A Chance Meeting in Red Larch
The Adventuring Party Comes Together
Bakhadur and Piotr Fenebrescu arrive in Red Larch one strange spring day amid blistering cold and snow flurries. They head to the temple to meet with Sister Lymurra (?). Upon arriving in the temple, they notice a number of wounded villagers and refugees and immediately begin assisting with their healing. Bakhadur uses Lay on Hands to bring one man back to full strength, but their second patient is far worse off. The best they can hope for him is a painless death. After a brief meeting with Sister Lymurra (?), they decide to head to the center of town and find a room at the Swinging Sword Inn.
Once inside the Swinging Sword Inn, they meet with the town’s constable, Harburk Tutmeriler (?). Harburk is a large man, serving all at once as the town’s butcher, constable, jailer, and lone politician. He was appointed to run the town by the council of elders, and by and large most of the citizens respect him and are happy with his presence. The townsfolk are not happy with the large influx of refugees, however. There have also been a rash of disappearances that are troubling Harburk and the citizens of Red Larch.
On the other side of the common room, Amergin Glunmar can be found entertaining the late-afternoon crowd with his skill at the bagpipes and drum. As the town’s only bard, he readily finds employment and the constant stream of refugees are eager for entertainment and information. Amergin makes sure this is a two-way street though, skillfully extracting stories of the world from those same refugees. His attention was drawn away from his performance when Bakhadur, a nearly 7-foot tall dragonborn, entered the Swinging Sword. He quickly wraps up his current song and finds a table near this strange man-creature where he can eavesdrop.
Harburk continues speaking with Bakhadur and Piotr. He tells them of the freak earthquakes and sandstorms, the fog that does not move with the wind, and the unnatural lightning that seems to grow slowly upwards from the ground. Not to mention freezing temperatures and snowstorms in late spring… The Uthgart (?), a normally peaceful and secluded tribe to the north (?), are becoming agitated and restless. Bandits are everywhere, taking advantage of the disorder on the roads. He points out a specific group of bandits down the Cairn Road to the East that have been causing a lot of trouble for people passing through the town.
Upon mentioning this last group of bandits, the nearby barkeep, Khyleesa (?), chimes in, “it’s more than just bandits, Harburk.” She mentions her grandchildren encountering ghosts by the tombs to the west (?), strange comings and goings around town, and speaks again of the bizarre weather. “It’s all coming from Lance Rock. Whatever is causing all of this madness is there.” Amergin, eager to set back out into the world on an adventure, jumps into the conversation and supports everything Khyleesa has said, whether he knows if it’s true or not. Khyleesa grins and refills his mug without a word.
The snow outside the Swinging Sword stops suddenly. A loud clap of thunder startles the patrons in the room, especially those not used to these sudden changes in the weather. A fierce wind howls and the door blows open, exposing the ragged silhouette of a soldier shivering from the cold and snow that surrounded him mere seconds ago. An incredibly thick fog can be seen beyond him through the door, seemingly floating in place and ignoring the forceful wind that is now blowing through the town.
Pierce Elkheart enters the room and shoves the door closed behind him. Bakhadur, recognizing a fellow soldier, grabs a fresh tankard of ale, stands, and approaches the newcomer. “Westbridge is gone,” Pierce says hollowly after his first desperate gulp of the brew, “the demons, they came out of nowhere, out of the fog, and they wiped us out. Our commander went down first, then I was attacked and everything went dark. When I awoke several hours later, everyone was dead. Everyone is dead. They came from the fog.”
The common room falls deathly silent with this new soldier’s arrival and his story. Some patrons look nervously out nearby windows at the fog just hanging menacingly in the air. Bakhadur and Piotr welcome Pierce to their table and seconds stretch into minutes as everyone sits quietly, waiting. But nothing comes from the fog, and the room slowly returns to its more lively state. In the corner, a hooded monk silently takes it all in, never once letting his gaze drift from the red dragonborn in the room. Outside, the fog slowly dissipates, exposing a beautiful sunset and comfortably warm evening air. Bakhadur, Piotr, and Pierce speak quietly amongst themselves, making small-talk and getting to know each other.
The three decide to head out over to Minnie Handrivvar’s (?) house to get some more information about the ghost sighting before the evening gets too late. After a quick walk across town, they speak briefly with Minnie. She claims to know nothing of ghosts, but calls her daughter, Pell, to the door. Pell describes what she and her friends encountered near the tombs down the Larch Path. The three thank Minnie and Pell for the information and take their leave to head back to the Inn. As they depart the house they can hear Minnie berating Pell for venturing so far from town.
Back at the Swinging Sword the three return just in time for dinner. The bard is back at his work entertaining the crowd, and the monk still sits quietly in the corner. It looks like he may have moved recently and just returned, but it’s hard to be certain. Bakhadur, Piotr, and Pierce enjoy a decent meal with some more ale and then head up to their rooms for the night. Amergin retires earlier than normal to his semi-permanent room, and the mysterious monk makes himself scarce and no one quite notices where he disappears to.
