandalin to know what they’re like. I love their kind but I despise what they do. I wish the best for them but my skin crawls when I see them. It’s a weakness of mine and I do my best, but I chose to speak to elves. It’s so rare I see them here.’
‘Barents reflects for a moment and then agrees to help the Harpers.
‘Excellent! Your title shall be Watcher. Do what you can to aid us and the world. Wherever you go, your status will find you friends among the Harpers. Now go, return to your journey and remember to find the spellbook and return it here. Think of it as a first test. Thank you, Barents of the Mountain, Watcher.’
Barents returns to the marauding adventurers but demures as they demand to know what was discussed.
‘Come on, friends. Edermath Orchard looks to be just over here,’ Barents says. ‘Let’s talk to the alledged adventurer.’
They wander to the orchard and find Daran Edermath. He lives in a cottage beside the apple orchard. He is a tall half-elf well over a hundred years old but remains fit.
‘What do you all want?’ Daran’s voice comes like steel. ‘Redbrand bastards can go to the Sleeping Giant and rot. Now get out of here!’
Benik smiles as he approaches and takes a long sniff, ‘Is that cider I smell? I have some biscuits that would go well with them.’
Daran’s hard expression rests on the dwarf and passes across the faces of the company only to fall once more on Benik. A smile gradually grows and he laughs. ‘Always trust a dwarf to know good drink wherever it hides! Come on in, master dwarf. I can tell we’ll get along well. You elves too. My mother was one of your kind.’
The company attempts to enter, but Daran pushes back against Eric’s chest.
‘What?’ says Eric, his face twisting in anger.
‘I don’t deal with humans.’
‘But your father must’ve been a human!’
Daran looks him up and down. ‘I hated my father.’
Daran turns and leads the others into his cottage. With a final derisive look at Eric, he slams the door, leaving him outside.
‘These fucking elves,’ Eric mutters to himself as he kicks a fallen apple.
Inside Daran pours each of them a cider. ‘What brings you out to my home? It’s not often I have guests here.’
Benik takes the lead and tells Daran that they heard he was a great adventurer in his day.
Daran laughs, ‘I don’t know about great. I was a member of the Order of the Gauntlets, a devout and vigilant group that seeks to protect others from the depredations of evildoers. The Order is always vigilant and ready to smite evil, enforce justice, and enact retribution against any who try to subjugate or harm others. Back then I was a marshal and herald for many years in the lands of the Dragon Coast, far to the southeast. I came here after retiring, this being my true home. So, once I was an adventurer, but nothing special.’
‘It sounds like you were a truly mighty adventurer in your day!’ Benik strikes his mug of cider against Daran’s and they drink deeply.
‘Well, I suppose I was, in my own way. But I’m old now. No longer strong enough to deal with the Redbrand bastards. But, oh, if I were just twenty years younger!’ He eyes the elves and dwarf with meaning, ‘It’s time someone dealt with them. Especially their leader, Glasstaff. Though they spend much of their time at the Sleeping Giant, their stronghold is in Tresendar Manor, the ruins at the east edge of town, past the Sleeping Giant.’
Benik stands, his cheeks and nose rosy with drunkenness, ‘We shall take care of them!’
Ewomir raises an eyebrow, ‘So now we just work for free? Little one, you may go alone if your generosity is so foolhardy. I go nowhere without payment.’
Daran stares hard at Ewomir who creates tiny flames in his hands and rolls them across his fingers. ‘You keep strange company, Benik the Mighty.’
Benik nods, ‘Don’t mind him. He’s a bit insane but he’s not so bad, all things considered. I’ll do what I can to help.’
They drink several more ciders before leaving his cottage. Daran and Benik exchange stories of wars past, of adventuring, of weapons they once named and lost.
Daran tells them about stories from prospectors who dig in the northeast hills of Phandalin at ruins known as the Owl Well. Many of the prospectors report being chased from the area by the undead.
Benik grips his axe, ‘Fucking zombies! I’ll wipe them all off the face of the earth!’
Daran smiles, ‘The march is a couple days from here. Find out what’s happening and who’s doing it. The ruins belong to an ancient magical empire known as the Netheril. I worry that dangerous magic might be dormant there. It’s a perfect quest for brave heroes, such as yourself.’
As the elves and dwarf are leaving, Daran asks Benik to hang back.
Eric stands and says, ‘I’ve been waiting out here all this time like a jackass!’
