Trouble in Phandalin – Session 2

It was not the best of the nights in and around Cragmaw Hideout for our adventurers.  Between nursing their wounds and the smell of goblin remains emanating from the cave, sleep was hard to come by.  In the morning, Ekim and Sylla retrieved the wagon from its hiding spot while the remainder of the group started to pull their loot from the cave.  While resting in the wagon Sildar noticed the blue lion stamp on some of the crates for the first time.

‘Those belong to the Lionshield Coster’ are the first words Sildar had said since his rescue.  ‘There should still be a representative at their warehouse in Phandalin.’

‘Good to know.  I would hate to have to barter for it all, that is unless the price is not right’ grumbled Ekim, still fuming over their living goblin captive.  ‘Or if our little friend doesn’t ransack it for all its worth’ staring at the gnome Seebo.

The gnome looks up while arms deep into one of the chests.  Both Sariel and Tethren shake their heads in disappointment.  Seebo resigns himself to the ground staring at what most would consider junk in his hands.  Tethren smirks and gives the most subtle of nods.  The gnome immediately jumps up with a grin and runs off out of sight.

The remainder of their journey to Phandalin is quiet.  As the group reaches the top of a wooded hill they see the town to their south for all its non-glory.  The muddy track runs down through numerous buildings constructed from wood logs until it widens into what attempts to be the main street.  At the far end of the street is the ruins of an old manor on the far east side of town.  Time has not been kind.

‘Welcome to Phandalin’ mutters Sildar.  ‘My friends there is a quaint little inn but that gnoll will not be welcomed.  Maybe try the Sleeping Giant tavern.  It serves a different crowd.  I… I can be found at the Stonehill Inn should you need me.’

‘To the tavern!’ bellows Ekim and Belgwyn together.

Taking in the gnoll’s visible disgust at the sight of the town, Tethren suggests that they might benefit from setting up a small camp here on the outskirts to hold their goblin friend until they get a better lay of the land.  ‘And Groz can keep him company.  What do you think my friend?’

A satisfactory grunt.  ‘Yes.’

Led by Sildar, the party works their way into town.  Upon reaching the town center, a small square flanked by a grassy area to the west and several larger buildings to the south and east, he turns to the group.  ‘This is my stop’ pointing to one of the newer looking buildings they have seen so far.  From their seats inside several locals eye the newcomers curiously through the currently open front door.  ‘The tavern is down towards the manor.  Thank you again for the help,’ and he makes his way slowly up the steps to the roadhouse.

Halfway up the road to the manor the group finds a dirty tap house.  The sign hanging by only one chain shows a grotesque figure lying in the fertile position.  Weather and physical assault have left the details worn, but one could assume it depicts a giant.  As Ekim and Belgwyn, eager for some ale, approach a skinny, bald man flies out of the front doors assisted by a large, burly woman.  ‘Pete, I warned you!  Don’t let me catch you back here.’  She eyes the group and returns inside.

Pete gets to his feet, stumbles about a little and then vomits.  The half-elf takes half a step back to avoid the projected bile and inspects his trousers.  ‘Hmmm,’ is all he cares to mutter and steps around the dry heaving man.  Phased even less, the rest of the group walk past as if Pete is not even there.

‘Table over there is open’ is the greeting received as the woman, now behind the bar, does not even turn to acknowledge them.  ‘How many?’  Only Ekim and Sylla accept, as even Belgwyn has not lost her thirst for ale in her disgust for the condition found inside.

As Ekim and Sylla take up residence in the corner booth, the rest continue to look about hesitantly at the empty tavern.  ‘Open table?’ questions Tethren.  The woman approaches with the two ales, pushes past the standing members and places them heavily on the table.

‘Trilena.  I’d say pleasure is all mine, but well…’

The group makes their introductions and strikes up a conversation with Trilena.  Trilena gives them a little overview of the town and some people the group may want to see if they are looking for work.  Throughout the conversation she repeatedly references a band of thugs, the Redbrands.  Ekim and Sariel decide to hang around and observe while the rest of the party takes care of business throughout the town.