Amergin rises well before sunrise the next morning, positioning himself across the town square from the Swinging Sword so as to see the three adventurers leave on their quest. Shortly after sunrise they emerge, load up their gear on their horses, and set off down the Larch Path towards the tombs. The bard waits to leave town, giving the trio plenty of distance so as to try and follow unnoticed. Once he finally sets off down the road, he sees the monk from the night before ahead of him on the road, also apparently following the same adventurers.
About a mile outside of town Piotr all of a sudden spins in his saddle, catching the bard off guard and exposing his presence. Amergin pretends not to notice and continues to ride forward along the path as if nothing in the world is wrong. Bakhadur and Piotr trot back and ride alongside him, questioning the bard’s motives. Amergin fails to deceive them so he admits that he was following along to be part of the adventure. During the discussion, Bakhadur sees the strange monk lurking in the nearby tree line and calls him out. The monk introduces himself as Flinar, a Wood Elf on a mission to rid the world of evil. He explains that he can’t do it alone and that he sees Bakhadur’s presence as a sign that he should follow. After a brief conversation, Bakhadur, Piotr, and Pierce agree to bring the bard and monk along and the newly formed group continues on their journey toward the tombs.
Several miles later the terrain becomes significantly hillier, with the road winding between hilltops. Pierce calls for the group to stop and points out a set of very large footprints along the path. Flinar swings down off of his horse and starts to follow the footprints, scouting ahead a good distance. Over the next hill he sees a large, weathered stone door set into the side of one of the hills. The footprints lead towards this door and are joined by a number of smaller footprints as well. The prints direct Flinar’s attention off to the side of the path where he spies a campfire about 150’ away. He motions for the rest of the party to catch up silently and then stalks off towards the camp.
Four goblins and a large half-ogre have made camp and are milling about idly. One goblin, a female, is slightly larger than the others and obviously their leader. The camp is rudimentary, an array of log stools around a campfire and a ramshackle wagon parked on the far side. The party quietly array themselves, readying for a surprise attack on the unsuspecting monsters. Pierce charges in first, closing swiftly on the half-ogre while arrows from the goblins bounce harmlessly off of his shield and armor. His longsword doesn’t find its mark, glancing off of his opponent’s weapon. The half-ogre retaliates, also failing to land a solid strike. Amergin looses an arrow, planting it solidly in the half-ogre’s chest, and then provides inspiration to his dragonborn companion. Bakhadur charges into the fray, swinging his greatsword with all his might and taking a large chunk out of the half-ogre. Flinar steps out of the nearby brush and aims an arrow at the brute, striking him squarely in the forehead. The half-ogre is dead before he hits the ground. Piotr rides across the camp and engages with two of the small goblins, attempting to land a chill touch on them but failing to do so.
Pierce steps over the fallen half-ogre and closes in on the goblin leader. He slashes her with his longsword, eliciting a shrill scream. She retaliates, slicing Pierce savagely with her scimitar. One of the smaller males shoots his bow at Bakhadur and his him square in the side. The remaining two, who Piotr engaged, fire back at the cleric with their shortbows. Both hit skillfully and then retreat towards the wagon on the other side of the camp. Amergin rides in closer to the camp, casting a heal on Pierce and giving him inspiration. Bakhadur circles around the dead half-ogre, lining up the goblin leader and one of her cronies for his breath weapon. He sets them both on fire, the small goblin dying instantly while the leader shrieks in pain. Flinar puts her out of her misery with an arrow to the throat.
Piotr attempts to chill touch the remaining two goblins again, affecting one successfully as Pierce rides over and swings wide in an attempt to hit one of the lithe little creatures. The goblins, sensing imminent defeat, turn and flee. Amergin takes a shot at one and misses while Bakhadur rides them down and cleaves one into two pieces. Pierce and Flinar are unable to stop the final goblin, but Piotr strikes him down with his magic. The party, unsurprisingly, find nothing of real value in the camp or on the corpses, just a few coins. (112 copper, 10 silver)
After regaining their breath, the party heads back towards the crypt. Flinar pushes the heavy stone door open, setting off an audible alarm seemingly meant to alert the goblins to anyone’s presence. The dark passage stretches ahead about 30 feet before opening into a decent-sized room with a large stone slab in the middle and a rusty iron door off to the right. The paladin concentrates for a few seconds, sensing undead just on the other side of the door. The stone slab is heavily worn and no identifiable carvings or markings remain. The party readies up for a surprise attack on whoever is on the other side of the door and Bakhadur attempts to open it. The door is rusted shut, so he brings out his maul and takes a mighty swing. A deafening clang rings out but the door does not budge. A ghost, dressed in military regalia, slides into the room through the door and intones, “Leave my master’s tomb.”