Daran spits in his direction and closes the door behind the elves.
Inside the cottage he tells Benik that he is still a member of the Order of the Gauntlets. ‘I think you would be an excellent addition to our Order!’
Benik, touched deeply by the sentiment, agrees without asking another word. A most foolish kind of decision to make, but the dwarf is a loveable fool, as we’ve come to know. He sways drunkenly and hugs Daran, ‘Of course!’
‘Your title is now Chevall. Carry the Order with you. You shall have a friend wherever the Order exists.’
‘What the shit took so long!’ Eric yells. ‘And look, you’re drunk!’
Benik belches mightily in the human’s face, knocking poor Eric to his ass. ‘Let’s go sell that shit we found in the cave.’
With that, the company heads to Lionshield Coster.
Hanging above the front door of this modest trading post is a sign shaped like a wooden shield with a blue lion painted on it.
The ne’er-do-wells return the supplies discovered in the Cragmaw Hideout to Linene, the proprietor. From her, they hear similar tales to what they’ve heard all over Phandalin.
The Lionshield Coster itself belongs to a merchant company based in Yartar, over a hundred miles to the east. They ship goods to Phandalin and other settlements throughout the region. She tells them about the Redbrands, that notorious mob of bandits, how they’re meddling with her affairs and making every day of business more and more difficult.
Next they head to the Townmaster’s Hall where they find Sildar Hallwinter with Harbin Wester, a fat, pompous, fool who is also a banker in Phandalin.
The Townmaster’s Hall has study stone walls, a pitched wooden roof, and a bell tower at the back. Posted on a board next to the front door is a notice written in Common. It reads:
REWARD–Orcs near Wyvern Tor! Those of a mind to face the orc menace should inquire within.
They notice it bears the town’s seal and an indecipherable signature.
Harbin stares at the travelers, ‘Who are you?’ His words come out thick between his fat cheeks and thin lips.
Sildar stands beside him and says, ‘These are the..uh…adventurers I told you about. They saved my life and they have an interest in making money.’
‘Will you fight the orcs?’
‘How much is the pay?’ says Ewomir.
‘Oh, um, well, uh, see, the thing about money is it’s hard to come by.’
Sildar interrupts, ‘He’ll give you 100 gold pieces for the orcs and I’ll give you 200 for discovering any news about my friend Iarno. I’ve asked around and there’s no information. He was last seen near Tresandar Manor.’
Eric steps forward and takes charge, ‘That’s where the Redbrands are. Listen, Harbin, how about we take care of the Redbrands for you too, yeah?’
Harbin blubbers and stammers, ‘Well, uh, see, ahem…the Redbrands are…well, I see nothing wrong with what they’re doing, per se. Just boys being boys, ahem. Hm. Uh, so, well, I have no need of assistance in that way…um.’
‘Are you serious? The whole city’s terrified and you’re okay with those marauders living off your people?’
‘Ahem, well, um, all rumors and hearsay. What am I to do? Take action against every rumored incident in the whole town! No, no, um, well, ahem…if you plan on fighting them, that’s up to you. I’ll have no hand in violence filling the town!’
Eric turns to his companions, ‘Can you believe this fecking guy?’
Ewomir yawns, ‘Yes.’
Benik grips his axe, swaying drunkenly, ‘We’ve already given our word to rid this place of the Redbrands! Pay or no pay, we go!’
Benik begins marching out of the Townmaster’s Hall while his companions watch him go.
Ewomir looks at Eric and Barents, ‘I’m not doing a damn thing without payment promised.’
Barents clears his throat, ‘I’m sure someone will pay us for our services. Let’s catch Benik and head to the Miner’s Exchange.’
And so they do just that. Benik eats biscuit after biscuit as they walk to the Miner’s Exchange, becoming soberer with each swallow.
Eric says, ‘Remember the weaver who told us that the only place untouched by the Redbrands is this Miner’s Exchange? I think this is maybe where our fight begins.’
Ewomir sizes up the area, ‘It looks like there’s wealth here. If no one will pay, we’ll just have to take our payment.’
The Miner’s Exchange is a trading post where local miners have their valuables weighed, measured, and paid out. Locals stand around talking and bartering.
As they approach they see Halia Thornton, a human woman and guildmaster of the Miner’s Exchange. She sits behind a table writing in a ledger.