Belgwyn, Sylla, Seebo, and Tethren head back towards the center of town.  First stop, off load the recovered supplies to the Lionshield Coster.  Initially met with unfriendly skepticism, the post’s master Linene Graywind softens on seeing the supplies.  She is surprised to find out they were in the hands of the Cragmaws as she had suspected the Redbrands of the theft.  She also recommends the constable on the mention of their prisoner in camp on the outskirts of town.

Seebo, in need of simple adventuring gear not found at Lionshield Coster, indicates wanting to travel back to the outpost seen on their way into town.  The group quickly gives in remembering that this was their initial destination of the goods Gundren hired them to protect.  At the trading post, the group meets Elmar Barthen.  The human male shopkeeper has a hard time carrying a conversation with Tethren, Sylla, and Belgwyn while Seebo runs around the shop, turning over just about everything and drawing pictures of items he can’t find (or see).  Elmar is no fan of the Redbrands and hopes her new patrons will stick around long enough to find the Rockseeker brothers.

Figuring they have time in the day for one more stop, the group retrieves their prisoner from stop by to see the constable on their way back to the Sleeping Giant.  On arrival at the Townmaster’s Hall the group meets Pete, or at least the older brother Pete who is the acting constable for the time being.  The group takes an immediate dislike to Pete’s somewhat racist comments and tone.  After some bargaining Tethren persuades Pete to hold Yeemik for them if they promise to find his drunk younger brother and keep him out of trouble for the night.

Meanwhile, Ekim and Sariel have been killing time in the slow goings at the Sleeping Giant.  While Ekim is now on his fourth or fifth ale, Sariel has taken care of renting rooms for the party and took some alone time to meditate.  Just as Ekim is about to order his next drink and some food, the door of the tavern is flung open as the drunkard from earlier stumbles in backwards.

‘Trilena, I found this one snooping around the back.’ the hooded figure following Pete calmly states.  Picking Pete up by the collar of his tattered shirt and glancing at Ekim in the corner he sets the drunk down at the bar a little too hard.  Hitting his head on the bar top, Pete immediately slumps in place and starts to snore.

‘God dammit Pete!  Just leave him there.’ the tavern owner replies.

The hooded figure nods and then walks over to the table where Ekim is sitting.  ‘Do you happen to be traveling with Gundren Rockseeker?’

‘Depends on who is asking.’ staring down the hooded figure while preparing for a fight.

The tavern door opens again and the rest of Ekim’s party quickly enters the tavern.  Seeing Ekim’s tense nature and the hooded stranger, Tethren has to restrain Belgwyn from creating a scene.

‘Seeing the ragtag nature of your friends, I’ll take that as a yes.  I’m Randall, Randall the Rapscallion.  Gundren told me to meet you all here in town several days ago since I couldn’t make the trip to Neverwinter, but you’re late.  Where’s Gundren? I need to talk to him.’

‘Gundren traveled ahead of us with his companion.  They were ambushed and Gundren is missing.’ Ekim states, sitting a little more upright in ease. ‘Funny he didn’t tell us about you.’

‘Things slip his mind easily.  What happened to the companion?’

Meeting each other’s eyes, the party agrees to catch up Randall on their story to date.  Finishing up the final details over a simple meal, Randall sits back with his half drunk ale. ‘That is one amazing tale I think.  I’ll need to confirm this with Sildar in the morning then.’

Given the long ride from Neverwinter, most of the party decides to turn in for the night.  Randall, Ekim, and the rested Sariel decide to partake in a few more.  Trilena ensures them that Pete won’t be going anywhere soon.

Later in the evening, the only sounds in the tavern is the occasional raised laughter from Ekim or Randall as Sariel quietly observes.  Two humans enter the tavern wearing dull red cloaks, look around at the empty space, and approach the bar.  ‘Looks like you’ll have a hard time paying.’ one quietly says to Trilena as she slowly makes her way opposite of the bar.  ‘He won’t care this time if you haven’t got enough.’  The talk from the party’s table has quieted to whispers.

‘I’ve got enough, but I don’t think I’ll be paying this time.  Nothing has come from your last collection.  Take a look around.  Pete and maybe the occasional travelers.’