The ghost, seeing that the party isn’t leaving, reaches out to his nearest target – Bakhadur. He latches a spectral hand onto the dragonborn, digging painfully into his chest. Bakhadur recoils violently, feeling extremely weak and near death. The ghost then floats eerily across the room, passing straight through Pierce and sending a chill up the soldier’s spine. The ghost comes to a stop and spins in place directly in front of the room’s entrance. Pierce turns and swings at the ghost, his sword passing harmlessly through its body. Bakhadur, not one to let impending death slow him down, closes in on the ghost and swings with all his remaining might. His swing, unsteady due to his injuries, is ineffective. Amergin envelops the ghost in Faerie Fire, outlining its shape in an eerie purple glow that makes the foe much easier to target. Flinar gets close and lands two seemingly effective blows while Piotr unleashes a Sacred Flame that causes the ghost to start disintegrating. Seeing Bakhadur hanging on by a thread, the ghost attempts to finish him off but misses his attack. Pierce swings, just barely connecting, and Bakhadur finishes the ghost off with a mighty swing of his maul. The ghost’s sword becomes solid and clangs to the ground as the rest of its body melts to the ground in a thick, viscous, milky-white fluid.
Bakhadur doesn’t sense any more nearby undead, so he and Pierce push on the rusted iron door with all their strength and are able to make it swing slowly open. The next chamber is roughly the same size with a large stone coffin dominating the center of the room. A rusted chest sits on the ground next to the coffin. The bard uses his Mage Hand to open the chest from afar, revealing an extremely old book wrapped in ruined cloths. Piotr notices upon pulling the book out that the chest has a false bottom. He removes it, finding a small collection of jewelry. Exhausting the contents of the chest, Piotr moves on to the coffin and slides the lid to the side with a bit of effort. He sees the long-dead remains of a knight inside, only his skeleton and longsword remaining. Before Piotr has a chance to investigate further, the sword springs to life, dancing and swinging deftly in the air by itself.
Piotr, Amergin, Bakhadur, Flinar, and Pierce all miss with their first attacks on the enchanted weapon. The sword attacks back, missing Piotr while the cleric also misses his second attack. The bard is able to get an arrow directly on target, knocking the sword askew for a moment while giving some bardic inspiration to Bakhadur. The paladin takes advantage of the situation and lands an incredible blow on the sword, shattering it into dozens pieces that scatter across the stone floor. The party quickly and thoroughly investigates the room and find nothing of value, so they head back out into the daylight. Believing the ghostly presence to be eradicated, they mount up and head back to town to rest and recuperate. When they ride into Red Larch they are encountered by extremely hot, arid, sandy wind blowing everywhere even though the nearest desert is many days’ ride from the town. They head back to the Swinging Sword Inn and retire for the night.
The next morning, the party heads out to find and deal with the bandits that have been harassing the locals and refugees. After a couple hours of riding, they come across a camp in a brush-choked dell just off the main road. In the camp are four bandits warming themselves around a fire while a black bear paces around angrily in its cage atop a creaky wagon. The camp backs up against a rough stone cliff with a dark, shallow cave nearby. A massive boar spins slowly on a huge spit over the fire, fat rendering off and sizzling and smoking on the hot coals below.
The party set up and quickly launch a surprise attack on the bandits. Three of the four bandits are cut down before any of them realize what is happening – one by Bakhadur’s sword, one by Piotr’s magic, and the third by one of the bard’s arrows through the throat. The last remaining bandit cries out, leaps to his feet, and runs into the dark cave out of sight. The bear, riled up by the sudden outburst of activity, bursts through the cage door and leaps at Piotr on his horse. The frenzied animal sinks its claws and teeth deep into the cleric’s shoulder, dragging him down off his horse and knocking him unconscious. Flinar tries to help Piotr but shoots his bow wide. The paladin rides over and smashes the bear critically with his maul. Pierce rushes to the rescue, sending his sword home directly into the bear’s heart. Bakhadur dismounts, kicks the bear off his friend, and says a quick prayer to bring Piotr back to consciousness. The cleric climbs back to his feet and weaves some healing magic over himself.
Hearing whimpering coming from the cave, the party heads into the darkness where they find the fourth bandit cowering in fear. Bakhadur orders him to surrender, which he gladly does. Pierce starts to tie him up when, seemingly out of nowhere, Flinar jumps in and beats him to death with his bare fists. The monk regains his composure, turns around, and walks out of the cave without a word. Bakhadur charges angrily after him. The two exchange words, heatedly going back and forth over what’s right and wrong, how to handle prisoners, and a variety of other topics. The paladin feels that Flinar has been far removed from society too long and the monk feels that Bakhadur is a slave to his rules and laws and this makes him ineffective in his quest to cleanse evil. The two come to a shaky agreement and silently start loading the bandit’s wagon with the roasted boar and what valuables have been found in the camp. The party lead the wagon back to town where Harburk greets them warmly, happy to hear of the bandits’ demise and even more happy to have such a large bounty of fresh meat to share with the people of his town.