Eric jumps in front of her, ‘You’re working with the Redbrands! Give up now and we’ll take it easy on you.’ He flexes his biceps.
Halia raises her eyes from the ledger and leans back, crossing her arms. She looks from face to face and then stands. ‘I don’t know who you are, but you can leave if you’re going to come into my guild and insult me.’
Barents pulls Eric back, ‘Our apologies. We heard that the Redbrands don’t mess with you and we’d like to know why.’
Halia raises an eyebrow, ‘What are you, detectives?’
‘No. Just travellers trying to do the right thing.’
Halia sighs heavily, ‘I have no contact with the Redbrands. I imagine they leave me alone because all the wealth in the town comes through here. Without me they wouldn’t have anything to steal. But I hear it all. Oh, do I hear it all. See, I’m a bit of an unofficial leader in Phandalin.’
‘What about the Townmaster?’
She snorts, ‘Townmaster changes every year. It means nothing, really. He has no power to do anything. No, when people have trouble, they come to me and I get them a solution. See all these people around here? They trust me because I make sure they have food and shelter and money. There’s no gold rush, mind, but we do okay. As far as the Redbrands, I want you to help me.’
‘Why should we help you?’ Ewomir says.
‘I’ll pay you 100 gold pieces to eliminate the Redbrand leader called Glasstaff. They tend to loiter around the Sleeping Giant but their base is under Tresandar Manor. I’ve had enough of these fucking bandits and if you’re willing to fight them, I’ll pay.’
Ewomir smiles and accepts. He can tell she has ulterior motives but the promise of gold is enough for him.
Halia wishes them good luck as they wander over to Alderleaf Farm. ‘See,’ says Ewomir, ‘I knew someone would pay.’ Murder flashes in his eyes and he hears the screaming of the goblin he tortured so recently.
Eric says, ‘Why are we going to this farm?’
Barents says ,’Do none of you remember anything people tell us? The child here had a run in with Redbrands near a secret passage.’
They walk to the farmhouse and Eric pounds at the door, despite the late hour.
A female halfling named Qelline Alderleaf answers the door.
‘Can I help you?’
Eric takes the lead once more, ‘We need your son. We want him to show us a secret passage.’
Qelline slams the door in his face, ‘Get off my property, you sick bastards!’
The companions shake their heads at Eric who crosses his arms and mutters, ‘Halfling bitch.’
Benik speaks, ‘Miss Alderleaf, please forgive my foolish human companion. We were told that he had a run in with the Redbrands. We go now to fight them and any information will help!’
Qelline opens the door a crack, ‘He’s just a boy. He don’t know nothing about nothing.’
‘Please, we need all the help we can get,’ says Barents of the Mountain. ‘We believe they may know of our friend, Gundren, who was taken to Cragmaw Castle.’
‘Oh geez, mom. Let me tell them what I saw!’
Qelline opens the door and lifts her son into her arms, ‘Okay, son.’ She turns to Eric, the fool. ‘If you even look at my son or take a step in his direction, I’ll gut you.’
Eric looks away, ‘Fine, fine.’
‘Oh geez, misters. I was just minding my own business over there by the woods near Tresandar Manor when this big ugly bandit comes out of nowhere! They didn’t see me but I watched them. I can show you how to get there!’
Qelline interrupts, ‘No, I’ll show them.’ She stares hard at Eric. ‘I’ll take you now. Carp, you stay inside and don’t open this door for anyone.’
Carp nods and Qelline closes the door and leads the companions to the secret passage.
‘You said you’re going to Cragmaw Castle?’
‘I have an old friend named Reidoth. He’s a druid. He recently went to a town called Thundertree, jsut west of Neverwinter Wood. It’s about fifty miles northwest of here. It couldn’t be far from the castle you’re looking for. He knows every inch of the land there and will help you if you tell him my name.’
‘Thank you,’ says Barents of the Mountain.
She waves it away, ‘Just through that thicket is the passage Carp told you about. I’ll leave you here.’ She turns to Eric, ‘And don’t you dare knock on my door or speak of my boy again.’
Benik and Barents thank the halfling and the interlopers wander to the opening of the passage.
‘Should we go in?’
And here, we must call it a day!
We’ll be back next month to tell you how they fared against the Redbrands.
Tune in for the violence brewing in Ewomir, the devious! What will happen in the depths of Tresandar Manor and who is Glasstaff, the Redbrand leader!?
All this and more next time at D&D with Entropy!