‘We don’t care.  Pay or else.’

By now Randall has gotten up and approached behind the silent partner without being noticed.  ‘I don’t like the way you’re talking to the lady.’  The thug turns around slowly, only to be met with Randall’s fist centered on his nose.  The ensuing fight is quicker than either of the thugs were ready to handle.  The last words uttered before both were just piles on the floor was ‘Glasstaff is going to kill you all.’

The next morning, Tethren awakes to muffled voices.  He sits up and takes in the two thugs, now bound and gagged, sitting in the corner of the room.  Maybe slightly perturbed by his fellows’ attempt at a joke, the red cloaks these two are wearing do not go unnoticed.  He rouses Belgwyn and calls Seebo from his makeshift bed under his own.  Passing by the thugs, he taps them each with two quick flicks of his tail. ‘We’ll be back to deal with you, I’m hungry.’  His two companions just smile as they file out.

After breakfast, it is agreed to take the two upstairs to the constable and find out more about these Redbrands.  Finding constable Pete harsing the Yeemik in the Townmaster’s Hall, he reluctantly agrees to hold the two thugs in the same cell as the goblin.  Not a single member acknowledges the pleas of the two humans as the cell door is closed and locked.  Stepping outside the party presses Pete on the gang it seems is tormenting every person in town they’ve met.  During the conservation, Sildar Hallwinter makes his way over from the Stonehill Inn located across the square.

Pete gives them the run down and points out Tresendar Manor on the hill to the east.  He lets the group know that the Redbrands are holed up in the ruins, but has no idea their numbers or resources.  Sildar is intrigued by the new information regarding their alleged leader and wants to speak to the prisoners.  A few moments later Pete, Tethren, and Sildar return outside.  In exchange for freedom the two thugs have given Sildar their numbers and a way in.  Rather than giving them full freedom he has made arrangements for the local Harpers to remove them from the town with the understanding they will never return.

Through a little extra threat of a hungry Gnoll, Tethren was able to extract that their leader Glasstaff is a human wizard and the gang is currently under contract from the Black Spider. The description given of Glasstaff has planted a thought in Tethren’s brain.  ‘This leader of theirs sounds a lot like your friend Iarno, Sildar.’

‘Never, I don’t believe Iarno could do anything like this.  The mentioned prisoners remember.  I’ll put money down that he is being held captive after investigating the gang like he should have.’

‘The timeline is a little suspicious too.  The Redbrands upped their game right after Iarno disappeared.’

‘Without the presence of the Lord’s Alliance the Redbrands probably took advantage.  Either way, find Iarno and there will be a reward.  If, and that is a big if, he is Glasstaff we’ll talk about something else.’

‘Hmm…’ is the only reply the tiefling gives with the hints of a slight grin at the corners of his mouth. ‘What’s the plan then?’

The party hashes it out.  Ekim, Sylla, and Randall scout out the manor in the afternoon.  Upon seeing at least 5 Redbrand members on guard duty they return, suggesting maybe the cover of darkness for their entry.  Sildar, growing more doubtful himself about Iarno, decides that he will be accompanying the group.  The group decides that after dark they will enter the basement through the entrance indicated by their former prisoners.  Grozniir will keep watch outside for any returning raiding parties.  They’ll fight their way in and hopefully find the prisoners first.

And, that is exactly what they did.  Finding very little resistance upon entry and easily spotting the trap floor, the group found the prisoners and their guards quickly.  The only hiccup was the undead skeletons also on guard in the chamber outside the cells.  After securing the rooms, the group was at a loss with no other passages.  Sildar, disappointed at not finding Iarno, leaves the capable adventurer to their investigation while he escorts the three captives, and mother and her two children, back into the safety of town.

Coming out of a small armory room just past the prison cells, Tethren notices something odd about the end of the corridor.  ‘Interesting.’  Examining the wall he pushes in just the right spot, and the wall sweeps away revealing another darkened room.  ‘What in the hells is that smell?’  The scent travels down the corridor and each member in turn experiences the stench.

‘Death, decay, and more…’ whispers one member.

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